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

A/N: I always wanted some sort of bridge between Dawn leaving again and Kirsten announcing that Ryan would be staying with them. Even though Ryan was happy to be able to stay with the Cohen's, it had to be terribly painful to be abandoned, yet again, by his own parent.

I know I'm writing Kirsten slightly out of character, but what can I say... I'm a mom, and I always wanted more Kirsten/Ryan bonding.

A New Mom

Kirsten stands on the patio in a state of shock, her arms wrapped tightly around herself as she watches Dawn walk away. She glances over at the boy and sees the confusion and hurt etched upon his young face as he quietly turns around and walks back inside the poolhouse.

I need to be his mother now, Kirsten thinks to herself, rubbing her slender arms to stave off the early morning chill in the air. I can do this...

Kirsten slowly walks up the steps and stands outside the poolhouse, her hand clasping the doorknob as she searches her heart for courage. She takes a long, deep breath in hope of settling her nerves as she opens the door and quietly steps inside the dimly lit room. She notices the boy sitting on the edge of the bed, his head lowered and his arms wrapped tightly around himself, shielding himself from the pain... shutting himself off from the world.

"Ryan..." Kirsten says softly as she cautiously steps further into the room. "Ryan, I'm so sorry."

Kirsten pauses for a moment and waits for the boy to respond, but he remains silent.

Walking slowly over to the bed, Kirsten tentatively sits down next to the dejected boy and places her hand gently on his back to offer him comfort. "Ryan, everything will be alright," she tells the quiet teenager, hoping her words will soothe him.

Kirsten finds herself instinctively tracing small circles with her fingers on the middle of Ryan's back, something she's done countless times with her own son when he's been upset or not feeling well. She notices a single teardrop fall from the boy's cheek onto his lap as she slowly moves her hand up to lightly caress the back of his neck. "It'll be alright, sweetheart..."

Kirsten continues to wait patiently in silence, giving the pensive boy time to put his thoughts together as she tries to fathom the pain and confusion he must feel after watching his mother abandon him again. She suddenly hears a small sigh and hopes it's a sign the reserved teenager will finally say something.

"You can tell Sandy I'll go to that group home he found for me," Ryan says so quietly that Kirsten needs to lean in slightly to hear him. "It won't take me long to pack my things."

"What are you talking about?" Kirsten asks in dismay. "You're not going to go to a group home. You're going to stay with us now."

Ryan looks up at Kirsten, his soulful, blue eyes filled with unshed tears. "I don't understand... you said I needed to go to a group home if my mom..." Ryan lowers his head again as he visualizes his mother walking away, not understanding what he has done that would compel her to leave him again.

"Well, things have changed," Kirsten explains as she lightly rubs the back of his neck, hoping to give the despondent boy some comfort. I have changed, she acknowledges to herself as she takes ahold of Ryan's hand and squeezes it gently. "You're staying with us now."

"Really? You want me to stay?" Ryan asks, his voice hesitant yet hopeful as he glances back up at Kirsten, searching for any hint of deceit in her eyes, listening for any subtle pretense in her voice.

Kirsten softly brushes a stray tear off Ryan's cheek, smiles warmly and looks reassuringly into his wistful eyes. "Yes, you're going to stay with us."

I'm going to be your mom now...