Ryan carried the large boxes out to the driveway, as Seth followed behind. "Okay, Ryan, explain to me exactly why we're spending our Saturday doing this?"
As Ryan put the box down, he looked at Seth. "You were there at dinner last night as your mother explained about Julie and the landscapers?" At Seth's blank expression and shrug of his shoulders, Ryan continued, "You know, Julie hiring the landscapers away from your mother to go decorate the haunted mansion so now they can't come here?"
With Seth's continued blank expression, Ryan continued on, "And how disappointed she was that the house wouldn't be ready for the first night of Hanukkah? You know – the first night of Hanukkah being the kick off to your whole Chrismukkah season?"
"So?" Seth shrugged again.
Ryan sighed. "And you were there this morning when your dad explained that they were going shopping today, and how it would be nice if the house somehow got decorated? You did understand the hint, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but no where do I recall anyone saying anything about having to perform manual labor."
"It's decorating, Seth. Not manual labor." Ryan looked at Seth's empty hands before heading back to the garage for the last box of decorations. "Especially for you."
Seth held up his empty hands. "Hey. You're all about the manual labor. I'm all about the…."
"Whining?" Ryan interrupted.
"Supervising. I'm all about the supervising. I don't whine. Well, not much. And besides, you're the one who agreed with Dad this morning about us doing this."
When Ryan stopped and looked at Seth, he added, "You were the one sitting there with that goofy smile on your face and nodding your head in complete suck up agreement."
"You were nodding, too."
"Because you were! I figured you had to be agreeing to something good. Maybe some kind of really great Chrismukkah gift. Not agreeing to slave labor."
Ryan only shook his head as Seth continued. "What? I wasn't listening to what he was saying. I was thinking so when I saw you nod your head, I nodded mine. Should have known you were agreeing to something that I wouldn't like doing."
"You don't like doing something nice for your own mother? Nice. Real nice." Ryan began to open the boxes of decorations.
"You know what I mean." Seth stared down into the box of decorations, and only vaguely heard Ryan mumble, "Not usually."
As Ryan began to pull the decorations out of the box, Seth sat on the front steps. "Don't you even want to know what I was thinking about?"
"I was thinking about Summer. You know, with Alex deciding she preferred the alternative lifestyle thing, maybe it's time I stepped it up in my attempts to win Summer back."
Ryan let out a loud breath as he looked in complete disbelief at Seth. "Please don't tell me you've gone back to stalking Summer? I thought you were over her, man."
"I'm not stalking Summer. I'm wooing her. There's a difference."
Ryan could only mutter, "stalking," as he continued to pull out the holiday decorations.
Seth decided to ignore Ryan's mutterings as he continued with his 'wooing' explanation. "So listen, last night after I was sure Zach had left Summer's house, I placed eight tiny reindeer in the back seat of her car. You know, those crazy beanie baby things. There's a lot of symbolism in that number eight. I've been in love with Summer since the third grade. That's eight years. Santa has eight tiny reindeer. There's eight days of Hanukkah, eight days of Christmas. So if I give Summer eight gifts, containing eight particular items, then she'll understand that we're meant to be together."
Without stopping what he was doing, Ryan said, "Twelve. There are twelve days of Christmas. Not eight."
"Okay. Twelve. But twelve minus four is eight and four times two is eight. So again, with the number eight. I'm telling you, Ryan, by December 8th, which I may add is the first day of Hanukkah, Summer and I will be back together."
"So is it going to take Zach kicking your ass eight more times before you get it that Summer has moved on?"
Seth put his hand over his heart. "You keep saying she moved on. She's just upset. She will get over it. Eventually you'll see, she'll get over it. And I will win her back."
"Seth, you abandoned her. Left her without so much as a decent explanation. That's not something that's easy to get over."
"I left her a note!" Seth exclaimed.
Ryan could only shrug as he tried to explain, "Yeah, Seth. A note? Doesn't help."
"So what do you suggest I do?"
Ryan stopped what he was doing, hoping he could get Seth to listen to him, to finally get it through his head. "Nothing. You do nothing. Just be her friend. Stop with the grand gestures, and accept the fact that sometimes you can't fix the things you've screwed up. Okay?"
"Easy for you to say. You've never driven a girl to lesbianism." At the patent what are you talking about look that Ryan was giving him, Seth continued, "I mean, you start seeing Lindsey and everything is great. I start dating Alex and BAM, she becomes a lesbian."
"Seth," Ryan tried to explain. "You don't just become a lesbian. I doubt Alex just woke up one morning and decided to be a lesbian, not even with dating you."
Seth shrugged his shoulders and pondered what Ryan said. Ryan looked around the yard at the decorations. "Hey, how much money you got on you?"
"Money? Now you're charging me for your advice?"
"No. Although that's not a bad idea. But we need to go get the poinsettias, and I don't think I have enough on me. Plus I'd like to see about getting that big wreath that goes over to door. That way your mother can really tell the landscapers where to go."
Seth looked at his wallet. "I've got about eighty bucks. Hey eight again. It's a sign."
"No, Seth. Not a sign. If you really want to perform some grand gesture, help me finish decorating the yard for your mother. Come on. We have more than enough time to get to the garden center, get the poinsettias and the wreath, get back here and finish decorating before your parents get back."
Seth handed Ryan the money. "You go. I'll stay here. Maybe finish with these decorations."
Ryan headed for the Range Rover. "Fine. But make sure you put the empty boxes away when you're done. That way all we'll have to do is put up the wreath and put the flowers around the front. Don't know when your mom wants to do the inside of the house, but I think she said something about doing it tomorrow."
"Great. More manual labor. Somehow not liking the Chrismukkah season this year." Seth mumbled as he watched Ryan drive away.
When Ryan returned an hour later, he saw that the boxes were still in the driveway, the decorations were not the way they were the year before, and Seth was no where to be found. "If Zach doesn't kick his ass…" Ryan mumbled as he picked up two of the empty boxes and brought them back into the garage.
Ryan finished storing the empty boxes and was about to start working on redoing the lawn decorations when Seth came back outside. When he saw Ryan, he quickly stuffed something into his back pocket. "Oh, hey, sorry. Um, nature called, ya know."
"Yeah, and what part of nature did you just stick in your pocket?" Ryan was actually mildly curious as to what Seth was up to.
"Nothing. Ryan? What are you doing? I just put that stuff out."
As Ryan moved the first reindeer over, he looked around. "This isn't the way it was last year."
"So? It's the Seth Cohen holiday extravaganza decorating style. You don't need to get out the old graphing calculator and measure it out. It's fine."
Ryan moved the other reindeer closer to the first. "It's not fine. They're too far away. We'll never be able to plug them in without running all kinds of extension cords. Look, I'll do this. You start putting the poinsettias around, neatly and the way the landscapers had them last year. The way your mother likes them."
"Uh, Ryan? Why is there a big round tree tied to the roof to the car? And how many poinsettias did you buy?"
Ryan came up behind Seth and looked into the back of the Range Rover. "I tried to remember about how many we had around last year, and then added some just to be sure. And that's not a round tree on the roof. It's the wreath, and it's the same size as the one from last year."
"So it's safe to assume I'm not getting any change back, isn't it? I think I liked it better last year when you didn't do the holidays."
Ryan could only look at Seth and then look back into the back of the car, before sticking his hand into Seth's back pocket and pull out what he was obviously trying to hide.
"Hey! Look, I like a little slap and tickle just as much as the next guy, but Ry? You're not exactly my type."
When he saw that Ryan had gotten a hold of his CD, he tried to grab it back, quickly. "That's mine. Come on, Ryan, give that back."
Ryan smirked and took a step back, keeping Seth at arm's length as he read the title on the CD. "Summer's 8 favorite Holiday Songs." Ryan stopped smirking, shook his head and looked at Seth. "You're hopeless. Really, seriously hopeless."
Seth grabbed the CD away and put it in the garage. "Hopelessly in love. With Summer. And this isn't some grand gesture. Just a small token. Her eight favorite songs. That's cute. Right? Really cute."
Ryan grabbed two of the poinsettias and headed for the front steps. "Don't want to hear about it. Don't want to talk about it. Don't want to know about it. You do what you want and keep me out of it."
Seth carried a poinsettia as he followed behind Ryan. "Its just a small little friendship type gift. Really. Nothing big or grand or expensive. Just a little something."
Ryan grabbed the plant from Seth. "Just a little something with the number eight. Yeah. Don't want to know about it. You bring the plants; I'll put them around. I want to get this done. I still have some homework I've got to get done before I meet up with Lindsey later. We still have work to do before that physics thing on Monday."
Seth could tell from the tone of Ryan's voice that he really didn't want to talk about it any further, and honestly, since Seth couldn't figure out what Ryan's problem was, he was actually content with not talking, for now. He carried most of the plants over to the front step. As Ryan busied himself putting the poinsettias around the front of the house, Seth took eight plants and hid them in the back of the garage.
Seth could only nod when Ryan finished, looked around and asked, "That's it? Hmm, I thought we had more. It looks okay, though, right?" And Seth nodded again. "Okay then, help me get the wreath off the roof of the car."
As they both struggled to untie, then lift the wreath off the top of the car, Seth couldn't help but ask, "Um, Ryan? How do you plan on getting this up above the door?"
"The hook is still in the window pane from last year. All you have to do is climb up the ladder, I'll hand the wreath up to you. Just place it on the hook, straighten it out and we're done."
Seth at first nodded, and then looked at Ryan. "What do you mean, all I have to do? What makes you think I'm putting this monster up? You bought it. You do it."
Ryan shook his head as he looked up at the window above the door. "Uh. Seth. I just can't. Come on. You can do it, no problem."
"I'm not doing it, Ryan. It's too big. I'll never get it up over my head and on the hook. So either you do it or…"
When Ryan didn't immediately answer, Seth shrugged his shoulders and turned towards the garage. "Fine. We'll have to wait till Mom and Dad come home."
Ryan looked up at the window again before looking at Seth walk away. "Fine. I'll do it, but you have to hold the ladder."
As Ryan carried the ladder over to the front steps, he kept telling himself he could do this. It wasn't that high. It wouldn't take that long. Just as long as Seth held the ladder tight, nothing could happen. And they were doing this to make Kirsten happy.
Ryan began to climb the ladder, noting that it was pretty wobbly on the cobble front steps. "Seth. You really need to hold onto this tight. It's not very steady."
"Uh hmm. Yeah. No problem." Seth absentmindedly answered, hearing only half of what Ryan said as he again began to think about what other gifts of eight he could get Summer, and also wonder if she'd found her reindeer yet.
Ryan continued up the ladder awkwardly carrying the wreath, afraid to look down behind him at Seth, not wanting to see how high he was going. He just wanted to get it over with. Get the stupid wreath on the hook, climb down and be done.
Seth looked up and watched as Ryan lifted the monster wreath over his head and attempted to place it on the hook left over from last Chrismukkah. He was happy that they were almost done with their decorating assignment, and he could go back to coming up with original ideas to woo Summer.
The ringing of his cell phone interrupted his thoughts. He smiled when he looked at the display and saw it was Summer calling. Seth gave a quick look up at Ryan and noticed that he some how managed to get the monster wreath on the hook and was doing some anal-retentive straightening. Seth gave another smile as he answered his phone and headed for the garage to get the CD he made for her.
Ryan felt the ladder move again, but didn't want to look down. He figured as long as Seth was holding tight, he would be fine for another minute as he straightened the wreath just a little more to the left. "Seth? How does it look? Is it straight?"
When he didn't get an answer, and then felt the ladder move again, Ryan looked down. "SETH!" Ryan shrieked as he and the ladder came crashing down to the ground.