A/N: IMPORTANT FOR A CHANGE!:

This fic is set somewhere in the late season 3. I don't know where I am going with this. maybe I'll leave this as a one shot. Maybe I'll expand it into a two-parter. Maybe I'll allow you guys to decide the ending that you want. I really don't know. The idea came to me – not. Basically, my hands flew across the keyboard and this fic took shape. So forgive me for this drabble, or hate me for it. But it's yours to read and do what you like. So for this fic, all you need to know is that Ryan and Sadie are still together and Marissa and Volchok are broken up.

….

She stares at the letters. They are identical. The same colours, the same tones, the same hues.

Dear Miss Cooper,

We are proud to inform you…

Berkeley.

Ryan.

Her dream. Burning away like the puff of smoke she had asked him for that very first night.

Hey Kiddo,

So I know you've had a lot to deal with.

But I'm settled in Greece now.

Do you want to come visit? Maybe stay?

I miss you.

There is a ticket enclosed if she wants to. The letter came over this morning and she still stares.

The ticket's dated for tonight.

She's told him a million times that she'd never leave. But then again, they had promised a lot more. She figures he'll forgive her for this. If only so that he can have a fresh start. She is still a little murky on Ryan's relationship with Sadie but she knows that it's serious. And Ryan is made for Berkeley – she not so. And she can't keep allowing Ryan to catch her when she falls. Because, eventually she will. She is that broken.

And he isn't her knight in shining white.

Not anymore.

She has pretended to move on. Really tried hard with the one person she should never have tried at all.

Volchok.

Another mistake that piles on top of all the mistakes that she has ever done.

Johnny and Sadie and… Volchok, it all still blurs in her mind into one big glob of drunken mess. She can't separate her thoughts from that time period into what was real and what was a figment of her imagination. If she was to think hard enough, really stress upon all things she does remember, the only thing that stands out is the continuous dull pain interspersed with sharp stabs of clenching and squeezing breathlessness, the cause of which she still isn't sure of.

Is it the Vodka? Most likely.

Or maybe it is that Johnny died.

Or that Ryan left.

Or maybe it is the fact that in spite of everything that she has said, Johnny had been right all along. She had always been in love with Johnny and she had screwed everything up.

She doesn't know. She doesn't care anymore. All she knows right now is that she can't deal with it anymore. Too much has happened, and it's too late. And if she doesn't leave right now, she may never leave. She can feel it to her bones - This desperation that tells her that if she doesn't do something soon she will eventually end up nowhere.

It's like her dad said - some people are just meant to get lost.

Some people never really find their place.

And maybe she has always been one of them.

His hands itch towards the phone. His feet almost move towards the door. He is dying to know if she got in. And maybe it's a bit unfair that he doesn't even know what Sadie plans on doing but he isn't thinking like that. He met Sadie now. They hadn't made any plans.

While him and Marissa…

They had always said they'd go together. He remembers their conversations from years before. He remembers his promise to her even when he was dating Lindsay and she was dating Alex. Ofcourse they had planned to go with their respective partners but they'd still planned to go to the same college, still planned to go together, even if it wasn't… 'Together'.

He wonders if that still holds true.

There was a time, not very long ago, when all they did was talk about it. They had talked about what college would be like, where they would stay, the small room that they would rent. For a while it was all they could talk about. Away from Newport and all the drama, lying around in his pool house, staring up at the ceiling, the two 'in love' teenagers had always known that that was where they would eventually belong.

Back when they still had it in them to dream.

He wonders why any of it should matter anymore. Or why any of it hurt so much. She has long since moved on, with Volchok of all the people, and he is romping happily in bed with Sadie. But it does. As much as he wants to deny it, as much as he wants to tell himself that they are over, it always does.

She always does.

It is something that is written in indelible ink. Even if he belonged to other women, he would always be in love with her. Its something he has come to accept, like a person who accepts that the sky is blue or the grass is green. It's a dull pain that doesn't ever go. You just learn to live with it. You don't try to fight it, because fighting it is impossible. You don't try to change. All you can do is try to move on. And he does. With Sadie. And he is happy. At least he thinks he is.

He stares at his letter.

He hasn't opened it yet.

He wants to do it with her.

Only with her.

….

She packs her bags – puts every little part of her that belongs to Newport into two huge suitcases.

Her mom cries softly beside her.

Hugs her – once, twice, repeatedly until she gets as much of her fill as she can.

Kaitlin helps her.

Summer refuses to look at her. She has gone from crying to shouting to crying once again. Now she just stares dully at the ceiling as she lies flat on her back in the midst of the mess she has made on her bed.

Seth makes an appearance to tell her that the Cosmo girl will be missed.

She stares at the door expecting him to come in anytime soon. She doesn't have much time.

He doesn't.

"Ryan left the pool house the moment you called him to tell him that you were leaving." Seth quietly answers, correctly interpreting her look. "He isn't to be found. He isn't picking up my phone and he isn't at all our usual hang out places."

"Maybe he just doesn't want to see me." Marissa looks down, bites her lips softly against the pain that those words evoke in her.

"Or maybe, he just can't deal with saying goodbye." Seth gently corrects. "I'd bet on anything that he is at a place where only you can find him. Whether you do, is completely up to you."

She walks up to the lifeguard stand. He isn't there.

She goes into the bait shop, the crab shack, the diner – he isn't there.

She searches under the pier – he isn't there.

She goes back to the pool house in the hope that he might have come back. But he doesn't. She knows where he is, has known it since Seth had said that he isn't to be found. And yet that's the last place she goes. Three years back he was the one who was leaving. And now, she is.

Irony truly is a bitch.

…..

The door is open – not like the first time when it was broken but like it's built but someone has taken pains to leave it unlocked. She takes one step forward and it hits her. The myriad of colours – the blue, the white, the fire. He stands with his back towards her, his body stiffens as he senses her presence. But he doesn't turn around.

"I am sorry…" she whispers, her hands trembling, her voice hoarse.

He stuffs his hands into his pockets and sighs deeply. It feels like he wants to say something more, but he doesn't. He slowly turns around. "This place… it's just… Did you ever wonder what things would be like if we hadn't… if that day…"

She nods her head softly, has thought about it almost everyday. Can't forget even if she tries. The images and the memories. They are painful and vivid and real. They dont ever go. Coming into this place, she doesn't have to look around. She doesn't have to open her eyes to know where everything is. She can feel this place right to her bones. If things were changed, if this place was modelled into a completely different shade, she'd still be able to unerringly point it. This place is so ingrained.

It's their model home.

"I just wish… I wish…" her throat contracts, works furiously against the onslaught of emotions that don't quite know how to spill.

"I know…" He silently breathes.

That's all that's left between them now – a caricature of what could have been, a mockery of what should have been.

She falls back into the walls, feels her vision blur. "When did we become so messed up?"

"You and me?" A sad, derisive smile curls his lips. Is it pain? Is it regret? He thinks maybe it is a bit of both. "It's always been a bit messed up."

"This came in the mail today." She pulls out the envelope. The bold letters of her dad shine through.

He stares at it like it's a burning volcano that needs to be shunned. Softly he looks at her. Blue eyes connect. The world starts and the world fades all at the same time. "So you're really going." His voice is bitter… hoarse, his face is a mask of incredulousness and pain and disbelief. "Marissa don't." he pleads. His feet move towards her, bringing them so close… and yet... farther than she's ever imagined. His hand lifts to stop her, but falls away of its own accord. "Stay." He looks deep into her lost eyes. "We'll work something out. You don't have to do this. Please."

"Will it change anything?" she softly asks.

He bites his bottom lip, shakes his head dully at her.

She cocks her had to one side, looks at him. "Why?" She already knows the answer. But she just… she hopes it's the wrong one. She watches as his eyelids shutter down… fall… and she can't help the bitter laugh that escapes. It comes out more like a stifled cry, the sound of her breaking, broken, charred heart.

"God, Ry… you are so stupid…." She hisses bitterly. "Why couldn't you have said yes?" she wants to scream at him, shout for being so fucking honourable and right all the time, but her throat refuses to oblige her as it chokes around everything she wants to say. Her fingers curl against the lapels of his shirt, gripping it hard, crushing the cloth mercilessly. And she breaks down, futile and lost.

He doesn't stop her. He doesn't correct her. He doesn't hold her or comfort her. He doesn't fix her as she falls. "You'll hate me. That's why."

"I already do Ry." Her tears run freely down her face. "Because it hurts… it just…it hurts."

"I know…" He pulls her towards him, buries his face in her soft neck, buries his life against the smell he knows will haunt him forever. "Because it hurts me too."

They stare at each other. The fight in her is all but gone at his words and she knows this is the end. He knows it too. It happens suddenly. He looks at her, looks deep into her eyes and harshly pulls at her. His hands cup her jaw forcefully and there is no gentleness, just desperation as he pulls her mouth hungrily towards him and crashes his lips against her. Crashing and burning and surrendering… they both knowing this is the end and they both want the maximum out of it. He cant help but tighten his grip on her hair, his mouth open, welcoming the feel of her lips and before she knows what she is doing she is in his lap, her lips desperately kissing him, her hands desperately trailing him, his fingers fighting to remove her clothes as their lips explode. They approach it with the tentativeness of a first kiss, experience it with the desperation of a last and he doesn't think about how this will make it harder for her to leave or how it will make it impossible for him to let her go. He doesn't think about Sadie. All he thinks about is this time and her and this place and how this is their one last time.

He pushes.

She pulls.

A tangle of messy limbs and messier emotions.

The naked breath that weaves around a much starker reality.

And he wishes.

And she promises.

Far, far more than either has the right to.

"You should be with Sadie."

"You should be with me." he counters; his lips tangling, melding, moulding… hurt.

Their clothes fall, the tears - faster.

Bleeding dark regret.

"She is right for you."

His hands clench against her hips, his body tenses - poised just at the threshold. "Not like you." He breathes.

She laughs, a 'bitter hollow laugh', "That's exactly why."

with one swift gasp he thrusts into her.

And its Pain and agony and surrender...

Its pure, unadulterated pleasure.

Her tears glaze his vision. Her sadness obscures his. A mirror. Broken. Like their lives.

One stifled cry.

And it's Heaven…

And it's Hell…

And maybe it is wrong, and oh so sinful. She isn't a home breaker. He isn't a cheater. But God…

…These messy feelings and messier emotions

"I love you." He is moving faster inside her, harder and the words just come. They spill out like the raindrops on an August sky. Unplanned, unnerving… dangerous.

"Don't." she turns away. "God Ryan, don't say that." She doesn't want it… doesn't want to hear it… doesn't want it to taint this – change it into something it isn't. "Not now, when it's so unfair."

His hands bruise her body blue and her nails bite his back red – A conglomerate of hurt, desire, love, loss and something more.

They've always been something more than just love.

And He pushes.

And she pulls.

Faster and Harder…

Crazy and desperate…

Towards an empty void that doesn't quite fill.

But it feels so right… the wrong kind

And it hurts so much… the Sweet kind.

It's strong…

But still so very wrong.

These messy feeling and messier emotions.

"Marissa!" He gasps, reaching the pinnacle fast and hard. His vision is blurring with the blinding white haze of passion that swirls in thick puffs of clouds. It's everything he remembers, everything he wants, everything he has lost.

"Sadie" She bitterly mocks, free falling, into his cheating arms.

They fall to the ground.

A blur of red tainted bodies.

The blood… the dreams… the past… a collage of her broken regrets.

And he holds her tight… lets it go, let's her go. Always does what she wants.

Its minutes. Its hours. It could have been days.

But it's not.

They stay broken. Arm in arms somehow making a perfect whole before it completely falls apart.

Her ghostly whisper barely breaks the air around him as she utters the fated words. "Good Bye, Ryan."

His hands clench against the fluttering air, coming up empty handed. "Stay…"

She leaves. Runs like the first time away from him, away from a love that doesn't ever diminish, away from her life and everything that always revolves around him. He runs behind her, but just like before he is a shade too late as he sees her car pull out of the incomplete driveway, sees her tears cascade down her cheeks in a river of shining, glittering droplets.

He comes to an abrupt halt. Tastes salt on his lip that is too fresh for it to be the sea air. Marissa is a lot of his firsts. He adds this to the list of all the things he has felt with her for the very first time. And just when he feels that this night could not get more cataclysmic, just when he feels his emotions could not get more suppressing, the raindrops fall, blundering and screeching and blinding, against the canopy of a dark, unfaithful sky.

….