A/N: Set at the end of the Mallpisode.

Disclaimer: I wish I owned the OC! The only thing I did was borrow a few lines and make up the rest.

-x-

"So today was fun." Marissa said as she and Ryan sat together munching on fries in the diner.

The blonde nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah. Kinda like old times."

"Without all the drama." She added. "It was nice. Almost like the Fantastic Four was back."

"It's been awhile."

"Yeah, a lot's happened."

Ryan smiled. "Guess you could say we're kinda like strangers."

Marissa giggled. "So who are you?"

He stuck a fry in his mouth and let it hang, resembling a cigarette. "Whoever you want me to be."

"Ohh, very James Dean." She grinned.

Ryan laughed. "Well I'm not good when I'm put on the spot. Besides, I had no idea who the hell you were either. I just said the first thing that came to mind."

"It was cute. Very intriguing."

Seth smiled from his place outside. "Ah, look at that my little Summer. It seems like the Fantastic Four is becoming fantastic again. Shall we go and join them?"

"Not yet." Summer grabbed his arm and pulled him back. "She just said his name and her face went all serious."

He shrugged. "So?"

"So?" she sighed, clearly frustrated. "Cohen, they need a minute. This could be important and they don't need us to ruin it!"

"Ryan?" Marissa asked quietly.

He glanced up from his plate. "Yeah?"

"I still love you." The words had slipped from her lips before she could stop them. Crap.

Summer's mouth dropped open. "Oh my god. She just told she still loved him."

"What? How in the hell did you get that?"
"Cohen she's my best friend! I can tell these things, plus I'm a fairly good lip reader. Oh god, this is going to be one hell of a ride home."

"You what?" Ryan asked somewhat dazed.

"I'm sorry." She said quickly. "I'm so sorry. I just- I mean, I know it's too soon-"

"We should go." he interrupted.

Marissa nodded. "Yeah, good idea." They each threw a few dollars on the table to cover their tab and raced back to the car.

"We need to head back." Ryan announced once they'd reached Seth and Summer.

"Everyone's probably worried." Marissa added hastily.

Summer and Seth stared at each other for a minute before nodding and climbing back into the car.

"So we'll drop Marissa off first." Seth decided.

"Great." Marissa said from the backseat.

"And then you can take me home." Summer piped up.

The rest of the car ride was silent except for the small talk between Seth and Summer.

"So, thanks." Marissa said once they'd stopped at the apartments. "I had… fun."

"Call me tomorrow, Coop." Summer said giving her a quick hug.

She nodded and glanced at Seth and Ryan in the front seat. "Bye." The door slammed shut and they watched as she ran up to the apartment.

"I don't want to talk about it." Ryan said immediately.

"But Ryan-"

"Seriously Seth, drop it."

The two brunettes frowned but shut their mouths. They'd be quiet. For now.

-x-

Marissa entered the small apartment and shut the door as quietly as possible, hoping not to wake up-

"I thought you were staying at your mom's." Alex said entering the living room.

Marissa jumped. "Oh god! You scared me."

"You didn't answer my question."

"Oh yeah, that. Well we got into it again so I just came home."

Alex frowned. "I went over there earlier and talked to her. Try again."

Marissa's face fell. "Okay, so I lied. The truth is we got stuck in the mall and decided to stay there for the night."

"You and Summer?"

"And Seth and Ryan. Summer invited them."

Alex let out a sigh. "We need to talk."

"Okay." Marissa moved aside a few piles of clothes and sat down on the couch with her. "About what?"

"Why you lied to me first of all."

"It's not a big deal. I just didn't want you to freak out."

"Marissa, stop lying to me!" she exclaimed. "Do you know what your mom said when I went over there? She said that this was a phase, your latest way to get back at her."

"You shouldn't listen to her."

"I told her that you weren't happy. But she seemed pretty serious when she said that this wasn't going to last. And I can't help feeling like maybe she knows what she's talking about."

Marissa frowned, but Alex kept going.

"She said that you'd only been in love once. And that he looked a whole lot different in a wife beater than me." She sighed. "Just… just tell me she's wrong and I'll believe you. Tell me that you see a future with us and that you want to make this work."

Marissa closed her eyes tearfully. "I'm so sorry Alex."

"Tell me your mom was wrong."

She shook her head. "I really wish I could, believe me. But I can't. I've tried so hard to get over it and to forget. But I'm in love with him. I think I always have been."

Alex looked down dejectedly. "Damn it. And you know for a minute there I actually thought this could work."

"I'm sorry."

"It doesn't matter." She stood up. "Look, I'm gonna go. Um, make sure your stuff is out by the morning and tell your mom she was right." Leaning in and pressing a soft kiss to Marissa's lips, she smiled sadly. "I'll see you around."

Once she'd gone and Marissa heard the familiar click of the door, she glanced around the apartment. And then she cried.

-x-

"So you wanna tell me what happened back there?" Seth asked walking into the pool house.

"No."

"Well I hate to be annoying-"

"Doubt it."

"But I really don't care." He dropped down into a chair expectantly. "Now spill."

Ryan sighed and fell down on the bed. "There's nothing to tell. We ate and said we had fun and she told me she still loved me. Then we left."

"Correction: You ran. And I can see why you're freaked out; I mean you clearly still love Lindsay-"

"I didn't say that."

"So I can understand why- Hold on a minute, what?"

Ryan shrugged. "I never said I still loved Lindsay."

"But- wait a minute; Ryan a few hours ago you were ready to jump on a bus to go see her in Chicago."

He sighed. "Look, I don't know what's going on okay? I just… I can't stop thinking about her."

"Lindsay?"

"Marissa. It's complicated. Look, with Lindsay it was simple and easy. But with Marissa it was…"

"Full of anxt and drama and complications?"

"Kinda. But…" he trailed off.

"Oh god." Receiving a confused look, Seth explained. "It was confusing and stressful but kind of the most awsome thing ever at the same time?"

Ryan nodded.

"You're still in love with her, dude."

Ryan was about to reply when a knock came from the pool house door and Sandy stepped in.

"Hey, back from your escapade at the mall, I see."

"Yeah, had a little bit of a sour ending but it was cool dad."

"Thanks for calling me, by the way." He glanced over at Ryan. "What does he mean by sour ending?"

"While Summer and I worked out a few issues in the car Marissa told him she still loved him." Seth said bluntly.

Sandy let out a low whistle and sat down in a chair. "You're in deep, kid."

"I know." Ryan said miserably.

"Dad can help. He and mom have been together what, seventy years now?" Seth glanced at his father for confirmation and Sandy nodded.

"Yeah, we're both turning ninety in a few months."

"Well whatever, it's been a long time. The point is he can help you. I, on the other hand, am going to bed." He was almost at the door before he turned back. "Oh and Ryan? You're welcome."

Sandy rolled his eyes as Seth walked back towards the house and turned to Ryan. "So from what I gather you're not sure if you still love Lindsay or Marissa?"

Ryan shrugged. "I guess."

"Well there's an easy way to tell. Who do you have the most fun with? Don't tell me, I don't wanna know." He said seeing the blonde about to answer. "Just ask yourself. Who do you always wanna be around? Who do you wanna be with permanently? And if none of that helps then go with the classic 'If they were both trapped in a burning building and you could only rescue one, who would you save?'" Sandy stood up. "Just go back to the basics. Who do love? If you're really supposed to be with someone you'll know."

"How?" he asked desperately.

Sandy smiled sadly. "Because breaking the other person's heart will be the hardest part of losing them."

-x-

"I take it you're here to stay?" Julie said as she opened the door the next morning.

Marissa nodded. "Yeah."

"Let me help you." She grabbed one of the bags from her daughter and lugged it up to her room. "Can I ask what happened?"

"You."

Julie frowned. "Look, honey, I'm sorry if I caused you two to end things-" Her voice broke when her daughter engulfed her into a hug.

"Thanks."

"I, um, you're welcome." she said, still clearly surprised.

"You were right. Alex doesn't look that good in a wife beater."

Julie nodded sadly. "Oh honey. Come here." She pulled her daughter close again and sent a quick thank-you to the man upstairs. "Did you tell him?"

"Yeah. He freaked out, but I can't blame him." Marissa shrugged. "I sort of sprung it on him."

"Give it some time. It'll all work out, I promise. How about we go shopping to take your mind off of it? You know there's the big charity ball tonight. You could invite Summer and maybe we could find you a dress?" she smiled hopefully and turned it to a full grin when her daughter nodded.

"Give me an hour to get ready."

-x-

"I'm not going, Seth."

"You have to go."

"No I don't."

"You kinda do. Ryan, it's one of the biggest events of the year. Attendance isn't optional."

"Every event around here is the biggest event of the year."

"You have a point." Sandy agreed entering the pool house. "And I get that you're messed up kid, believe me. But Kirsten will have my ass if you don't go. So I'm beggin' ya."

Ryan sighed. "Fine."

"Yes! Score one for the Litigator!"

-x-

"Coop, I get that you're upset but you gotta promise me you'll try and have fun tonight." Summer said as they entered the country club later that night. "I mean, you look hot!"

Marissa glanced down at the deep blue dress they had picked out earlier. She had to agree that they looked good. Summer's red dress brought out her eyes and showed off her bone structure, while her own seemed to make up for her poor self esteem.

"Okay, I'll try to have fun." She put on a smile and the two walked over to the punch table. Not ten minutes later Seth walked up.

"Summer, you look positively stunning. And Marissa, you look very nice, as always."

"Thanks."

"Cohen, you're sweet." Summer grinned and gave him a quick kiss.

"Would you like to dance?"

"I'd love to!" she glanced over at Marissa. "But Coop, if you need me to stay-"

"Go." Marissa said firmly. "I'm good, I promise."

"You sure?"

"Positive."

Summer smiled as she followed Seth out to the dance floor. "Okay."

As a slow song came on and Seth and Summer acted even grosser than usual, Marissa turned and examined the buffet table for a minute before she felt someone's presence behind her.

"Hey."

"Hey."

"You wanna go somewhere and talk?"

She nodded. "Sure." She followed him out of the ballroom and outside to a secluded area with a small fountain centering it.

Taking a seat on a nearby bench she turned to him. "Look, I'm sorry about the other night. I should've kept my mouth shut. I mean, Lindsay just left and I was completely out of line."

Ryan sighed. "You know, it's weird. After we got home Sandy came in and told me that if you love someone then breaking the other person's heart would be the worst part about losing them."

Marissa nodded. "I broke up with Alex and moved back with mom and Caleb. Apparently she thinks you're the only person I've ever been in love with."

"Is she right?"

She let out a small laugh. "Why does it matter?"

He shrugged. "Cause Seth basically asked me the same thing."

"What'd you tell him?"

"I asked you first."

Marissa laughed as a tear fell from her eye. "Fine, the truth?"

"If you're honest with me then I'll be honest with you." He promised.

"Deal." She glanced down at her hands for a minute before shaking her head. "Yeah. She was right. Was Seth?"

He was quiet for a minute. "Yep." They both looked up to meet the other person's eyes before he spoke again. "Marissa?"

"What?"

"I still love you too."

-x-

"Okay, I'm getting worried. We've been looking for them for like half an hour." Summer said as she and Seth made what felt like their hundredth lap around the country club.

"I'm sure they're fine. Unless someone came and kidnapped them- Ow!"

"Cohen, shut up! Don't say things like that, karma's a bitch!"

"Hey, you guys, have either of you seen Ryan or Marissa?" Kirsten asked walking up with Julie and Sandy. "We haven't seen them since we got here."

"That's exactly what I was saying!" Summer exclaimed. "I'm worried!"

"Maybe if we split up we can-"

"Um, dad, I don't think that will be nessicary." Seth interrupted. Everyone turned and looked towards the main entrance where he was pointing. Summer grinned.

"They're holding hands! And he just kissed her on the cheek!"

"The Fantastic Four is back in action!" Seth said victoriously.

"Hey guys." Marissa said smiling as she and Ryan approached the group.

"Ohmygod I'm so happy for you guys!" Summer cried throwing her arms around the both of them.

"This is great news." Seth added. "And once again, Ryan, you're welcome."

Ryan rolled his eyes but smiled. "Sandy, is it okay if we cut out a little early?"

"Please?" Marissa glanced towards Julie pleadingly.

"Hey, if they get to go then so do we." Seth said immediately.

"I agree, Cohen. Why make us suffer alone?"

The parents exchanged quick glances before Kirsten spoke.

"Get out of here. Julie and dad can take us home."

"Yes! Thank you!" Hugs and pats on the back were passed around before Sandy handed the keys over to Seth and they raced off.

-x-

"Where to?" Seth asked climbing into the driver's seat.

Summer turned around and glanced at her friend. "I'm thinking the beach. How about it, Coop?"

"Sounds good. Oh, but stop by the diner on the way. I'm starving."

"The food at those parties is always so bad." Seth complained. "I mean, who really wants to eat shrimp puffs and oyster dip?"

"I thought it was clam dip."

"See that's my point, Ryan! You don't even know what you're eating anymore; you just know it's nasty."

"You can't get confused with a burger and fries." Summer piped up.

"So true, my Summer Breeze."

Deciding that they might as well change out of their formal attire, after a quick stop at the diner for take-out the group swung by both Summer and the Cohen's place and were soon lazily sprawled across a spot on the deserted beach in sweats.

"You know today turned out pretty great." Summer said after awhile. "And I'm glad we're all back together again."

Marissa nodded. "Me too."

Silence passed among them again before Ryan spoke up.

"So how about we start a fire?"

"Good idea, Atwood. I'm starting to get cold. Cohen and I will go find some wood." Summer held out her hand, which Seth immediately took.

"So… I guess it's just us." Marissa said finally.

Ryan nodded. "I guess so."

"I've missed you, you know."

"I've missed you too. I've missed us."

She smiled. "I've missed us, too."

"And you know what I've missed the most?" he asked, a small glimmer appearing in his eye. "This."

Marissa couldn't help but grin into the kiss. She really had forgotten just how amazing it felt to be with him. And knowing that even after all the hell they'd been through and that they were finally back together made her heart soar with joy.

"I love you." He said breathlessly once they'd parted.

She leaned her forehead against his. "I love you too Ryan. And no more drama; we're starting fresh this time. I don't wanna lose you again."

He shook his head slowly. "You won't. I'm in this for good, I promise. Nothing's going to come between us this time. I trust you."

"Same here. This is it, I'm done trying with other people; it's too messy and miserable. They just... aren't you."

He smirked. "And I'm irreplaceable."

Marissa laughed. "Right."

"You know you're kind of hard to replace too. Besides, there's really no point in looking. Nobody else has those eyes."

"The kind that make you give in to anything?"

"Mhmm." He leaned in again and pressed his lips to hers.

"Mmm, you know the best part about breaking up?"

"What?"

She giggled. "We get to spend so much time making up."

He raised an eyebrow. "I know a guy who has a pool house all to himself."

"You think he'd let us borrow it?"

Ryan nodded and pressed another kiss to her lips. "Oh yeah."

"Okay, you guys are back to being gross again." Seth announced as he and Summer returned.

Ryan rolled his eyes. "Why don't you guys have any firewood?"

"Oh, we found some." Summer said nodding.

"But we realized we don't have a lighter or matches."

"Yeah, and Cohen isn't the outdoors type who can rub two sticks together, so-"

"I told you Summer that only works in the movies."

"Whatever. The point is we decided we would rather just go back and hang out at Cohen's house."

Marissa grabbed Ryan's hand and stood up. "Sounds good to me."

Summer looked at her skeptically. "Wait, you guys aren't gonna ditch us and go make-out in the pool house, are you?"

"What? No way." They both tried to give an innocent look to the brunette couple, which was immediately shot down.

"Yeah, okay, whatever. Cohen and I will watch a movie or something I guess." She rolled her eyes and climbed into the passenger seat.

They had almost made it out of the beach's parking lot when-

"Oh my god, you guys! Seriously, do you have to make-out in the backseat?

-x-

Did you enjoy it? ;) I hope so. I worked hard and I think I like it. Reviews are appreciated.