|I am on reprieve, lacking my joie de vivre.
||[Oct. 12th, 2005|03:49 am]
I like you.
|[||Tags|||||fic, the oc||]|
|||||The Legionnaire's Lament - The Decemberists||]|
Dude, you know what, it's been roughly about SIX BILLION YEARS since I wrote Thirty-Five Minutes and Six Days Later, and then made noises about sequels and wacky crossovers and, you know, other lies. And the thing was, was that I wrote like ten pages, and then I remembered my longstanding tradition of writing a fic, and then having people like it and go "yay! more!" and then I go "I'm weak! Okay!" and then people read the sequel and go "yay again! this should happen all the time!" and I'm like, "sure, I have awesome ideas for another one and it will be great, just give me five minutes and-" and then POW I disappear in a puff of smoke and everyone's left going "hey, dammit" and flailing at me. For those of you that have known me since Roswell fandom, you might remember that I did that shit all the fucking time. I really sort of wonder why anyone ever trusts me at all, ever. Man, I don't even trust me.
But awhile ago Jori commented on Six Days Later, saying that she read it again and just wanted to remind me that she liked it, and I was like awww, <3, and then I read the fic over myself and remembered how much *I* really liked it, and then I felt sort of guilty for having ten more pages of it that I hadn't shared with anyone, and so I finished it up. And it's like, 19 pages now, which is, you know. Kinda long.
Anyway, it follows Six Days Later, so consider it set right in the middle of season two of The O.C. You know, back when Summer and Zach were still dating, and Marissa was having her own gay affair with Alex. Good times, man. And, uh, after Sark runs away in Alias season four. (Man, remember when those shows were still sort of good? Sigh.)
So this is for plainsong_x, who gets ten thousand points for rocking and also, sometimes, fic.
Title: Issue Fifty: The Super Crossover Extravaganza
Fandoms: Alias/The OC
Pairing: Seth/Sark, sort of Seth/Zach/Summer
Summary: In which CIA agents are on the doorstep, Seth's game is out of control, and Julian Sark is a bad, bad man. But a hot one.
Disclaimer: I treat them so much better than JJ Abrams and Josh Schwartz ever have.
Note: Follows Thirty-Five Minutes and Six Days Later, so you should probably read those first. And this takes place mid-season two of The OC, and mid-season four of Alias.
The problem with dating supervillains (which isn't to say that Seth was dating one, because he was pretty sure Julian didn't date, or maybe supervillains just didn't date in general) was that you had to pick a side. You were either blissfully unaware, which is to say not at all suspicious, or you were in on the whole thing. So, like, complicit in the supervillain deal, maybe even a sort of accomplice. You know, he comes home after a hard day's work and you have a nice dinner and then help bury the bodies. Or something. For example.
"Julian, do you usually bury the bodies alone, or do you need help?"
"I usually just leave them there," Julian said. He was tying his shoes. It was really annoying that Seth could watch Julian tie his shoes and feel all fuzzy. Just, it seemed like Julian was the type of guy to just magically be dressed, rather than having to go through the process like a normal person.
Julian eyed him. "Aren't you going to be late for school?"
Seth rolled out of bed and began searching for his pants. "I can be late."
"I'll drive you," Julian said, all businesslike. Seth's heart fluttered a little.
"Okay. So you really just leave them there?"
"Let's not talk about work, Seth."
"But that's what you have today, right? Work? You've been here an awful lot lately. Are you going local, or just finding excuses to be near me?"
Julian quirked an eyebrow at him. Seth grinned. "I have a meeting. We should go."
"Don’t forget your Briefcase O' Death. Is it full of guns? Can you teach me how to shoot one?"
"No it's not full of guns, or no you can't teach me?"
"We're leaving now."
Seth made him stop just outside of the school parking lot so he could get a kiss goodbye. Which was lame, but Seth wasn't going to mention that if Julian wasn't. Plus, Julian was a really good kisser. Seth was a fan. He was also five minutes late. Which turned into ten minutes late once he remembered just how good of a kisser Julian actually was.
Then, because Seth's life was a sitcom, apparently, he ran into Zach on his way to class. Actually ran into him, which led to Zach holding him steady for probably longer than was strictly necessary.
"Seth, hey. Where've you been? It's kind of hard to make a comic book without an artist," Zach said.
"Uh, yes. I've been. You know. Researching. I'm planning for the future, man, I've got this great idea for issue fifty. And I'll tell you all about it later, okay?" He waved and walked into class, leaving Zach looking a bit forlorn.
The school day passed uneventfully, as it had a habit of doing when Seth was avoiding everybody so they wouldn't ask him about Julian, or more accurately, ask him where the hell he had been, forcing him to tell them about Julian. Seth wasn't quite ready to come out of the Dating a British Assassin (or whatever he was, Seth was afraid to ask him seriously) closet. So far he'd managed to keep the whole affair limited to dinners out and coming home late, and the few times he'd stayed over he'd had decent excuses. All of which involved lying, obviously, which made Seth feel kind of bad. Luckily, the sex with Julian made up for it.
There was only so long he could dodge, though, as proven by the knock on his bedroom door after school.
"So you've been seeing a lot of this Julian guy," Ryan said. He came in and pulled up a chair.
"What?" Seth sputtered. "Can't a guy have friends? Just because he doesn't go to Harbor doesn't mean he's some sort of criminal mastermind! Or whatever." Seth coughed. "I'm sorry, Julian who?"
"I heard you on the phone with him. And Kirsten and Sandy saw you pull away with a blond guy in a nice car. They want to meet him."
"And you told them that it wasn't really me in the car, right? That it was actually the other curly-haired emo kid in the neighborhood and I was just working late like I said?"
"I want to meet him too. You're out with this guy all the time, Seth. Are you like, dating him or something?"
"What? No! Just because we go out and have dinner sometimes and drive around in his really really nice car doesn't mean we're dating." Seth looked back at his bio textbook, which made it the first time that book had ever served a purpose in his life. "Hey, cellular meiosis, that's awesome."
"Yeah," Ryan said casually, "it's not like you're making out with him or anything, right?"
"Ryan, will you listen to yourself? Of course we're not making out right now, god, he's not even here. Have you heard about this whole cell division thing? It's fascinating. I think I'm going to be a scientist when I grow up." Seth's phone rang, and he jumped, then tried unsuccessfully to disguise it by scratching his shoulder. He looked sideways at the phone display, although it wasn't necessary, as he'd programmed the ringtone to Secret Agent Man when Julian called. He wasn't proud of it.
"That him?" Ryan said.
"You should get it. Invite him over."
"I should ask Mom and Dad."
"It was their idea." Ryan leaned back, smiling serenely. Seth kind of wanted to kick him.
The phone kept ringing. Seth gave in and answered it. "Hi Julian. Do you want to meet my parents?"
"I," Julian said. "What?"
"Just stop and say hello before we go to wherever we're going."
"I don't want to meet your parents."
"Two minutes, I swear. Come in, charm my mother, impress my father, convince Ryan you're not a bad influence or something. Um, no pressure."
"They know you're seeing me, then?"
Seth covered the phone with his hand. "Hey Ryan, could you go tell Mom and Dad that I'm inviting Julian over to say hello?"
"Sure," Ryan said.
"Um, not in a gay way," Seth said into the phone as the door closed behind Ryan. "So maybe you could just be my friend that I met somewhere, and who is taking me to a nice manly dinner where we'll bond over sports and women."
Julian sighed. "Two minutes?"
"If that. I'll talk fast."
"I'll be there in half an hour."
Seth snapped the phone shut and started rummaging through his closet. The apocalypse was clearly nigh. He wanted to be appropriately dressed.
Thirty minutes later Seth was bounding down the stairs and opening the door. Julian looked up at him, a little amused and a lot hot. Seth suddenly wanted to undo all of Julian's shirt buttons and then possibly lick him. Julian smiled, and the possibly changed to definitely.
"Mom! Dad! Ryan!" Seth shouted. "Julian's here, he says hi, we'll be back later, don’t wait up!"
"Julian!" Sandy elbowed his way past Seth and gestured for Julian to come in. "So this is the guy Seth's been spending so much time with!" Sandy took his hand, shaking it jovially. "Pleased to meet you!"
"Likewise, certainly," Julian said. He nodded at Kirsten. "Mrs. Cohen, hello."
"Well, this has been really fun, but you know all good things must come to an end," Seth said apologetically, steering Julian back toward the door.
"Stay awhile, Seth! So what's your interest in my son, Julian?" Sandy said. "You two have been spending an awful lot of time with each other. You're not in school, are you?"
"Dad, ohmygod, can I have friends? Please? He's really into Vertigo, okay, we bond over Hellblazer and Lucifer and Transmetropolitan. You wouldn’t understand," Seth said, in a calculated move meant to disarm and confuse his father. Judging by the position of Sandy's eyebrows, it seemed to be working. That, or the eyebrows were finally starting to eat his face.
"And how did you two meet again?"
"On the plane, remember?" Seth said. Julian was watching him with a little half-smile on his face. Seth desperately wanted to leave and go directly to Julian's hotel room. "And then at the comic shop, and now Julian and I hang out when he's in the area on business."
"Oh!" Sandy said, turning to Julian. "So what do you-"
"Business," Seth plowed on, "Which is very top secret and possibly involves the government, though maybe not our government, I'm not sure, but it's all very hush hush and if Julian told us anything about it he'd probably have to kill us, and that would suck."
"Surely that's not true," Kirsten said. She smiled at Julian.
"I’m afraid it is, Mrs. Cohen," Julian said gravely. "You're such a lovely family, it would be a shame." He was managing to charm Kirsten with his mere presence, which Seth found admirable, and not very surprising, and also, his mom could totally stop giving Julian that look any minute now. Seth's fingers itched to take Julian's hand, or stroke the back of his neck, or tangle in his hair, or any number of other ownership-demonstrating acts that it would be an overwhelmingly bad idea to give in to.
"What would be a shame?" Ryan asked. He stood at the top of the staircase, staring down at them, and pretty obviously giving Julian the once-over.
"Nothing, Ryan, nothing," Seth said. "This is Julian," isn't he pretty, Seth wanted to add, but didn't.
"You must be Ryan," Julian said smoothly. "Seth's told me all about you."
"He has, huh?" Ryan said, taking Julian's hand.
Seth watched them. It looked like Ryan was doing that crushing the other guy's hand in a show of masculine dominance thing. Julian, meanwhile, appeared to be assessing the competition. Either that or figuring out how to strangle Ryan with his own wrist cuff.
"This was great, really great," Seth said, "but the new issue of Lucifer won't discuss itself, so Julian and I should probably go." He took Julian's hand, thought better of it, and then pulled Julian to the door as if that's what he'd meant to do all along, rather than just reach for some sort of physical contact with his boyfriend like the big dumb stupid girl that he obviously was.
They had almost made it to the door when there was a loud knock, followed by a jiggling doorknob heralding the arrival of Julie Cooper. "Kirsten, hi, I wanted to ask you-"
Julian stared at her. "Julie?"
She stopped and turned slowly to Julian. "Sark?"
Seth stared at them both. "What?"
"We're going to be late for our reservation," Julian said, just as Julie walked back out the door with a "We can discuss it later" in Kirsten's general direction.
"Reservation?" Sandy mouthed at Seth.
Seth gave him his best "Lip-reading? I don't understand" look. Outside, there was a sound of screeching tires as Julie Cooper made her getaway.
"Don't wait up," Seth said, and they walked out the door in the few precious moments of shocked silence that Julie's swift departure had afforded them.
The sun was setting early off the coast, and it was still just warm enough to drive with the top down, which was nice because Seth had a total crush on Julian's convertible. He leaned his head back against the leather seats and looked over to the driver's side, a view which offered both Julian's profile and the sunset over the ocean.
"I really like you a lot," Seth said.
"You hardly know me, Seth," Julian said, which was a bit of a buzzkill, though not a lie. "But nevertheless," Julian said after a moment, "I must return the sentiment."
"Because it's polite or because it's true?"
"I don't often say things I don't mean."
"I know." Seth wanted to settle back into the seat, close his eyes and appreciate the evening, but that would require looking away from Julian, and he really wasn't ready to do that quite yet. Julian glanced at him and smiled, then ran his hand along Seth's jaw, briefly. Seth found it thrilling. "Let's go back to the hotel."
"But we have a reservation."
"I'm suddenly in the mood for room service." Seth didn't even care how stupid and innuendo-y that sounded. Any longer and he ran the risk of crawling all over Julian right there in the car, which sounded really fucking hot right at that moment but probably only worked in Aerosmith videos, and Seth wasn't looking to tempt fate. He had this whole newfound appreciation for life, mostly because it meant him doing all sorts of things which involved Julian being naked.
"I'll be out of town for a few days," Julian said, later. His lips were making their leisurely way up Seth's spine. "I have a job in Paris."
"Mmm," Seth said. "Bring me back, um. Something. A souvenir." Julian had reached the back of Seth's neck, and the scrape of his teeth against Seth's skin was quite possibly the best thing in the world. "Or skip the souvenir and just stay here for the rest of forever. And keep doing that. Please."
"I'll find you something," Julian promised. "Turn over."
Seth really, really liked this part. Lying on his back, naked in Julian's bed and watching him move downwards, taking Seth in an inch at a time. Fingers dragging on his skin just a little rough, like he didn't even know he could like it. And maybe Seth was just easy to please, but pretty much everything Julian did was A-okay with Seth. Up to, including, and especially that thing with his tongue.
Julian looked up at him, and it was like watching the world's best porno, which wasn't usually Seth's thing, mostly because the guys never actually looked like Julian. And the fact that it was Julian, that was key. Because Seth liked Julian, liked that he was pale and scarred and ruthless, yet also seemed unwilling to do anything to hurt Seth, which he couldn't say for (Ryan) anyone else in his life.
He made Seth forget everything, made him want to stay locked up in this room with Julian and spend all day in bed. Maybe sometimes in the shower, or backed up against the door. Julian was either bringing out a whole new side of Seth or just finding what was already hidden there and coaxing it out with his- oh god- with his mouth and his fingertips and the way he looked at Seth like they were tied together and Julian could feel everything Seth felt. Seth hoped he could, because he was feeling really fucking good right now, and he wanted to share that.
In the beginning Seth had been pretty quiet when they were having sex (interesting, that it was that of all things that shut him up, though it was pretty hard to talk around- well), but Julian was particularly adept at coaxing sounds out of him, desperate noises that maybe should have been embarrassing, but Julian always looked so satisfied that they never really were. Just made everything better, when he wanted to loudly announce to the world that he was really, astonishingly happy when he was with Julian, and if the world couldn't know than possibly the people in the room next door could.
Julian kissed him, pulling Seth close and holding on. Seth was cool with that. He wasn't looking to let go either.
He rolled into school the next day shiny, happy, and sated. Julian had met his parents and all had lived to tell the tale, and in a few days Julian would bring him back an Eiffel Tower keychain, or possibly something less hokey and more understatedly expensive. Seth felt gay, full-on 1930's singing in the rain dancing in the streets clicking his heels gay. It was awesome.
So of course the first people he ran into in the hall were Summer and Zach.
"Jeez, Cohen, nice hickey. Who the hell's been sucking on you lately?" Summer demanded.
Seth clutched at his neck, casting wildly about for a believable lie. "You know, Summer, the ladies do love me." Fuck, Seth, believable. Dammit.
Zach leaned in, rubbing his thumb over the bruised skin. "Teeth marks, nice."
"I'm a tasty treat," Seth said, batting Zach's hand away, mostly because the curious rubbing was starting to become kind of sexy.
"I'll give you concealer if you tell me who did it," Summer said.
"Did what?" Ryan asked, appearing from nowhere as if he'd magically sensed this was the worst possible time for him to do so. Seth had been so wrong, Ryan wasn't a superhero at all, he was like, the evil authority who kept thwarting the innocent sidekick's attempt to have a secret affair. Fucking evil authority figures.
"Why can't you be cool like Commissioner Gordon?" Seth asked him.
Ryan blinked. "Because I'm not- is that a hickey?"
"No," Seth said, flipping his collar up.
"Hey, you guys," Marissa said, clearly also possessing Ryan's spider sense for potential situational comedy at Seth's expense. "The popped collar look, Seth? That's kind of- hey, nice hickey."
"So how's the whole sex with my ex-girlfriend thing going?" Seth asked her loudly, leaving his collar up but feeling like kind of a douche about it.
"It's fantastic," Marissa said, smiling sweetly at him. "You know, that look doesn't really work unless you have the whole backwards baseball cap frat boy thing going on."
"Thanks, Coco Chanel," Seth said, then felt very gay again, only in a different way.
"Here, use my concealer," Marissa offered.
"See, and this is why Marissa is my favorite," Seth announced to the group.
"I thought I was your favorite," Zach said.
"How is it that Marissa is dating a girl and yet you two are the gayest ones here?" Summer asked Seth and Zach.
"Seth, we need to talk," Ryan said.
"Did you give him the hickey?" Summer asked with interest. "Because that's kind of hot."
Ryan shot her a look, but she just raised her eyebrows and looked him and Seth up and down, like she was picturing them naked and entwined. "We're gonna go," Ryan said, grabbing Seth's arm and pulling him away.
"So about before," Seth said, all in a rush. "I know what you're thinking, and what you're going to say, so I'll just tell you right now that I lied, Marissa's totally not my favorite, you are, and you know why, Ryan? Because you never ask questions, or make assumptions, or try to talk to me about things. Because you're a man, a good manly man, and good manly men don't do that and I respect that Ryan, I really do. Thank you," Seth finished.
"Right," Ryan said, so obviously not buying it at all. "So you and Julian."
"Fine," Seth said. "We picked up some hookers, okay? I'm not proud of it, Ryan."
"Seth, seriously," Ryan said, leaning in. "If you're gay or whatever, you can tell me."
And so yes, okay, Seth had given this some thought. Because there was the Summer thing, and the Anna thing, and chicks in general, Seth could dig them. But there was also the whole Ryan thing, and the Zach thing, and of course the Julian thing. So even if Seth generally fell toward the "whatever" end of the spectrum, he was pretty much one with The Gay right now. "I'm gay or whatever," he told Ryan.
"Gay with Julian," Ryan said.
"Gay with Julian," Seth agreed.
"And he treats you right?" Ryan said gruffly.
"Ohmygod, Ryan. What, are you going to beat him up if he doesn't?"
"No," Ryan said, which meant yes. He could probably take Julian in a fight, as long as Julian was unarmed. Which Seth would be interested in watching, if only to test that theory, and/or watch Julian and Ryan roll around on the floor and bruise each other up.
"He treats me fine," Seth said, banishing those images from his mind, then rethinking that and inviting them back to hang out for awhile until he could pay them proper attention. "Don't tell Mom and Dad. Or Summer. Or Marissa. Or anyone."
Ryan shrugged. "Okay. You should, though."
"I'll take that into consideration," Seth said, totally lying.
When Seth and Ryan got home, there were FBI agents on the doorstep. The one in front was ringing the doorbell.
"Hey," Seth said.
"Seth Cohen?" one of them asked.
"Yep," Seth said, blinking.
The door opened, and Kirsten looked from the Feds to Seth and Ryan. "Seth," she said after a moment. "I think we should have a discussion about all these new friends you've been making."
"'Kay," Seth said.
Kirsten invited them in, calling Sandy in from outside, and introductions were made as they all sat down in the living room.
Seth looked back and forth between Agents Bristow, Vaughn, and Weiss. "So," he said, determinedly having no idea what they were doing here.
"This man, Julian Sark." Agent Bristow held up a photograph of Julian in what looked suspiciously like an orange jumpsuit. Maybe Seth was a little biased, but he thought it was hot. Plus, if he kept thinking about how hot Julian was, then he wouldn't have to start leaping around shouting 'oh my GOD!'. "Have you seen him?"
"Of course, that's Seth's new friend," Kirsten said. Seth nodded.
Sandy took the picture, examining it. "He looks younger here. What did you say his job was? Seth, is this guy in college? Because I don't want you going to any frat parties."
"He's an assassin, Mr. Cohen," Agent Bristow said.
"So no frat parties, then," Sandy trailed off.
"I'm afraid not. Julian Sark is a very dangerous man, and we'll have to take him into custody."
They all looked expectantly at Seth. "What?" he said. "I don't have him on me." So there were like, FBI agents in his house. That was pretty weird. Seth was actually so freaked out that he seemed to have cycled back into calm, or as calm as he ever was. Sort of like how Ryan was so straight he was gay. Or, um. Whatever.
"If he contacts you, let us know. Keep him busy so we have enough time to capture him," Agent Bristow said. And wow, that was quick; Seth was cycling back up into freaked the fuck out already.
"Sure," Seth nodded. "Yeah. Okay." He stopped nodding. "An assassin? Really?"
Agent Vaughn sighed. "Look, I hate to be the one to ask this, but what is the nature of your relationship with Mr. Sark, if you're not working with him?"
"What exactly are you implying?" Kirsten said.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Cohen," Agent Bristow said. "But we have to ask these questions. This is a matter of national security. Your son is involved with a very dangerous man. If he knows anything, he's bound by law to tell us."
"I don't," Seth said. "We never talked business. He didn't like to. I never even knew for sure what he did."
"It's understandable," Agent Weiss said. "He's a little weasel, but he can be a charming guy. Nobody's blaming you for anything, Seth. You're young, he's blond, he has that accent, he wears really nice suits..."
"Are you finished?" Agent Vaughn said, blinking at him. "Seth, I'm asking you straight here. Were you dating Julian Sark?"
Seth focused carefully on the view through the glass doors, calculating how long he would need to successfully drown himself in the pool. "Yes."
There was a moment of silence, then, "Sark is dating someone in high school?" Agent Bristow said.
"Well," Agent Vaughn said, "they are probably about the same age."
"He also has a really nice car," Seth said to Agent Weiss.
"Yeah? Still the silver Aston Martin?"
"Really? I didn't get a chance to see it," Sandy said, impressed. Agent Bristow eyed him. "Also," he said to Seth, "could you maybe have mentioned you were dating a criminal? I mean hey, I'm a twenty-first century guy, but that's a bit much, Seth."
"Look," Agent Vaughn said, "we're not saying Seth here is in any trouble. From what we've seen they really are just." He scratched the back of his neck.
"Big gay boyfriends?" Seth offered.
"Exactly," Agent Weiss said. "How is that, by the way?"
"Pretty much awesome," Seth said. "Except for the whole thing where he's apparently an assassin."
"Yeah," Agent Weiss said wistfully. Agent Vaughn nudged him unsubtly in the side. "So, contact us if you hear from him. You don't happen to know where he is now, do you?"
"No," Seth said, which technically wasn't a lie, because Julian could be anywhere, really. Well. Anywhere in Paris. Or on a plane to Paris.
"He really isn't a good guy, Seth," Agent Bristow said, looking concerned. "You shouldn't trust him."
"You shouldn't try to protect him, either," Agent Vaughn added.
"Yeah, no, totally," Seth said, nodding.
"We'll keep an eye out," Kirsten said, patting Seth on the shoulder. It looked like nothing more than a motherly gesture of goodwill, but it spoke volumes to Seth. Yeah, volumes, with titles like Why Hiding Relationships From Your Parents Is A Bad Idea, and Grounded For Life Is A Vast Understatement, and Also, You're Never Leaving Your Room Ever Again, Ever. Gosh, Seth just couldn't wait.
The agents left their cards on the table and Seth to the mercy of his parents.
"I can explain this," Seth said.
"Really?" Sandy asked.
"Actually probably not to your satisfaction, no." Seth bit his lip. "But in my defense, I didn't know he was really an assassin, he's actually very nice, he treats me well, I would have told you about the gay thing eventually, and um. That's all I got. Wait, I mentioned the car, right?"
"You did. It's a nice ride, huh?"
"Dude, it's nice enough to make me want to hurry along with the midlife crisis thing, just so I have an excuse."
"Julian's not that old, is he?" Kirsten asked. "He hardly looked any older than you."
"His excuse is that he's an assassin, Mom. You think he's gonna drive a Subaru?"
The trouble with Parent/Child Talks in the Cohen family was that they tended to end in a deadlock, without either side ever really capitulating. Sandy and Kirsten had never really needed to discipline Seth until Ryan came along, and even then Seth's screw-ups were of the easily explicable variety, and thus easy to punish him for. When it came to talking to Seth about his secret assassin boyfriend, Sandy and Kirsten were left floundering, which was great in theory but really just meant that they kept talking and talking in the futile hope that they might accidentally stumble on a solution.
A few hours later, Seth pleaded hunger, and Chinese was ordered. Ryan stole in, wraithlike, and then faded away with half the shrimp lo mein. Seth was intensely jealous, and not just because he wanted more lo mein. Ryan definitely had some Good Kid karma coming his way, now. No matter who he punched next, he could at least say that he'd never dated an internationally wanted criminal.
"So next time you start dating someone seriously, boy or girl, you tell us," Sandy finished, cracking his fortune cookie open triumphantly. "And try to stay on the right side of the law."
"And call Agent Bristow if Julian contacts you again," Kirsten added.
"Yep," Seth said to his fortune cookie. "Can I go now? I have homework." They let him, and he did his homework. Well, in the sense of not really at all, but it was the thought that counted, and Seth had thoughts all the time, so obviously at least one of them had to count. Instead, he planned out exactly what he would say to Julian once he saw him again, other than "quick, let's fuck one more time before I never see you again." He was still working on that one, actually. It lacked a certain finesse.
The next morning found him in the lounge, sort of reading the last chapter of Of Mice And Men, but mostly thinking more about Julian. He was leaning toward to a rakish "One more tumble for the road?" but he wasn't sure he'd be able to pull that off, at least not without a fedora. He wondered where one could go about purchasing a fedora in Newport.
"So Julie Cooper told Marissa who told me that there were FBI agents at your house last night because you're dating some sort of criminal guy," Summer said, taking the book out of his hands and settling down next to him.
"They weren't FBI, they were CIA," Seth said. Christ, did Julie have spies or something? Did she have the entire town rigged with cameras primed to catch every potential bit of gossip? Was she secretly CIA?
"Wait, that's true? A guy, Seth? So you're actually like, bi or whatever? Why didn't you tell me?" Summer hit him on the shoulder. It kind of hurt.
"Um, it never seemed relevant?"
"Yeah, sure. You're so coming over for a threesome if I can talk Zach into it, I know he's totally gay for you."
Seth leaned back against the couch and closed his eyes. Well, at least she wasn't on his case about dating a criminal. Knowing Summer, she'd only be interested if Julian were like, an internationally wanted stockbroker or something.
"Hey guys, what's going on?" Zach said, coming up and sitting next to Seth.
Seth ran away.
"Marissa, hey! Just the person I was looking for." Seth leaned against the bank of lockers.
"Really?" Marissa said skeptically. "Why?"
"Why? As if I need to have a reason? I like you, Marissa, you bring drama to our fair little burg and that makes you indispensable. And this is in no way related to that, but can I borrow your cell phone for a minute?"
"What's wrong with your cell phone?"
"I lost it."
"I can see it in your bag, Seth."
"I lost it to the cell phone gods, okay? It's passed on, it's no more, watch me pretend to know the Monty Python sketch. Can I use your phone or not?"
"Fine, fine." She handed it over, and Seth felt marginally guilty for probably making her, like, an accessory or something, but it wasn't like she actually knew anything, because she was too busy having her own gay scandal with his ex-girlfriend to be concerned, or even aware, of his torrid assassin love affair.
Seth walked outside, dialing Julian's number and feeling only marginally lame for knowing it by heart.
"If you're calling this number, you know who I am. Leave a message." It was also lame that just hearing Julian's voice could make him smile. Which he was doing. Smiling at the phone, nice.
"Julian, that's the dorkiest message I've ever heard. Look, I'm calling from a friend's phone because I think mine might be tapped or something, or possibly I'm being paranoid but I'd rather not risk it. So, um, some CIA agents are currently hanging around my house asking about you because they think you're some sort of actual criminal mastermind, instead of just mildly shady like I thought. So I'm thinking we should like, talk about that, and maybe when you get back you could figure out some really clever way of getting a hold of me without getting caught and picked up by the Feds. Wow, you know, I've always wanted to use the Feds in casual conversation, so now I've had that opportunity and I kind of wish I didn't. Julian, come back. Please. Um. Please. Okay. Right. Uh, this is Seth by the way, I hope you knew that. And I'm gonna go now. Bye." He snapped the cell phone shut.
Seth stayed on edge for the rest of the day and barely slept all night. Julian didn't contact him at all.
"So I hear you're dating a wanted man," Zach said the next morning. He sat down beside Seth, offering him a latte. Seth decided to stop spending his time in the lounge. He heard the dusty, eternally-unoccupied stacks at the library were nice this time of year.
"I don't want to talk about it," Seth said. Zach stood up. "Leave the latte."
"You only get the latte if you tell me what's going on. I'll drink yours and mine, I don't mind." He moved to walk away.
"You drive a hard bargain, but I don't buy it. You won't drink all that. You'll be bouncing off the walls."
"Caffeine has no effect on me. I'm invincible."
"You are not."
"Don’t question me, Cohen." He handed Seth the latte and sat back down. "So about your assassin boyfriend."
Seth took a sip of the latte. It had cinnamon and lots of nutmeg in it, just like Seth liked. He wondered absently if everyone in his social sphere was actually gay, or if he was just projecting. "What about him?"
"Well, come on. Summer was just making it up, right? You're not really, you know." Zach raised an eyebrow.
"Bisexual? An accomplice to an internationally wanted criminal? Into British guys? A big gay anglophile assassin fetishist? What?"
"Wait, he's British?" Summer's voice rang out, and a second later she appeared, dropping onto the couch next to Zach. "You're dating a British guy? That is so hot. Zach, why can't you be British?"
"Sorry," Zach said. "I'll work on that."
Seth patted him on the shoulder. "I like you just the way you are," he said.
Summer was eyeing them with a look that Seth was beginning to understand meant 'gay! gay! GAY!' so he took his hand off Zach's shoulder and scooted over. He only needed one boyfriend at a time, thank you, and his love life was complicated enough without adding threesomes with his ex and his ex's boyfriend to it.
Wait, wait, what the fuck kind of teenage boy was Seth, anyway? He scooted back over, and Zach beamed at him. So did Summer, except less with the beaming and more with the obviously calculating.
There was a sudden vibrating against Seth's hip, and he jumped as Zach raised an eyebrow at him and reached into his own pocket to get his phone.
"Hello?" Zach said, then frowned, looking at Seth. "It's for you."
"Uh, hello?" Seth asked.
"Dude," Seth said, standing. "You are too stealth to live."
There was a pause, then, "I'm not sure what that means," Julian said. "I didn't think it would be wise to call your friend Marissa, but I know you've been spending some time with this Zach."
"Not spending time in a sexy way or anything," Seth said hurriedly. Okay, so Julian was keeping tabs on him somehow. That was, yeah. Sort of creepy and hot at the same time. Kind of like that Justin Timberlake video that Seth had maybe like, seen part of once, the one where he was totally stalking Britney. "So, um."
"Make your excuses and come outside," Julian said. "I'm flying back this evening, there isn't much time."
"Flying back to where?" Seth asked. Maybe his having a boyfriend wouldn't be an issue for much longer. That sucked.
"Meet me in the back parking lot in five minutes," Julian said, and hung up.
"So, I have to go," Seth said, handing Zach his phone back. "Thanks for letting me use your phone."
"Ohmygod, you're totally going off to commit international espionage, aren't you? You were so never this interesting when we were dating," Summer said.
"Yes, no, sorry," Seth said, backing away. "If you see Ryan, make up some really fantastic excuse about why I won't be around tonight. Um, leave out the part about the assassin boyfriend."
"But that's totally the best part."
"I'll tell him we're hanging out later," Zach said, patting Seth on the shoulder.
"Thanks," Seth said, and didn't reach up and clutch Zach's hand, although really only because time was an issue, here.
Julian was waiting in the back lot, parked in one of the teacher's spaces, which was totally against the rules. So maybe the assassin thing was kind of evil and wrong, but at least Julian had totally committed himself to the bad boy role. Seth could respect that.
"Hey," Seth said, sliding into the passenger seat and tossing his backpack into the back. "Are we going to run away together, go on a crime spree, and then Thelma and Louise it off a cliff or what?"
"Nothing so pedestrian," Julian said, pulling him in for a kiss. "Besides, I have a plane to catch."
This sucked. This really, really sucked. Because Julian was being all charming and attractive and lickable, and Seth couldn't have a serious talk with him when he was like that. Which was probably why they'd never actually had a serious talk. "Are we going back to the hotel for one last hurrah, then?" Seth asked. "Also, can we forget that I just used the word 'hurrah?'"
Julian smiled, and Seth definitely still wanted to lick him a lot. "To the hotel," Julian said. "I don't think I've been followed."
Seth leaned back against the headrest, filing that last one under 'phrases that shouldn't be hot but now kind of are, damn you, Julian.' "Are you sure?"
"No," Julian said. "But that kind of adds to the thrill, doesn't it?"
Yes, yes it did, actually, but Seth wasn't going to admit that. This was all Julian's fault. Why was he so hot? "So those CIA agents kept calling you Sark. Should I call you that?"
"No. I like that you call me Julian. Nobody else does."
"Okay. Good." Seth smiled. Clearly he was like, cooler than the rest of Sark's friends, who didn't even get to call him by his first name. Then he frowned. Did guys like Julian even have friends? Probably they just had allies or something. People that wouldn't kill him on sight. As opposed to the people that would kill him on sight. Seth felt a little queasy. "I think one of them had a crush on you."
"Just one?" Julian asked, looking mildly amused.
"I told him you were mine and that he should back off," Seth said, with his best kung-fu pose.
"No you didn't," Julian said, and Seth hoped he knew that because he knew Seth, and not because he had like, bugged the house or something. Julian smiled benignly at him, and Seth wasn't really sure either way.
He psyched himself up for the talk the whole way there, because it was better than thinking about potentially getting arrested. He stared at Julian a lot too, in the car, on the way up in the elevator, and as they walked into the room. Because, well, Julian was hot. Seth wanted to remember him. Julian smiled, unknotting his tie, and Seth willed his photographic memory to suddenly kick in. Maybe it had just been lying dormant all these years, waiting for something worth remembering.
"You don't have to just look, you know," Julian said, taking off his jacket.
Yes. No. Right. Talking. "Um, hey, so," Seth said awkwardly, "You never told me that you like, killed people for a living."
"Is that going to be a problem?"
Seth thought about it. He really did. "Well," he said, "Are you killing the good guys or the bad guys?"
"That depends on who I'm working for, I suppose."
"Who are you working for now?"
"The bad guys."
"Oh." Seth deflated a little. "So you're killing the good guys, then." Dude, this sucked. He'd been kind of okay with the whole shady business thing, it was exciting. But maybe more so in theory. In theory meaning he'd been trying not to think about it overmuch. Or at all.
"Not always killing them."
"Sometimes just stealing things. Or kidnapping."
That was quite as bad as killing people, Seth thought. Maybe there was still room to work with this. Except- "But you're still a wanted fugitive, though."
"Which doesn't really bother me, and trust me when I say I'm sure that'll be a topic for my therapist and I to discuss for years to come, but I think it might bother my parents. A little."
"You could get in trouble for this, you know," Julian said. "They'll think you're working with me, that you're my accomplice."
"Partners in crime, that's kinda hot," Seth said. Julian raised an eyebrow at him. "Or I could just be your accomplice, that's cool too."
"They'll accuse you of helping me escape. Obstructing justice."
Okay, maybe Seth hadn't really thought this one through.
"Of course," Julian said, "I am very dangerous man. I could have taken you against your will, and held you here all night doing terrible things to you."
"I could tell them that," Seth said, glad that one of them at least had foresight. The whole criminal thing, while Julian wore it well, really would not have coordinated with Seth's curly-haired emo boy vibe. Plus, orange? Really not his color.
"What was it you said before?" Julian asked, knocking Seth onto his back and holding him there. "Something about one last hurrah, wasn't it?"
"One last hurrah," Seth said, mesmerized by the slow trace of Julian's hand down his stomach. "And hey, if you ever start working for the good guys, maybe you could call me."
"I suppose we'll see." Julian looked at him, then pulled his own shirt off. Seth scrambled to do the same; it would be tacky of him not to match. "Let's make this memorable, shall we?"
When Seth woke up, he was alone, and the sun had set, and apparently he was one of those guys that fell asleep after sex. Well, at least sex as exhausting as that. It was okay, though, he guessed. He had figured that Julian wouldn't be much for goodbyes. He rolled out of bed, bleary and a little sore. There was a note on the nightstand, with a phone number written on it in Julian's neat handwriting, and a dangly Eiffel Tower keychain. Seth stifled a laugh. Of course now Julian's weird sense of humor would come out. He wondered what else about Julian he'd never really get to know.
Seth stared at the note. Probably he should memorize the number and then like, burn it. Assuming that it wasn't already armed to self-destruct in five seconds or something. He shook the paper a little. Nothing. So, that was good.
Seth got dressed, and headed out to the lobby, keeping an eye out for any stray CIA agents. It was a little difficult to see in the sunglasses he was rocking, but he had to be covert, man. He slouched out, hands in his pockets like a completely innocent teenager who totally belonged there.
Oh fuck, his dad was here? Seth looked wildly around. He was so busted, oh my god.
"Mr. Cohen, sir, your car will be around in just a moment," the doorman said. Seth was Mr. Cohen. Right, okay. Wait, his what now?
Julian's car pulled up, and the valet got out and held the keys out for Seth to take. Seth stared at them, then at the valet, then at the car. "That's not my car," Seth said.
The valet smiled, pressing the keys into Seth's hand. "I believe you'll find that it is, sir," he said. "In fact, you'll find all the papers for it in the glove compartment, all in your name. Mr. Sark requested that we assure you of that, and we treat our customers very well here, Mr. Cohen. We hope to see you and Mr. Sark return again someday soon."
"Me too," Seth said. The keys dangled from his hand, glittering and clinking. They were the best keys in the history of the world. He got behind the wheel, barely resisting the urge to lovingly caress the dashboard.
Okay, so, summary of events: Seth had lost Julian, but not without one last mind-blowing parade of orgasms. He'd assisted a wanted criminal, but he could totally say that he was coerced or something. His parents were likely going to kill him, but they probably wouldn't take away Julian's car. Julian's car, which was now Seth's, which Seth was now shifting into gear and pulling out of the parking lot in. Also, Seth was pretty sure that if he ever needed someone killed, he could totally call Julian and get the job done. Apparently consorting with supervillains got you really impressive favors.
Finally, there was the fact that he was single now. Single, and driving an outrageously expensive car. Summer would love this car. Zach would love this car.
His phone rang.
"Cohen, tell me you're not dead or in jail," Summer demanded when he answered.
"I’m not dead or in jail, but I’m single," Seth said.
"Julian left me his Aston Martin."
Breathless pause. "I'll call Zach. Be here in half an hour."
"I'll be there in ten," Seth said, smiling, and hit the accelerator, speeding down the highway.