A/N: Okay, so this takes place as if Marissa hadn't of died, as if she hadn't of gotten the letter from Jackass Jimbo, and as if she did go to college the next fall with Ryan. They worked on their friendship during the summer and became extremely close again, however not romantic. Everything should be pretty self-explanatory. Just to let you know, I tried to come up with something feasible yet different for Marissa's major. I hope you like. As for the title, yes, I'm obsessed with Rilo Kiley. Finally and most importantly, this is a birthday one shot for my dear buddy, El. The anniversary of her birth is this week (August 11th, so wish her a great day everyone), and this is my present to her. I hope you enjoy this almost as much as you enjoy the loot you bring in for turning the big 19, El¡Felíz cumpleaños!


My Moneymaker

Marissa Cooper – theatre nerd?

Ryan lazily grinned to himself as he leaned against the entrance of Berkeley's student theatre, silently observing the woman – and she truly was just that, leaving behind her childhood and the naiveté it brought while still maintaining her innocence, - the beautiful, confident, poised, and, perhaps most importantly, happy woman contently working away before him as she waited for her lunch date to arrive. This was their ritual now, forged during their first week of classes back in September. A good three months into their second semester, freshman year, it seemed as if they had been this comfortable with each other for forever when really their friendship had only been salvaged the summer before.

No one had expected Marissa to thrive in college; in fact, friends had predicted that San Francisco and the independence of being on one's own for the first time would help him surpass even the most astounding expectations people had built up in their minds for him, and, while Ryan readily admitted that he loved college, his classes, his new life, it was his ex-girlfriend and best friend who really was blossoming before everyone's eyes.

He watched her surreptitiously from his hidden vantage point, chuckling softly as she managed to avoid tripping over an extension cord onto to prop herself up on the wet flats she had just painted, effectively getting white stain all over her tight, all black ensemble. Despite the simplicity of her outfit, the black Bermuda shorts and tank top a far cry from the designer ensembles he remembered from their days together in high school, to him, she had never looked more amazing. However, it had nothing to do with her looks, and, though he chastised himself for thinking something so cliché, Ryan knew that her beauty stemmed from the fact that Marissa was finally at peace with herself.

Now, granted, he was not one to argue with her new look. She had fully embraced her curves, letting her figure become softer, slightly fuller, and definitely more luscious, and the result was amazing in Ryan's opinion. He never once failed to appreciate the gentle swaying of her rhythmic hips or the ample swell of her breasts, but she in no way seemed to notice his attention, and they continued on as merely friends, sharing lunches with each other everyday, phone calls and emails at night when they weren't out with their respected groups of friends or bogged down with the inevitable work all freshman feel guilted into doing because they don't know yet that no one cares how hard they work as long as the finished product is turned in on time, and the occasional companionable outing on the town where they behaved as mere pals but, unbeknownst to them, effortlessly gave off a couple vibe.

Ryan could have stayed there in his shadowed doorway watching her all day, but, however much he enjoyed gazing at his one time lover, he enjoyed her company more and wanted to talk to her. It had been a mere twelve hours since they had said goodnight the evening before, but he had missed her warm voice and melodic laughter, and he wanted to hear if she had finished her paper on method acting yet, if she had mistakenly thought the French toast at breakfast that morning had been a good idea like he had, and if she was free that night to go see a movie with him – he had promised Seth he would watch some new film adaptation of a comic book his adopted brother read religiously but knew it would be more fun with another cynic there to mock the movie with him. However, with her iPod buzzing loudly in her ear, no doubt playing some new, local band she had discovered recently, she would never hear him if he called out for her, and, unfortunately, that meant he was going to have to resort to alternative methods of getting her attention.

"Hey you," he greeted, sliding a playful arm around her waist and squeezing her tightly in a friendly hug while dropping a wet, smacking, utterly unromantic kiss upon her paint splattered cheek. Marissa jumped, pulled the buds out of her ears, and squealed with surprise, effectively landing even closer to him. When she pulled away, he saw the stains of white paint already setting into the new clothes Kirsten had sent up just the week before for him, but, as he watched the emotions echo through her expressive blue eyes, first shock, then recognition, and finally elation at being in the company of her best friend, he would have gladly doused every single shirt he owned in any color of paint under the rainbow. Her genuine smiles were that wonderful, especially knowing that he – Ryan Atwood – caused her to feel so delighted.

"It's lunchtime already," she exclaimed, reaching out to set aside her paint brush and greedily grabbing the bag of food he held out for her. "I can't believe it."

Although her words changed from day to day, their meaning remained constant. Put Marissa Cooper in a theatre with sets to design and props to create, and time was the very last thing she would ever think of. She claimed she liked the camaraderie of the actors, the open arms sincerity they welcomed any new student with, the complete lack of concern those in the arts felt towards such Newport staples as gossip, designer labels, and mystic tanning, but the truth was that she had talent. Visually, she could conceive of a stage design and create it cheaply without strain, her intelligence helped her analyze the complex and sometimes confusing emotions imbedded into the numerous characters littering the tens of screenplays they read in her theatre classes, and the director of the entire program recognized an untapped aptitude in his young student, her natural beauty and presence, her good diction, and her animated speaking habits making it obvious that, if ever convinced to actually perform, the whole world would be able to see her gift. Marissa claimed to be satisfied with acting as stage manager though, and, if she was happy, then he was, too.

"You say that everyday," he teased her, rolling his eyes as he watched the lithe, now brunette woman in front of him tuck into her gyro. "Maybe if you wore a watch…"

"I'd only just ruin it," the theatre arts major (something she had not yet shared with her mother) commented. "I don't think my dad would appreciate hearing about the Cartier watch he bought me dying by an attack of turpentine in the next letter I send him."

"And how is that going…the letters you and your dad are writing back and forth?"

"It's good," she responded, avoiding meeting his gaze. Looking up she shrugged, admitting the truth. "Weird. It's like writing the pen pal you had in fifth grade. You share the cursory information, never getting too personal, and rush through to the end so that you can put the damn letter out of its misery before it truly becomes superficial."

"On that note," Ryan laughed in sympathy, "I have the perfect thing for you to write about in your next letter."

"And that would be…"

"What are you doing tonight? Would you like to mock a new super hero movie with me? I promised Seth I'd watch it, but you know it's no fun without you."

"I can't," Marissa begged off. Talking with her mouth full and her brow puckered in regret, she explained, "I already have plans."

"Oh, hot date?" He paused, taking notice of his question while she chewed her food thoroughly and swallowed before replying. A year ago, they never would have been able to discuss their relationships with other people so openly, so honestly without feeling awkward or jealous. It was definitely a sign that they had moved past their attraction and feelings for one another and were firmly ensconced in the friend category. So what if he had only had a few one night stands since coming to college back in September, and what did it matter that she had still yet to date someone else since they had arrived at Berkeley? Even though their new, unattached bond had not really been tested thus far – at least not on his side – so what?

"How did you guess," Marissa teased, the mocking nature of her tone alluding to the fact that she was just joking. Unwittingly, he exhaled a sigh of relief. "The most eligible guy on campus last night came up here while I was sewing in the back office, held my pincushion for me, and asked me out. Talk about the perfect catch."

"No, seriously, what are you up to tonight that's so important you're blowing me off?"

"It's not blowing you off when you were the last to ask me to do something," his best friend returned, shoving him slightly before they shared a laugh together. "And the only way I'll tell you what my plans are is if you promise not to make fun of me."

Feigning indignation, Ryan protested, "would I do that?" Her only response was to tilt her head and raise her brows in silent reproach. "Okay, so I would, but I won't this time. I'll be nice, I swear."

She dropped her gaze and fiddled with the bag of chips sitting in her lap. "I'm sort of in charge of this fundraiser the theatre department is throwing."

"And here I thought you left your social chair days behind."

"You are such a brat," the brunette shrieked, shoving him away from her as hard as she could. "See, this is exactly why I wasn't going to invite you. I knew you'd show up and do something to embarrass me, and this just proves that I was right."

"Marissa, it's one thing to tease you when we're alone, but I wouldn't do it in front of your friends or a bunch of strangers. Don't think," he warned her, "that I'm going to miss your debut into the Berkeley social scene. Whatever it is, I'm going to be there, and I'm going to be sitting front and center."

She smiled demurely, lowering her lashes and whispering, "you really want to know?"

"Of course I do."

"It's nothing overly original," his best friend explained, twisting around in her seat on the floor to face him directly, "but, from what I've heard, the events are always hugely successful and popular."

"You don't have to sell me," Ryan encouraged her. "If you're running the show, I have no doubt the fundraiser will be a hit. Now, tell me, what are you selling?"


That stopped him dead in his tracks. He knew he was staring, that his eyes had that wide, startled, deer in headlights appearance, that his jaw had gone slack and he was gaping at her, potentially drooling like a deranged lunatic if his case of alarm had progressed as far as he suspected it had, but, despite everything his mind said, his body wouldn't listen, and he simply remained there, gawking.

"If you really wanted to catch some flies, I'd buy you one of those sticky traps," Marissa taunted him, but, still, he didn't budge. "Oh come on, Ryan," she chuckled, amused by his astonishment. "You act as if it's a scandalous idea. All we're doing is auctioning off ourselves to the highest bidder, and the winner gets to take us out on one very innocent date sponsored by various restaurants and clubs around town. The money we raise is going to hopefully help us purchase a new sound system. If the school is too cheap to grant us the funds, we'll raise them ourselves."

In that moment, several very scary and yet very feasible visions flashed through Ryan's mind – Marissa going dancing with the asshole of a jock who sat behind him in his freshman humanities course, Marissa sharing a candlelit meal and talking softly with the stoner down the hall who sold drugs right from his dorm room, Marissa going to the movies with and letting the jerk who had keyed his car the week before kiss her while they snuggled together in the back of the dark theater. While she assumed that he was surprised by her idea, it was his reaction to it that had Ryan staring at her. He wasn't supposed to feel this way; this was not how he was supposed to react to the idea of his ex dating another guy. He had broken up with her, he had moved on from their relationship….several times (alright, albeit only physically), and he had just finished congratulating himself on finally becoming a supportive friend to her, but then his jealousy took over, and he knew that, no matter what, he would have to put a stop to what was surely to come.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, regaining his ability to speak. "I just wasn't expecting you to say that. It sounds like a great" – fucking horrible – "idea."

"Thank you," Marissa said with a wide, grateful smile on her radiant face. Leaning into him, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into a soft embrace. "You have no idea how much your support means to me, how much knowing you believe in me helps me feel confident in myself."

He tightened his hold on her, burying his face against her shoulder and, inadvertently, breathed in the scent that was uniquely her own – cherry blossoms and gingerbread, - never wanting to let her go. Adding a spark of exuberance to his voice that he didn't feel, Ryan responded, "what are friends for?"

Friends. When had they ever been just friends?

She swirled into the little sewing room, a tornado of adrenaline, unruly, chocolate tresses, and nervous energy. "This is a disaster."

"What are you talking about," Ryan asked her, puzzled. "Everyone's buzzing about this. Rumor has it that theatre nerds are very daring and uninhibited in bed, not to mention flexible. All the rich kids are here with Daddy's charge card, and I think I even saw a few news reporters out front, too."

He could enjoy the auction now, actually laugh with her instead of putting their comfort as friends at risk by imagining her with various undeserving guys. After all, he knew that his plan was full proof and that the situation was under control. With that knowledge, he took a sigh of relief and focused all of his attention upon his panicking best friend.

"No, not the event," she dismissed all of his reassurances with one impatient wave of her slender hand. "It'll be fine. I advertised it so much we're bound to make money simply from the concession stand alone, because we have so many curious spectators who are going to want something to eat and drink while they sit through the auction. I'm the disaster."


"Look at me, Ryan," she directed him, holding her arms out wide so he could get a full view of her appearance. "Someone got so drunk last night at the Kappa Sig party, they ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning, and, just my luck, they were signed up to help with today's set-up. My plan was to get myself ready, to make sure that I looked my absolute best so that I could bring in as much money as possible, but, because someone called off, I had to fill in. I've been here all day, and, trust me, you can tell. Get within five feet of me, and you'll be able to smell…"

"Stop it," he ordered, surprising the theatre major when he gently cupped her face and made her look at him. "You look fine; you smell fine – better than fine, you look and smell amazing. I don't know anyone else's legs that can carry off cutoffs so short the lining of their pockets hang out."

"I caught the back of my shirt on a nail and now I have a hole the size of a quarter in it." Rolling her eyes, Marissa proclaimed, "now that's attractive."

"It says that you're not pretentious, that you don't think you're too good for a little hard work. It's sexy."

She was smiling, and Ryan could tell that he was slowly assuring her. However, she wasn't done arguing with him yet. "My hair hasn't been washed today," she confessed, reaching up and tousling the dark locks. "I have skank hair."

"Actually," he tilted his head and examined her appearance, "when you do that, mess it up, it looks like you just got out of bed."

"Oh, great," the brunette exclaimed, rolling her eyes, "bed head!"

"No, it's more like just had wild sex hair."

"So I look like a slut?"

"Why do you always do that; why do you always put yourself down," he asked of her. "And, no, you don't look like a slut. Your hair makes you look soft, approachable, affectionate. It will make people want to be with you."

With a furrowed brow, she pouted, annoyed that he had sufficiently routed her contentions. "My flip flops don't match."

He couldn't help it; he laughed. "Well then, guys will sympathize with you. Come on, Marissa, you've seen my dorm room, you know how often I do laundry, and I'm probably a lot neater than most of the guys I know. I'd bet that at least fifty percent of the guys in the audience tonight have mismatched socks on. You'll fit right in."

"I can do this," she coached herself, breathing deeply to dispel of any nerves and shaking her head positively as if to encourage herself.

"Of course you can. You're going to be great. In fact," Ryan added right before she was about to walk out the door, "if I had my wallet on me, I'd bet you right now that you bring in the more money tonight than any other person – perhaps more than everyone else combined."

"You're my friend, so you have to say that."

He ignored her comment. "Just get out there on that stage, so I can watch you kick some theatre nerd ass."

As he followed her out the door to go into the auditorium, the last thing he heard was her giggling, and he hoped that after the night was over she would still be laughing.

He stood in the back of the theater, arms smugly crossed against his chest as he waited for her to walk out on stage. Each person who had volunteered to be auctioned off had a short biography read about them before the bidding started, detailing their general likes and dislikes, who they were, and what they did in the theatre department, but Ryan didn't have to listen to Marissa's for he knew far more about her than what could ever be written on a single sheet of paper. Plus, it didn't hurt matters that he had gotten his hands on her bio earlier and made a few, select changes to it.

The lights dimmed, music started to play softly through the existing sound system, and the announcer began reading Marissa's information card just as his best friend appeared timidly on stage. Despite his pep talk, Ryan could still tell that she was nervous about how she looked. Her hands were either clasped together in front of her or, occasionally, she would let go and reach up to tuck an errant lock of hair behind her ear. She avoided making eye contact with the audience, fidgeted, and seemed to be willing the evening to be over as quickly as possible. If Ryan didn't have a plan, her behavior would have made him even more apprehensive about the night, because her coy, bashful behavior only made her that much more appealing.

"Marissa Cooper is a nineteen year old theatre major, communication minor," the announcer read from the brunette's card, "but her interest in the arts happened by accident. After debating last summer over whether or not she even wanted to go to college, by the time she decided to come, thanks, in most part, to her best friend's encouragement, everyone else had already scheduled their courses and she was forced to pick from the few classes which weren't filled yet. She ended up with two theatre classes, and, since that first week of school last fall, it's been a toss up about who spends more time up here – her or the director of the program."

There were a few bursts of laughter from the audience, but Ryan simply smiled, knowing that no one would be expecting what the announcer read next.

"She's tenacious, loving, intelligent, loyal, funny, sexy as hell, and, sorry guys, but she's also off the market." He was the only one who had to stifle a chuckle when Marissa snapped her head up and glared at the faceless voice coming from backstage. "According to my card, an anonymous offer that surpassed our goal for the entire evening has been placed on Marissa. However, the bidder said he would withdraw his offer if we went ahead with auctioning her off, so, Marissa," the announcer continued, adlibbing, "it looks as if you have a hot date tonight. Get out of here."

The room was so quiet that the old tried and true saying could have been applied – they would have been able to hear a pin drop. Before anyone could object or Marissa could start asking questions, he stepped forward, approached the stage, and walked up the stairs to claim his acquisition for the evening.

"You," Marissa accused, pointing a long, thin finger at his chest. "You did this?"

Ryan didn't respond, because they both already knew his answer. Instead, he simply picked her up, slung her over his shoulder, and started walking out of the theater. She protested, yelled, screamed, kicked her legs in the air, and hit him repeatedly on the back, but her efforts were to no avail and her threats of revenge and pain were obscured by the thunderous sound of applause coming from the audience behind them.

The plan had worked, and his little theatre nerd had brought the house down.

By the time they reached her dorm room, her ranting had ceased and she had become increasingly silent which, Ryan knew, was not a good sign. He put her down, ignoring the friction of her body against his as she slid down from the perch he had held her in over his shoulder, and watched as she moved towards her door, slamming it shut and locking it. With that one, simple flick of her wrist that served to trap them together in a very small space, he understood that she was not done yet, that she had not yet said her peace, and that, as soon as she had collected her thoughts and organized her insults, they would be engaged in a fight that would be capable of rivaling any of their battles from the past. So, knowing what he was about to face, Ryan decided to enjoy the peace and quiet for as long as it lasted.

Marissa ignored him, went about her routine of changing and getting ready for bed as if he wasn't there with her. It was obvious by the straightforwardness of her actions that she was not bothered by undressing in front of him, that their past intimacy together did not inhibit her from treating him as nothing more than an amiable acquaintance, but it unnerved Ryan, because he was affected and he wanted her to be, too.

She kicked off her mismatched flip flops, letting them land in a giant pile of shoes that were shoved into a far corner of the room and obviously of little importance to its owner. Her shirt was then stripped off and thrown away, and, while he watched greedily, reveling in each new reveal of her smooth, golden skin, Marissa unhooked her bra, tossed it aside, and then pulled on a tank top to cover herself up. At first, Ryan was disheartened to lose his view of her body, but, after looking more closely, he realized that the overly large shirt was actually one his own wife beaters that she must have snatched while they were dating, and the simple fact that she had held onto it for so long and wore it when she was upset reassured him. Finally, her shorts came off last, but, instead of putting on a pair of pajama bottoms, she settled for remaining in her boyshorts and shirt, not that he was complaining.

Comfortable, dressed for bed, and ready to battle, she turned around on her bare toes to face him, hands fisted on her curvaceous hips, chest heaving in pent up indignation, and bottomless sapphire eyes blazing with rage, frustration, and an always present, underlying passion for life. Never had she looked more beautiful to him.

"Why did you do that?"

As Ryan debated his answer, he had to give his best friend credit for getting straight to the point. He had hoped she would have railed against him for carrying her off the stage, for embarrassing her, for claiming she was off the market, but, instead of giving him time to really analyze his own actions, she cut straight to the point.

"I…," he started only to be cut off by her own angry words.

"After all this time, you still don't trust me, do you," she asked rhetorically, pacing the short length of her dorm room. Suddenly, he was confused about in the direction in which she was taking their fight, and, to show his bafflement, he tilted his head and watched her walk back and forth while mumbling to herself. "A year ago, I completely agree with you, it would have been a terrible idea for me to participate in something like this, because I could have ended up with someone who could have hurt me, who could have influenced me further into a dark, downward spiral, but I'm not that girl anymore, Ryan. I haven't touched a drop of alcohol since prom, I've gotten my life together and figured out who I am, and I've grown up, but you still see me as some scared, screwed up drug fiend that you have to ride in and rescue all the time, don't you?"

"Drug fiend?"

"Don't make fun of me," she snapped, twirling around to face him and glowering while doing so. "I'm serious. Look at my face," she ordered him. "Do you see me laughing?"

"Marissa, this had absolutely nothing to do with saving you and everything to do with me being jealous as hell."

He could see her take a step back as the waves of shock washed over her stunned face. "What?"

"I know that I was the one to break up with you, and I know that it was my decision last summer for us to be just friends and nothing more, but I also remember telling you that anything could happen between us in the future, that maybe someday we'd be ready to try again. Well, someday has arrived."

Obviously, he had surprised her stupid. "But jealous…I don't understand."

"And neither do I, really," Ryan confessed. "All I know is that two weeks ago I walked into the theater looking forward to having lunch with my best friend only to leave that afternoon after hearing about this auction practically in a panic that I was going to lose you."

"You'll always be my friend. Nothing will change that."

"I wasn't scared about losing a friend," he corrected her. "I was scared that I was going to lose my girlfriend."

"You're not making any sense. We're," she motioned between them, "not dating, and we haven't been for a year now."

"But hearing that you were going to auction yourself off and go on a date with the highest bidder made me realize that you could start dating someone else at anytime, and I didn't want that. I guess I needed a reminder about what I had to lose to realize what I wanted in the first place." Taking a deep breath, he pressed on. "And we're ready to be together now. It's taken us almost two years, but we've finally learned how to talk to each other again. We've dealt with our past, and we've moved on. Plus, we now know how to be each others friend. Before, we were always dating, working our way to dating, or fighting, but now we can have both the companionship and the passion." When she didn't argue with him, he took a step closer to her. "I know you're mad at me, that I should have trusted enough in both you and our relationship to not become jealous of the idea of you going out on a date with another guy, that I shouldn't have…"

"…spent all your hard earned money on some stupid auction!"

Now it was his turn to be completely bemused. "What," he asked, shaking his head in confusion. "You're mad because I wiped out my savings?"

"You're a full time student who also works five days a week so you can pay your way through school and not have to accept any money from your parents. I know that the money you had saved up was supposed to pay for your tuition and books next semester. Now what are you going to do?"

"I'll just have to take a loan out. Lots of people do it"

"You are infuriating," the theatre major yelled, throwing her hands up in aggravation. "Why would you do something like this, something so stupid? If you weren't such a proud, egotistical guy, you could have just come to me, told me how you felt, and I would have taken myself off the auction list, but, no, you couldn't do that, not you, not Ryan Atwood! You had to go for the big romantic gesture and put your own future at risk in the process."

"My future is hardly at risk."

"I swear," Marissa exclaimed on a roll and not even realizing he had interrupted her, "you're becoming more and more like Seth every damn day!"

"That was a low blow, and you know it," he teased her, risking his own safety and taking another step closer to her. "But let me get this straight. You're not mad at me because I possessively claimed you were already taken and wouldn't allow you to be auctioned off, and you're not mad at me for carrying you off the stage over my shoulder like you were mine. You're mad at me because I spent my money on you?"

"You're damn right I'm mad about that," she retorted testily. "No, I take that back," the brunette contradicted herself. "I'm not mad; I'm livid, furious, I could freaking spit nails right now you have me so enraged! Do you have any idea how foolish you…"

That was all he needed to hear. The rest of her words were swallowed by his own mouth as Ryan stormed forward, wrapped his right arm around her waist, pulling her to him, used his left hand to forcefully grip her face and angle it towards his own, and kissed her like a man who was dying from need. It was possessive, bruising, and entirely delicious, and she was both powerless and unwilling to deny him.

As he quickly moved them so that her back was resting against the wall, Ryan realized that they had never done this before. In the past, when they were dating, they had only made love gently, reverently, but he knew what they were about to share together was going to be anything but. Instead, it would be fast, hard, and wild, fiery, intense, and powerful, turbulent, furious, and emotional on both their parts. While he felt as if he had something to prove – that they should be together again, – Marissa was angry, and the scoring of her nails down his back, the electrifying pain her actions caused even through the material of his shirt, only served to reinforce his point.

With her body pressed against the wall and his hips thrust against hers to keep her in place, Ryan removed his arms from around her body and suddenly his hands were free to literally rip her shirt off her quaking form. He was too impatient to take the time to strip it off over her head, and the idea of disengaging their lips from each others was more than enough to convince him against slowing down and becoming gentle. Her shaking, fumbling hands as they worked feverishly to unfasten his jeans let him know that she was of the same mind, so, with nothing stopping him from doing what he wanted, he tore the tank top in two down the middle, let the scraps of material fall to the side and slide down her bare shoulders and arms, and feasted his voracious hands upon the trembling, generous, aroused breasts of the woman he was absolutely, whole-heartedly in love with.

Their mouths mated anxiously as if they were both desperate to taste the other. Their desperation bled into obsession which, in turn, quickly turned into white hot, blinding lust. Their lips attacked each other, their tongues danced and tangled to the point where it seemed as if they were sharing one mind, one body, one heart, and they both refused to pull away even for a second to breathe, for their desire to be together was too strong to deny.

However, touching and tasting did not satiate them for long; they needed more, much, much more. Knowing this, Ryan dropped his hands from her quivering chest and let them find the band of her boyshorts, impatiently pushing the flimsy, thin material down her legs and letting her kick the scrap aside. Once she was completely nude and vulnerable in his arms, he joined their hands together and brought her own to the waistband of his boxers, insinuating that he wanted her to return the favor and undress him; Marissa complied readily, ridding him of his underwear as quickly as she possible could.

"Condom," he asked, barely managing to rip his mouth away from hers long enough to utter the breathless, one word request.

"No," Marissa rejected. Showing displeasure, she tried to bring his lips back to her own, but he refused her. "I'm on the pill," she assured him. "We're fine. Just hurry up!"

Who was he to deny her, Ryan thought to himself, smirking slightly before kissing her again, the embrace quickly escalating before either of them realized what was happening. With their mouths joined and their gazes locked together, her deep, enchanting, sapphire indigo on his lighter, mesmerizing, oceanic azure, he lifted her up against the wall and thrust into her in one exhilarating, dizzying movement.

It didn't matter that she was still annoyed with him for his actions that evening. It didn't matter that they had been broken up for nearly a year at that point. It didn't matter that her roommate could use her key and walk in at any moment, interrupting them. It didn't matter that they had gotten so swept up in their feelings for each other that neither noticed nor cared that his shirt was still on, that it was sticking to the sweat dripping down his back. And it didn't matter that their first time together as a couple again wasn't sweet and romantic, all candlelight and rose petals, because the only thing that mattered to them was that, finally, after nearly twelve months of being apart, they were Ryan and Marissa again, and this time they would be able to make it work.

Half an hour later, they were lounging in her bed together, her head tucked directly under his chin and resting against his heart in the place that seemed made for her, their arms wrapped tightly around one another, and his naked legs tangled intimately with her smooth, lithe limbs. Somehow between making love against her dorm room wall and tumbling under the sheets together, his shirt had gone from his back to hers, leaving Ryan wrapped in nothing but Marissa's embrace. A guy could wear worse things though he reasoned to himself with a soft chuckle.

"What," she asked, punctuating her question by scattering a random pattern of open mouth kisses across his bare chest.

"I was just thinking about how tonight turned out much better than I figured it would."

"Umm…," she agreed, snuggling even deeper into his arms, "for me, too." After a moment of silence, she pushed herself up to lean on her elbows and looked down at him. "Tell me, just how much did you pay to get me all to yourself?"

"Oh, no, I don't think so," Ryan teased. "You're not mad at me anymore, and I intend to keep it that way for a least a few more hours if I can. Let's just say that, after this evening, I have a new nickname for you."

"What is it?"

"My Moneymaker," he answered, giving her pert, little derrière a light tap. Together, they dissolved into laughter which eventually led to kissing, and then touching, and then to making love for a second time that night. For Ryan, it was money well spent.