A/N: You know what I'm going to say, don't you? I'm so sorry that this has taken SOOOO long to get up. I have been completely swamped by homework and other activities. I wrote this whenever I got the time, wherever I was. Let's see...there is only one chapter left to go. Please keep hanging in there with me.

Thanks to--> kursk:This is another transition chapter, I suppose. But I think it is an important one. J: lol. As you can tell, there is another chapter, although you will have to wait to read the letter. And thanks a bunch for the compliments and such. YOU are the amazing one. misssida:I hope your sanity is okay, considering I didn't update soon. Sorry if I made you crazy. :p. Ansy Pansy aka Panz Thanks, and I apologize. welcometotheoc: I hope your fast went well, too. Like a month and a half late... I actually read from the Torah on Yom Kippur. Word of advice: don't ever do that unless you have nerves of steel. I was SOO nervous...anyway...thx for reading and reviewing.

P.S.--I AM working on Less of a Mother, I promise. I have the last two chapters planned out, but I am having trouble with the "transition" chapter. And All Night will be continued, after I get the latest chapter of Less of a Mother up.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything that has to do with the O.C. The song (the part in italics) is written by Papa Roach and is called Do or Die. I don't own that either. I do, however, own the story. Do not steal and do not copy.

Ryan was in shock, to say the very least.

His nightmare had come true. Hadn't it?

There was his wife, standing over the letter that haunted his dreams.

Was it open? How much had she read?

"Ryan, say something," Marissa begged.

Say something? What the hell was there to say?

Did he want to know what it said in the letter? Or was he still too chicken?

Marissa took a tentative step and watched for Ryan's reaction. He, in turn, took a step towards the bed, drawn to the envelope like a magnet.

"What the hell is that doing out?" he asked slowly, surprised his voice still worked.

She searched for the words. Should she tell him the truth? That she had been about to read it? Or should she make up some story? What story could she make up, though?

"You read it, didn't you?"

"No, no, of course not. I…I almost did," Marissa said, tears threatening.

"But I got in the way, didn't I?" Ryan said, chuckling in disbelief. "Yeah, that damn husband who just had to come home."

Today I saw my hero fall apart,

The one who taught me to be strong.

On the outside I look fine,

But on the inside I am dying.

"It's not like that."

"Why today?" he interjected. "What was so damn special about today? Hmm?"

"Nothing," Marissa breathed.

"Ahh," Ryan said in mock understanding. "So how many days have you almost been caught?"

"Ryan, you have to believe me. I've never been this close before."

"Believe you? You know that this is one of the few things that are off limits in our marriage. This is the biggest thing! And I walk in to find you about to open it? How can I believe that this hasn't happened before?"

"You have to trust me!" Marissa replied.

"Trust you? Like I trusted you to leave it alone?"

His words flashed her back to the Valentine's Day after Oliver had left. Like you trusted me?

"I don't know what else to say. I'm sorry, okay? I'm really sorry," she said, taking another step towards her husband.

"No, it's not okay," he answered. "God, Marissa. Why'd you have to do this to me?"

"Excuse me?" she said, incredulous. "Do this to you?"

"Oh, don't go and make this about yourself. We've been through this. I know that he hurt you, but he hurt me too. He was my brother, for heaven sakes."

"And it was me on the beach! It was me keeping the secret! It was me with the scars and the bruises. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't even be around you," Marissa relayed, remembering that awful time.

My strength has overcome my pain,

My love for you remains the same.

The loneliness is setting in;

I have no one to free my sins.

Ryan grimaced, imagining her pain. He always felt terrible when she brought this up, but at the moment he was too pissed off for it to register.

"Look, I don't know how many times I have apologized for him. Or consoled you. And I would do it again a hundred times, but that doesn't have anything to do with his letter."

"To hell it doesn't," she said bitterly. "You may not know it, but that letter is just as frightening to me as it is to you."

No, he hadn't known that. How was he supposed to know that?

"What? Why?" he asked, shocked.

"Ryan, what do you think it's gonna say? Just apologize without mentioning me? How do I know he's not gonna put all the blame on me? Tell you that I led him on, tell you that it was my idea to get drunk?"

"And here we go again," Ryan mumbled angrily. "You're making it about yourself again, Marissa."

She looked surprised. Had she been?

"I can't…I can't be here right now," he said. Grabbing the letter, he swung out the door, his jacket and keys clutched in his other hand.

"Ryan, wait! You can't just leave!" Marissa called, running after him.

She heard the solemn slam of the door and collapsed. Her sobs echoed around her, reminding her even more that she was alone.

It's never too late to live your life,

The time is now, it's do or die.

It's never to late to live your life,

The time is now, it's yours and mine.

Ryan jabbed at the elevator button, but finally got too impatient. He was expecting Marissa to come running out at any moment. His heavy footsteps surrounded him as he raced down the stairs, thankful that no one else was using the stairs today. Reaching the bottom, he took a moment to catch his breath. But only a moment.

He shoved his keys in the car and tore out of the parking garage. Once out on the road, he realized he had no where to go.

Although they had lived in Laguna Beach for over four years, Ryan had still never found a good thinking spot. There was no pool house, and there was no lifeguard tower. Well, there was, but it was always filled with barely clad girls and muscular guys trying to pass off as lifeguards.

The first time Ryan had been there, hoping to find a place to think, the girls had started flirting with him and the guys had shot daggers at him. Definitely not the best place to think.

It was ten minutes before he realized that he didn't remember turning into the diner. He had driven all the way to Newport Beach. Perhaps all the way wasn't a good term, but it was still farther than he usually went.

Ryan hadn't been to the diner in a long time. Turning off the car, gentler than he had turned it on, he put on his coat and pocketed the note.

Inside the diner, familiar smells hit him. He had forgotten how much he had loved it here. In Chino, there had never been any friendly places such as this.

Ryan took a seat at their usual table and gazed at the menu, surprised to see that not much had changed.

"Well look who we have here!"

Ryan looked up from the menu and smiled. Tina, a waitress he had befriended through the diner, was standing before him.

"Hey, Tina," he said with forced cheerfulness.

"What are you doing back here? I thought you moved to Laguna Beach."

"Yeah, yeah I did. I was just…in the neighborhood."

"Things that bad, huh?" Tina asked knowingly.

He dropped his head, too tired to deny it.

"You wanna talk about it?" she said, looking around the empty diner, indicating she had the time.

"Not really," he replied, feeling like a teenager again. "But thanks."

"Alright, hon. One black coffee coming up," Tina said, as she walked towards the kitchen.

Black coffee. Trey had been the one who had gotten him hooked on black coffee. He had always said milk and sugar were for cowards.

Ryan guessed that was what he was at the moment, a coward. Why the hell was he so afraid of a simple piece of paper?

With a sigh, he pulled the letter out of his pocket.

How many countless hours had he stared at these letters? In a heartbeat, he would be able to write out this name exactly the way Trey had. A crude "R" followed by a smaller, uppercased "Y" and "A". The "N" was lowercased but deliberate, as if, at the last moment, Trey reconsidered what he was doing.

Or perhaps Ryan was just giving his brother way more credit than he deserved. Per usual.

Tina returned with coffee anda muffin.

"Looks like you're gonna be here a while," she said before he even got his moth open. "It's on the house."

"Thanks," he replied gratefully, his eyes straying to the note.

"That must be one heavy burden you've got there," Tina commented.


"I can see it in your eyes. There's something bothering you. Haven't seen that look in a long time." She racked her brain. "Since that last summer of high school."

Ryan grimaced. Did Tina know about the shooting? How could she not? Still, she had never mentioned anything about it. Until now.

"It have something to do with that boy?" Tina asked cautiously, easing herself into the booth across from him

"What boy?" Ryan feigned innocence.

One glance from the waitress told him she wasn't buying it.

"You never let on that you knew."

"Honey, it's my job to know when to say something and when to shut up. And the time has finally come for me to say something."

Now it's my turn to help you out,

'Cause you were there when I was down.

It's hard for me to see you this way,

Losing all your sanity.

"That boy came in here only two times. Must have stayed here for months and only twice!" Tina started, but was interrupted by Ryan.

"That 'boy' was my brother." Tina nodded knowingly, not mentioning that she already knew that.

"The first time it was real late, near closing time. He stumbled through the door and walked straight towards the bathroom. I passed him and he looked real bad. There was blood dripping down the side of his face and a nasty gash on his head," Tina relayed, slowly slipping into memory. She chuckled slightly.

"You know what the weirdest part of it was? He was clutching this pink bag. A woman's purse, now that I think about it. Not that there's anything wrong with a pink bag, but this guy, your brother, was so tough looking. An odd combination, you know?"

Ryan's hands clenched around the spoon and the mug. Of course he knew. Tina was talking about the night he had tried to rape Marissa.

"Poor guy was in such a hurry, he didn't get the door closed all the way. When I went back towards the kitchen, I could hear him heaving. Oh, he was heaving something awful."

The effects of the coke, no doubt.

"Lord, it seemed like the heaving would never stop. Finally, the toilet flushed. Through the crack, I could see him staring at the mirror, muttering to himself. I knocked on the door and asked if he was alright. He said he was, but it was obvious he wasn't." She sighed sadly. "If I had only pushed it a little more…

"He stayed until just before closing time. An hour and a half he sat at that table. His cell phone kept ringing, but he never answered. Just looked at it and shook his head. Five times that phone must have rang. He didn't order anything. Except…black coffee."

You helped me keep my dreams alive.

Without you, how will I survive?

It's time for me to be a man;

Now I finally understand.

Ryan looked down into his cup before pushing it away from him. Black coffee. Damn him! Damn Trey and all his ways. Damn Trey for tainting the diner.

He remembered placing those calls, staying up all night just dying to hear the sound of her voice. It had been right after they got back together and just thinking about her made him shiver. Half a day without so much as hearing her voice was killing him.

Truth be told, though, he had been worried about Marissa hanging out with Trey. Not in the worried that they would hook up, but the worried in what Trey would say. Trey was known to be a talkative drunk, and the last thing Ryan had needed was for Marissa to find out more about his past life.

"When we closed, he just sort of stumbled out, just the way he had stumbled in." Tina's voice broke into his thoughts. "It was so long until I saw him again that I thought for sure he had left."

"He came in another time? When?" Ryan asked sharply, forgetting.

"Hold your horses. Didn't I say he came in twice?" Tina said, smiling.

"Oh yeah," he mumbled. "I forgot."

"The second time he came in, he stumbled through the door and sat down at the nearest booth. He didn't look too good. His face was pale, there were dark circles under his eyes, and he kept rubbing at his wrists." Tina wondered if the boy had days when he actually looked good and healthy.

"This time he ordered something to go with his black coffee. What was it?" Ryan pushed his coffee cup even farther away as the waitress flipped through her memory. "Ah yes, an omelet. Now let's see, where was I…Didn't say anything the entire time. He was very polite, said 'please' and 'thank you' and left a generous tip.

"He did have these bruises on his wrist. Like where needles go, you know? Thought maybe he was a junkie, until I saw the hospital bracelet on his wrist."

It's never too late to live your life,

The time is now, it's do or die.

It's never to late to live your life,

The time is now, it's yours and mine.

Ryan's head turned away sharply from the napkin stand towards Tina. A hospital bracelet? Meaning…The gears starting turning in his head.

Trey had stopped at the diner after leaving the hospital. Trey. Had stopped here. Who knows how long he had sat here. He could have stopped him!

"I know I'm no professional or anything, but he definitely looked guilty."


"Guilty," she repeated. "Guilty about something he did or said."

A soft chime drifted over to the table and Tina noticed a customer come in.

"I gotta go for a few, sweetie. But I'll be back."

"No hurry," Ryan said, hating the feeling of need growing in him.

All this information overwhelmed Ryan. So maybe Trey had felt guilty about just leaving. Overall, Trey really was a pretty good guy. He made some dumb decisions, but who didn't?

He picked up the note that had been sitting on the table. Turning it over in his hands, he contemplated what he was going to do.

It's never too late to live your life,

The time is now, it's do or die.

It's never to late to live your life,

The time is now, it's yours and mine.

By the time Tina was able to return to the table, Ryan was gone.

All that was left on the table was a cold cup of black coffee, an untouched muffin, and his payment that was way more than it should have been.

Smiling to herself, Tina slid into the booth and tore off a piece of the muffin. She hoped she had done the right thing in telling Ryan what she knew.

She never had found out why the boy, his brother, had been in the diner so late. It didn't take a genius, though, to figure out that it wasn't because he was off fighting crime.

Tina had spotted the similarities between Ryan and his brother right away. From the way they carried themselves down to their bad-boy looks. The two were obviously connected.

But the whole situation seemed confusing. What was that note about? In her many years of working at the diner, Tina had seen her share of strange things. So she couldn't figure out why this one was bothering her so much.

Maybe it was because Ryan had always been so nice to her. Or that she had watched the rest of his gang grow up. Of course, it could be because the entire case had been on television. There was just something different about Ryan.

It's never too late to live your life,

The time is now, it's do or die.

It's never to late to live your life,

The time is now, it's yours and mine.

From inside her bedroom, Marissa heard the slight click of the door opening. With a hurried goodbye to Summer, she put down the phone and ran out into the foyer.

Ryan was closing the door behind him and taking off his shoes, going through the usual routine.

Marissa ran over to him and flung her arms around him. She sobbed apologies into his neck and held on for dear life. Ryan wrapped his arms around his wife but said nothing.

After a while, she realized he hadn't said anything. Pulling away from him, she looked up at Ryan with a tear-streaked face.

"Ryan, what is it?" she asked cautiously.

Deliberately, he reached his hand into his coat pocket and pulled out the note.

"I'm ready to read it."

I can't run anymore.

I can't hide anymore.


I can't run anymore.

I can't hide anymore.