A/N: I was supposed to be studying now, but uh… that's okay. Teen!Lizzy decided to paint her world of fickle High School Time in my brain and it got a little too splattered so here it is. Enjoy! P&P on crack? And yeah, I have been listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye lately. Don't judge me.
Mercy, Mercy Me
(Or) I Wish You Were Less Attractive and Therefore More Justifiable to Hate
Fact: I have never hated anybody's face.
Fact: I have also never told somebody that I hate their face to their face.
Fact: So, these allegations were true before yesterday. Whatever, man. Cut me some slack.
Will frackin' Darcy.
I loathe you. I can't believe you wear Crocs.
Okay, fine. Pool attire is a completely different deal than street attire. Darcy's a lifeguard. And I guess nobody really pays attention to the rubber footwear because they're too busy being distracted by his abs.
"Who needs a cheese grater in your kitchen, when you can hang that up next to the soup ladle?" Charlotte Lucas sighed wistfully one day at the community pool, peering over large Jackie O. sunglasses. "Damn."
"Ew," I made a face.
First encounters poison all good favor that may have previously been curried towards appearance. Do I acknowledge that the 18 year-old boy with the brooding stare is absolutely gorgeous? Well, duh.
Darcy just had to sit in back of me in Anatomy class that semester. It started innocuously enough.
Transfer student from Pemberley Academy in upstate New York. Straight A's, played varsity soccer. Had all the girls pretty much babbling over themselves. I was determined to come across as a normal citizen of Meryton.
Okay well, as normal as we get around here.
Any friendly smiles were met with stony grim stares. I gave up. Will Darcy was probably chronically constipated.
Three weeks in, Mr. Alvatrez returned graded tests on the skeletal lab ID portion of our exam; he handed them back across the rows, alphabetically. I passed Darcy's paper over my shoulder without a second thought.
In a hushed room (save for the clack of calculator keys and unconscious gasps as to how GPA-crushing this exam might have been), Darcy's deep mumble caught me completely by surprise.
"Did you seriously just look at my grade?"
Wide-eyed, I turned in my seat. "What?"
Stormy blue eyes met mine, accusatory and hard. "I saw you do it."
"Um," I laughed hollowly. "I didn't."
Darcy straightened. "Whatever," he said pompously. "I thought discretion was valued at this school. I must have been wrong."
"Buddy, you're not that important," I snapped.
Will Darcy's eyebrows rocketed up and stayed high on his forehead. I felt my cheeks flood. I wondered what shade of red I was. Like, Candy Apple Red? Or Fire Engine Red? Maybe Burnt Sienna.
Too many Art History courses. Madame Gardín would be proud.
The bitch of the matter is that Meryton ain't a big town, folks. It's kind of bumblefuck. Excuse me, I mean small.
I stared running into Will Darcy everywhere after that. Suddenly the boy I only saw during first period became that pesky stranger you bump into on your way to the post office, or that kid you almost clip with your bike, or that customer you serve at Dairy Queen, or that douchebag whose best friend is dating your sister.
Yeah, my sister accidentally hooked up with Charles Bingley.
It totally was an accident, too. Jungle juice at one of Marie and Charlotte's weekend parties. I don't think details should be disclosed. Just saying.
Look, don't get me wrong, Charlie's a stellar guy. He let me copy his homework in AP Stat last year. He is all aces. And a cutie, too. Just Jane's type. Dimpled, pearly white smile, sparkling blue eyes, cornflower blond hair. George Wickham, my lab partner in Chem, calls them Barbie and Ken.
Which is weird, because Jane has red hair. But that's okay, Barbie had a redhead friend. I'm pretty sure. Maybe.
But the point is that I'm a reasonable enough girl to not hold over Charlie's head the fact that his best friend is Will Darcy. It's not his fault the guy's a total dick.
For the record, his dick status was totally cemented when I overheard him and Charlie talking about Jane and her "totally cute and feisty sister, Lizzy".
Charlie's words. Sweetie pie.
Will's words were less charming: "She's a bitch and a half. Hey, do you want to go to the movies this Saturday? I want to see that really awful-looking Kung Fu movie."
Darcy and I were tossed together on movie dates, awkward dinner parties, and sometimes bowling. We were buffers for The Couple. And it sucked major ass.
I might have secretly enjoyed it.
"Nice bumpers there, Martha," I teased him from the next bowing lane over. "Are you bowling with the kiddie ball, too? That's so cute."
Darcy's face was grim. He punched in an option on his screen and the gray bumpers sunk back into the polished wood. "There. Happy?"
"Whatever helps you out, Jackie."
"Stop calling me girl names!"
Darcy and Charlie and his younger sister Carrie sat at our lunch table that Friday. Jane and Charlie bonded over the fact that they had both bought tuna hoagies and a bag of Lays Potato Chips. No. Way.
George told me about a Vampire Weekend concert he was seeing that Sunday. Darcy stared at the smudge of mustard three feet from his elbow. Carrie prattled on about a sample sale at Saks Fifth Avenue and put her hand on Will's knee. He shifted. She followed. I snorted into a bottle of iced tea and coughed like whoa.
Then Will Darcy proceeded to stare at me for thirty-five whole minutes. Which was super comfortable! But not really.
George Wickham stalked me to my locker next period. He asked me out in a flustered, adorable way. I kind of considered it for shallow reasons but eventually remembered that George had a habit of sleeping around and being a cocky, albeit lovable, Manwhore McWhore Whore. I fondly told him that I didn't want to break our fragile relationship as kick-ass Chemistry partners.
Then he made a really awful gag about chemistry. Yeah, that one. Smart move, Lizzy! Never date a boy who relies on science jokes.
No seriously, Billy Collins, never again.
Rejected George Wickham dragged his ass to Econ to seek sympathy from Big Boob Clara Kacynski while I tried to gather my books into a sort-of functional pile for next period Psych class.
That was when Will Darcy pulled some sort of David Blaine shit and magically materialized at the locker next to mine.
"Shiiiiit!" I slammed my back into the wall, textbooks pressed against my chest. "I just had a heart palpitation."
"Sorry," Darcy said sheepishly.
"What is it?" I asked shrewdly, brushing my brown bangs out of my eyes. "I don't want to be late for Rosenthal's class. His detentions are brutal."
Darcy was flustered. Darcy was awfully cute when he was flustered. No. Stop. Reer! Back up. Dick.
"I know this might make you late," Will wrung his hands together awkwardly. "Sorry about that. But I thought I should tell you that you look really pretty today."
My mouth opened stupidly.
Darcy looked ashen. "Okay wait, that wasn't what I was going to say. That was just a really shitty ice breaker that I thought would ease me along, but I'm still stuck at like, square one. Which blows."
"…So I don't look really pretty today."
"I mean 'Yes'. You do look pretty," Darcy mumbled. "You are pretty."
"Really?" I blushed and hugged my books. "This softball t-shirt is like four years old."
"Lizzy, I like you. A lot. You piss me off," Will Darcy said suddenly. "Wait, that doesn't…" Darcy winced, mortified, and struggled in vain to continue. "You're just…different. And you don't trip over yourself to talk to me. And you're real. And pretty. And funny and very smart. Plus, I know you didn't look at my Anatomy grade, I'm just socially impaired and I don't know how to talk to girls so I verbally attacked you. Just, you know. Putting that out there. Hey."
"Oh," I said very quietly.
"Um," I stared down at my boots. "That's…"
"Yeah?" Darcy leaned in close. Oh my God, he smelled good.
No! Bad! Dick!
"I hate your face," I blurted.
Darcy's hopeful smile melted into shock and churned slowly to hatred. "Wow."
"Well, come on. You really have the most unpleasant shit-eating smirks, Darcy."
Darcy arched an eyebrow. He laughed. Then stopped. Then said darkly, "I'll let you get to class, Elizabeth."
I watched him turn on his heel and stalk down the hall and down the main staircase.
"And there goes my chance for a boyfriend this year."
Which leads us to right now, this day, this second. It's been three weeks of untamable awkward, it's June, and Will frackin' Darcy has decided to work where I spend my weekend community service hours: Hertfordshire Pool.
Boy, why dost thou share my joy of helping old people?
"Mrs. Broussard, would you like a noodle for water aerobics?" I smiled at my favorite lady with blue hair and a shiny art deco ring. "It's foam."
"Oh yes! Purple, please."
"Hey, that's my favorite color!"
"Really?" Mrs. B looked up with brilliant aquamarine eyes. "Delightful!"
Charlotte hollered from the supply shed: "Does anybody need a water weight? Howard, are you okay? Howard. Howard? Lizzy, please."
"He's floating on his back, Charlotte, stop assuming that everybody's dead."
Darcy organized everybody's water shoes and flip flops into a neat and organized pile and I decided not to stare at him and blush continuously and instead watched Peggy Ann, the aerobics coordinator, work up the class to Donna Summer's "Bad Girls". It was enjoyable.
But it was unavoidable.
Charlotte and Peggy bounced two minutes after class, which left us cleaning up from the Celebrate Your Everlasting Youth! post-aerobics luncheon.
Just as I carted off a soggy looking plate of chicken parmesan, Darcy's warm voice interrupted my thoughts: "Don't you think it's unfair that we give them rubbery chicken when they can't even chew it?"
I spun around on bare feet. "Kind of. I didn't cook it."
"Well, neither did I."
There was a pause and I licked my lips, mentally willing myself not to turn beet red. Yes? No? Damn.
"Hey, guess what?" I tried.
"What?" Darcy asked pleasantly.
"I lied. I like you."
"Really?" he asked, amused.
"And your face."
"And my face?"
"Two out of two. Wow."
"Right?" I guffawed. Then stared, horrified, at the realization that I was capable of guffawing. "But um, I just thought I should let you know."
Will smiled this charming sort-of smile. And my knees suddenly decided to stop cooperating with the rest of my body. They buckled, no shit buckled, and he caught me.
"It's slippery here," I mumbled with my arms around his neck.
"I bet it is," Darcy smirked. He was staring at my mouth.
"Actually," I smiled, "you wouldn't know. You're wearing Crocs. I hate Crocs."
"They're comfortable. They're staying. Sorry, Lizzy."
"It's okay, Bertha, I can compromise."
And then we kissed, which was pretty much the most wonderful warm gooey butterfly-in-stomach feeling in human existence, until we heard a rustle and a groan and found Jim, the Senior Swing Dance instructor, passed out drunk under the luncheon table.
But it's cool. Not even puke could kick us off of Cloud Nine.