Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters of The OC. They all belong to Josh Schwartz.

A/N: This story is AU and takes place early season one, a couple of weeks after "To Be Seventeen" ended.

David Letterman's "Top Ten List" is courtesy of CBS.

Prologue

"Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. I have here tonight's Top Ten List..."

Ryan slowly opens his eyes and turns his head towards the voice coming from the television set. David Letterman, he thinks to himself, blinking a few times as he tries to focus his eyes.

"Here are the top ten signs your lifeguard is nuts. Number ten..."

Everything remains blurred as the pounding in Ryan's head becomes louder... the applause from the talk show audience stabbing him brutally behind his eyes as excruciating pain engulfs his entire head. Ryan groans softly as he places his left hand on his face and rubs his eyes, hoping that when he opens them again he'll be able to see more clearly.

"Number eight... when waves destroy a sand castle, frantically searches for tiny people."

Ryan hears laughter but is unable to discern if the sound is coming from the TV or from someone in the room. Where am I? Ryan asks himself, realizing he's laying in a bed that's not his own and his entire right arm is numb. He reaches up over his head and begins to massage his lifeless limb with his left hand until he begins to feel the blood flow slowly return.

"Number six... when sitting in the lifeguard stand, insists on wearing a bib."

Ryan tries to move his right arm but is quickly stopped by something restraining him. He warily glances up at the bedpost and sees a handcuff wrapped around his wrist. He yanks the handcuff as hard as he can but is only met with more pain. Panic begins to rise up inside him as he tries desperately to remember what happened.

"Number four... has a paralyzing fear of terry cloth."

Ryan continues to look around the room as his eyes slowly regain their focus. He sees a large neon sign through the small opening of a worn curtain with the red letters "vac" blinking. I'm in a motel room, he thinks to himself as he hears a loud, guttural laugh from a man in the room. I've heard that laugh before, he thinks to himself as intense dread begins to creep up over him.

"And the number one sign your lifeguard is nuts... keeps trying to give himself CPR!"

Ryan hears the click of the remote shutting off the TV and struggles to sit up in the bed. He swallows the bile rising in his throat as fear quickly begins to take over. Perspiration clings to his warm forehead and his heart begins to beat rapidly as the shadow of a large, foreboding figure stands ominously over him.

"Well, well... it's about fuckin' time you woke up."

"Dad?"

"Hello, son."