Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
Summer always knew she'd end up back in his arms.
There was too much between them. They were too entangled each other. Too much for anyone else.
Crouched on the floor, of the elevator Summer stared at the cheap maroon carpet. Her breath was coming in and out in short halting breaths. She shook her head.
"Summer. Breathe." The speaker instructed sternly before gripping her upper arms and pulling her up forcefully.
She wrenched herself out of his grip, his worried expression catching her eye as she did so.
"Cohen!" Summer choked out, struggling for air. Tears streamed down her face.
"Summer." His tone was gentler than she had heard it in a long time, since before last summer, since before Las Vegas even. Through her tear-glazed vision Summer saw Seth open his arms to her and she fell into them appreciatively.
Seth held her close, grateful that she was accepting his comfort. Grateful that he could do something for someone. Grateful that Summer was in his arms again, even if only briefly. Experimentally he stroked her hair and rather than pulling away, Summer nuzzled closer with a strangled sob.
He smelled like comfort to her, like warm days and laughter. Soft on top of solid strength, he felt like reassurance. Summer felt safe in Seth's arms, like nothing could touch her here. Another sob sprang half-formed from her lips, and another. Summer buried her face in Seth's chest and didn't even care that he was wearing a stupid plaid button-up shirt and that the buttons were digging into her cheek.
"Hey, hey," Seth cooed soothingly though he had no idea what to say.
"I'm sorry," Summer sniffled. "Your shirt…"
"It's okay sweetheart. Go ahead, cry."
Seth's permission struck Summer. She did not need to cry and she certainly did not need Cohen's permission to do so. Summer took a long deep breath and exhaled through her nose. Summer Roberts was not a clingy mess. Summer Roberts fixed things, or at least held it together. She tried to pull away.
Seth gently pressed her head back against his chest and breathed her in. He knew once this moment passed he would lose Summer yet again. He needed her right now, as much as she needed him, and he just wanted this to last a little-
"Cohen. It's alright. I'm okay," Summer assured him, struggling to free herself. "I was in shock. I'm fine now. See? Breathing."
Seth's hands dropped to his sides. He stared into Summer's eyes. "How can you possibly be fine? Marissa is dead."
Summer's breath caught in her throat. Her eyes filled with tears.
"What the fuck are you even doing here Cohen?" Summer demanded.
"My brother happens to have been in a car accident," Seth said flatly, watching a dark spot on the elevator wall.
"Oh. My God," Summer paled suddenly and put her hand to her mouth. "Is Ryan okay?"
Seth bit his lip, shifted his gaze to the carpet. His concern at finding Summer hyperventilating had briefly overridden his fear for Ryan. Now it had all come rushing back and overwhelmed him.
"Seth? No…" Seeing his stricken expression Summer embraced him.
Seth automatically returned her embrace. "No, no, he's not… it's just… he won't wake up!" Seth's voice cracked.
Summer pulled Seth's face towards hers and his teary eyes met her own.
"Listen to me Cohen," Summer said sternly. "He's Chino. He's strong, he's so fucking strong. Luke couldn't stop him, Oliver, Eddie. Ryan's going to be fine."
Seth pulled Summer close again. She sounded so certain. "I hope so."
Summer rubbed Seth's back comfortingly. "He will be baby, he will be. Everything's gonna be okay."
Seth clung to her. To the girl he'd loved, had never stopped loving. She was his calm in storms, his anchor. He had screwed up this summer and proceeded to lose the two people he needed most, now he was losing them again.
"I'm so, so, so sorry Summer. I was wrong," Seth mumbled into her neck.
"It's okay," Summer soothed, rubbing circles on his back. "We're going to get through this. It will all work out."
"You promise?" Seth asked, childlike and hopeful.
"Oh Seth…" Summer didn't have any answers, couldn't make a promise she couldn't keep. She changed the subject, "Can we see him?"
Seth pulled away from Summer, though she kept her arm firmly around his waist.
"Yeah, yeah, but are you sure you should..?" Seth wondered.
Summer sniffled. "You said it yourself, Coop's dead. Nothing's going to bring her back. But Ryan's not. He needs his friends."
"So? You need your friends. I need to be your friend," Summer admitted. "I can't just stand here and… mourn, or whatever."
"Okay," Seth pushed the number for Ryan's floor and the elevator doors slid shut.
Sandy and Kirsten had their attention focused on Ryan when Seth walked into the room with Summer.
"Mom? Dad? Any news?" he asked nervously.
Summer gasped at the sight of Ryan pale and still, covered in bandages and bruises. He looked so small swathed in white, so frail.
"Summer!" Kirsten rushed to embrace the girl. "It didn't occur to me that you'd be here. How are you?"
Summer shook her head against Kirsten's shoulder.
"I can't process. I… it's too… it's too much," Summer's breath was ragged once again. Seth put a soothing hand against her back, helping her regulate her intake of air.
"That's an understandable reaction," Sandy commented sympathetically. "Would you like Seth to take you home?"
"Thanks, but would it be okay with you guys if I waited here for awhile?" Summer requested. "I'd really like to talk to Ryan."
"You're welcome to stay sweetie, but Ryan probably won't be waking up anytime soon," Kirsten warned.
"That's okay," Summer explained. "Besides, you'll need coffee and stuff and I know none of you are going to want to leave Ryan for a second."
"Summer…" Seth met her eyes. Tried to convey how grateful he was, how amazing she was to be here right now offering her help.
A trace of a smile appeared on Summer's lips. "You're welcome Cohen. Cohen's. All of you. I need to be here right now."
Kirsten hugged the girl again lightly before resuming her seat at the left of Ryan's bed, nervously twisting her wedding ring.
Sandy shot Seth and Summer an uncomfortable smile before returning to his own seat on the other side of the bed and gazing at his wife over Ryan.
"Why don't I go get some coffee?" Summer offered, lightly pushing Seth towards his parents.
Ryan's hospital room wasn't set up for four people to spend any length of time so Summer kept herself busy making it as comfortable as possible for the Cohen's. She acquired a pile of extra blankets from the nurse's station to make Kirsten's and Sandy's minimally padded chairs softer, and to build a nest for Seth on the floor at the foot of Ryan's bed.
Seth settled himself in the nest Summer had created for him. He looked up at her and caught her wrist. Their eyes met and they communicated wordlessly. Seth appreciated the needlessness of speech with his ex-girlfriend. She knew him so well. He pulled Summer down next to him.
Summer leaned against Seth and yawned delicately. It was almost three o'clock in the morning and she was emotionally and physically exhausted. Her eyelids fluttered shut against her volition.
Seth wrapped his arm around her and snuggled her closer to his chest. She sighed contentedly and he dropped his head against hers.
Summer wasn't sure how long she'd been asleep when she woke suddenly. Her yielding, rhythmically beating pillow had gone rigid and the pattern had changed. The gentle pressure against her head was gone. Summer lifted her head and opened her eyes. Someone had turned off the lights.
"Cohen?" She whispered, wrapping an arm around his torso. "Seth?"
"Summer," he reciprocated her hug.
"I had… a nightmare, I guess. I'm worried about Ryan."
"I know," Summer paused. "Can I get you anything?"
"No, no, I'm alright. I just… God. What was he even doing in her car?" Seth wondered.
"I don't know. He's always had a soft spot for her," Summer pointed out.
"For all the good it's ever done him."
"Coop's not a bad kid. She's just got a lot of… I can't believe she's dead. I can't wrap my head around it. Jimmy's going insane."
"You've seen them?"
"Yeah. Julie called me. I don't know what she thought I was going to be able to do, how I was going to be able to bring Marissa back…"
"Summer, there's nothing you could have done. It was an accident," Seth rubbed her arm reassuringly.
"I could have been with her, kept her from driving, kept Ryan from getting into her car. She was my best friend. I should have kept her safe," Summer insisted.
"Marissa should have kept herself safe. That was her job," Seth corrected. "And as for Ryan, if he'd wanted to be with her he was going to find a way and if he hadn't wanted to be with her he wouldn't have been in the car."
"I'm sorry Cohen."
"What? What for? You have nothing to be sorry about Summer."
"I should have forgiven you sooner. Then everything would have been okay and Coop wouldn't be drinking and-"
"Summer, stop. That's just dumb. I shouldn't have run away. Ryan shouldn't have left. He shouldn't have slept with Theresa. Marissa shouldn't have broken up with him. Luke shouldn't have cheated on her. Ryan shouldn't have stolen a car and come to Newport in the first place." Summer shivered against him. "You cold?"
"Upset. Why is this happening?" Summer wondered.
"I don't know," Seth answered honestly. "I keep wondering what we did to upset God this much.
"Maybe God hates us," Summer suggested bitterly.
"Or at least Marissa," Seth shifted, trying to get comfortable.
"Lay down," Summer suggested. Seth looked at her questioningly. Summer scooted away from him and then pulled him down until his head was in her lap. She pulled one of the extra blankets over him and ran her fingers through his hair. "Go to sleep."
"Night Cohen." Summer toyed with his hair until she felt Seth drift off too sleep. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the cold metal bed frame.
Chapter 2: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 2/22
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Someone was shaking her.
"Summer? Summer sweetie, wake up."
"Uhhh…" Summer opened her eyes and flinched at the florescent lighting. She turned to face the person waking her, but was greeted with pain shooting up her neck. "Ow."
"Morning," Kirsten smiled sympathetically at her. "I'd ask how you slept, but…"
"Yeah. What's going on? Why'd you wake me up? Is Ryan okay?" Summer asked quickly.
"Everything's fine. No change," Kirsten explained. "It's seven o'clock though. I wasn't sure if you were planning on going to school."
"Oh. I hadn't even thought about it. I… do you think the Cooper's have called Harbor and told them?"
"I'm sure it's been taken care of. But Marissa's friends will want to talk, it might be good to go, try to-"
"Mom," Seth groaned from Summer's lap. "Have you met those kids? All they'll care about is if they'll get a day off school."
"Cohen." Summer swatted him in irritation before turning back to Kirsten. "I don't think I can be there today. I can't deal with all the gossip and the staring and the... I just can't."
"Okay," Kirsten nodded. "I should probably call Dr. Kim and explain that the three of you will be out today."
"Speaking of calls Mom?" Seth mumbled sleepily as he sat up, "I need to call into work."
Summer scooted away from Seth. "I need to let Zach know what's going on."
"Why?" Seth wondered with a sneer.
"Can we please not do this right now?" Summer requested. "My best friend's dead. Your best friend hasn't woken up yet. Can we just… not?"
"Yeah. Of course."
"Is there anything I can do before I call Zach? Do you guys need more coffee?"
"I think we're alright sweetie," Kirsten assured her, "thank you."
"Sure." Seth extended his hand to Summer and she pulled herself up before following Seth out of the room.
Seth pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and searched through its memory. He took a shaky breath. Summer placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
With her free hand Summer retrieved her own phone from her purse. Six missed calls. All from Zach. Summer winced. For a whole horrible night she and Seth had sought comfort in each other and she had totally missed Zach's calls. All Zach had wanted to do was take care of her and all Summer had wanted was for Seth to take care of her. She sucked.
Still waiting for Alex to pick up, Seth felt Summer's hand grow heavy on his shoulder. He turned his head to make sure she was okay. She was staring at her phone, stricken. Feeling his glance, Summer looked up and smiled wanly.
Her cell phone, chronically on silent mode, vibrated in her hand.
"I've been trying to reach you all morning. I have some news. About Marissa."
"I know. I've actually been at the hospital all night."
"So it isn't true?" Zach asked hopefully. "She's… okay?"
"Oh. No, it… it is true. Coop's dead," Summer told her boyfriend gently, fingers digging into Seth's shoulder for support.
Seth placed his free hand over Summer's and squeezed. Alex still wasn't answering her cell phone.
"He's my friend," Summer explained over the phone, "I need to be here for him."
"You mean for Cohen."
"For both of them, they're my friends. I need to be around friends right now."
"But not your boyfriend."
"Zach. It's not like that. Really," Summer insisted. "I want you here. With me."
It still hurt Seth, Summer wanting someone else. Seth removed his hand from Summer's and quickly dialed his boss' home number.
"What the fuck? It's early," Alex grumbled sleepily.
"Hey. It's me. Uh, Seth. Seth Cohen."
"Seth hi," Alex's tone softened.
"I, uh, need to let you know that I can't come in today. Or, for awhile actually."
"Is everything okay?"
"Not really, no. Ryan was in a car accident. Another friend was," Seth lowered his voice out of consideration for Summer, "killed. Everything's kind of a mess."
"Oh my God. What can I do? Do you want me to come to- where are you?" Alex asked with uncharacteristic sympathy.
"The hospital, and, no. It's okay. Summer and I pretty much have everything under control."
"Her best friend just died. She feels like she needs to be here, doing something for somebody," Seth explained not really sure why he was telling Alex any of it.
"I'll come by later, okay?" She offered in a tone that made it clear she wasn't offering.
"Um, okay," Seth nodded and realized Alex couldn't see him, "I'll see you later."
"Yes. You will." Alex hung up.
"You are so whipped," Summer stated as Seth turned to face her.
"And how's Zach?"
Summer sighed. "Remember when life used to be simple?"
Seth looked at her, confused. "Uh no. I don't actually. When was that?"
Summer rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean. Less complicated. Not life and death and love and hate and all this… God."
"What?" Summer snapped.
"You want to get some breakfast?"
Summer eyed him suspiciously.
Pale and unshaven, Jimmy Cooper stumbled over to Seth and Summer in the hospital cafeteria just as Summer mustered up the nerve to take a second bite of her unripe-hospital-fruit salad.
"Summer! There you are!" Jimmy slurred as though he was drunk. "I've been looking for you everywhere!"
"I stayed with the Cohen's. Ryan's hurt pretty badly," Summer stated coolly.
"Oh. Okay. I wanted to ask you, can you baby-sit Caitlin for me?"
"My best friend just died!" Summer exclaimed. "Besides, Caitlin's twelve."
"Also I thought she was in boarding school," Seth added.
"She's coming home. For Marissa. Can you baby-sit her Seth?" Jimmy persisted.
"My brother's in the hospital! And Caitlin's still twelve," Seth pointed out.
"Jimmy!" Julie rushed into the cafeteria and over to Seth and Summer's table. "Sorry, he's a little... upset. Are you okay?"
Summer stood and hugged Julie tightly. "Are you?"
"Oh, sweetie," Julie squeezed Summer back. "We'll survive."
Summer released Julie, and Julie turned to Seth.
"Unconscious. We're still waiting."
"I am so, so sorry," Julie apologized, for what Seth wasn't certain. Maybe for having raised an alcoholic daughter who hurt everyone she touched. "Your grandfather will be by later today to check on everyone. I'd go up now, but I think I'd better take care of Jimmy, and then I have to pick Caitlin up from the airport."
"Yeah. I'll tell Mom you were concerned," Seth offered.
"I am. Thank you." Julie steered Jimmy out of the cafeteria.
Summer sat down and shuddered.
"You okay?" Seth asked, reaching across the table to take her hand.
Summer shook her head.
"Summer, talk to me," Seth requested. "Tell me what you're thinking."
"Julie Cooper's the closest thing I've ever had to a mother. Marissa and Caitlin are like my sisters," Summer looked up at Seth, her eyes full of tears. "My sister is dead."
Seth stood, walked around the table, and slid in next to Summer. He wrapped his arms around her. "I know baby. It sucks. It sucks so bad."
"Let's go back upstairs," Seth suggested. "Maybe get some more sleep. Besides, I need to catch my mom before she goes to the office and give her Julie's message."
"Yeah. Okay. Lead the way."
Chapter 3: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 3/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer didn't really remember falling asleep, but she must have, because she was awoken by the sound of the door being opened. Zach stood in the doorway looking hurt.
It took a moment longer for Summer to get her bearings, to recall that she and Seth had scooted two chairs together and that it was his shoulder she was currently using as a pillow. Summer lifted her head and smiled warmly at Zach.
"Hey," she whispered standing up and walking over to her boyfriend. "Sorry about that. No one got very much sleep last night."
Summer rubbed her still aching neck as she led Zach into the hallway and closed Ryan's door behind them.
"You don't," Summer asserted. "But it's nice of you to try."
"I… I'm so sorry about Marissa," Zach told her uncertainly.
"Summer, I'm trying to be cool with walking in on you sleeping on Seth's shoulder…" Summer nodded encouragingly "…I'm trying to put it in the context of Ryan and Marissa's accident. But, he loved you for years. You had this big dramatic split and you're still all he ever talks about. So forgive me for not being able to see this whole thing as strictly platonic."
"I get how this looks," Summer explained, "But you weren't here last night."
Zach opened his mouth to protest.
"I'm not blaming you for that. You couldn't have been here. You didn't know. But last night Seth and I were both reeling. We're still reeling. We need some support. From our friends. Seth and I are friends."
"That's what I have trouble with."
"I know. Look Zach, you're not wrong, Seth and I have some pretty bloody history. Our past is… complicated. But it gives us a bond, a really strong one. I know you don't want to hear that I trust my ex more than anyone else, but the fact is, I do."
"Summer," Zach sighed. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this."
"You don't have to do anything. I don't expect you to like me and Seth being friends, but if you could be okay with it, that would be… good."
The door behind them clicked and Seth stepped out.
"Zach, hey," Seth stood awkwardly to the side as Zach hugged Summer from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder.
Summer ruffled Zach's hair. "How you holding up?"
"Okay I guess."
"You're fine," Summer rolled her eyes affectionately. "How'd you sleep?"
"Uncomfortably. But I needed it I think," Seth stood up straight and rolled his head in a circle. "What about you Sum? You sleep at all?"
"Yeah. Almost as long as you."
"Good. And you're okay?"
Summer nodded. "I could use a drink. You guys want anything?"
"Okay. I'll be back," Summer hurried off down the hall.
Zach crossed his arms across his chest. He and Seth watched each other warily.
"So… Ryan's going to be okay?" Zach finally asked.
"We don't know yet," Seth told the other boy tersely.
They lapsed into uncomfortable silence, the tension between them almost palpable.
It seemed like Summer was gone for eons but in actuality it had probably been a matter of only a few seconds before Summer was pressing cold sodas into their hands.
"Will you guys give me a few minutes with Ryan?" Summer requested, before entering Ryan's room and shutting the door behind her.
Seth stared after her in surprise.
"So Chino," Summer stated, sitting down in the chair nearest to him. "We haven't really gotten a chance to be alone before now and I kind of need to talk to you. About Coop. You know no one blames you, right Ryan? Not even Julie Cooper. It was an accident. You did the absolute best you could to keep her safe, now you need to work on keeping yourself safe, 'kay Chino? We're all worried about you. Quit freaking us out and get your ass out of bed." Summer paused for a response.
"No? Okay, can I talk then?" Still no reaction from Ryan. "Cool. So, Ryan, here's the thing, I know you loved her. Maybe you weren't in love with her. Maybe you couldn't be what she needed, but I know you cared. You saw the charm in Coop. She wasn't just some screwed up poor little rich girl to you. She wasn't just a self-absorbed drama queen. I know Seth's trying, that he even sort of liked Marissa for awhile, but he doesn't get it. He can't see why she was my best friend, why I have no clue what I'm going to do without her."
"I really need you to get better Ryan. I need all my friends around me..." Summer stood up quickly. "Excuse me Ryan, I just thought of something I have to do. Can we finish this later?.. Cool."
Summer bolted out of Ryan's room and let the door slam behind her. She darted past Seth and Zach still glaring at each other.
"Summer?" Zach inquired.
"Are you okay?" Seth looked up in concern.
"Fine," she called out hurriedly.
Summer stepped further down the hall and pulled out her cell phone. She searched her phone memory for a number and called.
"Hi. Is Luke there?" she asked, realizing it was unlikely at this time of day.
"May I ask who's calling?" an unfamiliar male voice asked.
"Summer. Summer Roberts." There was a pause in which Summer heard the guy call for Luke and Luke run to the phone.
"Thanks Ron. Summer? Summer! What's up?" Luke asked eagerly.
"Luke, hey," Summer had to smile at his eagerness. "I, I have some bad news."
"What is it Sum? Has something happened to Marissa? Is Marissa okay?"
Summer's eyes filled with tears once more. Any hope she had of Seth sensing her distress and coming to her aid was dashed when she glanced over at he and Zach still posturing. Just as well. Summer could do this on her own.
"No Luke, she's not. Coop's… dead." There was silence on the line. "Luke?"
"What the fuck Summer?" Luke asked angrily. "What kind of sick joke are you trying to play?"
"Luke… it isn't a joke," Summer sniffled, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. "Believe me I wish it was, but it's not. She and Ryan got into a car accident last night. She was drunk. Chino got hurt pretty bad, he still won't wake up, and Coop's… she's gone Luke."
"Summer… Fuck. I'm sorry Summer. God. I can't believe it."
"Me either. Me either. But…"
"I'm coming down there, okay?" Luke asked. "I'll call my mom, get a plane ticket. I'll be there Summer."
"I'm glad Luke. We should all be together, you know?"
"Yeah. I'll call you when I have details."
"Cool. I'll pick you up."
"See you soon Sum. Hang on."
"Thanks. I will." Summer hung up with a sigh. Tears streamed down her face. Luke had known Coop better than anybody but her. He'd spent two-thirds of his life in love with Marissa. If anyone knew how much it hurt to lose Marissa it would be Luke.
Summer walked calmly back to Ryan's room, past Seth and Zach.
"Summer, wait," Seth caught Summer's arm. Forced her to look at him, uncontrollable tears coursing down her face. He grasped her chin and forced her eyes to meet his. "Breathe."
"Cohen, I'm fine," but the words sounded strange. Halting.
"No. You're not. You forgot how to breathe again. You're hyperventilating," Seth told her. "Breathe for me baby. In and out. In… Out... In… Out… There you go. Good girl. Just keep breathing for me."
Seth released Summer's face. "You want to tell me what the hell just happened?"
"I…" Summer shook her head. "I forgot how to breathe."
"I don't believe you. I can't make anything better if I don't know what's wrong," Seth pointed out.
"You can't make anything better anyway."
"Summer…" he said helplessly
"Cohen…" Summer sighed tiredly. "I don't know what you want from me. I don't know how to do any more for you."
"I don't need anything from you. I just want you to be okay, any way you can be," Seth opened his arms to his friend. "I'm here if you need me."
Summer didn't resist the hug he offered, falling bonelessly into the embrace.
Seth rested his head on her chin, wrapped his arms tight around the delicate girl fluttering next to him.
Summer sighed contentedly and realized that her boyfriend was watching and that she didn't care because this was so right. Nothing else would ever, could ever be as right as being in Seth's arms. It had always been, would always be, him.
"I've got you now. Let me take care of you, everything will be okay," he soothed.
"Promise?" Summer's question was barely a whisper.
Zach cleared his throat, hurt.
"Zach…" Summer's voice was quiet. She stepped out of Seth's arms.
Zach eagerly embraced Summer and ran a careless hand through her hair. That was Seth's move, and the pain that shot through Seth at the sight was even stronger than usual.
"Careful with her Zach. She's pretty fragile right now."
"I think I know how to handle my own girlfriend Seth."
"Hey," Summer was spared more of Seth's and Zach's verbal battle by her vibrating cell phone.
"So I got a flight," Luke stated. "I'm in the airport now. I should be in Newport in like an hour and a half."
"Wow, that soon?"
"Is that a problem? It's probably too soon, isn't it?"
"No. It's great. Really."
"It's a huge inconvenience. I'll call my mom back and see if she'd mind picking me up from the airport."
"No. I want to," Summer insisted. "I need to get out of this place for awhile. I'll even go home and shower and change first."
"Wow. I'm getting the first class treatment huh?"
"Totally. Wouldn't want to embarrass you."
"You could never embarrass me Summer."
"Whatever. I'll see you in a bit," Summer hung up the phone and stepped away from Zach. "So, I have to go."
"What's up?" Seth wanted to know.
"Nothing. I'll be back in a few hours," Summer opened Ryan's door.
"Do you want company?" Zach offered.
"Um, no thanks. I think I need some me-time first," Summer explained. She leaned in to Ryan's room. "Hey Chino? I gotta run an errand but I'll be back in no time. Cool?.. Alright. See ya later buddy."
Without waiting for another comment Summer headed for the elevators.
Chapter 4: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 4/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Somewhere in the back of Summer's mind, she assumed that the few hours she spent at home would be the easiest part of her day.
Before she had even made it past the kitchen, Summer realized she had been wrong.
The light on the Roberts' answering machine was blinking. 57 messages and it wasn't even three o'clock. Summer listened to the first two, Stephanie and Holly respectively, calling to check on her, wanting to talk. Summer deleted them all and then vaguely hoped that there hadn't been any important messages for her dad.
Summer anticipated that her bedroom would offer relief, be the sanctuary it had always been for her. But instead the instant Summer opened her door she was greeted by the sight of one of Marissa's shirts draped over her desk chair. She'd borrowed it months ago, though the girls had never actually worn the same size, because borrowing clothes just seemed like something best friends did.
Near the shirt there's a framed picture of she and Coop and Holly right before Cotillion, before everything went wrong. They look so happy, so fucking stupid. As Summer knocked over the photograph, another picture shoved into the frame of her mirror caught her eye.
One day last summer, in between lying around and being miserable, Marissa had gotten the idea to spend a whole day just doing touristy stuff. They had rented rollerblades and gone skating, eaten Balboa Bars on the pier, built sand castles, even gone to The Spaghetti Factory for dinner. When they'd been at the Fun Zone, Marissa had dragged Summer into a photo booth and made her fork out five bucks for a strip of photos of the two of them giggling and making faces. There were four pictures and Summer had tried to rip the strip in half to share with Marissa but Marissa wouldn't let her. She had said that they were a set and they shouldn't be separated, that Marissa would get her own set another time.
Turns out Coop had been wrong about that. Summer sighed and sat at the edge of her bed.
It occurred to her that she was sitting on a lavender chenille blanket in a lump from where she'd kicked it off when Julie Cooper called last night. It had been a Christmas present from Marissa two years ago. Summer knew for a fact that it had been $20 on sale at Target, but she also knew Marissa spent her babysitting money on it, and that Summer was the one person who got a present that Marissa had spent her own money on.
"Fuck it," she decided as tears stung her eyes. Summer dabbed at her tears with the well-worn blanket for a moment before giving up and letting them flow. This time she reminded herself to breathe.
Summer knew Seth wasn't psychic, that he couldn't sense her pain and come to her aid, but she wanted him to anyway.
She supposed if she really needed him, needed anyone, she could call them. But Summer didn't need anyone. What she needed was a shower.
She took one last swipe at her eyes with Marissa's blanket, found a comfortable pair of pants and reasonably matching shirt and made her way to the bathroom.
Summer laid her clothes on the counter and glanced up at the mirror.
She gasped in horror. She had eye makeup all over her face. Why hadn't anyone told her? It figured, Summer thought, that the one night she got a little lazy and didn't wash her face before bed was the night she spent crying her eyes out in a hospital.
Whatever. Summer turned on the shower and got out of her two-day old clothes.
She let the hot water rush over her, washing away the scent of hospital-and-Cohen embedded in her skin. Felt the stress drip away in rivulets, focused on thinking about being warm and clean instead of thinking about not thinking about Marissa. Then she reached for the shampoo.
$15-a-pop shampoo that you could only get at an exclusive spa in San Bernardino County, a spa she only ever went to with Coop.
Summer snapped the bottle cap back on in irritation. This was ridiculous. Every damn thing in this place reminded her of Marissa.
She had always thought the scent of Summer's body wash was depressing. What Coop's problem with the scent of ginger was, Summer never found out.
When both girls were thirteen Marissa had raved for six straight weeks about this awesome new lotion her mom had gotten her. Finally Summer had broken down and bought a bottle, only to shut Coop up. She'd tried it and promptly become addicted to it too.
Marissa thought sweatpants, even Juicy ones, in public were tacky.
Fuck her, Summer thought pulling on the pants, she's dead. And then Summer felt guilty, started to cry, again, and decided sunglasses were probably a better option today than eye-makeup.
Summer was early to pick Luke up. Amazing how much time not putting on makeup saves. Of course Summer didn't have a magazine and she didn't want to be alone with her thoughts.
The shallow part of her wondered if things could get any worse. Her smart side told her shallow side to shut the fuck up, of course things could get worse. She could loose Seth too. Ryan could die. There could be a famine. Or a natural disaster. Her dad could get hurt. Luke's plane could crash. There could be another ice age, or did that count as a natural disaster? Zach could get hurt.
Summer realized that her priorities were slightly messed up if Seth topped her list and Zach concluded it. She wished her brain would get the message. Zach was her boyfriend dammit. She really, really liked him. But. But he wasn't Seth Cohen.
"Summer!" Luke called waving at her. "Oh my God, Summer!"
Luke swept her into a tight hug. "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. I cannot fucking believe this."
"I know. It's… I know," Summer hugged her friend back. "It hasn't even been a whole day yet and I miss her so badly Luke."
"I can't process it. The thought of her actually being gone. It… I just… whoa," Luke pulled away and watched Summer.
"Everything I do, like, seriously, everything, reminds me of Coop," Summer informed Luke, as she started walking to the airport's main entrance.
He glanced around them.
"Yeah. She's everywhere in this city."
"No one else… Ryan's still asleep Luke, and he only knew her for like a minute. Seth… he's trying, he didn't hate her, but he just doesn't get it. You know?"
"Marissa was so fucking special," Luke stated.
"Yeah. Exactly. I feel like… like no one believes that. Like I have to convince them all that she's not just the girl who put Ryan in a coma, drove him out of town. I know she's caused a lot of people a lot of grief, especially Ryan, but she's still… she's still so fucking special."
"Yeah," Luke wrapped his arm around her shoulders as they walked. "So, how are you Summer? Are you, like, okay?"
"At the moment. I was angst-ing out last night. I keep forgetting how to breathe. Hyperventilating, having panic attacks I guess."
"Summer. Oh my God."
"It's okay. They're not as scary as I imagined them. I don't even really realize I'm not breathing usually; Cohen's been helping me."
"Usually? How many times has this happened Summer?" Luke asked, concerned.
"I don't know… a couple? Two or three-ish?" Summer shrugged. "Really it's not, like, a thing. I just start crying and then I get all focused on that, and I guess I just don't get enough air or whatever."
"I'm not a doctor or anything, but I'm pretty sure that's not good," Luke stated as they reached Summer's car. He threw his duffle bag into the backseat and got in.
"I'm upset Luke. My best friend just got killed."
"So not breathing is a normal grieving thing?" Luke pressed as Summer pulled out of the parking structure.
"I don't know. It's really, really not a big deal. It isn't," Summer insisted. "Can we change the subject?"
"Sure. So, what's up with Cohen?" Summer glanced at him questioningly. "Last I heard you stopped taking his calls, now he's reminding you to breathe. So, what? Are you guys back together?"
"No. God Luke, I have a boyfriend!"
"But you're still in love with Cohen."
"I am not still in love with him. I mean, yeah, I care about him, he was my first… everything. But I'm not, like, in love with him. I love Zach."
"I don't believe you."
"I am! Zach's great. He's smart and funny and sweet and charming. He's nice and socially not a moron and he lets me get a word in edgewise and he would never, ever run away from me!"
"Sounds like Cohen neutered."
"'Cohen neutered'? Eww Luke!"
"You get my point. It sounds like your boy Zach is just a Cohen placebo."
"He's not! He's Zach and I love him. I love Zach!"
"Yeah, no, still don't believe you. And you know what? I don't think you believe you either."
"It's just… he's Seth. He's under my skin. He reminds me to breathe, Luke. Who does that?" Summer turned to her friend questioningly.
"Eyes on the road Roberts," Summer looked back at the road. "Thanks."
"So you like them both. Sounds like you've got a problem."
"I'm with Zach. Seth's not an issue."
"For him it's always been you."
"I'm not so sure."
"No. Really. I'm like an old toy to him. I have sentimental value, but I'm no longer entertaining," Summer explained pulling into the hospital parking lot. "Or, really, he thinks I'm entertaining until he's actually with me and then he has no clue what to do with me."
"If you think that, you're a moron."
"Luke Ward's calling me a moron. Super," Summer commented as she navigated her car into a spot. "What makes you think you know so much anyway? You haven't been in Newport for, like, six months."
"Exactly," Luke opened his door and stepped out.
"It's like, I haven't been here, I haven't been embroiled in all of the bullshit," he explained, retrieving his bag and following Summer to the elevator, "so I can see the stuff that maybe you can't."
"Huh," Summer replied noncommittally, punching Ryan's floor number on the elevator.
"So tell me about Chino. What's… what am I going to see?"
"He's, uh," Summer put her head in her hand for a moment, trying to gather her swirling thoughts, "he's pretty banged up. Still. Pale. He's got a bunch of IVs in him and he's hooked up to a bunch of machines. Right now everyone's just waiting."
"But once he wakes up, he'll be good?" Luke asked hopefully as the elevator reached their floor.
"Hopefully," Summer sighed. "So, I don't know who all will be here, but the Cohen's will be thrilled to see you. The Coopers too, once they find out."
"Yeah. I… I banged Julie Cooper, Summer. I'm not sure this was a good idea," Luke hesitated in the hallway. "I shouldn't be here."
"Well you are," Summer pointed out. "Luke, you're here. Your friend is in the hospital. Why wouldn't you visit him?"
Luke nodded. "Right. Let's do this."
Summer turned the corner in the now familiar corridor. Seth was pacing. Zach was, not surprisingly, gone. The door to Ryan's room was closed and Kirsten stood guard.
"Summer, you're back," Sandy noticed her first.
"Yeah. I, um, had to run a couple errands," she explained as Seth looked up. Summer grabbed Luke's arm and tugged him into view.
Seth smiled broadly. "Luke, man!"
"Hey Cohen. It's good to see you. Sorry it had to be… like this, but…"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm so sorry about Marissa."
"It's… dude, I have no idea what to do with that. Summer called me a couple of hours ago and... I just can't wrap my head around it, you know?"
"Summer called?" Seth glanced over at her.
She shrugged, wrapped her arms around herself and studied the ground. It was different than the carpet in the elevator. "Someone had to. Luke, he was one of her best friends. He knew her better than almost anybody. He needed to know."
"You're right," Kirsten agreed. "We should have thought of that."
"Why? You have other things on your-" Summer was cut off by a pack of doctors and nurses rushing into Ryan's room.
"Oh my God," Kirsten put a trembling had to her mouth.
Sandy came out of Ryan's room, shell-shocked. "They'll, uh, tell us. When they know."
Chapter 5: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 5/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
"What's going on?" Seth demanded. "What's taking so long?"
"Let the doctors work," Sandy advised.
"What could they possibly be doing in there?" Seth continued pacing, "Building a new Ryan?"
"Cohen, geez, chill," Luke suggested.
"Seth, I'm sure everything's fine," Kirsten tried to soothe her son as he paced past her.
"How could you possibly know that?" he demanded. "When did you get your medical degree?"
"Seth Ezekiel Cohen!" Sandy barked. "Quit being a shit to your mother."
"Sandy!" Kirsten exclaimed.
Summer stepped into the path of Seth's pacing. "Cohen, chill," she instructed calmly.
Seth stopped in front of her.
"Listen to me, okay?" he nodded. "Right now, Ryan's okay. The doctors would have said something if he wasn't. No news is good news."
"I don't- "
"Ssh. You're listening right now," Summer reminded her friend. "Ryan's okay. You pacing around and being mean to people is not helping anyone. It's certainly not helping Ryan."
Summer reached for Seth's arm. "I know you're scared, but this isn't the way to deal with it. Come talk to me, okay Cohen?"
Seth nodded and allowed Summer to pull him to a vacant bit of hallway well within sight of Ryan's room. They sat together on the floor.
"What the hell Cohen?" despite the words, Summer's voice was calm.
"Summer my best friend is lying in a hospital bed!"
"I get that," she said gently, "and my best friend is lying in the morgue. It's really really hard, but being bitchy isn't going to help anything."
"I just…" Seth curled his hands into fists, tensed his fists, scrunched his face, and shook as he screamed silently.
Summer placed her hands on his shoulders, pulled him to her. He rested his forehead on her shoulder as she ran her hands soothingly down his back.
"It's okay baby, it's okay. Just talk to me. Tell me anything. Tell me what you're thinking right this second."
"I want you," Seth blurted honestly, arms wrapping around Summer's slender torso. "God, I need you so bad."
Summer stopped rubbing Seth's back but didn't pull away.
"And you have me. As a friend."
"I screwed up Summer. I know that. Why can't you just forgive me?" Seth pleaded into the curve of Summer's neck.
"Cohen, I forgave you a long time ago. You know that. But we… we're in different places right now."
Seth sat up. Met Summer's eyes. "My best friend is dying. Your best friend is dead. We couldn't possibly be in more similar places."
"And kissing me would make things better?" Summer wondered.
"Seriously. If I told you to kiss me right now what would happen?"
"The world would make sense again. It would stop spinning," Seth leaned towards Summer.
"Baby, I wish that were true. I wish that us kissing would wake Ryan up, bring back Coop. But it won't," Summer pushed Seth lightly backwards.
"Summer," Seth smacked the floor in frustration.
"Seth!" Summer imitated him.
"You think I'm being a selfish little brat, don't you?"
"Honey, it's not like I don't understand," Summer reiterated. "Me? Of all people I get how scary it is to feel like your best friend is slipping away. But you have to deal. You have to."
"I know," Summer took his hand. "I know. But it'll be okay."
"How are you so okay right now?" Seth needed to know. "Marissa… It hasn't even been a day and you're sitting here, holding my hand, telling me you're sad, but fully in control. I don't understand. How are you doing it?"
Summer rolled her eyes.
"Cohen. I forget how to breathe," she pointed out. "You have to remind me."
"Well as Luke pointed out earlier, that isn't exactly a normal reaction to grief. Yeah, right this second I'm doing okay. Nothing in this room is overwhelmingly reminding me of Coop. The scent of my shampoo is miraculously not making me want to cry. But that's right now. I can't guarantee that in the next ten seconds something's not going to set me off," Summer sighed. "I feel so fucking fragile right now."
"You're the strongest person I know."
"Seriously. You're the bravest, craziest, strongest person I know," Seth said sincerely.
"Ryan's your best friend. How can you possibly think I'm stronger than him?"
"Because you aren't lying in a hospital bed hiding from all of this," Seth gestured around the room with his free hand.
"He was in a car accident!"
"Still. Coward. He doesn't do emotional scenes well."
"I can't believe that you think Ryan's unconscious because he doesn't want to deal with the repercussions of the accident," Summer shook her head.
"Oh come on Miss Candy-striper. You know people can choose to remain unconscious if they don't want to deal with stuff."
"No. No I don't know that Cohen. I think you're making it up."
"I am not. It's a proven fact."
"Proven by who?"
"Ryan Atwood for one."
"Whatever Cohen," Summer cracked a smile. "You're so full of it."
Summer took the opportunity to change the subject.
"Need to go apologize to your mother? Yes. You do." Summer released Seth's hand. "Go now. Shoo."
Seth got up and sauntered towards his mother. Stopped. Glanced back at Summer who made shooing motions with her hands. Continued towards his mom.
"Mommy," he said softly, staring at the floor. "I'm scared."
"It's okay Seth. I understand."
Seth met his mother's eyes. "You're awesome, but that doesn't make me being a jerk okay. I'm really, really sorry."
Kirsten embraced Seth. "I forgive you."
"So, why didn't you go for it?" Luke stood next to where Summer was sitting on the floor.
Summer looked up. "Go for what?"
Luke gestured at Seth and back at Summer. He pursed his lips in a parody of kissing.
"Luke," Summer sighed. "I have a boyfriend. I like my boyfriend, I'm happy with him. It isn't a grand love affair, but it's okay. Good even."
"So? You aren't married. You aren't chained to anyone. Seriously, break up with Zach and Seth will come running."
"That's not the point," Summer told Luke, still looking up at him. "Will you come down here? My neck hurts."
Luke slid to the floor obligingly. "You were saying?"
"Uhh… oh! Me and Seth. We're old. Over. Done. This… thing, it's a bond. It's old friends seeking comfort. It isn't love. It isn't anything to build a relationship on. It's a ghost."
"You sure? 'Cause I saw you talking. I see you with him, how you treat him, how you take care of him, and if that isn't love Summer…" Luke shook his head.
"Yeah, but it's… We were together for like three months and we broke up twice. It's easy to idealize now, but if my father could come between us, what kind of relationship did Seth and I really even have?"
"I don't know. A good one?"
"Why are you pushing this me-and-Seth thing?" Summer asked.
"I don't know."
"Really, I don't. I… maybe with Marissa dead and Ryan hurt I want to see two of my friends happy. Maybe I don't think you're happy with Zach and I know Cohen would be happier with you. Is it wrong to want you guys happy?" Luke asked.
Summer turned to face him.
"No. Of course it isn't. I want you happy too. But, maybe in the long run hooking up with Seth won't make me as happy as staying with Zach. What about that?"
Luke sighed. "I don't know Summer. I don't know fucking anything right now. This whole thing is so surreal. Seriously? She's dead?"
"I can't… I fucking can't…"
"You want to see her?" Summer asked suddenly.
"Do. You. Want. To. See. Marissa?" she repeated. "She's in the morgue still, I'm sure. I think they cleaned a lot up, it shouldn't be too awful, so, wanna see her?"
Luke nodded. Stood. Turned to help Summer up.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
Chapter 6: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 6/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
"Is it really okay for us to be down here?" Luke asked nervously.
"It's fine Luke. They let people in all the time to see their loved ones," Summer strolled up to the receptionist. "We're here to see Marissa Cooper."
"Are you family?"
"I'm her sister, and this is, was, her fiancé," Summer replied without missing a beat.
"Right this way," The receptionist came out from behind her desk and led them into the storage area. She pulled open a drawer and unfolded the sheet.
Marissa was so, so, still. Her golden skin looked yellow and waxy, her face marred with dozens of thin cuts. On the side Summer was standing on her head was bruised and swollen.
"Oh God. Baby…" Luke murmured touching Marissa's shoulder.
"Breathe," Summer murmured to herself, consciously exhaling.
There was a large gash down the side of Marissa's throat. Summer didn't know if that had been what had killed her, but it certainly hadn't helped anything.
Summer's stomach churned.
Luke was murmuring endearments in Coop's ear. It was suddenly obvious he still loved her, despite everything.
The morgue people had done a good job scrubbing Marissa's face clean. Without makeup though, she looked empty somehow, blank. It was weird, like Summer was finally getting to see the real Marissa and she was weak and fragile and soulless.
Despite the thorough cleansing, there was still blood matted in Marissa's hair. Coop's blood. Coop's blood on the outside. Not bleeding, dry. Dry because Coop was dead.
Summer's chest felt tight. She gripped the edge of the metal shelf, her nails scraped Marissa's shoulder.
Summer shivered, she felt dizzy.
"Summer? Summer?" Luke called, concerned. "Summer? Come on."
Luke grasped her hand and guided her out of the room.
"Summer, stay with me. We're going to go get Cohen."
The hallway in front of Ryan's room was empty when the elevator doors opened. Luke shoved Summer out in front of him.
"Wait here," he told her and pushed open the door to Ryan's room.
"Luke?" Ryan asked.
Luke glanced over at Ryan, nodded at him, "Chino." He spotted Seth on the far side of Ryan. "Cohen. I need you. Now."
Seth stood up, glanced over at Ryan. "What's up man?"
Luke snagged Seth's arm and pulled him out into the hall.
Summer hadn't moved at all. Her eyes were glassy and she hadn't bothered to push back the hair that had fallen into her face when Luke had pushed her out of the elevator.
"Oh my God," Seth turned to Luke angrily. "What did you do to her?"
"We… we went to see Marissa."
"You did what?"
"It was Summer's idea," Luke told Seth defensively.
"Go inside. Hang out with Ryan. Tell them… don't tell them anything," Seth instructed. He approached Summer.
"Summer? Sweetheart?" He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You breathing for me?"
"Breathe," she murmured.
"That's right," Seth exhaled and realized he'd been holding his own breath. "Good girl. Keep breathing, just keep breathing. We can fix everything else later, as long as you keep breathing."
Seth took Summer's face in his hands. He smoothed his fingers over her cheeks, peered into her eyes. "Summer? Summer, look at me please."
Tears sprung to his eyes and Seth immediately embraced Summer and pulled her close.
"Oh my God Summer. You scared the shit out of me," Seth choked out. "Oh my God."
Seth clung to her. "You cannot do that to me again. Seriously Summer. You're supposed to be the strong one. Never again. Promise?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Summer told him.
Seth released her, pulled her to the floor with him.
"I don't want to scare you," Seth said seriously, "But I need you to tell me exactly what you remember. Can you do that Summer?"
"Yeah. Of course. Uh… Luke and I were talking. He couldn't accept that Marissa was really gone. So I offered to take him to the morgue," Summer recalled.
"And did you?"
"Yeah. I lied to the receptionist, told her we were family, and went in with them," Summer elaborated.
"I was looking at Marissa, and I started not feeling well. God, Cohen, she's so… dead."
"Yeah," Seth said factitiously and then caught himself. "I'm sorry you had to see her like that. You said you didn't feel well?"
"Nauseous and dizzy, so I grabbed on to the drawer thing and…" Summer shuddered.
"Sweetheart? You okay?" Seth asked, wrapping an arm around Summer and pulling her close.
"Uh-huh. I… touched her. Accidentally. And then…and then you asked me to look at you. I don't remember. I'm sorry Cohen."
"It's okay," Seth rubbed her arm reassuringly. "You scared me. You scared Luke. How 'bout if you don't go on any more field trips?"
"Deal," Summer agreed. "Cohen? I'm scared."
"I… there's something I'm not remembering, right? What am I missing Cohen?" Summer asked urgently.
"Not much. Nothing important I don't think," Seth assured her. "An elevator ride."
"First I forget how to breathe, now I forget everything. I'm losing my mind, aren't I?"
"No. No you are not losing your mind. You're totally sane. You're the strongest person I know, remember?"
"What about Ryan?"
"What about… oh! He's awake by the way. He's going to be fine," Seth told her.
"I missed it? I thought you said I hadn't missed anything," Summer looked over at Seth, confused.
"You didn't, like, forget it. You missed it. You and Luke were visiting Marissa when it happened," Seth explained.
"Oh. Dammit. I wanted to talk to him."
"Well he's still awake. You can talk to him now."
"Yeah, but… Whatever. He's seriously okay?"
"He's banged up pretty bad. He's... messed up over Marissa."
"You guys told him? This fast?"
"He remembered. The second they took off the oxygen mask he asked."
"He asked what? If she was okay?"
"No, uh, he knew." A flash of pain crossed Seth's face. "He opened his eyes and asked if Marissa was dead. Mom and Dad were so stunned that they just said yes."
"Oh my God. You Cohen's are really not tactful are you?"
"How's Ryan handling Marissa being dead?"
"In typical Ryan fashion. He shut down, won't say another word about it."
"Poor guy. Can we see him?" Summer asked.
"How 'bout we wait a second," Seth suggested. "I'm still freaked out about you freaking out. Let me convince myself you're okay first."
"Okay. I'm really, really sorry I scared you Cohen. I wasn't trying to. I wish I knew what happened."
"You had to deal with Marissa stuff is all. You've been doing a pretty good job of avoiding it," Seth pointed out.
"Maybe not. I forget to breathe. Being in my room with all those memories of her made me cry, but I didn't like blackout, I don't think."
"Oh God, your room. Summer I am so sorry. I didn't even think of that."
"Yeah, me either until I was there," Summer smiled regretfully. "It was okay though. I think it was better than coming home tonight and getting faced with it then."
"Maybe." A thought struck Seth. "Hey Summer?"
"What was the last thing you ate?"
"Um… fruit salad. This morning."
"You had like two bites of it, and that was at eight this morning. It's after six now."
"Is that why I zoned out, you think?" Summer wondered.
"No idea, but you do need to eat something," Seth stood up. "Vending machine. What sounds good?"
"You sure? Not gonna go with, say, a nice Snickers bar?"
"Sugar on an empty stomach?" Summer shook her head. "That'll make me sick for sure."
Seth helped her off the ground.
"Ohhh. I don't feel good Cohen."
"Maybe because you got three hours of sleep and have eaten one piece of cantaloupe all day," Seth suggested wrapping his arm around Summer's waist.
"I can walk!"
"Summer! Oh my God!" Luke exclaimed when she and Seth walked into Ryan's room. "I've been freaking out about you and you went and got chips?"
Seth rolled his eyes.
"Silly girl hasn't eaten anything all day."
"Oh. Is that why you…" Luke asked Summer.
"No idea," she replied sticking a chip into her mouth. "It's never happened before."
"Someone want to explain what's going on?" Ryan requested.
"Ryan! Hi! I'm glad you're better. Sorry I missed your wake up though. You want a really stale Dorito?" Summer offered.
"Uh, no thanks."
"Sorry. I can feel my blood sugar going back up. I'm a little loopy," she apologized. "How are you Chino, really?"
"Confused. It's all too much to process. Marissa's really...?"
Summer bit her lip.
"Yeah, sweetie. She is," Summer nodded sadly. Both Seth and Luke immediately reached for her. Summer waved them off. "Guys, it's fine. I'm okay. What about you Ryan, how are you?"
Chapter 7: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 7/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Eventually Ryan got tired of all of the hovering and kicked everyone out of his room, insisting they all get at least 8 hours of sleep and a shower before returning.
"Ryan, can I talk to you for a second?" Summer requested, lingering behind as the others left the room.
"I'll just be a second, and then I'll go home. I promise."
"Yeah, okay, go ahead," Ryan sighed and settled back against his pillows.
"I actually wanted to talk to you the second you woke up, but I think it's probably better this way. Less… traumatic or whatever."
"Okay," Ryan raised an eyebrow.
"I just wanted to… have you had the chance to think about Marissa at all?" Summer asked delicately.
"Not really. I've been trying not to and everything's been so," Ryan gestured around the room.
"Things have been a little nuts," Summer agreed. "But, look, eventually you're gonna have to think about her, and how she's gone. I just wanted you to know, I'm here. You know, to listen, or to cry, or whatever."
"Thanks Summer. I… It's… I keep having flashes, memories of that night." Ryan shook his head slightly, conscious of his injuries. "God. She was so drunk. I've never, ever seen her that wasted. I should have taken away her keys or-"
"Chino, no!" Summer exclaimed. "This is exactly what I didn't want you to do. No one blames you Ryan, not even Julie Cooper. It was an accident. You did the absolute best you could to keep her safe."
"Ryan, it's true. You had no reason to be in her car that night. Everything you did for Marissa was above and beyond the call of duty."
"Quit arguing with me Chino," Summer instructed. "I can argue things to death and eventually I will win. Just accept that I'm right and move on."
"Fine. You're right."
Summer grinned gleefully. "Now that's what I like to hear!"
Ryan furrowed his brows at her. "Are you okay?"
"I wish people would quit asking me that," Summer told him frankly. "My best friend just died. Of course I'm not okay."
"Sorry. It's just, we care about you, me and Luke and Seth. With Marissa gone it's like, you're our girl. We just want you to be okay," Ryan looked up at Summer intently.
"The guy lying in the hospital bed wants me to be okay?" Summer exhaled loudly.
"Summer you're obviously exhausted. Go home," Ryan advised.
"I don't want to," Summer confessed. "I was there earlier. It hurt. She's everywhere in my room and I don't… It hurts."
Ryan nodded then winced. He gestured to a chair next to his bed.
"What? I thought you were kicking us all out."
"But you aren't secretly dying to go home, and it's not like I have any big plans," Ryan pointed out.
Summer smiled and sat. She took Ryan's hand in her own.
Ryan glanced at their joined hands in surprise.
"Life's too short for bullshit," Summer stated, squeezing Ryan's hand. "You're my friend and I care about you."
"I care about you too."
"I know. And Ryan? I will be okay, eventually. We all will be."
"Good. Did you, um, did you hear Marissa's funeral is scheduled for Saturday?"
"No. Isn't that kind of soon?"
"I don't know. I guess Caleb was here earlier and he told Kirsten that's what Julie had planned."
"Okay. God, do I not want to deal with that. It just makes the whole thing so… real, you know?"
"Yeah. But the good news is I think I'm getting sprung tomorrow or Wednesday. Definitely in time to be with you at the funeral."
"I'm glad Ryan. I'm really, really glad."
"Seth. You. Together all night and all day. What's the deal?" Ryan asked.
"You and Luke, oh my God," Summer exclaimed. "I have never had anyone so fascinated with my love life."
"So Seth's part of your love life now?" Ryan interrogated.
"No. He's… Seth. Ryan you know it's complicated. It would be complicated even if I wasn't with Zach."
"You know what makes you happy. If Zach does and Seth doesn't, I'm fine with that," Ryan explained. "Life is too short to spend it unhappily."
"I'm not unhappy! Why does everyone think I'm unhappy? Zach is a good guy. You know him. You like him, right?"
"Zach's fine. He just seems a little… bland for you."
"What makes you say that?"
"I admit I don't know much about your taste in guys, but Seth? Danny? And then Zach? It doesn't really track."
"Okay, but," Summer yawned delicately, "maybe I'm ready for a change. Someone just a little less… loud."
Ryan couldn't repress his yawn.
"Is that why you're really with Zach?"
"It's none of your business Ryan Atwood. Can I ask you a question now?"
"There's no of course about it. You're like the king of quiet or whatever."
"Yeah. Okay, so if you think Seth and I are like destined to be together, or like he's my one true way to happiness, why haven't you said something sooner?"
"I came to you on the second day of school."
"Yeah, but, what is it about Marissa dying that seems to make people think Cohen and I have a shot now? I mean, nothing's changed."
"Except everything," Ryan countered. "You're appreciating Seth now, he's appreciating you too. You need each other."
"I know that. He's one of my best friends."
Ryan sighed dramatically. Summer responded by rolling her eyes.
"Friendship does not necessarily equal love. He's one of your best friends too, but that doesn't mean you want to throw him down on a bed and have your way with him… does it?"
"Too bad. It's kind of a hot mental image," Summer closed her eyes and tried to picture it. "Mmm."
"Quit it Summer. That's not what I meant."
"I know. Still. Hot."
"Okay I just do not… ew."
Summer giggled. "Hearing you say 'ew' is like, the funniest thing ever."
"Glad I could find a way to entertain you in my crippled state," Ryan yawned.
"Ryan! Oh God, it's late and you're hurt. I should go. Let you sleep," Summer stood quickly.
"I'm not tired," Ryan yawned again.
"I'm not-" Ryan protested anxiously through another yawn.
Summer was starting to understand Ryan's eagerness to have her around. Going to sleep after being unconscious for 18 hours had to be a slightly scary undertaking.
"Want me to stay 'til you fall asleep?" she offered.
"Would you mind?" Ryan asked apologetically.
"Not at all," Summer picked up the television remote. "Shall we see what's on?"
Chapter 8: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 8/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
"Summer! Oh God, Summer." Seth's flustered voice pierced her brain, followed by Ryan's quieter,
"Ssh, dude. Let her sleep."
"It's eight in the morning. This is the second night she's spent in the hospital," Seth protested. Something tugged on Summer's arm. "Summer. Wake. Up."
"Fuck Cohen! I'm up," Summer opened eyes.
"What are you even doing here? Have you been here all night?"
"Yeah. Ryan and I were talking. And then I offered to stay with him until he fell asleep, and then apparently I fell asleep," Summer explained.
"Why didn't you wake her and send her home?" Seth turned on Ryan.
"I was asleep," Ryan shot Seth a glare.
"Cohen! Quit yelling and get a grip. Why are you so mad anyway?"
"Because…" Seth stammered "…you should be at home. Sleeping. Or, getting ready for school at this point."
"I think that ship has sailed," Summer stood. "I really am going to go home and go to sleep on a flat surface. Cohen, I won't be at school. Chino, it's been fun. I'll see you later."
"Cool. See you Summer," Ryan flashed a smile at her.
"I'll pick up your homework and bring it over later," Seth informed her.
"Thanks Mom," Summer opened the door. "'Bye boys."
By the time Summer had made the short drive from the hospital to home she was exhausted. Despite falling asleep with Ryan she hadn't really slept, not the way she needed to.
Summer was fantasizing about falling into bed, clothes still on, when she pulled up to her house. Zach's car was at the curb. He was waiting on her doorstep, looking serious.
"I came to pick you up for school," he explained. "Where you with Seth again?"
"No. Not really. I was hanging out with Ryan last night and I fell asleep."
"I was about to call you," Summer swore. "To tell you that I'm really, really tired and I'm not going to school today."
"Oh. Well then maybe we could hang out today," Summer opened her mouth to repeat that she was exhausted but Zach continued. "Here. Just, you could sleep, we can watch a movie. I want to be with you today."
And as tired as she was, and as much as she just wanted to go to sleep in her own bed, Summer couldn't tell Zach no. He was being so sweet, had been so understanding yesterday, that Summer couldn't turn him away again. She didn't have the energy.
"You can miss school?"
"Um," Zach hesitated, "sure."
"Seth offered to get my homework for me. He said he'd bring it by later," Summer told Zach. "You could call him and ask if he'd mind bringing yours by too."
Zach nodded. "So is it cool if I…?"
"Of course," Summer said lightly even though there was no of course about it. Even though she really just wanted Zach to go away so she could sleep. Zach wasn't going to just go away.
"So…" Zach looked around the Roberts house. "What do you want to do?"
"Sleep," Summer answered honestly. "But I really need to eat. Zach? Will you..?"
"Will I what?"
"There's… um… bagels. In the kitchen. Will you bring them and a knife and cream cheese into the living room?" Summer requested.
"Of course. You want it toasted?" Zach hurried towards the kitchen as Summer walked slowly towards the living room couch.
"No thanks. Bring me a bottle of water too please?"
Summer had to force herself to consume the bagel. She knew she was starving, that she had to eat, but nothing about her was hungry.
"So, what do you want to watch?" Zach asked surveying the huge variety of DVDs in Summer's collection.
"I don't care."
"X-Men?" Zach suggested.
"Whatever," she snapped back.
"Summer, what's up? You're being… mean."
"Sorry," She yawned. "My best friend was just killed. I've spent the past two days with my ex. I'm tired. I just could not possibly care less what we watch."
"Okay," Zach sat next to her. Pulled her close. Pressed play.
He smelled "off" to Summer. Slightly wrong. And then she realized that she was thinking of Cohen, wishing Zach was him. It pissed her off. Summer finished her bagel in two angry bites, slammed her head onto Zach's shoulder, and promptly fell asleep.
In and out of sleep, Summer was aware of the passage of time, of Zach getting up to change DVDs, to make lunch, to answer the door.
"Hey Seth. Come on in," Summer heard Zach offer from her place on the couch.
"Thanks but I can't. I have to get to the hospital."
"Oh. Right. How is Ryan?"
"Well, still awake, which is good. They're hoping to release him tomorrow I guess."
"Good, good. So he'll be out for…"
"Oh. Yeah. We're both planning on going to the funeral."
"We'll see you there then I guess. Thanks for this."
"No problem. Later Zach."
"Bye." Summer heard the front door shut with a thud and tried not to be hurt that Seth hadn't mentioned her. At all.
She thought they'd shared something in the past few days. He'd seemed so concerned about her at the hospital, begged to kiss her and now, nothing.
Zach returned to the room, noticed Summer was awake.
"So, that was Seth. He brought homework."
"Yay," Summer stated sarcastically. "My two favorite things."
Zach, as usual, ignored the rude comment.
"So should we…?" He indicated the pile of papers in his arms.
Summer threw herself into homework. Using her brain to solve Trig problems was a lot easier than tumbling over the Marissa thing, and the Seth thing and everything else.
"I should probably go," Zach told her, glancing up at the clock. Summer wondered how it had gotten to be six o'clock so fast.
"I bet your mom's probably worried, huh?"
"Yeah, but, are you okay though? I don't want to go if…" Summer stood and kissed her boyfriend's cheek.
"I'm fine. Thanks for today. It was… nice. Really nice."
And it had been. Easy and soft and, well, bland. It had been a day much like Zach himself.
"For me too. See you at school?"
"Want me to pick you up?" Zach offered.
"I think I'd rather have my own car. You know, just in case?"
"Okay. See you tomorrow," Zach's lips brushed Summer's.
Once Zach had gone, Summer settled in front of the television with a bag of carrots and watched an assortment of home shopping channels, music videos, and game shows. Anything she thought would keep her from thinking of Marissa, and Seth, and how much his rejection stung. Again. Still. Why couldn't she just learn to not let him in?
If all it took was Cohen whispering in her ear to make her hurt like this, why did she let him get close at all?
The Price is Right re-runs clearly weren't working. Summer clicked back to Diamondaire jewelry.
Her father and stepmother returned a few hours later.
"Summer! You're home! Feels like I haven't seen you in awhile!" Her dad said jovially. He plopped down next to Summer and took the remote and a handful of carrots.
"Dad." He was far too casual for a father whose daughter's best friend had just been killed. "You know about Marissa?"
"No. What now?" He turned, eager for gossip.
"What? No. When?"
"Sunday night. She got into a car accident with Ch- with Ryan. He's still in the hospital, but he'll be okay. Marissa's just… gone."
"I'm so sorry sweetheart."
"It's fine Dad."
"It..? Do you know when the service is?" her father inquired
"Saturday at 11. Graveside at Seaview Heights."
"We'll be there."
"You don't have to go. Zach will be there. And I can drive myself. It's fine if you have other plans," Summer assured him standing. "If you'll excuse me."
Summer stood in the middle of her perfectly painted pink bedroom, surrounded by memories of her best friend, and screamed.
It felt good. Really, really fucking good. Summer wasn't the kind of chick who cried. And, yeah, your best friend's death is a pretty good excuse to cry your eyes out, but she didn't enjoy it. She didn't find crying freeing or soothing or therapeutic or refreshing or anything.
Screaming though? Felt good. She wasn't some shrinking violet, trying not to let her emotions disturb others. She wanted her dad and stepmother and neighbors to know she was upset. Mad and hurt and pissed off.
Also? Screaming didn't make her eyes itch and her face feel tight. It didn't make her nose run or give her the hiccups. It didn't hurt her head or her jaws or anything else. Summer could wear all the makeup she wanted and scream for as long as she liked and she wouldn't smear a thing.
Chapter 9: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 9/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer was still awake, or awake again, or something. It was three o'clock in the morning and she felt no more rested than she had when she had gone to bed.
Her brain just wouldn't shut up. Memories of Marissa interspersed with memories of being with Seth.
It wasn't fair. Why couldn't she deal with either losing her best friend or with her feelings for Seth. Why did she have to figure out both simultaneously? And of course, there was Zach, which didn't help anything.
He was a good guy. She liked him a lot. But. But he still wasn't Seth Cohen.
She and Seth… there's this… thing between them. Summer couldn't describe it, and she certainly doesn't know how to justify it being the impetus for breaking up with Zach, but it's there.
It's been there since Seth recited her poem and remembered her squirrel, since Summer saw Marissa lying unconscious in a Tijuana alleyway and instinctively hid her face against Seth. It was there when she accosted him in his pool house on Thanksgiving, and when she dressed up as Wonder Woman. No one, before or since, has made her feel safe enough, or desperate enough, to do something like that.
And now, now that he's briefly showered her with concern only to withdraw all interest, caring about him hurt like hell. Summer would like to be comforted by Zach. Would like to transfer every feeling she has from Seth to Zach, but she can't.
Zach wasn't, isn't, will never be, Seth Cohen. At this point she can't take cream soda over champagne even if she really likes cream soda.
Summer definitely hasn't gotten enough sleep. Not if she is comparing Seth and Zach to carbonated beverages.
She doesn't know what to do. Or rather, she does but she doesn't want to do it. Summer needs comfort zones.
She turned to her other side and wished for sleep.
Summer gave up her futile attempts at sleep around 4:30.
She got up, showered, dressed and spent an hour carefully applying make-up.
It was a gesture. She was putting on a façade of flawless skin and lined eyes, of cherry lips and infinite eyelashes. Summer would not be crying today.
Summer Roberts was cold and composed and affected by nothing.
It was easier than she expected to refit her familiar mask. Seth's newest slight still hurt. She didn't understand, didn't want to have to understand.
"Summer!" Holly flung herself at Summer the second she stepped onto campus.
"Hey Holly. Sorry I didn't call you back."
"Don't even worry about it." Holly composed herself. "How are you Sum? Really?"
"I'm…" Summer trailed off. "We should talk sometime. Reminisce."
Holly nodded. "I thought I might have a get-together at the beach house tomorrow."
A get-together at Holly's had long ago become a euphemism for a drunken bash. At the moment Summer couldn't think of anything she'd enjoy more than getting senselessly drunk and dancing her hurt out.
"A get-together sounds nice."
"Oh my God, Sum! It's so tragic!"
The girls had been spotted and a swarm of mini-Newpsies were descending upon them. Holly squeezed Summer's arm reassuringly and Summer flashed her old friend a grateful smile as she began to gracefully field questions from their generation's most avid gossip-mongers.
A kiss on her cheek distracted Summer from Traci Cheltham's inane question about whether the Coopers were considering taxidermy.
"Hey," she stood with a smile and embraced Zach, drawing all the strength she could from him.
"Hi." Zach lowered his voice. "You okay?"
Summer's stomach was churning with guilt. She needed Zach but she didn't want him. She wasn't brave enough to cut him loose but he was suffocating her.
"It's hard," Summer answered honestly. "I'm tired."
Zach ran a hand over Summer's head. It was Seth's move and it felt wrong coming from anyone else. Summer pulled away.
"Thanks," she smiled gratefully. "I needed that."
"Welcome." The school bell tolled conveniently. "I'll see you later?"
"Summer. Hey," Seth greeted her awkwardly between classes.
He was like a ray of sunshine in the gloom that had become Summer's life. Like the sun itself, looking at Seth hurt. "Cohen. How's Ryan?"
"He'll be home this afternoon. Luke's coming by. You should too."
"Yeah?" Summer's hopes raised. Seth wanted her to come to his house. He wanted her to be near by. He-
"I know Ryan's worried about you. He wants to talk," Seth interrupted Summer's thoughts.
"He wants to what?" Summer was part amused and part angry that Seth was only speaking to her for Ryan's sake.
"Exactly. So will you come?" Seth requested.
"Of course. What time?"
"After school. Whenever."
Summer nodded. "Okay. See you then."
Seth walked away and Summer's heart ached. How could he go from wanting to be her everything to barely tolerating her in the space of two days? It hurt. It hurt so much. And everything Summer thought she had managed to resolve the night before was up in the air again.
Chapter 10: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 10/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer knocked on the Cohen's door uncomfortably. She hadn't been here since she had dumped Seth's junk on his bed at the end of last summer.
"Hey," Seth's voice was warm until he saw who it was. "Summer."
"Hi. How's Ryan?" Summer asked though what she really wanted was to embrace Seth, ask how he was, beg for him back.
"Alright. He's in the living room playing video games with Luke," Seth opened the door wider. "You can go on back."
"Thanks." Summer brushed past Seth and tried to ignore the goosebumps passing him gave her.
"Hey. How are you? How was school?" Luke accosted Summer as she entered the living room.
"I'm an Ice Queen," Summer stated. "I'm fine."
Ryan shot Summer a concerned look.
"Come sit." He patted the space between himself and Luke.
"You wanna play?" Luke offered Summer his controller. Summer shook her head.
"You play. I'll watch." She settled back against the cushions and sighed contentedly. For the first time since Julie Cooper had called, Summer was content. Why was it that she was more at peace after being in the presence of Luke and Ryan for ten seconds than she had been all day with Zach? It wasn't fair, it didn't make any sense, but it felt so fucking good to feel okay again.
After a few minutes of self-analysis Summer turned to Ryan, lightly touched the bruising on his right cheek.
"You really okay Chino? Honestly?"
Ryan sighed. "I'm sore. I can't go back to school until Monday. Marissa's dead and I can't figure out how to feel about that."
Summer nodded and turned to Luke. "And you? How are you Luke?"
"I… can I tell you both something? Something serious?"
"Of course," Summer bit her lip anxiously.
"I think I'm in love with Marissa. Was in love with her. You know? I didn't realize, until I saw her the other night, at the morgue. I thought I was over her," Luke sighed as Summer wrapped her arms around him.
"I'm sorry man," Ryan couldn't quite meet Luke's eyes.
"Don't be Chino. This is just… it is how it is, you know?"
"Yeah. And how are you doing Summer?"
"It hurts. I'm sad. I feel bad for not missing her more," Summer admitted.
"There's no right or wrong-"
"No. Look Ryan, I know she caused you a lot of drama and that you guys haven't been really close in a long time. Luke, you were in Portland. Me, I've been with her. I'm supposed to be her best friend. So what the hell is my excuse?"
"You've got stuff on your mind."
"Zach?" Ryan suggested. "Seth?"
Summer sighed. "So? Why should any of that be more important than the fact that my BEST friend is DEAD?"
"Marissa would want you to be happy."
"Well I'm not."
"Would soda make you happy?" Ryan asked breaking the sober mood entirely.
"Uh, what? Maybe."
"Will you go grab us a couple?" Luke asked hopefully
"Why do I have to go?"
"I'm not supposed to get up," Ryan reminded her.
"Oh. Right," Summer stood. "And Luke's suddenly become paralyzed as well?"
"We're in the middle of the San Francisco level," Luke pouted and gestured at the television screen.
"Boys," Summer snorted, but went for drinks without further protestation.
Summer walked into the kitchen and froze. Seth had a blond girl pressed against the counter and he was kissing her passionately.
Without a word Summer opened the refrigerator and grabbed blindly for three sodas.
She left the kitchen shell-shocked.
Numbly she handed the boys their drinks and took her place between them.
"Summer?" Ryan questioned.
"What is she doing here?"
"Who?" Luke wondered.
"The tattooed girl from The Bait Shop. The one Seth's making out with in the kitchen."
"Alex," Ryan clarified. "I guess she came by Monday night and they talked and," he shrugged, "they've been pretty much inseparable since. You didn't know?"
"Of course I didn't know! I wouldn't have been up all night thinking about what you two jackasses had said if I knew. I wouldn't have decided that I shouldn't settle for being content when I could be happy. Cream soda versus champagne. Of course. Of course Seth got a shiny new girlfriend today."
She sighed and passionately missed having girlfriends who she didn't have to spell things out for. "Last night I decided I need to dump Zach."
"Yeah. Oh," Summer agreed with Luke. "God, could my timing get any more Cohen-y? I finally figure things out. I finally make a decision and oh, no. Everything I want is wrong."
Summer slammed her fist on the sofa cushions.
"You haven't dumped Zach yet, right?" Ryan inquired. "So you could just not dump him."
"Every time I look at him I feel guilty for not being more in love with him. I can't live like that. I have to end things with him."
"But if you don't have Seth…"
Summer sighed. Glared at Luke. "I believe someone promised me I would always have Seth."
Luke stared sheepishly at his hands, still holding a Playstation controller. "I-"
"Don't worry about it. I think maybe sometimes it's better to have no one than have someone who isn't what you want, you know?" Summer sought reassurance in her friends' eyes.
"You aren't alone. You know that right?" Luke asked. "You have me and Chino."
"I know." Summer hit the couch again. "I hate this!" She proclaimed loudly. "I hate all the tears and sadness. I hate feeling so… hurt and wounded and fucking fragile! I hate that everything seems to be going against me! I just want it to be over!"
Seth stuck his head into the living room, a finger pressed to his lips.
"Don't you dare shush me Seth Cohen!" Summer leapt to her feet. "My best friend just died! I can be as loud as I fucking want!"
Seth cocked his head to the side. "Using a tragedy to justify bad behavior. How very Marissa of you."
Behind her, Summer felt Luke jump to his feet.
"Down Luke," she growled quietly. "Cohen's ass is mine."
"What is your problem?"
"Are you kidding me?" Summer demanded. "My best friend is dead. She's not even in the grave and you're already defaming her!"
Seth took a deep breath. "Okay. You're right. That was out of line. I'm sorry."
"Good! You want to know my other problem?" Summer was still yelling. It was like a switch had been thrown and she needed to get everything out. Now. "You! You're always just… you!"
"Me?" Seth looked genuinely puzzled. "I'm a problem for you?"
"For over a year now," Summer spat.
"You say it like there were never any good times," Seth told her sadly. "There were good times. There were great times."
"I know that! It's why I'm still in fucking love with you! You're champagne!"
Seth's comeback stilled before his lips had formed the words. His mouth hung open. "You're what now?"
"I'm still in love with you Seth," Summer said more calmly. She glanced back at Luke and Ryan. "If you'll excuse me, I think I need to go home now."
"No." Seth told her. "You don't get to drop a bombshell like that and just leave."
Summer ignored him, turning to face Luke and Ryan.
"Stay," Ryan requested. "Talk. Marissa's what this is really about, isn't it?"
"No. It's not. As usual she's a convenient footnote to the drama in my life," Summer sniffed delicately, an action she now recognized as a precursor to tears. "My best friend is dead and I laid awake last night thinking about Seth."
Luke stood and embraced Summer. "It's okay."
"Everything. It's going to be okay. You promised, remember?"
Summer pulled away.
"I lied," she stated flatly.
"Seth?" A female voice called from the kitchen.
"Go away Cohen," Summer instructed without glancing in his direction.
"Summer." Seth crossed the room, took her arm, turned her to face him. "I don't know what to do."
"You've made your decision," Summer snapped, "stick with it."
"Go," Summer shoved Seth backwards. He stumbled backwards, surprised. Looked up, hurt. Nodded quickly. Pivoted and returned to Alex.
"Maybe it's better this way," Summer said so softly her voice was nearly a whisper. She was willing herself not to cry. Louder she continued, "This way it's not like I'm leaving Zach for him. I'm just leaving Zach."
"Summer?" Ryan inquired.
"I don't know Chino. I'm just picking up pieces and trying to make sense of them."
"I still don't get it," Luke stated. "You love him. He loves you. What the hell is your problem Roberts?"
Summer rolled her eyes.
"It's not that simple," Ryan replied. "Summer needs Seth to choose her once and for all. Seth needs Summer to wait for him, to actually want him instead of just wanting what she can't have."
"God, you're right!" Summer threw her arm dramatically over her eyes. "I'm cursed. I'm fated to live out this stupid cycle with him. I'm going to be eighty years olds and still waiting for him, aren't I?"
"What are you going to do?" Luke asked.
"Right now? I'm going to go home and figure out how to dump Zach."
Chapter 11: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 11/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Thursday morning Summer walked up to Zach while he was talking with his water polo teammates and tapped him on the back.
"Can we talk?" It was cliché, but Summer figured there had to be a reason clichés were clichés. Besides she wanted this to be as painless as possible, for both of them.
"Yeah, of course," he beamed at her and followed her away from the guys. Summer half expected him to whine and roll his eyes at his friends but he didn't. He was such a stand-up guy. If she was really honest with herself Summer could admit that it kind of pissed her off. "What's up sweetie?"
Summer couldn't remember Zach ever calling her 'sweetie' before.
"Zach…" Summer bit her lip. "I don't know how to tell you this, but-"
"You're leaving me for Seth."
"No?" Zach's voice was hopeful.
"Well, I'm not leaving you *for* Cohen."
"Marissa." Catching Zach's confused expression, Summer elaborated. "Things haven't been right between you and I in a long time. With Marissa gone, my head's in a bad place. I just can't work on us right now."
"Well yeah Summer, of course. I can understand if you need some space. It's fine. You're worth it. I'll wait."
Summer sighed in frustration. "The thing is Zach, I don't want you to wait."
"You're a good guy and you deserve better than," Summer gestured to herself, "a girl with a head full of ashes and a heart full of stone."
"But I don't want better. I want you."
"What can I do to convince you to stay?"
Summer could never understand why people begged to keep relationships. Why would you want to be with someone who didn't want you? It was almost kinder to just sail away, but Summer wasn't ready to go *there* just now.
"Nothing. I'm *sorry* Zach."
"Stop saying that! You've been waiting to dump me since the day Seth came home!" Zach accused.
"That isn't true. It really isn't."
"I don't believe you."
"No. You're not."
"Yes I am! If you're trying to make me regret dumping you, it isn't working!"
"Heartless bitch," Zach grumbled.
"Stop being an asshole Zach. You're not that guy. You're a good guy," Summer told him gently.
"Just not good enough for you."
"It's not like that."
"Then what is it like? Summer I just don't get it."
"I'm sorry, truly. I wish I could explain it better."
"Yeah, me too." Zach turned and walked away.
Summer found herself inexplicably sad about the end of her relationship.
After school Summer found herself in what was becoming her usual spot between Ryan and Luke on the Cohen's sofa.
"A party at Holly's?" Luke asked dubiously. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"Absolutely not," Summer laughed. Catching Luke's worried expression she assured him, "it'll be fine Luke. Honest. I checked with Holly. She really, really wants to see you."
"Yeah?" Luke asked dubiously
Summer nodded. "It's supposed to be, like, a wake for Marissa or whatever. All of her friends. Any of her friends," Summer explained.
"Me?" Ryan asked skeptically.
"If you want to invite him, I'm not going to."
"But do you want him there?" Ryan pressed.
"He's your friend. He's Luke's friend. If you guys want the support of Seth's presence than I'm certainly not going to deprive you of it," Summer answered haughtily.
"Which means?" Luke pressed.
"I honestly, truly, do not care." Spying Seth in the hallway, Summer changed the subject. "So, Zach and I are over."
"You went through with it."
"I told you I would."
"How?" Luke pressed.
"I told him basically what I told you guys. That being together wasn't fair to either of us."
"So you left Seth out of it entirely?" Ryan asked dubiously.
"I did, he didn't. There was fighting. It wasn't pleasant."
"I'm sorry," Luke offered Summer a small smile.
"Me too." Summer shrugged. "So are we going to Holly's party?"
"I need to clear it with Kirsten," Ryan reminded his friends, "But it should be cool."
Chapter 12: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 12/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer hadn't been at Holly's since the summer before last. It looked the same, felt the same. Had the same mass of too-old teenagers trying to unburden their souls the best way they knew how. Tonight was for meaningless sex and too much alcohol.
Everything could hurt in the morning, morning was for Marissa. Tonight was for numbness, for avoidance and denial. Just like Coop would do it.
"It's exactly the same," Luke marveled from behind her. Summer had momentarily forgotten he and Ryan were with her.
"Yeah," Summer agreed softly, sadly. Then she spotted Holly standing by the blender and decided she was tired of being soft and sad.
Summer downed the last of her margarita when Seth and Alex showed up. She tossed her hair, threw back her head and laughed as no one else could. She was Summer Roberts, she was hot and fun and nothing ever broke her heart. Summer Roberts was unbreakable.
She was also drunk and stupid and she knew it. But that was the point. She'd come to Holly's to drink and dance her pain away.
With a fresh drink and an eye on Seth and Alex, she strutted onto the dance floor.
Hips swaying, lips pursed, head oh-so-high, she knew everyone's eyes were on her. She only cared about one person. She was dancing for him, at him, showing him everything he wasn't getting from Punk Rock Barbie. The rhythm of the music carried her away. Summer was all writhing, stomping, swaying motion.
Laughing, she stumbled into someone's arms.
"You're drunk," Ryan accused Summer.
"Yes, I am." She smiled cynically. "I'm wasted and single and best-friendless and pissed the fuck off. It's been a good week for me."
"I think you've had enough." Ryan tried to pry the red plastic cup from her hand.
"You don't get to decide. No one gets to tell me what to do."
"Hey." Luke wandered over, cheerfully drunk. "Why aren't you celebrating?"
Ryan fixed him with a glare.
"It's a wake. We're celebrating Marissa's life!"
"By drinking yourselves to death just like her?" Ryan demanded, his voice low and angry.
"No." Ryan got into Summer's face angrily. "I watched Marissa die. I will not watch you two kill yourselves."
Summer felt herself sober suddenly.
"You were unconscious."
Summer's eyes widened in horror. She wasn't sure whether it was the alcohol that caused it, or the expression in Luke's eyes, or the tone of Ryan's voice, but she found herself trembling uncontrollably.
"Tell me," she demanded, her voice even despite her chattering teeth.
Luke shook his head frantically. "No," he mouthed, "no, no, no."
Ryan pulled back from Summer slightly and nodded once. He ran a hand over his face and set his jaw.
Summer bit her lip, waiting, wondering, trying to imagine all the worst possible scenarios.
"I was surprised. When we hit the guard rail and kept going, I was surprised." Ryan closed his eyes. "I had been trying to talk to her, to get her to stop the car. I guess I wasn't paying any more attention to the road than Marissa was."
Luke turned and walked away. Summer understood. She needed to hear how her best friend had died, he couldn't hear about how the girl he loved had died.
Summer put her hand on Ryan's arm. Ryan met her eyes and took a deep breath.
"When the wheels left the ground, it was surreal. It felt like… you know those Road Runner cartoons? Where the coyote runs off the cliff and is fine until he realizes he's not on solid ground? It was like that. And then I realized the car was not on solid ground and we started to fall. We fell forever," Ryan looked away.
Summer followed his gaze to where Seth stood, arm wrapped around Alex. She damned him for not being here when his best friend needed him. When she needed him.
"Chino?" Summer asked softly.
"A minute? A drink? Seth?" Summer guessed.
Ryan nodded. "Seth. Please."
Summer stepped away from Ryan. Trembling she walked over to Seth. Quietly, humbly she looked up at her ex-boyfriend.
"Please Seth," she requested. "He needs you."
Seth looked at her. Blinked. "What?"
"Your best friend watched his ex-girlfriend die five nights ago and now he's reliving it. He needs you," Summer stated, glancing at Ryan hunched over, surrounded by oblivious dancers in the middle of the room.
"What am I supposed to do?" Seth had asked her twice in two days, and Summer really wished he'd quit.
She shrugged miserably. "I don't know… be you?"
Seth followed Summer back to Ryan's side.
"Where, uh, where was I?" Ryan asked huskily.
"Falling," Summer reminded him, resuming her position in front of him.
"It seemed like we were falling for days. I kept wondering what would happen when we hit the ground. It was weird. We weren't, like flipping or anything. Just falling straight down, like an elevator. I wondered if we'd hit the ground and crush our skulls on the roof of the car, or if the car would explode, or what. And Marissa was screaming," Ryan met Summer's eyes again. "She started screaming when we hit the guard rail and didn't stop until… the end."
Summer nodded. That certainly sounded like Marissa though it made Summer sad to hear that her friend had died screaming.
"Anyway, we landed on a hill or something. The back wheels hit first and then the front ones. We both hit the dashboard pretty hard at that point. If the car had stopped we would have been fine, but we were on a hill and somehow Marissa's foot was still on the gas and I didn't have time to tell her to step on the brakes. We kept going."
Ryan's eyes shut, it seemed involuntarily, taking him on a nightmarish ride only he knew.
"Finally, finally we stopped. The canyon was steep, we just plowed into the other side of it. There was an old, dead tree. A branch broke the driver's side window right before we stopped. It broke Marissa." Ryan shuddered and continued hurriedly, Seth's hand firm on his shoulder. "She stopped screaming and then her head hit the steering wheel and then the car ran into the canyon wall and I don't remember anything else."
Summer embraced Ryan, wrapping her arms around his neck. Her elbow brushed Seth's hand and she forced herself to not let it matter. Now was not time to be pinning after Seth, not when Chino needed her.
Summer was still trembling, tears streaming down her face. "Oh Chino, Chino, Chino, Chino," the whispered words poured out of her mouth. "Baby it's okay, it's over. You're here, we're safe. We're safe."
Ryan's arms tightened around her. "I'm sorry Summer."
"Why?" she hissed, and then gently continued, "It doesn't matter sweetie. It doesn't. It was an accident, it's over."
Summer ran a hand through Ryan's silky hair, mindful of his stitches. She felt Seth try to withdraw his hand from Ryan's shoulder, and glared at him. His hand stayed put.
"Summer," Ryan's voice was halting and Summer knew he was fighting back tears.
"It's okay. It's okay. I'm okay. You're okay. Everything is going to be okay. I promise."
"You lie," Ryan reminded her.
"I'm not lying now," Summer was serious. She pulled away slightly and looked into his eyes. "I've got you."
Ryan blinked rapidly.
Summer caught Seth's eye. "We need to take him home."
"Ryan?" Summer asked, carefully detangling herself from him, "Have you had a pain pill?"
Ryan produced something from his pocket and swallowed it dry.
"Uh, bro?" Seth wondered, "aren't those supposed to be taken with water?"
Ryan looked tiredly at Seth. "Take me home. Please."
Chapter 13: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 13/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
"He should lie in the back," Summer advised Seth as they helped Ryan to the car. "Those pain pills will probably knock him out pretty quick."
They settled Ryan into the backseat, Ryan protesting half-heartedly that he wasn't an infant and that he could manage on his own.
"Um, my car's at your house," Summer hesitantly told Seth as they stood next to the car.
"And you're worried about Ryan," Seth inferred. "Climb in."
"No, thank you. You were good with him in there," Seth jerked his head in the direction of Holly's house as he pulled himself into the Range Rover's driver's seat.
"Talking people out of insanity, it's what I do."
"At least lately," Seth agreed. "So the question now is, are you okay Summer?"
"No, the question is, why do you care?"
Seth shot her a confused look. "I care about you Summer."
"Really?" Summer asked. It was a genuine question. "Because I thought you cared that day at the hospital, and then I guess you and Alex hooked up and then, nothing. I'm confused Cohen, and I'm scared to get close to you again because every time I do, you ditch me."
"I'm sorry Summer. Honestly. The thing is though? You're kind of… amazing. No one compares to you. No matter how great I think some girl is, she's not you. Which makes it slightly hard to date."
"I know the feeling."
"You..? Right. 'Cause you're still in love with me. Which I'm still having trouble wrapping my brain around."
"Me too. Especially since every time I think we're getting close, you run away," Summer accused again.
"I'm sorry. Really. It's just, with Alex suddenly interested it just seemed easier to stay away from you."
"Because, as I've mentioned before, I don't know how to be just friends with you. I don't know how to not be in love with you. And now you're in love with me too. What was I supposed to do with that? If I can't be with you it's easier not to be around you."
"Yeah. It kinda does," Seth agreed pulling up to the Cohen house and parking in the driveway. "You okay to drive home?"
"Not really. I'm still a little not sober, and..."
"You want a ride?"
"Can I… do you think I could stay here tonight? With Ryan?" Summer asked tentatively.
"Yeah. Sure. I'll ask the parents, but I'm sure it will be fine."
"You want to tell me what happened tonight?" Kirsten asked as Summer helped her get a nearly unconscious Ryan into his bed. "Why you're tucking Ryan into bed?"
"Not really," Summer yawned. "I'm not sure how or…"
"Hey," Seth called from the doorway. He had pajamas on and a pillow under his arm. "Can I hang out here tonight?"
"Only if you tell me what happened at that party," Kirsten folded her arms across her chest. Seth glanced from his mother to Summer. She shrugged weakly.
"Um, okay. Well, as it turns out Ryan recalls more about Sunday night than he'd led anyone to believe, which includes the memory of watching Marissa die."
"Oh no! And he told you this at a party? Why?"
"Because I asked him to," Summer's voice was tiny. "I… I had to know."
"Summer," Seth rushed to her side. "You didn't force him. He needed to tell someone. This way is better for everyone."
Summer began to arrange bedding on the floor next to Ryan's bed.
"Seth's right," Kirsten confirmed gently. "Psychologically, you all need to talk. To each other, to trained professionals, whoever, but you need each other."
"Right now what I need is sleep." Summer's tone was polite, but made it clear that the conversation was closed.
"Seth, where are you planning to sleep?" his mother queried.
"Um, the chair?"
"Fine," Kirsten stood in the pool house doorway and flipped off the lights. "Goodnight kids."
Chapter 14: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 14/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
The ride in the dark was twisting, turning, terror. Bright flashes of white illuminated an enormous gnarled tree. It seemed to wave ominously, the only thing visible in what was otherwise absolute darkness. The tree was Marissa, dead and screaming, her mouth contorted with rage. Her bruises had spread, masking half of her face, the other side was covered in dripping blood.
Summer cried out.
Before she knew what was happening, she was being tugged upright into a sitting position, folded into an embrace.
"It's okay Summer, it's okay."
Despite still being blurred by sleep and fear, Summer knew Seth. Knew his voice, his touch, his scent, his sleepy voice, and too often washed t-shirt soft against her cheek.
"Mmm? Go back to sleep. You're okay."
Seth smoothed his hand over her hair. "You had a bad dream. It's over now."
Summer shook her head against him. "I keep picturing it. The accident. Marissa dying."
Seth's arms tightened around her.
"I saw the bruise the tree left on her. At the morgue. I saw the cuts and…" Summer trembled.
"You have to, you'll make yourself crazy otherwise. How can I help?"
"I'm not entirely sure I want your help," she told him, still pressed against his chest.
"Summer…" Seth continued smoothing her hair.
"I don't think I can handle pouring my heart out to you tonight and being rejected tomorrow."
"Baby, I'm sorry," Seth whispered plaintively.
"Me too," Summer whispered back.
They sat there holding and being held for a long time. The sounds of each other's heartbeats lulling them towards sleep.
"Nothing else feels like this," Summer said finally. "You know that, don't you? Nothing feels like us. I don't want to trust you. I don't want to be in love with you. You hurt me. Over and over again. But nothing feels the way we do. Nothing feels as right."
"I… yeah, I know."
"You don't sound convinced."
"No. I know. It is. We're… yeah."
"It's just, you're the only girl I've ever loved. You were the first person I had sex with."
"I know. Me too." Summer was confused.
"You were my first kiss. By the pool at my Grandfather's party."
"That was your first kiss? Really? That's…"
"Pathetic and sad, I'm aware."
"No. It's kinda charming. If I'd known I would have made it better."
"Better?" Seth's voice implied that there was no possible way for their kiss to have been better. "Besides, if you'd known, you never would have kissed me."
"Maybe. But what were you saying? Before we got off track with the reminiscing?"
"I was saying… oh! I was saying that I know what we have is special. The thing is, I have less than no experience, Summer. I love the feeling of us, but I don't know that there isn't something better out there."
"Oh." Summer tried to pull away, but Seth's arms were unyielding.
"That came out wrong," Seth explained apologetically. "I believe that we're special, that you're the one. But I need to know, you know?"
Summer ignored the question, asking one of her own instead. "You really like her? Even though you know how special this is?"
"Summer…" Seth sighed. "I like Alex a lot, but…"
"I know I told you before that I was done waiting for you, but if you ask me to wait now Cohen, I'll wait." Summer informed him. "You may not be convinced, but I know how special what we have is. I know how serious it is, how rare."
"You would seriously wait for me?"
"I would try."
"Wow. That's. Huh. Summer Roberts is in love with me. Summer Roberts is willing to wait for *me*. I can't even begin to try to grasp that concept," Seth admitted.
"I am. You're… you're so ridiculously special Cohen. Why can't you see that? I want what you are. I want us."
"I will never get tired of hearing that," Seth nuzzled Summer's ear.
"Regardless, you have a girlfriend." Summer reminded as Seth's hands began wandering her body.
"So? You have a boyfriend."
"No, I don't."
"You broke up with Zach? For me?" Seth asked.
"For me," Summer clarified. "But, yeah."
"Then, just for tonight?" Seth pleaded, pressing a kiss against Summer's forehead. "Alex would never have to know."
"No." Summer tilted away from Seth as much as she could. "You're a good guy Seth. It's part of what makes me love you. If you do this, if you cheat on your girlfriend…"
"So basically you're a dangling carrot."
"You're my temptation. The prize I can never quite get to," Seth sounded exasperated.
Summer rested her head back against his chest. "The second you're single. The instant you're really ready for us. I'm here."
"You will be? You promise me Summer, that we'll be together again?"
"I can't make a promise like that Cohen. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? A week from next Tuesday?"
"Summer," Seth was exasperated.
"Yes Cohen, I promise. If I have any control over anything, we will be together again."
"I'm tired now."
"Alright," He began to rock her gently in his arms. "Go to sleep sweetheart."
Summer's eyelids fluttered shut and her breathing slowed. She felt Seth lower her back on to her bed of cushions.
She reached out blindly, eyes still shut, and caught a piece of clothing. "Stay," she murmured sleepily.
Seth complied, laying down next to her and curling himself around her.
Feeling safe, Summer fell asleep comfortably pressed against Seth.
Chapter 15: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 15/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer awoke bathed in sunlight, encircled in Seth's safe arms. She breathed in his scent, a mixture of him, aftershave, clean cotton and the alcohol and cigarettes from last night's party. She closed her eyes and tried to commit this moment to memory. Who knew when she would be back in Cohen's arms?
The thought was bittersweet. She would miss him, miss this. On the other hand, the next time Summer found herself in Seth's arms she would be his girlfriend. The situation was a decidedly mixed blessing.
The sound of a throat clearing, interrupted Summer's reverie. Kirsten stood in the doorway, arms crossed and disapproving.
Summer tried to scoot away from Seth but his arms held her fast.
Kirsten cleared her throat again, loudly.
"Mrs. Cohen," Summer said softly. "This isn't… it isn't at all what it looks like."
"Really? Because it looks to me like you and Seth slept in each others arms," Kirsten's voice was tinged with annoyance.
"Okay, maybe it's a little bit what it looks like," Summer acknowledged.
"Mom," Seth said exasperatedly, rolling away from Summer, "Summer had a nightmare. She couldn't get to sleep."
"So you decided to not-sleep together?" Kirsten's voice dripped doubt.
"I was calming her down," Seth patronized his mother. "I guess we both fell asleep. It's entirely innocent."
"Hmm." Kirsten didn't sound convinced. "Regardless, it's time for school."
"Really?" Seth glanced around for a clock and finally spotted one. "Mom, it's like 6:30!"
"I thought Summer might want to go home and get ready for school," Kirsten explained coolly.
"You're right. That's a really good idea." Summer jumped up from the floor. "Thanks Mrs. Cohen. Do you want me to pick up the bed?"
"Naah. I'm going to try to catch a few more minutes of sleep." Seth decided. "See you at school?"
Somewhere between leaving the Cohen's and pulling into her usual parking spot at Harbor, Summer decided she really didn't want to be at school.
Between the party last night and Ryan's story about Marissa, and dumping Zach, and the whole waiting-for-Cohen saga, Summer didn't feel ready to face the repercussions of it all.
But she couldn't not go. She'd already missed two days this week. Plus Holly would want to talk about last night and she had to prove to Zach and Seth that she wasn't hiding from them. Summer Roberts did not hide from boys. She did however seriously consider scheduling a facial instead of fourth period.
It was hard walking in, watching everyone watching her. She knew what they were thinking, what she would have been thinking in their place.
They were wondering what Luke was doing back. Why he was back for the funeral of an ex-girlfriend.
They were wondering if Ryan was here. If he was suicidal. If… Summer realized she didn't know either. If he was okay, if he'd really seen Marissa die or if the images had been a comatose nightmare.
Summer whirled. She had to get out of here, had to see Ryan.
"Hey Summer, you okay?" Zach caught her arm as she rushed past him.
"Zach. What are you doing?" she snapped.
"You look upset. I was concerned. I thought we were friends."
"Are we?" she asked, too tired of all the drama to really care.
"Fine." Summer snapped. "I need to get out of here."
Zach led her to quiet bench.
Summer didn't know what she was supposed to say in reaction, or how to just get up and walk away from Zach. Instead she did nothing.
"Summer," Zach gathered her in his arms and she felt nothing.
Glimpsing a flash of curly brown hair in the crowd Summer felt a flush of happiness. She was his. And then she recalled that he wasn't hers and the weight of the world fell on her even harder than it had before.
"I've gotta…" Summer pulled away from Zach and stood. The bell rang fortuitously. "…Go to class."
"Summer, hey. How are you?" Seth caught her outside of her fourth period class.
"Fine. Cohen what are you doing?"
Seth looked puzzled.
"Are we friends?" Summer pressed.
"Are we not?"
"You said," Summer lowered her voice, "that it was easier for you to not be around me if we weren't going to be together. We aren't together so…"
"And you said, easier sucks," Seth pressed her against the hallway wall and leaned towards her.
"Cohen, please," the last word was nearly a whisper, and was most definitely a test, "don't."
Seth heard it and sighed in frustration. "Summer…"
"We can't. You can't. Either/or, not both." Summer insisted, and then affectionately ran her hand down the side of his slightly prickly cheek. "I'll wait for you. I'm waiting."
"I saw you with Zach. That's waiting?"
"Zach's having trouble with the whole broken up concept. There's nothing between us anymore. I'm not sure there ever was."
Seth bit his lip and tilted his head downward, his liquid eyes caught Summer's own. "Promise?"
Summer nodded vigorously. "Yes. Yes, yes, yes! I would promise you anything Cohen. Do anything."
Seth sighed again. "You're making it very hard to not kiss you right now."
"Let me make it easy," Summer slipped between Seth and the wall. She turned and smiled back at him before turning and walking into her classroom.
In the sanctuary of her history class, Summer sank into her chair with a sigh. Seth had a gift for making everything so hard.
Until two minutes ago she'd had no idea she had so much willpower. All she'd wanted to do in that hallway, all she'd wanted, was to wrap her leg around his and kiss him until they were both gasping and blue. But.
But Seth has a girlfriend. But Summer just lost her best friend. But Summer broke up with her boyfriend yesterday. She doesn't know anything but that the timing is wrong, and she hopes that waiting, staying apart, will be the best thing for them in the long run.
She's so fucking confused and lonely.
The loneliness sneaks up on her in an ache all at once while she's reading chapter 12. Her heart and her groin ache in tandem and Summer isn't really sure who she's missing, just that every fiber of her being is missing someone. Someones, plural.
It's strange how mixed up Seth and Marissa have become in Summer's head. They're entangled in each other. A giant rat's nest of emotion, and Summer's sort of afraid of what she might find at the core.
Missing Marissa makes sense, but Summer has no idea why she's missing Seth. He tried to kiss her five minutes ago. For the first time in months she finally has Seth, or at least the promise of having him someday. Yet she misses him more than ever. Everything might be easier she thinks, if she had no one at all.
By lunchtime loneliness had progressed to guilt and Summer longs to feel normal again. She thinks that at this point she would sell her soul to be okay, to have more than a tentative grip on reality. But no. Summer feels guilty.
She wants to call Luke and apologize for making Marissa's death all about Seth. She needs Luke to be a stand-in for Coop so that she can be forgiven for being a shitty friend, in life and after.
The idea of calling Luke reminds Summer that she hasn't really talked to Ryan since she forced him to relive the accident.
Another thing to feel guilty about. Summer struggled to fill her lungs with air.
This was ridiculous. Tears stung her eyes. Completely ridiculous. She wanted to go back to being the old Summer Roberts. The girl who didn't feel anything for anyone. Even numbness, horrible, horrible blankness, would be better than this chronic aching hurt.
Her façade is no longer firmly in place. It keeps cracking and slipping. Seth broke it as swiftly and surely as he's broken through every barrier she's ever placed between herself and him. Anyway, Summer doesn't really have the energy to keep up the mask.
She's shattered, and no one's seemed to notice, or at least not to care enough to do anything to help her. Besides, Seth and Zach are under strict orders to back off, and Coop's dead.
Not that Marissa was much for cleaning up messes anyway. Summer was always so careful not to break, to be strong for Coop that after awhile it felt like Marissa was being strong for her too. Except clearly not, not if Marissa's brilliant solution to her problems had been a one-way drive off a highway. Summer's cell had been on, they could have talked, but no, Coop wanted to party her problems away. Whatever.
Summer's going to have to pick up her own shattered mess. She's already starting to, sort of, not really. She's wallowing, letting all the angst and drama and tragedy seep in to her so that she can play the victim.
Sometime during her last few classes, Summer decided there was only one way to assuage her guilt, and that was to actually go and see Ryan. Once she talked to him, could see that he was okay, then she would be okay. She wondered when exactly her sanity had started hinging on other people's. It was annoying.
She parked at the curb and went around the back. She didn't know if she could trust her self-control if she encountered Seth alone, and if she encountered Seth with Alex? Well maybe she should plan on joining Marissa for a double funeral, because seeing Seth and Alex together might just kill her.
Summer cut across the yard and was halfway to the pool house when she saw them. Alex with her arm around Ryan, head tilted as she listened compassionately.
Summer told herself as she fled the Cohen's that the tears blinding her as she ran were tears of anger. Not, definitely not, tears of distress that she had been so utterly replaced by Alex. Fucking old-looking bartender Alex.
Of all the bad times to pick to have a sit-down conversation to find out how Summer was handling Marissa's death, her father had picked the absolute worst.
"I'm fine Dad," Summer assured him brusquely.
"Okay, but, let's talk anyway."
"Can't," Summer was flippant. "I've got loads of homework to catch-up on."
"Oh. To catch-up on?"
Summer rolled her eyes. "From the two days I was absent this week." She turned and swished up the stairs. She refused to deal with yet another neglectful male right now.
Chapter 16: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 16/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer was laying on her stomach trying to sleep, or think, or not think, or whatever. The knocking on her bedroom door was less than conducive to any of those things happening, but she was tapped out on people skills at the moment.
"Summer. It's me. Open up."
"Chino?" As much as she didn't want to see him, Summer didn't think even she was bitchy enough to force a guy fresh from a coma to stand outside her door for hours. "Coming."
"Hey," Ryan smiled awkwardly and shuffled into her bedroom.
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm worried about you."
"I'm fine," Summer snapped. The dull aching need to cry seemed to be a permanent condition, as did the chronic pressure in her chest. Yeah, she was just terrific. "I'm not the one who just got out of the hospital. You didn't drive, did you?"
"Naah. Luke," Ryan explained gingerly lowering himself to the bed. "He'll be back in a bit, he wants to talk to you too."
"I don't need to talk."
Ryan cocked his trademark glare in her direction. Summer turned her bitchiest without actually looking mean expression back on him.
"It won't work on me. I'm immune to the Summer Roberts charm," he stated calmly.
"Well maybe I'm immune to the sideways glare of doom."
"Maybe, but you're not. So let's talk."
"Fine. About what?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe how you're pushing everyone who cares about you away?"
"You dumped Zach. Your dad told me on my way in that he thinks you're avoiding him. You've got some weird arrangement going on with Seth that seems to consist of you hiding from him. And, you've been an utter and complete bitch to me since the second I walked in here."
Summer shrugged. "I didn't feel like talking to my dad. And I don't particularly feel like talking to you. I sort of figured you'd be all talked out after Alex anyway."
"I went by the Cohen's after school. I felt bad about what happened last night and I wanted to make sure you were okay. See if you wanted to," Summer rolled her eyes, "talk. But you seemed to have Alex's willing ear, so I left."
An awkward silence followed.
"Summer, it wasn't like…"
"It wasn't like WHAT Chino? Like I'm being replaced? Because, yeah. It kind of, sorta is exactly like that."
"No." Ryan shook his head. "She's not involved. Alex didn't know Marissa, doesn't know you or Luke. She can just listen and not judge. I don't have to watch what I say around her."
"You don't have to watch what you say around me either."
"So I can tell you that I hate Marissa for giving me all these fresh nightmares? For all the shit she's put me through in the last year? I can tell you that?"
Summer winced and bit her lip. She ducked her head slightly. "Yeah, you can. Marissa, I loved her. She's dead. You're not. It… old shit doesn't matter."
Ryan sighed. "Yeah, Summer, old shit does matter. That's why I'm here. To talk about your old shit. And why you're pushing people away."
"Seth of all people. You guys are finally… you love each other. Why can't you give in and be with him instead of pushing him away?"
"I'm not pushing him away!" Summer exclaimed. "He has a girlfriend. I'm trying to do the right thing for him and it's really, really hard!"
"Look, Ryan, truthfully, all I want in the world is to be comforted. But the one person I trusted to do that, the one person I trusted to always be there, is gone. So forgive me for finding it a little difficult to throw myself sobbing into someone's arms. I can't. I'm just not that kind of girl."
"That was Marissa," Luke says from the doorway. He looks sort of sad and soft, but also content, like he's made his piece with the world. Summer's never been at peace with the world.
"Yeah. It was. She was always the nice one. She always had my back."
"Like the time she kept that scrawny squirrel in a cage on the Cooper's dining table for months?" Luke teased gently.
"That was, like, fourth grade!"
Ryan looked between his friends curiously. "How did Julie handle having a squirrel living in her house?"
"She was fine with it… until it bit Caitlin and she had to get all these rabies shots."
"Marissa, um, was a really good friend." Summer said sheepishly.
"To all of us," Ryan confirmed.
"She just had some drama."
"The drama was part of the fun," Summer insisted reaching for Princess Sparkle.
The boys eyed her skeptically.
"Come on. Do you think the three of us would be sitting here if we hadn't gone through Tijuana together? And rescuing Marissa from the Psych Ward? And the Cooper's divorce?"
"And the drinking thing. And the shoplifting thing."
"And the Oliver thing. And the, um, Luke thing."
"And the running away thing. And the Ryan thing. And the drinking thing again," Summer concluded. "Yeah."
"Hey, that Marissa. Really brought people together," Luke commented snidely.
"You see Ryan?" Summer turned to her friend. "I'm not pushing anyone away. I needed to think. You know, about Marissa and my feelings and everything."
"How's that working out for you?"
"I don't think I'm making a lot of progress."
"I keep turning it over and over and I'm not getting anywhere."
"I know the feeling. It's…"
"Which is why we have each other," Luke grinned triumphantly at his friends.
Chapter 17: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 17/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer got to Seaview Heights Cemetery an hour and a half early. To help she supposed, not that she had any idea what might need doing. Fortunately she met Julie Cooper in the parking lot and was led into the cemetery's kitchen.
A flock of Newpsies was already there setting out pretty sandwiches and cookies, and gossiping among themselves.
Summer set herself to work chopping up vegetables for crudités. There would be dip, Marissa had always been a fan of dip. And yes, Summer knew the caterers could chop the vegetables themselves, they could also probably arrange pretty sandwiches and cookies, but the action felt therapeutic.
Summer's irritation with the Newpsies grew the longer she listened to them. With their stupid designer "funeral suits" and their treating Marissa's funeral like a social event, they were enjoying it, Summer fumed to herself. The vultures were fucking enjoying this.
Summer's chopping grew more and more vicious until she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"I think the carrots are cut small enough," Julie told her gently.
Summer said nothing, but put the knife down with a sigh.
"It's hard isn't it?" Julie asked. "Letting go, it's hard for people like us. Marissa was… she wasn't afraid of feelings. I am, and I think you are too."
Summer turned, fully prepared to blast Julie for the comparison. She was stopped short by the gentle expression on Julie's face, the tears in the woman's eyes.
Julie opened her arms to Summer. Summer embraced her best friend's mother. Pressed her face into Julie Cooper's shoulder.
"You're the only mother I've got," Summer mumbled, clinging to her best friend's mother.
Julie's arms tightened around Summer, and she began to sway gently.
"Julie-" A Newpsie began, and Summer felt Julie lift a hand to wave the women off.
"I, I'm sorry." Summer tried to pull away, struggled to compose herself.
"It's alright. Are you okay?" Julie asked. It amazed Summer that this was abrasive, bitchy, power-hungry and gold-crazed Julie Cooper. She was being so gentle, so sweet, so uncharacteristically compassionate.
"No," Summer yelped before burying her face again in Julie's black suit jacket.
"Okay, okay sweetie," Julie murmured rubbing small circles on her back.
"Julie?" Summer recognized Kirsten Cohen's voice and inwardly cringed. Their last encounter hadn't gone terribly well. "Sorry to interrupt, but people are starting to arrive. I didn't know if you would want to be out there."
"Um…" Julie awkwardly shifted around Summer.
Summer jerked up quickly.
"I'm fine. Go ahead, I'm fine." Summer wiped around her eyes, careful not to smear her makeup, even though she knew nothing had been smeared.
Julie laughed uncomfortably. "Thank God for waterproof mascara, huh?"
"Yeah, totally. Julie? Thank you. For everything."
Julie hugged Summer impulsively. "Thank you. You were a good friend to her."
Summer bit her lip and ducked her head uncomfortably.
"We should get out there," Julie stated. "You coming Sum?"
"You go Julie," Kirsten instructed. "I'll wait with Summer until she's ready to face the crowd."
"Thanks Mrs. Cohen but I'm okay, really," Summer protested as Julie left the kitchen.
"Summer." Kirsten's voice was gentle but stern. "There's no one here but us. You can be honest with me."
"I can't be honest with anyone." Summer hadn't meant for Kirsten to hear, but hear it she had.
"What? What do you mean?"
"I can't tell… you don't want to hear that I'm still in love with your son. I can't tell Seth that I feel like I'll die without him. I can't tell Ryan that he deserved, deserves so much better than Marissa. I can't tell Julie and Jimmy that their daughter was a psychotic lush who hurt everyone she touched. I can't…" Summer bit her lower lip hard enough to leave tooth prints.
"Summer…" Kirsten held her hands up, helpless in the face of Summer's dillemas.
"It's been a rough week," Summer sniffled and pasted on a smile. "Shall we go pay our respects?"
Kirsten gaped as Summer pulled herself together within a few seconds and used the back of a chrome napkin holder to quickly fix her make-up before heading outside.
Walking to the chapel to pay her respects, Summer felt dangerous. Like her insides were pressed too tight together and she might combust at the slightest provocation. But that couldn't happen. She was as composed as she could be, determined not to make a scene at Marissa's funeral.
Marissa's funeral. Summer was trying to think of it as something else, a play, or an event, or anything but the burial of her best friend. She didn't know what to do, how to do it. Summer Roberts was not a big fan of being out of her element, and this was definitely that.
She walked into the chapel seconds before the funeral started. Caitlin beckoned to her and Summer hurried over to the where Cooper family was seated. She slid into the pew and squeezed Caitlin tight.
"I'm glad you're here," Caitlin whispered into Summer's ear.
"Anytime, anywhere," Summer promised fiercely. "We're friends."
"We're sisters," Caitlin corrected hugging Summer tightly.
Julie cleared her throat gently and the girls separated, Caitlin's hand tucked into Summer's.
Sitting up straight, Summer looked around for the first time. She saw Seth and felt a warm flush before observing that his girlfriend was clinging to him.
Seeing Seth with Alex, Summer thought that God maybe hated her. She didn't fit, had maybe never fit, except she knew how they fit together. Summer couldn't accept that something that felt so right was a mistake.
Summer's thoughts were interrupted by Caitlin squeezing her hand tightly. The Reverend was approaching the pulpit. Caitlin glanced at Summer apprehensively and Summer swallowed a lump in her throat.
She couldn't say afterwards who had spoken, what had been said, what music had been played. Summer told Julie that it had been a beautiful service, but all Summer had been aware of was when Caitlin had started to cry, and Jimmy, and when Julie herself had shed a few tears. The service was a blur of held hands, passed handkerchiefs, and squeezed shoulders.
Chapter 18: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 18/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Caitlin clung to Summer as she wandered the reception aimlessly, pausing to exchange pleasantries with classmates and Newpsies. Every polite condolence she accepted made it harder for Summer to breathe.
"Summer," Ryan approached, sounding exhausted.
"Ryan!" Summer wrapped her arms around her friend.
"Are you okay?" they both asked simultaneously and then chuckled awkwardly.
"Yeah," Summer nodded glancing over at Caitlin.
"Um, hey Caitlin. It's good to see you," Ryan shifted uncomfortably.
Caitlin looked up, surprised. "Hi Ryan. I'm glad you're okay."
"Thanks. I am so, so sorry-"
"I know." Caitlin smiled gently. "It was an accident."
"Right." Ryan nodded. "I guess I'll see you guys later," he murmured, wandering away.
Summer exhaled slowly, and forced herself to inhale deeply
After Ryan left Caitlin turned to Summer, her eyes full of tears.
"What is it Caitie?"
The girl nodded in Ryan's direction. "She really loved him."
Summer wrapped an arm around Caitlin's shoulders. "Yeah, I know."
"It just really sucks that they couldn't work it out. It really sucks that she's gone."
"Hey Sum. Caitlin. Nice funeral," Holly greeted them uncomfortably.
"Holly!" Caitlin threw herself into the arms of her sister's second oldest friend.
"Hey sweetie," Holly looked at Summer helplessly. Summer didn't know what to do either. "How's it going?"
"Okay," came Caitlin's muffled reply.
"And you Summer? We never did sit down and reminisce."
"No, I know. We still should."
"We will. I, uh, should probably go…" Holly tried to squirm out of Caitlin's grasp "…talk to Mr. and Mrs. Cooper."
Caitlin sighed and let go of Holly. "It was nice seeing you again."
"Um, you too."
Summer sucked in a gulp of air and looked down at Caitlin, concerned.
"I just miss my sister is all."
"It's natural to want to be around people who were close to her."
"There is nothing weird going on with me," Caitlin insisted.
"Alright!" Caitlin stomped her foot in annoyance.
"I'm just worried about everyone right now," Summer ruffled Caitlin's hair.
"Don't be. Just worry about you."
"I am," Summer felt her lungs tightening as Luke approached, eyes red from recently shed tears, and wordlessly embraced Summer.
She hugged him tightly, gripping and holding Luke close.
When at last they parted Summer found herself unable to speak.
Luke smiled gently, shook his head, and they spoke with their eyes about things they couldn't speak aloud. Of friendship, love, betrayal, forgiveness, hope, faith and fear.
In a moment all had been said and Zach had elbowed Luke out of the way.
"Zach," Summer sighed, soft and sad once more.
"Hey. Are you okay? I was worried after yesterday," Zach took a step into Summer's space and she felt choked.
"Uh-huh." The ability to breathe was failing Summer once more.
"Alright then. Call if you need anything Summer," Zach insisted. "I mean it. Anything."
"'Kay," she nodded and watched Zach walk towards where the other water polo players were congregated.
Summer couldn't breathe. She really couldn't breathe. Her vision was getting blurry and the room was starting to sway.
She took a few choking breaths and rushed out of the tent.
Beside the sea, everything felt calmer. The ocean air was easier to breathe than the heated air being pumped around Marissa's funeral. The sun was setting and the breeze was blowing. The world was crisp and clear and indescribably gorgeous. It was so unfair that Marissa would never get to see the sunset again.
Tears pricked Summer's eyes but refused to fall a she stared down the cliffs at the ocean below, so beautiful and wild. It was fitting for Marissa to have an eternal view of the sea. She'd always seemed happiest at the beach.
The faintest touch on her shoulder brought Summer out of her reverie.
"Summer? You okay?" Seth's voice was full of concern.
"I'm breathing," she said without turning. "I'm not planning on jumping."
"I really, really miss her," Summer sniffled. "She was… she was my Coop. She knew why strawberries were funny, and why Princess Sparkle has nail polish on her front right hoof. We invented the world's best salad together, and the world's worst pancakes. We've seen Aladdin a combined total of 387 times, most of them together."
Seth was rubbing slow circles on Summer's back as she spoke.
"She knows things about me that no one knows. 82 years. We used to choreograph routines to do on rollerblades and practice for days. She…"
"She was a good friend to you."
"I'm mad at her," Summer turned to Seth, her lip stuck out in a pout. "How dare she leave me? What kind of best friend forever goes and dies? How can my best friend be dead?" Summer's voice cracked.
"Baby…" Seth drew her into his arms. Summer rested her head against him for half a second before jerking away.
"I can't do this right now. I need you. It feels like I'm going to die without you," Summer shuddered. "If I don't have you, can't touch you…" she turned and fled.
Chapter 19: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 19/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
The tears finally started falling as Summer fled Seth. The wind carried his calls, or maybe her ears were to blame, she could hear him long after she should have been able to.
At last she reached her car, huffing and puffing as though she had run miles. Her shiny little car had never looked so good, so safe.
Sobs wracked Summer's body as she slid into her car. Everything just sucked so much. Beyond comprehension. It wasn't fair, all of this angst all at once. Why wouldn't it stop? Even just a little bit? She just needed a little break, an escape from this constant onslaught of feeling. And Marissa was buried now, so at least that part should be over.
Summer started her car and carefully pulled out of her parking spot, blinking back tears.
Marissa was buried. Coop's body was in the ground. She was in a little box covered with dirt. And worms. Creepy crawly little worms just creeping and crawling around her. Crawling into the box, into Marissa. And Summer could not stop thinking about it. Not her perfect, beautiful, superstar best friend lying dead in the ground.
"Ew," she said aloud, her voice trembling, tears wracking her body.
She couldn't stop crying, couldn't get the tears under control. Summer was quickly approaching the point she remembered her parents warning her about.
"Stop it Summer, you'll make yourself sick," she tried to warn herself, hiccupping and sobbing, salty tears running into her mouth. She looked a sight in her rearview mirror and she couldn't bring herself to care.
A particularly violent hiccup made her stomach twist and her jaw clench. Summer immediately pulled to the side of the road.
She rushed out of the car, running and stumbling to the far side of the car where she crouched below the sight of traffic and retched down the hillside.
Hands on her knees, choking, gasping for air, Summer didn't have time to think for the first time in a long time, and it felt strangely good. Peaceful. Except for the stream of partially digested crudités flowing from her mouth. That wasn't remotely pleasant. And also, puking in public, especially when sober, wasn't any kind of cool. No one had seen her, could see her, and she was still blushing.
Summer fell back into her seat physically and emotionally exhausted. She was so tired. All she wanted was a shower and sleep.
Home at last, Summer let the hot steam of the shower envelope her and wash the tension of her drive off. Once the necessary actions had been taken, Summer found herself wondering if she had lost both of her best friends today.
Maybe that was the real issue that entangled Seth and Marissa. That Seth knew her better after a year than Marissa had in a lifetime.
Not better. That wasn't fair. Not better, differently. Marissa could read Summer's lips. Seth could read Summer. Marissa had been there for Summer on the worst, now second worst, day of Summer's life. Seth had caused Summer's happiest days. Marissa and Summer had inside jokes, Seth had Summer's soul. In comparison, no one else knew her at all. Seth and Marissa knew her hopes and fears, what made her cry, what made her laugh, everything.
And now she had lost them both. Because she was a stupid, stupid girl and had told Seth that she would die without him. She knew better. You just don't tell seventeen year old boys that your life depends on an emotional investment on their part. Because it freaks them out and makes them run far, far away. And Seth of all people did not need any encouragement to run away. Summer was a stupid girl for giving him another reason to run. Now they would never be together.
A wave of self-pity washed over Summer, and another and another. She slid to the bottom of her shower and wrapped her arms around her knees. She stayed curled over forsakenly until the water mercilessly pelting her turned cool.
Summer didn't want to leave the sanctity of her hiding place, didn't want to return to painful reality, but it was preferable to freezing her ass off in the shower.
The fucking shower.
The way she must look, hunched over piteously in the shower, hit Summer. She straightened suddenly and stepped abruptly into the bathroom. The cool water had affected her, she was freezing and pissed off. Angrily Summer wrapped a towel around her and set to work drying her hair. It was a difficult task considering how hard she was shaking.
She didn't have anything left, now that she had lost Seth's friendship. Much less his love. She couldn't let herself go now, not when she had a whole life to rebuild.
Warmly wrapped in her robe but still shivering, Summer returned to her bedroom, where Seth was sprawled comfortably across the foot of her bed.
It was the last thing Summer expected.
Chapter 20: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 20/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
"What are you doing here?" Summer questioned.
"I wanted to talk to you at… before. You ran off and I figured I'd give you a little space," Seth shrugged.
"By sitting on my bed?"
"I said a little space. Space-time is over." Seth stood and walked over to her. He met her eyes. "I know you Summer. By now you've probably convinced yourself that our friendship is over, that you mean nothing to me."
Summer looked away quickly.
"Idiot. You will always mean… everything to me," Seth kissed her.
"Ssh." He gathered her into his arms and kissed her again. Summer felt herself weaken and melt.
Maybe if it wasn't the day of her best friend's funeral, maybe if it had been rainy instead of sunny, if Summer wasn't still freezing from her shower, if it had been a weekday instead of a Saturday, maybe nothing would have happened.
But Summer hurt and she was in love, still. She and Seth fit together so well. They knew each other so well. She felt safer and warmer under him than she could remember feeling anywhere else in her life, ever. Nothing felt like Seth. No one treated her the way he did. When he stilled his busy hands to brush the hair from her eyes and kiss her forehead before moving inside her again she felt so cherished she thought she might explode. And when she finally did explode, she opened her own eyes to see adoration written in Seth's.
Afterwards, after the sighing and trembling had subsided Seth pulled Summer into his arms and kissed her temple.
"Ssh." He instructed softly. "You don't have to say anything. It's okay. You needed this." He kissed her throat.
"Need you," Summer murmured, shifting to press her face against Seth's chest.
"Tired baby?" He asked in surprise, stroking her hair.
"Do you mind? Could you stay?"
Seth kissed Summer's forehead agreeably. "'Kay."
Summer fidgeted in Seth's arms, fighting to stay awake.
"Hey, stop that," Seth chided as he began to gently rub circles on Summer's bare back with his thumb. "Sleep sweetheart. I'll be here when you wake up."
Summer drifted off to sleep skin to skin with Seth, warm, safe, momentarily content, and secure in the knowledge that Seth was hers.
Summer woke with a sigh, peaceful and trusting.
She turned to the boy in her bed. The boy so beautiful that he took her breath away. Summer loved him and he loved her and everything felt so perfect it almost hurt.
Summer shifted and set about covering Seth's collarbone in kisses.
She was distracted from her task by a gentle hand stroking her hair. Another sigh escaped her lips. She had slept through the whole night wrapped in Seth's arms, had woken to a beautiful warm morning and acres of Seth's skin. Summer's life was perfection and she had no idea how it had gotten so good so quickly.
Chapter 21: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 21/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
"What time is it?" Seth murmured, dazedly kissing Summer's hair.
"I don't know, early." Summer kissed Seth's chest.
"Early enough for me to sneak home?" Seth pressed.
"Probably, but, stay."
Seth sighed. "As much as I'd like to stay baby, I can't. I'm supposed to meet Alex at ten to go CD shopping."
Summer froze. "What?"
"I told her I'd… you know what? Forget it," Seth kissed Summer's shoulder. "I'll call and cancel."
"No," Summer rolled to the other side of the bed, her voice was cold. "You should go. You made a commitment."
"It's not a big deal. It's just CDs."
"It's a date with your GIRLFRIEND." Summer climbed out of her bed, pulling her robe up around her. She threw Seth's clothes at him.
"Okay, you're mad. I get that. Seriously, I'll cancel with Alex. It's not a big deal," Seth said quickly, swinging his legs out of bed and pulling on his boxers.
"You think THAT's why I'm upset? Because we can't spend the day together?"
"Well yeah, I mean… Okay. So why are you upset?"
"I thought you were done… I thought you chose." Suddenly Summer was furious, because Summer Roberts didn't do hurt, she did pissed off. "Get out."
"You know what? No. I'm not listening. Not unless you answer my question."
"Of course. Anything," Seth stood arms outstretched, innocent. Summer wanted to hurt him for hurting her on top of everything else that had hurt her this week.
"Who's better?" Summer met Seth's eyes coldly and hoped that looking into her eyes was making his heart break just a little.
"At Jenga?" he asked hopefully.
"Who gets you hard faster? Who makes your breath catch? Who meets your every thrust, knows just the spot? Who makes you come harder? Who makes you want to die inside them? Who. Is. Better?" Summer demanded brutally.
Seth stammered. "You don't… Summer I'm not gonna… just, no."
"Why not? If you're going to treat me as a WHORE I think I have the right to know how I measure up."
"Summer," Seth came around the bed and reached for her. "That isn't what happened. You know that. We made *love* last night. It wasn't just sex, for either of us."
"Right," Summer scoffed, trying not to be sucked in by his words. Everything that came out of his mouth ended up hurting her in the end.
"You told me you thought you would die without me. What was I supposed to do?"
"Maybe NOT cheat on your girlfriend?" Summer suggested icily.
"I thought this was what you wanted."
"No. You knew this was exactly what I DIDN'T want. Because I TOLD you that two nights ago. What I WANTED was for you to make a CHOICE and stick with it. I am not going to do this. Not with you, not with anyone. I respect myself too much to be the woman on the side."
"I'm trying to take care of you."
"Go take care of your GIRLFRIEND instead!"
"Summer…" she turned her back on him, choosing to stare out her window instead. "I know I messed up. I'm SORRY. But…" Summer. Seriously. Stop," Seth sighed in frustration. "This isn't a conspiracy. I came over yesterday to comfort you. I ended up making love. To you. The person that I love."
"Right," Summer scoffed, not allowing the words to register, "love."
"You're hurt, and I am so sorry that I hurt you-"
"-again. I hate that I hurt you. Again. But now you're just being vindictive."
"Vindictive? You practically RAPED me and I'm being VINDICTIVE?!" Summer furiously whirled to face Seth.
"Whoa! Hang on. I know you're upset. I messed up. But I would never EVER-" Seth shook his head violently. "I love you. Somehow I'll find a way to prove that to you. But I'm not going to stand here and let you accuse me of random shit Summer."
He turned, obviously seething, and stormed across her room, shutting her bedroom door with a slam.
He was gone. He was really gone. Choosing Alex over her. Of course. And she'd made him choose. Because she was stubborn and selfish and couldn't just be happy with what she was given.
Summer leaned against her bedroom wall and sunk to the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees.
The worst part was that Summer *knows* she made the right decision. It hurts like hell. Now that her anger has faded, everything just hurts. She had sort of been hoping that Seth would be her cure for all of the pain of the last week. That once they were together she would be okay. But that was clearly not true.
She didn't know what the hell was up with her life lately. She'd had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster, and just when she thought she had hit rock bottom, the ground opened up and she fell even further.
Chapter 22: [The O.C.] Ocean Breathes Salty 22/22
Chapter by pressdbtwnpages
|Entry tags:||ocean breathes salty|
Summer had been sitting in the same place, same position, all day. Eight hours. She'd replayed every second of her relationship with Seth, the chase, the relationship, the non-breakup, the "friendship", this past week, everything. All the sensible thoughts she's had in the past few months about how Seth only wants what he can't have, how he'll leave again, how high school romances never last and she sort of wants Seth to last, get brought out again. Still, she just kept coming back to this blank spot, the question of what happens now. Summer hadn't found any answers.
When Summer finally looked up from her knees, Seth was standing in her doorway, hands shoved in his pockets.
"What are you doing here?" Summer didn't have the energy to be angry any longer. She was simply exhausted.
"I was worried about you."
"I'm not." Seth said flatly. "I… I dumped Alex," he sighed. "Or rather, I told Alex how I feel about you and about last night, and she dumped me."
"God, don't be!" Seth rushed towards her. "This is what I wanted. I was wrong before, I get that Summer. I'm just so, so sorry I hurt you."
"Again," she added.
"Again. Listen, I know I screwed up, in all senses of the word, but I'm ready now. You're right, nothing feels like us, nothing is as good as us."
"Or as horrible," Summer murmured, looking back at her knees.
Seth kneeled in front of her, gently forced her chin up until their eyes met.
"Summer, stop. I'm sorry I hurt you, but we're amazing together. Incredible. I *love* you. Please don't pretend that you don't want us just as much as I do."
"As much as you do?" Summer scoffed. "I want, wanted, to be with you, to be your girlfriend more than anything in the world. But you keep sabotaging us. And I'm not sure what I should take from that."
"It's hard not to take it as a sign to stay as far away from you as possible."
"You don't really want that, do you?" Seth asked, looking young and scared.
"No," Summer scoffed, "I love you."
"Good then!" Seth reached for Summer.
"But how can we…?" She gestured between the two of them. "How can we make it work? Because the results have been fairly disastrous so far."
"I don't know, just, trust me Summer. Please?" Seth held his hand out and helped Summer to her feet.
"I'm trying. I want to," she winced. "I can't. You keep running away from me. How am I supposed to trust that?"
"Because," Seth scooted even closer to Summer, until their knees were nearly touching, "I always come back. Because it's always been you Summer. You know that. If you can't trust anything else about me, trust that in my heart, in my mind, it has ALWAYS been you. When I run, when I wig out and do stupid, stupid things, I always come back. For you."
"Summer. I don't know any other way to convince you. I've spent the whole day, since Alex dumped me, trying to figure out how to prove my love. I've got nothing. All I can do is ask you to trust me, to give me another chance to show you that I can be here for you."
"I know it's a really unfair thing to ask, but I can't see any other way. I've looked. *Please*, baby. I need you. I *love* you."
"I know. I know. I just…" Summer bit her lip and closed her eyes in frustration.
"Hey," Seth's arms slid around her waist sending tingling sweetness throughout her body.
Once again Summer was faced with a puzzle. How could something that felt so good be wrong? How could the place that made her feel safest be the most dangerous?
Summer swallowed hard and rested her head against Seth's shoulder.
"You with me?" He whispered wonderingly.
"I'm with you."
Seth began swaying softly, and Summer found herself dancing with him on wobbly legs. She didn't know if Seth was consciously recreating the moment they had first coalesced into being a couple, but it didn't matter. They were together, finally, and it was right, and, for now, everything was okay.