Normal Like You
a The O.C. story
by dirty diana
written for marleigh in the first wave of the OC Flashficathon. She requested Seth, Summer, and shopping. Beta by the fantabulous sffan.
Seth liked Saturdays. He liked Saturdays a lot. Saturdays were good days, maybe even the best day in the entire week. It wasn't only the lack of school, although it was, yeah, mostly the lack of school. By noon on this Saturday, he had already taken Darrah Mcleod for her sailing lesson and beaten the Moscow level in Tony Hawk Underground. He was just starting in on his second breakfast, a bowl of Lucky Charms, and trying to decide whether he should wait for Ryan to wake up before he started the extended version of The Two Towers, or whether he should watch Fellowship of the Ring first anyway, when Ryan wandered into the kitchen, barefoot and half-asleep.
"Seth," Ryan asked, absently running a hand through uncombed hair, "do you know that Summer is in the driveway?"
Seth dropped his spoon and stood up. "Seriously? Why?"
Ryan flashed him a Ryan-look, through sleepy eyes. "How should I know? But she looks kind of pissed off."
So he wandered out the front door, and found Summer in the driveway, impatiently honking the horn on her step-mother's silver 350i. Seth wondered absently how many people Summer normally maimed before noon on a Saturday morning.
"Cohen. Are you ready, or are you going to make me wait around all day?"
"Uh...yeah. I mean, no." Seth blinked slowly, as if clearing his vision might help. "Uh, where are we going?"
Summer tilted her head at him, blinking back, clear brown eyes and long mascaraed lashes. "We're going shopping, remember? You agreed to it yesterday."
"Um. Yes" Seth said. Truthfully, he didn't remember anything except Summer's hands and Summer's mouth, on the living room couch, and really, how did Summer expect him to make a rational decision while she was kissing him? It wasn't fair. "You were serious about that? I thought you were kidding."
Summer stared at him, forming a question mark with hands and narrowed eyes. "Cohen, why would I joke about shopping?"
Seth took a step backwards, before Summer managed to actually set him on fire with her stare. "Of course. That was stupid of me. But the thing is, I would really love to go and everything, but I promised Ryan that we would do stuff today. Guy stuff. Sports or whatever. And if I bail, I think he'll be really upset. You know Ryan. He's fragile."
"Yeah, well," Summer said, nodding. "Chino."
"Right," Seth said. "I'm really sorry, though. Cause, you know, shopping. I love shopping."
"Great." Summer opened the door, and sprung out of the car. "So we'll just ask Ryan to postpone your plans."
"Um..." Seth said, but Summer was already past him, through the front door and into the kitchen, high heels making a clickity click sound on his mom's marble floor.
"Summer." Ryan glanced up in surprise. Hastily he put his breakfast down on the counter, narrowly missing having the full bowl of milk and cereal tipped onto his t-shirt. "How's it going?"
Summer waved her hand brusquely, and launched right into her attack. "Look, Ryan, I know Seth is your friend, or whatever, but he's my boyfriend, alright? And it's Saturday. So I have dibs."
Ryan and Seth stared at each other above Summer's dark head, hair drawn into two spiky ponytails.
Seth mouthed, "Boyfriend?"
Ryan asked, "Boyfriend?"
"Don't change the subject. Can't you do your guy stuff tomorrow? Isn't Sunday the normal guy-bonding day anyway?"
Seth shook his head urgently in Ryan's direction. Summer was scary, he knew, but Ryan could be pretty scary too, and all he had to do was stay strong and say...
"Sure," Ryan said with an eloquent shrug. "I guess so."
"Thank you!" Summer bounced a little, on the balls of her feet. Excellent. Let's get going, Cohen. I'll wait in the car."
Seth watched Summer, leave, then stared at Ryan with heavy disappointment. "Well, that's just great, Ryan. What happened to being brothers, you know, really being there for each other? That, Ryan, that was not very brotherly of you."
Ryan shrugged again, and picked up his cereal bowl. "Sorry, dude. I liked Anna."
The Newport mall was crowded, packed full to bursting on a Saturday afternoon. They started at the food court, because Summer said there was no way she could undertake a serious shopping expedition on an empty stomach.
Seth said, "Expedition?"
"Here's the thing, Cohen. If we're going to be...you know, dating or whatever...then I can't be seen out in public with you while your wearing stuff like that. It's just not happening."
Seth stared cluelessly down at his worn brown t-shirt. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"
Summer rolled her eyes. They would get stuck that way one day, Seth thought, and then she would be sorry. "Well, nothing, if you're a geek. And of course, you are. A geek, I mean. But have you ever tried just not being a geek? It can't be that hard. Normal people do it every day."
"Normal like you?" Seth asked. "Yeah, that's something to strive for."
"Whatever." Summer sucked on the last of her diet iced tea, the ice cubes making a rattling sound. She studied Seth thoughtfully. "Okay. You need shirts. And pants. And shoes. Definitely shoes."
Seth glanced dubiously down at his blue Converses, as she kept talking.
"I think we should start at Banana Republic. And then Ralph Lauren. They just got their Spring stuff in. And that way we'll be walking towards French Connection, so we can end up there."
Seth asked, "Were you this organised when you invaded Normandy?"
"Hurry up and eat your fries. We don't have all day."
Seth didn't think that he had ever actually been in Banana Republic. "It's colour-coded," he stage-whispered as they entered.
"It's colour-coded. That must be useful, for if you get lost and stuff. You can just call and say, where are you? Oh, I'm over here by the greens. Hey, what a coincidence. I'm over here by the greys. Oh, light greys or dark greys? Dark greys, definitely. I'll be there in five minutes, just don't wander over to the blues or anything. The blues are dangerous, if you go there you might never come..."
Summer smacked him, right in his stomach with the button-down shirt that she was examining. Then she spun around to kiss him, a sharp intense kiss, tasting sweet and sour.
"Seth," Summer said forcefully as she pulled away, "shut up."
"Sure," Seth answered. "Shutting up."
The salesgirl approached, slim tanned Newport Beach blonde. "Can I help you?"
"No, thanks," Seth said, "We're just looking."
"Um," Summer said, "we're looking for clothes for him, actually."
"Oh." The salesgirl gave Seth the once-over, and then gave Summer a sympathetic nod. "I see."
"I know," Summer agreed sadly, like he was the biggest fashion disaster on record since Bjork and the swan, and hello, he was standing right there. "Any suggestions?"
The salesgirl smiled. Seth could have sworn that she actually had dollar signs in her eyes, like on cartoons. "Sure. Right this way, please."
"Cohen," Seth told the mirror, as he struck a pose. "Seth Cohen." This whole makeover thing was not going too badly, actually. Seth figured there was a whole night's worth of Clark Kent jokes in just this one suit.
Summer barged in without knocking, her arms full of another stack of clothes. She stared at him for a moment, and then shook her head. "No way. That's so not going to work."
"Really?" Seth did a pirouette, mimicked closely by three thousand Seths inside the three-sided mirrors. "I was just thinking that I looked dashingly handsome."
"Yeah," Summer agreed, sounding mildly surprised. "But we're going to Jenn's Valentine's party, and she wants everyone to only wear black or red. She'll freak out if you come in blue, or whatever."
"We're going to a party?" Seth repeated. "A party where other people will be able to see us? Like, together?"
Summer simply tossed a black shirt at him. "Less talking, more changing, okay, Cohen?"
"Yeah, okay," Seth said. He made a rotating motion with his hand. "Can you, um..."
Summer blinked at him. "What?"
She tilted her head at him in annoyance. "Seth, we're going to Jenn's party together. I think I can see you undressed."
"I'm not even going to try and fight that logic," Seth said, "but it's these dressing room lights. They do nothing for my skin tone."
"Oh, for..." Summer made a noise that was halfway between a laugh and a bark, moving towards him and pushing him down unto the dressing room seat. "How about if I help?"
"Uh, that might expedite things, yeah. Definitely," Seth said, and Summer was already in his lap, unbuttoning his shirt with slim perfect fingers. He watched her for a moment, eyelashes fluttering as she slipped the buttons out of their hooks.
"Anyway, I don't really think that you should wear red," Summer murmured against his neck. "It's not really your colour, you know?"
"No. Of course not," Seth said, and kissed her.
Summer was hot, like always, sparks of energy. Seth would always forget how small she was, but then she fit into his lap, underneath his hands. She pressed her mouth against his, slow and warm, both of them sharing a smile.
She shifted slightly, against his chest. Her hand slid up his thigh, and then stopped, halfway. "These are really nice pants," she said.
"Yeah," Seth agreed, fingers stroking the curve of her neck. "They're great."
"They must be 100% cotton."
"Cotton," Seth said. "Wow."
Summer rested her head against his chest, dark hair tickling his neck. "We don't have to go to Jenn's party. I mean, if you don't want to."
"Really?" Seth asked.
"No, not really. I already told her we would come together." Summer's hand on his thigh tickled his skin through the fabric, as she stroked his leg. "These are really, really nice pants," she murmured, and kissed him again.