A/N: Hola fanfictioners! Another OC story from me to you. I know some of the stuff in here is out of order but whatever. It's my story and I'll arrange it how I please. This starts off the night of the college sweatshirt party in 3x20 'The Day After Tomorrow' and I pretty much make everything up from there as I see fit.

Disclaimer: I don't own any part of the OC. All I did was borrow a few scenes and lines, to which I give Josh Schwartz and whoever else full credit. I also do not own Imogen Heap or their song. I merely borrowed the lyrics and make no claim to own them. But if I could, I would SO own Ben McKenzie and all of his smoking hotness!

Anyway, enjoy!

-x-

Connecticut, Texas A&M, USC, Boston, Stanford, Yale, Julliard, Harvard, Brown… the list was never ending. All around her Sadie saw hundreds of people in sweatshirts of every shape, size, color, and variation possible. Every single person here was going to college to further their education and build their lives. She was here as a guest. Sure, Ryan's friends were nice. Taylor had introduced her a lot and everyone seemed like decent people. But she couldn't help but notice that every time they were in the same place as Marissa Cooper, his eyes always lingered on her. And that feeling that she didn't belong just wasn't going away.

"Hey." She glanced up from her spot in the sand to see Ryan walking up next to her.

"Hey. So Taylor went off with that food guy, I'm pretty sure they were talking dirty to each other in Korean." She quipped.

Ryan smiled slightly. "So are you uh, having fun?"

"Ryan I'm not coming with you to Berkley." She said finally. It was blunt, yes, but necessary. "We both know this isn't going to work. I mean, look around. You belong here, I belong…" she shrugged. "Well, I'm not really sure yet but I want to find out."

"Sadie-"

"And let's not beat around the bush." She went on. "You and I both know the main reason this can't work. You still love her. Things got complicated and got to be too much so you ended it and I was the distraction. And you know what? I think I knew it even from the beginning. But I needed the distraction too so I went along with it." She glanced down and bit her lower lip, trying to hold in the tears.

Ryan was silent for a minute. "Sadie…" he sighed. "I'm sorry." He said finally.

She nodded. "I know. Me too." She leaned over and pressed a kiss to his cheek. "I'm gonna miss you."

"I can take you home." He offered.

Sadie shook her head. "No thanks, I'll walk. I need to clear my head a little, and it's easier to just end things here."

He sighed, "I really am sorry."

"I know you are." She smiled sadly. "Goodbye Ryan."

He watched her figure trail off down the beach, mumbling to himself. "Bye Sadie."

-x-

"Cohen, you've been avoiding the subject all night." Summer said abruptly grabbing his arm and pulling him away from a group of people and down the beach.

"Ow, Summer what the hell? Let go of me!"

"Not until I get some answers!" she stopped a good distance away from the party, her hand still firmly holding his arm. "Cohen talk to me, I can't keep doing this crap and playing games with you. Be honest with me, whatever it is I need to know!"

Seth looked up at her dejectedly. "Idinginnuown." He mumbled.

Summer frowned. "What?"

"I said I didn't get into Brown!" He exclaimed. "They didn't accept me! Seth Cohen and Brown University? Not a match. Absolutely no compatibility whatsoever! Finito, done, the end, finished! There you go Summer, that's the truth. That's why I've been acting so weird lately, because my dream school rejected me and accepted you. So while you go off and become this big successful entrepreneur with a future I'll be cleaning urinals at the Bait Shop for the rest of my life." Summer slowly let go of his arm, letting him move around and rant freely. "But you know what? I didn't want to tell you because I do love you and I want the best for you! And I know I'm not what you deserve, but we've already been through that multiple times and for some reason you still picked me anyway. And I shouldn't be surprised that I got rejected but dammit Summer, I really thought I had a chance. I thought that Brown was my destiny but apparently the universe has other plans, so you go to Brown and meet some smart guy and fall for him and forget me and have brain babies. I'll be here in case you ever need a urinal cleaned out or maybe one day I'll make it big and flip some burgers." He threw his hands up in surrender and fell down onto the sand. Panting heavily he dropped his head into his hands.

Summer was silent for a moment. "Why didn't you tell me?" she finally questioned.

"Wh- Summer how could I tell you? That our big plans for the future just weren't going to happen? It's humiliating."

"I just don't understand how you could think that I'd be angry with you. Cohen, I love you and whether or not we go to the same college doesn't affect that." She sighed. "I can't get over that you couldn't trust me about this. That you'd think that because of Brown I wouldn't want you anymore."

Seth looked at her helplessly. "Well I'm sorry but I didn't know what-"

"You know what? Save it." Summer interrupted. "I can't do this right now. Cohen when I said that your rejection from Brown couldn't affect us, I meant it. But this, the lying and you not being able to trust me, I don't know. I just… I need some time to think."

"Summer-"

"No. No, you don't get to say anything. You had your chance to say something so many times and you didn't." she shook her head sadly. "I have to go."

"Summer, come on, wait! Summer!" he finally stopped yelling after a minute, watching her lone figure walking back up the beach. He hung his head in shame. "Well Seth, it looks like you did it again."

-x-

The next morning Ryan woke up to a bright light shining on his face. "God Seth, go away."

"I come with food and a need to talk about me." Seth said setting down a tray containing breakfast. "It's serious."

"I have my own problems to deal with, and its seven thirty on a Saturday. Can't it wait?"

"I didn't get into Brown."

Ryan rubbed his eyes and sat up. "Hold on, what?"

Seth nodded and sat down in a chair, still in his pajamas and bathrobe. "Yep. Consider me the biggest loser of the class of 2006 and we haven't even graduated yet. I tell you I'm nothing if not an overachiever."

"How did this even happen?" he reached over and grabbed one of the coffee-filled mugs, taking a long sip of the hot beverage.

Seth shook his head miserably. "I don't know. The point is I lied to Summer and everyone else. Then last night she called me on it and found out and now she's 'taking some time to think' or something."

"Have you told Sandy and Kirsten?"

"Last night. I was pretty miserable and they cornered me when I got home. Figured there wasn't any reason to hide it anymore, so I told them."

Ryan raised his eyebrows expectantly. "And…?"

"And they're disappointed for me but gave me the speech about how it'll all work out. Pep talk 101, the usual." He shrugged. "How're things with Sadie?"

"They're over. She realized that we wouldn't work out."

Seth looked at him skeptically. "Okay, now tell me the part you're purposely leaving out."

Ryan sighed. "She said that I was still in love with Marissa."

"And are you?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. Maybe."

Seth shot him a firm look. "Dude…"

Ryan went quiet. "I think so." He said finally.

"So go after her!"

"She's with Volchok!"

"Screw Volchok!" Seth yelled. "Dude, its Marissa! You guys are meant to be together, I've said it for years! Volchok is just some guy she's using because you broke up with her! And since when do you care about his feelings anyway?"

"Guys? Are we interrupting?" Kirsten poked her head into the pool house and smiled.

Ryan put on his best half smile. "Hey, come on in."

"We just wanted to talk about graduation for a second, since it's only two weeks away." She explained sitting down on the edge of the bed.

"How are you guys doing?" Sandy asked sitting down opposite Seth at the small table.

The two boys exchanged quick glances. "That good, eh?"

"Just trying to figure some things out." Ryan said quickly.

"Yeah, like life." Seth added.

Sandy nodded. "Well if you do, let us know will ya?"

Kirsten chuckled. "Ryan, I was going to call and order tickets to the ceremony today. Have you talked to Dawn?"

"Yeah, actually I have." Ryan said to everyone's astonishment. "She got a hold of me the other day and asked if I wanted her there. Said she understood if I didn't but she had to ask. Um, do you think you can get her a seat?"

"Of course, is she bringing anyone?" Kirsten couldn't help but grin.

Ryan shook his head. "No, it's just her."

"Okay, well, I'll make sure the guest room is made up. She's welcome to stay as long as she likes, be sure to tell her that."

He nodded. "Thanks."

The two adults stood up. "Well, now that we have that cleared up, I have to go run some errands."

"And I have to stop by the office for a few hours." Sandy added. "You two gonna be okay?"

The boys nodded. "Yeah, sure."

Kirsten smiled and kissed them each quickly on the cheek. "We'll see you at dinner."

Ryan glanced over at Seth once they'd left. "Go ahead and tell me what you have planned."

"Well Ry, I have the extreme urge to get some chili fries."

-x-

"So graduation…" Seth said about an hour later.

Ryan sighed and glanced around the pier. "Yeah. Finally done with high school."

"About time."

"Really." The blonde nodded in agreement. "Thought it would never get here."

"Yeah, me either. I'm… I can't wait." Seth added.

"Me either."

"Except for the fact that I kinda wish we could just… rewind a few years."

Ryan nodded understandingly. "Nervous?"

"Scared shitless."

He sighed. "I know. Me too."

Seth frowned, "About Berkley?"

Ryan dropped his hands in defeat. "About everything, man."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. It's like all our lives we've been looking forward to this and everything has built up to it and now that it's here…"

"You're not so sure you're ready." Ryan finished. "Yeah."

Seth let out a breath. "Well, we can't really do anything about it. So I guess we'll just have to take the plunge and pray we make it."

"Guess so." He was about to comment again when he stopped and pointed. "Hey."

"Wh- oh, crap."

"Hey guys." Summer and Marissa walked up, clearly just as uncomfortable as they were.

Seth raised a hand. "Ladies. I would love to stay and chat but I was just about to-" he pointed to his left. "So I'll see you later."

"And I was about to go over there. Bye." Summer pointed to the right and scampered off, leaving Ryan and Marissa alone.

"So… they're not really good at avoiding each other." Marissa observed laughing.

Ryan smiled. "They'll work it out."

"They always do." They both stood in silence for a minute. "So how's Sadie?" she finally asked.

"Oh um, we broke up actually." Marissa's eyes widened. "Yeah, we uh, we both knew it was for the best. It wouldn't have worked out anyway. We just… were going in different directions."

She nodded. "I get it. I'm sorry, though. She seemed nice."

"She was. How um, how are you and…?"

"Oh! Yeah, um, it's not really working too well." He nodded. "I think I'm gonna end it soon, y'know, he's a little too… rough for me. And the getting high and drunk is kinda old, so… I think I need to get some structure back in my life, start working on things..."

"Good, I'm uh, happy for you." He scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "So, listen, I'd better go find Seth."

"And I better get Summer before she buys the whole store. Um…" she glanced down. "So, good luck with… things."

"Yeah, you too. Totally. I'll uh, see you later."

"Definitely, yeah. See you." They both began to walk off, accidently bumping shoulders and giving nervous laughs.

"Sorry."

"No, my fault. Um, bye."

"Bye."

-x-

"That was extremely awkward." Summer said that evening as she and Marissa sat watching TV together.

Marissa nodded distractedly. "Yeah, totally."

Summer eyed her. "So how'd things go with you and Chino?"

"Fine, he uh broke up with Sadie."

"Oh my god! And now you can dump Volvo and get back with Ryan and live happily ever after!" the brunette clapped excitedly.

Marissa rolled her eyes. "You know that's not his name, and that's not why I'm breaking up with him."

Summer gasped. "You really are gonna end it? Oh thank god! I really can't stand him, Coop, he's a jackass."

"He helped me through some stuff." She said shrugging. "I need a distraction and he gave it to me."

"Well, distraction or not I'm proud of you Coop. When are you gonna do it?"

"Well, I might as well do it tonight. It's only six, after all."

"Good idea!" Summer cheered. "Go get 'em! Oh and Coop?"

Marissa turned around from the door she was about to exit. "Yeah?"

"I know you still love Chino. Cohen was right when he said you two were destined for each other."

The blonde gave a small smile. "We'll see."

-x-

"Oh, really, you want to move there? Hm, too bad buddy!" Seth exclaimed as he moved his computer mouse quickly. "Oh, you thought you had me, but you didn't! No, sorry, not today!" he let out a whoop of victory, throwing his arms in the air and pushing away from the desk.

"Seth? You have a visitor!" He heard Sandy yelled.

"Send them up!" He shouted back. Figuring it was probably Summer coming to yell at him again he started to prep himself for another round of arguing. What he didn't expect, however, was for Anna Stern to enter his room.

"Don't get too excited, I'm here for Captain Oats." She joked walking in. "Hi Seth."

"Anna, you're… here. In Newport." He stood and pulled her into a hug. "I can't believe it. How long are you here?"

"A few hours. I was in Texas looking at a few colleges and the plane got detoured a bit. I have to be back at the airport by eight. But I needed to see you. Ryan emailed me the other day and told me what happened."

Seth frowned. "About Brown."

"And Summer." She sat down on the bed and tossed her long ponytail over her shoulder. "Why did you lie to her, Seth? You know she wouldn't have been mad."

He shook his head. "I don't know. I guess part of me just didn't want to admit that I failed."

"Well, admit it. There are four steps to moving on and the first is accepting the past." Anna recited. "I'm serious; I don't have much time so we're doing this now." When he still remained silent she smacked his arm. "Say it!"

"I didn't get into Brown." Seth mumbled.

"Say it louder."

"I didn't get into Brown." He repeated at normal level.

"Again, louder."

"I didn't get into Brown." He said raising his voice a bit. "I didn't get into Brown! I DIDN'T GET INTO BROWN!"

"GOOD!" Anna shouted. "NOW ARE YOU ANGRY?"

"YES!"

"LET ME HEAR IT!"

"AAAAAH!" Seth let out a loud yell of frustration. "I DIDN'T GET INTO BROWN AND I'M REALLY PISSED OFF ABOUT IT!"

"THAT'S RIGHT! AND CAN YOU CHANGE IT?"

"NO!"

"AND THAT SUCKS."

"YEAH!"

"SO LET ME SEE YOU MAD!"

His eyes going wide, almost insane looking, Seth took all of his anger and hit the bedroom wall.

"HOLY HELL, I THINK I BROKE MY HAND!" He let out a girlish scream and fell onto the bed.

"What the hell is going on up here?" Sandy asked rushing in.

Anna smiled up at him. "Therapy, Mr. Cohen. We're just getting some anger out, right Seth?"

A small moan escaped from the brunette lying face down on the bed.

"See? We're working through a few issues." Anna said happily.

Sandy nodded slowly and headed back towards the door. "Okay well, let me know if you need anything: something to eat, a trip to the hospital, whatever."

The blonde nodded. "Thanks Mr. C." Once the door had closed she glanced at Seth. "Oh it's not that bad."

"My hand was just crushed!" he exclaimed, his voice muffled by the pillow.

"The wall isn't even dented."

"Really?" he glanced up and looked over to where he had swung. "Damn, I really need to start working out."

"Let me see it." She said rolling her eyes and grabbing his wrist. "You're fine; a big baby, but fine." she said after inspecting it. "Now come on, it's time for phase two."

"I don't know, phase one was pretty damn painful. I'm scared of phase two."

-x-

After a few loud raps on the metal, the door slid open to reveal Kevin Volchok.

"Didn't know you were coming over." He said stepping aside to let her in.

Marissa shrugged. "It was kind of a spur of the moment thing."

He nodded. "Beer's on the table, I got some more barbs if you want a hit."

She shook her head and sat down on the couch. "We need to talk."

Volchok raised his eyebrows. "Uh-oh, what'd I do now? Forgot to tell you how pretty you were? Or, don't tell me, you need a date to a dance."

"Kevin these past while has been fun." She started. "But I think we're both thinking about different things for the future, so-"

"Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no." he cut her off. "You don't get to do this. Ending it? Yeah, that wasn't part of the deal. I say when we're done."

"Kevin, I'm sorry." Marissa stood up and started to head towards the door, but he grabbed her arm and held on tight.

"You're not going anywhere." He said firmly.

"Kevin, let me go. Let me go. Kevin! Let me go!" she struggled to break free of his grip, but he held his grip firm, moving to take her by the shoulders.

"You don't get to end this!" he growled. Marissa continued to struggle against his hold and he was losing his temper quickly. "STOP YELLING!" he commanded as her cries grew louder. "SHUT UP!"

"Please, let me go! Someone, HELP! PLEASE HELP ME!" Marissa screamed.

Volchok let out a roar of anger and shoved her backwards, causing her thin, frail body to fall onto the coffee table, shattering the glass top into thousands of tiny pieces. Marissa finally laid still, obviously no longer conscious.

"Shit." Volchok looked around the room in a bit of a panic. "Damn it!" grabbing the bag of coke on the table, he shoved it in his back pocket and did the only thing he could: he ran.

-x-

"Hey Chino." Summer said somewhat surprised as she opened the door.

Ryan smiled. "Hey, I was wondering if Marissa was here. I kinda wanted to talk to her."

"Um, she went to break up with Volchok." Summer glanced over at the clock in the hallway. "But that was awhile ago. Actually, now that you mention it, she should've been back a few hours ago." Her eyes went wide after a second and she met Ryan's equally worried face. "You don't think-"

"I'm going to find her." He said, already headed back towards his car.

"Ryan!" He turned around at the use of his actual name. Summer looked at him nervously. "Be careful." He nodded and without another word sped off for Volchok's.

-x-

"And I can't help it that I didn't get in!" Seth wailed. "But I've wanted this for so long and I just wanted to go to college and be happy and Summer does good on her SATs and now my life is ruined!"

Anna nodded and patted his back soothingly. "There you go, let it all out." She murmured.

"I want her to do well but I want to do good too!" he said tearfully. "Is that so wrong of me?"

"No, it's very understandable." She smiled softly as he pulled away and wiped his eyes. "Now aren't you glad you gave in to phase two?"

"I wasn't crying." He said immediately. "Men don't cry. I was just expressing an opinion."

"Of course you were. That's exactly what I meant. Luckily for you phase three is the good part." She grinned and pulled out a piece of paper from her purse. "This is the number of my uncle's best friend. His name is Will Thatcher and he's on the board at the Rhode Island School of Design." She explained. "Ryan scanned some of your work to me and I sent it to my uncle, who sent it to him. He took a look at it and he thinks you're really good, Seth. He says you have extreme potential." Anna grinned. "You have an interview in a month and a half in Rhode Island."

Seth's jaw dropped. "What?"

"And you'll be close to Summer so you won't have to worry about long distance because you'll practically be neighbors." She went on. "All you have to do is show up."

"Are you serious?"

"Seth, just because you didn't get into Brown doesn't mean your life is over. I know that, Ryan knows that, your parents know it, and so does Summer. The only reason she's mad at you is because you lied."

Seth let out a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair. "You got me an interview at RISD." He said finally.

"Nah, you got yourself an interview. I just passed along a few papers." She glanced down at her watch and frowned. "I have to go; I need to be at the airport in half an hour." She smiled sadly, pulling him into a tight hug. "You're going to be fine, I promise. Just have some faith and be honest with everyone, including yourself."

"Thank you." He mumbled as they broke apart. "Don't forget to stay in touch."

She nodded. "I won't."

"Good…Oh, wait!"

Anna froze from her spot near the door.

"You said there were four steps to moving forward. What's number four?"

She smiled. "Apologize and make up with Summer." She gave him a small wave. "Bye Seth."

He sighed and glanced down at his hands. "Goodbye Anna." He said quietly.

-x-

"Marissa? Marissa!" Ryan pounded heavily against the door. "Marissa, are you in there?!" He hit the door harder, but it still didn't budge.

"Hey buddy; cut the yelling, I got a kid sleeping in here!" A twenty-something man stuck his head out in the hallway and Ryan turned to him.

"My friend's in there and I think she's hurt. Do you have anything I can use to get this door open?"

The guy turned back to his door. "Babe, I'll be right back."

"Okay Gary." A female voice responded.

The guy apparently named Gary closed the door quietly and walked up to Ryan. "I ain't got any tools but I did learn a few tricks from my brother on how to pick a lock. You got a credit card?"

Ryan pulled out his wallet and handed the guy his driver's license. "Will this work?"

Gary nodded. "Sure, give me a minute." The two men stood there in silence for a little while, Gary concentrating heavily on the lock. About three minutes later the lock was finally undone and the card was returned. "Sorry about the tear at the top."

"It's cool." Ryan absentmindedly pushed the door open and stepped into the apartment, looking around. It took him only a second to notice Marissa's petite frame still lying in the pile of glass amidst the coffee table. "Oh my god. Marissa!" he ran over and knelt down to her, ignoring the glass the pierced into his knee through his jeans. "Oh my god."

"I'm callin' 911." Gary announced from the doorway.

"Thanks, tell them I'm bringing her right now and we're not waiting for an ambulance." He carefully picked up Marissa's limp body. "Thanks for your help."

Gary nodded. "No prob, dude. Good luck. God bless."

-x-

Ryan made it to the hospital in record time, all the while breaking about ten different traffic laws. He ran into the emergency room with Marissa in his arms and she was immediately taken back on a stretcher.

"Sir, are you a relative?" An elderly nurse asked walking up.

"Um, I'm her mom's husband's daughter's adoptive son." Ryan said distractedly.

The nurse nodded slowly, she was used to dealing with frazzled people like this, especially in stressful situations. "Well you need to just take a seat, sir, and we'll let you know when we find something out. You're in shock, sit down and breathe. Is there anyone you'd like me to call?"

"Um. I- um-" he pulled out his cell phone and passed it to her. "Um, Kirsten or Sandy."

"Alright, Kirsten or Sandy. And you are?"

"R-Ryan. And she's- she's Marissa Cooper. She's um, 5'8, s-she was born on-" God, he was messed up. His entire body was shaking and he was having trouble focusing. His mind was going blank and the only thing he could think of was if she was going to be okay.

"Shhh, okay honey, calm down. I've got it. I'll call and tell them, just breath. We don't need you passing out on us. We're going to do everything we can to help your friend."

-x-

"Okay, it's been almost thirty minutes. Where is he?" Kirsten asked.

"Calm down, mom, I'm sure he's on his way. Probably held up in traffic. You know Ryan; he would call if something was wrong." As if on cue, the phone rang and Seth smiled. "I'll bet that's him."

Sandy stood up from the dinner table and grabbed the cordless. "Hello?"

"Hello is this Sandy or Kirsten?" a female voice asked politely.

"This is Sandy Cohen, who is this?"

"This is Adel Webber, from Newport Presbyterian Hospital. Sir, a Ryan Atwood has just come in and-"

"Is he okay?" Sandy asked immediately. Kirsten and Seth looked up at the tone of concern in his voice. "Is Ryan alright?"

"He's fine. He brought in a Miss Marissa Cooper and while we're tending to her, he seems to be very upset."

"We're on our way."

-x-

"Ryan!" The blonde glanced up from the green plastic chair he was sitting in to find Seth, Summer, Sandy, Kirsten, and Julie all walking towards him.

"What the hell happened?"

"I knew something was gonna happen, I told you to be careful Chino!"

"What happened to my daughter?"

"Will you all please shut up?" Kirsten finally yelled, much to everyone's surprise. "Give him a chance to speak."

The group fell silent and looked at Ryan expectantly.

"I, um, I went to Summer's to talk to Marissa but she said Marissa had left to break-up with Volchok earlier. But that was hours ago, so I went to look for her. Couldn't get the door open at the apartment, got someone to help me break the lock and found her lying unconscious in the coffee table."

"In the coffee table?" Julie asked.

"She'd smashed through it, I'm assuming. So the guy who helped me break the lock called 911 and I drove here."

"Is she okay?"

He sighed defeated. "They haven't come out to give an update yet."

Sandy sat down next to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

Ryan nodded. "I'm just scared." He admitted softly. "I can't-"

"You won't." Summer said firmly.

"Family of Marissa Cooper?" A doctor called walking through the doors.

Everyone immediately stood up.

"I'm her best friend."

"I'm her step-sister."

"I'm her mother."

"I'm Seth Cohen."

"Nice to meet you all. I'm Doctor Everly." The doctor glanced around. "Okay, we've taken a look at her and she's going to be fine. Some slight bruising and cuts from the glass, her back will be sore for a few days because she landed on it, and she has a slight concussion. We gave her something for the pain, so she's asleep right now but she should wake up soon and she can go home tomorrow morning. We'd like to keep her here tonight for observation. She was extremely lucky, most people would have suffered major injuries from something like this."

"Can I see her?" Julie asked immediately.

Doctor Everly nodded. "Sure, but no more than three at a time." She gave a slight smile and walked off.

Julie headed towards the doors but looked back before reaching them. "Ryan, Summer?"

The two teenagers looked at each other for a brief moment before standing up and following Julie and the doctor to Marissa's room.

Her clothes had been removed and she was now lying in a pale hospital gown. Apart from the few small cuts and bruises on her face and the IV in her arm she looked fine.

"Oh baby." Julie let out a whimper as she kissed her daughter's forehead tenderly. "Thank god."

Summer took one of Marissa's hands gingerly and then placed a kiss to it. "She's tough." She observed.

Julie nodded. "Yes she is." Noticing Ryan standing in the corner she glanced up at Summer. "How about we go grab a cup of coffee?"

"Sure." Summer quickly headed back out to the hall, Julie about to follow before stopping and pulling Ryan into a firm hug.

"Thank you. You saved her, again. Thank you." She whispered hoarsely.

Ryan was frozen, but managed a nod. Julie took this as enough and followed Summer out, closing the private room's door quietly behind her.

Ryan said nothing, but moved to her bedside and took her thin hand in his own. Mimicking the girls' earlier actions he pressed a gentle kiss to her fingertips and forehead before dropping his head down and letting the tears come.

-x-

"I'll go get coffee." Summer volunteered once she and Julie had reached the hallway. "You should sit down."

"Thanks Summer." Julie smiled weakly and headed down the hall while Summer turned and went in the opposite direction towards the vending machines. Digging into her purse for some change she let out a frustrated cry as the change in her wallet spilled out and rolled everywhere.

"Dammit!" She bent down and began picking up coins quickly, trying not to let the tears fall. Finally, she gave in and threw the money down angrily, sitting down sobbing against the wall.

"Summer? Are you okay?"

She let out an impatient sigh and dropped her head into her hands. "Yeah, I'm fine Cohen. My best friend was just slammed through a coffee table, I'm stressing about college, dealing with relationship drama, and graduation is next week. I'm fan-freaking-tastic."

Seth sat down next to her. "I'm sorry." He said hoarsely.

"It's fine, just give me a minute and I'll be okay."

"No, I'm sorry about us. That I let this happen to us. I'm sorry that I lied to you and I'm sorry that I didn't get into Brown and screwed up our future."

Summer looked up. "Is that what you think? Cohen, the only thing that would ruin our future is us not loving each other. Where we go to school doesn't matter." She sighed. "Cohen, I love you. Not getting into Brown doesn't change that. You just have to stop lying and trust me when I say that I love you no matter what happens."

"I'm sorry." He repeated. "And I promise, no more lies. Ever. I trust you."

She let out a small smile. "Good. Now kiss me already."

Matching her grin Seth eagerly complied so their lips met.

"I have something to tell you." He said once they'd parted.

"Okay, tell me."

"I have an interview with the Rhode Island School of Design next month."

Summer's eye went wide. "Oh my god, are you serious? Cohen, that's amazing!" she threw her arms around him in a tight embrace and kissed him hard on the lips. "I'm coming with you."

His brow furrowed in confusion. "What?"

"To your interview. I'll be right by your side the whole time, cheering you on."

Seth smiled. "Well then while we're over there we might as well stop by Brown and see my honey's new educational facility."

"Cohen!" she laughed and smacked his arm playfully as they both began to pick up change from the floor. "Don't call me that."

"Sorry sugar lips."

"Stop it!"

"Sure thing honey bun."

"Eww!"

"Aw, come on now sweet cheeks!"

"You're such an idiot."

"I love you too muffin hea- OW! Okay, I'm done."

-x-

About two hours later the Cohen's and Summer had gone home and the only ones remaining were Ryan and Julie, both parked in chairs and neither planning on leaving anytime soon. There was no sound, only silence and the faint sound of the heart monitor hooked to Marissa's chest as per regulation.

"You didn't have to-" Julie began, but her cut her off.

"I wanted to. I needed to." She nodded understandingly. She was about to reply when she heard the bed sheets begin to rustle. They both turned to see Marissa's eyes opening slightly.

"Wh- what happened?" she asked groggily. "I wasn't drinking, I promise."

Julie let out a laugh of relief; this was a clear sign that her daughter was okay. "We know sweetie, its okay. You had an accident."

"What-"

"Volchok pushed you through a coffee table." Ryan said. "You fell and landed in a pile of glass."

"Ryan." She blinked a few times. "You saved me." It wasn't a question, she wasn't surprised.

"I think I need another cup of coffee." Julie announced quietly, noticing the tension in the room. "I'll be back sweetie."

The two teenagers stared at each other for a few minutes. "Thank you." She whispered finally.

"I- it wasn't- don't worry about it." He glanced down at his shoes awkwardly. "I can go if you-"

"Stay." She looked up at him seriously. "Please stay. You saved me again. D-don't leave."

Ryan nodded. "I'm not going anywhere." He promised.

-x-

"Morning." Ryan said groggily as he walked into the kitchen a week later. He grabbed himself a bowl of cereal and joined Seth at the table.

"Hey." The curly brunette answered, still half asleep.

"Good morning boys!" Sandy said happily as he, Kirsten, and Dawn entered the room.

"Are you excited?" Dawn asked.

Ryan let out a small groan. "Mom, it's early. We're not even awake."

Dawn laughed. "Well wake up, lazy! It's a big day!"

"She's right." Kirsten agreed as she poured cups of coffee and handed them out. "You two should be thrilled, especially since we're giving you your gifts early."

The two boy's heads popped up.

"Really?"

"Presents?" Seth asked excitedly.

The adults chuckled. High school graduation and they still got excited at gifts.

Dawn passed a box to each of them. "It's not much, but I hope you like it."

"You didn't have to get me anything." Seth said immediately, his rare inner gentleman deciding to come out for once.

Dawn smiled. "I wanted to." Seeing both of them continue to stare at the presents she waved her hands. "Well, go on and open them! I want to see your reactions!"

Seth eagerly complied and tore off the red paper, letting out a small gasp at the case of professional drawing utensils. "It's beautiful."

"You like it, really? Your mom and dad said you liked to draw so I hoped maybe-"

"It's great." He stood up and gave her a hug. "Thanks Dawn."

She smiled. "You welcome. Okay, Ry, you next."

Ryan nodded and tore the paper off of his small package and opened the small box to reveal a silver chain length necklace.

"If you don't like it that's fine." Dawn said immediately. "I just thought-" she broke off when she felt her son's arms around her. She leaned into the hug and squeezed tight. "I love you Ry. I'm so proud of you."

"I love you too mom." He whispered back. Finally pulling away they both glanced at each other quickly before sitting back down.

"Okay, our turn." Kirsten pulled out a thin package and a card from beneath the kitchen island and passed the bigger item to Ryan and the smaller to Seth. "We want Ryan to go first this time."

Receiving eager looks from everyone, although he knew Seth's was only because he wanted him to hurry up so he could open his own gift, Ryan opened the package pulled out his present.

"An original copy of Journey's first album?" he said shocked. "Seriously?"

"Do you like it?" Kirsten asked nervously.

"I love it. Thank you both, seriously. This is great." He smiled.

"Wow Ryan, that's amazing. You must be thrilled. My turn." Seth said already halfway into his envelope. He frowned upon seeing a small magazine clipping. "You got me a barber shop ad?"

Sandy rolled his eyes. "Turn it over."

Seth's eyes went wide. "Holy Moses and Jesus. You didn't-"

"Don't mess this one up." Sandy said sharply. "Because we won't get you another one."

"This is stupendous!" he cried, shoving the small piece of paper towards Ryan and Dawn. They both looked down to see a picture of a medium sized boat. The description below it read that it seated six and was perfect for sailing.

"Nice."

"Nice? No Ryan, this is not nice. A toaster, that's nice. A helping hand, a familiar face in a large crowd, a little kid helping an old person, those are all nice. This is freaking unbelievable." He sighed dramatically and jumped up. "I shall call her the Summer Beloved."

"Well we're happy for you, son." Sandy said standing up.

"I'm sure Summer will be honored." Kirsten added. "We're going to get ready. You two should think about doing the same."

"Gotta make sure you look good for this big thing." Dawn agreed as she followed them out of the kitchen.

"Sure thing."

"Yeah, totally." Seth turned to Ryan. "What do you say to a quick stop at the marina to welcome the Summer Beloved? A little Ryan-Seth time?"

The blonde shook his head. "I think I'll see it-"

"Her, the boat is a she Ryan."

He rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll see her later."

Seth shrugged. "Suit yourself."

-x-

"Knock knock." Marissa poked her head into the pool house smiling, already in her graduation dress. "You decent?"

Ryan let out a chuckle from his spot on the bed. "Always."

She grinned and walked in. "So, happy graduation."

"Same to you." His smile now matched hers. "How are you?"

"I'm good." And she looked it. A few small cuts were scattered on her face and she had a few light bruises dappled around, but all it all looked to be healing pretty fast. "Are you ready?"

He nodded. "I think so, what about you?"

"Cap and gown are in the car, I'm dressed and ready to go." She sighed and sat down next to him. "Can you believe in a few hours we'll be high school graduates?"

"Seems pretty unbelievable." He agreed. "But I think I'm ready. What about you?"

"That's kinda what I came here to talk to you about, actually." He raised an eyebrow and she nodded nervously. "Um, my dad called me a few weeks ago. He's going to Greece and he offered to let me sail with him for a year." Ryan's jaw dropped.

"A- a year in Greece?" he stuttered.

"Yeah, and I haven't told anyone yet, not even Summer or my mom. In fact, I kind of don't know why I'm even telling you right now but…" she shook her head. "I don't know, I guess ever since you got here you've been one of the most important people in my life and even after everything that's happened, that hasn't changed."

Ryan glanced down at his bedspread. "You know while you were in the hospital I thought a lot about my future." He said quietly. "And I came up with a hundred different scenarios about how my life will turn out and I don't have any idea which will actually happen. But the one thing that was the same in all of them was you." Marissa looked up at him, shock clearly written all over her face. "In every situation you were there, right next to me. And in every situation I was happy." He sighed. "I know we've been through a lot, and I know we aren't the perfect match." He shrugged. "But you're my future, Marissa. That's all I know."

Marissa nodded slowly. "I never stopped loving you." She finally whispered.

His answer took no thought. "Me too." He laughed lightly. "Are we really gonna do this again?"

She shrugged, her eyes sparkling. "I don't think the universe is giving us a choice."

They both grinned simultaneously and came together as if by magnetic force. The kiss was strong and firm, but loving at sweet at the same time. Every lost thought, every minute gone, all passion felt was lifted from their bodies as if the weight of the world had been lifted from their shoulders. They broke away moments later, both breathless but happy.

"I'm sorry about Sadie." He said quietly.

"I'm sorry about Volchok." She replied. "I forgive you, though."

"Thanks." He smiled softly. "But I can't forgive you, because you didn't do anything wrong. All you did was try to move on after I messed up."

She put her hand to his cheek. "Clean slate." She said softly. "As of right now it's done. It's in the past and we overcame it. We're moving forward."

He pressed his lips to hers again. "I love you." He breathed.

Marissa smiled. "I love you too."

-x-

"I'm serious Cohen, they're gonna be late!" Summer said anxiously.

"Summer calm down, they're fine."

"What if something happened and they got into some horrible accident? What if-"

"What if they got here late and missed graduation?" Marissa finished as she and Ryan walked into the Harbor School lounge, both wearing their caps and gowns just like everyone else in the room. "'Cause that would really suck."

"Coop!" The brunette launched herself into her best friend's arms. "You made it!"

"I wouldn't have missed it." She smiled and glanced around the room filled with graduates. "Can we talk to you guys for a second?"

"Coop, the ceremony starts in like ten minutes."

"It won't take long." She promised. Summer nodded finally and the group of four made their way out into the deserted hallway.

"What's going on?" Seth questioned.

"We have news." Ryan said obviously.

Summer looked at the two blondes for a minute suspiciously before squealing. "Ohmygod, congratulations!" she pulled them both into a hug. "I knew you two would get back together!"

Seth stood there bewildered. "How in the hell-?"

"I told you Cohen, I have a gift. Plus, it's totally obvious now that I think about it." She grinned. "God, I'm so happy for you guys. The fantastic four is back!"

"And better than ever!" Seth added.

"That's not it though." Marissa said quickly. "I got a call from my dad a few weeks ago to sail with him in Greece for a year."

Summer face fell. "You're leaving?"

"I was. I needed an escape because nothing was working out here. But as of this morning I changed my mind." She smiled proudly. "I'm going to Berkley in the fall with Ryan."

"You are?"

"Really?!"

She glanced over to Ryan, who stood frozen. This was the part she hadn't told him about yet. "That is if you'll still have me?" She said nervously.

"Yeah." He said finally. "Of course it's okay. I just- I didn't think you'd go just to be with me."

"I'm not. I mean, that's part of the reason." She explained gingerly. "But I need to do this for me. Sailing away for a year won't help me fix anything. It's time to be an adult and start building my life."

Ryan shook his head. "Our." He corrected. "It's time to start building our life."

-x-

Here's the day you hoped would never come
Don't feed me violence
just run with me through rows of speeding cars.

"Places please! Everyone get in your spot in line! Two lines, just like we practiced!" Dr. Kim yelled from the front of the lounge. "Samantha, you're behind Ricky not in front of him! Taylor, you put your speech on the podium as directed?" receiving a nod from the valedictorian, she clapped her hands and called for quiet. "Okay, is everyone ready? Hats fixed and gowns beautiful? Alright, here we go. You walk out there as high school seniors, you leave as adults. This is it." She pushed open the doors and grinned. "Let's go graduate!"

The paper cuts the cheating lovers
The coffee's never strong enough
I know you think it's more than just bad luck

The group immediately broke out into grins and filed out of the room excitedly, following Dr. Kim down the path to the ceremony. As soon as they came into view, the audience made up of friends and families erupted into cheers. Taking their places upon the bleachers the graduates settled down and quiet came as Dr. Kim rose to the podium.

"Welcome, everyone, to the Harbor School Graduating Class of 2006 commencement ceremony. Our seniors have come quite a ways. They've had a long and vigorous journey with not only that of education, but of life. They've grown up and now it is their time to fly. A lot of our seniors we've known since they were little, we've seen their entire lives happen before us. Others we haven't known quite as long but have come to love just the same. No matter if we've known you since birth or just met you this year, we are proud to call you our graduating class." Dr. Kim went on. "Each and every one of you have proven yourselves and shown us all how capable and ready you are for this milestone. We are proud to have you as the Class of 2006." She smiled. "And now, I'm going to turn it over to this year's valedictorian: Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Taylor Townsend."

Applause filled the area as a smiling Taylor Townsend took the place of Dr. Kim. "They say there's nobody older than a high school senior, but nobody younger than a college freshman." She began. "Well, I guess now we'll find out, as we begin our journey. Harbor has been more than just a school for us these past four years; it's been a second home. A place for love and friendship. Our time here at Harbor is coming to an end, we're going off to start our lives and most of us have no clue where we're going to end up. But as Cicero said, Amicitiae nostrae memoriam spero sempiternam- I hope the memory of our friendship will be everlasting."

From their spots on the bleachers Summer and Marissa smiled.

"And just because we're leaving Harbor does not mean our learning is done. Tonteau tiscandimes quandeau weewas- We must learn as long as we may live." Taylor continued. "We've learned a lot here, some would say we found ourselves. I think that in life we're all going to have flaws and misfortunes. But if we stay true to ourselves and have hope and remember the knowledge that we've gained here, we can work through it. Because we've learned so much more than facts, we've learned some of life's most important lessons among these halls: friendship, hope, determination, perseverance, courage, and love." She smiled. "But If I could leave you all with just one word of final advice, Illegitimis nil carborundum- Don't let the bastards get you down!" She raised a fist in the air and let out a small "Whoo!" before giddily returning to her seat, basking in the tumultuous applause around her.

There there baby
it's just text book stuff
it's in the ABC of growing up
Now now darling
oh don't lose your head
cause none of us were angels
and you know I love you yeah

"You know, she's kind of a pain in the ass but I think I'll miss her." Summer observed. Marissa chuckled.

"Me too. Even if she did try and take me down as social chair."

"And steal Seth away from me."

"And get keep Ryan and I from getting back into Harbor."

"At least she kept us on our toes."

Before long, a few other people had made speeches to the graduating senior class and it came time for the passing of the diplomas all too quickly.

"This is it guys, the big moment." Seth said quietly.

"Aaron Archer." Dr. Kim said into the microphone. "Ryan Atwood."

"YEAH!"

"Yeah Ryan!"

"Woo-hoo!"

Ryan grinned as he walked up to the podium and accepted his diploma with one hand and shook Dr. Kim's with the other. He glanced out in the audience to see his two mothers, his father, and even Julie Cooper applauding him. He moved his tassel to the other side of his cap and headed back to his seat.

"Seth Cohen."

"YEAH COHEN!"

"ALRIGHT SETHY!" Sandy screamed. Kirsten gave a small eye roll. Her husband was crazy and obnoxious, yes, but it was out of love.

Sleeping pills know sleeping dogs lie
never far enough away
Glistening in the cold sweat of guilt

"Marissa Cooper."

"YAY!"

"Go Marissa!"

Julie stood up tearfully as Marissa accepted her diploma and moved her tassel. "Whoo!" she cheered, her voice cracking. Marissa glanced over smiling and waved.

"Did you see that?" she whispered proudly to Kirsten. "That's my daughter."

I've watched you slowly winding down for years
You can't keep on like this...
now's a bad a time as any

"Summer Roberts."

"ALRIGHT!"

"Go Summer!"

Summer grinned. Instead of simply shaking the dean's hand she threw her arms around her and squeezed.

"Oh!" Dr. Kim let out a slight cry of surprise but hugged back, nonetheless. "Congratulations Summer."

There there baby
it's just text book stuff
it's in the ABC of growing up
Now now darling
oh don't kill yourself
cause none of us were angels
and you know I love you yeah

After the last of names were called Dr. Kim turned to face her graduates. "I would like to just say one final word to my now former students. I know that each and every one of you has the potential to do anything you dream of doing. And it has been my pleasure to teach you, to watch you grow, and now enter the world. Good luck." She looked at the audience and grinned. "It is my honor to present to you the Harbor School Class of 2006!"

Cheers, applause, and screams of joy combined as the graduates tossed their caps up in the air in celebration. Congratulations were shouted and tears were shed, everyone filing out into the school grounds to celebrate.

"Coop we did it!" Summer squealed happily as the four of them made their way to the cluster of family members. "We graduated!"

"I love you, Sum."

"I love you too!" Summer grabbed their purses from the hallway they had stashed them in and handed a pink box to Marissa. "Happy graduation, Coop."

Her friend grinned before pulling out an identical box from her purse and passing it to Summer. "On three?"

She nodded. "One, two, three!"

They both opened the boxes and laughed. "I can't believe it."

"I guess we really do think alike." Summer giggled as she held up her silver charm bracelet. Two small charms dangled off of it, one with bright yellow hair and one with a head of brown, obviously representing the two of them.

Marissa smiled as she examined the exact same thing in her box. "Well I love it, Sum!"

"Me too! Thanks Coop!" They each grinned as they fastened the jewelry to each other's wrists. "Now we can be with each other all the time."

-x-

Cameras were whipped out all around and people started shouting out directions.

"Summer, I want one of you and Marissa!"

"Seth and Ryan! Now one with Ryan and Dawn!"

"Get one of Kaitlin and Marissa!"

"Family photo!"

The teens rolled their eyes in mock annoyance but everyone knew it was an act. It was a time for celebration and the more memories captured the better.

"Hey, dude, got a sec?" Seth asked walking up to where Ryan stood talking to Dawn.

He nodded. "Yeah, sure." He followed him a few yards away and turned to face him. "What's up?"

"Well, with everything going on earlier I never got to give you your graduation present." Seth explained. "I know, it's corny but I was feeling sentimental so…" he passed Ryan a small box. "Just open it."

Glancing down at the gift, Ryan held up a finger in the 'one second' gesture and walked off. He returned a minute later and handed a manila envelope to Seth.

Seth looked at it. "You first."

The blonde shrugged and opened the box. "Wow." Ryan looked down at the silver watch carefully. "This is great."

"Check out the back."

Turning it over in his palm Ryan laughed. "You had them inscribe the words 'Kid Chino' on the back?"

Seth shrugged. "Gotta make sure they know who they're messin' with." He ripped open the manila envelope and gasped. "Holy Moses and Jesus. Ryan, this is a first edition X-Men comic. How in the hell did you get this?"

"Don't worry about it."

Seth frowned. "You didn't steal it, did you? Because you know how bad I am at running from the law."

Ryan rolled his eyes. "I bought it legally."

"No cops after you? Any jewelry missing?"

"Seth shut up."

Seth laughed. "Okay, cool. And at the risk of sounding sappy, thanks for having my back all these years."

"Anytime. Thanks for being my brother."

The two grinned and knocked fists.

"Anytime."

There there baby
it's just text book stuff
it's in the ABC of growing up
Now now darling
oh don't lose your head
cause none of us were angels
and you know I love you yeah

-x-

"Excuse me!" Sandy stood up later that night and got everyone's attention. After the ceremony they had all moved to the Cohen's house where a party reserved only for close friends and family was now in full swing.

"Forgive me, but I'm a very proud father, and I, I want to say a few words. I think I can speak for Kirsten and the other parents here tonight, when I tell you kids how thrilled we are to share this wonderful touchstone with you. I know the last few years have been a little rough for us." A round of groans and laughter broke out and Sandy continued. "There's been tragedy, and comedy, and first loves, and broken hearts. Family members were lost, and found. It hasn't all been perfect, but we're all family here. So cheers."

"Cheers!" Everyone raised their glasses happily and drank.

"So, I was whisked away from you earlier and I've recently been set free." Marissa said walking up and wrapping her arms around Ryan's neck.

"Good, I've missed you." He mumbled, his hands moved to her waist and pulled her in for a deep kiss. "A lot."

Marissa smiled as they broke apart. "Good."

"Hey guys, we're gonna go somewhere." Summer announced as she and Seth made their way over. "You in?"

"Are Sandy and Kirsten okay with it?" Ryan asked.

"All cleared. They told us to have fun and enjoy the moment." Seth confirmed.

Marissa nodded. "Okay, where to?"

-x-

"I can't believe after everything that's happened we ended up back here." Marissa said chuckling as they entered the Model Home.

"Well, I figured this is where a lot of it started so we might as well visit it on our trip down memory lane." Seth explained. The four made their way out to the pool area and sat down, dipping their feet into the warm water and leaning back on their hands examining the sky.

"So this is really it." Summer observed sadly. "High school is over."

"Yeah. But the future is just beginning." Marissa said positively. "We're moving forward."

"Just for the record, who else is scared out of their minds?" Seth asked raising a hand.

The other three exchanged looks before their own hands rose as well.

Seth nodded. "Just making sure we're all on the same page."

"I can't believe even after everything we've been through we're all still together." Summer said slowly. "I mean, think about it. First Chino got here and befriended you and Marissa, then Ryan and Marissa got together the first time..."

"And then you and I did." Seth continued. "We found out Luke's dad was gay, Marissa's parents split up, Oliver and his crazy ass came to town and Julie married my grandpa. Ryan went back to Chino because Theresa got pregnant, I sailed off into the unknown, and we both came back to find Marissa with the yard guy and Summer with Zach…"

Marissa picked it up next. "Then you dated Alex and Ryan dated Lindsay, then I dated Alex and Lindsay left and Seth and Summer got back together. Then Trey came into the picture and Ryan and I got back together. Trey caused problems and Ryan and I got expelled..." She left out the details of the Trey incident on purpose and Ryan took over.

"Then I got back into Harbor and the Johnny fiasco happened. Then we broke up again because of him and Sadie and you got with Volchok. Seth and Summer broke up again. Then we all ended up alone and unhappy…"

"But we all realized we're disastrous together but ever worse apart, made up after Ryan saved Marissa from creepy guy and now we're all where we're supposed to be: with each other." Summer finished. "Oh my god, this is just like the Valley when Jake and April and Sidney and Marcus graduated." Her eyes lit up. "Our lives would make such an awesome TV show."

They all looked at each other for a minute before bursting into laughter.

"Yeah right! Can you image how much drama that would have?" Marissa giggled.

"Oh, and they'd probably screw the ending up and kill someone important off." Seth added hysterically. "And have some last minute pairing get together at the end."

"And then there'd be some sort of natural disaster." Ryan laughed.

"Oh, and we would call it Newpsie Central!"

Summer held her hands up. "Okay, okay! You're right, it would suck." She admitted giggling. "God, I was just thinking out loud."

"Aw, it was nice idea in theory." Seth said putting and arm around her and kissing her head. "Oh hey, I almost forgot, I have something to show you guys." Reaching into his backpack he pulled out a small tube. Popping the top off, he extracted a sheet of rolled up paper. "Check this out." He stretched the paper out and held each end so that they could all see it.

Marissa was the first to speak. "Oh my god, Seth."

They all stared intently at the roll of paper. An intricate drawing of The Ironist, Little Miss Vixen, Cosmolash, and Kid Chino stood before them on what looked like the Harbor School grounds, all wearing graduation caps and gowns. Near the bottom Seth had wrote, "A New Era".

"It's still us against the world." He explained finally. "But we're starting over and doing it better than ever."

"Cohen, it's amazing." Summer said affectionately pulling him into a hug.

"Yeah man, it's great." Ryan echoed. He pulled his feet out of the pool and stood up, extending his hand out to Marissa. "Come with me."

Marissa raised her eyebrows in question but let him help her to her feet. "We'll be back." She said over her shoulder as she was lead into the house.

-x-

"Ryan, where are we going?" she asked as he pulled her into a room.

"I know the house has been re-built after what happened a few years ago but this is basically the same room that we set up my tent in back then." He explained looking around the room. "I figured it was as good a place as any to show you this."

She shook her head in confusion. "Show me what?"

Pulling a piece of paper out of his back pocket he began to explain. "You know I've been working a lot with Sandy and the Newport Group. Well, when I tried to pay Sandy and Kirsten back for some of what they've done for me they wouldn't hear of it and told me to put it towards my future. And since I haven't had anything to do with it, I put it all in the bank. But then I started to think about college."

Marissa nodded and listened carefully. This had to have been important since Ryan never talked this much.

"And I've never wanted to live in a dorm." He went on. "The idea of living with like sixty other people has always sounded bad to me so a few months ago I started looking at apartments online." He passed her the paper. "This is about five minutes away from campus on foot. It has a huge bedroom, one and a half bathrooms, a decent size kitchen that connects to the living room, and a small balcony. And it's cheap, I already have enough for a few months rent."

Seeing him pause and look at her for a reaction she smiled supportively. "Ryan, this sounds perfect for you."

His brow furrowed. "What? No. This isn't for me. It's for us."

Marissa froze. "What?"

"I- I was hoping maybe we could move in together at Berkley." He said nervously. "I now it's soon, especially since we just got back together this morning but I've had these papers for awhile and-"

"Yes."

Ryan looked up to meet her gaze. "Really?"

"Yeah. I'll move in with you at Berkley." They broke in to simultaneous grins as their lips grazed each others. "This is good." She said quietly.

He nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah, it is. Oh and there's one more thing." he pulled out a small box from his front pocket and opened it for her to see a small silver ring.

"Ryan-"

"It's not what you think it is." He said quickly, as if reading her mind. "I don't think either one of us is ready for that yet. It's um, it's a promise ring." He glanced down at the floor embarrassedly. "I don't know. I've had it for awhile and it just seemed like the right time."

"It's perfect." She breathed. "You're perfect." Letting him slide the ring onto her right hand she drew him close and the two kissed passionately, finally breaking apart breathlessly a few minutes later. "We'd better get back to Seth and Summer." She said finally.

"They can wait a few more minutes." He mumbled.

Marissa laughed but remained firmly in his arms, the safest place in her world.

-x-

"Look what I got!" Summer gloated happily as Ryan and Marissa made their way back outside. She pushed her hair back to reveal a silver S pendant dangling from around her neck.

"Oh Sum, it's beautiful! Look at mine." Marissa held out her right hand for inspection.

"Oh my god Coop. Did you-"

"It's a promise ring." Marissa interrupted with a smile. "So all those big Berkley guys know I'm off limits."

Seth and Summer laughed. "Well very nice, Coop. Glad to see Atwood isn't as dumb as we thought."

"Hey!" Ryan let out a cry of mock anger.

"Haha, very funny." Marissa said sarcastically. She glanced around the patio area for a minute before a grin appeared on her face. "Let's go swimming."

Summer frowned. "But we don't have any- oooh, I get it. Yeah, good idea!" she beamed. "Come here guys." The boys frowned but did as they were told; soon tossing any dangling garments by their bags so they only remained in their shorts and tank-tops.

"I don't know if we should be doing this." Seth started.

Summer rolled her eyes. "Come on Cohen, we just graduated. We have a whole summer before us. Live a little." Taking his right hand in her left, she gave her right hand to Marissa who grasped it and held Ryan's right hand with her left, so they were all lined up at the edge of the pool.

"On three we jump." Summer declared. "One, two, THREE!"

And so they did. Hand in hand, they jumped.

-x-

YAAAAY! I hope you liked it, I enjoyed writing it. It was probably one of the most fun pieces I've ever written. Oh, and most of the Latin portions of Taylor's valedictorian speech were taken phonetically, so ignore the fact that they're probably wrong. Review please!