{ Peter }

Peter impatiently drums his fingers against his desk, his eye glued on the clock above Mrs. Calford's head. He doesn't even pretend to listen to her Shakespearean lecture because what's the point of listening when he's not going to remember any of it in an hour from now?

The seconds slowly roll by and at long last, the blaring sound of the school bell notes the end of class and before anyone else has a chance to pack their things, Peter is already out the door and jogging down the hall. Students pour into the walkway and amidst the crowd of bodies, he spots his best friend walking to their locker, as per usual this time of day, and he slows to a walk upon reaching them.

"And there is my beautiful, wonderful, talented, and brilliant best friend; How are you doing today, Julia?"

"Hello, Peter," she flatly responds.

"Is that a new top? Wow. Looks great. Listen, I need to ask you a favor."

Julia stops at her locker and sighs. "For the last time, I am not going to pretend to be your girlfriend to make people like Liz jealous, it's just not gonna work — "

"No, no, no, this one's legit," Peter says, holding out his hands for her books. "You know how I have that Stark internship, right?"

Julia hands him her stack of books while she opens her locker. "Last you told me, you lost the internship."

"Yeah, well, it's back on again and I need your help."

"With?" Julia asks, placing her AP biology book inside and pulling out her pre-calculus textbook.

"Homework?" Peter fibs, hoping the lie will be enough to save his skin.

Julia slams her locker door shut, and Peter knows it wasn't.

"No," she says, taking her books from him.

"Oh, c'mon! Just hear me out!" He pleads, following her down the hall.

"No way!"

"Look, the internship happens from right after school to late at night, I don't have time to do both — "

"Peter, I'm not doing your homework for you! I have enough to do on my own!"

"And somehow between leading robotics lab and being president of the art club, you still manage to keep a 4.0 GPA. Julia, you're the smartest person in the whole sophomore class! Technically, you're not even in our class! You're taking all junior classes, you basically skipped a grade."

"Therefore, I have more homework to do and don't have time for yours."

"But I have a good reason!"

"Then what is it?" Julia asks, stopping to face him.

Peter blinks. "W-what?"

"What's the reason?"

Peter's heart skips a beat, panic rising within him. He didn't think he'd get this far. But he has to tell her something. But he definitely can't tell her about the real reason behind the 'Stark Internship'.

"Well?" She prompts after a while.

Peter sighs, defeat welling up within him as his last glimmer of hoping to graduate fades. "I — I can't — I can't tell you," he quietly says.

Julia rolls her eyes. "Bye, Peter."

"No, wait, wait, wait, Julia! Please!" He says, grabbing her hand.

"Peter, I'm gonna be late!" She says, glancing over her shoulder to the stairs she still has to walk up to get to class.

"Will you at least consider it?"

The bell rings again, warning the end of passing period, but Julia just stares at Peter like she didn't hear it.

"Consider what?" She says, and though her voice isn't loud, Peter cringes. She's rarely angry at him. "How about we consider the fact that we told each other everything since we were six but that all stopped about nine months ago!"

Peter anxiously glances over his shoulder. She's getting closer to figuring out the truth and no one can be around when she does.

"I mean, what is so important that you can't tell your best friend?! We never hang out, you're never around, you left me hanging in robotics lab, and now you're telling me you can't do your homework because of some internship with a trillionaire?! Well, let me tell you something, Peter Benjamin Parker, I am not your personal slave that you can coerce me into doing your work for you simply because I'm a girl or your best friend when you can't even provide me with a decent reason!"

Peter can't take any more of her ranting without feeling guilty but mostly frustrated because he does have a decent reason and before he completely blows his lid, he pulls back the sleeve on his arm to reveal a black web-shooter attached to his wrist.

Julia stares at it for a long while. "Am I supposed to know what the hell that is?"

Peter groans in frustration and drags her into the nearby custodial closet.

"Hey! What are you — "

Peter pins her against a rack of supplies, pressing his hand over her mouth. He doesn't bother clicking on the light but rather clicks on his web-shooter and his Spider-Man symbol appears on the ceiling, illuminating the small room in bright red. He watches Julia closely and sees her eyes light up with recognition.

Peter slowly removes his hand once it seems like she's not going to scream and waits for her to say something. Anything. The longer she stares at the symbol, the harder his chest beats. Not because he's standing so close to a pretty girl, although Julia is the most beautiful in school since Liz moved (just ask anyone), but because he entrusted his most precious secret to another friend and has no idea what they're going to do with the new information.

"Well, that explains a lot," Julia finally says.

"Wow. Seriously? That's it?" Peter asks, clicking off the beacon of red light.

"What's it?"

"I'm waiting for the freak out."

"Freak out?"

"Yeah, Ned dropped his Lego Death Star when he saw me crawling on the ceiling" — Julia shoots him a furious look, obviously offended he told Ned first — "I mean — I — I didn't intend to show him that I could crawl on the ceiling. It — it just sort of happened — "

"Wait, wait, wait," Julia says, cutting him off. "You can crawl on the ceiling?"

Peter feels a grin work across his lips, pride surging through him now that two of the most important people in his life know all the things he can do. He shoots a web onto the ceiling, jumps, and hangs upside down. "I can do all kinds of things," he says with a smile.

"Like doing your own homework?" Julia asks, her voice hopeful and sarcastic.

"Except that." Peter sighs.

She's not impressed. She never is.

He jumps down from the ceiling and stands in the limited space again, their chests just barely touching, and he tries to stand back as best he can but the backpack over his shoulders makes that difficult and —

"Look, I hear you," he says. "I do. I know I've been distant, I've been a terrible friend, you deserve better, but right now I need your help. Please, I just need to pass my classes. A C average, seventy percent, that's it."

Julia chews on her bottom lip like she always does when she's thinking and looks past his shoulder, muttering, "You're so much better than a C average…"

Peter eyes her warily. "Does that mean...?"

"Fine, yes, I'll do it," she replies, rolling her eyes. "But only because you're out there saving the world every night."

Peter wraps her in a hug. "Yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Ah, you don't understand how much this means to me — "

The door abruptly opens and a stream of light floods the small closet to reveal Principal Morita standing in the doorway.

Peter separates himself from Julia who, with a quick glance, he notices her eyes downcast and she's pulled her books close to her chest.

"Ms. Carpenter," he begins, disappointment lacing his voice, "it was my understanding that bioengineering is your choice field of interest. Not chemistry," he says, his eyes shifting between Peter and the bottles of cleaning supplies.

"Uh, tech-technically, sir," Peter speaks up, "chemistry is a part of bio" — Principal Morita shoots him a look of warning — "e-engineering…"

"Mr. Parker, don't you have somewhere to be?" He tiredly asks.

"Yes, sir," he quietly says and steps out of the closet.

Julia follows suit and as she steps into the hall, Peter hears Principal Morita say to her, "And I will see you after school in detention." He begins to walk back to his office, and Julia to her class, but this isn't right. He knows he should be glad he can leave right after school ends but with everything Julia is doing, it's not fair.

"Wait, Principal Morita, this wasn't her fault," Peter calls after him. He stops to face him. "It was mine. I was the one who dragged her in there, she had nothing to do with it."

Principal Morita seems to contemplate this. "Then I will be seeing both of you in detention," he asserts. "Get to class." He stands there a moment and doesn't leave until Julia walks upstairs and Peter turns away, silently slipping into class.

{ Julia }

Julia scoops out the last delicious bite of pudding from its container and savors it with a hum of contentment.

"You want some time alone with that?" Ned asks.

Julia scrunches her nose at him. "Very funny. I just forgot what it's like to just sit during lunch. Liz had me running all over school at all hours of the day to work on homecoming stuff. I'm so glad that's all over."

"Yeah," he scoffs. "No kidding."

Julia narrows her eyes at him, an element of secrecy lighting his face, and he quickly turns to Peter. "R-right, Peter?"

Julia's gaze tightens on Ned. She looks over at Peter, lost in thought and twirling his spoon in the pudding cup but not eating it.

Something's wrong. Especially because it's his favorite, too. May would only let them eat it after special occasions when they were little, but that all stopped after Uncle Ben.

"Peter?" Ned asks, drawing him from his reverie. He looks up at him then Julia and tries to be his usual self.

"Y-yeah!" He replies, trying to seem upbeat but even he doesn't buy it. "Yeah, glad it's — it's over…" He looks down again and continues playing with his food.

Julia suddenly wishes she hadn't mentioned Liz.

The annoyingly peppy theme song for school announcements starts playing and Julia, Ned, Peter, and even M.J. sitting nearby, look to the monitor on the cafeteria wall.

"Good afternoon Midtown Tech, I'm Betty Brant and this is — "

"Winter is coming, students — "

"Wow," Julia deadpans. "First five seconds of announcements and Jason is already making a fool of himself."

"It's a new record," Ned comments.

"He once did it in three," M.J. adds, losing interest in announcements and returning to her novel.

"You would know that."

Julia gives a small laugh and turns her attention away from their ongoing feud (that no one really knows how or why it started but it's there) and listens to Betty read the announcements.

"And so to avoid spreading germs and prevent getting sick, be sure to wash your hands, eat healthy foods, and stay hydrated… Things high school students never do. Mr. Walsh only forced us to say that. You're welcome, Mr. Walsh."

"And now for sports highlights!" Jason interjects. "Ladies, feel free to tune out."

"That's sexist," M.J. comments without taking her eyes from her book.

Ned looks at her, confused. "You don't even like sports."

"Doesn't mean all genders can't appreciate them," Julia says.

M.J. looks over at her with calculating eyes. "Robotics lab still on today?" She asks.

Julia grins, having been evaluated and approved by M.J. "Sadly no. You can thank Peter for that," she says, directing an annoyed smile at him. He finally lifts his head and looks at her with those wide, innocent, puppy dog eyes she hates because they make her melt inside.

"What happened?" Ned asks, looking between her and Peter.

"Peter got us detention."

"Guess I'll be seeing you guys there," M.J. says without looking away from her book.

"Why do you have detention?" Ned asks.

"Why don't you?"

"Cause I'm a good person unlike all you delinquents."

"Delinquents? Do you even know about the origin of adolescent offenders? It has nothing to do with…"

Julia shakes her head a little and tunes out M.J. and Ned ranting at each other as lunch comes to an end. The bell rings throughout school and by the time they reach the hall, they're still going at it all the while Peter is silent.

She steps in stride with him, leaving Ned and M.J. behind, and they walk the hall together. She flashes him a small smile to which he returns and shoves his hands in his pockets.

"You know, I saw you in there," Julia says.

"S-saw? Saw what?" Peter asks.

"How quiet you were. And I know why. I get it, I've been through heartbreak a few times myself, but you know that better than anyone," she says with a small laugh, thinking about her off and on relationship with Flash. Julia glances at Peter and there isn't even a hint of a smile on his lips. "Do you… wanna talk about it?" She offers.

Peter shakes his head. "I wanna forget it."

"And by 'it' you mean… her."

Peter stops their walk and shakes his head in thought. "Am I that transparent?" He asks, suddenly wearing a smile and looping his thumbs through his backpack straps.

Julia shakes her head. "Not transparent. Just a book I've learned to read over the years."

Peter laughs a little. "Guess I should start writing in a different language."

"I'd learn the language," she replies. And then she just stands there, smiling at Peter for what seems like a beat too long and should probably be awkward but it's not because it's Peter and they're comfortable around each other and he's finally smiling a smile that could brighten any room and it's not like he's looking away either and the only reason Julia even walks away is because the bell rings for class and it snaps her back to reality.

The reality where she did nothing more than cheer up someone who was feeling down.

He will always be Peter, and she will always be Peter's best friend.

Just his best friend.

{ Peter }

Detention isn't all bad. It actually lets Peter write down all of his assignments and due dates for Julia so she can give them to him and he can turn them in on time. But even as he makes his list, he can't help but feel a little guilty for giving her more to do. But at the same time, there are more important things to deal with than homework. There are innocent people in this city who need his help, and in order to do that, he needs Julia's help. And recruiting help isn't bad. Just ask Mr. Stark.

Peter hears Julia folding a piece of paper behind him and he can sense that it's for him, call it a Spidey thing, so he holds his hand out behind him and, sure enough, she places the paper inside.

They've been passing notes the old fashioned way since sixth grade. There's just something so cool about holding the same piece of paper someone else did, the message hiding in plain sight amongst other sheets of paper, or maybe it's the secrecy of it all and trying not to get caught.

Either way, Peter glances at Principal Morita, distracted as he types at the desktop computer, and unfolds it under his desk to read the message from Julia.

Sorry you're stuck here because of me :( but also thanks for trying to take the fall.

Peter smiles softly, and scrawls out a reply.

I should be thanking you for taking on my homework.

He folds it and sets it on her desk behind him. It's only a few seconds later when he senses her about to tap him on the shoulder and he simply takes the paper from her and reads what she wrote.

You should.

Peter breathes a quiet laugh and turns around and mouths 'Thank you' at her.

She smiles. No, she beams at him with that perfect smile and pink lips that lighten her bright eyes even more and Peter turns around, unable to stop the grin spreading across his face.

He's always thought of Julia as beautiful. And she knows that she is, not in an arogant way, just a confident way, and Peter knows that she knows and that's the problem with having a girl best friend. He knows everything about her on such a deep level that he can't help but feel connected to her and he thinks about giving that connection between them a chance but then what if something goes wrong and that connection, that friendship, is never the same?

"Yo," a voice hisses across the room.

Peter looks to see M.J. holding her phone and glancing at Principal Morita thankfully distracted.

"Check this out," she whispers, throwing her phone to him. Peter catches it with ease and hides the phone under his desk. He senses Julia leaning over his shoulder and reading along with him the news article running across the screen:

BREAKING: Water Sanitization District Suffers Fatal Possible Alien-Driven Explosion

Peter plugs his earbuds into the phone, offering one to Julia, and taps on the live footage of a news anchor, a woman's voice filling his ear.

" — not yet verified the use of alien technology but sources say that no other explosive could have caused such damage. Fire and rescue are working tirelessly to uncover twelve workers still trapped inside — "

Something heavy like a brick lands in Peter's stomach and he quickly raises his hand. "Uh, Principal Morita?!"

"Yes, Parker?"

"Can I please go to the bathroom?"

"It's not a bathroom."

"Can I please go to the restroom?"

"I don't know. Can you?"

"May I please go to the restroom?!"

"You may go."

Peter bends down to grab his backpack, sliding the list of assignments on Julia's desk, and whispers to her, "Cover for me," before hurrying out of the room and sprinting down the hall.