Greece in the Age of Heroes. Harry Potter, an awkward young Ambassador’s son, has been invited along to the biannual gathering at the Court of Thrace, where, much to his own displeasure, he meets the Trojan Prince: Draco Malfoy. The Prince turns out to be the least of Harry’s problems when he suddenly finds himself on a trojan ship, headed straight into enemy territory.
‘You Don’t Get Many Songs Like That’: Liz Rose on Co-Writing Taylor Swift’s 'You Belong With Me’ Chorus
One of Taylor Swift’s secret weapons in her early hit-making days was Nashville songwriting veteran Liz Rose, who co-wrote a number of Swift’s best and biggest early hits, including “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “White Horse” and “You Belong With Me.” The latter went all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and established the country star as a major pop player.
“It’s really fun to start a song, and you can just hand it to the room, and they all start singing it,” Rose tells Billboard of the enduring smash, whose explosive shout-along refrain we just named the 20th-best chorus of the entire 21st century. “You don’t get many songs like that.”
After Swift wrote third album Speak Now entirely on her own, she and Rose only collaborated once more – on 2012’s Red highlight “All Too Well” – but the latter has remained an in-demand country and pop songwriter, even winning a Grammy in 2016 for her work on Little Big Town’s surprise crossover hit “Girl Crush.” Rose spoke to Billboard about her memories of co-penning (and later performing) one of Swift’s early signature hits.
Was the chorus the first part of the song that came together?
We always started at the beginning. It just flowed out, honestly. She’s so fast. And Taylor kind of knew – she came in with [sings] “You’re on the phone with your girlfriend…” And it just kind of flowed into that chorus.
Are there individual strengths that you and Taylor have as co-songwriters, where you put your emphasis on one part and she does another?
We were always back-and-forth. She comes in with the story and the melody – I truly believe that she heard the production in that song while we wrote it. And that song always amazes me, because when I do writers’ night and I try to play it, I always make the audience sing it – or I make girls get up to sing it.
And that chorus – it’s impossible to sing! I don’t know how she did it. Well, I mean, she’s young and she has a great voice. But the high-reaching [parts of the chorus]… usually I just stop and let the audience sing it. I’m like, “Y’all take this, I can’t do it!”
Was there a part of the chorus that once it came together, you guys knew you were good to go?
Oh, man, just the way it flowed so fast. And I loved the way that it was [only] half of the chorus the first time – have you noticed that? I just think that was so cool, the way we did that.
It does seem like something you guys did a number of times together – where the chorus does shift as the song goes on, and by the third chorus, there’s a key word or phrase that gets turned on its head a little. What do you think the power of doing that is?
It makes you want to stay until the end of the song. And I think that it makes a song more personal. It does it in [Fearless single] “White Horse,” and it does it in “You Belong With Me.” It just makes the listener feel like the writer and the artist care about the song – that they’re like, “Okay, you’ve heard it, but wait a minute – ‘cause I want you know that this really affected me, I’m gonna dig the knife in just a little bit deeper.” We were never through writing a song until we were through writing a song. Until the last line.
I noticed listening to the song recently that it almost sounds like a ‘90s rock song, the way the verses explode into the chorus. Was that something you guys were intentionally going for, or just how it came together?
I think it was there when we were writing it. We wrote it, like, the day before she cut it. And she, I believe, wanted to make sure she’d written everything she could write for the record before she finished cutting it. So I think she came in wanting to write an up-tempo [number], and came in with that story, wanting to write this really fun, fast, driving song. And you can hear it in the guitar, in the work tape.
Do you think this is the best chorus you and Taylor ever did together?
Absolutely. When I go out and do it – when I don’t even have to sing it [Laughs] – it’s pretty awesome! There’s a lot of joy in it. It’s really fun to do live, it’s really fun to watch young girls to 50-year-old women get up and sing it.
Do you have a favorite chorus of the 21st century, or a song that comes to mind when think of a great 21st-century chorus?
Oh, gosh. Well “Girl Crush,” of course. [Laughs.] But that I didn’t write? Taylor’s song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” I mean, that song is amazing. And [Florida Georgia Line’s] “Cruise.” Think about what “Cruise” did, with FGL. Just that it makes you want to sing it, whether you’re a fan of theirs or not, it doesn’t matter. That song, it had a big impact on country music. And “Mama’s Broken Heart,” Miranda [Lambert], that Kacey [Musgraves] wrote. There’s some great ones.
We need to have a serious talk about this Gilmore Girls fic.
As Will Smith once said, OK. Here’s the situation.
Someone is writing The Subsect. Jess’s novel. I’m frankly amazed that in all the years of online Gilmore Girls fandom that no one has attempted to do this before, and it’s entirely possible that someone has. But I’m too new to this fandom to know, and if someone tried to write The Subsect before, it probably wasn’t like this story.
Because here’s the thing. This version of The Subsect, in its current online metafictional form, is fucking amazing. It’s so good that I thought, after a first pass, that it might actually be very good, very well-placed guerrilla marketing for the revival. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s just a fic. Written by some wicked smart person somewhere out there.
If you want to read it, it’s here. The single most devastating thing about it, so far, is that it’s only two chapters long.
I have many thoughts about this story, but let’s start at the beginning, in the first chapter.
And as a note, the following contains many spoilers, so if you want to remain unspoiled in regards to this story – however filthy and corrupted your mind may already be – stop reading now, go read the damn first chapter of The Subsect, and then come back and read this.
Thoughts on the first chapter of the fanfictional Subsect, in no particular order. Here come some bullet points…
The first chapter is set in New York City, where we find Jess growing up as a youthful hoodlum and accomplished card shark, as you would expect. The level of accurate, ultra-specific detail about NYC in this story, though, is mind-boggling. Subway stops. The names of businesses. Geography. Every word of it – with a couple of fascinating exceptions, which I’ll talk about – is real. And it’s not just accurate in general. It’s accurate to the period of the story. An example: At some point, the narrator – called J., but I’ll presume it’s Jess – mentions a bookstore near Columbia University named Labyrinth. It’s real, but it’s now under new ownership and has a new name. You’d never know this, ever, unless you went to that bookstore before it was renamed. So whoever’s writing this is a New Yorker and has been for a while, or they’re a research freak of truly epic and admirable proportions.
The story contains a freakishly contextual reference to Italian opera, and an ominous quote from Julius Caesar in Latin that both foreshadows the conflict later in the chapter and harkens back to Jess’s growing affinity for gambling. This is not garden-variety fanfic, friends.
The story invents a completely genius plot device that has Jess leaving NYC for Stars Hollow not just because he’s bad and is doing bad things — although he is and does, per cannon and the details of this story — but he also leaves the city in the wake of 9/11. The craziest thing about this? It totally works. The episode where Jess steps off the bus in Stars Hollow aired on October 20, 2001.
There are two references in this story that are clearly fictionalized. (And there may be more. I just haven’t spotted them yet.) The first one is about Liz working at Shrafft’s as a waitress. Newsflash: There is no Schrafft’s anywhere in NYC, and there hasn’t been since maybe the 1970s. So why the fictional reference amidst all this hard, cold, New York-y reality? Well, here’s the deal. As the story mentions, the Scrafft’s where Liz works is on 79th Street, and there was indeed a Schrafft’s restaurant on East 79th Street, though it was closed long before the action of this story takes place, and has now been torn down. But this particular Schrafft’s is notable because it was mentioned in a J.D. Salinger novella called Raise High the Roofbeam. Who would write that kind of obscure reference into a novel that’s otherwise positioned as a thinly veiled memoir? Why, your favorite pretentious literature nerd and mine: Jess Fucking Mariano. In fact this reference breaks the otherwise factual fabric of the story. It fucks up everything that’s been so meticulously plotted before and after it — including the piece’s careful attention to geography. As Liz gets off her shift at the fictional Schrafft’s, she beelines it for the 2 train to head uptown to her next job in the Bronx. Well, the Salinger Scrafft’s was on the East Side of Manhattan, where there is certainly no 2 train. The point of all this? To make you, dear reader, believe in your soul of souls that Jess Mariano wrote this story. If he wasn’t a fictional character on TV show, I might think that he actually did. The other fictional reference is when J. describes being robbed and beat up in a park in Bensonhurst by the Jones Street Boys, who are a fictional gang in the video game The Warriors.
It’s also worth mentioning that the chapter’s opening language is so very, very true to Jess’ character. The sense of poetic surreality. The ten-cent words. The thin veil of fiction over what’s clearly a memoir. It is the kind of stuff that first-time dude novelists do when they’ve spent too much time reading the beats. The result? It’s all weirdly convincing. I don’t just believe that Jess wrote this story. I believe that there is, in fact, a Jess. So how did we get here? Where the best piece of metafiction I’ve read all year is a Gilmore Girls fanfic? Tell me that.
I have more to say about this story. But I need to re-read the second chapter first and this post is really long and annoying, so I’ll stop.
There's a song i like about a guy that plays piano under a girl's house to show his affection and he's waiting for a sign to come up but he never looks at her cuz he's focused on playing and she wishes to signal him but he doesn't look up so they end up staying up all night waiting for eachother to make a move. I just thought it would be cute with sherlock playing the violin for john...
It’s a quiet night in Baker Street. It’s the dead of winter; snow is falling outside, blanketing all of London in its silence, and there’s a fire crackling in the grate in 221B.
Sherlock stands by the window, violin tucked beneath his chin. He’s playing a new song, something he’s been working on for months now. John knows this because Sherlock had told him in a very odd, flat sort of way.
“I wrote something. A piece of music,” he’d said about five minutes previously, his fingers tapping nervously at his sides.
“Okay,” John had replied slowly. “That’s…nice.”
“It’s taken me months. Would you like to hear it?”
“Um. Yes. That would be nice. Let me just…get a drink.”
And that’s how he had ended up sitting in his chair by the fire, a glass of whiskey in hand, watching Sherlock pull sweet music from the strings of his violin. It really is a beautiful piece, and John can’t help feeling as if there is something familiar in hit, something calling to him. He’s always enjoyed listening to Sherlock play, especially when he’s actually playing and not just screeching sounds at Mycroft. But for some reason, this feels different.
It feels like all those nights that he wakes up from a nightmare and suddenly there’s the sound of the violin drifting up to his room, soothing him, calming him. It feels like when he comes home from a particularly rough day at work and sinks down into his chair, and a cup of tea magically appears at his side, and Sherlock takes up his bow. It feels like that night, after the swimming pool, when he’d had a bomb strapped to his chest; when John had been so high strung he couldn’t sleep, and he’d curled up on the sofa and Sherlock had played and played and played until John couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.
John feels warm and safe, wrapped up in Sherlock’s music, and he desperately wants Sherlock to look at him because he’s never been able to say it out loud, but he’s sure that if Sherlock looks at him now then he’ll see it, plain as day, written all over his face, and maybe then they’ll finally get somewhere. But Sherlock is concentrating hard, his eyes closed, his hands steady on his instrument. He plays as if it’s all that matters, as if he couldn’t possibly think of anything else he should be doing.
John knows, though, he knows that this music is meant for him; it’s meant to make him feel this way. And even if he can’t say it, even if he’s too afraid to do anything about it, he can sit there in his chair and listen and let his love play out over his face in the hopes that Sherlock will open his eyes.
You were so nervous for this coffee date. It was a date. Though it pained you to admit it, through all of the apprehension, you were kind of looking forward to it. The voice that had scared you for years with it’s comfort and reassuring words was waiting just a few hundred feet in front of you.
The fact was you were curious. Meeting him had been terrifying but a great relief at the same time because you’d been dreading it for years. Part of you had expected a giant piano to fall out of the sky and crush him the moment he said hi but funnily enough that didn’t happen. Now that you’d actually had chance to think about it he was probably the best soulmate you could hope for because, although he was reputed to be in constant danger, he was also probably the most dangerous individual you’d ever know. You’d read up on him and he was a fighter down to the bones. Not much was known about the last seventy years but he’d been in the howling commandos and his best friend was famous for punching hitler.
You were torn between the good and the bad and the only thing keeping you moving forward was the fact that you’d told him you’d come.
Stopping outside the looming revolving doors, you took a deep breath and walked in. James was stood a few feet to the left of the doors leaning casually against the wall and holding two drinks. “I got you coffee.” He smiled pushing off and sauntering towards you.
“Coffee before coffee, how gracious.” You tentatively smiled, tilting your head back as he got closer. Wow, he was really tall. James grinned amused and almost relaxed as he caught your thought. His eyes then darted behind you and you saw the amusement fade. You turned to look but all you saw were people going about the business in the huge lobby. You turned back to see him glaring at the distance so you slipped into his thoughts and almost choked on your drink. You downed at as quickly as you could while you processed what you’d just seen.
Captain America was sat at a Starbucks with sunglasses and baseball cap on, somehow managing to make reading a newspaper suspicious. On the same table there was a woman with bright red hair and a man whose shirt looked like its sleeves had been torn off staring resolutely away from you. You caught James’s thought of those fuckers before you were back in your own head, dumping his and your empty cups in the trash and grabbing his hand. You practically frog marched him out of the doors in the hurry to ask him what was going on.
“They’re my teammates and to say they defend the world they’re pretty fucking gossipy.” He emphasized the last bit, glaring into a security camera on the corner of the building. Not even a second later his phone beeped and he glanced at it and scowled. He then picked up a rock, turned back towards the camera and threw it so hard the the device scrunched backwards a good few inches into the brick. It now resembled a mashed potato in a pothole. You just looked at him incredulously. Was that meant to be a faux casual show of strength or did he just genuinely damage property when he received unsavory messages?
“Only when I’m being watched and mocked on a date with a pretty dame.” He flirted kissing the back of your hand. You hadn’t even noticed he was still holding it. You blushed then cringed in slight horror. Since when were you the type to blush at such a cheesy action? To your surprise you weren’t embarrassed by him, just your own reaction. Where had all of your previous confidence gone? “The same place mine probably went the first time I laid eyes on you.” His smooth reply to your errant seemed to bring it right back.
“You know it’s kinda rude to reply to my inner monologue.” He threw his head back and laughed. Holy shit, even his throat was hot, how in the fuck was that a thing. His thumb affectionately rubbed the back of your hand as if in responce.
“You know my friend Bruce says soulmates exist in a state of shared consciousness so your inner monologue is technically mine too.” He waggled his eyebrows and you snorted.
“Are you implying I’m not capable of independent thought James?” He swallowed thickly, gaze turning heated. You caught his thought of I love it when she says my name like that and found yourself thrown completely off-kilter, tripping over your own feet and watching the curb come up to meet you. Just as you closed your eyes in preparation for impact, an arm wrapped solidly around your waist and swung you up. You opened your eyes cautiously in disorientation only to find a pair of familiar baby blues staring at you. You were leaned back with one foot in the air, the only thing keeping you from hitting the ground was his arm.
“You know I usually take a dame dancing before I dip her.” He didn’t move; just watched you as if in challenge.
“I usually get through a first date before I let a guy put his arm around my waist, so I guess we’re both going against the norm.” You reached a hand up to touch his face and he brought you back to your feet. You cupped his face with one hand and he leaned in, but just before your lips brushed you grabbed his hand and spun around pulling him along behind you. He didn’t quite stumble but you found yourself hyper aware of his irregular breathing.
You tried to ease the tension commenting flippantly “You never really told me where you were taking me. There are thousands of coffee shops in New York.”
“Yeah…It’s uh…just over here.” He moved in front of you and you let him pull you along, thankful that he’d left the moment and your reaction alone.
You were so distracted by your own thoughts that you crashed into him when you stopped. His lips quirked as he looked down at you then he motioned to the building in front of him. You turned to look at it and immediately lost it. First it was just uncontrollable giggle but it soon progressed when you saw him looking slightly affronted. Then you laughed so hard you had tears running down your face and were choking on your breaths. When you finally got yourself under control you looked up at him again, his expression had changed to neutral but you could fee his confusion but vague amusement at your reaction. “What’s so funny doll?” You just grinned at him, truly at ease for the first time since you’d met him. Fate was definitely fucking with you and at this point you were just fine with that.
“I own this place.” He gaped at you then looked between you and your shop.
“You’re joking.” He looked oddly delighted. Makes sense I that was drawn to it.
“You’ve never even been here before.” You stated plainly.He raised a brow at you. Now who’s listening to internal monologues?
“I come here every Sunday lunch with Steve.” He said Steve’s name fondly belying his affection for the other man.
Of course he would come on the only day you took off. He’d been so close this whole time. You really were destined to meet him. Looks like it was only a matter of time anyway. “Still want a coffee? I can get us the owner’s discount.” You teased with a shake of your head and a grin.
He nodded and let you lead him inside to your favorite little booth in the corner. You sat him down then stood back doing your best impression of the flirty waitress. “Hello sir, what can I do for you today?” He leaned his head in his hand and smiled crookedly.
“Whatever you think I’ll like doll.” I’m sure no matter what you give me it’ll taste great, just knowing you crafted it will give me a rush. To your chagrin you blushed again.
You turned in an effort to hide it and virtually ran to the counter throwing a careless “Of course sir” over your shoulder. You went straight for your employee Liz, who you knew worked the Sunday lunch rush. “Hey Liz, you see that guy in the back over there.” You started pointing vaguely over your shoulder. “Well apparently he’s a regular and I forgot to ask his order. You wouldn’t happen to remember it would you?” She glanced up then gasped and giggled.
“Oh my God! It’s Lush Locks!” She squealed grabbing your shoulders as she jumped in excitement. She dragged you behind the snack stand then stood at stared at him from behind a carrot cake.
You furrowed your brow and took a slight step back “What?”
“Oh wow, I forgot. You’ve never even seen him.” She was aghast at the very thought. “That man and his friend” she abruptly tilted her head in thought “or lover, come here every Sunday and order the same two drinks using a different name every time. We don’t know what to call them so we made up our own names: Lush Locks and Jaw Line. Everyone flirts with them but they never flirt back. Jenny’s convinced they’re together but I swear on my life I’ve seen Jaw Line check me out. They’re so hot, like some of the girls even unbutton their blouses and roll up their skirts before waiting on their table.” She paused again then cleared her throat as she realized she was talking to her boss. “But I would never do that because that would be extremely unprofessional.” She tried to smile demurely but as soon as her gaze strayed back to James a dreamy look overcame her. At least it was good to know you hadn’t turn into a bumbling idiot because you’d met your soulmate. No it was just because he was insanely hot.
You tried to refocus yourself instead of checking out his thighs with Liz. Damn they were some good thighs, especially in those oh so tight jeans. Your mouth watered slightly and you shook yourself out of it. It suddenly hit you how much your mind had changed since you met him. You shouldn’t been flirting with him. You should be telling him why he couldn’t be with you but you just couldn’t bring yourself to stop this. You’d only known him a day yet you felt like you were already tied to him.
Oh no, you promised yourself you’d never do this, you swore. You started to panic and set off towards your office. You didn’t want anyone to see you fall apart. As soon as you were inside you slammed the door and slid down to the floor behind your desk. You were already falling for him. It was impossible and ridiculous but somehow true. You’d barely known him twenty-four hours but you felt like you’d known him your entire life. In a way you had. He’d always been a presence in the back of your mind, not always speaking but always there. You’d never been alone and you hadn’t even realized it. It was too late.
Suddenly the door banged opened and James was somehow in front of you. He brushed the hair out of your face and cupped your cheek with a gentleness you didn’t think possible for someone who seemed so immense. “Calm down doll, it’s all gonna be okay.” You tried but you just couldn’t control your erratic breathing, it was happening again. He bit his lip as he looked you over. You could feel the concern and sorrow shifting through him. In a split second decision you jumped into his arms and to your utter relief he caught you. I’ll always catch you doll.
He sat down and placed you in his lap wrapping his arms around you from behind. Breathe with me. He pressed you against him tightly so you could feel every rise and fall of his chest and you followed it with your own. Within minutes you had calmed and let yourself lean into him.
“Are you gonna tell me what that was about Y/N?” He whispered into your ear. His arms crossed your chest banding you to him, his fingers massaging your sides with calculated ease.
“Did you not hear?” You asked in a low voice, turning to rest your head on his shoulder.
“No. I only felt a rush of panic and terror, but I have a feeling it’s connected to your freak out last night.” He didn’t look at you but his arms tightened further and he moved to rest his chin on your head.
You shut your eyes and wound your arms into his. He curled his legs into yours and kissed your forehead. You’d never felt as safe in your life. You began to tell him your story. Of your mother and father and the fear that instilled in you from an early age. Of your best friend’s loss that only fueled that fear, and the constant dread you felt before meeting him that had morphed into an awful feeling of panic whenever you thought too much about him. He listened in still silence for what must have been hours. After you’d finally told him everything you felt simultaneously drained and relieved.
You felt his mind and knew you weren’t the only one with things to get off your chest. “For almost seventy years I was alone. I never noticed because I was constantly around people but it was just me. Everyone had someone else’s thoughts running through their heads at all times for better or worse but I was the odd one out. Everyone just assumed my soulmate had died before I was born but I could never accept that. I always held out a hope, well at least until I was captured.” You turned sharply trying to catch his eye but he looked away. “I’ll tell you that story another time doll. The point is at my darkest time you appeared. At first you were just a tiny bubble of wonder and fun but every time I came back you were slightly different, slightly older. You were the one constant that always brought me back to myself, which I needed.” His voice cracked on the words. “I really needed that, doll.In fact I think I fell in love with you the first time you told me to fuck off. You felt so much and it bled into me. You never knew it but you were everything I needed.”
By the time he finished his smile looked a bit watery and you choked up. Tears started to slip down your face and you buried your face in his chest. He whispered sweet nothings into your head and you replied with everything you liked about him, that drew him to you. It was soon dark and you were drowsy. Neither of you had moved in hours and you had started to fall asleep against his chest. You’d known him for years. You trusted him implicitly. Vaguely you heard him make a phone call then you were in his arms and moving. You thought you heard him speak to Liz but you weren’t really paying attention. Soon you were in a car and he was talking in a low voice to another man.
You faded in and out of consciousness for a while after but you distinctly remember being laid gently down on a bed. The warmth of the arms that had carried you tried to move away but you couldn’t accept that. You grabbed an cool weird feeling hand and pulled it towards you. The warmth laid beside you and you cuddled up, content at least for the night.
Hello again! I wrote this in about half and hour and didn’t proof-read or anything, so it may be a mess, but hopefully it’s alright? This is a Peter Parker story about the reader having an awful day and Peter being there to help make it better. I got a request for an imagine about Tom comforting an upset reader, but I just changed it to a Peter fic, so I hope that’s okay!
Peter and Ned rushed down the hallway, late for class as per usual, each boy faulting the other for the possible detention slip that loomed over their heads. Truthfully, they were both guilty parties.
Ned and Peter had gotten hungry after gym class and snuck off campus during their lunch break to grab sandwiches at the shop a few blocks down. They’d been so absorbed by greasy fries and vanilla malts that they had forgotten to check the clock. To make it to physics on time, the boys had needed to run down the street, which proved very difficult seeing as the streets were always crowded with too many people. You could barely bend over to tie your shoe without someone getting in your way and vice versa.
“This is so annoying!” Peter whined, “I can’t deal with a detention today, what if Mr. Stark needs me, or like, I don’t know, I’ve got to somehow figure out how to multiply myself so I can be about a thousand places at once so I can fight all the city’s crime.” He bent over for a second to wait for Ned to catch up.
“Dude, shut up,” Ned wheezed, “I think I’m just going to take the detention slip, I’m over this.” He braced himself with a harsh hand on Peter’s shoulder. “This is like taking gym all over again.”
“No, Ned, we’re so close! I’m sure that we can drag ourselves a few more feet.” Peter encouraged his best friend, while the pair moved sluggishly up the stairs.
Ned opened his mouth with a witty retort in mind, when Peter smacked a hand over his chest to steady him. “Do you hear that?” Peter mumbled.
The boys strained their ears and heard the soft pitter patter of heels clacking against the floor above them. The longer they listened, the more amplified the clicks became. “Shit,” Ned cursed, “we’re so getting caught. I am not down for detention right now.”
The boys fumbled on the stairs, unsure of which direction they should run in when the noise traveled nearer and nearer to where they stood on the stairs. “Maybe we’ll just get a firm talking to for being late again?” Peter said, doing his best to think positively in the face of defeat.
Ned groaned, slumping his shoulders, as he too accepted the fact that he and his best friend were about to be completely vanquished by whatever school staff member was about to bust them for their constant tardiness.
Peter moaned and leaned back into the banister, taking out his phone to text both Aunt May and Mr. Stark that he would be unavailable for a few more hours after class. The boys both lifted their heads up to meet the furious gaze of the teacher that never came.
Instead, the young girl that breezed past the boys was one of their friends, and Peter’s biggest crush yet. When Liz Allen hadn’t worked out, Liz had made sure to introduce Peter to her friend, who was in the same grade as Peter and Ned. She even shared more than a few classes with the pair of them.
She stunned Peter on a daily basis. Whether it was her ability to quote Shakespearean literature like it was a simple recipe that she’d learned over the weekend, drink eight lattes a day, manipulate chemicals to do as she pleased, or her capability to be the kindest person he’d ever met, Peter was always left breathless. She was nice to everyone, even to the people who didn’t deserve it and had never flaunted her beauty or brains in a way that hurt a classmate intentionally. Peter didn’t think he had ever heard her utter a mean word about someone in his entire life, even when people would say horrid things to her.
She comforted Peter on his lowest nights, even without being near him. She had a soft voice and he imagined cuddling up with her in bed, while she played with his curls and listened to him cry about the level of stress that he was under without ever making fun of him. Besides that, she was easily the most beautifully luminous girl in Peter and Ned’s entire high school.
Although, right now, she was wiping her eyes and trying to cover up the sobs that drifted past her lips. Peter’s eyes widened and he looked to Ned and then back at the girl that he desperately desired to make his own, and then back at Ned.
“Go,” Ned urged, pushing Peter in an attempt to steer him closer to her. “Go or it’ll be too late. She likes you and you like her, stop being a baby, Parker. Tony Stark can’t do everything for you.”
A few weeks ago, a rumor spread that she had gotten a little too tipsy at one of Liz’s parties and had accidently, and quite loudly, revealed that she harbored a massive crush on Peter Parker. Peter had been quick to brush off the rumor, claiming that it was only started to embarrass her, remained unaware that the rumor wasn’t just a rumor, and was an actual fact.
Before Peter could take offense to Ned’s statement, something clicked in his brain and he was tearing down the stairs, trying to make his way to her before she reached the school’s front door.
He called out her name just as her hand closed over the door’s handle. She turned, brown mascara smudged beneath her eyes and waved, her lips quivering into a soft smile that she aimed at Peter before she pulled open the door and walked through it.
“Shit,” Peter mumbled, breaking into a full run in hopes of getting to her before she drove off.
Her day had been so horrible, no matter how she tried to look at. All she wanted was for Peter Parker to wrap his surprisingly muscular arms around her frame, pull her onto his lap, and allow her to cry into his neck while he whispered soft words of reassurement to her. She logiticied that Peter hadn’t reciprocate her feelings, seeing as Liz had been his crush since day one, no matter what Liz said, so she would have to settle for her warm, pink bed, a tub of ice-cream, and a Harry Potter movie marathon.
Peter called her name out once again, nearly tripping over his own two feet to stand in front of her. “Wait,” he wheezed, all of his words crawling back down his throat when he looked upon her face.
Fresh tears glimmered in her eyes, her rosey lipgloss had been disturbed, her lower lip trembled and Peter was almost lost for words. He had never seen her look so sad before and he decided right then and there that he would find the person who did this to her and destroy them, spidey suit or not.
“What’s the matter?” Peter said gently, moving to hug her close, but then dropping his hands because she hadn’t said that he was allowed to touch her and Peter wouldn’t ever want to make her heart hurt more.
In reality, the girl knew that she was probably being over-dramatic and silly, but she couldn’t help it. Everything that she had worked so hard for was collapsing in on her and there was nothing she could do about it. It wasn’t even one in the afternoon and she had suffered through three anxiety attacks, and was currently on the brink of another one.
She opened her mouth to respond to Peter, but when she couldn’t make her mouth move past a strangled sob, she simply shrugged her shoulders and catapulted herself into Peter’s arms.
Peter reacted automatically, cradling the small of her back to him while he rubbed soft circles onto her spine. “It’ll be okay,” he whispered into her floral smelling hair, “tell me what I can do to fix it and I’ll do it.”
They stood like that for a while, Peter slowly rocking them back and forth, while he supported the meager weight of her shaking frame in his arms. He spoke to her tenderly, telling her that he would help her make whatever was hurting her okay before she lifted her head to meet his eyes.
“Peter, I’m going to get you into trouble.” She sniffled, “you should be in class, I know that you love physics.”
“If you haven’t noticed,” Peter said, raising his eyebrows, “I don’t give half a damn about physics right now, you’re the only one who brought it up. I want to be where you are so I can help.”
She prayed that she wouldn’t regret what she was about to ask Peter, “do you wanna come home with me? We’re both going to get detention if we stay out here for much longer. I promise I’ll compensate you with warm chocolate chip cookies and coffee,” she trailed off, refusing to meet Peter’s hopeful gaze.
“Okay,” Peter said, “but I don’t know if you should drive right now,” he pointed to her shaking hands. “I don’t want you to get hurt by accident.”
She nodded her head, planning on ordering an uber and just leaving her car at the school.
“If you want, I can drive us home, I swear I know how.” Peter offered, a cherry blush spilling over his cheeks.
The girl dug through her purse before retrieving her car keys. “Okay, Peter. I trust you.”
Peter smiled at her before taking hold her keys and leading her into the parking lot. He couldn’t believe that she still looked so pretty after having just sobbed into his sweater.
“Peter?” She asked softly, tugging at his sleeve to make him look at her. “Thank you for being so good to me.”
He shook his head and leaned in, and before he could stop himself, he pressed a loving kiss to her forehead. Peter’s eyes widened, but before he could have his own panic attack, she flashed a real smile at him and pulled Peter forward, through lanes and lanes of parked cars.