A/N: Sorry, It's been REALLY long. I suffered from B-A-D writer's block. But here it is. Anyways, props to the person who picked up the Donnie Darko reference in the last chapter, but I did say there were two movie references in there and no one picked up the second one. Come on, try harder! Lol, anyways, as always R&R
A week. A week of being in Newport and six days of living in Ryan's house.
It's your house now guys.
Normally Ryan or Seth would've winced at such a corny comment. But Ryan seemed comfortable saying it.
Seth wandered around the large, impassive house on the early Sunday morning. Ryan's four bedroom home was typically Ryan, if that was such a thing. Stark furniture and colours, with a minimal CD and DVD collection. It was large and impersonal, as if no one ever really lived there at all. And no one practically did, seeing as how Ryan apparently traveled all the time.
Ryan was attempting to make it feel more accommodating. He told the kids they could decorate their rooms anyway they wanted, he would even hire a decorator for them if they wanted. Seth made constant feeble protestations that this living situation was only temporary and that they were going to find their own place. Most of the Cohen Clan ignored him, even Summer, swept up in the idea of getting new furniture and redecorating.
"Remember when we did Marissa's room? Total flashback," she giggled to him.
The only other Cohen Clan member that seemed wary of this redecorating idea was Zeppelin. They shared a mutual, silent male bond and shared glances that simply said, women, whenever Halle, Manhattan and Summer started to gush about paint colours. But it was more than that. Designing their bedrooms in Ryan's home seemed too…permanent. Zeppelin still had a half-baked notion, a longing, that maybe that this move to California wasn't permanent. And Seth kind of did too.
Seth slide down the hallways in his bare feet, while the house quietly slumbered and the six-thirty sunrise framed the windows. Halle and Manhattan, sharing the blue bedroom down the hall both snored softly. A habit obviously inherited from their mother, though she would never believe it if you told her. He paused outside Zeppelin's room, which he shared with James.
He heard Zeppelin faintly singing and pushed the door slightly opened.
"Yeah you fell in love and you went and got married," Zeppelin sang.
"Had yourself a family, how simple life can be," Seth joined in.
Zeppelin stopped at the sight of Seth.
Seth sighed and went and sank down on the end of his bed.
"You gonna give this bratty kid attitude up soon Zepp? 'Cas it's getting old. There are plenty of Newport kids around here that do that sort of thing regularly. So put on your New York attitude and show them how you can be the bigger man. Try a little harder."
"Daddy, I'm only seven."
Zeppelin stared at him then climbed into his lap. The Cohen men, gangly by tradition, wrapped their long arms around each other and listened to Baby James slumber softly.
"But maybe I can show these Newport kids a thing or too," he muttered.
The Sunday morning was spent lounging around the house, Summer lavishing the last day she had before starting her new job, Seth lavishing the last day of unofficial non-permanence, because as soon as Summer started her new job, it was sort of official: They had moved to Newport and they were staying.
Ryan had taken the week off to make them feel comfortable and he was going back to work tomorrow. He spent his Sunday tied up in his office, yelling at people on the phone and pouring through pages and pages of paper and blueprints.
Halle and Zeppelin laid by the pool, talking animatedly about their old neighbours, the De Palmers.
"If I saw Nate, I would totally say," Zeppelin sang, "hey, De Palmer. This is our giant house."
"With our beach-side view," sang Halle.
"And our pool!" they shouted in unison.
Summer watched from the kitchen through the window.
"Zeppelin seems better."
"Zeppelin told me he'd try to make an effort," Seth muttered, not looking up from his paper. "But it probably won't last."
"Daddy!" Manhattan said, where she was lying on the couch, watching him read the paper.
"Well, he's as moody as your mother, it's to be expected."
Summer looked at him and rolled her eyes.
Sunday was spent lying on the couch, doing nothing, having no energy to want to. Sunday afternoon was spent dancing with Manhattan and Zeppelin to some old, old, old Talking Heads CDs, dancing to Burning Down the House on repeat over and over again.
"Daddy," giggled Manhattan as she swung around him, "Daddy, how old's this song?"
"Olllllllddddddddd," he sang, and pretended to dance in slow motion with Zeppelin. "Talking Heads are pure eighties. It's older than me."
Little bits of his New York life were starting to slowly plaster their way onto his new one. Spending a Sunday afternoon listening to some Talking Heads was pure New York way of spending his afternoon.
The house, Ryan's house, your new home, was starting to change a little too. He and the kids spent one day going through their large CD collection and adding it to Ryan's meagre one. Bikes, including his old battered one that he rode to work every morning back in New York, laid scattered outside the front door. Kid shoes seemed to be everywhere. The hallways smelt of James' baby powder. Manhattan had already spilt bright red black-current juice on Ryan's clean, cream carpet.
All were too scared to mention their morning tradition of listening to music to Ryan. The Cohen Clan awoke to silence every morning, something none of them were used to, and Seth dreamed of waking up to laughter and talking, the sounds of music, the sound of a city. But the two-storey house, where the four bedrooms laid upstairs, missed the talking down in the kitchen. The sounds of a city were impossible and all he dreamed was for the music.
He and Ryan shared a beer by the pool on the lazy day Sunday, while the sun set around them and Burning Down the House could still be heard from the house.
"If you…uh…want to play music in the morning, that's okay with me," Ryan muttered.
Seth raised an eyebrow.
"I just remember you guys telling me ages ago that was a…thing you sort of all did. So I don't make it feel like you can't…or something."
Ryan stared at his beer. Seth felt like he, Seth Cohen, was pretending to be a man's man. Football, beer, don't cry and speak about feelings and all that.
"Hey man, that's cool," Seth role-played and laughed loudly inside his head. "You can even have a morning…if you want. I mean, Monday to Friday all's booked, but…you can have Saturday if you want."
Don't take Saturday, don't take Saturday, he begged in his head. Saturdays were random play mornings, anything went on Saturdays. He loved the "crazy freedom," as Halle always called it.
"Nah, man, that's cool," Ryan repeated, and Seth wondered if Ryan was mocking him. "I've never…you know…been into music much."
It felt like one of the conversations they had back when they first met. Back when Ryan was unsure of Seth and couldn't read him and Seth couldn't read Ryan.
"I saw that you guys had a hammock, you should put it out here," Ryan said.
"Yeah," Seth replied. Yeah. That hammock was just a hammock but it was just a hammock tied to the porch of their first home, the hammock that he came home to every night after work and collapsed into with Summer. Or was. Yeah. Maybe that Cohen tradition was saved for just New York. He liked to keep some things to himself.
Sunday night was spent having dinner with the parents.
"It'll be a regular thing," beamed Kirsten. "Dinner every Sunday."
Kirsten and Summer spent the time curled up on the couch together, having hushed, gossiping conversations. Summer was settling in more than Seth. He still felt like a visitor, which wasn't hard, considering he kind of felt like that even before he went off to New York. But Summer had always been part of Newport, a little. He just liked to think that maybe she was all East Coast now, like him. But some of her heart was obviously still in Newport.
Sandy was laughing with Manhattan as she told him she spent her afternoon dancing with her dad to Talking Heads. They began to loudly to sing Burning Down the House together, then Sandy, Halle and Manhattan sat with Kirsten and Summer and they started to tell stories of when Seth and Summer were kids, starting with how they first met.
"I've never heard these stories Daddy," Manhattan called to him, where he stood in the kitchen. "Did Mommy really hate you?"
Seth walked back to the dining room, where Ryan and Zeppelin were sitting at the table in silence.
"One big happy family out there," Seth muttered, then he turned to tiny Zeppelin, with his curly, messy hair and patted his knee. "Us Cohen men, we have to stick together."
Zeppelin nodded. "Okay Daddy."
"What?" Seth asked.
"Nothing," said Ryan but Seth knew what he was thinking. Seth was a grown up. Seth was a Daddy and Seth was the head of a household and it was so strange. Even Seth thought it was strange sometimes. Back in New York, he used to come home to his house and Summer would be at the table sorting out bills and he would cook dinner for all his kids and he would just feel like an imposter.
Zeppelin was starting to act less bratty. It was mainly because of Ryan, he realized after awhile. Ryan was quiet and careful and Zeppelin was loud, obnoxious, and rude, like a younger of Seth and Summer compacted into one. For that reason, they got along.
He left Ryan and Zeppelin at the table, where Zeppelin was listing why he loved New York so much and Ryan listening attentively and went outside and sat at the table by the pool. He felt much very alone. Everyone was settling in.
He faced the night sky and felt his heart ache for a city skyline, for the sounds of cars and people yelling and the mugginess. All he wanted for was home. All he wanted was…
"Who's sulking then?"
He turned, to where Summer stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips.
"I'm not sulking."
She raised one eyebrow then slowly stalked over to him, climbing in his lap.
"I felt like I haven't spoken to you in a week," she told him softly.
From the inside of the house, loud laughter shattered the air.
Summer held his face and kissed him gently on the cheek.
"What's wrong Cohen?"
He shrugged and felt unattached from her. "I guess I'm just the only one who's homesick."
She kissed on the lips, then rested her head on his chest. "I miss home too."
They sat in silence for a long time, listening to the voices from the house.
"I'm just trying to settle in, make life easier."
"I mean, I start a new job tomorrow, I can't be wallowing around and missing home."
"And it's good that the kids are settling in."
"Why do I feel like I owe you an explanation or something? Like I'm betraying you or something?"
"Start your novel, then you'll feel better," she said feebly then rolled her eyes. "I'm being ridiculous."
He laughed. "Summer? Being ridiculous? That's unheard of."
"Shutup, I just…Seth…" she paused. "Oh…I don't know."
She curled up tighter on his lap and kissed him again. Then they just both sat in silence, getting comfort from just sitting together. Ryan came out after awhile then stopped.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt," he looked away.
"Ryan, we're just sitting here," laughed Summer.
"I know but…" then he laughed and walked over and sat opposite them. "You know I was thinking about it…before, like this week, we hadn't seen each other in almost six years."
"Yeah. We know," stated Seth flatly.
"I mean, we talked on the phone a lot but we never visited each other. And I don't even know why."
"I do," Summer said. "Because your job makes you travel a lot and you have work a lot so you don't really have time."
"But that's not really an ex-"
"AND," she said loudly, cutting him off, "We can't afford to fly to Newport regularly,"
"AND…your last visit was a little weird. And I think that no one forgot that."
Ryan's last visit. The words hung in the air like a stale smell.
He was coming to Zeppelin and Halle's first birthday. April 24th. He announced to them the month before and Seth and Summer spent a crazy, whirlwind month trying to get everything perfect. They re-painted the inside of their house themselves, cleaned everything in sight, fussed over making Manhattan look adorable and perfect, Seth even polished his bike. They weren't entirely sure why they were trying so hard to impress Ryan, just that they were. It was almost like they were acting like Ryan was going to go back to Newport and tell everyone "what a dump Seth and Summer lived in now."
"We shouldn't care what Newport people think," Summer muttered to Seth one hour before Ryan arrived.
Ryan's rented car pulled outside their house. This was back when Ryan's business was only three years old and money was just starting to trickle in. The car was Toyota and at the sight of it, Seth started to feel sick.
"I don't feel well," he told Summer urgently.
"You're just nervous," she snapped at him, panicky Summer in full, cranky mode.
Two-year old, nearly three Manhattan laughed from Summer's hip.
"Daddy nervous," she repeated.
They watched Ryan from behind the curtains walk slowly to their front door. With each impending step that Ryan took, Seth felt sicker. Summer looked pale herself.
"Nervous, I'm just nervous," he repeated to himself over and over again.
A knock could be heard from the front door. Summer swung it open.
"Ryan!" she smiled and stepped to let him in.
Then Seth threw up all over the hardwood floors.
Ryan's visit didn't get much better than that. Seth had a stomach virus for the first four days he was here so Ryan was stuck with Summer and three toddlers. The original plan was for Seth to show Ryan around. Ryan had visited before of course, but he had only ever stayed a few days. This time he was staying for three loooooonnnnnnngggggggggg weeks.
When Seth recovered, he relived Ryan from four days of hanging with babies and women and took him for a patented Cohen tour of New York.
"There's where I met Summer again," he pointed by the swings in Central Park.
He showed him the old apartment building that they used to live, took him to his work, then to Summer's, introduced him to all his neighbours and had fun with him on Wednesday night, better known as curry night, which Ryan, despite his years of living in Newport, had barely ever had.
For the first week, it was going swimmingly.
It was the second week that things began to fall apart. Ryan met some of their East Coast friends one night: Pascale, Billie, Michael from his work and Sara from Summer's.
They were typically East Coast and typically New York. Pascale went straight for Ryan at first sighting, her long straight hair free flowing and her dark eyes on a mission.
"Hello Ryan", she spoke in her sultry accent. She had the ability to sound "sexy" in anything she said. "I have heard not much of you. Tell me your life story."
She clutched, as always, a Diet Coke and Vodka and Ryan looked uncomfortable.
Seth rescued him from Pascale's grip and introduced him to Billie, back then a thirteen year old who still screamed trouble.
"This is Billie…Zeppelin's sister," he offered.
Billie had just discovered eyeliner and alcohol. She stared at the beer in Ryan's hand.
"Can I have some?" she whispered, trying to imitate Pascale's voice.
Michael from Seth's work was a Rhode Island escapee, with dark hair spiked in the middle and had a wide variety of black clothing and vintage rock tee-shirts. He and Seth shared the common agreement that the Shins, did indeed rock and Michael, being the music reviewer at the paper, tried to put it into print at least every second issue. Seth was incredibly, secretly jealous of Michael's job and had been plotting since arrival of getting it.
Ryan didn't like Michael. His smarmy and confident attitude that Seth and Summer were used to irked Ryan and reminded him of Oliver.
"It's only an act," Seth told Ryan over beers. "He's actually a very sweet guy. I call him Vince Vaughn 'cas he acts all knowing and fast-talking but he's actually a good guy."
But Ryan still didn't like him.
Sara was quiet, pretty and adored Summer. Summer adored her back. After years of being Marissa's friend, Sara was nice change and they treated each other like royalty. Michael had fallen in love with her from first sight and drunkenly made it clear to Ryan.
"You…you bloody, you…Newport guy," Michael spluttered, "You stay away from Sara."
Ryan made a point of talking loudly with Sara and kept flashing looks at Michael.
The night was wasted away with Michael hijacking the CD player and playing Bonnie Prince Billy repeatedly, and glaring at Ryan. Billie had been put to bed hours ago but she kept getting up and sneaking half empty drinks off the table. Pascale kept sauntering over to Ryan and half-pushing Sara away. Summer laid asleep on the couch.
"Okay, maybe it's home time," Seth said loudly.
The crowd eventually left, Michael stumbling out the door after Sara.
Ryan laughed as soon everyone was gone. "God, what a crowd."
Summer sat up accusingly. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You guys are just hanging around some different people now." Ryan laughed again, this time quite long. "Really different."
The fight that followed was something that had been building up for years. Summer accused Ryan of judging their life, of everyone back in Newport judging their life. Ryan said that frankly no one really thought it but, yes, Seth and Summer had changed.
They both accused each other of changing for the worse, Summer calling Ryan a typical Newport guy and Ryan calling Summer an poser, saying that the old Summer would've hated the life she had now, that Summer was just pretending that she did.
Ryan couldn't accept the changes that had slowly molded Seth and Summer's life. Summer hated that Ryan couldn't accept it. Seth sat in the midst of the it and half-wished that Ryan would just leave.
Fast-forward six years and here they were, sitting uncomfortably in silence while they remembered the fight.
"I didn't mean the stuff I said," Ryan offered.
"Yes you did," Summer said bluntly. "But so did I."
The last hours of the night was spent with his wife in his bed, tangled between sheets and breathing softly.
"I'm going to try harder," he echoed his advice to Zeppelin.
She kissed him. "Sulk as long as you want.