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The Power of Speech

I will be doing my squee filled post about meeting Peter Gallagher this evening because my dad's at work and he has the best photos of Peter and I.

For now here's chapter 6 of The Power of Speech.

Title:The Power of Speech Chapter 6
Rating: I'm lowering the rating to PG-13 but earlier chapters were rated M
Summary: An AU where Ryan's father wasn't arrested and continued to beat Dawn and the boys. Ryan meets the Cohens through a different way.

For previous chapters, click on the tag.

Chapter 6

Sandy Cohen didn’t know what to think as he stood on the doorstep of number 10, Eagle Street. He’d never done anything like this before but the look on that poor kid’s face when he’d asked about his brother, made the request he’d received impossible to refuse.

Now the sound of children playing was serenading him, as he waited for someone to come to the door.

He checked the name on the piece of paper once again. “Ryan Atwood,” he muttered to himself.

He really hoped he was doing the right thing. He hadn’t known what to think of Trey Atwood when he’d read his file. There were violent child abuse records and his little brother Ryan was included in most of the stories. He’d expected Trey to be a hard criminal, made savage by his troubled past. But the young man he’d met had been different than that.

Trey had been asking about his brother for most of the session and the genuine concern in his eyes had brought Sandy here.

The front door swung open suddenly, revealing a rather frazzled looking woman. A baby was hanging from her arm, a soother planted in its mouth.

She frowned at Sandy.

“Hi… uh good morning. I’m looking for Ryan Atwood. I spoke to your husband earlier on the phone and he said it would be okay if I came over.” He stuttered, he hadn’t properly decided what to say when he got to the door and it was clear. He was usually so good with words.

He held out his hand and she shook it, watching him sceptically. The baby in her arms gave a little squeal and she hugged it closer, rubbing its back to keep it quiet.

A man came up behind her “Who is it, Lucy?”

He stopped when he noticed Sandy and nodded at him. “Hi, you must be Mr Cohen. I’m Mark and this is my wife Lucy.” Sandy leaned forward to shake his hand.

“Please, call me Sandy”

“Ryan’s right through here.” Sandy noticed the annoyed look Lucy gave her husband, it was clear she hadn’t known he was coming.

Sandy followed Mark down a brightly coloured corridor, manoeuvring himself around children as he went.

At last they reached a room at the end of the corridor and Mark pointed towards its closed door. “He’s in there,”

Mark opened the door slowly and peered his head into the room.

“Ryan? This is the man I was telling about, the one who met with your brother.”

Mark moved aside and Sandy looked into the room. He noticed a blonde boy sitting on the window seat. The kid turned vaguely towards them and Sandy was shocked at the look he saw in those blue eyes. His eyes were blood shot and great purpley blue sacks stained the area under his eyes. Mark had mentioned on the phone that Ryan was having trouble sleeping. The teenager looked so defeated.

Sandy moved into the room and walked over to a wooden chair next to the window seat.

“Do you want anything to drink?” Mark asked and Sandy shook his head.

“No, thank you.”

The room was filled with an awkward silence as Mark also sat down in the room.

“So…” Sandy began. “Trey and I were in court today. It looks like he’s looking at a three to five year sentence. He’s got a pretty heavy file of previous misdemeanours, so that was the minimum the court would accept.” He paused, waiting for Ryan to take it all in.

“Trey asked me to come and check on you… to see how you are.” Sandy frowned as Ryan watched the cars go by outside, his blue eyes glassy.

“He told me what happened between you guys. He says he feels terrible about it, he’s very worried about you.”

Ryan didn’t seem to make any movement to show that he was listening to Sandy. He decided to change the subject.

“You know, my wife and I have been thinking about adopting or fostering for a while. Our son, Seth, is at college right now, far away in the east coast and its only the two of us rattling away in our house.”

He turned to see Mark watching him thoughtfully.

He turned back to Ryan. “Trey mentioned that you both had been in foster care before.”

Both Sandy and Mark noticed Ryan’s jaw twitch.

“He said that he’d never seen you more unhappy.” He continued.

Slowly Ryan turned towards him, his blue eyes burning into Sandy’s.

“He asked me if I’d be willing to check on you every once in a while, make sure you’re alright. I mean everything isn’t alright, that much is obvious but do you mind if I do that?”

Ryan didn’t answer but continued to watch Sandy.

“I’m going to give you my card. I know how tough these places can be, especially with so many younger kids running about.”

As if in answer, the sound of a baby crying filled the room.

“I’ll put my cell phone number down as well. That way you can reach me any time.” He scribbled down the number and held it out to him. He held it there for a few seconds before Ryan eventually reached out a tentative hand to take it.

Sandy looked behind again and saw a smile on Mark’s face. He grinned back at him before returning his gaze to Ryan.

The kid was turning the card over carefully in his hands, as if worried that it might tear at the slightest touch. It was clear he wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“Right, well I guess my wife is probably wondering what’s happened to me.” He got up, knees creaking and followed Mark out of the room.

"Bye Ryan."


“You should have seen him Kirsten, he didn’t do anything. He didn’t even speak, didn’t even shrug. Trey had the same sort of traumatised look on him as well but at least his worry over Ryan got him talking. I don’t want to even imagine what’s happened to the two of them over the years.

Sandy paced as he spoke, waving his hands in emphasis. Kirsten had never seen him look so distressed.

That sort of life seemed so far away from her sheltered life in Newport. He continued to pace and she got up from her perch to go to him.

“Honey….” He brushed her off, too riled up for comfort.

“The worst thing is that there are so many kids like Ryan and Trey who are swallowed up, chewed and spat out by the world. I just wish there was something I could do.” He sat down heavily on the bed.

Kirsten once again went over to him, rubbing his back. “Honey, you’re doing as much as you can do. You’re helping Trey by defending him, you gave Ryan your number. What more can you do?” She pulled him into a hug and he let out a deep sigh.

The sound of the phone ringing startled them both. It was a bit late for phone calls. Kirsten went over to her side of the bed and slid under the sheets while Sandy went over to the receiver.

“No, no business calls now, Caleb can sort out his own problems at this hour.” Sandy grunted as he walked over to it.

“Sandy Cohen,” he answered gruffly.

There was no reply. Sandy was about to hang up, but something inside him kept him from doing so. A sinking feeling descended into his stomach.




( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 21st, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
You updated! *yay*

I know I never comment (which is wrong of me) but I love this story so so much.

Can't wait to hear about your meeting with Peter.
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:49 am (UTC)
Thanks loveben. I'm glad you liked.

I tried to do my post last night but my computer was so slow that after an hour I gave up but I will try again today.
Jul. 21st, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
Ooooooh. This is great. Poor mute Ryan.

I too am looking forward to squeeing along to your squee. :)
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:50 am (UTC)
Themus! How are you?

I'm glad you liked :)

My squeeness was too much for my computer last night but I'll try again later.
Jul. 21st, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Sad Ryan makes me sad, too.
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)
Aww :)

He's going to be sad for a little while longer.
Jul. 21st, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see what happens! :)

and you met PG how cool!
Jul. 22nd, 2008 07:59 am (UTC)

Yes I did, he was wonderful :D I'm going to make my post later on as my computer was way too slow last night.
Jul. 21st, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
This is a very sad Ryan. I hope that Sandy can help.
Jul. 22nd, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
We shall see :)

Thanks for reading and commenting.
Jul. 22nd, 2008 10:16 am (UTC)
You spoil us with two updates in as many days. Very cool!

This is really heartwrenching. The shift in perspective, from Ryan's to Sandy's, somehow illuminates Ryan's pain all the more. Ryan, for all his despair and suffering- both physical and emotional- still attempts to detach himself as a means of protection and coping as best he can when he can. With Sandy's perceptions and impressions, it's impossible to minimize or ignore what Ryan's either become accustomed to or somehow manages to repress to the edge of awareness.

It's somewhat of a relief to learn that Trey feels at least an iota of remorse for his actions. Had he managed to convince, bully, threaten, or even force Ryan into following him, the poor kid would most likely be catatonic and unreachable by now with the additional trauma when he is already reeling and so vulnerable. However, it doesn't excuse Trey's behavior that afternoon, beginning with the initial treatment or the betrayal Ryan felt. The fact that Trey would include Ryan at all is certainly disturbing, particularly knowing what he did. I have to wonder if Sandy will access Ryan's files and if he already knows what went on when Ryan was alone in the Atwood house. If he thinks Trey has been scarred, look out...

I like that Mark has remained close by. He doesn't know Sandy and he knows Ryan will feel anxious at best in a stranger's presence. Having him in the room provides some sense of reassurance. I do have to ask if the dreaded meeting with the police has happened yet- another meeting that Mark would have been a party to, and one that Ryan feared so much. Maybe they knew he wouldn't vocalize so they've opted to wait until such an exchange might yield something?

You've been consistent with some significant common threads throughout. The emphasis on Ryan's sleeping patterns- or lack of them- is one example. The way he perches in the window seat, simultaneously seeing everything and nothing is another. He's no longer waiting for someone, but just watching what passes by. The mannerisms that indicate how wounded he is are evident in his posture and in his eyes that, for all of his stoicism, still reveal so much loss, confusion, resignation, fear and hurt.

I wasn't sure how you were going to introduce the Cohens, but you found a creative opening. The whole exchange, or series of them, at the group home is very vivid and packs a powerful, but subtle, emotional punch. It's very moving, and undeniable that Sandy is deeply affected. And then there's the phone call and the intuitive response...

Thanks so much for this very compelling portrait. Would it be too much to wish for more- soon?

And lucky you for meeting PG. I'll be looking forward to that post too! You somehow refrained from asking for Ben's number too... Imagine!
Jul. 22nd, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
You somehow refrained from asking for Ben's number too... Imagine!

Why didn't I do that? *slaps head* do you think he would have given it to me hee :)

Thanks for the review- I always love to hear what you have to say.

I like to think of Trey as one of those people who gets so het up that he does things but then realises his actions afterwards and feels bad for them. Or at least that's how he'll be in this story :)

Also, Mark was staying in the room to make sure Sandy wasn't someone from Ryan's past in disguise who would take him away. The meeting did happen but i may have cut out that bit because it interrupted the flow. It had the police getting really annoyed because Ryan just couldn't speak. Did I post that? I can't remember.

I'm hoping to finish my fan fic100 table this summer. I have 45 or something like that more to do so if I do it, I should have finished this story by the end of the summer.

Thanks for the comment :)
Jul. 23rd, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Um... well, we know Ben has said that he has remained in touch with Peter- which you also got confirmed from Peter- but there is that whole loyalty and privacy thing!

Ah, so Trey wreck isn't a sociopath in this story- just self-destructive, manipulative, unconcerned with consequences and very insensitive to his brother. I buy that. Actually, he is like canon Trey in many ways, including how he discounts and compromises Ryan to the point of sacrificing him. I guess the question is, does he think and consider the implications at all and still behave so callously and reprehensibly, or are integral parts missing so he bypasses and simply acts aggressively, selfishly, immorally, etc.... Yeah, way too complicated. The fact is, Ryan, no matter how desperate and loyal, is still able to sense, recognize and deduce who and what Trey is, even in his very traumatized condition. That speaks volumes.

I see we're on the same with Mark being vigilant and doing his job- and maybe being concerned for Ryan too. I did notice how Mark's ears seemed to prick up when Sandy mentioned fostering or adopting. Even if Mark feels sorry for Ryan, he has to be overwhelmed and at a loss as to how to relate to him with so much on his plate.

As for the interview with the police, nope, didn't see it or any mention of it. Swear! Did I miss something?

You want to finish this by the end of the summer? I hope not. I'd really love to see where this could go and it seems to just be starting to evolve in a new direction. The thought of only two or three more chapters is really disappointing. Ouch! Maybe you'll reconsider? Just a thought. ; )

Thanks again.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )