Seth could not believe he'd let Ryan talk him into this.  He leaned against the back wall of the Harbor High auditorium.  Usually these dances were at some country club, but this year's winter dance was actually at the school – a totally vintage move, he thought to himself sarcastically.  He fidgeted with his blue tie and leaned in to talk with Ryan and Anna.  Before he could speak, he saw Marissa Cooper speedily moving towards them.

"Hi guys."  She was friendly, but had a new calmness to her.  She had apologized to everyone, and now it was time to make things right.  Marissa realized now that Summer had been a great friend to her for so many years, and lately, the only thing Marissa had done was to focus on herself.  She hadn't known about any of Summer's projects, or read any of her poems, or been there as she'd fallen for Seth Cohen.  She felt a responsibility to her friend to reconnect Summer with Seth.  They'd had a long talk in the limousine, and Summer admitted that she still wanted to be with him.

"Seth."  Marissa tugged his arm.  "Can I talk with you for a minute?" 

"Sure."  Seth spoke glumly as Marissa pulled him to his feet and led him to the center of the room.  "Where are we going?"

"Just wait here," she instructed, heading off to the front of the room and disappearing behind a red velvet curtain that concealed the high school stage.

Seth stuck his hands in his pockets and looked around.  He hadn't seen Summer since his disastrous Say Anything homage the night before.  The look on her face had broken his heart.  What was he even doing here?  As he turned to leave, the lights dimmed and Ms. Kingsington's voice rang out through a microphone.  Seth turned back to face the stage, and his breath caught in his throat.

Ms. Kingsington, Seth's English teacher, began to speak as she introduced the two girls on the stage.  Vaguely, he heard Candace Merky's name, captain of cheer squad, secretary of the fashion club – rambling that faded into background noise as he looked at Summer.

Her chin trembled a bit, betraying her nervousness, but Summer was lovelier than she had even been before.  Summer's clothes had always driven the boys at school crazy with short skirts and tiny tank tops – sexy, fun clothes.  Her dress tonight was subtle, gliding along her curves, hinting at what lay beneath.

Candace, Seth noted with a quick glance, was poured into an electric blue Lycra dress – her pale blonde platinum hair straightened into razor-sharp edges.  He looked back at Summer, noting the small changes in her appearance.  The dress was cream tinged with a hint of rose, all fine lace that cinched in her wispy waist.  Her hair was free flowing – loose curls tumbled down her shoulders.  Tiny diamonds encircled her wrists, and an unusual necklace caught her notice.  Her mother's pearls, he remembered, but now a small medallion pendant was centered among the pearls.

Ms. Kingsington turned to Summer.  "Most of you were probably surprised by Summer's lovely sonnet on the cover of Harbor's literary magazine yesterday."  The teacher turned to Summer.  "You may not be aware of this, but many students were very moved by your work.  In fact, due to popular demand, I'll be teaching a seminar on the personal sonnet next semester."

Summer gasped.  She had no idea that her poem would receive this sort of reaction.

In the midst of the crowd, Seth smiled to himself.  He should have figured.  Summer, always the trend-setter, had made sonnets cool.

"Since Marissa Cooper has withdrawn from the Winter Queen elections," Ms. Kingsington continued, "we shall now see which of these two ladies will have the honor of this title, as well as the privilege of choosing both the first song and her partner for the first dance."

From offstage, Marissa crossed her fingers.  She had dropped out of the competition to lend her full support to her friend.  C'mon, Summer, she thought urgently.

"Our 2004 Winter Queen is…" Ms. Kingsington opened a small silver envelope, enjoying the suspense before announcing the name.  "Miss Summer Roberts."

Summer paled, and then smiled graciously as Ms. Kingsington affixed a sparking tiara to her hair.  She shook her teacher's hand, and then made her way over to the D.J.  She whispered a title into his ear, and he shook his head knowingly before reaching into his private collection of CDs.

Summer returned to the stage and stood in front of the microphone.  Seth watched her carefully as she cleared her throat and touched the tiara hesitantly.

"Wow," she breathed.  "Thank you so much.  I'm truly surprised."  She bit her bottom lip for a moment, and then continued.  "The truth is, I didn't want to publish that poem at all.  In fact, I was terrified when I saw it on the cover of the lit mag.  But I guess everything happens for a reason."  She looked out at the crowd, and her eyes met Seth's.  She held his gaze steadily.  "I'm so lucky to have had someone who believed in me.  I just hope that he still does."  She smiled slightly and leaned into the microphone, a tremor in her voice.  "Seth Cohen, will you dance with me?" 

He smiled, and she smiled back.  Summer nodded at the D.J.

The strains of the song "Passenger Seat" by Death Cab for Cutie filled the room as Summer moved towards him as if in slow motion.  The crowds of teenagers stepped back and there was only Summer, sweeping towards him, a cloud of filmy chiffon and incomparable light.  The piano introduction to the song resonated through the auditorium.

I roll the window down

And then begin to breathe in

His arms went around her as she leaned against him, reaching up to slowly stroke his cheek before entangling her fingers in his dark hair.

The darkest country road

And the strong scent of evergreen

From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

They looked at each other, never breaking eye contact.  Seth felt her heart beating against his chest, and noted with wonderment that the rhythms matched perfectly.

Then looking upwards

I strain my eyes and try

To tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites

From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

They were flying now, feeling like the only people in the world.  Seth lifted Summer up so that her face was level with hers.  Only shooting stars here, he noted.  This was real, a natural phenomena, nothing made or forced, just a shiver that told him that this was right – they were meant to be together.

'Do they collide?'

I ask and you smile.

With my feet on the dash

The world doesn't matter.

Summer sang along with the song softly.  Seth smiled and continued, as they whispered the last few lines to each other.

When you feel embarrassed then I'll be your pride

When you need directions then I'll be the guide

For all time.

He cupped her face gently and kissed her deeply.  Their lips met, confessing love and forgiveness, expressing hope for the future.  "I love you," Summer murmured, finally saying what she had been feeling for so long. 

A thrill went through Seth as he grinned.  "I love you."  They kissed again, holding each other tight, never wanting to let go.

For all time.

It was more than a song lyric, more than a New Year's resolution.  It was a promise.

For all time.


A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed the ending!  I don't own any of the characters or these DCFC lyrics.  "Passenger Seat" is a great, beautiful slow song – give it a listen if you're not familiar with it!  Unfortunately, that is the end of this story, but I am thinking of writing a S/S-based sequel.  Please leave reviews so I can incorporate your feedback into my new story.  Thanks again for reading!