Summary: There is only so much she can take.
How many special people change?
There is only so much she can take.
There were days when it was phenomenal, when she could imagine nothing else, because she has everything she's ever imagined. And nights when she could fall asleep, and not feel the cold outline of a barrel of a gun pressed to her forehead. Good days. Nice days. Sunshine and ocean.
Bad days too. But what was the difference? They were all just days.
She had loved Seth. They were too intimate to have been anything less. She had fallen fast, and hard, and she loved him over and over, she had loved totally. Seth had loved her forever. Seth couldn't love anyone else, she was all he'd wanted, and he didn't know how to love anyone but her. They had been lovers. Sunshine and ocean.
He left her.
And then she didn't love him anymore.
Seth sees sex as an expression, as sacred (and so did she, once). Ryan sees sex as a pasttime. Marissa sees sex as a tool.
To Summer, it's precious, coveted release.
She was slow on the uptake, but she learned. She had a whole summer to learn. Summer owned, she ruled, she conquered. Newport was hers. She got what she wanted. She'd had the ability all along, and she was surprised she'd waited so long. And she couldn't remember anymore why it had been so important that she had. She liked to fuck. She liked to smoke. She liked to drink. She liked to party.
She didn't like having to wake up. She didn't like having them in her bed; it felt very wrong. She wasn't cheating. But it made her feel like she was.
She fucked Seth no less than ten times before she raced through a deluge to him. And it was familiar and it was nice, and he held her fast when she would run, and she needed that. She needed to be held onto, and he needed her, so it was a solution.
The first night she went to him, he didn't smile and he didn't frown. And she didn't hear or see, she just felt the wall hit her bare back, and she moaned too loudly.
"I heard you liked it rough," he muttered.
Her mouth fell open a little, and he made a huffing noise, and kissed her.
She wanted to say she was sorry.
"Did you touch them like this?" Seth asked, and he was trying to not be angry. At the very least he knew he had no right.
That was true.
She hated what Alex did to her. He couldn't stand Zach.
And Seth was protective, and loving, and sex-mad, and nuerotic, and real, and jealous, and wonderful.
And he had ruined Summer.
There was no sense in that. There was some explanation in why she kept crawling back to him, she was never strong, not really.
She thought she could love him again. They kissed in the rain, and her hair stuck to his neck, and he kept trying to hug her, even though he couldn't. But he kept trying, and that was love. That had to have been love.
But she couldn't make it the same. Summer couldn't put the pieces of the puzzle (that was what they were, more than anything else) back together. She can't make the whole picture. Maybe she's lost some of the parts.
Loving Seth had been her constant, and to have it ripped away did more to her than she could know.
She can't forgive.
They are locked in a psychological tug-of-war, and he is confused as to why that is. They fight and fight, they always did. It isn't fun anymore. It just isn't fun anymore. She is suffering from unrequieted love, and the love is kissing her.
She wanted him to hurt. He hurt her. It was only fair. That was what she wanted.
So she didn't object when Mason Hunter pulled her onto his lap and shoved a shot in her face. She didn't care when she remembered she sucked at quarters. She lost again and again and laughed along with everyone else.
She let people keep feeding her shots, and she kept not loving Seth. And she let Mason lead her away, and duck into a bedroom, and it was just like Before.
She was good at this.
She had almost forgotten.
And when he put his hand between her legs, and she jerked them back together on reflex, she stopped, smiled, and let them fall open again.
It was only fair.
He fucked her on the bed, and she closed her eyes and didn't react when she hit her knee on the headboard. She only looked at him when he hit her and screamed at her to move. She moved. She didn't care. It was easier to just do it and be done, and it wasn't like it hadn't happened before. Newport guys were dicks.
She'd kick his ass, but she weighed about as much as any product made by Nerf lately, and she was too drunk, and the song was too loud, she could feel it vibrating through the walls, making her head ache. She clenched her eyes shut tighter at the endless pressure and heaviness on top of her, and she cried a little as he came, which made him grin, thinking he was good enough for that, good enough for tears, or some stupid boy shit. She wondered what face he would make if she told him that it's Seth freaking Cohen that's making her cry.
Maybe she was cheating now.
But it was only fair.
And she did like to party.
She woke up on Seth's bed, and she didn't know how she got there. She rolled over, and he was staring at her face.
"What?" she asked, and she was still slurring a little bit.
He touched her cheek, and it stung. "Did someone hit you?"
"Yes." She stood, and he rose with her. She turned to leave, and he grabbed her arm, holding on.
He glared a hole into her skull. "Who did it?"
"It doesn't matter."
"No, Summer, it does! People can't do that!" He was filled with rightous indignation, and she couldn't bear it.
"I fucked him! I did it to you, Cohen! I did!"
He didn't move. Then his eyes filled with tears and his face crumbled. But he didn't speak.
"COHEN!" she yelled, and she slapped him across the face. He caught her wrist, and she screamed, and pulled it back. She shoved him, and he fell back a foot, but he wouldn't move.
"Dump me! Dump me, Cohen! I cheated on you, and I hurt you, and it made me HAPPY." She grinned wildly. "Dump me! Hurt me!"
He twitched his head to the side the tiniest bit.
She screamed again, and clenched her hands in her hair, twisting and pulling until tears came to her eyes. "LEAVE ME."
He took her hands away from her head. She cried. "How?" he whispered. "Tell me how."
She wanted to scream but her voice was gone. "Kill me. Just kill me."
"Shit, Summer." He touched her shoulder, and she shrugged his hand away. "You're killing yourself." She sniffed, and sat down heavily on the bed. He sat with her too, and hugged her close to him. She touched her head to his chest.
"I just wanted to love you again, Cohen."
He wanted to cry. He didn't.
Summer did. Summer bawled into his shirt, and the bruise on her cheek was making him mad, and she was so sad, and something was so, so wrong with her.
She sat up, sniffling, seized Seth by the ears, yanked his head down, and kissed him so hard that he heard their teeth clack together. Her lips were chapped, and tasted like vodka and weed, but it was still Summer who was kissing him. Still Summer who was full of so much need and want. Everything she is, everything she's done, the whole thing, it's his. He has too much of her.
There's no sense. And there are no words.
"Fuck me, Cohen." She pulled him down, and climbed on him, shoving her skirt up past her thighs, and he stared at her with so much pity that she wanted to slap him again. "Fuck me, and I'll go."
"You love me, Summer. You need me. You'd miss me."
"No," she snarled, her eyes blazing.
He rolled over, and leaned down on her so that there was maybe an inch of space between them. She trembled, and he traced her cheek with his ring finger, as his hand started to slip up her skirt.
He fucked her and kissed her and covered her. He whispered that he loved her, and told her everything he'd ever felt about her.
Anything to stop the shaking.
"That's what I should have been all along," she said later, half to herself. "You weren't supposed to happen, I was supposed to be that other Summer." He remembered that other Summer, drunk and shallow and bitchy. He'd fucked her in his head so many times that, when it actually started happening, it was like he was dreaming while he was awake. But he hadn't loved that other Summer, he'd loved the one who was underneath. So he didn't think so.
He thinks he might know better on this one.
Summer was a lot of things, then, but she was never a slut. Never an idiot. Never naïve enough to consider that she wasn't. She blames him, but she blames herself, she blames everyone.
But at the same time, it was Seth. Seth, with his weird hair, and weird clothes, and weird music. Not tall, not dark, not handsome, just gangly and smiley and talking too much. Seth had loved her since before Ross loved Rachel. Her name is huge, capital, billboard letters in his psyche. He's the only one who ever loved her like this.
He hugged her, and loved her, and she left sometime during the night.
They broke up after that, maybe. He didn't know.
She ran back into Newport's arms, she was "that other Summer." She jumped back into the arms of The Fold, of the people, and she smiled and laughed and sparkled and hid and dulled. Other Summer, in overdrive.
She hid from him for a month. She wasn't home when he went to her house, she wasn't at Marissa's, or Taylor's, or anywhere. Then one night she crawled in his bedroom window, climbed under the covers, stared at him with something like urgency, and buried her face in his pillow. Something happened.
"Oh shit. Oh god," Seth realized, and it was a jagged epiphany. "She's going to die, she's going to die, she's going to die."
So he held onto her, so that she would not be dead, but she kind of was already.
She left again, but not before she pulled him closer and he can't not give her what she wants, because he has to do something, and this all he can. She hid under him, and made a sad, broken, hoarse cry, and he played with her hair until she was sleeping like she still had everything she needed, and her hair was filled with static and sticking to his skin.
Pale sunshine and roaring ocean.
She got her nose pierced, and goddamn if the sparkling little green stud wasn't the hottest thing he'd ever seen. He was pretty sure she wasn't his girlfriend, since he never knew where she was, and he was very sure she was out every night doing god knows what with god knows who. But she came back to him sometimes, and he would always find something; new scars, new bruises, new piercing, new track marks.
She whispered in slurs and giggles that she loved him more than ponies and Marissa and her parents and boys and Skittles and X and sex and every single thing. And she kissed the space between his ear and his neck, and stared at him, all drunk and high and hot, and he tried not to
He tried very hard.
Sometimes she came during the day. She knocked on the door, and removed her sunglasses for two excruciating minutes while Sandy asked about her father and Kirsten asked about college, and she had very little to say about either of those matters. And then she made her way to his room, pulling the glasses back on, shading her red eyes and her fried brain, and he smiled when she sat and did anything he could to keep her with him once night fell, because he was petrified at the nagging thought that one day she would just be dead on some vile smelling carpet, scarred and alone and ugly and gone. He can't hate her, because something is still wrong with her, because she's dying without realizing.
Usually she just smiled sadly, kissed his cheek, and left. Trying to wean herself off him, cure it. It was unfair to both of them, but it was kind of killing her, a little more than she could admit. But then sometimes she was too tired and the hangover was finally gone and Seth was warm and she was cold, so she climbed with him into his bed. She humoured him, let him think he could protect her. He didn't care, he was protecting her, it was one more night that she wouldn't OD and die and haunt him for the rest of his life with pale, blaming eyes. Then Summer started to thrash about, and he held her on the bed, whispering that nothing would hurt her, over and over, as she writhed and mumbled and unconsciously believed this to be a lie.
He wondered who, exactly, he was repeating this mantra for, Summer or himself, as she shuddered in his arms.
"Summer," he said the next morning, as she sat at his computer, spinning in the chair. "This has to stop."
She stopped to stare at him, then spun again. "I don't want to."
"I do," he said, and she rolled her eyes, because Seth wouldn't, he could not, leave her.
"I'm tired of this," he said wearily. "I'm tired of thinking the phone will ring and it will be your dad at the emergency room. I'm tired of you climbing into my room stoned and drunk and tripping over your own goddamn feet. I'm tired of hearing about you fucking around with everyone in town. You're a fucking slut, Summer!"
She closed her eyes, and spun.
He grabbed the back of the chair, and she shoved her hair back, it was still all mussed from sleeping, and hanging in her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said.
"I love you," he said, determined that she not run and hide and continue this.
"I'm sorry," she said again, sort of choked. She was so intensely screwed up. She stood up, and looked at him, and it's time to play again.
The game is all too familiar: run, hide, chase.
He's tired of that too. He didn't go after her, didn't grab her arm, didn't lock her to him, just sat on the chair she'd left and wished he knew how to fix this.
She came back again a week later, bruised and wrecked and finally, goddamn finally, completely defeated. She was crying, and he wanted to punch someone, and she hurled herself into his arms, shaking and Summer and half an inch from something that she couldn't ever come back from.
"Whatever you want, Cohen," she spat into his shoulder, the words sticking together, her teeth digging in. "Okay? I fucking swear. Anything." Her knees were quaking so badly that she sank to the floor, and immediately grabbed his leg, hugging it and pressing her face to his jeans.
He wanted her and her not to touch anyone else and not be touched and be his and be happy. He wanted all the parts. He wanted her to eat and to be sober and to sleep.
She wasn't and she wouldn't, and he loved her anyway.
He sat next to her, and she sobbed bitterly. "Tell me what to do," she hissed, and cried, and then her arms were tight round his neck, and this was too unreal. He is too used to having half of Summer and the rest far, far away. But this all of her, shaking and staring and intense.
"Marry me," he said, smiling sort of, and she laughed. It was a sad, harsh, ghost of a laugh, and she seemed surprised at it, and then smiled again. She laughed once more, as if she were trying out the sound, feeling it around inside her teeth and ears.
"That hasn't stopped you lately."
Her hands twitched a little, they'd been doing that lately. He supposed they were just going to keep doing so. There had been a lot of drugs.
"Two months," he said. "Five days."
She counted in her head, and nodded.
"Then I'll leave that day. You come too."
"It won't fix everything. It might not fix anything, Cohen, and then where the fuck would we be? Huh?"
"But you can't die, Summer," he said, half to tears of frustration and relief and shock and love and hate and emotions he couldn't begin to make sense of. "Please come with me."
She made a motion that might have been a shrug or maybe a nod, but he just held her by the shoulders and stared at her. She trembled and twisted, but he kept her in place.
"I'm going to puke," she whispered, and her hands shook worse than ever.
Her face was going white, and she tried to duck away again. "Why won't you just hate me, Cohen?"
"Because I'm insane, and you're sick."
"I will be fine," she said, annoyed.
"Look at your freaking hand." She clutched her fists together, but they still tremored.
He snorted. "You are going to die, Summer."
"Leave me alone. I don't care." She closed her eyes, and sank a little, but he was still holding her shoulders.
"You said anything. Anything."
"I don't want to go," she cried. "I don't want to be that sick, pitiful thing!"
"Then stop fucking being it!"
She fell to the floor, and nodded, burying her face in her knees.
He got an apartment, and she watched movies while he went to school. He left her every morning with food she couldn't eat, and memories that she would like to get rid of. He would come home, and kiss her, and she would just keep staring into space in an almost unnerving way. She was like stone.
But at least she wasn't stoned.
She would like to be.
Some days he came home, and the apartment was half torn apart, and she begged him for weed or for X or for anything at all. But he didn't even buy beer because he was afraid of what might happen.
She was too, and so she stayed with him. She hid her face in his chest, and her whole body shook, and she sweated and ached and wished she were dead, just because every single part of her hurt. Her hair hurt. Her teeth hurt. He tried to feed her, but food bubbled in her stomach, and he tried to get her to sleep, but she'd flop around so hard that she'd fall off of the bed.
He wanted to take her to a hospital, but they probably wouldn't give her painkillers. He wanted to get her painkillers, but then he'd trace and count the tiny bumps on her arms, and be reminded that this was better.
Summer didn't hurt so much now.
Her eyes felt like they were glued shut, she had to work to open them, and the white was so bright. Seth was there. There were beeping sounds.
"Where am I?"
Seth was staring at her as if she were something horrible and precious. "In the hospital. On suicide watch."
"Shit!" she said, and glanced at her bandaged wrists. She lifted one arm, and rotated it slowly. "I don't even remember doing it," she whispered, and Seth shook a little.
"We can't keep pretending we can do this," he said, and she was still staring, mesmerized, at her arms. "I can't take care of you, and someone has to take care of you."
"I'm not a baby."
"You may as well be."
"You wanted this," she said. "I told you it would be bad." She was still staring at her wrists. "When did I even do this?" she asked.
"I dunno. You were just lying there this morning," he said, and his eyes were set in stone. "You were lying in the kitchen, all red, and..." he trailed off. "I need you to be better now, okay?"
"Why did I do it? I don't..." She'd lost her time, and that was troubling her. "Maybe my hand just moved," she said brightly, "and I cut myself." She looked at her fist, but for once it lay still. "Why isn't my hand being weird?" she asked, trying to inspect it.
She wondered if she'd taken that before. But Seth was still talking.
"You need to go to rehab, or something. You were high. Again," and Seth was as defeated as she had been.
"No!" she yelped, clenching her hand, and hurting herself on the IV. "No!"
"I can't help you anymore," he said, clearly about to cry.
"You can. You're in charge. Do whatever you want. I give you complete control of my life. Just don't make me go." She sniffled a little, and reached for him, but there were tubes and wires, and she was caught. "Please."
Seth stared at her reaching, her fingers outsretched and trembling. "Summer, I need you to be okay. Or, I need to know that you can be."
She tilted her head a little, and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself.
He didn't speak again for a long time.
"Summer," he whispered finally. "We have to be...like, lawyers about this."
"Mmm?" she said, half asleep and confused.
"We need to share all our information. That will make this...whatever, this whatever, it will make it better. You need to tell me things."
"I don't want you to know some things, Cohen," she said.
"Too bad. You don't get to protect me anymore."
"I don't want to protect you, I just don't want you to hate me." But at the same time, yes, she'll protect him as much as she can. She's worried he'll be so completely disgusted with her, but she does want to protect him, wants to keep him from the fact that the whole world is a huge fucking farce.
Seth knows she's thinking this, on a hospital bed, and he wonders when they completely switched roles in his head.
The world is horrible and menacing, he knows. He doesn't care. He cares about Summer for now.
The only thing she hasn't lost is the sad, faded innocence that's always lived in her eyes, and the new intensity is almost concealing it. He thought that if she kissed him right now, she would sigh against his teeth. A hiss of pain against closed lips. Release is important, and Summer hasn't found a way to let go yet. He was afraid that she would keep it all until it exploded out of her in such a way that it would destroy her, and subsequently him, and they would both be lost and sad and nothing at all.
He brought her home.
Now he watched her carefully, made her sleep, made her eat, fed her pills, did whatever he had to. But she didn't trust the pills, she whispered that she didn't want to be her mom, not her stepmom, not them, she wanted to be Summer. But he stared at her, so pleading, curls bobbing as his lips moved, but she didn't listen. It made him happy and quiet and lessened the pounding in her head, so she just swallowed the capsules, and felt strangely gutted all the time.
"You can't handle this," she admitted one night, when she feels like she can see through everything, stroking her fingers down his arm.
"Well, you can't handle it either."
But Seth is no hero, he was never made to be the hero, and yet here he is. And maybe the S across his chest doesn't stand for Super, but it does stand for Seth. And that's not as great, but just as good.
"We're the saaaaaame," she sang, throwing her arms around his neck, laughing at the sheer fucked-up-ness of it all, and hoping that he's not putting all this trouble in for a girl that doesn't really exist.
Seth never doubted that damn girl. Fucking sunshine and ponies and happy and sweet. That girl was boring and perfect, and she was so deeply flawed. Seth refuses to accept that.
"I'm going to go out and get food," she said, untangling herself from him. "Okay?"
He nodded slightly, and looked as if his skin was somehow stretching too tightly. "I'll call."
"I know." He was trying to drive her crazy, trying to get her to go to rehab by making the maximum distance between them seven feet. But she can't go there, and be looked at. It's easier when it's just Seth keeping her at arm's length. If he hadn't driven her insane by now...
She wanted to cry for her mommy, but her mommy was off screwing someone's pool boy and chain-smoking.
Seth won't even let her have a fucking cigarette.
She can hear the blood pounding in her ears, and imagined it spattered against the wall, her hair, the floor. But for a while she doesn't want to be dead.
"Forget it, baby," he whispers, he calls her baby now because she kind of is a baby, "forget all of them, and be happy."
Everything is focused on being happy, on making her happy, and Summer misses being sad. All she's ever wanted is what she can't have, and the mixture of Seth and medication is keeping her own damn feelings from her now. She wants to cry, but crying makes Seth panic, and figure out some new pill she can take, and hold her hands, and swear he'll fix it, but god-fucking-DAMNIT, Summer wants to sob.
She kisses him with concentration, feeling around his lips and tongue and the inside of his cheek, and she can feel him practically seething desperation. He wants everything to disappear except them, completely convinced that it was solely external influences that made her this way.
She's afraid that if she tells him it was him, he might kill himself. And she's afraid that she's wrong, and he's right, because that's how these things usually work.
She hit her nineteenth birthday, and he started to breathe a little.
He wants her to apply to some schools near the apartment, but she shakes her head. She's not made for school, not made for classes.
"I'll just mooch off of you," she said, stirring spaghetti as he digs in the fridge for lettuce. She kisses him then, and his hands fly under her shirt, and she wants to laugh against his teeth. His trust fund comes in a year, but they'll be kind of poor until then, she won't be getting her trust fund, her dad is kind of ready to kill her.
Stress from money takes some of the stress from Summer, and so he holds her a little more softly, kisses her a little longer, fucks her a little harder. He's thinking maybe she won't break into pieces if he lets go a little, and it's scary, but not all unwelcome.
"Don't lie to me," she murmered, "don't ever, ever lie to me," it's not a demand, more a low growl, and he kissed her silent until her mouth curved into a fat wet "o". She didn't lie to him, just chose her words carefully, planned out what she was allowed to tell. Because if she doesn't watch herself, she'll tell him everything, and then he'll die or hate or go. He has every right to hate her, she was too reckless with his feelings and her own life. Yet she still dreams of telling him everything, and being held, and smiling an out-of-control grin that brings tears to her eyes.
She has the holding, his arms reaching out blindly to clutch at her every night. She can find the rest.
For now, Summer's not happy, and she's not sad, but she's kind of conscious.
She supposes that, for now, that can be enough.