Down A Rabbit Hole We Go

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the OC characters.

Chapter 2

Several streets around the Chino Juvenile Detention Center were under repair and by the time Caleb Nichols figured out how to maneuver them to get to the correct parking lot, he was beyond frustrated. Sandy almost felt sorry for the guy… almost. He stopped his flustered father in law at the door to the detention center and encouraged him to relax and let Sandy handle things. After all, Sandy was in his element here.

Sandy made small talk with the guard conducting screening at the entrance and then moved on to the familiar officer in booking, "Joe, how are things tonight?"

Joe Whatley looked up, surprised to see one of Chino's public defenders this late at night and dressed to the nine's in a suit that Joe would never be able to afford. "Sandy Cohen, are you lost? What are you doing here at this time of night dressed like that? You lookin for a party?" Joe greeted, shaking Sandy's hand and eyeing the man behind him curiously. Caleb had stopped a few feet behind Sandy with a scowl on his face.

"Actually, I just left the party, Joe. It was getting a little stuffy anyway," Sandy grinned, loosening his tie. "I'm here on business. Did you guys pick up a Ryan Atwood tonight?"

"Atwood? Yeah. Kid got caught riding in a stolen car with his brother. You know him?" Joe replied.

"Friend of a friend," Sandy explained, nodding towards Caleb who was still looking on from afar. "I'll be taking his case. What's he being charged with?"

"Humph. The kid's brother has priors including car theft. But Ryan doesn't have much of a record to speak of and no history of any kind of theft. If the kid's lucky and his brother backs his story, there won't be any charges. He swears he didn't know anything about the car being stolen." Whatley explained.

As soon as Whatley had spoken, Caleb Nichols reacted, turning away and pulling out his cell phone. He called one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Orange County at his home. "David," Cal greeted, "I need a favor."

Sandy and Officer Whatley looked on curiously as Caleb insisted that David Billings head to Chino tonight to meet with and represent Trey Atwood. "Tell him that I sent you, David, and that I expect him to remain loyal to his little brother."

As Caleb moved further away and his voice got too low to hear, Sandy took the opportunity to try to meet his mysterious new client that had thrown his father in law for such a loop. "Can I see the kid tonight, Joe? Is he in lock up?" Sandy enquired.

"Nah. Considering the likelihood of no charges, we've got the kid in one of our interrogation rooms, letting him stew a little so maybe he'll think about the choices he makes in the future," Joe replied. "We're still looking for his mother so he can be released when the time comes, but she's nowhere to be found and the kid's not helping us much. Here's his file. Come on, I'll take you back. Maybe he'll tell you where we can find his mom. I think the medics just got through looking him over."

"Medics?" Sandy's giant eyebrows rose, threatening to meet in the middle of his forehead.

"Yeah. Kid's got a nice shiner and a cut that may need some steri-strips. He wouldn't tell us how he got them either."

Sandy nodded. "Sounds like a real talkative guy," Sandy mused.

XXXXX

Sandy took Ryan's file from Whatley and followed him just down the hall to a small interrogation room. As he entered the room, he took a moment to observe the boy seated on the other side of the long table as the kid's head snapped up from where he'd been resting it in his hands. He stared at Sandy intently before looking back down at the table. Sandy noticed the bruising around Ryan's left eye and cut on his forehead near his hairline that had indeed been closed with steri-strips. The bruising looked fairly fresh. Sandy sat in the nearest chair and started to review the kid's file, glancing up periodically to find the boy studying him. Every time Sandy looked up, the kid looked away, either down at the table or at one of the walls.

Finally, Sandy spoke, "Hello, Ryan, I'm Sandy Cohen. I'm…an acquaintance of Caleb Nichol. He asked me to look at your case." At this comment, Ryan locked eyes with Sandy and didn't look away. Sandy looked back at his file. "So, your record is pretty clean, a few fights, truancy, your grades aren't great, but not bad. Your test scores. Wow. Your test scores are great, Ryan. You're obviously a smart kid, which begs the question, 'What are you doing here?' Sandy looked up, waiting to see if the kid would answer. When Ryan just stared at him, Sandy raised an eyebrow.

"I don't know. You tell me." Ryan quipped. "I was just riding around with my brother. I thought he'd borrowed the car from a friend. I didn't know it was stolen, if it even was."

"Well, hopefully your brother is going to corroborate your version of things, kid." Sandy answered.

"Trey, wouldn't throw me under the bus." Ryan seemed confident and Sandy hoped he was right.

"Assuming your right, we should be able to get you home tonight. We just need to find a family member to take responsibility for you," Sandy replied. "Now, it says here, your father Frank is in jail. Your brother's in lock up as of tonight. That leaves your mom. Do you have any idea where we can find her?"

"No," Ryan answered a little to quickly in Sandy's opinion. "I don't care if they find her or not," the kid said nonchalantly, running his fingers over the tabletop. "Where's Cal?"

"Mr. Nichol is outside. They don't usually let anyone in this early in the process except parents or counsel." Sandy explained.

Ryan looked back down at the table again and chewed on his lip. "What did Cal tell you about me?"

"He told me that you were a good kid and that your brother had gotten you into some trouble." Sandy answered honestly.

Ryan looked up again and asked quietly, "What did he tell you about how we met?"

Sandy looked at the boy curiously, "He said he met you through his charity work."

The boy chuckled, much like Sandy had when Caleb had said that to him. Then he frowned and wrapped his arms around his chest. His breathing quickened and he rocked the chair he was sitting in back and forth slightly. When he spoke again, his voice was low, and he was obviously angry. "Get out."

"Excuse me?" Sandy inquired.

"Get out!" Ryan reiterated, louder this time. "Get out and tell 'Mr. Nichol'," Ryan made sure to emphasize those words, "that I don't want any more of his charity."