Notes: Welcome to part two, folks, and thank you v. much for the reviews I received for the first one. The funny thing about the reviews was how everyone wanted to know what ship this was. Why does everything have to be a ship? It doesn't, and that's not what this story's about. Well, not really. But if you really want to know, I've been a diehard Seth/Summer shipper since episode one.
"What if the girl I'm supposed to be with just went back to Pittsburgh?"
"What if she went back to Chino?"
"Why would Anna go to Chino?"
~'The Goodbye Girl'
Anna sits on the bed in Seth's hotel room, picking the cranberries and almonds out of her muffin and listening to Kirsten, Sandy, Seth, and Ryan talk. She feels as though she is on the outside looking in, and that's okay, because she likes to observe. She fully took a psych class in college, and human mannerisms have always interested her.
And as far as humans go, the Cohens (and an Atwood, though Ryan is pretty much a Cohen now in all ways but the last name, which he still refuses to change—not that Sandy or Kirsten would ever presume to force him to. Besides—he's legal now, and has been for quite a while) are more fascinating than most. They are incredibly funny, and Anna has always felt like she is watching a sitcom when she listens to them talk.
"I'm telling you, Mom," Seth is insisting to Kirsten from where he sits cross-legged on the dresser, right next to the TV, "I could eat a whole basket of these mini-muffins without even breaking a sweat, okay? These things are, like, the size of a pencil eraser."
"Seth, you will throw up all over Summer if you eat more than four of those," Kirsten smiles patiently.
"They're the size of a bug, Mom. A ladybug."
"An amoeba. A bulimic wouldn't even bother to throw these up."
"Seth, please don't eat that whole basket," Kirsten says, starting to get worried. "You know you have a weak stomach—"
Seth seems to take offense at this. "I don't have anything even resembling a weak stomach."
Ryan coughs something that sounds like, "Disneyland."
Anna is curious. "Disneyland?" she pipes up. "What—what happened at Disneyland?"
"Um, Ryan and Marissa got caught making out topless in our hotel room," Seth responds.
Sandy starts to snicker. Ryan glares in that wannabe Clint Eastwood way. Anna has almost forgotten this look, and that fact startles her. That glowering-out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye look is, like, what makes Ryan Ryan. She forgot that? How could she forget that? She and Seth used to whisper about that glare. Stuff like the probability of his eyes getting stuck that way. How much it probably hurt to look at people like that after a while. How Ryan probably had an uncorrectable eye deficiency that pained him to talk about or something and that was the only way he was physically able to look at you.
"That's not even what I meant," Ryan says, almost smiling. "What I meant was when you ate a churro—one churro—and threw up in the middle of the teacup ride."
"On my shoes," Sandy adds.
"Okay, Anna, don't listen to them," Seth says loudly, setting down the cinnamon apple mini-muffin he has been eating (his third). "There are several things you have to understand about the Disneyland trip, okay? One, we went in June, which everyone knows is when my allergies are at their worst. Two, I had just caught Ryan and Marissa making out topless in our hotel room. Those things coupled with the churro—which I still think was poisoned—and the incessant spinning of the ride caused me to throw up." He glares significantly at his mother. "Not my weak stomach—because I don't have one." Seth pauses. "And Dad, as for your shoes, that was unintentional. I was aiming for Mom's purse."
Kirsten reacts to this with a gasp. "You are not telling me that you intended to throw up in my purse!" she exclaims.
"Better your purse than my lap."
"Or my lap," Ryan agrees.
Kirsten sighs, smiling still. Noticing the time she exclaims, "Seth, it's ten thirty!"
Seth glances at the clock on the bedside table across the room. "Yeah," he says. "So?"
"The wedding's at two," Kirsten reminds him.
"Still not seeing the point here," Seth says pleasantly. He starts in on his fourth muffin, a banana nut one from the looks of it.
"You should get ready," she prods patiently. "You have a lot to do."
Seth raises his eyebrows as he pops a walnut in his mouth. "Mom, I've put on a tuxedo so many times I can do it in, like, three minutes with my eyes closed."
Kirsten keeps her blue eyes, sparking with humor and maternity, on her son's. "Humor me," she says wryly.
"Fine," Seth responds, moving aside the basket of mini-muffins and sliding off the dresser.
"I should be going, too," Anna says, standing. "Marissa invited me to help Summer get ready, and I'm guessing I've already missed out on the free manicures, so…"
"Oh, you're going to go see Summer?" Seth asks, his expression brightening.
"Yeah," Anna replies softly. "Do you, um, want me to tell her anything or…?"
Seth avoids everyone's eyes and looks down at his shoes, blushing. "Nah," he mumbles. "No, it's okay."
Anna is somewhat relieved, and she doesn't know why. She ignores it, and turns to Sandy, Kirsten, and Ryan, who are all still sitting down. "Bye," she says, forcing a smile. "Thanks for breakfast."
"Anytime," Sandy says. "Have a good time with Summer."
"Sure," Anna replies. She exits the room and takes the elevator to the eleventh floor, where Marissa's room is located. She stands in front of the hotel room, listening to the giggling (softened somewhat by the door separating Anna and the girls inside) and chattering going on inside and trying to bring herself to go inside. She doesn't know why it's taking her so long. To be frank, she doesn't even know why she's here. Anna knows that Marissa only invited her to have something to say last night, but she wants to go. On some level.
Anna jumps at the sound of Marissa's voice and turns in the direction of it. Marissa, dressed in a pair of light blue terrycloth pants and a matching short-sleeved jacket, is coming towards her from the direction of the elevator. She has her purse over her shoulder and is carrying an insanely large bottle of hairspray.
"You came!" Marissa says emphatically, moving the hairspray under her arm so she can get into her purse and look for her key to the room. "Awesome. We're just starting to do hair in there, so you came at a good time."
Anna guesses that the overuse of the word 'awesome' comes from spending so much time around Seth, because when she lived in Newport, she never heard Marissa say anything more enthusiastic than 'cool' and 'good'. "Um, yeah," Anna tells her, "I just had breakfast with the Cohens, so sorry I'm…late…or whatever." She smiles, a small smile that's barely a smile at all, and not really necessary at that, because Marissa is still fumbling around in her purse.
"Oh, yeah?" Marissa asks. "How is Seth doing?"
"Fine," Anna reports. "He's great, as a matter of fact. Astonishingly cheerful."
"Well," Marissa replies, finally pulling the key from her purse and replacing the purse over her shoulder, "Seth has been waiting for this day since he was, like, how old?"
"Ten, I think he said."
Marissa laughs. "Yeah." She slides the card that is the key into the lock, and after a few attempts, the lights flash green, and Marissa pushes the door open. Anna follows her inside.
The room is a total mess—that is the first thing that strikes Anna. There are eight empty pizza boxes lying around, and countless pieces of clothing draped over furniture. There are two-liter soda bottles on a table that have been set up in a pyramid shape, with a few full ones that have yet to be drunk sitting on the windowsill. And that's not to mention all the miscellaneous cosmetics and hair accessories scattered on the floor, and on chairs and tables. When Anna looks past the mess, she spots Summer in the midst of what seems to be a sleepover on speed. She is wearing a lavender satin robe over white lace lingerie and is sitting in a chair in the middle of the room. There are women surrounding her, some sitting on chairs, some on pillows at her kitten-heeled feet. Everyone looks up at Marissa and Anna as they enter the room.
"I come with hairspray," Marissa announces cheerfully. "And Anna."
Summer beams. "Hi!" she says brightly. She seems to be in a much better mood than the night before.
Anna decides to take advantage of this. "Hi," she responds.
Marissa moves around the room, dragging the bed until it stops just behind Summer's chair. "Um, Anna, do you know everyone?"
"Probably not," Summer says, handing Marissa a brush from her lap and tossing her hair. "Anna, sit down somewhere."
"Here," a blonde girl who has Marissa's long legs and cheekbones rises from her chair. "You sit here. I was going to move anyway."
"Anna, that's my sister Kaitlin," Marissa says. She certainly is talkative today and it is strange. The blonde girl smiles and nods before crossing the room to sit next to her sister. Anna slowly lowers herself into Kaitlin's seat. "And that's my mother," she points to a severe-looking red haired woman sitting primly on a chaise lounge and flipping through a magazine. Julie Cooper looks up, raises her eyebrow, and looks back to the magazine. Marissa, unperturbed, continues, introducing Anna to Flora, Nina, and Mirabelle. The last girl in the room looks vaguely familiar, and when Marissa says, "And that's Theresa," it clicks.
"Oh!" Anna exclaims, excited to be introduced to someone she already knows. "You're Ryan's friend, right?"
"Right," Theresa smiles. She appears to be the only one in the room who is already dressed for the wedding, in a mint green silk halter dress. She's barefoot, however, and her hair is tangled.
"I met you the night I left," Anna says softly.
Theresa nods, still smiling, but her smile is smaller.
Marissa, who is slowly running the brush through Summer's dark hair, quickly changes the subject. "So, Summer, Anna was just having breakfast with your husband."
"He's not my husband," Summer is quick to correct.
"He will be in, like, two hours," Kaitlin says.
Summer pales. "Seriously?!" she cries. "There are only two hours left?"
Kaitlin recoils. "Well, no," she says. "More like four. I was just saying."
"That is still so weird," Marissa says. "Seth Cohen as someone's husband."
"What's weirder is Summer Roberts as someone's wife," Theresa adds wryly.
Summer flushes a little and sticks her tongue out at Theresa as the rest of the girls titter lightly. "Well, I figure if you can do it, it must not be that hard," she snarks.
"Ooh," Theresa mocks, grinning. She turns her attention to Anna. "So, how is our dear Mr. Cohen?"
Everyone in the room turns to face Anna. "Oh," she says. "He's all right. He was betting Kirsten that he could eat an entire basket of mini-muffins."
Summer snickers. "He can't," she says dismissively.
"That's what Kirsten said," Anna tells her.
Summer smiles and looks down at her lap. "Well, Cohen should know by now that his parents are always right."
Seth is dressed, and he's alone in his hotel room.
Ryan has gone to get them some sodas. His parents are in their own hotel room, getting ready. Summer is doing the whole girl thing with Marissa and Anna.
He's alone, and he is fine with that.
Seth is rarely alone anymore. The way he figures it, Jesus or Moses or whoever decided that sixteen years of being completely alone and hating it was enough to warrant a lifetime of never having to be alone again ever. Seth always has someone to talk to now, someone to watch TV or play video games with, someone to eat with. That's awesome, and he knows it. He doesn't take it for granted (or, at least, he doesn't think he does. He hopes he doesn't) but sometimes he feels crowded.
That has proved especially true in these last few days. The days leading up to this day, this party, have been impossibly suffocating. Everyone wants to know his opinion, wants him to come over here and pose for a picture, wants him to sleep, to eat, to breathe more. Which, you know, Seth enjoys. He likes attention, always has.
But even so, this silence is nice. It allows him to think. Which Seth doesn't do a lot, so it's understandable that he needs perfect silence to do so.
He sits on the edge of his bed, slumped over and looking at the floor. He's got his watch in his hands and he's turning it over and over again without thinking about it. He's thinking about Anna and Summer and wondering if his avoidance of that topic when he was sixteen is finally starting to come back to him.
Seth is thinking that he treated Anna wrongly, especially towards the end of their relationship and after, but that isn't a new conclusion. That thought had occurred to him the second she disappeared behind a corner in the airport and he realized he was never going to see her again. He understands that he was confused back then, and that it comes with the shock of the huge amount of attention people had suddenly started paying him, but that is no excuse. Anna is really an incredible person, and he feels bad for his actions towards her, because she definitely didn't deserve the stuff he put her through.
But then he thinks about Summer, and his relationship with her, and he's kind of happy that Anna gave up on him. Because Summer is wonderful, and being with Summer is even more wonderful. Even if it's kinda hard to convince other people of that. But really, once you get past the rage blackouts and the swearing and the sharp nails and the lack of appreciation for all things Marvel, Summer is seriously one of the most amazing people Seth has ever met. She talks sometimes about things (like manicures, Stuart Weitzman, or, like, Johnny Depp or something) that he has no interest whatsoever in, but the way she talks about them, the excitement she gets from just mentioning a sale at Neiman Marcus, kind of makes those mundane topics interesting to him. Seth has never known anyone (not in real life, anyway) who could do that.
Plus, hello, she's, like, the most beautiful person ever.
He loves her, he knows that much. That's not the problem.
This thought surprises even Seth. He drops the watch, hardly noticing the dull 'thunk' sound it makes as it hits the creamy carpeting.
There's a problem?
When did a problem show up?
Seth thinks he has some idea: when Anna showed up in that elevator.
He is just about to delve into his feelings or whatever on the manner when the door opens and Ryan enters the room. His navy blue tie is untied and hanging loosely around his neck, and he carries a six-pack of Pepsi bottles. "Hey," he says as he closes the door. "They were out of Mountain Dew at the mini-mart thing, so I got the next best thing." Ryan crosses the room and sets the sodas on the dresser next to the television. He pulls two bottles out of the weird plastic contraption that holds them together, tosses one to Seth, and carries the other to the desk chair he's been sitting in all morning. Ryan leans down to retrieve the remote control and, as he turns on the TV, casts a sidelong glance in Seth's direction. "What's the matter with you?" he asks, turning his attention back to the screen, which is displaying some college coed licking whipped cream off another's stomach. "Is it spring break already?" he adds, mostly to himself, as he changes the channel.
Noticing the silence, Ryan turns back to Seth. "Seriously, dude, what's wrong? I mean, I know Pepsi's not as good as Mountain Dew, but—"
"It's not the soda," Seth replies, unscrewing the lid of his as if to prove this point further. "It's…" He pauses, realizing he doesn't quite know what it is. "It's typical…wedding…guy…stuff," he mutters, taking a long drink of soda.
Ryan nods blankly and turns to the television screen again, flipping it to some basic cable channel. "It's an eighties movie," he says to himself. "Want to watch it? Eighties movies are good, right?"
"Except for Weird Science, yes," Seth responds.
"I liked Weird Science," Ryan protests mildly, taking a sip of his own soda and settling back in his chair. "Reminded me of you."
Seth is indignant. "Why would I build a girl?" he demands. "I wouldn't build a girl. My mom would totally find out and ship me to a home for, like, mentally disturbed/sexually frustrated kids or something."
Ryan shrugs carelessly and stares at the screen, steadily drinking his Pepsi.
Seth and Ryan watch in silence for a few minutes, Ryan waiting for Seth to tell him what is wrong and Seth trying to figure out what movie this is.
"Some Kind of Wonderful," Seth says finally.
Ryan glances at him. "Huh?"
"This movie," Seth responds, watching Mary Stuart Masterson straddle Eric Stolz on a workbench. "It's, uh, Some Kind of Wonderful."
"You seen it?" Ryan asks, polishing off his first Pepsi. He screws the cap back onto the bottle and tosses it into a wastebasket across the room.
"You could say that," Seth says wryly.
Seth shrugs casually. "Yeah."
"What's it about?"
"Well, Ryan, it's the story of a loser—sort of like me, only he can do stuff with cars, and you know what oil does to my skin—who falls in love with the Goddess of High School—kind of like Summer, only Summer's rich and much hotter than Lea Thompson—and she falls back, because, come on, nerds are totally hot, but then he realizes that his best friend is in love with him—remember Thanksgiving? That was fun, wasn't it?—and he's all, 'Oh, my God, what am I gonna do?', you know? Of course you do, you lived it with me. And then, at the end, he picks his best friend." Seth finally pauses. Ryan smirks. "You've seen this movie?" Seth asks.
"It was Theresa's favorite movie," Ryan replies, standing to get himself another soda. "That and Clueless."
Seth shakes his head. "You sure she wasn't born in Newport?"
Ryan flashes a short smile and throws himself back into his chair. "So, doubting the whole Summer-Anna thing again?" he asks. "Kinda late, don't you think?"
"I know," Seth says eagerly, pulling his legs up onto the bed with him and drawing his knees up to his chest. "I thought I was totally over this, but then Anna showed up—"
"And it was like she'd never left," Ryan finishes, sipping his Pepsi. "Yeah, been there."
"What advice do you have, speaking as someone who has been there?"
Ryan quirks an eyebrow. "I don't know, Seth. My case was a little bit different than yours. I wasn't marrying Marissa." He pauses. "Except me and Marissa weren't going out at the time, but you know what I mean."
Seth sighs and rubs his eyes. "I just keep thinking about what things would be like if Anna had stayed in California."
"You and Summer would've broken up even more times," Ryan supplies.
"I would have a vintage T-shirt collection the size of Sacramento."
"You would hide in a closet on Thanksgiving."
"It's unlikely that I'd own a teacup terrier named Captain Sparkle."
"You would never have been to a Christina Aguilera concert."
"I would most definitely not be getting married today."
There is an uncomfortable silence as they both consider this.
"So we're walking on the beach, right?" Summer says excitedly, and someone mutters an affirmative response, so she continues, "And we go to his boat."
"The Summer Breeze," Anna remembers.
Summer beams. "Right! So we get in, and he starts babbling about, like, cake and flowers and how much he loves me and stuff, and I'm totally confused, so I'm all, 'Cohen, what is your problem?' and he says, 'Summer, I need to ask you something.' And I'm like, 'So ask me, you retard.' And then he asked me to marry him, and that was it."
"Sounds romantic," Anna says flatly.
Summer shrugs, catching the sarcasm. "Well, it's Cohen. Ow," she says, turning around to glare at the woman who came in to do her hair. "That hurts. I'm tender headed."
"Sorry," the woman mumbles and continues to assemble Summer's updo.
Anna leans back in her chair and watches as the hairdresser pins the last section of Summer's dark hair up and sprays the whole thing liberally with hairspray. It's pretty, that's for sure, but the hair is nothing compared to the dress that Julie Cooper and Kirsten wheeled in a few minutes ago. Anna thinks of the dress now because Summer is rising from her chair and untying the sash on her robe so she can step into it.
The wedding is in an hour and a half, and Summer is flustered beyond belief but trying to hide it by complaining a lot and talking fast. But her cheeks are clownishly red and her eyes are darting around the room and she's trembling—subtly—from head to foot.
It is just Kirsten, Marissa, Theresa, and Anna left in the room now that the hairdresser has left. Anna tried to leave about forty-five minutes ago, but Summer had told her in so many words that if Anna left, she would kill her and chop her body into several tiny pieces.
And you never doubt Summer because she's a lot of things, but dishonest is hardly one of them.
Marissa and Kirsten hold the dress up as Summer steps into it. She keeps her balance by resting her hands on either woman's shoulders. The diamond on her left ring finger flashes as Summer lowers that hand from Kirsten's shoulder and rights herself.
Once the dress is in the right place, Marissa kneels down behind her best friend and begins to do up the pearly white buttons that go all the way from the waistline of the dress to where the bodice begins, which rests directly beneath Summer's shoulder blades. There is silence in the room as she does this, even from Summer, and Kirsten has to sit down because it is fully hitting her now that this is the woman she is giving her son to, and Anna can only imagine how difficult that is. She wants to go to Kirsten and say something poignant, but Marissa has finished the buttoning and Summer is crossing the room to where Kirsten sits. She crouches down so her head is level with Kirsten's shoulder and she puts her arms around her.
And now Anna really wants to leave because she feels ridiculously uncomfortable witnessing this, and her eyes flash to Marissa, who has started to cry a little.
"So early on, too," Marissa mumbles, fumbling in the pocket of her jacket for something. When her hand reemerges, it is clutching a cellophane wrapped package of tissues. She tears them open and daubs at her eyes, heading towards the bathroom, no doubt to fix her eye makeup.
Summer rises, blinking furiously, and asks, "Does anyone know where my veil is?"
"Oh," Theresa says, leaping up from her spot on the bed and hurrying to the dresser. "I think it's in here…oh, no, just a Bible." She draws herself up again and closes the dresser drawer with her hip. "Marissa," she calls, "where's the veil?"
Marissa comes out of the bathroom, a crumpled tissue poking out of her fist, an eyeliner pencil in the other hand. "Um," she says, "I don't know. I thought you had it, Kirsten."
Kirsten sighs. "I did. I forgot. Um, it's in my hotel room, let me just go get it—"
"No, I can get that for you," Anna says hurriedly, practically jumping from her seat. "I was going to get dressed anyway. Which room is yours?"
Anna emerges from her room some twenty minutes later, dressed in her wedding attire: a gold, off the shoulder Givenchy party dress with a black lace overlay and gold ribbon around the waist and hem with little pearly gold slingback shoes with cutesy bows at the toes. She pushes a strand of her straggly bangs (Theresa can probably trim them for her if she asks, she looks like she has a steady hand) out of her eyes and starts off towards the elevator so she can retrieve Summer's veil from Sandy and Kirsten's room. She does not know why Kirsten would have Summer's veil, but she decides that it's probably best to just do as she is told and not ask questions.
Not that there's anyone around right now to direct questions to, but whatever.
As she pushes the 'down' button on the switchboard, she muses that it's kinda weird how everyone in this circle has their rooms on, like, seven different floors. She doesn't mind or anything. Anna likes elevators. Still, it's weird. You'd think everyone would want to be on at least the same floor. Or within two floors of each other. But no, Sandy and Kirsten's room is on the sixth floor, Marissa's (where the whole getting-ready ritual is taking place) on the eighth, Seth and Summer's room on the eleventh, and Ryan's room on the third.
Maybe the hotel is, like, really full or something.
Anna shrugs to herself as the little bell goes off, announcing their arrival at the sixth floor. She steps out of the elevator and heads in the direction of room 614, which Kirsten says is to the right and all the way down the hall. She is halfway there when she hears someone call her name.
Just like that.
Anna turns around and sees Ryan jogging to catch up with her. His hair is fashionably tousled, and he's wearing his suit. "Hi," he says, stopping in front of her. "Where you headed?"
"Sandy and Kirsten's," she replies. "Kirsten left Summer's veil in the room. Summer wants it. I'm getting it." She allows a small smile at her redundancy.
Ryan grins back. "Yeah? I was heading there, too. Seth needs, uh, cufflinks."
"Cufflinks," Anna repeats in a low tone for a lack of anything better to say. "Very important, cufflinks."
"Yeah," Ryan smiles. "You look nice," he adds.
Anna ducks her head. "Thanks," she says, blushing even though she knows he's just saying it to be polite, because that's what Ryan does to girls. He's got that whole Prince Charming complex, which Anna imagines would be nice, you know, if you were dating him.
They reach the door and Ryan knocks. Sandy opens the door after a few moments. "Hi, guys," he says brightly, moving aside. "Come on in."
Anna and Ryan enter, and Sandy closes the door behind them. "So, Anna, are you here for the veil?"
Sandy goes to the opposite side of the room and picks up a long white box off the desk. "Here," he says. "It's real heavy."
"Thanks," Anna says again, taking the box from him.
"Ryan, anything you need?"
"Uh, cufflinks," Ryan responds. "Seth left his at home."
Anna waits for Ryan to get the cufflinks, and when he does, they say goodbye to Sandy (who still has some getting ready to do) and head to the elevator.
"So," Anna says, as Ryan presses the eighth floor button for her, "does Seth need those cufflinks now, or do you want to go gawk at Summer in her wedding dress?"
"Summer," Ryan says, his voice low and masculine all of a sudden, "wow."
Summer beams. "I know!" she shrieks out of excitement, rushing over to hug him. This surprises Anna, but apparently not the other women in the room, who are busy getting themselves ready. From the looks of it, Summer and Ryan have become quite chummy in the…well, ten years that Anna's been gone (okay, that's plausible). Either that, or Summer's just really excited and Ryan's simply too floored at her appearance to protest when she flings her arms around his neck.
"You look great," Ryan tells her sincerely when they break apart. He still has her wrists in either of his hands, and he twirls Summer once. "I mean, really. Seth is going to die."
"It'll be better than the Wonder Woman outfit," Anna says, and Summer flushes, clearly embarrassed at this memory. But this hardly deters her; the next second, she is hopping up and down and telling Ryan about her garter.
"And I put it really high up my leg," Summer is saying. "Is that really slutty? Because, like, it's way up there. I just want to see his reaction, you know? But then I'm thinking, what if it gets stuck up there or something and he can't get it, because, hello, it's Cohen and he has no hand-eye coordination, and that'll be gross. It's like, wow, we're getting to, like, second base. Right now. Oh, hi, Dad!"
"I think that'd be more than second base, actually," Ryan replies, flashing her a smile that makes his eyes crinkle at the corners.
"Exactly," Summer says. "And in front of my dad. And Sandy. And Caleb. And just…ew. But it's not like he promised to make an honest woman out of me or anything. Everyone at this wedding totally knows that he deflowered me a long time ago."
Ryan appears suddenly aware that Kirsten is in the bathroom about seven feet away from them, borrowing some of Marissa's makeup and fully listening in on their conversation. "Summer," he says.
"What does that phrase even mean, anyway?" Summer wonders, completely oblivious to Ryan's gentle prodding. "'Make an honest woman out of me'? I don't really know. I just heard it on Sex and the City or something. They say it all the time at weddings, though. Well, you know, on TV shows about weddings." She turns to Anna, who by this point is extremely amused. "Do you know what it means?"
"Something to do with wearing white, probably," Anna responds, smirking at Ryan, who smirks back.
"Oh, cool, see, I was right, then," Summer chatters on. "I think I am going to pull the garter down, then. Thanks, Chino." She beams cheekily at him, claps him on the shoulder, and practically skips to the bathroom, where she joins Kirsten at the mirror and starts to swipe lip gloss on her mouth.
Ryan smiles, waves good-bye to Kirsten, and opens the door. Anna follows him out.
"She still calls you Chino?" she asks.
Ryan grins. "Seth is convinced it's her way of showing affection, those weird nicknames. She still calls him Cohen."
"Has it occurred to her that she's going to be a Cohen after today?"
"Seth has been telling her that since the day he proposed to her. She says that she's going to be a Roberts-Cohen though, so it won't count."
"With the hyphen?" Anna winces.
Ryan smiles at her. "Yeah."
The time of the wedding is getting wicked close.
Seth knows this and it is seriously starting to freak him out.
Is this what a panic attack feels like? Because he's never had one before—the whole stuck inside the elevator thing doesn't count because that was a side effect of the claustrophobia—but he's pretty sure that's where the total, incapacitating breathlessness comes from. And the 'oh-my-God-I-am-so-gonna-throw-up' feeling.
He wonders if this is normal. Like, do all grooms feel this way? Probably. Seth has read about and met some real commitment-phobes (hello, Ryan), but he has never actually considered himself one of them. In fact, Seth has been pro-commitment since the third day of fifth grade when he came home, threw his backpack on the kitchen table, chewed on a cookie, and casually announced to his mom that he was in love with Summer Roberts and was going to marry her.
When did all that come undone?
And again, Seth knows the answer to that question, because it's the same answer as before. It's also possibly the same question.
Seth has a redundancy problem.
But that's not the point.
The point is he has to be down in the hotel ballroom in forty-five minutes to wait for Summer to come down the aisle, and he's seriously starting to wonder if he's going to end up like Julia Roberts in that one movie—you know, the one where she takes off right in the middle of her own wedding, like, eight different times. The movie sucks, but it's definitely starting to give him some ideas.
Stop it, Seth tells himself. He knows he doesn't really want to run out on Summer (she could totally jump him and make him go through with the wedding if he tried), because that is a totally lame and low thing to do, but there's Anna.
Anna, who still likes everything he does.
Anna, who laughs at his jokes. Well, Summer does that too, but only in private. She says she doesn't want to encourage him in public.
Anna, who is…well, she's Anna, and there's no getting around that.
Seth kind of wishes that Anna were here right now to talk some sense into him, because she was always so good at that, and he knows that she would tell him to avoid a rage blackout and get married, for the love of God. Except Anna wouldn't say 'for the love of God' because Seth seems to remember her saying that she was an atheist. Not that that matters or anything. Because religion is a choice, just like a buffet. A breakfast buffet, because those are the best kind. Like, say oatmeal represents Christianity and eggs represent Judaism and pancakes are Catholicism and then you've got your waffles, and your waffles are atheism (how come you have to capitalize all the other religions, but not atheism? Is it because atheism isn't really a religion, but, like, anti-religion? If so, then Seth is fairly sure that is discrimination). Who is Seth to tell Anna that she can't have waffles? Moreover, who is Seth to tell her that she can only have eggs or oatmeal? Even if eggs have all that protein and oatmeal sticks with you all day, and waffles are just, like, stacks upon stacks of carbohydrates and starch, and thanks to Dr. Atkins, everyone knows that's bad for you and makes you fat. Not that Anna's fat.
Even in his head Seth rambles.
He combs his fingers through his hair and sighs loudly, even though there's no one in the room to hear it. He cannot believe he is even thinking about this. If his fourteen or fifteen-year-old self could hear him now, he would have his ass kicked. Well, actually, that's probably not true, because Seth remembers himself at fourteen, and he's been in a few fights since then.
Twenty-six-year-old Seth could totally take fourteen-year-old Seth.
Seth smiles at that and suddenly remembers an episode of Friends. Now, Seth doesn't usually like to bring up his liking for Friends, because it was awfully commercialized during its run, and Seth Cohen doesn't like to associate himself with anything commercialized, but in this case, he thinks Ross and Chandler and Joey can help him.
Now there's a sentence he thought he'd never say.
Anyway, on this one episode of Friends, Ross made a list comparing his current girlfriend—Seth couldn't remember her name, and that didn't matter, because Ross didn't pick her anyway—to Rachel. You know, contrasting their occupations, their unattractive features, that sort of thing. Then they printed it up on Chandler's state of the art (circa 1997) computer, and the whole thing exploded—but Seth isn't going to do that part. He is just going to make a list.
For purely scientific purposes, of course.
Seth rolls over on the bed, probably mussing his hair, so as to reach the end table. By the telephone, there is a pad of hotel stationery and a Bic ballpoint pen with the hotel logo superimposed on it. Seth picks up these things, grabs the last Pepsi from the dresser, and heads to the desk at the other end of the room. Once there, he sets the paper, pen, and soda down and draws up a chair.
"Okay," he mumbles to himself, drawing a line down the middle of the page. On the left side he writes 'Summer' and on the right side he writes 'Anna'. "Okay…jobs first. Something easy, something thought provoking."
Summer is a buyer for Versace, which she loves because of the discount and her advantage over all the other Newpsies who had to wait a few months before they got to see the collections, but she sort of made the collections. Seth scrawls: "Buyer. Picks clothes for stores."
Anna owns her own comic book shop, which Seth thinks is quite possibly the coolest thing ever. She was in London procuring some rare comic books, she tells him. He writes under her name: "Comic book shop. 35% discount a major plus…."
Ryan knocks on the door to Seth's room. "Seth, it's time to go downstairs."
Seth comes to the door, his face pale. "Okay, Ryan, you need to take a look at this."
Ryan regards his friend warily but steps into the hotel room and closes the door behind him. Seth scurries over to the desk and snatches up a few pages of hotel stationery. "Seth, what are you doing?"
"Just look at these," Seth insists, handing Ryan the papers. "Look at them, and tell me what you think."
Ryan raises an eyebrow but complies. "Wait," he says, looking up. "Are you comparing Anna and Summer?!"
"It was driving me insane, Ryan, I had to!"
"You need medication," Ryan says, shaking his head. "I think you have OCD."
"So? What do you think?!"
Ryan shakes his head again. "No," he says. "No, you are marrying Summer. Right now. She's going to be down there, and—"
"But Ryan, what if I'm making a mistake?" Seth breaks in, and he really does look worried. He kinda looks like he's going to cry, in fact. "What if marrying Summer turns out to be the downfall of my life?"
"Seth," Ryan says, gripping Seth by the shoulder, "you overanalyze things. You always have. Especially when you're nervous. Now listen—you had a good thing with Anna, we all know that. But were you happy?"
Seth considers this.
"You weren't, not really," Ryan answers for him. "Seth, I haven't known you that long—"
"Ten years is a pretty long time."
"—but I've never seen you as happy as you are with Summer," Ryan finishes, ignoring his comment. "Do you wanna lose that?"
Seth stands at the altar, Ryan beside him, grinning self-importantly. He loves to be right. Admittedly, it doesn't happen very much, so when it does, Seth lets him bask in his own glory.
Marissa comes down the aisle, wearing the dress she and Summer argued over for ages: it's orange, and Marissa says orange washes her out, but Summer wanted her wedding to be bright and colorful and festive, so Marissa eventually relented. She looks fine, not at all washed out. Not that Seth can tell when someone looks washed out or not, but still.
That 'Here Comes the Bride' song begins, and Seth swears his heart has stopped. He can't really breathe for the anticipation, and he can't take his eyes off the doors that she's supposed to come through.
And there she is. Oh, my God.
Her dad has his arm looped through hers, and she carries a bouquet of dark red roses. She's beaming at him as she comes towards him. He has never seen her look more beautiful than she does now, and that is certainly saying something. She's wearing the diamond drop earrings he bought her for Christmas last year and shimmery white eyeshadow. Her dress is sleeveless, soft white silk, with intricate beading and a trumpeted skirt. It's Badgley Mischka, which apparently means something, although Seth doesn't know what. All he knows is that Summer has been babbling for a month about this Badgley Mischka dress and how wonderful it is.
Seth would like to personally thank Badgley Mischka someday.
Summer joins him at the aisle and he grips her hands in either one of his. She smiles at him and he smiles back. He can't stop smiling.
Seth can't help but think, as the officiator starts to talk, that maybe marrying Summer is a mistake. Maybe it's the best thing he's ever done. He can't be sure.
And he kind of likes that feeling of not knowing.
It sure makes the future seem a lot more exciting.
A/N: Yay, it's done. And most noticeably, not a Seth/Anna.
Disclaimer: All characters and entities belong to Fox and the genius that is Josh Schwartz. Weird Science belongs to John Hughes, who is also a genius. I'm not sure who wrote Some Kind of Wonderful, and am too lazy to look it up. I think it might've been John Hughes, but somehow, I don't think so. If you haven't seen it, you definitely should. It completely echoes the whole Seth/Anna/Summer situation, which Anna realizes in "The Telenovela". Sort of. You don't think she just happened to mention it, did you?