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3/16 c15 Guest
So as much as you keep key traits and facts about nearly every character the same as the show other than the biological family relationship at the core, you're doing a real 180 with Trey as the career violent criminal who was putting Ryan at risk to save his own skin, or was the one who would have shot Ryan, choked, or shattered his skull when Ryan was 16. That's a lot, especially because that shaped Ryan as much as Frank's, Dawn's and anyone else's abuse in whatever form. And if Ryan was about 7, then his half-brother was 12 and well beyond Disneyland if he had ever been. Drugs and other trouble was his jam. I'd rather not waste time on someone who I could care less about. In my mind, he is who he has always been, so I'll agree to disagree and concentrate on who and what matters.

I'm always ready to learn more about Ryan and Caleb and to get a look back to understand things. I'm confused about Ryan ever actually missing or wanting Dawn. Being relieved makes more sense. If it was more that he was threatened with being abandoned or taken away, something that he would go through and would be a regular threat, and you're trying to connect the dots, it would help if it were a little clearer. I'm interpreting it as Ryan scared that being away overnight meant that he was being taken as warned, not that it was his escape from the neglect and abuse and overall hurt.

I always felt sorry for Ryan for so many reasons beyond the Atwoods. Kirsten never warmed to him and made the walls she built very visible for Ryan. Seth used him quite a bit to get what he wanted and to have someone to do what he wanted. He never said it, be he knew that Ryan would feel obligated and that he owed him. I think that the same is true here. He has to worry that anyone wants him around and has to please everyone to try. Maybe part of the reason on the show was to keep the cast size small, but Ryan should have had other friends who shared his interests and valued him for him, not for what he could do for them.

I'm glad that Caleb is getting a little of a clue, or Haley is. Maybe both. Ryan would never have had a good experience with caseworkers because all of the circumstances would have been based on fear. The threats and the neglect and abuse were always there, the worst kind of threats to frighten a child who is dependent and already in a situation that he doesn't understand. Being removed when there is criminal behavior from the adults would only reinforce that and Ryan had always been the one blamed by the offenders. Of course he's going to worry now like he always would. He's never had rights or a say in what happened and he's always had to figure out how to get by.

Even something like Disneyland would be overshadowed. If he wasn't being taken and given away, he would be going back to a horrible place.

Thanks for updating.
3/15 c15 10matthewsbj
I apologize for not reviewing as much as I should have, or, well ever.

I really like the relationship you've built between Seth and Ryan. They were good for each other (mostly) in the show, and it looks like they are good for each other here.

I like, too, the flashback that gave us more of a glimpse of Ryan's life with Dawn, Frank, and Trey. At least in that little scene, Frank didn't seem to be a little bit better then the man we saw in the series. Perhaps another divergence to which your opening notes referred.

Looking forward to future chapters. And I will try to do better with reviews.
3/15 c15 Guest
I really like this version. Please keep it going. I want to see how Caleb deals with Ryan when maybe he does something stupid that requires some form of discipline
3/12 c14 Guest
There's so much to think about when it comes to perspective v. reality for Caleb. Did that change at all over the years? It doesn't seem so, only that Caleb's rules changed to suit him especially as Ryan became older and more aware. I'm not sure how that fits with how much more traumatized, at risk and desperate Ryan became until he couldn't take it and saw that Caleb wasn't going to do more than he had unless maybe if push came to shove and he was outed, if Ryan even had thought of that or if it just happened since he wouldn't have been within miles of Trey without a choice or against his will.

It also seems like even a very young child had the perspective no matter how confused and scared he might have been at first meeting Caleb and not comprehending the situation fully. He always would have known that he didn't belong and wasn't wanted. The threat of being taken or thrown away was always there just like being told in every way by the Atwoods that he wasn't good enough and was around for the money. If he was good enough, Caleb would have done things differently too.

I've been on board with Summer as a background character with a friendship that shines a light on events from the past that no one else might no about and some kind of trust. Seeing her linked with a certain close friend is jolting. I hope that she's not part of the story with so much that's really important and compelling.

Looking forward to learning more.
3/3 c14 Guest
A barely audible voice, lack of eye contact, shame, guilt, worthlessness, and so much more are significant when it comes to Ryan. This is the outcome of the 15 years of both the emotional scars on display and the physical ones. Kirsten might not be aware of how easily she slides into a role that Ryan knows too well, even if she isn't going to hurt him the same way. She still has the power and he's the vulnerable one at his most vulnerable. She might not trust anyone unknown in her midst, but she's also taking her anger out on an innocent victim who has paid for everyone's mistakes basically every day. Ryan doesn't need her to remind him or to jeopardize what he's so worried about with Caleb, a man who knew that he was Ryan's father for years, but made choices that caused tremendous damage and trauma to Ryan for the sake of his own reputation, comfort and convenience. For Ryan, it wouldn't take much for history to repeat itself with the same kind of abandonment with conditional tolerance. Caleb and the Atwoods weren't that different in that respect, except the Atwoods were paid.

I'm definitely curious about how much Caleb let himself rationalize or explain away and what he sees more clearly looking back. It's already clear that Ryan was desperate for help right from the start and went so far to ask Caleb to take him, which had to be wrenching knowing what he faced going back and the pain of being rejected.
2/28 c14 Guest
I haven't read yet, since I want to go back to favorite chapters at the beginning, but I'm saving for later.
2/26 c14 Guest
A little bit of selective reading with Summer's friend (definitely not someone I wanted to see) and the way Ryan's half-brother is described that makes him far less the violent career criminal by the time he was Ryan's age and how dangerous the path he chose was doing whatever he wanted to whoever was in his way or just for a display of force and power. Enough of that.

A closer look at Ryan's introspection and how he's wrongly perceived and again the target for someone else's mistakes and choices is heartbreaking. It demonstrates how much he's paid the price for any and everyone's behavior just because. Being devalued all of his life makes him the most vulnerable because the constant abuse has taken hold of his mindset and trying to avoid the physical pain if possible means that he's had to find ways to withdraw, try to be invisible and hope to survive each round. The youngest who has always been threatened and hurt has no options and has no power. He could only fear that what was already a horrible situation could be made worse. It usually happened anyway.
2/26 c14 Guest
Thanks for more down the rabbit hole. Ryan's responses under scrutiny and how he expects to be blamed, judged, targeted and found guilty and lacking just because he exists is profoundly sad and true. Kirsten feeds into it too readily.

It's hard to know if Caleb is seeing things through a more enlightened set of eyes yet looking back at events and how Ryan was over the years, right to the beginning. It was always about what fit in Caleb's life and on his terms, which is the opposite of how any parent or guardian should be. Did he add more rules as Ryan got older and understood more, or did he just keep Ryan hidden more when he rarely saw him at first and said very little? Ryan had to know that Caleb could disappear, change the rules or whatever else he'd been told and was worried about after all of the mind games and abuse at the hands of the others.

Your take on Trey avoiding Dawn & Co. seems way off, since he was gone either in juvie or jail or living with his own crew for years already. Either locked up or free to add to his rap sheet and not share any of the drugs and cash or whatever he'd stolen. So much for hoping that Summer had a much better class and type of friend. Maybe there's a way to change that or just keep her friend out of it. I'd much rather learn about her friendship with Ryan, starting with before this and how that has any impact now, not that she's a main character.

I'll look forward to more insights into Ryan and his relationship with Caleb and what kind of "family" they were at various points in the past and what is happening now and how.
2/25 c14 Guest
I'm glad that you're not pretending that components like Child Services, Social Services, domestic calls with police involved and whatever crimes the Atwoods were always committing never happened and weren't important. Obviously, neglect, and all forms of physical and emotional child abuse had the worst impact on Ryan, but the rest traumatized him too and made his life torture. He wouldn't have known a time when the adults and his brother weren't hurting him and putting him at risk. It didn't have to be the strangers allowed in to do the same. That prompts me to note that things don't add up with Trey at 17, or any teenage year. He'd already started his "impressive record" with being in lock up, not school, and crashing where he wanted to do what he wanted. He probably was already tried as an adult with so many repeat offenses and serious crimes to his credit, not that I want to waste time on him unless it's how he hurt Ryan. Total opposites, with Ryan a giver who helps and the other only a taker with no thought to hurting. Definitely not worth the time.

I sure hope that you keep the story about Ryan and Caleb and dig much deeper there. I'm also curious to how Sandy plays a role. With Kirsten's chip on her shoulder and misgivings that should be about Caleb's behavior and not added to Ryan's burdens, Sandy should be valuable with his personal knowledge of realities that Kirsten has no experience with, or resists. He should also have a way of connecting with Ryan, although his own background can't begin to compare minus the kind of neighborhood.

Seeing that Summer has the same certain best friend is a disappointment. I was hoping not to have her as a part of the story, so I'll be hoping for little to none besides that mention. Ryan and Luke would have a different kind of dynamic without the friction with Seth once that's cleared up, not that it's important in the scheme of the story, all depending on what Ryan's status is in Newport if he remains an actual recognized family member of Caleb's. That will be a process that won't be easy and has to start inside and behind closed doors. That's the real struggle and journey that hasn't even started.

Thanks for adding more with some details of how the personal interactions unfold and how the emotions and Ryan's years of being dehumanized and targeted play out.
2/22 c14 Guest
I'm always ready for more.

Thanks for at least mentioning a little about Ryan and foster care. I would have guessed that Trey was locked up, like most of the teenage years, but maybe getting ready for real prison with a short break first, but he hadn't been in the same place with Ryan for a few years by then. That might have made things a little easier without him making things worse for Ryan as often, only dropping in to hurt him. Dawn sure would have found a way to play things to her advantage and have Ryan pay, just adding to the emotional abuse to go with the physical and belittle him.

I couldn't read the beginning of the chapter too closely. I've been hoping that Summer would have a different so called best friend and Ryan wouldn't ever have to have anything to do with MC. Seth has a problem with making comments that cause problems, so he shouldn't be putting Ryan in a bad position. Luke and Ryan really had no reason not to be friends and had much more reason to be close on the show without the one character. It turned out that they were closer, and probably more than Ryan really was with Seth because there wasn't the obligation for Ryan and the expectation for Seth. However, like Trey, not important. It's about Ryan and Caleb, maybe Sandy and how the family sees Ryan compared to how he sees them. He has no reason to trust anybody after all he's been put through, but then there's Kirsten and others not giving him a fair shake. Obviously, she can't be at all objective. She's looking for excuses. Ryan will allow her to believe what she wants and worse. He can't understand any reason why he'd be wanted or welcomed, which is so wrenching, but has been a lifetime daily process drilled and beaten into him.

Thanks for another chapter.
2/19 c14 Guest
Updated an hour ago? I guess timing was on my side for a change today, although I'll be honest at recoiling at MC's name. I was hoping that she wouldn't exist at all or wouldn't be any part and distraction from far more important things.

I'm glad that you touched on something like Child Services/Social Services and how the system would have been a part of Ryan's life, double life or not, past and present. He would have been dodging Atwoods and whoever they had around with their actions having the most and worst impact on him. I'm surprised at Trey not being locked up at 17 since the show made it clear that he started his long rap sheet and criminal career already before teenage years, and that included violent crime and repeats with longer sentences. He also had left wherever Ryan was living years before Ryan was 12, so Ryan would have been very much alone unless Trey showed up to make matters worse. But the key is Ryan and what he had to grapple with in all of the places he was shuffled to and had to survive.

If Kirsten thinks that Ryan is anything like the other Atwoods, she really is off-base, but she would be looking for any reason that she could. Admitting to herself that Ryan isn't who she imagines and can't be blamed somehow and judged wouldn't let her feel as angry at him, blame him for existing, which is sadly what just about everyone has always done, and keep her superiority with her distance. She doesn't even want to consider what life has been like for him. That's very true to character for her.

Thanks for including a little look back out of all of the many years and occasions. It might be very brief, but I'll take it and hope that there's more in depth coming.

Thanks for writing and for capturing some of Ryan's ingrained reactions to Kirsten. He's too familiar with being sized up and scrutinized on the spot.
2/17 c13 Guest
So very glad to get another look at Ryan and Caleb and another facet of their mysterious and fragile relationship. I'm trying to picture their first meetings from both perspectives, and Caleb with a small child. Ryan would have been intimidated, but was Caleb? Was Ryan hoping that he wouldn't have to go back after he started to realize that things were so much better during the brief times with Caleb?

Thanks for going down this rabbit hole and keep on digging and traveling, please.
2/10 c13 Guest
I really look forward to going further down the complicated, 15-year-old rabbit hole with all the twists and turns. Ryan had his own separate, dark, painful one that he was utterly alone in, with a so-called half-brother who was violent, dangerous, and I guess jealous enough to be capable of (and later on) ready and determined to kill Ryan in very up-close, personal, agonizing ways like strangling him, blunt force head trauma (both while looking him in the eye) or shooting him in the back while he walked away. Yes, those were in the future and a different path here, but same Trey with same long, unremorseful record unchecked and out of control. That would be terrifying enough for a child from earliest memory, but any parent or any other adult attached to a parent who was the same or more terrifying would be torture. Not having Caleb do anything, and as someone who seemed to have everything, know everything and control everything would be crushing to Ryan and tell him that he had no choices.

You always invest me in the quiet, slower paced, powerful moments that are the most moving either because of an important deduction, revelation, insight or any combination.

Please keep the emotional well full and keep on sharing.
2/9 c13 Guest
Thank you! I was so hoping for some quiet, revealing Ryan and Caleb time. This is a little more of a look, sort of pulling the curtain back for a minute or so before being interrupted. So much to explore.

Caleb must have written dozens of checks for projects or causes for abused, neglected and at-risk kids in desperate need. All the time, his own son was in the same shape and probably worse with everyone from an older sociopathic half-brother and whoever he hung out with to all of the violent criminals Dawn and Frank associated with who were like them and maybe worse depending on the day.
2/6 c13 Guest
Just the story that I need to get lost in all over again on a stormy day. If I have time, I'll be going back to the beginning too.

Thanks.
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