Discl. I don't own anything related to the O.C.

I wanna apologize for my last update, guess a few of you thought the story was finished, sorry for this misunderstanding and me being not very clear about it. Secondly, IT'S DONE! This is officially the end of "a new hope".

Thanks to everyone for sticking with me since I started posting, I love you all guys and I promise I keep writing. Thank you's for the feedback for the last chapter go to Leentje, Kursk, Rainygal, smartiepanz, SVOC Luva, bashanbrunka, zoarbasketball, I-believe-in-the-butterflies (J), Kym, luvtheoc09, Galoot Master, brandyurastar and Kelly76, you really are the best!

Finally, thank you cheekymice for beta-ing – I owe you big time honey!


Chapter 21

Stepping out of the pool house into a perfectly sunny morning, the three adults felt as if the sun was shining even brighter than before. They silently walked over to the house, leaving the small building and the memories of Ryan's past behind, letting them fade away with each step they made towards the mansion.

Kirsten's blue eyes sparkled with unshed tears while Sandy stayed unusually quiet, waiting for Ryan to speak.

"I'm sorry…"

"Sorry for what honey?" Kirsten asked startled, holding her breath, scared that he regretted his latest step, only intending to hurt his mother by calling them his parents and now determined to take it back.

"Sorry it took me so long…" Ryan mumbled, fighting to keep his poise.

Sandy wordlessly pulled his boy into his arms, stroking his back while a single tear made its way down his cheek.

Kirsten waited impatiently next to them, taking in the sight of father and son with feelings of pride, happiness and relieve in her heart. How many times had she discussed with her husband, pondered and reflected, wondered if Ryan would ever be able to fully open his heart for them, showing them that he felt as their son.

Sadness overcame her at the thought of Bernadette. She had often talked about this topic with her daughter-in-law, discussing why it was so hard for Ryan to finally commit himself to the Cohen family with all his heart.

Bernadette didn't have any family left when she met Ryan and was therefore very reluctant to let anybody close again. But Ryan's brooding charm, his tender nature, the way he cared about her, never expecting her to fully open up on the first date, sharing a distance both appreciated and needed, made Bernadette fall hard and deep for the architect.

"Honey?" Kirsten was drawn out of her thoughts, flinching slightly as Sandy touched her shoulder.

"Everything ok?"

"Sure, I was just… thinking about Bernadette…" Kirsten confessed, feeling fresh tears welling up in her eyes.

Ryan softly pulled her close and stroked her back, a huge lump forming in his throat.

"It's ok… mum…."

This single word made Kirsten just cry even harder and Ryan threw Sandy a helpless glance, unsure as how to react to the sudden break down of his foster mother.

"Granny, you ok?"

All three were startled by the tiny voice of an anxious Alyssa who had come up behind them.

"I'm fine angel, don't worry"

Kirsten lowered herself to the ground and hugged her granddaughter, wiping away the tears that filled her eyes again at Alyssa's sight, representing a perfect image of Bernadette.

"Mum, you're ok?"

Seth and Summer now also appeared outside, arm in arm, Seth holding Benjamin tenderly to his chest, Cassandra strolling behind them, followed by Marissa and Colin.

Kirsten got up and wrapped her arm around Sandy, leaning against his side and letting him tenderly kiss her forehead, before turning to the newly arrived family members.

"We're all fine, don't worry…. So, where are the guests?"

"I scared them all off!" Marissa explained evenly, but not able to fully hide the smile playing in the corners of her mouth.

"Way to go, Cosmo Girl!" Seth grinned, playfully nudging her side.

"Shut up Cohen!" Marissa replied, barely holding herself from tickling him despite Benjamin on his arms.

"So seriously, where are the guests?" Ryan asked, ignoring the two of them, not able to already let his sorrow replace by light banter.

"Seriously dude, Marissa told them to leave and the obeyed! It was awesome, Cosmo girl in the flesh! It must only be a matter of time until my superpowers are finally gonna surface, I'm in desperate need of them anyway, I'm living with Little Miss Vixen!"

Seth ducked just in time to avoid being hit by a pissed looking Summer, but obviously he had fulfilled his target of distracting the kids from the depression and mourning visible on the adults faces.

"Uhm… Seth? Will you ever write about the children of Kid Chino und Cosmo Girl?"

Everyone turned around to look at Colin, who was shyly glancing between Seth, Marissa and Ryan, unsure as to whether he had crossed the line. His parents were saved from an answer when Cassandra interjected furiously.

"Hey! Before my Dad will write about Kid's cosmic blatherskite he first draws the valley kin girls, 'cos that's what he promised us for years!"

She glanced angrily at Colin and pulled Alyssa near to demonstrate who she was talking about.

When Colin snorted with laughter it was only a matter of time for the kids to develop a friendly argument, resulting in racing each other laughing and teasingly through the garden. The adults meanwhile walked into the house, in desperate need of a coffee and something to eat after another eventful morning. Alyssa und Cassandra soon followed their parents, mocking anger as they had failed to catch the older boy.

Thus only Colin caught sight of the blonde woman who stood at the end of driveway, ready to climb into the waiting taxi. She turned around and the boy could see tears streaming down her stony face. She waved slightly to him, and although he certainly was not Dawn's biggest fan, he choked at the lost and desperate look on the woman's face. Colin raised his hand and gestured a slight goodbye, realising that she was obviously leaving for good.

The dark blonde boy watched the taxi drive down the street and fade in the distance, before he turned around and slowly walked to the house, wondering what had happened between Ryan and his mother to leave her so broken-hearted, resulting in her leaving without a goodbye. Shrugging he though then shook off the image of Dawn, reflecting that Ryan would tell him when he felt the time was right.

Colin opened the French window and stepped inside, walking straight into the kitchen, where his ear detected laughter and chatter coming from. Stopping at the entrance he silently watched the scene in front of him for a few moments, feeling butterflies dancing in his stomach, but still his mind was clear and his heart was over floating with happiness.

Sandy and Kirsten were talking to Cassandra, obviously discussing, why having a little brother was not something to be angry about. Summer and Seth were busy with talking to and playing with Benjamin who was chortling words no other human being could understand. In between Seth still found time to ramble about his latest idea for a comic based on the children of the "atomic county" superhero's, implying that life had created a much better story than he could've ever thought of. Colin watched Ryan who was with one ear listening to Seth's babbling, his eyes though fixed on the two females sitting on the table. Marissa was quietly talking to Alyssa, while braiding her long, dark blonde hair to a pigtail. The boy realised, that Ryan could see his past, present and future life combined in the sight of the two. When Ryan unconsciously filled coffee into a large mug with the name BERNADETTE in capital letters written on it, a sad smile flashed over his face, remembering the mornings he had spent talking to his wife while drinking coffee out of their hand made mugs, realising that those time were over and were never coming back. Colin watched Ryan as he emptied the mug and cleaned it manually, before he placed it on the ledge, keeping it as memorabilia. The sadness in his father's eyes made Colin realise, that he still had a long way ahead to overcome the sorrow for his wife, but that it would be ok someday.

Gratefully to have finally found his place in life, the people he wanted to have around to grow up, Colin joined his family in the kitchen, knowing that nothing could ever come between them anymore.


EPILOGUE

The drive home after work seemed recently to get longer and longer, Ryan pondered while passing the new cinema complex downtown. At least he was now used to see the faces of his kids staring down the poster hanging above the entrance of the movie theatre. It had taken them quite some energy and time to convince him to agree to Seth's craziest plan.

After having written the long promised sequel to "atomic county", starring their kids as superhero's, events had come thick and fast.

Critics and fans had been overjoyed by the outcome of Kid Chino's and Cosmic Girl's connection, especially after the launch of the big promo tour, on which they announced that the plotline and the kids were written after a real story and real people.

Nobody had thought that this graphic novel would actually get so much attention, but after some digging of the journalists it became soon pretty clear, who the kids featured in the comic were. Ryan was fairly happy to have Marissa around who was rather experienced with this whole celebrity thing. He was glad that he could keep himself in the background, observing every step and every decision made involving his children, but mainly leaving matters in Seth's hands.

When everything had calmed down after a few months, it had thus come as a surprise to him, when Colin and Alyssa had approached him with Seth's newest plan. Despite his brother's distaste for comic's made into blockbuster movies, he was obviously unable to turn down the offer to bring his latest novel to the big screen, as it included the option to write the script himself.

And of course he wouldn't be Seth if he hadn't taken the time to make a plan, whose execution was planned and arranged for weeks until he finally allowed everyone involved to start the so-called "persuasion of Kid Chino". Ryan had not the faintest doubt that there actually existed an at least 20 pages long script, stating all necessary steps and things to undertake in order for him to agree to the picturisation.

Of course Ryan had agreed in the end and also suggested to build a new cinema complex at Newport, implying to have the world premier right there, making it even more special as the whole theatre was built after the combined ideas of Seth and the kids.

That had been a few months ago, but now school had started again and although Ryan and Marissa had not been happy about their children's insistence to continue to go to Harbour, they had finally agreed, giving in to their criterion of not wanting to split up and lose their friends.

Ryan glanced over to the passenger seat where his briefcase was laying; reminding him of the papers he had received today. Marissa would be thrilled to finally sign them, not to mention Alyssa who had been very supportive to the idea once the model had come up with it.

He pulled his car left and took the last meters of the driveway before stopping in front of the garage, turning off the engine and climbing out of the car.

Ryan realised that the flowers at the entrance had been changed and he inspected the work for a few moments, taking in the sight of fresh roses. At the thought of the waiting woman inside a smile crept over his face, so he opened the door and stepped inside. As every day when he came home, he first threw a glance over to the picture with the black frame on the wall, showing Bernadette and Alyssa smiling happily.

Placing his keys on the commode Ryan pulled off his coat and hung it into the closet, before taking the briefcase and walking over to the den. It amazed him every day anew at how real it was, that the picture he had been having inside his head for 15 years straight, had now actually came to life.

His deep blue eyes sparkled at the sight of Marissa standing at the bar, one hand on her back the other on her stomach, sweat on her forehead. Even or maybe by reason of her swollen stomach, he believed that she looked even more beautiful than without being pregnant. Ryan spotted Colin and Marissa sitting at the table, obviously doing their homework, while Carla was cooking dinner in the kitchen.

"Dad, you're home!" Alyssa exclaimed when she caught sight of Ryan standing at the doorway, observing the usual family evening routine.

Ryan just smiled and wandered over to them, greeting his wife with a passionate kiss, tenderly caressing her stomach, holding their unborn child.

Putting the briefcase down on the counter he then went over to the table, lightly patted Colin's shoulder, while trying to find out what his son was working on. Afterwards he kissed the cheek of Alyssa and lightly pinched her other cheek, giving her a happy smile.

"Guess what?" he then asked his daughter, placing himself in a chair next to her.

"Dad! You know I hate to guess!" Alyssa explained annoyed.

"Ok ok" Ryan grinned, raising his hands in defeat.

"I've got the papers." he then announced, glancing over to Marissa.

"So, if you two are really sure about this, Marissa can sign them and it will be official!" he explained while getting up and reaching for the briefcase, opening it and taking out the documents. Returning to the table he sat down again, placing them in front of the girl, before giving her a questioning look, waiting for her reaction.

Alyssa slowly picked up the papers and surveyed them closely, before she rose from her chair and walked over to the model, leaning against the bar besides Marissa.

"You sure you wanna be my Mum?" Alyssa then softly asked, shyly grinning.

"You sure you wanna be my daughter?" Marissa replied smirking, tenderly touching the girl's cheek.

Alyssa gulped slightly, trying to sound as sure as she felt in her heart when she answered:

"Yes… Mum…"

Marissa gladly took the pen Ryan had been holding in his hands, reached for the papers and signed them without hesitation. When she was done, she extended her arms to her daughter and pulled her carefully close, stroking her back. No words were needed between them to show, that they had accepted each other and loved each other and that the signing of the papers had just legalised what they had been feeling all along.

"Mmmhppp… it's getting all misty in here" Colin peeped from his chair, being a typical teenage boy.

"Ok you two, go upstairs and put your books away, dinner will be ready in a minute" Ryan told them, while getting up and clapping his hands.

When the two of them had disappeared upstairs, loudly chattering and laughing, he made his way towards his wife, pulled her close to his body and said:

"Have you ever imagined being a mother of three with 35?"

"I have… when I was in college I thought we're gonna have at least 5 children before I turn 30" she grinned cheekily at her husband of one year.

"You're incredible, do you know that?"

"I had a feeling" she joked, before getting serious, telling him:

"Do you know that this is all I've ever dreamed of? Why did it take us so damn long to get here, when we knew it was right since the beginning?"

"There's a saying: good things come to those who wait… we waited helluva long time, but we're happy now, aren't we? I love you" he replied, his voice getting hoarse with emotions.

"Thank you…. – I love you too" she added winking, sealing their love with a passionate kiss.

THE END