Recipient: Peter Parker
Sent: 4:18 PM
oh man you TOTALLY OWE ME FOR TODAY
i am like, your hero. ine. heroine! YOU'RE WELCOME, PARKER, GEEZ
this is hannah, by the way ;)
Recipient: Hannah Richards
Sent: 4:23 PM
1) How did you find my email address? Are you aware of how creepy that is?
2) Just how on earth did you figure that I owe you, or that you're my hero(ine)? You nearly told Gwen that I liked her! What gave you that idea, anyway? Not only is it completely untrue, but I also don't appreciate how you could so easily go and talk about it. It's embarrassing and, to be completely honest, I'm a bit pissed off that you'd just email me out of nowhere without any hint of an apology.
Recipient: Peter Parker
Sent: 4:28 PM
woa i didnt know you were that mad! :( you dont have to yell. i thought i made it up to you by letting you be lab partners with gwen! and if you were so mad, how come you didnt say anything to me when you heard me? how was i supposed to know?
and don't try to tell me you dont like gwen. because i know for a fact that you do. why else would you get so mad? HMM? TELL ME THIS, MR PARKER
Recipient: Hannah Richards
Sent: 4:35 PM
1) You still have yet to tell me how the hell you got my email address. I have a right to be scared.
2) I was a bit too shocked to say anything to you at the time. You also didn't even say anything to me, you just ran off. Besides, I don't even know you! I would've just ignored this altogether, but then you went and email me. Which brings me to Point Number One, which you'll find above.
3) I don't like Gwen that way. She's a friend. I don't even know if I can call her a friend, since I only talked to her a few times. She's an acquaintance. Your claim that I like her is completely unfounded, and you still haven't explained why you think that I do.
4) I'm mad because you're spreading rumors about me, and expect me to thank you for something you did because you felt guilty for being caught. And even your "apology" was based off the idea that I like Gwen, which is a rumor that you were perpetuating, which in turn brings us in a full circle of generally terrible behavior. I think I'm justified to "yell" at you, which, by the way, I wasn't even doing.
Recipient: Peter Parker
gosh what's with you and numbering things, weirdo. and you talk an awful lot for someone so quiet at school. fine i'll number stuff too SINCE YOU LIKE IT SO MUCH :(
1) hey i wasn't stalking you, okay? i was just looking for a way to contact you and stuff and then my friend emily (you know her right? emily ramon? she's the president of the improv club thing) told me that she had to get a photographer for one of her shows or whatever and she went over to the art office and got a list of contact numbers and stuff and she didn't get you because it was in alphabetical order and brandon (you know brandon, you guys do photography stuff together, whatever that is) has his name above yours. but anyway she kept the list and your email address was listed so that's how i got it. I WASN'T STALKING YOU, SO STOP IMPLYING THAT I WAS. GOD. DON'T FLATTER YOURSELF.
2) ok you know what you had like a solid nine seconds that you could have used to say you were mad or something, so i think it's unfair that you spring this on me now instead of warning me earlier. ALSO, I WASN'T RUNNING AWAY. i was late to class.
3) I GOT YOU THERE PARKER. I KNOW YOU'RE TOTALLY LYING. HAHAHAHA. NOW WHO'S THE BAD PERSON, HMM?
i was volunteering with sally afterschool (sally avril btw) and she like knows EVERYONE on the student eboard and she told me about this girl named missy calenback (idk how to spell) who's been doing advertisements and stuff for the events since freshman year and it turns out although i didn't know it at the time that missy was the same girl who was one of the math tutors in the library afterschool that helped me get through precalc and she TOTALLY saved my life so i talked to her a little (because i mean she basically saved my life you know) and then i found out she's crazy super nice which was cool but then sally told me that missy has like this HUGENORMOUS crush on you (SSH DON'T EVEN TRY AND GET MAD BECAUSE I'M EXPLAINING THE STORY AND THIS IS IMPORTANT) because you know sally knows everything about like everyone and I was all that's so crazy i think there's a peter parker is in my bio class and she didn't even believe me at first so Isaid to her I said "nooo, i really think he is!!" and then she said i was probably thinking of someone else so she tried to test me (CAN YOU BELIEVE HER) she was all 'ohhh yeah well what does he look like' so i'm all like "well shit i don't know i don't look at him and stuff"(DON'T GET OFFENDED) like what am i supposed to say, so i said well he has brown hair and then she's like "everyone has brown hair" so i said PSSSHHHH i can TOTALLY prove that he's in my class and then she's like "fine whatever i believe you" but then i said "no you don't believe me at all, DO YOU??" and sally was like "i believe you i just don't care anymore" so then i was all "FINE WHATEVER" and we dropped the subject but then i had this CRAZY GOOD IDEA i was like hey, missy's a total sweetiepie right? we should TOTALLY HOOK HER UP WITH PARKER and then sally's like "NO WAYYY" and i was like "YESSS WAY" and then she was like "no i really mean it you can't" and i was so confused but THEN she told me she was like "peter parker totally likes someone else" and then i was like "HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT" and she was like "dude he is totally into gwen stacy" and then i said "GWEN STACY? SHE'S LIKE MY BEST FRIEND" (well not BEST friend you know i mean like she's in my group of good friends but not my designated one and only best friend that's just ridiculous. i don't discriminate between friends). and then sally's like "SHE'S YOUR BEST FRIEND?" so i yelled back "YEAH SHE IS SO YOU HAVE TO TELL ME EVERYTHING" so she did (see, i HAD to tell her that gwen was my bff because then she'd tell me stuff) sally told me that SHE SAW YOU TAKING A PIC OF GWEN WITH YOUR CAMERA AND GWEN DIDN'T EVEN KNOW (WHICH BTW IS REALLY CREEPY AND ROMANTIC AT THE SAME TIME) AND YOU WERE ALL SMILING AND SHIT AND SALLY WAS LIKE "OMFG PETER IS TOTALLY INTO GWEN" and before you think you're all smart and go "it was for a photography project" i talked to alex in my math class (you know him right alex rodriguez he is in photography class in a different period than you) and he DEFINITELY TOLD ME that you guys are doing inanimate objects or whatever and that THE PEOPLE UNIT WAS LIKE FOREVER AGO
SO HA, THAT'S PROOF THAT YOU LIKE HER, YOU LIAR
4) man you'd think a guy would be pumped to get to work with the chick he's been into for like, ever. :( i did it because i was sorry that you had to be there, alright? no need to be mean or anything. OR ELSE
Recipient: Hannah Richards
I find it extremely ironic that someone like you is calling me a creep.
I find it extremely sad that your idea of being nice to someone (for me or for Missy) is trying to set them up with others. I'm also pretty sure that you mentioning Missy's supposed feelings about me was completely unnecessary, and also a gross violation on her privacy. What a fantastic way of going about with "thanking" her. Great work!
Talking to you seems to be all about extremes, I've noticed. What do you mean "or else?" What are you going to do, tell Gwen that I'm mean? Tell her that you think I like her? Talk to your classmate's friend's brother's neighbor's landlord into doing something terrible?
Please, with all due respect (which isn't very much at all), stop emailing me.
By the way, I remember what you're talking about. I was taking a picture of the windows behind her. I was kind of annoyed because Gwen's hair kept getting in the way, but I thought telling her to move would be kind of rude. Nice try, anyway.
You are such an idiot what am I doing I KNEW IT WAS A BAD IDEA TO TAKE THAT DAMN PICTURE IN BROAD DAYLIGHT OH MY GOD WHY DIDN'T I TAKE SOME OTHER PHOTOS AT THE SAME AREA TO THROW THEM OFF AND WHAT DID SHE MEAN I WAS SMILING
WHAT KIND OF TERRIBLE EXCUSE IS "TAKING PICTURES OF WINDOWS" WHO EVEN DOES THAT ASDFJK;LASDFJ;LAS
Hello, world. Like every other time I've written something about my personal life, I would like for you to ignore it completely, since I am not going to be explaining it any time soon.
"But why do you write it, then?" you ask, scratching your head.
"Stop itching your scalp," I would respond, slapping your hand in a firm but fatherly manner. "It's not good for you. And also, it's my personal blog. It was originally created so I could rant about my life. Shut up."
Today's topic is people.
People come in different shapes and sizes. You can be thin or fat or short or tall, and, contrary to what many think, most people don't judge others completely on their appearances. Sure, the media has generally raised us to have first impressions based on how one looks, but everything changes once you listen to them speak. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise; the moment you open your mouth is when someone truly forms an opinion of you.
On that note, have you ever spoken to someone so annoying, so completely irritating and full of themselves, that you couldn't even get properly angry? You just kind of stare and wonder if you're in a dream (or nightmare, to be accurate)? Have you ever met someone so clueless that you wanted to crawl under your bed and bang your head repeatedly against the floor until you couldn't remember what your bedroom looked like? She could be the hottest girl in the school and you would still flee once you see her get ready to talk.
(And she's not the hottest girl in school, by the way.)
I mean, even when you talk to this person online, it doesn't help because everyone types a certain way and you start to dislike the way this one person types, and you can hear everything they're saying in their annoying, nasally voice while you read, and urghh it's just horrible. It's amazing how, despite not being able to see them or actually hear them, just reading their words on a screen manages to conjure the same amount of irritation within you as if they were right in front of you.
Isn't that amazing?
That you can look at a white screen with black squiggles, and upon processing the meanings of these squiggles you can visualize (with horrific clarity) the face of whomever sent it to you. The human mind is a wonderful, beautiful thing.
Mind you, the human mind is wonderful and beautiful. The people that possess such minds… Not necessarily so.
Let's change the subject.
I couldn't finish constructing the north tower in my Minecraft castle because I was too damn distracted by the thought of Stark Expo. Displaying my remarkable lack of resolve, I went on the site despite my promise to ignore it altogether and rechecked the schedule (even though I almost have devoted it to memory). Imagine my surprise when, lo and behold, there had been a surprise rescheduling! Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes himself is going to be there to discuss his work as a military liaison, long-time friend of Tony Stark, and even possibly answer questions about the War Machine.
There is only one thing to do at a time like this, and that is to weep silently while eating straight out of a carton of ice cream, watching Lifetime movies and thinking about purchasing seven to nine cats. I'm kidding, of course. My Aunt is allergic to cats. Wouldn't dream of buying any. But really, can you imagine if I got to go to the Expo and talk to Rhodes? I certainly can. The conversation would go something like this.
Me: Hello, sir!
Rhodes: Oh, hey there! Your presence here is a joy to behold, and I can see just by looking at the sparkle in your eyes that you are not just a fan, but a passionate believer in the ideals that we uphold here in the Expo!
Me: You flatter me, sir.
Rhodes: Nonsense! Why I can tell just by looking that you are much different from all the others in this place! You know what, kid? I'll let you examine the War Machine all you want!
Me: Gee, do you really mean it?
Rhodes: Mean it? [laughs loudly] Of course I do! What a kidder you are, hahaha! Not only are you extremely intelligent and handsome, but you are also a very funny person!
Me: I do my best, sir.
Rhodes: Oh, wow! That is a trait you share with my good friend Tony Stark! You should meet him sometime!
Me: Wow, that would be an honor!
Rhodes: You know what? Let me call him right now! We can go get some lunch, the three of us! What's your phone number? And when are you free? I wouldn't want to throw off any plans of yours, you know.
Me: I am free on Saturday, sir.
Rhodes: I have an interview in Krakow that day, but I can cancel it, no problem! You and I are going to be best friends, I can tell!
That is how it is going to go, exactly. I can envision it so clearly in my mind, and it is the most wonderful sight. For some reason, though, I can't really imagine myself meeting Tony Stark himself. I mean, it's kind of vague, I guess, but I can't see myself talking to him at all. If I do see him, I think I'd be part of an audience. A really, really big audience.
How is it that I can't imagine myself speaking with my idol for even a moment, but I can imagine (all too clearly) the person whose presence I find distasteful?
The imagination is remarkable.
Gwen shut the front door and headed towards the kitchen as per usual, stepping over her prostrated brothers in front of the TV…
"Hey, guys. Don't you have homework?"
… and walked briskly through the doorway, greeting her mother and nearly tripping over a large bucket that she'd failed to notice.
"Ooh, Gwen, careful about the bucket!" her mother warned, without turning around.
Gwen waved her arms wildly in an attempt to retain her balance and fell against the fridge, holding onto the handles for dear life.
"Thanks, Mom!" She yelled, her eyes narrowed and an obviously fake grin on her face. "Really appreciate it. Honestly. You're a hero."
"Oh, stop. In fact, why don't you make yourself useful and bring the bucket over here?"
Gwen peered into the bucket briefly and was immediately assaulted with a wave of nausea. She slipped against the refrigerator, clutching her nose and kicking the bucket away from her with her foot.
"Euuuuugh!" she moaned with just a bit of melodrama, sticking out her tongue and gagging lightly. "What—what is that?"
"Stop overreacting, honey." Her mother turned her head just so her daughter could see her rolling her eyes. "And I thought you were a scientist? Anyone could tell that it's obviously a bucket of fish."
"Ugh, it smells disgusting!" Gwen didn't bother getting up from her position on the floor. "That is my conclusion. Doctor Gwen Stacy has concluded this conclusively. That is a disgusting bucket and must be thrown out immediately."
"Well, Chef Helen Stacy asks the kind and overdramatic doctor to please pass the branzino," her mother retorted with a laugh. She glanced sideways at her daughter and smiled softly. "I'd forgotten about how sensitive your nose was. Never could make anything too strong when you were a kid."
It was never good when her mom started feeling nostalgic. Gwen quickly scrambled upwards and dusted off the seat of her pants.
"What the heck is branzino?" she asked, partially to distract her mother from getting uncomfortably weepy and partially out of genuine (if not mildly disgusted) curiosity.
"It's a fish!"
"Yeah, that's been established, yes."
They were smallish and greyish and generally unremarkable, and even their odor, strong as it was, smelled no different from any other fish (not that she was an expert). Gwen eyed the bucket in distaste, glaring at the slimy sheen and the light brown water that covered the bottom of the bucket; it was clear that her mother had bought the fish fresh from a market. Probably the outdoor one on Maine Avenue, Gwen reasoned. She poked the bucket with the side of her shoe, afraid to see one of them hop, or even twitch.
"I almost prefer the naanwiches," Gwen spat, waving her hand in front of her nose in disgust. "Why are they just… Just sitting there? Shouldn't you have put them in a bag, or something?"
Her mother washed lettuce in the sink without care. "Well, the branzino was on sale! I purchased the entire bucket. It was easier than having the poor man put them all into separate bags! He only had so many, you know."
"You know, my nose can't handle two attacks in one day. I'm pretty sure this can be considered biological warfare."
Gwen tiptoed as she spoke, grabbing the box of Cocoa Puffs from their niche on the counter without her mother noticing. "Damn," she thought as she shook it lightly. It was almost running out.
"What do you mean twice, hm?"
"Oh, nothing. I had a dissection lab in Biology today. The formaldehyde smelled terrible. I didn't have time to prepare myself."
"I thought the dissection would take place next week!"
"There was a change of plans. Professor Walton and his dumb feud against Mr. Creed, again."
The two of them were silent for a while, contemplating with no small amount of exasperation the infamous war between Mr. Creed and Professor Walton (the former was not tenured and was thus insanely jealous of the other, whereas the latter despised the former for his popularity with the students).
"Oh, I'm sorry, honey." Her mother finally said, giving her a quick but understanding smile. "I know how much you hate those labs."
Gwen thought about this for a second, surreptitiously putting a piece of the chocolate cereal into her mouth.
"You know," she managed, "it actually wasn't too bad."
"Yeah." Gwen let out a short, almost disbelieving laugh as she realized this fully for the first time all day. "Not bad at all, in fact."
She poured a few more Cocoa Puffs into the palm of her hand before exiting the kitchen, a slight skip in her step. Her mother watched her go from the corner of her eyes.
That was odd.
She shrugged it off and continued watching the myriad vegetables before her. She could always ask her later.
"What's for dinner?" Simon said, holding out his palm without looking at his sister.
Gwen dropped a couple of the chocolate spheres into her brother's hand, thought about it for a moment, and took one back, popping it into her mouth. He and Phil were watching an episode of some cartoon she'd never heard of; the typical show about people with superpowers saving the world.
"Yeah, are we having naanwiches again?" Phil grumbled. "Because you promised you'd let us have some of your chocolate if we had to eat them again—"
"Quiet!" Gwen hissed, glancing behind her into the kitchen. "If Mom finds out, we're all dead."
Phil fell silent, and Simon giggled. Phil responded by elbowing him. Simon elbowed him back. Gwen put a restraining hand on Phil's shoulder before the two of them beat the pulp out of each other, again.
"I have good news, gentleman." She emphasized the last word in an attempt to have her siblings settle down. "Our dear mother has moved on from her naanwiches."
She paused as the two of them gave large sighs of relief.
"I hate goat cheese…"
"It's like, why does she even bother?"
"I know! There's only so many things you can change!"
The cartoon segued into a break for advertisements, and Phil took the opportunity to peel his eyes away from the television screen to turn to Gwen. "So wait, what are we eating, then? Something normal again, like spaghetti?"
"Macaroni and cheese?" asked Simon.
"When have we ever had tacos, stupid?"
"Well, we should," Simon muttered angrily.
They looked at Gwen, who stared at the TV with a deadpan expression. An enthusiastic young woman began explaining to her viewers the wonders of Oxiclean.
"What the heck is branseeno," Phil asked softly, looking pained.
His motto when it came to food was that, if he hadn't heard of it, it was bound to taste bad. Gwen disapproved of this xenophobic mindset, but unfortunately had to admit after years of experience that, when it came to her mother, the rule more was accurate more often than not.
"It's branzino," Gwen corrected her brother. "And it's a type of fish."
Phil wrinkled his nose, but Simon seemed interested.
"I like fish!"
"Yeah, of course you would," Phil retorted.
"What's wrong with fish? You're the weird one for not liking fish."
"You've never even had it!"
"You might like it."
Gwen rolled her eyes and began making her way to her bedroom when Simon made a strange remark.
"Mom almost never makes fish," Simon called out to Gwen. "You know what that means, right?"
She turned back to her youngest sibling. "No, I don't. What are you talking about?"
He rolled his eyes and sighed impatiently. "Howard's favorite food is fish. It probably means she's getting ready for him to visit."
Gwen smirked. "Astute observation, Simon, but no dice. Howard comes home from college on holidays. He never just visits."
"Idiot," Phil muttered.
"Stop it," Gwen said just as Simon responded in a less polite manner.
"I still don't get it, though." Phil ignored his siblings and turned back to the TV screen, a loud explosion signaling the return of the show they'd been watching. "What is branzino? Is that the type of fish? Is it the stuff she's making?"
Gwen smiled with satisfaction as she turned the corner to the hallway, where her bedroom awaited her. "All that matters is that we're not having naanwiches."
She poked her head out and back into the living room, where Simon and Peter were too engrossed by the cartoon to look at her. "And you're not having any of my chocolates!"
"Good evening. I see that—"
"Shut up. Just shut up. You've been reading through my emails."
"Ah. I'd guessed this wasn't a casual visit. Especially since this is supposed to be a classified—"
"You know what else is classified? My emails! This is outrageous, after all this time you still can't trust me?"
"You realize that now that you're here, you'll have to give an explanation for how you came to find this place."
"I'm a scientist, damn it, not some kind of— some kind of spy, and—"
"Please answer the question."
A folding of the arms.
"I figured if I'm going to stay here, I might as well get myself acquainted with the tech. The big man himself gave me an account and everything."
"Well, he also included what he called a 'virus protection system,' and it went off the last time I sent an email. Which, by the way, happened to be five minutes ago."
"The trace had enough proxies to send everyone on a wild goose chase to Bulgaria."
"Oh, please! Tracing my emails? Super top secret room in the infirmary? You're joking if you don't think I can't put two and two together."
"What is it that you want?"
"Simple. Stop going through my emails. It's rude, creepy, and a violation of trust. I won't ask any questions or tell anyone anything, especially about this, as long as you keep out. Alright?"
"You walked through a classified area, past nine armed guards, to tell me to stop reading your emails?"
"I take this kind of stuff very seriously. Especially after what you did last time. Also, I bought them donuts."
"Of course you did."
"Like I said, I won't ask any questions. God knows that you wouldn't tell me anything, and you've made it pretty obvious that I don't exactly have the clearance to know about this kind of stuff. To put it lightly, anyway. I'm guessing one of them have sounded the alarm by now, so I'll take my leave."
She turned, but hesitated.
"Alright, I'll admit it. I wouldn't come all this way and spend $12.99 for emails, even if it is a violation of privacy. That's just stupid. I was mad and confused and excited, and I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry. Really."
She dropped a box of munchkins on the bedside table, next to a vase of flowers and a single get-well card. "It's nice to have you back. I knew it'd take a more than a little stab to get rid of an ass like you."
"… Thank you, Miss Foster. I think."
Jane nodded at Agent Coulson's bedridden form and exited the room hastily, hearing rapid footsteps coming down the opposite end of the hall.
The next time Gwen Stacy got to know Peter Parker a bit better was after he had been punched repeatedly by Flash "Eugene" Thompson.
It had been a fairly regular day, of course. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing particularly special. Classes had gone normally (which is to say, perfectly). Homework was completed on time, tests were studied for, and, after several days of frustration, Gwen had even mastered the art of eating branzino without tearing it into miniscule shreds.
(It was uncomfortably similar to a proper dissection; she tried not to think of this as she ate.)
(It tasted good, though. The Cocoa Puffs remained untouched for a couple of days.)
The cat lab in Biology had also gone smoothly. Though Gwen and Peter had completed the actual dissecting portion quickly and with ease…
(Well, Peter was the one doing the actual cutting and whatnot, but Gwen ordered him around and held parts of the cat open when it was necessary)
… they had to do the actual packet assigned to them. They were given more time than was necessary, since one group was taking their sweet time with their specimen. Peter and Gwen mostly took the opportunity to chat, while Hannah consistently sent herself off to the nurse because of the smell.
"It's weird," said Gwen. "She's never been this bothered by it before. I mean, well, she was once, but that was an exception."
"Hahahaha, yeah." Peter laughed stiffly. "Hey, uh, what did you get on number three on page seven?"
"Why, do you need help?" Gwen asked, painfully aware of the feeling of hope that arose in her chest. "The answer is acromiotrapezius."
Peter didn't know it, but Gwen had started a pointlessly one-sided contest, despite herself; the goal of this contest was something even she wasn't too sure of. Was it to prove she was smarter? Was it to settle once and for all who was really in the top of the class? She wasn't positive about what she was looking for, but she felt sick and guilty about it nonetheless. When had she become so shallow? Could she possibly get any more petty?
"Oh, good!" Peter said, tapping his pencil against his packet. "I got it right."
Gwen glanced at his paper and noticed after a quick examination that he'd answered all the questions on the page correctly. She felt a pang of disappointment, followed by the much more familiar feeling of self-disgust. Apparently the answer to her question was "yes." Yes, she could get more petty. And it was horrible.
"Great!" she exclaimed with a practiced smile.
Somewhere behind the two of them, Professor Walton was explaining with strained patience the importance of diligence to the group that had yet to finish dissecting their cat.
Peter began doodling a stick figure onto the corner of his notebook.
Gwen reached over and quickly drew a dress on the stick figure.
With a quick glance upward at Gwen's mischievous smile, Peter added a large bow on top of the stick figure's head.
Gwen drew a long braid.
The rest of the hour was wasted in this way, and Gwen would have felt upset about not devoting the entire time in class to completing her work were in not for the fact that
a) It helped her take her mind off of who-was-better-than-who
b) She kind of had fun, just drawing random things all over Peter's notebook. Not really doing anything in particular, simply doodling robots to match his dinosaurs, and so on.
(It goes without saying that Peter had a lot of fun, too.)
Unfortunately, things weren't going quite as swimmingly in her other class. Specifically, in English. Flash had come over to her house to create a quick outline of what they would be doing, and, just as she'd expected, the affair involved a lot of hemming and hawing and awkward clearing of throats.
Worse than that, though, Flash was horribly underprepared.
"How's Hamlet sound?" she had proposed.
He gave her a sheepish look.
"You're kidding. Did you not read it?"
"I had trouble understanding what was going on, yeah."
"How about Othello?"
"Um, not… Not really that much different."
"Romeo and Juliet?" she said out of desperation.
"Oh, yeah, I got that one! The love story, right?"
She tried very hard not to react badly to that, knowing full well that this was a very fragile situation she was dealing with.
"Close enough," she managed. "We'll use Romeo and Juliet for our project, then."
Flash nodded in agreement.
It was a bit more cliché of a topic than Gwen would have liked, but it was better than nothing at all. But "nothing at all" seemed to be what she had, nonetheless. Even as she drew out a very generalized plan of what they would be doing, it was abundantly clear that Flash's knowledge of the bard's famous play was rudimentary at best.
"We'll work on it," she had said in her most reassuring voice. "Why don't you come over again next week, and we'll start picking out who'll read what. Okay?"
He'd nodded without looking at her and left with the briefest of good-byes. Gwen decided that she didn't mind this too much.
Either way, no mention had been made of the disastrous events that had taken place the last time the two of them had to work on a project together, and Gwen liked it that way. This would allow them to focus on the job at hand! Even with the rocky beginning, she was sure that she could pull off a good grade in the end.
Yes, things were going smoothly for Gwen Stacy.
Not so much for Peter Parker.
"Come on, take a picture!"
"No, man, come on, just put him down."
"Take it, I said!"
"Stop it, this isn't funny, just put him down man. This isn't cool."
"Take the damn picture, Parker!"
"Stop, just stop. I'm not— I…" He sighed. "Put him down! Eugene!"
A sudden hush fell upon the crowd. Flash "Extraordinarily Insecure About his Name" Thompson unceremoniously dropped the boy he'd been holding up. Said kid hit the ground with an "oof," but didn't hesitate to scramble away as fast as his wobbly legs could carry him. Flash, setting his jaw and curling his hands into fists, began to approach Peter Parker.
Meanwhile, the poor guy that'd had his face pushed into his plate of spaghetti for no discernible reason (his name was John, although this is inconsequential) was still running away, although where he was going even he didn't know. His backpack was still at the table, but he didn't care. He panted heavily as he sprinted around the corner and nearly tripped over a raised tree root. He spun around in a haphazard attempt to balance himself, and nearly hit Gwen's face when his arm flew out.
"Whoa!" she yelped as she ducked down at the last moment. "Watch it!"
He muttered an apology before continuing to run past her and around the next corner. Gwen smoothed down her hair, which had been pushed out of its carefully combed state by John's hand, and stared after him in confusion.
What was his problem? He looked like he'd seen a ghost.
From a distance she heard a faint noise, causing her to turn her head instinctively towards the noise; it seemed as though it was coming from the same direction that John had sprinted from. Unable to resist her curiosity, Gwen decided to take a quick detour from her walk to the library in order to see what the fuss was all about.
There it was again!
The noise, she realized as her slow meandering sped up to a more brisk pace, was coming from the outdoor commons where most people ate lunch.
For a while all she could hear was the soft sound of her heels brushing against the grass, but then she heard the noise again, unexpectedly louder this time. There was no mistaking it this time; it was the unmistakable sound of cheering. She turned a corner, nearly at a jog now, and saw a large group of people huddled in a wide circle. Nearly everyone in the commons had abandoned their lunches and books at their tables and respective spots against the brick wall of the school in order to look at… whatever it was they were looking at.
There was another collective noise of approval from the group, and Gwen really did begin to jog this time, clutching her textbooks against her chest and smiling with anticipation. Was someone performing something? She remembered Daniel from Health and Anatomy, who was part of some hip hop group in his free time, but couldn't remember if he was in this particular lunch period. Was there a game going on? Maybe someone found a—
"Get up! I said, get up!" Another cheer. "Get up, Parker! Now!"
Gwen froze in her tracks, nearly tripping with the abruptness of her halt. She felt herself go very, very cold.
No, no, no, no.
This isn't happening, not even he would do that, this is ridiculous, this doesn't make sense, this is illogical, this is outside of his normal behavior, this is insane, he's mean and he's careless but he's not a thug, this can't be possible, this is, this is, this—
The students simultaneously uttered a sudden "Oooh," and Gwen broke out of her reverie and into a straight sprint forward, nearly twisting her ankle and dropping her Stats homework behind her.
"Scusemepardonmesorryscuseme," she mumbled as she quickly pushed through the throng of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder to witness the scene. Ignoring the various Heys and Watch-its and more impolite expletives behind her, she finally elbowed her way into the center where she saw:
One (1) plate of spaghetti, upturned and staining the concrete,
Three (3) red trays scattered around the circle,
One (1) camera, black, its back-flappy thingy (she was no photographer, she didn't know anything about these contraptions) open and revealing all of its inner parts,
One (1) Flash "Eugene" Thompson with a curled lip and a look of murder in his eyes,
And one (1) Peter Parker, face-up on the ground and panting heavily, a large bruise forming on his cheek.
He mumbled something she couldn't understand, something about a picture, and Flash's nostrils flared as he kicked Peter, hard, on the side.
"Stand up, Parker!" he shouted.
It was then that Gwen marched into the circle, stepping carefully over the trays and the large puddle of tomato sauce oozing from the spaghetti.
She was gripping her books so tightly that her knuckles were turning white, and had her jaw set in what her father had always referred to as "the Stacy look."
("Every woman in the family," he said, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. "They look at you like that and you know they're not planning on budging.")
("It's how your mother always manages to wrangle me into buying her new things," he whispered with a conspiratorial wink.)
Some people saw Gwen at that moment and thought she was scared. They were dead wrong, of course.
She was royally pissed.
"Who wants more?" Flash was yelling, his back to Peter and Gwen and putting his hands up in response to the encouraging shouts from the crowd of students.
"Flash!" she called out. He whirled around so quickly it was almost comical.
Or at least, it would have been in any other situation.
He immediately dropped his hands to his sides upon the sight of her and shut his mouth with an audible click of teeth.
Gwen smiled politely, but her wide eyes made it very obvious to him and to everyone else watching that she was less than happy.
"We still on for afterschool today? My house? Three thirty?"
Flash opened his mouth slightly and shut it again, unable to think of anything to say. Gwen narrowed her eyes.
"I hope you've been doing your homework. Last time was…" She paused and shook her head, smiling in disbelief at the memory and making her disdain obvious to even the dullest of onlookers. "… Very disappointing."
"Look, Gwen, I—"
"No," she said with more vim than she'd intended for him to hear, "How about we go to class? Hm? How about it?"
Her smile faded into a straight line, and Flash closed his mouth for good. She could see his throat working as he swallowed back whatever nonsense he was planning to say, and his eyes were suddenly focused on a spot just left of her. The bell went off unexpectedly just then, and its shrill ringing was enough to make the group of students disperse quickly and quietly.
Flash glanced at Gwen, looking as though he wanted to say anything, but one look at her expression made it clear that nothing short of an apology would suffice.
Both of them knew that he wouldn't be apologizing any time soon.
With a final look at her displeased expression, Flash turned and walked back inside the building, his hands planted firmly into the pockets of his sports coat.
It was only after he'd disappeared from her sight that Gwen's glare softened and she quickly turned to look at Peter.
He'd propped himself up during the short exchange, and was fingering the straps and the flap at the back of the camera absent-mindedly. She noticed his cheek was just starting to swell.
"Now what?" she found herself wondering. What was the proper thing to do in such an occasion? What was she supposed to say? Were they close enough for anything to be said? Did it matter what state of friendship they were in? What if he wanted to be alone? How could she tell? What did she do? What was the correct thing to do?
Peter looked up at her, and she immediately felt her face flush.
Her father would be completely ashamed of her if he saw her now.
"There's the correct thing to do," she could almost hear him saying, "And then there's the right thing to do. It's your choice to make, Gwen."
She groaned and put a hand to her face.
Peter raised his eyebrows, wondering what was going on.
"Oh, God, what am I doing?" she said aloud, closing her eyes and shaking her head slowly.
With a sigh, she opened her eyes, hitched her books under her left arm, careful to keep balance, and stretched out her right hand towards him. Peter stared at her palm, although Gwen wasn't sure whether it was out of confusion, hesitation, or a concussion.
He stretched his fingers in a repetitive motion, curling his hands into fists before opening them again.
He licked his upper lip twice.
Gwen started to suspect a concussion.
"Haven't got all day, you know," she said with a nervous chuckle. Her arm was getting tired, and she wasn't sure if she was properly certified to deal with a concussed teenager. "Are you alright?"
He looked at her again, eyes wide and unblinking, and Gwen felt her nervousness double. Were his pupils dilated? She couldn't tell with this angle. Flash couldn't really have concussed him, could he?
"Y—yeah." Peter said finally, nodding and putting the camera strap around his neck. "I'm fine. Yeah. Thanks. A lot, I mean. For the, uh, for back there."
Was the lack of coherency in speech indicative of cranial damage, or part of his normal speaking pattern? Gwen forced herself to take a deep breath.
"No worries. Remember our first conversation? I feel like this is whole thing is my—"
To her surprise, Peter interrupted her.
"Don't. It's not. It can't be." He took her hand somewhat tentatively, and she pulled him to his feet with minimal difficulty.
He had a strong grip, she noticed. And a warm hand. He struggled to maintain his balance at first, nearly falling over twice in his attempts to straighten himself, but he waved off any attempts at further assistance. He was still panting, a little, and Gwen didn't noticed.
"You don't know the whole story," she reminded him, pulling the books from under her arm and placing them against her chest. "I could have shut him down completely. Slapped him in the face, screamed at him, threw things."
Peter laughed as he dusted his pants off. "Would you have done that?"
"Well, no. Probably not. But still. You never know what sorts of things I could have gotten into."
Peter laughed again, and the sound made her flinch. She'd never heard him laugh this loudly, before. She hadn't said anything particularly funny, had she?
Gwen tried to remember if hysteria was on the list of symptoms of head injuries.
"You should see the nurse," she blurted. "I'm afraid that you might have gotten a concussion."
"I don't have a concussion," he said with a chuckle, which didn't ease her fears one bit. She tapped her fingers against her binder.
"You don't know that, though. You should at least get some ice for your cheek, and she could examine your head while you do that. Mrs. Behren is a very nice lady."
"Let's just get to class. I'm fine. Really. It's just a bruise. Bruises, I guess." Peter poked one of his ribs and winced, releasing a low hiss of pain. "Yeah, definitely bruises."
"Walk with me to class, then. I need to make sure you don't fall over." Gwen turned towards the entrance, but kept her eyes on him. "You can walk, right?"
"I said I'm fine," He said firmly. "I mean it."
He took a few wobbly steps toward her as proof.
"See? I'm more worried about my camera, to be honest."
"Well… Alright. If you're so sure." Gwen held the door open for him, and walked next to him as they slowly made their way through the halls. It was silent, at first, and she couldn't help but feel as though he was more upset than he let on.
He clearly didn't want to talk about what just happened, though.
"What's your name?" Gwen asked.
Peter did a double-take, and she fought hard not to laugh.
"You— You don't know my name? We were, uh, partners for the lab. In Biology? The cat lab? Do you remember it?"
"Oh, I know your name. I'm just wondering if you know your name." She peered at him. "Well?"
"Still going on with the concussion thing?"
"I am enrolled in a very impressive Health and Anatomy course. I think I have every right to be concerned with a classmate's possible head injury. They're quite serious, you know."
"My name is Peter Parker," he droned, sounding unbelievably bored, "And I am a student at Midtown Science High School. My student ID number is 7706—"
"Enough!" she exclaimed, trying to sound exasperated despite her giggles. "I get it! You're not concussed!"
"You sure you don't want to hear the rest of my ID number? I might get it wrong because of my concussion."
"I don't get you, Peter Parker," Gwen declared, sighing loudly. "I just don't get you at all."
His smile dropped. "Is that a bad thing?"
She gave him a reassuring nudge with her elbow; a soft one, in case she hurt him. "Don't be ridiculous. Although I don't know if I can call it a good thing, either."
"… Alright, I'm confused."
"Good." She blew a strand of hair away from her face. "I still say you should see the nurse. You could still have cracked ribs. Those are pretty bad, too."
"I don't have cracked ribs. I swear."
"But how would you know?"
"I think I'd know!"
"Have you ever had a cracked rib?"
"So how would you know?"
"There is a very simple and straightforward answer to that question, and I will tell you that answer right now. The answer is— Oh, hey look, it's our classroom! Maybe we'll continue this conversation some other time."
Gwen's laugh died the moment Peter opened the door; every face in the classroom turned towards the entrance, including Professor Walton's, and she realized belatedly that the halls had been suspiciously empty.
For the first time in her high school career, Gwen Stacy was tardy for a class. It was technically not a big deal, but she felt herself feel a bit queasy nonetheless.
"I'm sorry, Professor Walton," Peter said quickly, surprising Gwen and just about everyone else in the biology classroom.
(Parker can talk?)
"I tripped and fell during lunch, and Gwen was escorting me to the nurse. It's my fault. I'm really sorry."
She quickly stole a glance at her teacher, who simply shrugged.
"That's very kind of you, Miss Stacy! Both of you go sit in your seats, now. Next time, try to be more careful, Mr. Parker."
Gwen murmured a soft "thank you" before scampering to her chair, her face a bright shade of red. Peter followed suit, albeit much more slowly.
"As I was saying, there's simply no time to waste if we want to properly go through the assigned curriculum on time, and luckily for us we just received the movie we were supposed to watch earlier from Mr. Creed, who took his sweet time with it, thank you very much…"
Gwen tuned him out at this point, knowing that in a few moments he would remember himself, cough, and pretend he'd said nothing at all.
"You're welcome," Peter whispered, as the lights dimmed and the projector on the ceiling began playing a movie against the drawn screen at the front of the room.
"I could kick you," she whispered back, without turning around. "You didn't have to do that. Why did you do that? I deserve a tardy."
A cartoon lion began explaining to the "kids" in the audience about the basics of animal classification.
"Oh, please," She could tell he was grinning, "I had to get you back for helping me out, didn't I? Partners don't leave partners hanging."
Gwen rolled her eyes with a smile, forgetting that he wouldn't be able to see her face, in the dark, with her back facing him.
The lion began singing about kingdoms and phylums. A group of kittens wearing top hats and tuxedos acted as background dancers.
"Besides," Peter continued, and Gwen leaned back ever so slightly so that she could hear him, "Don't think I didn't see your face when you realized you were late. You looked like he told you that you had to redo the year or something."
"Ha, ha, ha," she hissed, turning her head an inch to the left so he could hear her over the music, "Laugh it up all you want, but I have a perfect attendance record. Tardiness is no laughing matter."
One of the kittens began tap dancing during the instrumental portion of the song. Somewhere on the opposite end of the classroom, someone snored loudly.
"You know what is a laughing matter?" Peter whispered.
He sounded a bit closer.
"You better not say caring about attendance."
Gwen smiled widely. "Try 'this entire movie.' I'm offended that anyone would ever refer to this as a documentary."
"I think there's a black market opening up near Morgan's desk. I smell an illicit Skittles trade."
"Ooh, really? You're closer to Morgan, try to get me some of that contraband."
Peter let out a mock gasp, which went unheard over the crescendo of the song.
"Gwen Stacy of all people! I am appalled that you would support this illegal behavior. And during an educational film, no less!"
"Ssshhh! If I get in trouble because Walton heard me laughing, you're dead meat!"
Ricky snored again, muttering incomprehensible things under his breath.
"Thanks again, though," Peter said softly. "I mean it."
Gwen was almost glad he couldn't see her, for some reason. She smiled and bit her lip.
"You're welcome," she replied. She considered adding on a "It was sort of my fault," or an "Any time," but she decided to turn around in her chair and face him fully, instead.
"What actually happened?"
Peter, who had been leaning forward to talk to her, jerked backwards upon seeing her face.
"Huh? What?" he exclaimed, surprised at the sudden proximity.
"Right, sorry," he whispered. "What?"
"Back there. With Flash. What happened? I saw a guy running off— he almost slapped me, no don't ask— and he looked terrified. What did Flash do?"
Peter squirmed a little, but otherwise didn't look too put off by the question. Or at least, as far as Gwen could tell. It was hard to make out his face in the dark.
"He, uh, was pushing the kid around," Peter finally said. "He told me to take a picture. And I, um, said no. Nothing else really happened."
She was going to have to talk to Flash later today. Extensively. Dare she risk what awkward neutrality they'd reached? Yes, yes she did dare.
"Well, what you did was very brave," she said matter-of-factly. "Stupid, of course, but very brave."
He grinned somewhat self-consciously. "Thanks? I think…"
"You're welcome. Again." She smiled. "Just try not to get in trouble again, okay?"
"Me? Get into trouble?" Peter rolled his eyes. "I'd never."
Sorry, but this post is going to be somewhat short.
I feel like I got hit by a truck, and the force was great enough for me to fly two hundred feet backward into the path of a steamroller.
In other words, I feel like a steaming hot pile of crap right now.
At the same time, I feel amazing. Out of this world. Truly alive, if you will. Funny how the mind can overcome the horrible things your body feels. Is this what Olympic athletes feel like? Like they just got beaten repeatedly by an over-stimulated eighteen year old boy and then spent an hour watching a movie featuring a cartoon anthropomorphic feline with a PhD in the natural sciences?
"Boy, your metaphors sure are getting weird, lately," you may say.
"What metaphors?" I would respond. "I speak naught but the truth."
I can't remember what I was going to write about. I think it had to do with my complaining again, something about food, maybe?
I don't know.
Maybe I am suffering from a concussion.
I don't think I am, though.
Maybe I'm just dizzy. And sleepy. And feeling really, really good.
No, I'm not on drugs. I know at least seven of you are snapping your fingers and going "Darn!" right now because I know you. Creeps.
I guess the problem with having a lot of followers is that it's hard to make personal posts without people overanalyzing them and finding some way to twist your words into… I dunno. Weird things. Lucky for you, I'm very tolerant of weird internet-folk.
I am definitely delirious right now.
To be honest, I'm just tired. I want to go to sleep and forget my homework completely. Today was an extremely long day, full of physical and emotional ups and downs, and I am four seconds away from just collapsing in front of the computer.
Wait no I remember what I was going to complain about! Anthropomorphic cartoon animals in documentaries about science designed for high school students. What's the deal with that? And a musical number? I am insulted, honestly. How dare they hold on
And here I was hoping I could type this and go to sleep for a few years
Sorry my uncle wants me to come downstairs and fix something. Apparently the basement's flooded? I don't want to know what happened.
I'll probably end up falling asleep in the living room so
I'll talk to you guys later, I guess
1) I've never written a fanfic before so please give advice! Especially when it comes to Gwen. I want her to be slightly neurotic, a bit insensitive at times when it comes to the things she says, and to have a mild superiority complex, but ultimately brave and kind and an overall someone who transcends their flaws to be a good person. As for that last one though, it'll have to wait. I hope I can pull it off when the time comes, though?
2) My idea of Peter is more straightforward and obvious, I hope. Awkward and bumbling in public, but loud and funny and really, really sassy when he's comfortable (i.e. when he's another anonymous face on the internet/when he's in costume). It's hard to characterize him when the only times I write his POV is through his blog posts, so hopefully I can/have made it clear when he's feeling comfortable to forget his normal awkwardness?
3) Flash will have a bit of development relating to canon. He won't be a main character, but I want him to be more than just "the bully"
4) This is an AU, ultimately, because it elaborates more on Gwen and Peter's relationship and has the Avengers. Later on, I mean. It'll still follow the main events of the movie, though. I hope that clears things up!