Rating: PG - probably G
This came from indigorayne on the oc_plotbunnies community.
Thanks to chazper for her beta services.
Ryan sat by his computer scrolling through the website trying to identify how many different forms he would need to fill in. He’d started his search at the public library, where a young pretty librarian had told him how could find the forms online. Just a couple of clicks and all the instructions and forms were there in front of him. It seemed so simple. A short form and a fee he could easily afford.
He’d read up on it, using a website that Sandy had once pointed out to him, and while following up would prove to be more difficult, with all the different places he’d have to inform, DMV, Social Security, his health insurance, Berkley, and a host of others, it still seemed worth it. He knew it was worth it.
They allowed you complete the form on the web, so Ryan typed in the correct information in all the fields and pressed CTRL and P. He watched anxiously as the printer clicked and whirred before spitting out the neatly filled out forms. That had been the easy part. The difficult part came now.” He swallowed hard as he used his fingernail to crease the papers and folded them into thirds. He then jammed the packet into the back of his pockets while he thought about venturing outside to sit with Sandy and Kirsten as they brunched.
He could see Sandy and Kirsten lounging out by the patio enjoying fruity looking drinks with umbrellas, the Saturday crossword puzzle between the two of them, and the International section sat on the right for Sandy and the Business section sat on the left for Kirsten. Seth wasn’t out yet. Ryan glanced at the clock and imagined his brother was still lazily curled up in bed, burrowed under the covers, or sneaking in another comic book before facing the big bad world.
Sighing, Ryan decided it was now or never. He opened up the pool house door, with just a bit too much force, and went out to join his foster parents.
Sandy grinned as he watched the young man stride purposefully toward them. “How’s the shopping going? Do you think you have everything you need for Berkley?”
Ryan sank down between Sandy and Kirsten, taking one of the empty chairs. “Nearly there,” he grinned, suddenly relaxing as he realized he could put off his request for another time. “Though Taylor thinks I don’t have everything I need and Seth says I’m not taking enough comics along with me.”
Kirsten tried to stifle a laugh.
“I told him Berkley had comic book stores, but he doesn’t believe me.”
“And what does Taylor think you’re missing?” Kirsten choked out when she couldn’t manage to suppress the laughter anymore.
“An Espresso machine. She also thinks I should take my heavyweight bag and—“ Ryan stopped, realizing he was about to give Sandy and Kirsten too much information. “Let’s just say Taylor doesn’t quite realize the reality of a college dorm room.”
“She’ll figure it out when she sees the room.” Sandy tapped the glass table rhythmically as a silence fell over small group. It was obvious that each of them had something more to say, that they just couldn’t get out. Finally, Sandy jumped in and said, “Ryan, about moving day. Kirsten and I, we’d really like to take you up there and help you settle in. I know it’s not very cool to have a bunch of old fogies trailing after you, but…”
“No. No.” Ryan raced to assure them. “I’d like that. Isn’t that part of the college tradition?” He asked shyly. “Having your parents drop you off?”
Kirsten grinned, as she patted the top of her bulging belly. She was glowing. Ryan wasn’t sure if it was because he called them his parents or was it her usual pregnancy glow. “That it is. You won’t mind your pregnant mom waddling in after you?”
Ryan lifted a finger at Sandy. “He’s going to have to explain himself to everyone. Not me.”
“Seth refuses to let me take him to college.”
“Kirsten, the doctor won’t allow it anyway,” Sandy patted her arm in a conciliatory manner. “I’m working on him to let us drive down with him. It’s a long trip, but I think we could do it.”
“And still take Ryan?” Kirsten questioned.
While Ryan listened, he reached into his pockets to take out the forms. They were in a good mood. It seemed like a good time to ask. He looked into the kitchen and wondered where Seth was. It would be his decision too. Absently, he flicked the edge of the papers; trying to form the right words and listening to Sandy outline his timetable to Kirsten. He explained how they could drive back and forth to Rhode Island and still have time to take Ryan up to Berkley. It seemed like a lot for a woman about to give birth, but Kirsten seemed stubborn about wanting to see both her boys off to college.
“Whatchya got there?” Sandy asked, noticing Ryan’s suddenly pensive mood.
“Just some forms.”
“I thought we filled everything out for college.” Kirsten furrowed her brows. She wasn’t used to leaving anything out. She had made appointments for both Ryan and Seth to get their immunizations up to date and had reminded them incessantly not to miss the appointment. She had sat with them as they filled out their housing forms, dining forms, and the emergency contact forms and the list of twenty other forms that each of the colleges had sent. It bothered her that she had possibly missed something.
“This isn’t about college.” Hesitantly, Ryan unfolded the paper and put them on the table, covering the content as he ironed it flat with the palm of his hands. He told himself it would make it easier for them to see, but in reality, it was just another delay tactic.
“What do you have there?” Sandy peered over Ryan’s hand. “Change of name?” Sandy furrowed his brows and looked at Ryan not bothering to hide his bewilderment.
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.”
He thought back to his tumultuous senior year of high school. He recalled how he had been ready to leave Newport to work on a fishing boat, and how he had explained it to Sandy in Kirsten.
I may not be an Atwood anymore, but I’m not a Cohen.
The words had been hurtful, but they had been true. It was a sad irony that it was Marissa’s death that had most definitely made him a Cohen. Sandy, Kirsten and Seth had pulled him out of his dark abyss and helped him stand again in the world of the living. They had pulled him into the heart of their family, even when he was pushing them away.
When his father had come to Newport, even though Ryan was curious about Frank, he knew deep in his heart that Sandy Cohen was his true father. And while Dawn was doing well in Albuquerque, when she had first left him with the Cohens, choosing the alcohol over him, he knew that she would never be able to reclaim the role of mother. Frank and Dawn were his birth parents, but Sandy and Kirsten were the ones who had given him his life.
He just didn’t know how to form the words on his lips. He didn’t know how to explain it.
Kirsten leaned over to take a look. “You want to change your name to Cohen? Are you sure?”
Ryan nodded emphatically.
“I know it was never possible for you to adopt me. And I don’t know if I could ever call you mom and dad. That seems too disrespectful to Dawn and Frank. But I want people to know that you’re my family. This was the only way I could think of doing that.” The words came out of him like a gush of air leaving a balloon. He couldn’t help but notice Kirsten’s eyes grow misty. She’d been overly emotional during her entire pregnancy. So Ryan concentrated on Sandy instead, trying to read his expression.
“I’d be honored, Ryan.” He grabbed the boy in an embrace. “No matter what your name is, you are my son. Don’t ever doubt that. You don’t have to do this to prove anything—“
“This isn’t about proving anything. This is what I want.”
“Then I want it for you.” Sandy tried to keep his voice even, but it was packed with emotion. “I’m proud to call you my son. I’d be even prouder if you took on our name.” With his right hand, Sandy grasped Kirsten’s hand in his, and with his left hand he held Ryan’s. Only Seth was missing from the moment.
But Seth was never one to disappoint. A moment later, he ambled out onto the patio, with his terry robe wide open, and his pajama pants bottoms dragging on the floor.
“Hey, are we having family time? I can go back to my room and read some more Civil War,”
“You know, son, when you’re in college, I’m going to cut off your comic book allowance.”
“No can do, Dad.” Seth settled into the empty chair next to his mother and didn’t shake her off when she clasped his hand in hers. “Comic books will be part of the curriculum. In fact, you’ll probably be shelling more money out on comics. It’ll be part of the textbook budget.” Ignoring the laughter around him, Seth leaned over nosily and looked at the paper sitting on the table. “Ryan, you in trouble with the police again? I don’t think they let you change your name in that case.” Seth rubbed his arm and muttered after his mother slapped him, not too lightly. “And you should definitely think of a better pseudonym than Cohen. You hardly look like a Jew and if you’re in trouble with the law the first place they’d come looking is here.”
“I’m not running away from anything, Seth.” Ryan finally found a moment where Seth needed to take a breath and he could fit in a word edgewise. “I’m running to something.”
“Running to what?”
“Your family. Our family.”
“Awwww. That’s so sweet.”
“Seth,” warned Kirsten. She didn’t want anything to change Ryan’s mind. Especially not Seth’s teasing.
Seth picked up the papers and read them over carefully. “It’s cool.” He nodded his head in approval. “I mean, you’ve been my brother for almost four years now. But it’s cool that you want everyone to know it.”
“So, it’s okay with you?”
“Do I have to wear a suit and tie when we go to court and make this all official?”
“Then I’m all for it, man.”
Ryan grinned. In some ways, it meant more to him that Seth was okay with it, than even Sandy.
“You didn’t all have to come,” Ryan said shyly. They were all surrounding him. Kirsten and her swollen belly, Sandy with his battered briefcase, and Seth, surreptitiously trying to keep Captain Oats out of sight. “It’s just two minutes in front of the judge to rubber stamp this.”
“You need representation,” Seth insisted.
“That’s why Sandy is here,” Ryan answered.
“We want to be here.” Kirsten squeezed her shoulder. “But I hope this happens quickly…” she rubbed her belly.
Luckily, Ryan was early on the docket. Once his name was called, it was only a matter of minutes before the judge stamped and made it official. Ryan swore he had no ill intent by changing his name. He wasn’t hiding from debt or becoming a criminal mastermind.
“He just wants to be one of us,” Seth had called out. Sandy had shushed him and had apologized for his son’s impertinence.
It was over. And Ryan Cohen finally had the paperwork to show he was part of the family.