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.
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.
“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.