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[personal profile] buffyx
Title: You Know I'm No Good (1/1)
Author: buffyx
Pairing/Character: Summer/Ryan
Rating: R - pre-sex
Spoilers/Warnings: Through season two.



Summer isn’t an idiot. She knows Zach is stalling breaking up with her when he doesn’t call her for the rest of the weekend after she has that disastrous dinner with his mom and sister, and then on Monday, he doesn’t meet her before school or wait around after second hour to walk her to Chem like usual. It’s so obvious that he just has to act like a stupid, stupid boy and avoid her, because he doesn’t have the balls to just get it over with.

When lunch rolls around, she scopes out the lounge and finds him sitting with Cohen, like usual. She walks up to them in the middle of a heated argument over Frank Miller, and stands there, waiting for one of them to notice her. Finally she clears her throat and Zach bothers to stop his stupid gushing and acknowledge her existence.

“Summer.” He doesn’t look pleased to see her, and he gives Seth this weird look before he stands. “Hi.”

“Hi,” she says. She reaches up to kiss him on the lips, but he turns his face and she winds up pecking his cheek. It’s totally awkward.

Zach clears his throat and drops his voice. “Can we, uh-- can we talk?”

And he doesn’t even wait for her to answer before he grabs her elbow—hello, rude much?—and steers her all of ten feet away from Seth, who is doing that thing where he pretends not to be eavesdropping but obviously totally is, because he sucks at being stealth and can never stay out of her business. Ass.

“I think-- I think this isn’t really working. With us.” He pauses, purses his lips and blows out this long-suffering sigh, like this is just so hard on him. “We’re not really heading in the same direction. I like you, I do, but-- we want different things. Do you get what I’m saying?”

He’s speaking slowly, looking at her like he doesn’t think she’s capable of comprehending what he’s saying.

She really hates that look.

And it’s so clear that the words aren’t even his, they’re his mother’s, his stuck-up mother who looked down her nose at Summer like she was some piece of trash, and probably spent hours fawning all over Zach afterward, convincing him that he could do so much better. That Summer wasn’t good enough for his precious self.

“Just save it, Zach, okay?” she scoffs, and sweeps past him.

She goes to the coffee bar and picks up a skinny mocha, no whip. She stands there and sips from the cup and counts to ten. That’s long enough to make it look like what just happened was not really upsetting, which it sort of was, so when she leaves, it’s a nonchalant exit, not like she’s trying to get away as quickly as possible or something.

She keeps her chin high as she walks out, but she’s not paying attention and knocks shoulders with some pimply-faced frosh and almost sloshes coffee out of her cup.

“Watch where you’re going, moron,” she snaps, and pushes out through the doors into the sunny afternoon.

Once she’s outside, she cracks, just a little. She doesn’t cry or anything, but her stomach is tied in knots and queasy, and she is breathing harder than she should be. Getting dumped sucks, even if it’s by someone you didn’t even really like that much and you saw it coming a million miles away.

And she really didn’t like Zach, that much. Yeah, he’s cute, but only in a generic way, if you think about it, and he was more interested in hanging out with her ex-boyfriend all the time instead of, say, giving her orgasms.

Plus, he liked making out with old lady math tutors and lying to her about it, which was gross and super lame. She should’ve dumped him then. That’d be like her kissing Mr. Cohen and trying to cover it up. Which, ew, who wants to kiss someone’s dad?

She’s better off, for sure.

Summer leans up against the brick wall and focuses on arranging her body position so she looks casual, indifferent. Folds her arms and drinks down her mocha as she tries to figure out where to go from here. No way in hell is she going back inside; and she can’t even hide out with Coop, since she didn’t even show up today, surprise surprise, is probably out having gay sex with her gay girlfriend, the two of them having fun being all gay together.

Not that Summer has an issue with the gayness in theory, but she could really use her best friend right about now.

Not that she’s thought of Marissa as her best friend in awhile, truth be told.

“You okay?”

Summer is mid-gulp and jumps, startled, almost chokes. Whips around to see Ryan, standing there and squinting at her in his usual Ryan way.

“Um, yeah?” She wipes off her mouth with the back of her hand and glares at him. “What do you want?”

“I just saw you. Leave, I mean,” he says, haltingly. “You looked kinda upset.”

Dammit. She was not supposed to look upset. She was supposed to look like she didn’t care, at all. Which she doesn’t. Mostly.

Summer frowns. “I’m not, okay? I’m--”

She stops. Her tongue is all burnt from drinking her mocha too fast, and her stomach still hurts, and she is upset. Not over Zach, just--over everything. Everything.

“Everything sucks, you know that?” she finally finishes.

“Yeah, sometimes,” he agrees, nodding, and then: “So, uh, I was going to get out of here, actually. You can come. If you want?”

Summer considers this as she takes a small sip of coffee. It’s not like they’re friends, really; he’s Ryan, Chino, Marrisa’s ex, Seth’s best friend, pseudo-brother, et cetera, whatever. Still. Having to face Zach and his dumb face and dumb floppy hair, and Seth and his stupid staring and stupid babbling, and trudge through classes, is so not at all appealing, and she doesn’t have any tests today or papers due, so why not?

Ryan is driving Kirsten’s SUV, and she climbs in, slings her bag into the back and slides on her sunglasses. They don’t say anything as they drive out of the lot. He switches on the stereo; the first track on the CD is Journey, and the second is Kansas, and the third is some annoying warbly-voiced young guy with a guitar that she doesn’t recognize.

“Seth burned this for me,” Ryan offers as means of explanation. “He’s trying to convert me, I guess.”

Figures. Summer switches it to the next track. It’s Fleetwood Mac. She sits back and listens to them sing about not breaking chains. When she was little, she thought this song was about playing Red Rover, or chain letters, or something.

“Your day must have been sucking pretty hard.” She looks over at him with raised eyebrows. “You don’t skip class, like, ever.”

“Not the best day ever, no,” he responds.

“What, trouble in paradise with the foster half-aunt?”

Summer doesn’t really like Lindsay. She just doesn’t seem that interesting, really. Plus, Lindsay is the worst kind of smart—someone who thinks they are smarter than they actually are. And thinks that she’s all above everyone or whatever because of it. Summer knows that being an intellectual does not make you smart. Some of the biggest idiots she’s ever met are intellectuals.

Ryan winces perceptibly.

“She’s not…” He trails off and shrugs. “We’re not.”

Hmm. There’s an interesting development.

“I need shoes,” he says abruptly.

“Shoes?” she repeats.

“Dress shoes,” he clarifies. “There was this charity thing, a few weeks ago. Seth had too many wine spritzers… He kind of threw up on the ones I had.”

“Ew.” That’s so disgusting. “Are you saying you want to go shoe shopping?”

“Do you want to come?”

Shoe shopping, with Ryan. That sounds pretty lame, but at the same time, it’s not like she has anything better to do.

The mall is nearby, so they stop there. Ryan’s easy to shop with, because he’s totally willing to let Summer do her thing and pick him out some nice patent black leather contemporary Oxfords, and he sits on the aisle bench and reads The Catcher in the Rye while she tries on a few pairs for herself. She ends up buying some strappy Manolo slingbacks. They’re ruby red, and totally fierce, and she’s not sure where she’ll be able to wear them to, but she feels better for buying them anyway.

“Nice,” comments Ryan appreciatively when she puts one foot up on the bench, running his thumb across the ankle strap.

She beams. She doesn’t need his approval, obviously, but she’s kind of pleased to have it anyway.

After she pays, they walk out and he tucks the book back into his bag.

“Blah, Salinger,” she says, making a face. “Holden Caulfield is such a whiny little bitch.”

Ryan laughs. “Yeah, he is, isn’t he?”

But he’s not laughing like he’s surprised that she’s read it before, or that she has a real opinion about it, so that’s cool.

They stop at Orange Julius for smoothies. It’s still kind of early, so they sit in the car with the CD on low and drink and talk—not about Lindsay, or Seth, or Zach, or Marissa. Instead Ryan tells her about his classes, and how his world history teacher misspells Napoleonic all the time, and how he’s, like, really into physics and always thinking about how it applies to architecture and stuff.

“So that’s what you’re going to do?” She has her feet propped up on the dashboard and the window rolled halfway down. “You’re going to be an architect?”

She’s not asking to be nice-- it’s like, she actually wants to know.

Ryan hesitates, and rubs the top of his head, and sets down his cup. “I don’t know. I guess? It’s just. Weird.”

“Being an architect is weird?” she questions, licking her straw.

He looks uncomfortable, and she thinks he might just not answer, but then he does.

“Being able to think about it--about being an architect… or anything, I mean. That’s weird,” he explains.

Well, that makes sense. Two years ago he was stuck in dirty, dead-end Chino, and then spent the whole summer thinking he was going to be a teenage unmarried father, and now he’s living in a mansion and driving an expensive SUV and buying designer shoes and thinking about college. He probably has, like, mental whiplash or something.

“I want to be a stock broker,” she tells him.

She imagines herself in sharp, sexy fitted blazers and impossibly high heels, sitting in an office with a window view, barking out orders to the countless minions who’d be working below her and making cutthroat, brilliant business decisions at the drop of a hat all day long.

He swallows some smoothie, face passive. “Really?”

“No.”

Summer doesn’t know what she wants to be, really. Her grades are good, better than good, enough to get her into whatever college she wants to go to, probably. But nothing, like, stands out to her.

Ryan drums his fingers on the steering wheel in time to the Sublime song blaring out. The mix is so ADD—who puts The Beach Boys, Carly Simon and Mos Def on the same CD? How random. Summer grabs Ryan’s hand off the wheel and inspects his nails. They’re ragged and short. His palm is kind of dry and rough, and there are calluses on his middle and index fingers from holding a pen too tightly.

“You could use a manicure,” she pronounces. “And a good moisturizer.”

“You think?” He’s almost smiling now, and he waits a few seconds before drawing his hand away. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

After awhile he drops her back at school. Last period is over, and everyone’s spilling into the parking lot. Ryan pulls into his usual spot and looks over at her.

“So,” he says.

“So,” says Summer.

“Thanks, for helping. With the shoes. You have good taste.”

She scoffs. “Duh.”

Summer undoes her seatbelt, twists around and reaches into the back to fish out her messenger bag and her new shoes. She waves before she jumps out. When she turns to shut the passenger door, she sees Seth and Zach heading in her direction.

They’re deep in conversation as they walk, heads bent close together, Seth’s armful of books waving around wildly to emphasize some point of his, Zach’s hair flopping as he shakes his head in disagreement. Finally, Seth happens to glance up and sees her standing outside of the SUV. He stops in his tracks and stares.

“Summer?” He blinks.

“Cohen,” she says coolly.

She shuts the passenger door and then lets her gaze flick up and down over Zach.

He looks sheepish, and confused, and like the idiot he is. Seriously, he is an idiot. Who does he think he is, dumping her? Summer knows that she is hot, and smart, and awesome, and he was lucky that she even bothered to date his lame ass in the first place. What a moron. But what did she expect? He’s a guy, so that’s not the shocker of the century or anything.

Without waiting for a response, Summer squares her shoulders, shifts her bag onto her shoulder and saunters straight past them. It takes pretty much all of her personal restraint not to look over her shoulder.

That doesn’t, however, stop her from grinning ear-to-ear the whole drive home. Score one, Summer Roberts.

**

When Summer gets home, the first thing she does is check the main phone line’s voicemail; there’s a message from the school noting her unexcused absence, which she promptly deletes. Her stepmother comes in long enough to reminds her that dinner is at six, and insinuate that her outfit is too trashy, all in the same breath, but Summer is too pleased with herself for pulling a mind-fuck on Cohen and Zach to even pay attention.

Summer doesn’t know why her father insists on these family dinners anymore, but it’s a tradition that he cares about keeping. The only one he cares about, really. She still can’t believe he let the stepmonster redecorate the master bedroom, and at Christmas replace their antique ornaments with these gaudy, tacky silver and pink bulbs, and tried to make the help work on Sundays which they’ve always had off. Summer had to fight tooth and nail to keep her from uprooting the bluebells that were planted every spring in the back garden and replace them with ugly-ass tulips, of all things.

The stepmonster usually takes these dinners as an opportunity to talk about her pilates class, or her book club, or whatever, and rehash the latest Newpsie gossip, and backhandedly insult Summer’s clothes/intelligence/friends/dating choices.

Summer hates the stepmonster. She’s a fake blonde, has a fake orange tan and fake boobs. Fake fake fake. It makes her sick to her stomach to see this woman, sitting in the matriarch’s chair, her mother’s chair. She loves her father, but she doesn’t know what he possibly sees in this woman.

“So,” says her father. “How was your day, Summer?”

“Oh, you know.” She lifts one shoulder in a shrug and chews a forkful of green beans. “Fine.”

“And things with Zach? How are they?”

Crap.

“Um, we broke up, actually,” she says, staring down at her plate.

When she glances up across the table, the stepmonster is totally smirking at her. Classless bitch. She would glare back if her father wasn’t staring at her.

“You broke up?” he echoes.

“Such a shame,” the stepmonster coos, not looking like she thinks it’s a shame at all. “Finally you were dating a boy of some stature.”

That woman wouldn’t know stature if it bit her on the ass.

The stepmonster excuses herself early to go pill-pop herself into a Xanax-induced coma, and then Summer excuses herself to go upstairs. She does half of her calc homework while watching the Food Network, where Paula Deen is making this bundt cake with apples and coconut and cakey goodness. She’s soaking the whole thing in this pan of thick buttermilk sauce; it’s actually totally disgusting, and yet, Summer can’t bring herself to look away. It’s like a trainwreck. With five sticks of butter.

Eventually she calls Marissa, but Coop doesn’t pick up, and Summer doesn’t bother to leave a message. She’s probably passed out drunk somewhere. Which is a horrible thing to think about your best friend, even if your best friend has been AWOL when you really need her around, but she doesn’t feel bad for thinking that.

The shoebox is sitting on top of her dresser. She takes out the Manolos and examines them closely. It’s about time for a pedicure-- maybe she’ll make an appointment and have them paint her toes that same shade of red.

Red conveys power, she thinks, and right now maybe it would make her feel more in control of her own emotions. She’s determined to not wallow.

**

School the next day goes fine. Summer just pretends nothing is wrong, and wears a kickass outfit, and makes sure that at lunch in the lounge, Zach sees her when she walks by so that he’s acutely aware of exactly what he’s missing out on.

At least she has Coop to sit with. Even if she looks way hungover and like she didn’t even take a shower this morning. Her lipstick is way too dark, and kind of smeared, and her skirt is all wrinkled and slept-on. She also smells like she’s already started drinking—or hasn’t stopped since last night.

“Alex dropped out, and she’s okay,” Marissa is saying, “and Alex said the GED isn’t that hard, and I really, I don’t think I can stay here, it’s all such crap anyway, like everything, when you really think about it, you know?”

“Mmm,” hums Summer, but she’s zoning out, looking over Marissa’s shoulder at where Cohen, Zach and Ryan are all sitting together.

She doesn’t want to admit it, but she’s almost a little hurt that Seth is still all buddy-buddy with Zach. Isn’t he supposed to be, like, the one who worships at her feet? Which was flattering, sometimes, though mostly annoying these days, but shouldn’t he be offended on her behalf? Tell Zach to shove off? Punch him out in the middle of the lounge in front of everyone?

Wait, no. Ryan is the Cohen who does the punching.

And speaking of Ryan-- he keeps looking up and catching her eye for a few seconds, and then drinking his coffee, and pretending to read a newspaper but looking up at her again instead.

“Helloooo, earth to Summer?” Marissa snaps her fingers in front of Summer’s face, and Summer frowns, because that’s kind of really rude. “Are you even listening to me?”

She fakes her way through the conversation, only half-listening as Marissa goes on and on about Alex, and Alex’s friends, and how Alex gets free tickets for concerts at The Bait Shop, and is a great kisser, and can you believe someone as awesome as Alex actually exists? When they’re done eating, she walks out of the lounge, shoulder-to-shoulder with Coop. Ryan is totally staring at her. And what is that about?

**

Rosa has left a plate of orange slices waiting for her in the kitchen when she gets home, along with a pitcher of fresh lemonade. Summer goes upstairs and changes into one of her bikinis, the bright red halter with the white lining and low rider bottoms that tie at the hips, then takes the plate and the pitcher outside and sets them on the patio table.

She rubs some tanning oil on, coconut-scented, because it’s fairly sunny out, but once she actually gets to the pool, she doesn’t feel at all like laying out. Instead she drops her towel on the lounge chair and slides off her flip flops. Flexes her arms and slips into the pool.

It’s a little cold but she kind of enjoys the shock of it. She closes her eyes, dips all the way underneath, feels the water rushing past her face as she kicks easily to the other end. When she comes up for air, grasps the ledge and blinks the water out of her eyes, she looks up and sees Ryan standing there.

“Jesus,” she sputters, and glares.

He squints down at her. “Your housekeeper let me in.”

“Well, thanks for scaring the crap out of me.”

She uses the balls of her feet to push herself toward the other end of the pool, swimming backward in easy strokes. Once she reaches the wall, she positions her elbows over the edge, uses them to leverage herself up onto the side of the pool in one fluid movement.

“You’re welcome,” he deadpans, watching as she squeezes out her hair.

“Don’t be an idiot,” she tells him.

“Okay.”

She hooks her feet behind the ankles and swirls them around in the water. They’re just kind of looking at each other, him doing his squinting thing, and it’s a little awkward. It’s not like they have anything to talk about, really. What the hell is he even doing here?

“What the hell are you even doing here?” she asks.

“You left these in my car,” he explains, brandishing her sunglasses.

Summer had noticed they were missing but hadn’t thought much about them-- she could’ve easily bought new ones, she has other pairs, but those were her Pradas, and it would’ve been a shame to lose them, regardless.

“Oh,” she says. “Thanks.”

She pulls her legs up out of the water, tucking her knees up so she’s hugging them close to her chest.

“There’s lemonade on the table,” she offers.

He looks over at it, and then back at her. “Okay.”

“And orange slices, too.”

“Okay,” he replies. He begins to pat his pockets.

“Stop saying that,” Summer tells him. “It’s annoying.”

Ryan looks up and gives her a half-smile. “Okay.”

Ass.

He pulls out a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a lighter and lights up, right there in her backyard. Summer’s about to remind him that smoking leads to things like lung cancer, and bad complexions and yellow teeth, and then Ryan exhales and she’s distracted by his mouth.

“You’re smoking again?” she notes with an eyebrow raise.

“Don’t tell,” he replies. He kind of leans his body toward her and waggles his eyebrows as he says it, and, again, it’s pretty weird. There’s a small tingle in her gut and Ryan is joking with her and it’s like he’s sharing a secret or something. What the hell?

He taps ash from the lit cigarette and she flicks a spray of water at him.

She narrows her eyes at him dangerously. “Put that out on my lawn and die.”

Ryan makes a show of bending down and grinding the butt against the pavement, then picks it up, waves it around for her to see and puts it in his pocket.

Summer rolls her eyes and takes a deep breath before plunging back into the water feet-first; she lets herself slowly sink down, down, all the way until her feet are flat against the bottom of the pool, her hair floating all around her. She stays there for as long as she can, until her lungs feel like they’re going to explode, then pushes back up in a quick burst.

When she breaks through the surface, she bobs up and down and wipes at her eyes, looking for Ryan, but he’s already gone. Her sunglasses are folded up on the table, and two of the orange slices have been taken off the plate.

**

That night she falls asleep on her stomach, on top of her covers, while watching an episode of Night Court.

Summer dreams about Ryan—it’s all skin against skin, nails and teeth scraping against all the right places, kisses that melt into each other, and he’s deep inside her and they’re fucking, and it’s more than just enjoyable, it’s intense, he fills up spaces she didn't know were even there, it leaves her breathless and begging and on the edge of hysteria. She wakes up at three in the morning, panting, both her cheeks and the space between her legs wet.

**

On the drive to school, Summer thinks a lot about Ryan. And sex with Ryan.

He would know how to do it right. No clumsy undressing, with skirts and underwear caught awkwardly around her ankles, struggling to tug her shirt over her head. He’d probably be rough where she wanted him to be, like, pin her up against a wall because he could actually hold her there easily, and yank her head around by her hair, and pinch her nipples, and make her scream for real, not like the low little breathy half-moans she used to make with Seth, which were usually just for show anyway.

And he’d be considerate, too, like, not just use her cunt as a deposit box but actually care about getting her off in return, no matter how long it might take.

Ryan probably gives great head.

Before she knows it, her face is all flushed and warm and her heart is beating a little too fast. Jesus. When did she become Queen Nympho of Nymphonia?

She switches on her car’s CD player on to distract herself.

Wanna be impulsive, reckless,” Wendy Wilson sings, “and lose myself in your kiss.

Okay, that is so not helping.

**

Even if she wanted to. He probably wouldn’t anyway.

And it’s not like Summer does. Want to. She’s just sex-deprived, and a little lonely, and a lot horny. That’s it. It’s probably misdirected lust. Obviously she’s annoyed about Zach, or maybe missing Seth and wants to hurt him subconsciously or something by fantasizing about his pseudo-brother. Except that’s not it at all, because she hasn’t really thought about Seth a lot lately, and she’s not even really mad at him. More, like, just resigned.

Which doesn’t explain the dreaming about Ryan.

She has to stop thinking about this.

**

Marissa is gone all day, again, and Zach doesn’t look in her direction at all when she breezes through the quad past him and Cohen, and she only sees Ryan, once, when she’s hauling ass to Lit to avoid her third tardy this month. He’s standing next to his locker. He closes it and nods at her, and does this half-wave thing, and she almost trips over her own feet. Awesome. Jimmy Choos are not designed for mad dashes.

By the time her last class lets out, she’s grouchy as all hell. She schedules an emergency mani-pedi appointment with Joo-Yun, the manicurist she’s been seeing lately—Joo-Yun is Korean and doesn’t speak much English, but she’s a great listener and does the best damn French manicure Summer’s ever had for half the price.

Two people call while her nails are soaking in the dish; she eyes the caller ID and sees that the first call is Marissa, and the second is from Seth’s number. She ignores them both.

It isn’t until she’s driving home that she checks her messages.

Summer, I heard that Zach dumped you. Why didn’t you tell me? Are you mad at me? Is it because of Alex? Because, I thought you were okay with that, and if you’re not… Listen, we’re going out tonight, but we should talk. Just, like, call me, okay?

Summer deletes it promptly, and rolls her eyes, and braces herself for the next.

Hi. It’s Ryan. So… The other day. That was-- nice. Maybe you want to. I don’t know. Hang out? Uh, I’m using Seth’s phone because I don’t have your number. But I know you have mine. So let me know, or something. Okay. Bye.

She presses the button to save that one, and listens to it five more times, and feels way more delighted than she has any right to about it.

*

It’s true-- Summer does have his cell number. She has everyone’s number, or, everyone who counts, anyway. Seth is programmed into her phone as Assface, and the stepmonster as Whorebag, and she’s already changed Zach to Dickwad. Ryan was labeled in there as Chino for a long time, but then she started to feel a little bad about that, or maybe she just started to see him as something else, and she switched it to just his name. Ryan.

She’s not sure how long to wait until calling him back. The usual boy rules didn’t apply to Ryan for several reasons. One, because Ryan Atwood did not act like normal boys, who took about two seconds to figure out because they were all dumb and easy, and Ryan is-- complicated. And two, because they’re just friends, maybe, and she doesn’t even know what he wants more from her, assuming he wants anything at all. So, maybe. Maybe she could call him back that night and it wouldn’t seem like she was desperate or eager or anything.

Whatever. Ryan can think whatever he wants, it’s not like it matters.

He answers on the fourth ring, slightly out of breath. “Hello?”

“Hi,” she says, flat on her back on her bed. Princess Sparkles is standing on her chest. “So I got your message.”

“Oh yeah?”

There’s the sound of loud rustling in the background, and she thinks she hears Seth whining about something, along with some weird beeping noises.

“Sorry,” Ryan apologizes quickly, “sorry. When Seth plays Final Fantasy, he gets kind of… emotionally involved.”

“Um, yeah. I remember.” She threads her fingers through Princess Sparkle’s mane. “Anyway, I think we should. Hang out, or do something, or-- whatever.”

“Really?” he asks, and he sounds like he’s smiling as he says it, and Summer’s toes curl.

**

The next night they go to the movies to see some zombie flick. Summer spends a lot of time trying to figure out if it can be classified as a date. On one hand, he picks her up, but on the other, she pays for her own ticket. Ryan holds all the doors open for her, but he does that for all girls, whether or not he’s dating or wants to have sex with them, she’s willing to bet. But he also lets her pick out the seats, and offers her his popcorn, so it’s hard to tell.

On the way home, she criticizes the lead protagonist’s fashion sense.

“The end of the world is not an excuse for wearing pink and orange together,” she says sagely. “It really isn’t.”

Ryan parks outside of her house, at the curb, the engine idling. For awhile they sit in the driveway and don’t speak. He lights a cigarette, and after watching as he inhales a few puffs, she puts her hand over his and steals it from him. She gazes at him closely as she takes a long drag.

“You broke up with Lindsay because of the Cohens, didn’t you,” she blurts out.

She’s not really sure why she’s bringing this up. It’s not like she deserves an explanation from him, or even really particularly wants one. He cuts his eyes toward her and his jaw tenses and for a second, she thinks he’s going to punch her in the face, or yell at her, or something.

But then he breathes out and lets go of the steering wheel. He doesn’t look angry--just, sad, or wistful, or some other adjective she can’t quite think of offhand.

“The Cohens…” he starts, and then stops, and then starts again. “I can’t make more problems. They’ve done too much for me, and I… care about them, too much. To make things difficult.”

“Because you love them,” she says, handing back the cigarette.

He ducks his head and flicks the butt out the window. “Yeah. I do.”

Summer thinks about Marissa, and how she seems convinced the world owes her some huge debt. Ryan is like the opposite, always trying to make things easier for people, even though they were never easy for him, instead of fuming over how unfair life can be, like, really unfair. And he doesn’t even treat her like she’s this dumb little girl with these dumb little problems.

If she was him—well, she’d probably be punching a lot more people into pools, that was for sure.

**

Seth and Zach go to San Diego for the weekend for some comic book convention thing. Summer knows this because she makes it her business to know everything that’s going on with everyone, and also, because Ryan calls her Saturday morning to tell her and asks if she wants to come over.

Her dad is in Seattle for a business trip, and the stepmonster is hosting the book club meeting (which was really a lame Newspie second/third/fourteenth wives gossip circle in disguise) in the living room, so she’s already stuffing a bathing suit and tanning oil in her bag and grabbing her keys before she hangs up.

Summer parks her car at the bottom of the Cohens' drive, and Ryan comes out and meet her there. He’s wearing a tight white cotton shirt and baggy shorts. When he sees her, his mouth quirks in a smile and Summer’s stomach sommersaults.

“You made it,” he says, sounding pleased.

“I decided I could pencil it in,” she teases. She looks past him, into the open garage. “Hey, do you still have that bike?”

Ryan looks mildly non-plussed by the question; considering that he’s a master of the unaffected, she takes it as a small victory.

“Have it, yes,” he says slowly. “Ride it, not really.”

The bike is kind of rusty, the handlebars bent downward, and the back tire is flat. Ryan finds the air pump in a big cardboard box, tangled up with some screwdrivers, a dusty old typewriter with a bunch of missing keys, and a few of Mr. Cohen’s old Debate Team trophies. He fills up the back tire, pressing the heel of his hand against it to make sure it’s firm, then pumps up the front, just to be safe.

She straddles it a little awkwardly--okay, maybe not changing out of her pleated black mini and wedge-heel sandals wasn’t the best idea ever--and starts to pedal. At first she teeters some, but riding a bike is like… riding a bike, and soon she’s weaving around Ryan in easy loops, the light breeze blowing her hair loose around her shoulders.

Summer likes the way he stands there in the middle and watches her. He keeps jumping in front of her so that she has to dodge him, then finally he grabs the handlebars and jolts her to a stop. He’s leaning over them, laughing a little, and she’s still giggling, and their faces are closer than they’ve been, like, ever. She can’t breathe. At all.

Suddenly the back door slams open, and Mr. Cohen comes out.

Ryan hastily lets go of the handlebars. The bike starts to tip, and Summer puts one foot down to stop it.

“Mr. Cohen,” she greets breathlessly. “Hey!”

“If it isn’t Summer!” He throws his hands up in the air and smiles wide. “Nice to see you! It’s been awhile. What are you kids up to?”

“You know us, always partaking in some teenage deviancy,” Summer shoots back with a grin and an exaggerated wink.

Mr. Cohen does his deep, belly-shaking laugh and pads down the steps.

“Now, I have some boring meetings to attend to all day, and Kirsten’s not feeling too hot, so you two behave,” he warns, but he’s smiling as he wags his finger at them. He gives Ryan a mock stern look. “And you! Don’t go punching anyone while I’m gone.”

“Ha ha,” says Ryan dryly.

Mr. Cohen claps Ryan on the back and squeezes his shoulder as he passes, and Ryan looks really happy, and Summer feels kind of happy and hollow at the same time, just watching the whole thing, and thinks of her mother, inexplicably.

They spend the day by the pool, mostly-- Ryan is doing physics homework, and Summer reads Vanity Fair, and they pass a bag of low-fat pretzels back and forth, mostly in silence. But it’s a comfortable silence, not awkward or anything. She doesn’t feel like she has to come up with stuff to talk about, or that if she does, it has to be something he’s interested in. Once in awhile she’ll point out models and make comments, and ask him what he thinks, and every so often he’ll relay some story about the Cohens or something he’s read recently. It’s nice.

After a few hours they go inside. Kirsten’s in the kitchen with a glass of wine; the bottle sitting on the counter is mostly empty.

“Summer. Hello.” She looks sleepy-eyed but sounds surprised. “I didn’t know you were over. I would have made something--or at least tried--”

“Oh, no, it’s fine,” Summer quickly interjects, waving her off. “I’m totally cool.”

Kirsten nods, and downs the rest of her wine in one gulp, and goes upstairs to sleep. Ryan looks after her with a strange look on his face. Summer is pretty sure she knows what is going on, because she’s dealt with the stepmonster, and with Marissa, and ultimately it’s always the same thing, right? She looks up at Ryan and then grabs him by the arm.

“Come on,” she orders, and drags him back to the pool.

She makes him go swimming with her for awhile, and then they lay out next to each other. She sprawls out on her stomach to soak in some sun. When she lifts up her head and peers at him, he’s totally sneaking a look at her legs over his textbook, and she smiles into her towel.

**

Ryan really likes M*A*S*H, so when it gets dark and cools down too much to swim or stay out any longer, they go inside and watch a marathon on one of the cable channels. Young Alan Alda is hot in a weird way, and she likes to point out how Hawkeye and that BJ character are obviously hot for each other, with the way they keep trading these looks loaded with sexual tension.

“Sometimes a look is just a look,” Ryan reminds her, but he’s giving her a look-look, not a normal look.

Summer knows those looks.

Their shoulders are touching, even though the couch is huge and they don’t need to be sitting so close, and they’re sharing a blanket, and she feels itchy and hot and if he touches her anymore, she’s going to either explode or tackle and screw him right there.

“I should go,” she finally says, without much conviction. “I’ll—”

“You can stay,” he cuts in. His voice is a little gravelly, and he’s staring right at her, but it’s like it’s hard for him to keep himself from looking away. “I mean. I know you don’t want to deal with your stepmom, and. There’s a guestroom. Or you can sleep in the poolhouse, if you want.”

Oh, she wants.

“The poolhouse,” Summer answers softly.

He nods and starts to push the blankets back, but she holds onto his arm, tugs him down.

“You, too,” she whispers, her lips brushing his ear, and he turns his head.

“Me?” Ryan’s breath is hot against her cheek.

“You.”

Summer feels suddenly brave, like all in a quick gust, and she tilts her head up and kisses him. His mouth is firm and dry. He closes his eyes when she presses her lips to his; she knows because she keeps hers open and watches him carefully the whole time.

When she draws back, she holds her breath until he opens her eyes and looks at her. She's painfully terrified that he's going to turn her down, remind her about Seth, Seth, tell her they can't do this, and make it all awkward and like she should feel guilty and stupid and--

Ryan slowly smiles. “Okay.”

At that, she can’t help but smile back, smack him playfully on the shoulder and pull the blanket over her head, but he snatches it down, and kisses her again, long and open-mouthed. They climb off the couch and stumble out the door, past the pool and into the poolhouse, just touching and kissing and trying not to laugh too loud.

She falls back onto the bed, on top of the comforter, wriggles around as Ryan turns on the stereo and pops in a CD. He turns and yanks off his shirt in one fluid movement. Looks at her and gives her a knowing grin when Billy Joel comes pouring out of the speakers, and it’s so ridiculous that she starts laughing again.

He crawls in next to her, on top of her. Kisses her again and lightly tiptoes his fingers down her stomach. But he stops at the elastic of her bikini bottoms, and drops to the side, and she lets her face fall into the crook of his neck, closes her eyes, falls asleep feeling warm and sated.

**

When Summer wakes up, it takes her a few seconds to remember where she is. The whole room is sun-filled from the light flooding in through the half-open blinds, and the sheets feel different against her skin, which is stretched tight across her bones and too hot. She can hear Billy Joel’s voice crooning faintly. She shifts onto her side and her breasts press up against Ryan’s naked back.

He lets out a low moan; she can’t tell if he’s awake or dreaming, so she reaches up and licks the nape of his neck, grazes her teeth against it. The skin there is salty from dried sweat. One of his arms stretches out and his hand slides down the length of her thigh. She shivers.

“Kiss me,” she murmurs.

Her voice sounds hoarse and needy in her own ears. She was going more for commanding. She wants him inside, just wants to look at him, her arms and legs are like Jello.

Ryan turns, rolls her so she’s straddling on top of him, his hands steady on her hipbones. He leans up and closes the gap between them, reaches one hand up, fingers snaring in the back of her tangled hair. She bites down on the lush of his lower lip.

Summer puts her hands flat on his bare chest. His muscles are hard there, and he’s kind of glistening with a light sheen of sweat, but it’s not gross sweaty. It’s hot sweaty. She settles herself down on him and can feel that he’s totally hard for her. He makes this sound in his throat when she digs her nails into his shoulders, and she likes that, likes that she does that to him.

“I want you to fuck me,” she tells him, boldly. She’s never talked like that out loud, to anyone, and it feels kind of weird to say, but at the same time, she's feeling a little giddy. “Here. And against the wall.” She stops and thinks for a moment. “Maybe on the floor, too.”

His head is tilted to the side and he’s smiling and just looking at her, and then kissing her, again, and he hasn’t brushed his teeth yet which would normally be disgusting, but he tastes just like oranges and cigarettes so it’s not so bad.

“I want--” she says between kisses, “I want--”

But his hand is snaking inside of her bottoms, now, fingers rubbing her clit, so she can’t really talk, and she half-heartedly pushes him off so she can finish, and pinches his side. He must be ticklish there because his ribs shift under her fingers as he laughs. This is not really what she expected of Ryan in bed. She expected him to be, like, hard and angry, rough, or sad, or something. Not all laughing and teasing kisses and Billy freakin' Joel.

There are a million reasons to not be doing this. At the top of the list, Seth, and also Coop, and foster half-aunt would-be girlfriends, and the fact that he’s Ryan Atwood, and she’s Summer Roberts, and--and this is a bad idea, this won’t end well, probably, or even be worth it, but he’s pulling her down into another kiss, breathing into her mouth, and she closes her eyes and thinks that it might. It might.





A/N: I'm pretty sure the timing is off, since Alex and Marissa hadn't happened yet before the Zach/Summer parent dinner thing, but if you think that I care about canon, you are sorely mistaken. If you want fantastic Summer/Ryan fic, you should read anything by [livejournal.com profile] lalejandra. My Summer is mostly a rip-off of her Summer because I've probably spent more time reading her fic than watching season two episodes. This is the first piece of writing I've completed since December, and I'm torn between liking it and hating it. Awesome. Thanks to Amy Winehouse for the title.

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