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Title: would they see a poor boy?
Fandom(s): The OC
Pairing: Ryan/Marissa
Word Count: 1,508
Rating: T (very brief language)
Warnings: References are made to parental abandonment, divorce, alcoholism, and shoplifting.
Disclaimer: I don't own them! I just borrow them.
Summary: Ryan and Marissa's viewing of Aladdin conjures complicated emotions and associations for both of them. Set shortly after "The Homecoming" (1x11).
Notes: Canon compliant, unlike other RM fics of mine! This is for the Written in the Stars challenge at [info]5_prompts (H11. Home is where the heart is so stay home and watch a movie) and for my claim at lover100 (Table B, Prompt #7 - hardest truth).

“Someday, Abu, things are gonna change. We’ll be rich, live in a palace, and never have any problems at all.”
- Aladdin

“You can’t tell me you’ve never seen Aladdin.
“I didn’t say never. I said I hadn’t seen it in a while.”
“You didn’t remember Abu, Ryan. Everyone remembers Abu. ‘A while’ is how long?”
“You want me to count, Cooper?”
Marissa couldn’t help a smile—him calling her that reminded her of the Ferris wheel. She leaned in to kiss him for it, then sprang up and went over to the cabinet where her dad had but the VHSes and DVDs, in case Kaitlin were to come home—she liked that he’d thought of that; her mother didn’t always think of Kaitlin now that she was off at boarding school. “We’re fixing this now. I know we have—Care Bears, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast—yes! Aladdin.” She held up the VHS in its mildly battered case, survivor of many rewatches by her and by Kaitlin.
“You don’t have it on DVD? You of all people, always up to date?”
“I’m the Disney vault’s bitch.” She cracked open the case and gingerly removed the aging tape, popping it into the VCR and then going back to the couch to join Ryan, resting her feet on his lap and putting the remote by her side.
“Are we watching all the previews?”
“Yes, we’re watching all the previews.”
“You know all these movies came out years ago, right?”
“Where is your nostalgia, Ryan?” She nudged his thigh with her foot. “Does it just not exist for you, like the bowls that normal people eat their cereal out of?”
“You’re not doing much to make me want to stay here.”
“I’m only teasing.”
As the music for “Arabian Nights” began, Marissa closed her eyes, listening to the familiar song from her childhood. She’d always loved Aladdin; it had been her fantasy—a girl living alone with only her father, no mother in sight to criticize or control her. A beautiful palace, where money was no object (she realized now how much her father had had to struggle to give them anything, how many times he’d gotten caught between decisions that could only be classified as bad, worse, and worst). A big cat like Rajah, someone to protect her in the way their overly friendly dog Dixon had never been able to.
She opened her eyes again as the song ended and she became conscious of Ryan’s hand rubbing steady circles on her left foot, being careful of a blister or two. “Where are these from?”
“High heels. Be glad you don’t know what they’re like.”
“I think I am now. Do they hurt?”
“You get used to it. It feels better now, though.” He looked over just in time to see her grin. “You have a soft side underneath all that Chino, you know,” she said gently. “As much as you don’t want people to know about it.”
Ryan looked away for a moment, then back down at her feet. She doubted he had a sudden and intense interest in her toenail polish (although it was pretty, she knew—Maybelline Ripe Plum; she liked purple), and she knew she had to wait for him to speak. It was how it always was. “I used to do this for my mom,” he said finally. “She’d wait tables all day, or she’d stand on the unemployment line… she’d come home worn out and ask me to rub her feet. Usually while she had a drink. Or four.”
The grin on Marissa’s face slowly faded as he spoke, and she sat up wordlessly, swinging her legs out of his lap and to the floor. She sidled towards him and cuddled close into him, resting her chin on his shoulder after quickly squeezing it. She felt him press a quick kiss to her hair, a sign that the attempt to comfort him was appreciated, and she kissed his shoulder in return.
They sat in silence for a time, watching the movie and, in Marissa’s case, keeping time with the music by gently tapping her fingers against Ryan’s arm. Once or twice she thought she saw a faint smile—of course, she realized: he liked musicals.
She heard a dry laugh from Ryan in the midst of “One Jump Ahead”, and when she looked at him and tilted her head, he elaborated. “I’d blame parents except he hasn’t got ‘em. I know the feeling.”
“Familiar enough around here,” Marissa agreed. Although she knew how much worse his situation had been—his father was just a subject they didn’t touch, and Dawn was nearly just as bad—she knew enough kids whose parents had just given them credit cards and sent them on their way. And if trouble came after that, what else was there to do but just let them go? The parents wouldn’t care, and the kid could pay them off, no harm done.
Gotta eat to live; gotta steal to eat,” Ryan murmured. “That’s familiar, too.”
“How often?” Marissa asked quietly, though she squeezed his hand to let him know he didn’t have to answer, and Ryan gave a shrug that was more like a flinch. “Trey more than me. A couple of the priors he had on his record were shoplifting. He’d never let me do it,  but I had to a couple times when he was gone and my mom was… my mom might as well have been.”
“You know, when… when I was little and my mom and dad were fighting, I used to think not having them around would be the greatest thing.” She carefully brushed some hair from his eyes. “I guess that sounds stupid to you.”
“No, it doesn’t. I’m kinda glad my mom, even with all her problems, wasn’t anything like yours,” Ryan said, with a faint smirk, and Marissa lightly smacked his arm.
“You are a worthless street rat. You were born a street rat, you’ll die a street rat, and only your fleas will mourn you…”
That line, when it came, made Ryan close his eyes, and she nudged her nose against his cheek, another small try at comfort. When Ryan opened his eyes again, he motioned to the screen. “Movie feels… appropriate, these days.”
“What do you mean?”
Street rat. You could’ve called me that in Chino. I’m sure people call me that around here. You…. you’re the princess.”
“You—you’re a suckup.”
“You’re telling me you don’t feel like you’ve got ‘people who tell you where to go and how to dress…’?”
“Sarcasm, Ryan. You live with Seth; you’d think you’d have learned it by now.”
“You think Seth’s the only sarcastic one? Try Sandy.”
“That’s true.”
“Oooh, Marissa Cooper admitting she’s wrong…”
“I just said ‘that’s true,’ because it is. And technically I wasn’t wrong. I just didn’t mention Sandy. But I did mention Seth, and he is sarcastic.”
“You know how to argue.”
“It happens when you live with Julie Cooper; you should try it some time.” The look of terror on his face made her stifle her laugh against his shoulder.
“The Genie,” Ryan said, as “Friend Like Me” came on. “Sandy’s the Genie.”
“Because everything out of his mouth is a joke somehow?”
“Kind of. That and… he was the one who got me out of Chino. You saw it there. No one ever leaves. Sandy coming in was magic, as far as I’m concerned. And…” For a moment, Ryan flicked his gaze from the TV to her. “The Genie’s the one who makes Aladdin a prince, instead of a street rat. So he can get the princess.”
“Yeah, but Aladdin,” Marissa said pointedly, cupping his cheek in her hand and not letting him look away, “had it in him to be a prince all along. Jasmine knew he wasn’t just a street rat. She saw where he lived and she didn’t hold it against him. She even trusted him to save her.” She thought of waking up in the pool house, then in a hospital bed sometime after Tijuana.
Her thumb stroked across his cheek. “Maybe just meeting him saved her.”
“Maybe,” Ryan conceded, meeting her lips softly. “But maybe Aladdin was always afraid that if Jasmine knew who he really was, she’d leave him.”
“Yeah, but maybe Jasmine saw enough of his Chi—I mean, Agrabah side, and it doesn’t scare her as much as she thought it would. Maybe she realizes that a person can have a past.”
“And what if that person just wants a shot at a future?”
“Then I’m sure she’d be there for that person, if he lets her.”
“He’ll try.”
Marissa smiled softly. If she knew one thing about Ryan, it was that he tried not to make promises—too many had been broken for him to have much faith in them. But this was as close to a promise as she could ever see him making, and it touched her heart in a way she hadn’t expected. “Then she’ll be there, as much as she can,” she whispered into his ear, and they watched the rest of the movie smiling.

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