A/N: Alright, so I'm totally and completely ripping off the Pictures Of You episode from One Tree Hill. But I love the idea and the episode, so I'm putting it in OC format and changing around a few things. So yeah. Deal with it.
This is set season 3-ish. RM and SS are together, but this is a big story about friendship. Seth and Summer both got into Brown and Ryan and Marissa are going to Berkley together.
Disclaimer: Okay, this time even the plot isn't mine. I don't own any part of One Tree Hill or the OC. I'm just a fan writing for pure entertainment.
"Alright, settle down guys. Listen up!" Mr. Carlson called. The third period sociology class finally closed their mouths and glanced at their teacher who was now leaning against the front of his desk.
"Graduation is coming up." He stated. "Your lives are about to change drastically. That comfort and routine that is high school isn't going to be there. Take a minute, think of a word to describe yourself- don't say it out loud, I don't want to hear it. Just say it to yourself, one word." He paused for a minute before continuing. "Now, I'll bet that if we went around this room and asked every person in here to describe you in one word, no one would say the same thing you just came up with. Probably not even close. See, here's the thing: whether you like it or not, you are what other people see you as. Before long you'll be out of here and it won't matter what your peers think. But this unfortunate way of life will follow you wherever you go after high school. It's the way the world works, whether it's fair or not. What's important is that you know who you are, and that you know how you want the world to see you. I have this half of the class's names in this hat." He held up an old top hat. "Don't laugh, this was cool back in the day. Okay, maybe not. Anyway, I want this half of the class to draw out a name. Hurry up." The class quickly did as instructed and Carlson asking whose name people had drawn.
"Summer Roberts, who did you draw?"
Summer smiled. "Ryan Atwood."
"Nice. Seth Cohen?"
Seth held up his piece of paper. "Marissa Cooper."
"Excellent. Okay, everyone pair up. You can leave the classroom but not the campus, Josh-" he sent a look to a kid in the back. "That means you. Anyway, grab a camera, at the end of class I want you to take a picture of your partner representing how you see them. Also, with that camera you will find a list of instructions. At the end of the class I want you to tell me what you have learned about your partner. You have fifty minutes, GO."
The students quickly dispersed from the classroom, grabbing cameras and pieces of paper as they went. Ryan and Summer headed outside to the quad, while Seth and Marissa went to the lunch tables out back.
"You know this assignment doesn't sound too stupid." Summer observed as she sat down on a bench.
Ryan dropped down beside her. "Yeah, it doesn't suck." He agreed. "What does the paper say?" They both looked down to inspect it.
Share something personal with your partner.
Lighten up. Do an impersonation of a celebrity or famous character.
Admit something that worries you, or something you're afraid of.
What do you want to be in ten years?
Tell your partner a secret.
Seth nodded. "Okay, tell me something personal."
Marissa sat down on top of one of the tables. "Who said I have to go first?"
"Um, ladies first." He said obviously.
"Well, I'm passing. You go first, I insist."
"Now Coop, I'm being a gentleman here."
"And I am politely declining your gentlemanly-ness." Seeing him still not budge, she surrendered. "Fine, it's weird when you call me Coop."
Seth shook his head. "It has to be something real."
Marissa sighed. "Fine. Something personal…"
"I was ten when my mom left." Summer said quietly. "I can remember it like it was yesterday. I woke up happy, it was a Sunday which meant she was making chocolate-chip pancakes. It was a tradition. My dad usually worked on Saturdays so to make up for it my mom would make my favorite breakfast the next day and we would all eat together. It was special, because dad was hardly ever home for meals and sometimes my mom was working too. But she always made sure that Sunday was different."
Ryan saw her glance down at her hands, which he took as a sign that she was clearly not used to telling this story.
"So I got up and ran downstairs in my pajamas," she went on, "And there were no pancakes. The kitchen light wasn't even on. She always made those pancakes, even if she was sick or it was her birthday. I got worried, maybe she was really sick or something. So I went upstairs to her room and it was empty. The bed was made like it always was, the bathroom door was open and nobody was inside. Then I went back down to the living room and found my dad on the couch. He was sitting there with his head in his hands. I ran over to him and asked him what was wrong and he didn't answer me, he just pointed to the coffee table. There was a letter there with my name on it, he had one that looked similar clutched in his own hands." She gulped. "So I grabbed the letter and ripped it open, and read. She basically told me that it wasn't my fault and that she was sorry, but she couldn't do it. It wasn't the lifestyle she wanted and we would be better off without her. That I shouldn't try to find her because it would be a waste of time and effort, she didn't want to be found. She wanted to start over. She told me that she wished me luck and hoped that I would become the strong, amazing woman she knew I could be and that no matter what, to always remember that I would always be in her heart. I haven't seen her since."
Summer looked up and wiped her eyes. "God, Summer, stop crying!" she said to herself. "Sorry Atwood, I know you don't do well with tears."
Ryan shrugged. "Its okay, Marissa's gotten me used to it."
"I don't think my mom is all evil." Marissa admitted. "Don't get me wrong, she can be a bitch, but I think that somewhere deep down inside she has a heart. Like, this one time, in fourth grade, I had the worst day at school. I was fighting with Summer and Luke about something stupid; I had forgot my lunch and over-slept so I missed breakfast. Since I was late I ran inside just as the bell was ringing only to trip outside and fall face-first in the mud, not only messing up my clothes and hair but also scraping my knee up pretty badly. And to top it all off, I got back the test I'd studied so hard for, only to find a big red D written in the top right hand corner.
Seth let out a low whistle. "Damn."
She chuckled. "I know. So anyway, I came home in tears and told my mom what happened. And instead of getting yelled at like I imagined, you know, 'It's your fault you over slept, blah, blah blah,' she sent my upstairs to change, hugged me, and took me for ice cream. Then we went to the movies and she let me pick what we saw and got me candy, and took me shopping after. At the end of the day we got all dressed up and went to The Arches, just the two of us. She let me order whatever I want and we just ate and had fun. She told me that no matter what happened she hoped at the end of the day she could make it better, because that was her job." Marissa smiled. "It was one of the best days of my life, just because of the simplicity of it. She just… didn't care about what happened at school. Told me it would blow over and that everyone had their bad days, and the best way to fix a bad day is to spoil yourself a little."
"So Julie Cooper does have a heart." Seth finally whispered.
"Deep down, I think so. I mean, I don't know a lot about her and I don't want to try and figure it out, but I don't completely hate her. I don't think I can. I mean, no matter what she does to me or how much she messes up she's still my mom, you know?"
"Alright Cohen, the tables have turned. You're in the hot seat now." She teased.
"Something personal… Hm…" he paused to think. "Okay, you know the Summer Breeze?"
Marissa nodded. "What about it?"
"Since I was really young, it's been my dream to take Summer and sail to Catalina."
"On that tiny thing?"
"Well, maybe not the Summer Breeze exactly, but something like it."
"Aw, Seth, that's sweet." She cooed. "I can help you plan something like that if you want."
"I appreciate the thought, but I kind of already have a plan."
Marissa grinned. "Ohh, tell me! Please! I promise I won't tell her, pinky swear."
"On your plastic horse?"
"I don't have a plastic horse, Seth."
"Oh, right. Okay, um, swear on your relationship with Ryan?"
"Well, it's a long way away, but sometime during college I plan to take her out on a boat and propose."
Her mouth dropped open.
"Oh come on, don't act surprised. I've known I wanted to marry Summer since I was eleven. I mean, I don't have a ring or anything." He glared at her, seeing the stare she was shooting him. "Fine, I plan on using my Nana's ring! But I don't have it. I'm not asking her for it until after graduation and I don't even know when I'm going to ask Summer."
"Seth, that has to be the sweetest thing I've ever heard in my life."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Just don't say anything to Summer, or Ryan, for that matter. Or my parents, or anyone else."
"It's your story to share." Ryan said quietly. "Don't worry about it, I can keep a secret."
"Thanks." Summer leaned in and gave him a friendly squeeze. "Okay, your turn Atwood. Dish."
"Oh god." He whined. "You know how bad I am at telling stories."
"It's just me, for god's sake. Man up Chino!"
He sighed. "Personal, okay. Let me think… Alright, so you know Journey?"
"And your freakish obsession with them? Yeah."
"Well, I got into them because that's what I listened to growing up. Whenever my mom and her boyfriend's were pissed and drunk and mad, Trey would push me in the closet and tell me to put on his headphones while he dealt with them. When I was little it never made sense to me, but whatever, I listened to him because he was my big brother, you know? I didn't know why the hell I was doing it, but Trey said to, so I did. Then when I got older and I realized why I was putting the headphones on, and it made sense. All of a sudden the new bruises Trey came in with the next morning, the broken stuff lying around the house, it clicked. Then they started on me and Trey wasn't around as much. But after every time it happened, I would go in the closet and put on his headphones; it was like my escape or something." He shrugged. "Just the CDs Trey had around and an old pair of headphones. It wasn't much, but it was something, you know?" he glanced down at his shoes and mumbled the last part. "Ever since I got here I haven't needed headphones."
Because there's nothing to escape from.
Neither of them said it, but they both heard the unspoken words.
"Chino, I know I don't say it often but I really am glad you came here." Summer said finally. "I mean, sure, you shook things up, you kind of even created chaos for a while there. You changed everything about this town, but it was for the better." She shrugged. "I'm not going to go all sappy on your ass or whatever but just know that we all kind of owe you."
Ryan chuckled. "A rich family takes me in and everyone else owes me. Okay, sure."
"What's next on the list?" Marissa asked.
Seth looked down at the card. "Oh, my specialty." He stared at her seriously. "Luke, I am your father."
"You really are a nerd."
"You know, a girl in my sorority, Tracy Marcinco got a perm once. We all tried to talk her out of it. Curls weren't a good look for her." Summer recited. "She didn't have your bone structure, but thankfully that same day she entered the Pheta Delta Phi wet t-shirt contest where she was completely hosed to down from head to toe..."
"What the hell was that from?"
She sighed. "Legally Blonde? Come on Atwood, Coop and I made you and Cohen watch it awhile back!"
Ryan frowned. "If it was a chick flick then you know I was asleep."
"Whatever. You try."
He shrugged. "I'll be back." He said, doing his best impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"Oh my god. That was terrible Chino. Seriously."
"Gee, thanks. I never claimed to be an actor you know."
"Sheryl, Tori, Sinead, Jewel, Fiona, Carly... Gang's all here!" Marissa grinned. "Benny boo boo... boo boo boo!"
"How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, right?" Seth was now lying on his back on top of a lunch table, while she was standing on top of another, staring at the sky.
"Impressive, Cohen." She smiled. "I'm surprised you knew that."
"Eh, it's one of Summer's favorite movies. She almost always picks it when it's her turn for movie night."
"Okay. Number three: Admit something that worries you, or something you're afraid of." Summer read. "Oh, this ought to be good. You're not scared of anything except heights. Spill Chino."
"I'm scared that I won't find where I belong." Seth confessed. "Like, I have a lot of interests but what if I never find what I'm good at? What I'm supposed to do with my life? I think what freaks me out the most is not knowing how things are going to end up. What will I be, where will I be, will Summer still want to be with me? Stuff like that."
Marissa jumped down from her table and sat next to him. "Seth, of all the people I've met in my life you are probably the one I worry about least. I mean, you know who you are and you never stray from that. You know what you're good at and you use that to your advantage. I, personally, have no idea where you'll end up but I know that it'll be somewhere you want to be." She smiled and poked his shoulder. "And trust me, Summer isn't going anywhere."
"Thanks Marissa. That means a lot." He pulled her in for a small hug, which she returned. "So what are you afraid of?"
"I'm afraid of not being good enough." Summer revealed. "Once we get to Brown there's going to be all these super smart people with their super smart looks and super smart attitudes… I mean, what if it's too much for me? What if I'm not smart enough and Cohen leaves me behind?" she sighed. "The future is too damn stressful."
"Agreed. But you know Seth would never leave you behind. And you won't need to worry about that because you're going to do fine." Ryan said easily. "Those other kids don't stand a chance. You don't give yourself enough credit, Summer, you're smarter than you think."
She smiled, a small blush appearing on her cheeks. "Okay, your turn. Other than heights, what's your fear?"
"I'm terrified that I'll turn out like my mom." Marissa admitted. "I know I said that she's a good person deep down, but on the exterior she can really be a bitch. And I am her daughter. The apple and tree thing, you know? I don't want to become that, the woman who marries for money and lives this big life full of unhappiness, I don't think I could handle it."
"Truthfully? I worry that eventually I'll wake up and all of this will be a dream." Ryan said quietly. "Everything in the past three years has been the best thing to ever happen to me and I worry that something will happen and I'll screw it all up."
"Marissa, that would never happen."
The blonde glanced up at him. "How do you know?"
"Because I know everything." Seth said easily. "And because you have a big thing separating you from your mom."
"She chose that life. You're choosing something else."
"After everything that's happened, you honestly think you could mess it all up?" Summer questioned. "Dude, are you serious? That's not possible! You wouldn't ever do anything on purpose and that's all that matters. I mean yeah, we all screw up, but the reason people move on is because everyone knows we don't do it on purpose. The fire at the Model Home? You were just trying to find a somewhat real place to live and not go into some lame-ass system. The time in TJ? We were just trying to have a little fun. We don't mean for anything to happen, stuff just does. Besides," she shrugged. "We've gotten too attached to get rid of you now."
Ryan looked down, embarrassment apparent on his face. "Thanks." He muttered.
"Anytime. Okay, so number four."
"What do you want to be in ten years? Well, I'd like to be ruler of the universe. But if that doesn't work out, then maybe head of a comic company." Seth decided. "Like, Atomic County could be this huge thing and have movies and a series and stuff like that. Oh, and a happy life with Summer of course."
"It would be cool if I was a really big architect." Ryan said. "Maybe if I worked for the Newport Group or something, I don't know. But I hope I'm still with Marissa."
"Well I always wanted to be a designer, but now I'm thinking about doing something to help the environment." Summer told him. "Or maybe working at an animal shelter or something. I really have no clue. I know I'll still be with Cohen though."
"I want to be a counselor." Marissa said firmly. "The human mind fascinates me and I want to help kids with problems like I've had. So that we don't have so many people in alleys in Tijuana."
Seth laughed. "Ha ha ha. Yeah, you might not want to say that around Ryan."
"You're probably right. Speaking of Ryan, this is kind of lame but in ten years I hope we're married."
He shook his head. "Not lame at all."
"Alright, last one. Tell your partner a secret." Summer looked up to meet her partner's face. "This could get interesting."
"That summer you and Ryan left I drank myself to sleep almost every night." Marissa said quietly. "I was just so bitter and sad and hurt and angry… I think that's when my drinking was the worst, just because I thought I would never see him again. Because I knew we had something different, something that was worth a lot more than most relationships… and he had to leave. I don't think I was ever really mad at him, I was angry at life for letting this happen. I mean, people have sex all the time, this was one time and it didn't even mean anything… and it destroyed everything." She let out a breath. "But then you guys came back, and I almost didn't know how to function. I was used to the misery and the pain. What was I supposed to do now? That's kind of how the whole DJ thing blew up because, really, the only reason I got close to him that summer was because he was there. I needed someone to hang on to and he was at my house all the time anyway, so why not?" she paused. "I think the biggest mistake I ever made was just letting it all fade. I could have stayed in touch, I could have fought harder; I could have been stronger. But because of alcohol, we lost so much time."
"Yeah, that's true. But in the end it only made you stronger." Seth finally said. "I mean, we're graduating soon and you're together. You went to prom and for the last year you've actually been happy. Sometimes, Marissa, you have to go through bad stuff to get to the good, otherwise when you get there it's not as good as it's supposed to be. But because you did go through hell for awhile and you guys saw how awful it was apart, it helped you realize that you have to be together."
"I didn't know you were so deep, Seth."
He shrugged. "I have my moments."
"I looked for my mom." Summer confessed. "When I was fourteen. I made up excuses about where I went and spent all my time at the library looking stuff up and calling people. It took almost a whole year, but I found her. I got a hold of someone she knows, lied about who I was, and discovered she's down in Alabama somewhere, owning some sort of flower business. She's single, but happy. Apparently she has a lot of friends and is always smiling." She shrugged. "I've thought about going down there a few times but there's really no point. She's obviously moved on and found something that she loves doing, so it would really just be a waste of time. But I wonder sometimes, what it would have been like if she stayed." She nodded. "Maybe things would've turned out different, maybe I would be different. But then I think about all the good things that came from it. My friendship with Coop, and falling for Cohen, and meeting you, so yeah, it kind of sucks, but I've spent so much time crying over it and wondering 'What If' that I'm tired of it. I like my life and I like who I am…and I've moved on."
Ryan, surprisingly, pulled her into a hug. "You're a strong person, Summer Roberts." He said into her hair.
"Thanks Chino." She mumbled.
"My turn right?" Summer nodded.
"When I was thirteen I almost killed myself." Seth whispered. "I was home alone, my parents were at some event that kids weren't allowed at, and I knew my dad kept a gun hidden in his office for real emergencies. Not exactly typical Sandy Cohen, but he was raised by The Nana and it wouldn't surprise me if I found out she was packing heat. Besides, I knew his dad used to carry one. So I went into the office and found the key to the safe, and picked it up. It wasn't loaded, but the ammo was right there." He glanced down at his hands shamefully. "I sat there for probably an hour and a half just holding it and wondering if I had the guts to do it."
Marissa watched him continue his story, trying to keep the tears from running down her face.
"The entire time I sat there I just… prayed to God or Moses or whoever, begging for my life to get better. I knew I had it well, I had a nice house and great parents but after thirteen years, my only friend was a plastic horse and it hurt." He swallowed and let out a breath. "But I finally decided that it wasn't worth it. Maybe it was some sort of test, maybe change really was around the corner. If nothing else I knew I couldn't do that to my parents. So I put the gun back in the safe, went back to my room, and moved on with my life. I haven't gone near the safe since."
"Seth-" she started, but he only cut her off.
"No, don't say anything. Don't apologize, just… don't." he said gently. "It was the past and since then my life has drastically improved. Just do me a favor and don't mention it to anybody, okay?"
Marissa nodded. "I promise." The two leaned in for a hug and as they pulled away she kissed his cheek, saying nothing more.
"Okay, what I'm about to show you, you tell no one." Ryan said seriously. "I mean it. Not even Seth or Marissa, especially not Seth or Marissa."
Summer nodded solemnly. "I promise I won't say anything, Ryan."
Deciding that the use of his actual name deemed trustworthy, he extracted an old, battered black notebook from his bag and passed it to her.
"What is it?" she began curiously flipping through the book to find almost every page filled with words. They sat there in silence for a while as she continued to look through everything.
"I don't- I mean, did you write this?" she asked finally, looking up at him in wonder.
Ryan shrugged, clearly embarrassed. "I guess."
Summer let out a deep breath and leaned back against the bench. "Wow. Ryan Atwood: Poet." She smiled. "That has a nice ring to it." She finally seemed to snap out of her gaze and leaned toward him. "Chino, this has to be some of the best stuff that I've ever read. It's amazing."
"It's kind of lame." He mumbled. "I don't know, I just write stuff down sometimes."
"Are you kidding? This isn't just a bunch of scribbles, Ryan, this is good writing! You should be really proud of yourself."
He smiled tentatively. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." She returned the gesture. "Oh, crap, we have to do the assignment and get back to class. The hour's almost up."
"Well Coop, did you manage to get anything remotely helpful out of Cohen?" Summer chirped as they returned to the classroom.
Marissa sent Seth and small smile. "I think we did okay."
"Yeah, us too. Chino actually said more than three words."
"Wow, end of the world." Seth gasped dramatically.
"Did you have fun?" Marissa said quietly as Ryan sat down and put his arm around her.
He nodded. "It was cool. I learned quite a bit. You?"
"Same. There's more to Seth than people realize."
"Yeah, I was going to say the same thing about Summer." They smiled at each other.
"Alright, everyone settle down!" Carlson called from his desk. "I hope that this hour has taught you all something. I hope you learned a little bit more about your peers and realized that people are different than you think. Turn your papers in and set the cameras on my desk." The bell rang. "Get out of here." He dismissed.
Summer Roberts: I was paired with Ryan Atwood. I learned that underneath his tough exterior he's actually a really sensitive guy. He's really smart and after everything he's overcome, there are no doubts in my mind that he's going to achieve every single one of his dreams.
Seth Cohen: I was with Marissa Cooper and in the past hour she taught me that she's dealt with a lot more than people think. She has a lot more levels to her and I realized one of the most interesting things about her is all of the things I have yet to learn.
Marissa Cooper: There's more to Seth Cohen than meets the eye. Yes, he's sarcastic, kind of geeky, and somewhat self absorbed. But today I realized that Seth is actually a pretty deep person. He's really understanding and easy to confide in. He's going to do great in life and deserves everything he wishes for.
Ryan Atwood: My partner was Summer Roberts. I'd always guessed that there was a story behind all of the makeup and clothes and shoes, and today she let me find out more about who she really is. She's extremely smart and sensitive and endearing. And no matter how upset she is she always manages a genuine smile.
Later that night as Carlson looked over the papers and photographs, he smiled. Maybe his students would get something out of this class after all.
A/N: To see the pictures they took (obviously they didn't REALLY take them, this is just my opinion and the photos I think they would have taken. I make no claim to own them) check out: http://s1619(DOT)photobucket(DOTCOM)/albums/t222/IheartGG/Pictures%20Of%20You%20Fanfiction/