Note: Through The SnO.C., except Zach never returned to the party.

Seth glared across the school corridor to where Summer was leaning up on her toes, her face tilted upward towards Zach's. They were teasing each other in low voices, apparently having the time of their lives.

"Apparently," Seth mumbled under his breath. His mood was ruined for the upcoming weekend, no doubt of it.

"Hey," Ryan stopped next to him, his eyes following the same path. "Enjoying the show?" he asked sceptically.

"Yeah. Got completely sucked in," Seth commented darkly.

Ryan turned fully to him, the disturbing view disappearing behind his back. "Hey, listen, have you seen Marissa? I, um... I've gotta talk to her."

"So you two are talking to each other now, huh. Good for you," Seth's mouth was on the spin. "Some people prefer not talking you know. They express stuff with their body language, like for instance... Summer right now," he nodded towards the couple. "Look how she's telling him with her body that he's making no sense at all--" in this very moment Summer leaned up and brushed her lips across Zach's. Seth's face fell.

"Yep," Ryan nodded slowly. "She's clearly not interested."

"That's it," Seth took his school bag and started forward briskly, the lines of his face strained in determination.

"Hey!" Ryan's arm shot forward, stopping him. "What are you planning to do, exactly? I thought you said she didn't wanna talk to you--"

"Relax. I'll do the whole talking," Seth pushed past him and Ryan waved his hand dismissively, returning to his search for Marissa.

Seth walked up to where Summer and Zach were standing and halted none too gracefully next to them, a fake grin plastered to his face. Summer noticed him right away and grimaced demonstratively, at the same time slipping under Zach's arm. She pressed herself close to his side, before raising her eyes to Seth's.

"What do you want Cohen? Again?" she asked in a clearly annoyed tone.

Seth ignored the last part, as well as Zach's unfriendly look. "Can I talk to you for a sec?" he asked, straightening.

"No?" she suggested. She shifted on her feet, her hand fisting in Zach's t-shirt involuntarily.

"I'll only take a moment," Seth promised wryly. He glanced at Zach; he wasn't gonna support, that was for sure.

With a suggestive roll of her eyes Summer disconnected herself from her boyfriend. "Fine," she commented. "But only a moment and no longer."

"Right. Setting the timer," Seth raised his wrist. Summer rolled her eyes once more, before turning to Zach.

"I'll see you later, okay?" she leaned closer, her fingers squeezing his. Grimly, Seth watched as they held each other's gaze for a moment, before Zach nodded reluctantly. She gave him a quick smile in return and then watched him walk away, looking wistful. Afterwards she turned to face Seth and crossed her arms over her chest in the passive-aggressive stance.

"Okay. What do you want?" she started, her tone hardened. "And it'd better be something important. Zach and I, we have stuff to do."

"No doubt of it," Seth commented wryly. "Wait... what stuff? Like, studying? 'Cause this is actually the lunch time and--"

"Cohen!" Summer shrieked. "Is that what you wanted? To prep for like, stalking?"

"Stalking!" Seth nearly spat out. "Me stalking you? Please! You think I don't have better things to do?"

"'Cause you don't?"

"Of course I do!" Seth insisted firmly. "You heard about the Comic Book Club? I'm like, the master-mind of the whole--"

"Oh for god's sake, would you cut the bullshit and say what you want?" Summer exploded. "'Cause your moment is like totally drawing to its end!"

Seth pressed his lips together, letting himself drink in her for a moment. Better look at her before she storms off. "Yeah well just wanted to draw you attention to this issue, it's a sort of savoir-vivre thing you see, with you and Zach getting it into public--"

"Excuse me?" she interrupted, irritated. "What the hell are you talking about!"

"You and him, doing the whole smoochy thing in school, obviously," Seth elaborated. "You remember Miss Savenger? She used to tell those little stories about students crossing the line and getting expelled and--"

"Oh. My. God!" Summer rolled her eyes, exasperated. "You're officially the most pathetic ex in the world! Jesus!" she intended to move past him, but he obstructed her way. "Cohen--" she started warningly.

"Summer," he shot back, but with the softer edge to it. He leaned forward, trying to catch her eyes.

She inhaled, a bit shakily. He was much too close for her likes. "Move," she hissed, her face downcast.

"Yeah before I do that, why don't you look at me?" his fingers curled around her upper arm in an insistent and yet gentle manner. The familiar feeling of excitement tingled across her skin in response to his proximity. She raised her eyes to his, trying to make herself appear as defiant as possible. "See? Much better," he commented, giving her a small smile. "Now, can we just--"

"No, we can't!" she cut in hastily. Her nerves were wrecked by now. "If you'd excuse me, my boyfriend's waiting--" she made another attempt to omit him. Once again, he obstructed her way.

"Come back to me, Summer," he asked seriously.

She stared up into his eyes, her heart tossing like a caged bird. This was all she wanted. To come back to him. To be with him. To be able to kiss these lips that so often crooked up in a sarcastic smile she found so irresistible, to run her fingers through that unruly hair of his, to burrow herself in his arms, press her face into his neck and just forget about the rest of the world. To enjoy silence with him; because at times, with her, he would abandon his infamous cynicism and become so serious and tender it was breaking her heart--

... exactly. He was breaking her heart, over and over again. And she couldn't let him do that. Not again.

"It's over," she murmured, their eyes interlocking firmly. "You and me. It's over, Cohen. I won't come back to you. Ever. You've gotta accept that--"

"Not exactly my style," he cut in. She raised her brows at him. "Not... when it comes down to you," he added in a low voice.

Her brows furrowed together as she stared into his eyes, her resolve fading with every second that passed. He always did that to her, when he was looking at her like this. Damn him. Did he actually think she was his to play with as he pleased?

No fucking way. Not in this life. Not any more.

She forced herself to take a step backwards. "I don't care," she said harshly. "Do you remember the part where we're not talking? Well, it's still up," with that she turned and started forward, but he caught her elbow.

"Summer-- "

"Let go," she said firmly, not looking at him. He complied, but with a heavy sigh that had her heart breaking all over again. She pushed past him and walked away quickly, not being able to stand being near him any second longer.

It was the evening of the SnO.C. and none of them had a partner. During the ride to school there was the disturbing sense of silence and awkwardness they had never experienced with each other before, and the atmosphere didn't get lighter even when Ryan commented it with the "just like the old times" line.

And then there was dancing. Ryan asked Marissa for the sake of their friendship, and with some effort Seth managed to convince Summer, but not without the condition of not talking.

So here they were, dancing together, close to each other like they used to be, but not quite meeting each other's eyes. He let his gaze wander across the features of her downcast face, follow the line of her neck, the visible curve of her breasts. He wanted her as much as ever. Maybe even more, now that she was out of reach. He might've had some nice quality time with Alex, but no other woman could compare to Summer - she was one of a kind. She was his dream.

She felt his eyes on her and raised her face, their gazes interlocking. God, so close, so close, the little voice in her head was screaming, why the hell did you let him get so close?--

She quickly looked away, not being able to stand the tension. She realized they could never be friends - there was too much attraction between them. She was too attracted to him. Way too much. He was driving her insane. Even when they weren't together, he still managed to get under her skin all the same. She could try and lie to herself, but there was no denying this thing between them - this was it.

But if so, then why on earth was it so painful...?

"Can I talk yet?" he asked eventually, struggling for a light tone.

"Ugh," Summer cleared her throat. She was still not looking at him.

"I just--" he hesitated and this made her look up, their eyes meeting again. He swallowed nervously, "was curious, why Zach isn't here?"

Summer shifted from one foot to another, clearly uncomfortable. "Because... he was jealous I guess," she shot back.

A beat, in which Seth was slightly taken aback. "He was jealous," he echoed finally. "Of what, of uh... my good looks and charm... of my modesty--"

"Of your big mouth," Summer cut in, in a little higher voice than before. It made him smile lightly, "He saw us talking and--"


"In the hallway... in the lounge," Summer mumbled uncomfortably.

"Yeah," he encouraged quietly.

"Before... during... and after school," she went on, her tone gaining on annoyance.

He sighed. "I mean we were just talking right," he suggested, trying to catch her eyes.

She wouldn't meet his. "I know," she muttered against his shoulder, her soft hair tickling his cheek. He turned his face towards hers, breathing her in. He couldn't help himself. Not when she was so close. Not when she was letting him touch her again, even if that was while dancing.

He ran his hand up her back and under her hair, pulling it over her one shoulder, revealing her neck. She involuntarily shifted closer and he pressed his slightly parted lips against her skin, her sweet scent overwhelming his senses. He let his eyes fall shut while he rested his other hand on the small of her back, keeping her pressed lightly against him.

Her fingers curled around the back of his neck, her nails scraping against his skin a little. She couldn't help herself. Knew she should be pulling away, but wanting, needing, to be close to him just for a bit longer, just a few seconds, a moment longer. She rested her temple against his cheek and closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his arms around her, the sound of his breath in her ear. This was exactly what she wanted - to be with him. To be his girlfriend. His soulmate. His best friend.

"I hate you," she murmured, her eye-lashes fluttering against her cheeks softly.

She felt him smile against her skin. "Me, too," he muttered. "Love to hate you."

She felt her throat tighten. "I mean, I shouldn't even be here, dancing with you. The idea was to stay away from each other, right?" she babbled, needing to set things straight again. "I don't want you to think something Cohen."

"Like what?" he whispered, the corners of his mouth twitching.

"Like, that it means something? 'Cause it doesn't, obviously," she shrugged carelessly. "I was supposed to come here with Zach, anyway, but he's got this totally stupid idea that you and I are, you know, like, considering to come back to each other or something?"

"Which we're not," he elaborated, but not without a teasing note to his voice.

She pulled back slightly to scowl at him. "Of course we're not!" she snorted. "What do you think?"

It was his turn to shrug. "Dunno. What do you think?"

"That you're the biggest loser in the O.C.?" she suggested, irritated. "Just how many times do I have to tell you we're not getting back to each other Cohen?"

"Till you believe it yourself?" he smirked at her.

"God! I've had enough," she disconnected herself from him and walked away in a huff. He followed without second thought.

She went outside, the cool evening air hitting on her skin immediately. She stopped and rubbed her bare arms briskly, looking around for a moment. The bad thing was that she needed a lift and there was actually no one to give it to her. Then she felt someone's jacket cover her shoulders.

Her eyes narrowed. "Take it back," she hissed.

"You wanna freeze to death?"

She pondered on it for a moment. "You're right," she said eventually, slipping her arms into the sleeves. "Maybe if I take it from you, you're the one who freezes."

He rolled his eyes and moved to stand next to her, burrowing his hands in his pockets. She glanced at him, but before he managed to meet her eyes, she averted. The silence feel upon them, and while it used to be comfortable between the two of them, now it was filled with dozens of ifs and maybes.

Eventually Seth decided to speak, in the quiet, low voice.

"I've missed you, you know."

She exhaled, looking in another direction, pulling the jacket tighter around herself. She didn't answer.

He straightened, frustrated. "Did you hear what I said? I said I've m--"

"I heard what you said Cohen," she shot back harshly. "I just chose not to answer."

He nodded. "So it doesn't mean anything?" he asked, observing the people who were passing them by unhurriedly.

"Of course it does," she answered with fake enthusiasm. "It makes me happy, knowing that you're suffering."

"Now that's way harsh don't you think," he said, his voice dropping a dark notch.

"Yeah. At least now you know how I felt the whole summer," she said, tilting her head as far away from him as possible.

He didn't answer right away. Didn't know how. He couldn't take back time, unfortunately. Perhaps, she was right. Maybe he was the biggest loser in the O.C., after all.

He turned to look at her. Now she was gazing at the tips of her elegant shoes, sniffing a little. She never looked more beautiful to him than she did now, all vulnerable and honest, and in his jacket that was way too big for her.

He had to summon all of his willpower not to touch her now, not to ruin everything again, just because he needed to feel her so badly.

"I'm sorry, Summer," he said to the back of her head. "I'm a cold-hearted bastard alright. If I were to perform in a comic book, I would surely be even too mean to play the villain--"

"Cut with the bullshit Cohen," she hissed, tucking her hair behind her ear, still not looking at him.

"Right. Sorry," he rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "But the thing is I, uh... I can't be friends with you Summer, you know that. I want more--"

"That's impossible," she cut in harshly.

"Why? Because you're afraid I'm gonna hurt you again? 'Cause I won't," he took a step closer, reaching for her hand. She moved it away before he managed to do that. His face showed first disappointment, and then determination. "If you gave me another chance--"

"No," she shook her head. It seemed she was beginning to panic a little.

He never took his eyes away from her. "If you took me back I'd never do anything to hurt you again. Never. I promise."

She looked back at him then and have her eyes always glistened this much? "You have no fucking idea how much you hurt me Cohen," she muttered.

"I know," he muttered. A beat, and then reluctantly, avoiding her eyes, "I deserve to die. And, painfully."

She stared at him, letting herself get transfixed by his charm, momentarily forgetting why she shouldn't be doing this. He was just so--

"Yeah, well... I don't want you to die. Not particularly," she whispered, shrugging one shoulder. Her lashes fluttered, eyes dropping to their feet.

He smiled, shifting to another foot. He moved closer, waiting for her to meet his eyes. She did and they held each other's gaze for a long moment, before he lowered his face, their noses touching lightly. He looked down into her eyes, catching his own reflection in them. Her breath quickened, her body going rigid. She was looking back at him, her cheeks flushed, her hair blowing gently in the light breeze that was coming from the ocean. The desire coiled inside of him, his own breath becoming ragged, his hands nearly shaking with anticipation. He waited for her to back off. When she didn't, he leaned further forward, nudging her lips apart with his.

She exhaled into his mouth, her eyes fluttering shut when he pressed closer, her back making contact with the wall of the building. His hands cupped her face and he deepened the kiss, still without the tongue though, his lips moving smoothly and knowingly over hers. Pleasure flooded her, the taste and the feel of him making her oblivious to anything else except for what he was doing to her. The feeling was familiar, and yet more exciting than she ever remembered. She had no idea why he was effecting her so much. He wasn't really her type. She preferred guys like Zach, obviously. Handsome and athletic and-- oh god, could they move it somewhere more private...?

She linked her hands behind his back, her lips parting further beneath his, their tongues entangling. His hands were everywhere, caressing her face, stroking through her hair, smoothing down her arms and back up, gentle and skillful. She almost forgot how good it felt to be touched by him.

What are you doing what are you doing whatareyoudoing!, her brain was screaming.

... I'm being happy.

The air began to be an issue and they pulled back from the kiss, both gasping, half-conscious with arousal. They looked at each other through the heavily hooded eyes, taken aback by the knocking force of their desire, not quite believing they really kissed, again. Her hair was a mess, her cheeks flushed, her lips moist and swollen, the red lip-stick she's been wearing now smudged around the corners of her mouth a bit.

She was a vision.

She was...

"Summer," he muttered her name against her lips, his vocabulary ridiculously lessened in that moment. Her eyes refocused on his, wide and glistening. He could feel her heart still hammering against his chest.

"This doesn't change anything Cohen," she choked out, but other than that didn't make a move to step back from his arms.

"Yes it does," he insisted. "It does. You know it does."

"It was just a kiss," she said in a low voice. They both knew otherwise. "And I kiss a lot."

"Yeah but you always think about me, so what's the point of kissing other guys?" he gave her a little smile.

"See? You totally limit my freedom," she pointed out. Still, she made no move to leave.

"Well you already limited mine," he shrugged. "I don't find it thrilling any more to kiss other girls."

She glared at him, pissed both at him and herself, for feeling vulnerable like she was now. She wanted to hate him; she really did. But she didn't know how.

"Maybe you're gay?" she suggested darkly.

"Yeah good one," he gave her one of his cynical smiles, "but you know that's not the point," he added in a softer tone, his face becoming serious.

She shifted, looking anywhere but him. "Well what's the point Cohen?" she asked carelessly.

Her face was all he was seeing. "I think you know."

"No I don't."

"Yes you do."

"No I don't. Say it," her eyes met his steadily.

He stared at her, the words at the tip of his tongue. Say it, his brain was screaming, say it sayitsayitsayit. "'Cause I can't live without you?" he muttered.

Her brows furrowed together, her throat closing up in emotion. "Then why did you leave?" she asked quietly.

He leaned closer, their foreheads touching. "I had to," he muttered. "I couldn't stay here."

"But I missed you so fucking much," she whispered, her voice edging on a sob.

His hand found hers and he laced their fingers together. "I know. I missed you too. There wasn't a single day that I wouldn't be thinking about you--"

"Say it again," she cut in, sniffing.

The corners of his mouth lifted. "Maybe you want me to walk up on the stage and declare myself before the entire school? 'Cause I can do that you know--"

"Shut up and say it Cohen," she glared at him.

He leaned in next to her ear. "I'm hopelessly in love with you, Summer Roberts."


"I love you."

"Again Cohen."

"Love you," he cupped the side of her face tenderly. "Loveyouloveyouloveyou--" she interrupted him with her lips on his.

the end