Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of The OC. They all belong to Josh Schwartz.

A/N: This takes place, early season one, after Kirsten gets Ryan released from juvie and the Cohen's become Ryan's legal guardians. This story is AU, and I've written Dawn as she was portrayed in "The Pilot" episode. I'm also trying my hand at developing some of my own characters. Just minor roles to hopefully help convey my story.

Prologue

"I just wanna know where he is. He's my baby... you know that."

"You let your lowlife, good-for-nothin' boyfriend beat on him... you kicked him out of the house and then you skipped town."

"I wasn't doin' well... I was in a really bad place, you know? Drinkin' and..."

"That's no excuse. A mother is supposed to protect her kid, not throw him out like yesterday's garbage and then leave him."

"I told you..."

"Why should I help you, huh?"

"Because I've changed. I got a job and a place to stay... and I haven't had a drink in over a week."

"Oh, a whole week without a drink! Wow, Mom, that's amazing! Truly fuckin' amazing!" Trey leans back in his chair and takes a deep drag from his cigarette. "You're pathetic."

"Baby, please..."

"I'm not your baby. Ryan's your baby." Trey leans in towards his mother and points his finger in her face as he stares directly into her eyes. "Don't you ever fuckin' call me 'baby'."

"Times up, Atwood!" the security guard announces as he stands in the doorway with his beefy arms folded across his over-developed chest. "Time to go back to your cell."

"Trey, honey... please..."

Trey grabs his pack of cigarettes off the table and tucks them back in the pocket of his prison-issued jumpsuit. He snuffs out his cigarette as he kicks his chair back to stand up.

"Trey... please. I just wanna find out if he's alright. You know... that he's not laying dead in an alley somewhere... "

Trey stops and exhales the rest of the smoke out of his lungs as he stares coldly down at his mother. He notices her frazzled blond hair, her peaked complexion and tired eyes exaggerated by poorly applied mascara. "The last I heard, Ryan's lawyer took him in... some bleeding heart public defender from Newport. Seems to me, Ryan's finally livin' the good life." Trey walks over to his mother, bends down and speaks directly into her ear. "If you do anything to screw it up for him, so help me god, I will kill you. Do you hear me? Leave my baby brother alone. He no longer belongs to you, Dawn."