A/N: Okay, this is my first OC fic. I guess you might want to call it AU because it takes place during what I like to call a "happier time": mid season one, Ryan and Marissa are together, so are Seth and Summer. The whole Oliver incident never happened. Theresa doesn't exist yet. One catch: it's summer time, people. Gotta love it. Please enjoy!

Disclaimer: I own no rights to the OC or any of the characters. This is my little story so please don't sue me. Thanks a bunch.

FADING

Sunday

The sunset glow reflecting off the surface of the infinity pool danced hypnotically in shades of blue, yellow, and orange on the ceiling of the pool house. Ryan sighed as he allowed his thoughts to drift along with the moving colors, his eyes falling shut tiredly as he basked in the warmth that seemed to surround him on this particularly soothing July night.

Something moved beside him and Ryan felt a gentle weight settle on his chest. "You're not really falling asleep on me again, are you?" Asked the slightly teasing, slightly annoyed voice. Ryan pried his eyes open to find Marissa's large, beautiful blue eyes peering at him curiously, her nose millimeters away from his face. "That's like, the fifth time this week." She added, running her fingers through his blonde hair.

Ryan cleared his throat. Right. Marissa was over. It was warm because she was lying beside him. And it was only six o'clock. No time to be falling asleep.

"Um, no." He mumbled quickly, sitting up a little higher on the pillows beneath his head, blinking his eyes furiously to clear away the cobwebs. "Sorry. I'm just kind of tired." Ryan told her with mild embarrassment.

Marissa sat up and moved beside him, smiling at his profile. "Yeah, I can tell. You've been like this for the past couple of weeks." She kissed his cheek, her warm breath fanning across his face. "School is out now, Ryan. Plenty of time for relaxation."

Pulling her closer to kiss her lips, Ryan melted into her embrace. Yes, it was true, he told himself. School had ended a mere two days ago and here he was falling asleep with his beautiful girlfriend lying on his bed with him. And she wasn't exaggerating, either. With the nearing of summer, Ryan's stress level had been sky high with exams and papers due. For weeks he'd been exhausted, falling asleep early at night and barely able to pull himself out of bed in the morning, not to mention the couple of times he had nodded off in class, much to his teacher's dismay. Ryan couldn't wait to unwind, and figured that any day now he'd be back to his regular self. Plus he didn't think he could stand the annoying headache much longer that had been lingering on and off for what seemed like years.

There was a knock at the door, and Kirsten popped her head inside. "Hey Ryan. Hi Marissa. See, this is me, knocking." She smiled at them a bit nervously, and Ryan had to struggle not to laugh at her discomfort. "Um, I just wanted to let you know that dinner is ready. Marissa, would you like to join us?" Kirsten asked warmly.

"Oh, no thanks, Mrs. Cohen." Marissa replied politely, extracting herself from Ryan's arms and sitting on the end of the bed pulling on her shoes. "Actually I promised my dad I'd eat with him tonight."

Ryan reached for her hand and pulled her down to give him a goodbye kiss. "I'll call you later." He said softly before releasing her and watching her head out the door, giving Kirsten a goodbye one the way.

When she was gone, Kirsten held the door open wider and gestured for him to follow her. "We got your favorite, Ryan. I hope you're hungry."

Ryan didn't have the heart to tell her that he hadn't been feeling well all day. He had spent the morning playing video games with Seth, and the afternoon in the pool and at the beach with Marissa. His head had ached and his back was sore, not to mention that his eyes kept wanting to slide shut. He knew they were all the telltale signs of the flu, and prayed that he wasn't getting sick just as summer was beginning.

As he got up from the bed the blood rushed to his head and began to pound harder, making the world spin slightly before his eyes. He tried to hide his discomfort and smother the groan of pain that slowly built, but must have failed because when he opened his eyes Kirsten was standing beside him, her eyes clouded with worry.

"Ryan, are you okay?" She asked gently, a hand on his shoulder. "Do you feel sick? You sure have been sleeping a lot lately, maybe you have the flu." Before he could stop her, she had her hand on his forehead.

Ryan tried to wave away her concern. "It's nothing, Kirsten. I just have a headache." He tried to reassure her.

"You feel a little warm." She noted, removing her hand and eyeing him uncertainly. "Seth told me you've been feeling a little under the weather lately. Maybe I should take you to the doctor tomorrow, just in case." Kirsten suggested.

Shaking his head, Ryan made a mental note to murder his foster brother. He wasn't used to this whole 'mothering thing', and it was beginning to make him uncomfortable. "It's nothing, really. I've just been under a lot of pressure from school. But now that's all over, I just need some rest and I'll be fine." Ryan insisted, trying to lure her to the door.

Though she was still frowning, Kirsten nodded. "Okay. You're probably right. And I'm sure you just need some food in your stomach to make that headache go away. But I've got my eye on you." She pointed a teasing finger at his chest as they began to walk to the house. "Didn't you have a snack after lunch?"

Ryan shook his head and kept his mouth shut. He didn't think it would be a very good idea to tell her that he hadn't had any lunch, period.

When they walked into the kitchen immediately there was a flurry of activity: Sandy was scooping steaming hot food out of containers and onto plates. Seth was talking furiously, as usual, about nothing in particular, his current topic choices jumped from Summer's taste in clothes to the latest Batman comic book he had just bought as he set the table. Kirsten began busying herself by pouring wine and juice. With a small sigh and a barely visible smile, Ryan stood back for just a moment and watched. He never thought that he, an Atwood, would be a part of a family like this. Maybe his luck had changed after all these years.

Seth looked up and saw him standing there. "Hey man. It's nice that you can stand there and watch people working with such a strange little smirk on your face, but you wanna be a pal and get the salad out of the fridge?" He asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Shooting his foster brother a murderous look, Ryan walked to the fridge and pulled out a bowl of salad. His arms and back gave a sudden cry of protest, and Ryan grunted as he walked over to the table.

Reaching for the plastic salad bowl with one hand, Seth took it from his hands and placed it on the table with a quizzical look. "Dude, I'm sorry." He muttered with feigned remorse. "Didn't mean for you to strain yourself."

With another infamous glare, Ryan shut him up. As Sandy walked by him on his way to the table, he gave his foster son a friendly clap on the back, watching as the boy noticeably winced. "Ryan, I think you're taking soccer a little too seriously." He joked, looking him up and down. He noticed a dark bruise peeking out from beneath the hem of Ryan's sleeve and shook his head. "Are you sure you and Luke are friends now? Because this is a little bit reminiscent of your nemesis days."

Ryan rolled his eyes and chuckled. "Well, everyone is a comedian today." He muttered as he pulled his chair out from the table and sat down as the rest of the Cohen clan took a seat.

Seth shook his head. "With the exception of you, of course." He shot back, pointing his fork at Ryan's chest.

"Alright, that's enough." Kirsten warned as she took a sip of her wine, watching Ryan over the rim of her glass. "Leave poor Ryan alone. He's had a rough day." She chastised.

Dropping his knife on his plate and letting it clatter loudly, Seth scratched his head dramatically and pretended to think. "I'm sorry, which part was the most difficult on you, Ry? Was it the sleeping in until noon, or lounging around the pool all day?" He asked himself, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Perhaps it was the three rounds of Halo 2?"

Giving Kirsten another classic look of dismay, Ryan focused on his food. "Thanks a lot." He mumbled sarcastically.

That night, after retiring to bed in the middle of a movie that Ryan hadn't been able to keep his eyes open through, he shut off all the lights in the pool house and for once, drew the curtains. His head was still killing him and the lights that were spilling in from the main house were adding to hammering behind his eyes. After staggering to the bathroom and downing two Aspirin, Ryan collapsed on his bed and buried his head in the softness of his pillow. Okay, so maybe he was a bit under the weather. Right now he sure felt like crap.

Pulling the blankets up to his chin and wishing suddenly that the pool house were warmer, he allowed himself a low moan now that he was alone for what seemed like the first time in days. Cursing himself silently as he closed his eyes, Ryan realized that as much as he told himself he didn't like Kirsten's mothering, he wished for a moment that he hadn't dismissed her concern the way he had. And now he'd have to face Seth tomorrow since Sandy and Kirsten would be at work. Just great.

As sleep finally claimed him, Ryan tried to push aside the feeling that something was not right, a feeling that nagged at him from somewhere inside his head. That and the sudden realization that he had forgotten to call Marissa. Again, he thought, just great.

A/N: Granted, not much happened in this chapter. But believe me, the drama is just beginning. Please r/r, it will help me write the next chapter sooner! Thanks!

Vancouverite