"Hey man, you up yet?" Seth pushed the pool house's door open and peeked inside.
Ryan gave him his infamous sideways look from above his quilt. "No," he grumbled.
"Good, 'cause I kinda need a friendly advice," Seth joined his fingers in a business-like gesture. He flopped down on the armchair and crossed his knees, getting comfortable. "To be more precise - in this very moment."
Ryan groaned, running his fingers through his hair absently. "What time is it?" he yawned.
"Perfect time for the guy talk," Seth retorted, giving his friend a meaningful look.
Ryan sat up with a sigh. "Alright. What's up?"
Seth leaned back in his seat, turning serious. "Man, I've got a problem."
Ryan tilted his head at him. "A problem," he echoed.
"A problem. And I mean, a problem," Seth said with emphasis.
Ryan sighed again. "What kind of a problem?" he asked patiently.
"Summer problem," Seth elaborated in a confidential tone, as if that explained everything.
Ryan narrowed his eyes. "What is it now? You guys fought again?" he inquired.
Seth pursed his lips, shaking his head sadly. "See, this wouldn't actually be the problem since that's sort of what we do," he made a quotation marks sign with his hands, "But this time... it's way more complex, my friend," he admitted.
"A postcard. From Italy," Seth slowly leaned forward.
"A postcard from Italy. So?" Ryan raised his brows.
"A postcard, from Italy, from Zach," Seth drew the sentence out, leaning forward even further.
"Zach sent you a postcard?" Ryan frowned.
"No, dumbass," Seth rolled his eyes. "Zach sent a postcard to Summer. From Italy."
"So?" Seth muttered irritably. "That's all you've got to say? So?"
"Well what do you want me to tell you, Seth?" Ryan shrugged. "Friends send each other postcards."
"Yeah only he's not just a friend," Seth scowled. "He's like, an ex-boyfriend."
"Yeah, so?" Ryan yawned again. "We all have exes."
"You miss the point here," Seth muttered through the clenched teeth. "She doesn't wanna show me what's on it."
"Maybe 'cause... it's private?" Ryan raised his brows suggestively.
"Exactly. That's what won't leave me alone," Seth sighed with resignation, leaning back again.
"Look man," Ryan sat up. "It's probably nothing. Just a postcard. You trust her, don't you?"
"Yeah but why wouldn't she show me what the son of a bitch wrote?" Seth gritted his teeth.
"Easy," Ryan smirked, stretching his arms above his head. "You're overreacting, man."
"Right," Seth said, standing up. "Well I guess that would be it. You think it's nothing. I think it's something. We're like, on the opposite team here. I don't see how we could actually communicate. I'll see you later," he threw over his shoulder scornfully, before disappearing through the door.
"Yeah whatever," Ryan sighed, getting back to sleep.
"Hey Coop. You got a sec?"
"Yeah what's up?"
"What is it again? You guys got into another fight?"
"Kinda. He's like, driving me out of my mind," Summer muttered through the clenched teeth, flopping down on her bed. She reached over for the pink nail polish, tucking her cell between her shoulder and her chin. "He went all jealous on me just 'cause I got this postcard from Zach."
"A postcard huh."
"Totally. About weather and stuff," Summer shrugged, painting her toes. "And he acts like it was at least a love letter or something."
"Why don't you show it to him and prove him wrong?" Marissa suggested.
"'Cause I don't need to explain myself?" Summer raised her brows, stopping her activity for a moment. "It's just a postcard, Coop!"
"Yeah but you know Seth. He's like this insecure little boy."
"Yeah I know. But still, we can't be together if he doesn't trust me, right?" Summer muttered. "I told him it was nothing. It should be like enough."
"Well obviously it's not."
Summer sighed. "Okay whatever. I've gotta go. I think I'll just ignore him for a while," she decided.
"Ok, I'll see you at school."
Summer hung up and leaned back against her pillows. She looked down on her half-done feet thoughtfully. She wasn't sure why this postcard was such a big deal for Cohen. She chose him, didn't she? And still, she's been having this funny feeling like he kinda expected any moment now she would change her mind and get on the plane to Italy. It surely was cute, but on the other hand, annoying - didn't he know she loved him? 'Cause she did. Mindlessly, madly and ridiculously, she was in love with the guy.
She sighed and after some consideration decided to finish painting her feet. She could suck at figuring out her own boyfriend, but man, did she know how to remain stylish.
Next day at school
Seth's eyes followed Summer's every gesture as she talked to Marissa, leaning against her locker. He had a strong suspicion she has actually been avoiding him. He had wanted to kiss her when they first saw each other this morning, but she turned her face away so his lips connected with her ear. This didn't exactly bode well for the future.
She did choose him, but it still felt like he all the time had to prove to her he was better than Zach. He obviously didn't have the guy's stud body, but he was smart... wasn't he? Summer definitely liked his quick wits. He had to stick to that.
"Hey dude, how you doin'?" Mike, some guy from the Comic Book Club, sat down next to him.
"Good, good. Enjoying the break," Seth muttered. His eyes involuntarily shifted back to Summer. She had this black little skirt today. He loved her in it.
"About our meetings," Mike cleared his throat.
"Yeah what about it?" Seth asked absently.
"You're kinda... absent, lately."
Seth turned to him. "What?" he frowned.
"You're not comin' to the meetings, dude. We decided that maybe we should like... choose a new leader? No offence."
Seth blinked. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a tall guy who has just halted next to Summer. What was his name? Tom... Tim...
"So what do you think?"
"I, uhm... Gimmie a sec," Seth rose from his seat and started towards the threesome, his mind completely set on what was taking place right under his nose. Marissa was answering the phone, standing a little aside and Summer was talking to the guy, laughing. Seth felt the rush of adrenaline and jealousy. This jackass was totally hitting on his woman. Who the hell did he think he was?
"... so we thought, maybe you could swing by?"
"Swing by where?" Seth forced on a fake smile, resting his hand on the small of Summer's back, shifting her closer to him.
She rolled her eyes and looked away demonstratively as the other guy raised his brows. "Who are you, geek?"
Seth flashed his teeth. "Somebody who actually does have the lady here swing by his place," he retorted cockily.
The guy snorted. "He's like your boyfriend or something?" he addressed Summer.
"Or something," Summer sighed, not gracing either of them with a look. She crossed her arms over her chest, her eyes searching the ceiling in an apparently bored manner.
"Boyfriend, definitely," Seth nodded at the guy. Tom/Tim only shook his head and casting the last, scornful look Seth's way, he left. Seth smiled triumphantly, before turning to Summer. "See? That went well, huh --aaargh!" he yelped when she smacked him across the chest. "What was that for?"
"And what the hell was that? We were just talking, jackass!" she shot back, still smacking his chest.
"He was like making a move on you Summer!" Seth tried to rationalize, covering himself with his arms against her assault.
"So what?" Seth frowned at her, indignant. "So, it was my job to interfere! I won't have all the guys at school checking you out, Sum! Maybe Zach had a different politics--"
"With you checking me out like, constantly? Hardly!" she snorted.
"Fine!" he shot back, irritated. "You can go and swing by wherever this jerk wanted you to, I don't care!"
There was a long, tense pause filled with ragged breathing, before they reached for one another simultaneously, lips crushing, tongues entangling. Marissa who just stopped talking on the phone simply shook her head and went the other way, while they kept kissing, oblivious to anything else except the feel of each other.
... and then Summer broke away, taking a step back. "Did I say you could kiss me, jackass?" she asked irritably in between the gasps for air.
He stared at her, panting, her taste still rich on his lips. "You kissed me," he pointed out.
"Whatever," she shot back. "There will be no more kissing any time soon!" she poked his chest with her index finger.
"What? Why?" Seth's face fell.
"Because!" she retorted harshly. "Because... that was so not the plan! I was supposed to like avoid you, not... kiss you," she grimaced.
He grinned. "See? You totally can't resist me."
"Please," she scoffed.
"Oh come on, Sum," he muttered, leaning forward, invading her personal space. "Is it about this postcard?"
"It's about you being an idiot Cohen!" she shot back, raising her chin defiantly.
He shifted to another foot, tilting his head at her. "Why won't you just show me what he wrote?"
"Because it's so not your business!" Summer hissed.
"It is my business," Seth protested. "You're my girlfriend. And he's, he's your ex--"
"Exactly!" Summer cut in. "He's my ex! So what's your problem?"
"Why would he send you postcards if he's your ex?"
"Because I asked him to?"
"What?" Seth frowned.
"Look Cohen, he can be my ex but he's also my friend, okay? Yours too, if I remember correctly," she raised her brows.
"Please," Seth scoffed. "No guy who lusts after my girlfriend can ever be my friend."
"But you like, hang out with him!"
"Yeah well ever heard about the golden rule? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer--"
"Ugh!" Summer shrieked, pissed off. She glared at Seth one last time before storming off.
"Summer wait!" he rushed after her.
"Leave me alone Cohen!"
"Well can we like, talk?"
"No we can't!"
"So that's how it's gonna be from now on? Every time we disagree you're gonna run off huh?"
"Why don't you spare me your psychological bullshit huh?" she threw over her shoulder, never stopping.
"Summer please can we just--"
"No we can't!" she halted suddenly and turned to face him, making him nearly bump into her. They were outside the school now, hot Californian sun hitting down on them. "Look I don't think this is working Cohen," she wrapped her arms around herself protectively, sniffing a little.
"What...?" he asked slowly.
"Us. I don't see this working," she repeated in a low voice.
"Are you... breaking up with me?" Seth muttered, the sick feeling beginning to coil in the pit of his stomach. He ran a hand through his hair, trying not to panic.
She sniffed again. "No, it's just... you don't trust me Seth," she looked up into his eyes, her own tearing a little.
He stared at her. "I do trust you, Summer. I don't care about the stupid postcard," he took a step towards her. "Please don't do this. Don't break up with me," he muttered.
She shifted on her feet, biting her lower lip to keep herself from crying. "It's not just about this postcard," she muttered.
"Well what is it about? Tell me," he leaned in, eyes searching hers.
"It's about you not trusting me Cohen. It's about you thinking the whole time that I could like, change my mind about us," she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear nervously. "And I want you to trust me Cohen. I-I want this to work this time."
"Me too. I don't wanna lose you Summer. I can't. Not again," he cupped her face in his large hand, raising it towards his so their eyes were leveled. "Not after I just won you back."
She sniffed softly. "Then why would you think this postcard was any threat to our relationship? I don't get it Cohen--"
"'Cause he still loves you," he cut in softly. "And that's something I can actually refer to... Because once you start, you can never stop."
She stared up into his eyes, tearful. "That's really sweet Cohen, but... if you love me, then you should trust me, right? I mean it's like, the spine of the relationship or something," she whispered.
"I do trust you Summer," Seth insisted quietly. "I just don't trust him. Plus I'm like, crazy jealous."
"Why?" she murmured.
"Because just look at the guy. He's everything a girl can want--"
"You're everything a girl can want," she interrupted him. She shifted closer to him. "Everything I can want," she muttered, her eyes boring into his.
He never looked away, feeling something break inside of him. Summer, the girl of his dreams, just told him he was perfect for her. This was the sweetest thing she ever told him. The sweetest thing anyone ever told him.
He took her face in his hands. "I swear to god, Summer, I will make you happy or I'll die painfully in eternal torments," he vowed.
"Aww Cohen. That's cute," she cooed.
He pressed his smile against her lips, silky strands of her hair slipping through his fingers as he tilted her face towards his. Their kiss went on and on, so tender it made her want ot weep. She fisted her hands in his shirt and pulled him closer, needing to feel his whole length against her. She loved the way he was towering above her. She loved the way he was so into her.
She loved him.
She pulled back slightly to gaze into his eyes, her own wearing a soft, dreamy look. "He wrote to me about the weather," she muttered across his lips. "That's all. Oh, and he told me to say hi to you," she smiled sweetly.
He pursed his lips, reluctantly accepting his failure. "Really" he muttered.
"Yeah really," she kept smiling. "So... hi," she leaned up, brushing her lips across his softly.
"Mhmm... Just don't say hi back to him, okay?" he muttered.