Blame The Music
When they got to college they spent a month going to gigs together, all four of them, before realising that Ryan's smile was forced most of the time and Summer kept looking around and commenting on people's shoes and exchanging exasperated looks with Ryan. It took Seth and Marissa an entire four weeks to realise this because their own attention was usually on the music. The same music that the other two didn't seem to appreciate.
They stopped dragging their other halves to see the bands they weren't interested in, and then those they probably wouldn't be into, until finally anything involving live music – with the exception of musicals, which neither of them liked anyway and which Ryan pretended he didn't care about either, until he decided he could drag Summer along – became a Seth-and-Marissa thing.
It was the first time since Alex that Seth had ever been able to talk to someone about music and have them actually clued in and getting everything that he was saying and occasionally surprise him with something he didn't know. Marissa realised she and Alex had never talked much about music, weirdly enough, but maybe that was why it hadn't worked out.
The implication that musical compatibility was essential to a relationship didn't hit either of them until later that night, separately.
When Ryan and Marissa had a fight over winter break, almost but not quite ruining Chrismukkah, Seth found himself consoling Marissa, rather than Ryan. It was probably just that Ryan was being unreasonable and he could see Marissa's point of view more easily, he thought.
When Summer broke up with Seth right before Valentine's Day and wanted Marissa to hang out, eat ice cream, and wallow with her, Marissa pleaded a family commitment, and spent the night in Seth's dorm room. On the floor, of course. She just hadn't been sure Summer would get that they were just friends, she thought.
They didn't actually kiss until the summer after their freshman year, but it was one of those things that seemed inevitable after it had happened, as though they had known it was going to happen but hadn't realised they'd known until that first collision of mouths while a guitar wailed in the background.
- end -