by dirty diana

Everyone seemed to think that she should be falling apart. They kept asking her if she was okay, was she sure that she was okay, didn't she want to talk about anything? Summer wasn't sure why she should want to talk. Marissa was gone, and there wasn't anything to talk about.

Everyone seemed to think that she should be falling apart. Her dad gave her reassuring hugs, like, every five minutes. And her step-mom pointedly left bottles of Percodan and Xanax on the kitchen counter, you know, in case Summer wasn't feeling well. That was so stupid. Summer couldn't even swallow aspirin anymore.

Everyone seemed to think that she should be falling apart. Summer wasn't falling apart. She cried, okay, she cried a lot. And then when she was done, she would wash her face and redo her mascara and go over to Seth Cohen's house.

It was a sunny Saturday when she went around the back at the Cohen's, and passed Ryan in the pool house. Ryan looked up and said, "Seth's not here. He's out sailing."

Summer just scowled, because she didn't know why Ryan thought she wanted to see Seth. She didn't. She wanted to get some sun, and her step mom had been ensconced in their own backyard since breakfast, keeping company with a bottle of Chardonnay. And she couldn't go to the beach, because Luke would be there and Holly might be there, and she might have to punch them both in their stupid skanky faces. "Whatever. I'm just going to sit by the pool, 'kay?"

"Yeah. Whatever. Um.."

Summer paused, pulling her small purse up over her shoulder. "Yeah?"

"Nothing." Ryan's eyes were deep and shadowed, and it kind of hurt to look at him. " are you?"

"I'm...whatever. You know. How are you?"

Ryan shrugged. "You know."

"Yeah," Summer said, and walked away.


She didn't remember falling asleep. But when she woke up she was lying on her stomach by the pool. There was a hand on her shoulder, the touch of it cool against sun-warmed skin.

"Ew," she said sleepily. "Don't touch me."

'For someone who doesn't like it when I touch her," Seth answered, "you're over here an awful lot." But he moved his hand away. Seth always gave up easily, she thought.

Summer rolled over onto her back, pushing up her sunglasses so that she could look at him in full colour. "Whatever. It's weird at my house, like, weirder than usual. At least you're just normal weird over here."

"Wow." Seth wiped away an imaginary tear. "That's really sweet. Eloquent."

Summer glared at him, then pulled the Gucci sunglasses back down and closed her eyes. "You're in my sun, Cohen."

"If you get any more sun, you're totally going to burst into flames," Seth said, but he moved over to the next lounge chair. The springs underneath Summer squeaked, as her chair was relieved of his weight.

"So, Summer said a few moments later, weirded out by Seth's silence, "aren't you going to ask me how I am?"

Sometimes, like right now, she could actually hear Seth thinking. "Not really. Do you want me to?"


"So I won't, then."


"Excellent." Seth paused, thinking loudly again. "Do you want me to ask my mom if you can stay for dinner?"

"Whatever. You're not going to make me eat anything Jewish, are you?"

"Of course not," Seth answered, looking at her seriously. "We only eat Protestants."


Summer liked Seth's parents. Seth's dad was silly all the time and Seth's mom was serious all the time, but they both liked to smile and they really seemed to like each other. And they both liked embarrassing Seth, which was cool with Summer. When Seth blushed, he seemed less annoying.

The phone rang during dessert. "It's your dad," Mr. Cohen said, covering up the receiver with one hand. "Should I tell him you'll be going home after dinner?"

"Actually," Seth jumped in, "we were going to watch the Spiderman movie after dinner. Because Summer hasn't seen it, and I think it's an essential part of her comic book education."

Summer made a face. She hated comic books, which Seth knew. But she really didn't want to go home, which Seth also knew. "Yeah. I'll go home after the movie."

Seth's dad frowned. "It'll be late. I don't think Summer's dad wants her walking home at that hour, son."

"You mean because of Newport's skyrocketing person-to-person crime rate?" Seth asked sarcastically. "It's cool. We'll walk her home. Right, Ryan?"

Ryan shrugged, caught by surprise. "Sure."


She dropped some cushions on the floor of the pool house, in front of the big screen television, making herself a comfortable seat. "Do we have to watch Spiderman?"

"Yes," Seth said. "Yes, we do. Right, Ryan?"

Ryan shrugged. "Sure."

"See? Two to one, I believe they call that a quorum. We're totally watching Spiderman." Seth put the disc in the dvd player.

Summer sighed and rolled her eyes. "I am so not in the mood to watch some skinny guy in a cape flying around."

Seth looked a bit hurt at that. For someone who talked so much, he was actually kind of sensitive. "Spiderman does not have a cape. And he doesn't fly. He swings around town on his...cape." Seth shook his head. "You know nothing."

"Whatever." Summer settled in on her cushions.

Seth sat down beside her, sitting kind of close, and began to pass the snacks. "Goldfish?"

"You are so eight years old," Summer said, taking a handful.

"Well, one of us has to be the adult here."

Ryan said, "you guys are going to shut up once the movie starts, right?"

Seth threw a cushion at him.


Once again, Summer didn't remember falling asleep. She only remembered waking up, lying on Ryan's floor. But this time she was the cool one, and Seth was warm, warm and solid, one arm wrapped around her waist.

Summer leaned her head comfortably against his shoulder, ready to drift back into sleep, when she realised that sunshine was streaming through the window. She lifted her head with a start, looking at her watch. Ten am.

"Shit," she said out loud.

"No, it's okay." The voice was Ryan's, coming from somewhere behind her. "Seth's dad called your dad. You guys both fell asleep during the movie, and well..."

Summer knew. The adults were trying to help, cutting the troubled teens some slack. Summer hated it. She thought she would give anything to be able to get in trouble again.

"I better go home," she said.

Beside her, Seth was slowly waking up, stretching his long body. "I'll walk you," he said, in between sleepy yawns.

"Seth," Summer said, "it's daylight. I don't need you to walk me home."

"Yeah," Seth said, "but you're wearing those ridiculous shoes. If I'm not there you might trip and hurt yourself, and that," he clutched his chest dramatically, "would be tragic."

Summer made a face, because there wasn't anything ridiculous about her Kenneth Coles. They were her favourite shoes. "Fine."

"Fine," Seth answered, and got up to go take a shower.


Summer came out of the bathroom, with her hair damp and her face scrubbed clean, to find Ryan staring at her. It was a little creepy.

"What?" she demanded loudly.

Ryan shrugged, and there was a brief silence. "You and Seth, huh?"

"Me and Seth?" she repeated. "No. Ew."

He nodded, but kept staring.

Finally she said, "so? Go ahead."


"Aren't you going to tell me that if I hurt him you'll come after me? Or mess me up, or you know, whatever it is that they say in Chino."

Ryan shook his head. "Yeah."

"Whatever," Summer said, and went to wait in the Cohens' driveway, so that Seth could walk her home.


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