A/N Sorry for not writing this on Thursday. I'm a bit of a lazy person when I want to be, but I also have had a lot going on lately, so that's why I haven't written. The login on the site was down when I finished the chapter, so blame fan fiction for that delay, not me. I don't know when I'll have this updated again, probably Tuesday or Wednesday since I have to go to school for newspaper. I'm an editor this year...you guys should be proud :)

An update on me: I'm hanging in there. I'm feeling kind of better than at the beginning of the week, so I'm hoping that keeps up. Thank you for all your support, it means a lot.

R/R, thanks!

Chapter 1: Name

April 18, 1999

RyMAt87 : We've been talking for around a week now, do you think we should learn each other's names?

MAC_12: Oh, yeah, sure...I'm Marissa.

RyMAt87: I'm Ryan.

MAC_12: Nice to formerly meet you Ryan :)

RyMAt87: Nice to formerly meet you too...Marissa :)

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And even though the moment passed me by
I still can't turn away
Cause all the dreams you never thought you'd lose
Got tossed along the way
And letters that you never meant to send
Get lost or thrown away

Ryan Atwood stared at the wall across the room from him, lost in thought. He heard the soft snoring of a sleeping Theresa next to him and for some reason it annoyed him. He looked over at the other occupant of the small bed to see his friend/on-and-off again-girlfriend of the past three or so years. She looked so peaceful in her sleep, so much different than she did when she was awake. He hadn't seen Theresa crack a real smile since September the year before.

They had always had a complicated relationship, ever since he moved to Chino when he was fifteen. They started out just friends though it was obvious Theresa wanted more by the way she always clung to him and followed him around. At the time Ryan had been in love with someone else, even though he never admitted that to anyone. Even though he made it clear to Theresa he didn't want anything more than a friendship, she still seemed to try really hard to get him to like her. She wore clothes that didn't leave much to the imagination and constantly brushed up against him. She tried everything possible, but Ryan was so absorbed in someone else that he barely noticed her.

He felt that familiar pang in his heart thinking of his old love. Her name was Marissa Cooper and she was easily the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. She had long, honey blonde hair that shined in the light of the sun and blue-green eyes that seemed to sparkle. She had been his everything. The only catch was he had never actually met her, and he had never actually shown her a picture of himself. He'd wanted to, he really had, but he didn't have a camera or any other way to upload a picture.

They met on the official message boards for the show The Valley. It had been a brand new show then and they both were pretty fascinated with it. She started watching the show because she thought it was interesting and loved the couples. He watched the show because the night it first came on there had been a huge fight in his old house and his brother Trey shoved him into the room they shared, turning on the TV. He had told Ryan to just sit still and watch TV while he handled it. The show happened to be starting at that very moment, so Ryan turned it up deafeningly loud and watched, letting himself get absorbed in the drama of the show so he wouldn't have to deal with his own.

One day his mom decided to try getting the internet. He ended up finding the message boards where he met the only girl that he'd ever truly loved and opened up to. Her name was Marissa Cooper. She was a twelve year old, just like him, who came from Newport. Her parents got a divorce a couple of months after they first started talking, which led them them to be even closer to each other. He was there for her when she felt her own family wasn't, and she was there for him when he needed an escape from all the messed up stuff in his house.

But then one day he decided it would be best if they stopped talking. She was his everything, but he couldn't let her be weighed down by him. She deserved to go out and find a real best friend, someone that could actually lend her a shoulder to cry on when things got to be too much. She deserved to go out and find that once in a lifetime love that everyone seemed to be talking about, but he knew she never would if he was in the picture, so he let her go. To this day he hadn't truly gotten over her, though it was a lot easier to get by without her.

Right after he sent her his goodbye message, he went outside and looked for Theresa. When he'd found her, he went up to her and kissed her hard on the mouth, needing to let out his anger, frustration, and pain in some way. So, even though they'd just started hanging out, she led him to her empty house and they both lost their virginity to each other. That's really how their relationship started, just sex. He knew that she wanted more, but she seemed to be okay with just taking what he would give her.

After a while he asked her to be his girlfriend, which she was thrilled about. They dated on and off the next couple of years until one day when they happened to be off again she came into his room crying, a white stick with a pink plus sign held tightly in her hand. He wanted to be the father to his baby that his own father hadn't been to him, so he did the noble thing and got back together with her. They agreed they would get married when they were out of high school and move in together. Since they lived right next door, they hadn't felt the need to move in at that particular time.

Things were great for the summer, or at least the month and a half of it they knew about the baby. For once in his life he was feeling like he could finally get over Marissa Cooper and invest all his love in his baby and his future wife. He knew he would never love Theresa the way he loved Marissa, but he also knew that he could still love her enough for them to be able to make a life together. When he looked at her he didn't see the rebound girl anymore, he actually saw the person he thought he would spend forever with.

A couple of days into the new school year Ryan and Theresa got into a fight. She wanted to drop out and just get a job, but he wanted her to get a decent education and finish their senior year of high school. She ran out of his house angrily and drove away. He figured she just needed to let off some steam, so he didn't follow her. He could easily say that was one of the worst decisions he'd ever made.

When she still hadn't returned a couple of hours later he had grown worried. He was pacing in his room when the phone rang. It had been Theresa...she was at the hospital. She had gotten into a car accident. She was crying so hard because she felt like she was ruining the both of their lives that it blurred her vision. She never saw the dog in the middle of the road, not until it was too late. She had swerved and hit a tree. The impact was so hard that she had a miscarriage. In two hours his life had been turned upside down. All his thoughts of a future with Theresa went out the window.

Over the next nine months they developed an awkward relationship. He didn't have the heart to break up with her, so they stayed together. They stopped talking and even though he knew Theresa needed him, he couldn't be the person she wanted him to be. He was dealing with his own loss and really couldn't help her deal with her own. Their relationship became about sex again, which he could handle. He had lost the second love of his life...all before he turned eighteen.

He got out of bed and slid his boxers on. He couldn't be near Theresa and think like this...it felt wrong. He finished getting dressed and then quietly slipped out of her house, making the small trip to his own. Beer cans littered the floor around his passed out mom on the couch. He rolled his eyes and sighed, walking to the cabinet to get some aspirin for the hangover she was sure to have when she woke up. He got her a glass of water and set it with the pills on the coffee table.

When he got to his room he entered and quietly locked the door behind him. He sat down on his computer chair and signed on to his emails. He sighed when he saw a bunch of Spam and deleted it all. He let his mind wander again and soon he found himself reaching for the letter he'd been hiding for the past couple of months. He looked at the Berkeley logo at the top and felt his stomach jump.

Even when he life was falling apart, he'd decided it would be best to try his best in school. He had ended up graduating at the top of his class and since he had such high SAT scores he ended up getting a full ride scholarship to Berkeley. He knew that Theresa would ask him to stay and accuse him of running away, which he was partially doing. Theresa didn't really believe education would get a person all that far, but instead that hands on experience would work best. Her dad ran a construction company and since he was interested in construction and architecture, she wanted Ryan to go work for her dad. But what she couldn't understand was that he didn't want to be just another construction worker, he wanted to be the one to design the buildings.

He had already informed the admissions office he would be attending and was even packed and ready to go. The only problem was he was afraid. It was easy to say you would be able to leave on your own and never look back, but it wasn't. He sighed and decided he needed some motivation. He went back to the computer and went onto the message boards. His messages to Marissa were still there. He propped up his feet on his bed and began to read.

When he finally had enough courage, he reached for a piece of paper and pen. He scribbled a quick note to his mom and Theresa, and then grabbed his small duffel bag and backpack. With one last look at his room for the past three years, he put on his sunglasses and left for his new life.

And now we're grown up orphans
That never knew their names
We don't belong to no one
That's a shame
But if you could hide beside me
Maybe for a while
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell em your name

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May 31, 1999

RyMAt87: Hey, look...I'm really worried about you. I know you're going through some stuff right now, but I want you to know that I'm here if you need to talk. Now, I know that's not exactly what you need, but I just want you to know that if all else fails, you can ALWAYS talk to me, alright?

MAC_12: Thanks...that means a lot. I don't really know what to say, it just hurts, you know?

RyMAt87: Yeah, I know. My dad left when I was five, so I get that you're going through a hard time with the divorce, I really do.

MAC_12: I didn't know your dad was gone...

RyMAt87: It's not something I really talk about.

MAC_12: Then why did you tell me?

RyMAt87: I don't know. I guess maybe I trust you.

MAC_12: Thanks.

RyMAt87: For what? I haven't done anything.

MAC_12: Thanks for trusting me...and for being here.

RyMAt87: You're welcome.

MAC_12: You know what this means?

RyMAt87: Hmm?

MAC_12: It means we're friends, because I happen to trust you too.

RyMAt87: I guess you're stuck with me :)

MAC_12: Ha, it's more like you're stuck with me. I can be pretty needy.

RyMAt87: I can handle that.

MAC_12: And I tend to ramble a lot about things that don't really matter.

RyMAt87: It will keep me entertained.

MAC_12: Not to mention I push people a lot to talk about things they don't really want to talk about. I don't understand that sometimes there need to be boundaries.

RyMAt87: Sometimes pushing is necessary.

MAC_12: And I can be a bit of a bitch if necessary.

RyMAt87: You're not going to push me away, no matter what you do or say.

MAC_12: I was kind of hoping you'd say that.

RyMAt87: So...friends?

MAC_12: Okay....friends.

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Marissa Cooper stood on her balcony, leaning on the railing as she stared out at the ocean. Today she was supposed to go for her first day at Berkeley. There was some freshmen orientation that was mandatory. The last orientation she had gone to back during school was an optional social kind of deal, but this one was where they were supposed to get their books and such. She was kind of nervous to go to school since she didn't really know anyone there. Sure there was her boyfriend Luke, but for some reason knowing he would be there did nothing to calm her nerves.

She sighed and went over to her laptop and opened it. She logged on to check her emails and sifted through all the Spam and forwards, deleting them all as she went. When she'd successfully trashed all the junk mail, she looked at all the useful messages. Her dad had sent her an email from Greece saying he missed her, which she had to doubt. Her friend Summer had left for Rhode Island to Brown with her boyfriend Seth the week before so they could get settled into their apartment together and wanted to tell Marissa all about her adventures there. When she was done replying to them, she looked at her now empty inbox and let herself sigh and be hit with the overwhelming disappointment.

It had been three years, two months, and nine days since she'd last heard from him, but she still religiously checked her emails every day hoping he would come back and say he made a mistake. That he missed her. That he loved her – was in love with her – and always had been. That he wanted to meet her and get to know her again. That he would come back, sweep her off her feet, and promise that he would never, ever leave her again.

When she got over the disappointment she reminded herself this was all for the best. Ryan Mackenzie was right in leaving her all those years ago because if he hadn't, she wouldn't be where she was today. Ever since the day she left she had tried to convince herself that things happened for a reason, Ryan leaving one of them. And besides, if he had never left she never would've become friends with her best guy friend Brett and never would've started dating her current boyfriend Luke. No, she would've been too hung up on being in love with Ryan to give either of the two a second glance.

She smiled thinking of the two most important boys in her life. Brett had always been there, she had just never seen him in the midst of all the craziness with Ryan. He was the loner that watched everyone from afar, almost like a wallflower. He watched everyone do things but he never tried it himself. At Harbor High that was looked down upon, but he had never cared much what other people thought of him. No matter what people told him or called him, he wouldn't change himself to fit their plans for a 'normal' student.

When school started after the horrible summer that Ryan said goodbye, Brett finally stepped out of the shadows and went up to her. There was something about his kind, brown eyes that made her feel like opening up to him, so for some odd reason she told him all about Ryan. They talked for days and days about it, and even though he probably got tired of hearing about how much she loved someone else, he patiently listened. She talked about Ryan until she no longer felt the need to, and when she realized over a month had passed, she knew Brett was a true friend.

She would be a liar if she said she never thought of him in a romantic way; he was actually the first boy she ever kissed. They both knew they were better off as friends though, so that's the way they remained. In fact, he was now in a pretty serious relationship with her little sister Kaitlin, and even though it was weird at first, she now knew that they seemed made for each other.

She had been dating Luke for about two years now and they were a pretty happy couple. They definitely had chemistry and she felt she could talk to him about enough things so that she was fairly honest with him. She never told him about Ryan, but by the time they started going out she was pretty much done with moping over him. Their relationship was pretty comfortable. In fact, there was only one thing the two ever argued about: sex.

Marissa was still a virgin at the age of eighteen and pretty proud of it. She didn't want to be forced into something she wasn't ready for with someone she wasn't ready to give herself to yet, but Luke argued that since they had been going out for so long it was about time they moved forward in their relationship and took that extra step. For the most part he was pretty understanding about it though, which she loved about him. He wasn't Ryan, not even close, but she did love him in a way.

A knock on her door pulled her from her thoughts. She looked up and smiled when she saw Brett standing there holding a steaming cup of coffee. "Coffee...just the way you like it," he said with a kind smile.

She smiled and took the steaming mug into her hands. "Thanks Bee."

He smiled and sat down at the edge of her bed. "No problem." He looked at the computer screen and must have caught the flicker in her eyes because he lost his smile. "It's been three years."

She nodded and smiled sadly. "I know...I just...can't help it."

He nodded and decided to change the subject. "So you excited about the big day?"

She shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, I guess so..." she said before taking a sip of the coffee. "I mean, it's kind of scary too to be in a place all alone."

He raised his eyebrows and amusedly said, "You'll have Luke there to keep you company, remember?"

She thought about her blonde hair, blue eyed boyfriend and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess."

They heard her mom calling and he stood. "Your mom told me to tell you to she wants you ready to go in five minutes." He shuffled over to her and gave her a half hug. "I have to go to work but I wanted to say good luck and see you off."

She smiled at him and said, "Thanks. I'll call you tonight to tell you all about it, okay?"

He nodded and joked, "You better." He left the room and Marissa turned back to the screen on her laptop one last time before turning it off and placing it in her bag. There was always tomorrow.

Scars are souvenirs you never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there
Did you get to be a star
And don't it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are

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January 1, 2000

MAC_12: Happy New Year!!!

RyMAt87: Happy New Millennium!

MAC_12: Speaking of that...wasn't the electricity supposed to turn off and stuff? My mom bought so many matches, bottles of water, and dry food that our pantry is overflowing. Considering the size of our pantry...that's really saying something.

RyMAt87: Yeah, my mom did the same thing. Don't forget all the candles.

MAC_12: Oh I know! I guess maybe it was a false alarm?

RyMAt87: Something tells me that once people get over the relief of having electricity and stuff, they're going to get pretty mad about spending all that money on things they'll probably never use...

MAC_12: Well, look at the bright side...

RyMAt87: Which would be what?

MAC_12: We all have enough candles, matches, dry food, and water to last until the next millennium!

RyMAt87: Very true. Hey, Riss?

MAC_12: Yeah?

RyMAt87: I'm really glad that the electricity didn't go out.

MAC_12: Me too. This way we can still see The Valley :)

RyMAt87: I meant...I'm glad that the electricity didn't go out...so that I can still talk to you.

MAC_12: Me too.

RyMAt87: You know what my New Years resolution was?

MAC_12: What?

RyMAt87: Work up the courage to tell you that you're the most important person in my life. I know maybe it's weird and pathetic, but I think you're my best friend.

MAC_12: You want to know what my New Years resolution is?

RyMAt87: What?

MAC_12: Never let you go.

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Ryan stepped out of his car and locked it before turning to fully appreciate the campus in front of him. He stepped onto the grass and stared wide eyed at the beautiful buildings around him. He went and got his books and stuff before finding his dorm. He walked in and found another blond haired, blue eyed boy already in there. The guy looked up at him and smiled, walking over to Ryan and sticking out his hand. "Hey man, you must be Ryan, right?"

Ryan nodded and gave the guy a half smile back. He shook his hand before setting his books down on an end table when Luke gestured to it. "Yeah, that's me. You're Luke, right?"

Luke nodded. "Yeah." He went back to where he was before. "It's crazy how big these dorms are now. It's like our own little apartment." Ryan looked around to see that Luke was right. They were currently in a small little space that could be used as a living room and then there were two doors that led to two different rooms. Then there was another door closer to the entrance that housed the bathroom. It was weird, he thought dorms were supposed to be really small and that they used co-ed bathrooms, but this worked. He pointed to one of the doors. "I already chose the door on the left. I hope that's okay with you..."

Ryan nodded. "It's fine."

Luke nodded, seeming relieved. "Okay, good. I really didn't want to get off on the wrong foot..."

Ryan shook his head and gave Luke a friendly smile. "Nah, it's cool."

Luke nodded and said, "Alright." He looked at Ryan's duffel bag and backpack. "So um, where's the rest of your stuff?"

Ryan looked down at his bags and then back up at Luke. "This is all my stuff..."

Luke froze. "Oh...I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

Ryan shook his head and laughed a little. "It's fine, really. I don't really have a whole lot of money and since I don't need a lot, why waste it?"

Luke nodded. "Oh. Where are you from?"

"Chino," Ryan answered. "You?"

"Newport...in Orange County," Luke informed him. Ryan's mind drifted to Marissa and he felt the ache in his chest. "Speaking of home...you have a girlfriend?"

Ryan thought of Theresa now and felt a different pang. "Um, not really...I don't know if you can call her my girlfriend..."

Luke laughed a little and raised his eyebrows. "Nice."

Ryan shook his head and frowned. "It's...complicated." He paused and then asked, "What about you?"

Luke nodded. "Yeah...she should be dropping by soon, actually." He looked down at his watch. "Shit, I need to get ready for that orientation thing." He looked back at Ryan. "Hey, do you want to go with us? We could all three hang out...you know, get to know each other."

Ryan nodded and said, "Sounds cool, man. I'm just gonna go put my stuff away..."

Luke nodded. "Yeah, okay. She should be here any minute." They both went to their rooms. Ryan placed his bag on his bed and looked around. The room was about the size of the one at home, but it seemed better than any other one he'd seen before just because it was elsewhere. He heard a knock on the door and Luke call out, "I'm changing! Can you get that?"

"Sure!" he called back, closing the door to his room. He walked to the door and opened it to reveal a pair of blue-green eyes he'd never quite gotten over. "Marissa?"

You grew up way too fast
And now there's nothing to believe
And reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won't tell no one your name
And I won't tell em your name

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June 26, 2003

RyMAt87: Hey, Riss?

MAC_12: Yeah?

RyMAt87: I think I'm going to leave.

MAC_12: Oh, are you moving again?

RyMAt87: No...I mean...I don't think we should talk on here anymore.

MAC_12: That's alright, we can still email :)

RyMAt87: No...I mean...I don't think you and I should talk anymore. I think it would be best if I just leave and never come back.

MAC_12: You're kidding, right? I know that ever since you moved into your new house we've both been busy, but that doesn't mean we have to stop talking. I don't want to.

RyMAt87: I don't either...I just...I think it's for the best.

MAC_12: Well I don't, so don't do it.

RyMAt87: Riss, you're my best friend...the most important person to me. That's why I think I should do this...why I'm going to do this. I've held you back from your life long enough. I'm not going to do that anymore. I care enough that I'm going to let you go. I want you to be free, to live your life to the fullest. I want you to...I want you to be happy. This is my last message. I'm never going to forget you. Goodbye, pony girl.

MAC_12: Ryan, don't leave. In a couple of days we're going to look back at this and laugh.

June 27, 2003

MAC_12: Ryan?

July 4, 2003

To:

From:

Subject: Don't Leave

Ryan, I can't let you just leave like this. I WON'T let you leave. I NEED you, Ryan. I have ever since we became friends all those years ago...maybe before that. I don't want you to leave...you CAN'T leave me.

I...I love you, Ryan. I'm in love with you. I always have been. Please don't leave me. Please.

I think about you all the time
But I don't need the same
It's lonely where you are come back down
And I won't tell em your name

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Some important notes:

1) I can't remember how advanced technology was back in the early '00s, so if I make something too advanced, I apologize.

2) Yes, Marissa thinks Ryan's last name is Mackenzie. That will be explained in the next chapter.

3) All the songs in here will be from the 90s, just like I used specific songs for L&L last year. This song used was 'Name' by The Goo Goo Dolls.

4) I know the Valley wasn't on back then, but I'm pretending it was.

5) The story starts in September of 2006.

6) The nickname 'pony girl' will be explained in further chapters.