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Ever After High Music Shuffle Challenge

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Renegades by X Ambassadors
Darling doesn’t care. If this twisted society they live in doesn’t want her and Holly to be together, if all the people in power care about is them following their destinies, then so be it. Watching Holly embrace Poppy tightly, sniffling, Darling tries not to cry.
“It’s not forever,” Holly says. “We need to fight this system. I’ll be back. I promise.”
Then Darling and Holly are on the run. They see themselves on “missing” posters when they walk through the villages at night. They won’t come back to civilization until they’ve found a way to change things. It’s as simple as that. Until then, they will be in hiding, but they’re together. That’s all that matters to them.

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day
High school has been quite the experience. There have been many ups and downs. Holly has grown in so many wonderful ways. Since Darling became a part of her life in her junior year, she has had the time of her life, more than ever before. Her routine has had to make way for unpredictability. They have rode their horses through the woods, gone stargazing at midnight. Darling has taught her to swordfight. They have lied in each other’s arms on the forest floor as the crickets chirp in the bushes around them. Holly loves her knight in shining armor more than words or, amazingly, even poetry could ever say.

Hey Soul Sister by Train
Holly feels a deep connection to Darling. Maybe it’s because they both spend more time daydreaming than socializing. Darling makes the term bookworm seem meager. Holly writes like it’s what sustains her. Darling reads what Holly writes and smiles widely the whole time.
“I love you,” she says when she reads Holly’s short story about her very own knight in shining armor. “I never knew I had a kindred spirit until I met you.”
Holly leans in, softly kissing her.
“You’re the girl of my dreams,” she says. “I can be myself around you. I literally want to constantly be with you.”
She kisses her, longer and more passionately.
“There’s nobody else I’d rather have a soul connection with,” Darling whispers against Holly ear.
And with that declaration, she trails kisses down Holly’s neck.

Some Nights by Fun
Some nights, Darling can’t do anything but drink shot after shot. She doesn’t know who she is anymore. Her leg is a bum. No more being a hero for her. She finds herself in bed with random girls more often than not. Who is she? This isn’t the honorable woman that she always aspired to be. She just wants this to end. She wants to sleep and never wake up. When she feels warm, familiar arms envelop her late one night at the bar that has practically become her home, she leans into the embrace and breaks down into heaving sobs. Where the fuck has Holly been these past years? She herself had said that it’s best if they had their distance. Now she wishes she hadn’t.
“Oh, Darling,” Holly whispers. “What happened?”
“Who the fuck wants to die alone?” Darling croaks. “I sure don’t.”
That twelfth shot had hit her hard.
“Nobody,” Holly says, kissing Darling’s head. “And you won’t. Let’s get you home.”

Everybody Talks by Neon Trees
Darling is addicted to Holly. The first time she kissed her, she figured that this is what would sustain her from now on. Holly whispers that this is what she wants. They go to Darling’s room and kiss some more. After a month, Darling’s lips hurt from so much making out. People are talking. Holly doesn’t want people to know. Darling doesn’t care if they do. Soon, people’s words are getting to Darling. They're dykes? Ewww. Gross.
These insults are all that echo through Darling’s head after a while.
“Who the heck cares?” Holly says.
She loves Darling, and that’s all that matters to her.
The knight and her princess reveal their relationship one warm April day, holding hands for all to see. Darling has a sword that she isn’t afraid to show off. Who will dare talk now?

If You’re Gone by Matchbox Twenty
Darling thinks she’s lost Holly. Holly is gone. It’s as simple as that. Their love was an empire, Darling thought. Now it’s nothing but a crumbling tower. It’s Darling’s fault. She knows this. She doesn’t believe in herself. She doesn’t believe in them. Her chest aches without Holly in her arms at night. Come home, she texts Holly. "We need breathing room," Holly had said. Darling can’t breathe, though. She’s paralyzed. She watches the door, hoping desperately that Holly will walk through it. "We simply can’t relate to each other on this!" Holly had cried, her voice hoarse from screaming. She was admitting defeat. Darling doesn’t want kids. She wants Holly. Holly wants both. "This is a problem," Holly had said. You're damn right it is, Darling thinks miserably as she stares at the sugar dissolving in her cup of tea.

Spirits by The Strumbellas
Darling spends the majority of her time in her head. Her thoughts may as well be the blood pumping in her veins. Stuck in daydreams, her mother always says. Holly, this creative, caring, intelligent mastermind, that springs into her life understands this, though. She encourages Darling, never gives her the impression that there’s anything wrong with her. Darling feels different after a while, though. Being with Holly is suddenly more enjoyable than being in her imagination. Holly is real. She is bursting with energy, with love, with life. As they sit side by side at the dock over the lake, Darling wants to be here and only here. This moment is perfection, and she just wants to be alive in it.

Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
Holly believes that she will only live once. This life is her only chance, and she has to make it count. Nothing can be perfect, though. As she types an e-mail to the sales manager, she runs a hand over her face, sighing deeply. Making ends meet is all she can do right now. When will it end? Who knew that both her and Darling’s parents would die, that a new illness would wipe out so many? All they can do is stick together, soothe each other's pain.
“I can change,” Darling says. “I can tell the queen that I can’t do the quests, at least for a while, and get a normal job.”
“No, you can’t,” Holly says, “and I really don’t want you to.”
Holly can be different people. She can work a tedious 9 to 5 job. She can be an explorer, freely journeying without a care in the world. She can be the mother, cooking and cleaning and comforting her girlfriend when she comes home, drenched in sorrow. That night, Holly stands at the river’s edge, breathing deeply, hoping the chilly air will cleanse her mind, her soul. Darling takes one look at her tearstained face and wraps her arms around her.
“Shhh. I know it’s hard, baby,” she whispers. “This is a new road for me, too. I never thought this would be my life. But I’m living it with you, and that’s all the incentive in the world to keep going.”

Polaroid by Imagine Dragons
"She’s so reckless," Darling’s mother complains. "She won’t stop running around and pretending to be a boy." Darling already feels inadequate enough by the time she’s a teenager. She’s not the princess her mother wanted. She’s a let-down to the woman who raised her. Darling can’t slow down, though. She explores, learns, runs, trains, breaks the damn status quo relentlessly.
“She’s an honest-to-God head case,” her mother says one night on winter break, loud enough for Darling who is sparring with Daring in the next room to hear. “She isn’t normal.”
“Sometimes I feel like there’s a void inside me where my love for my mother should be,” Darling confesses one night weeks later.
A tear rolls down her cheek. Holly takes her in her arms and hugs her fiercely.
“I love you for who you are, a courageous, independent, strong, intelligent, devoted, compassionate young woman,” she says, her voice trembling. “Your mother is missing out on an amazing gift.”

Wonderwall by Oasis
Darling doesn’t want to follow her destiny. She wants to be a knight, to fight for justice and protect people at any cost. Do her parents like that? Not at all. She feels defeated lately, like what her parents think actually affects her for some stupid reason. Holly is there, though, a bright, active, loving girl whose imagination knows no bounds. As Holly lies on Darling’s lap, lovingly playing with strands of her platinum blonde hair, Darling doesn’t know how to put into words what she feels for her.
“You make me complete,” she ends up stuttering. “I don’t know how I could do this without you. I don’t even know if I’d believe in myself at all anymore.”
She’s surprised to feel her eyes stinging.
“What do you mean?” Holly asks, sounding shocked.
“I mean that--you save me, Holly. Every day, just by being you, by being a light in my life, you make me okay. You make me unstoppable.”

Chapter Text

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
So this is what it is like. Nobody had truly known what it would be like in the future. Would their destinies occur, whether they liked it or not? As Ashlynn keels forward, Briar catches her, lowering her to the ground and holding her close.
“I’m here,” she soothes, her voice shaking. “I’m here.”
Ashlynn couldn't escape her mother’s death. Her father will soon remarry.
When Briar’s eyes blink open and she sees nothing but a blurred dusty landscape, she almost goes back to sleep. Her lips are tingling. Is this the world now? Not a tree is in sight. It is only miles of gray, lifeless desert and hordes of thorns surrounding her coffin. Ashlynn is standing over her, weathered and gray, but it’s still her. Her emerald eyes glisten.
“Ashlynn,” Briar whispers, her voice hoarse from years of sleeping. “Is it really you?”
Ashlynn slowly nods. That is all the affirmation Briar needs before she flings herself into Ashlynn’s arms and kisses her with more passion than she knew was in her.

Elastic Heart by Sia
Briar tells herself that she’s strong, that she can get through this. Her heart can stretch, but it will never break. Ashlynn was the best thing that ever happened to her, to the world. She was heaven in human form, an angel on earth giving off light and love. The world didn’t deserve her. She was simply too good.
“Heaven needed her back,” Apple says one night.
Briar storms out of Apple’s house. When she gets home, she screams into her pillow until her voice is gone. She throws glass after glass at the wall. Then she crumples to the ground, sobbing violently. Ashlynn would have run to her side, scooped her into her arms. She isn’t here, though. Briar has no choice but to brave this harsh life alone.
Eventually, she is numb, unable to feel a thing. Her heart is lifeless. Her soul is an empty void. Whatever happens now, it doesn’t matter. When people die, when kingdoms fall, Briar barely registers anything. The worst has happened. All she can do now is wait and hope that she can be with her angel again someday.

Beautiful Day by U2
Ashlynn’s heart is always blooming. She sees the beauty in life no matter what the circumstances are. Briar feels stuck right now. She doesn’t know where to go. Most of the time all she can do is lie in bed, too paralyzed to move.
One March morning, Ashlynn cheerfully announces, “We’re going for a hike!” They walk through the neighborhood in awkward silence. The sun is shining and the air is fresh. There is a cool breeze, and birds are chirping in the trees. They come to a green grassy meadow with wildflowers scattered all around. Ashlynn frolics with the butterflies, breathing in the sweet air. Briar stands frozen, watching the beautiful girl that she loves with all her heart.
“I’m hopeless,” she says after a while. “You’re so perfect, and I’m just–I don’t know what to do right now–”
Ashlynn comes forward, smiling gently. She takes Briar’s hands.
“You are not hopeless,” she says, stern but never losing her trademark sweetness. “You are perfect to me. I love you. Now, dance with me.”
She spins, pulling Briar with her into the swarms of blue butterflies. Briar grips Ashlynn’s soft hands, feels the warm sun on her back. She smells the flowers’ sweet scent, can taste the balmy air. Ashlynn’s smile is like a million suns. Her eyes are like stars. Briar may not know what to do, but she allows herself to let go and just sway to and fro with this girl who loves her unconditionally.

Ophelia by The Lumineers
Briar should’ve known better than to act so recklessly. She was wild, and she was young. She remembers so vividly what had occurred all those years ago.
She had stared uncontrollably at Ashlynn across the room. Ashlynn was always on her mind. During school, while they hung out, at night in her embarrassing dreams.
“I’m gay,” she told Ashlynn one warm May evening.
“I love you,” Ashlynn replied, hugging her tightly.
She lay in Ashlynn’s arms, falling asleep to the girl running her fingers through her hair.
After the dance, Ashlynn sniffling because Hunter had danced with another girl, Briar took the leap. She kissed her, soft as feathers. The kiss was messy, but it was perfect to Briar.
“I love you,” she whispered, breathless.
“I love you too.”
They were together constantly. They were hot and heavy, blazing at night, steadily burning throughout the long, sweet days.
Ashlynn had big plans, ambitions that were incomprehensible to Briar. Their families weren’t happy. So much conflict surrounded them, but Briar couldn't let go. Briar was selfish. Ashlynn left.
Briar will never stop regretting how her lust blinded her, how the series of events unfolded. Ashlynn will forever be her lover. No matter how many other girls there are, Ashlynn is the one on her mind, in her heart, forever.

Losing My Religion by REM
Briar floats through the party, making casual conversation with friends she passes. She thinks forlornly of Ashlynn alone in their dorm, working away at the chemistry assignment.
“I don’t even know if I can do that assignment,” Briar had complained.
“You just need to apply yourself,” Ashlynn said. “I know you have more potential than what you’re showing right now.”
She looked uncomfortable, like she didn’t want to be telling Briar what to do but felt that it was her duty. Briar rolled her eyes, suddenly annoyed.
“I’m going to the party,” she said. “See you later.”
Before she left, she stopped and looked at Ashlynn.
“Don’t stay up too late, okay?”
She groaned as she walked down the hall.
She doesn’t want Ashlynn keeping an eye on her. Ashlynn is motherly, but sometimes takes it a bit too far. They’re different people, Ashlynn and her. Ashlynn already thinks of her career at sixteen years old. Briar is more concerned with her social life. Briar won’t sacrifice her fun for Ashlynn’s sake.
Ashlynn puts her head in her hands when the door shuts behind Briar. She said too much. She just wants Briar to succeed. They’re different people, Briar and her. They love each other, but they annoy each other. Love overcomes everything, though. Ashlynn knows this. With that encouraging thought, Ashlynn focuses again on her project.

Hanging By A Moment by Lifehouse
Ashlynn sighs as she finishes her sketch of a new dress design. She glances at her phone. There’s a text from Briar: Coffee tomorrow morning?
Ashlynn smiles but then, remembering her plight, her face darkens. Briar doesn’t know how she feels. She really doesn’t.
“You’re my best friend,” Briar says all the time.
I want to be more, Ashlynn thinks desperately.
Ashlynn walks through the door, the bell jingling as she steps into the warm cafe.
“Hey, Ash! How are you?” Briar asks, smiling widely as she sets her cup of coffee down.
Ashlynn can’t speak for a moment, just staring at the sun reflecting off Briar’s chestnut brown hair. She is falling more in love with her everyday.
“Hi, Briar! I’m good. How are you?”
She is starving for the truth. How does Briar love her? In what way does her heart desire Ashlynn? Ashlynn wants Briar more than anything. She wants all of her, her body, her mind, her heart, her spirit. But how can she know if Briar feels the same? She’ll settle on silence, too terrified of what she could destroy with her words.

Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine
Ashlynn doesn’t know how long she can keep this load to herself. She is constantly dragging it around.
“Gay?” her father had said. “You can’t be serious, Ashlynn. Get that insane notion out of your head.”
“Yes, Father.”
Since that night years ago, Ashlynn has been too terrified to ever voice her feelings that have to do with girls. One girl especially that’s been on her mind more and more since high school started–Briar Beauty, the gorgeous, kind-hearted, generous, loving girl that she is head over heels for.
“Is something wrong, Ashlynn?” Briar asks one evening as they walk through the forest.
Ashlynn sits down on a log, her heart pounding. Briar sits beside her, her brows creased with concern. Ashlynn knows that she can’t keep this in anymore. Her feelings for her friend are too powerful. They’re bubbling to the surface.
“I’ve kept this in too long,” she says, her voice shaking.
She takes a deep breath.
“I’m pretty sure I’m gay. I-I like girls. My parents will hate me for it! But I can’t help it!”
“I know,” Briar soothes, taking her hands and squeezing. “Of course you can’t, and you shouldn’t have to. You’re amazing just the way you are.”
Ashlynn looks at Briar who is gazing at her, the softest expression on her face.
“There’s one girl I really like,” Ashlynn hears herself saying.
She senses herself leaning forward, and before she can talk herself out of it, she gently presses her lips to Briar’s. Briar deepens the kiss. Ashlynn can feel her smiling. When they pull away, Briar is grinning from ear to ear. She brushes a tear from Ashlynn’s cheek. Ashlynn breathes, feeling like a weight has been shaken from her back. It’s a miraculous feeling. She leans in for another kiss and is met by eager lips.

 

You And Me by Lifehouse
Briar doesn’t know how long it’s been since she started having feelings for Ashlynn. They’ve known each other forever after, but lately it’s different. It doesn’t matter how many beautiful girls are in a room. Ashlynn is who Briar’s eyes are glued to. Forest green eyes, soft strawberry blonde hair, kind, genuine smile. There’s something about her that has always entranced Briar, and lately it has become more powerful than ever before.
“You’re, like, seriously pretty, Ash,” Briar says one night as they’re getting ready for bed.
She silently curses herself. Her words aren’t coming out right. Ashlynn has her head spinning. She’s never felt this way before.
Ashlynn blushes.
“Thanks,” she murmurs.
“And not just that–you’re kind, loving, selfless, so smart. You’re just–amazing.”
Both girls are blushing as red as tomatoes now.
“Thank you,” Ashlynn repeats. “You’re amazing, too, Briar.”
Briar knows she will never get her point across. All she can do is stare at Ashlynn and hope they can be something more someday.

Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright
Briar doesn’t know what more proof Ashlynn needs that she loves her, that she’s here for her. Ashlynn has been distant, wanting to be alone. Ashlynn’s mother is dead. Of course she’s different now, Briar reasons with herself.
Briar lies next to Ashlynn under the quilts.
“I love you,” she says, her voice determined. “More than anything in the whole wide world.”
Ashlynn has lost the light in her eyes. Briar doesn’t even know if she hears her. When the girl falls asleep, Briar drags herself out of bed and into the bath.
Briar sighs, soaking in the hot water. The door opens. Ashlynn walks in, in just her bathrobe as usual. Briar is speechless as Ashlynn slips it off and steps into the water. Briar reaches her arms out and envelops Ashlynn in an embrace. Ashlynn is tense, shaking from the cold air.
“Tell me what you’re feeling, Ash,” Briar whispers, rubbing her hand across her back. “Please tell me. I just want to be here for you.”
Her tears drop in the foamy water. Ashlynn just presses her face to Briar’s shoulder and sniffles. Briar holds the cold, broken girl close, letting her cry. Sadly, that’s all she can do.

Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
“Hey, sorry I missed your call,” Ashlynn’s voicemail recording says. “Please leave a message after the beep.”
Briar’s heart aches at the sweet sound of Ashlynn’s voice. Why did she call her if it’ll only remind her again of what she’s lost? It’s better to hurt than feel nothing at all, she tells herself. Briar sets her seventh beer bottle down and glances at the clock across the bar through blurry eyes.
“Quarter after one already,” she mutters.
She takes the phone off speaker, pressing it to her ear.
“Ashlynn,” she says, hating the desperation in her voice. “I need you right now. Can you please come? I’m at the bar–our bar.”
Briar has lost all control. All she knows is that she needs Ashlynn.
“Do you ever think about me anymore?” she asks, her voice raspy. “I think about you constantly. I-I’m sorry. Just please come.”
She ends the call and hangs her head. All these wonderful memories of her and Ashlynn is all Briar can ever think about. It’s her fault. She dug her own grave. She’s weak, though. She needs somebody to be there with her, to care for her, to love her. She needs Ashlynn.

Chapter Text

Just Another Girl by The Killers
Daring sighs, unable to blink as he stares longingly at the girl of his dreams. Apple White laughs, flipping her hair over her shoulder as she walks down the hall, arm in arm with her girlfriend, his own sister, Darling Charming.
“It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess,” Humphrey says, later that evening when they’re sitting on the couch in the student lounge.
They had been playing video games, but they had stopped as Daring began spilling out his problems to his friend. Daring ran his hands through his hair, deeply sighing.
“Daring, there are so many other girls who would die to be with you!”
“She was supposed to be my true love, Humphrey!” Daring wails. “She’s not just another girl!”
Humphrey sighs, rubbing his back as Daring leans his head on his shoulder.
“It’s alright,” Humphrey murmurs. “You’ll be able to move on eventually. I know you will.”
“I can’t sleep at night anymore,” Daring whispers.
He looks up at the boy, his eyes red from crying. All Humphrey can do is take him in his arms and just be there for him, even if he doesn’t understand.

Believer by Imagine Dragons
“Daring, I love you,” Humphrey says, his voice cracked but determined.
He refuses to break eye contact with the befuddled prince.
“I know you have something going on with Rosabella that you’re not even telling me about for some reason,” he continues. “That’s fine; but I’m your best friend, and guess what? I love you as more than a friend.”
“Humphrey,” Daring squeaks, his eyes wide with shock.
“I’m tired of this,” Humphrey snaps. “You can’t break me down one minute by ignoring me and only using me for advice and a shoulder to cry on! Then the next moment you’re building me up, telling me how amazing I am and making me feel strong and brave and powerful and worth it!”
He chokes back a sob.
“You’ve made me believe in myself, Daring! But if you can’t fully invest in me, then I’m going to leave! What do you want, Daring?!”
Humphrey is answered by soft lips touching his own.

Over My Head (Cable Car) by The Fray
“I just need help,” Humphrey mutters, looking down, his cheeks burning with shame. “Nobody will help me.”
Daring blinks, surprised. He clears his throat.
“Of course I’ll help you,” he says.
He wets a paper towel under the sink and walks over to Humphrey, gently holding it over his black eye.
“I’m just so clumsy,” Humphrey frets.
“That’s okay,” Daring consoles him. “You’re the smartest in the school.”
Humphrey laughs weakly.
“Thanks.”
After that day, Humphrey is all that is on Daring’s mind. What is happening to him? He’s never felt this way about anybody, much less a boy!
He joins Humphrey in the student lounge one evening, a bundle of nerves.
“Hey, Daring!” Humphrey exclaims. “Wanna play?”
They spend the next three hours, laughing as they play Mario Kart.
“Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to hang out on Friday night,” Daring says, sliding next to Humphrey on the bench one sunny day. “Maybe get some coffee?”
Humphrey needs to study, of course, so they compromise, drinking coffee and reading their textbooks at the same time. Daring resists reaching out and touching Humphrey’s hands that are so close, so touchable.
Humphrey is constantly on Daring’s mind, painting his dreams at night, brightening his days, hurting his heart. Humphrey doesn’t even notice. Daring knows he’s in over his head. He doesn’t love Apple. Apple doesn’t love him, he knows. The kiss didn’t work. He loves Humphrey.
“I’ll always be there for you,” Humphrey says, his voice determined as they sit on the balcony one starry night.
Daring sniffles, tired out from crying over his lost destiny with Apple.
“I know you will be,” he says miserably.
I love you, his mind whispers.

The Scientist by Coldplay
“I’m sorry,” Humphrey says, eyes filled with tears as he gazes at Daring, the lovely boy who has captured his heart.
“I just don’t know what to say,” Daring says, sighing. “I love you...but you have to trust me.”
“I do!” Humphrey exclaims.
He hugs Daring with all his might.
“I need you, Daring. Please. I love you so much!”
Daring wraps his arms around him.

“I never really loved Apple,” Daring had confessed one night as they sat in Humphrey’s bed.
Humphrey gasped.
“No! Really?!”
“I feel more for you than I ever did for her,” Daring said.
Before Humphrey knows it, Daring’s lips are pressed to his.

“I don’t know, Daring!,” Humphrey cries. “I think you like Rosabella.”
“You never trust me!” Daring yells, tears streaming down his face. “Why is that?!”
Humphrey chokes on sobs, staring at Daring with wide eyes. For once, he doesn’t have an answer.
“I wish we could go back to the start,” Humphrey whispers as he lies in bed that night, face pressed against Daring’s chest.
They’ve had make-up sex every day this week. Humphrey’s lips are sore and chapped from the never-ending kisses.
“It’s not that easy,” Daring says. “It’s a shame for us to part like this, but I think--I think we have to.”

 

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
“It’s depression, Daring,” Humphrey murmurs as he wraps his arms around the boy. “You’re going to be okay. We’ll get you help. I’m here for you.”
All Daring can do right now is lie in bed and sleep. He wants to forget the world. It’s so harsh, expects so much, harms so fiercely. The warmth from his boyfriend’s embrace is a small consolation.
The therapist asks him questions he can’t answer.
“I don’t know how I feel,” he confesses.
Humphrey squeezes his hand.
“I love you,” Humphrey says.
He will never stop saying this. Day in and day out, he says it. He curls up against Daring, holding him close and stroking his hair. Daring opens his eyes, gazing blearily at the boy he loves. His light brown eyes are all that he sees. They’re perfect. Humphrey is perfect. Daring wants to forget the world, but with Humphrey as a part of it, he can’t.

Drops of Jupiter by Train
Humphrey has been away. Finding himself, apparently. Daring’s heart has done nothing but ache.
When he sees Humphrey at Apple’s dinner party two weeks after his return, Daring can tell he’s different. He’s lighter, more confident and sociable.
“I need to look for myself,” Humphrey had explained. “We just can’t be together right now.”
Daring tries to understand, but all he can do is cry.
Daring finds Humphrey on the balcony after dinner. He stands next to him, looking out at the twinkling stars.
“There's too much light to see them properly,” Humphrey says quietly. “In the desert I could see them perfectly. It was too gorgeous to describe.”
Daring takes a moment to find his voice.
“Did you get the experience you wanted?” he asks slowly.
“I saw the world, Daring,” says Humphrey, gazing at him, his eyes bright with a newfound wonder. “I swam with dolphins, I ziplined in the rainforest, I climbed mountains, and most importantly--I know who I am now.”
Daring smiles, his eyes sparkling with tears.
“I’m really happy for you.”

Read My Mind by The Killers
“This town is so small,” Daring groans. “I want to get out of here someday.”
A flicker of hurt passes Humphrey’s face.
“With you of course,” Daring quickly adds.

Daring laughs, ducking underwater, as Humphrey splashes him. He splashes back, trying to go easy on the small boy. They eat watermelon that Daring’s mother brings out for them.
“It’s delicious!” Humphrey exclaims.
Daring sighs happily.
“It’s finally summer!”

They stand at the back of the church, waiting their turn to grab doughnuts from the box on the table. Daring quickly kisses him on the corner of his mouth. He’s staring ahead again before anybody can notice. Humphrey’s heart leaps.
“Daring! If anybody saw that…”
“They didn’t,” Daring simply replies.
He winks charmingly.

“Why won’t he return my freaking calls?!” Humphrey growls. “Bigger and better things, my ass! Even though you’re in school in Germany now doesn’t mean you get to ignore me!”
He looks out the front window of his house, imagining Daring walking up, holding a bouquet of red roses like he used to do. Just then, his phone rings. It’s Daring! Humphrey quickly answers.
“Hi, Humphrey. I’m so sorry I haven’t been answering your calls! I know I’m busy right now, but that’s no excuse to ignore you! I feel so bad!”
“Daring,” Humphrey laughs, “can you read my mind?”

 

Cecilia And The Satellite by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
“Don’t be afraid, Humphrey,” Daring says, holding him tightly. “I’ll protect you.”
Daring has done and experienced so much in his life. He’s traveled all around the world, made friends from every country he’s visited, made some incredibly stupid mistakes, kissed a sinful amount of girls and boys. Never has he felt complete, though, until Humphrey came into his life.
“I love you, and I will always keep you safe,” Daring promises, running his fingers through Humphrey’s hair. “You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Humphrey snuggles closer. Daring smiles, kissing his head. His boyfriend may be fearful, but he is still the most magnificent creature he’s ever laid eyes on.

Spaceman by The Killers
Humphrey smiles, the stars swirling around him as he sails through the black sky. The galaxies spin around in a flurry of vivid colors.
“It’s all in your mind,” his mother says sternly. “Don’t ever tell anybody else about this nonsense.
“What? That I can space travel? That I hear voices at night?” Humphrey asks innocently. “Of course not.”
Humphrey is exhilarated on his first day of high school. He’s looking forward to this new chapter of life.
Daring is a jock. He’s the most egotistical person Humphrey has ever met. He is also kind, though. He helps Humphrey clean up the spilled food when some bully bumps into him, knocking his tray to the floor.
He and Daring spend all their afternoons together after that. Daring teaches him soccer. Humphrey teaches him algebra. They make a good team.
“You know that I go to space in my dreams?” Humphrey says one night as they’re watching a rather ridiculous animated movie. “Well, my mom says it’s in my dreams. I say it’s real. It just feels like--it isn’t just in my mind.”
“Perhaps it isn’t,” Daring says. “The other boys on my football team would laugh at me, but I believe in magic; and you seem like a pretty magical person to me.”
Humphrey kisses him before he even realizes what he’s doing. He almost pulls away with shock before Daring kisses him back. This is more magical than any trip to space I’ve had, Humphrey thinks happily.

 

Dust Bowl Dance by Mumford & Sons
“Father is gone,” Daring says, gazing sadly at his wide-eyed brother and sister. “I’m the man of the house now.”
The land is barren, brown dirt stretched as far as the eye can see. The king is cruel. He cut off all the pipelines. No rain will come.
When Daring sees the soldier approaching his house, he runs outside, grabs his father’s gun and shoots.
“You work for the one who did this!” he roars as the bullet hits the man in the forehead.
His siblings scream, but he doesn’t care. His dad died because of this evil regime.
“You take everything from the poor even though you’re filthy rich! You’re a disgrace to humanity, you wretched piece of garbage!”
He is kicked off the land, convicted of murder. A kind woman he’s known all his life will take his siblings in.
“It’s a true accusation,” Daring had admitted to the small court.
He meets Humphrey, a surprisingly sweet spy, out on the open, dry plains. He is part of a task force, intent on bringing down the government.
“You did the right thing,” Humphrey says, holding his hands as Daring breaks down one night, divulging his terrible life story. “They deserve to die, King Tatus and everybody who works for him. You shouldn’t feel any remorse.”
Daring breathes deeply as his tears slow.
“I want to be a spy, too,” he says. “I want to take down this wicked king and his cronies, too.”
Humphrey smiles, squeezing his hands.
“Now, there’s a good man!” he exclaims. “Your father would be proud of you.”
“I think he would be,” Daring agrees.

Chapter Text

Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men
Courtly doesn’t know what has come over her. She constantly feels alone even when she’s not. She lies in bed, slowly allowing her eyes to close. This isn’t who she is. She used to be bold, proud, confident. Now she’s tired, sad, and most of all, afraid. She doesn’t know if she’s alright. Neither does Jackie, her girlfriend.
“Come on, Courtly,” Jackie says, sounding uncomfortable.
She isn’t used to dealing with emotions, Courtly knows. Neither is Courtly.
“You need to do some schoolwork,” Jackie says. “I know you can do well if you study.”
“I don’t trust myself,” Courtly whispers, her eyes stinging. “I’ll fail whether I try or not.”
Jackie sighs. She sits on the bed by Courtly and takes her hand.
“I hate seeing you this way. Your mind is playing tricks on you.”
“Maybe,” Courtly mutters. “I can’t stop it, though. I can’t.”

Pompeii by Bastille
The walls of ice tumble down, crumbling to the floor. Fire is everywhere, enveloping the rooms.
“Go, Jackie!” Crystal yells. “I’ll be fine! Just save yourself!”
Jackie looks at Crystal, her eyes stinging.
“No, you’re coming with me!”
The servants are uprising. The king and queen have mind controlled them for years. Jackie knew this, but she never had the heart to tell Crystal.
Jackie cries as she escapes, running out of the blazing castle, leaving Crystal behind.
“I love you!” she screams as the ice castle melts. “I love you, Crystal!”
She can’t stomach Ever After. She finds Wonderland and meets a girl, wild as ever but with a charm and spunk that Jackie can’t resist. They fall for each other fast, Jackie changed by the tragedy and thirsty for affection.
“Sounds like the king and queen were evil,” Courtly says. “I know all about evil.”
She sits across the table from Jackie, sipping a cup of tea.
“They sure were,” Jackie says, “and so was I. It’s weird. With you, it almost feels like--nothing has changed at all.”
“You’re an optimist, Jackie,” Courtly says. “I like that.”

Say Something by A Great Big World
“Well, say something!” Courtly screams, her vision washed red as Jackie just stares blankly ahead. “Fucking say something!”
Jackie won’t answer her, is too frightened to even move. She followed Courtly around like a lost puppy, and this is where it got her.
“I’ll do anything for you,” Jackie had said.
Courtly had smirked saucily, a hard glint in her eyes.
“I know you will,” she had breathed before capturing Jackie’s lips in a sweltering kiss.
“I’m giving up on you, Jackie!” Courtly roars. “I’m fucking giving up on your sorry ass!”
“I’m sorry,” Jackie whispers, her heart pounding.
She doesn’t know why she’s saying it. Courtly is abusing her. She sees it now. It was over her head. She’d always seen herself as strong and confident, but apparently all it took was one powerful, manipulative woman to take her down. She’d never loved somebody before this, and now she knows she never will again.

Cups by Anna Kendrick
Jackie has a train ticket, and she’s going to use it. She needs to get out of here. This small town is suffocating her.
“I could use some company,” she tells Courtly. “I’m leaving tomorrow. What do you say?”
“I don’t know,” Courtly stutters. “I just don’t know if I…” she shakes her head, “no, I can’t.”
“You’ll miss me,” Jackie says, her voice fierce. She glares. “You’ll miss everything about me. I promise you that.”
She sweeps past Courtly and leaves the room, not looking back.

 

Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
Jackie realized that there was a side to Courtly that she never knew. That cold, hard glint in her eyes...Jackie always knew there was something dark brewing under the surface of her cool, casual manner.
Courtly’s kisses had saved Jackie, made her feel like love was possible for her.
As Courtly screams Jackie’s name, her eyes like flames in the candlelight, Jackie runs out the door.
She dashes across the slippery pavement, the rain hitting her like bricks as she gets as far as she possibly can from the cold, dark mansion. She doesn’t know how long it’s been when she finally collapses, dropping to the ground. She squeezes her eyes shut, sobs racking her spindly frame. All she can see is flames dancing eerily before her closed eyes, as the rain soaks her to her bones.

Starlight by Muse
“You never cared about me!” Jackie yells.
“Of course I did, Jackie!” Crystal voice cracks. "And I still do!"
“Save your breath.”
Jackie boards a ship and soon she's sailing away over the churning, gray sea. She's on her way to a faraway island she forgot the name of, away from the people who care if she lives or dies. Courtly is also a passenger. She is strangely dressed, loud and rude, and is usually blasting music from her room. Jackie falls for her instantly. Theirs is a relationship of raw physicality and steamy attraction. Jackie doesn't care if the other passengers hear them at night. This is what she needs right now--a beautiful, strong woman making love to her.
They go up to the top deck for fresh air one crisp night. Starlight shines down on the rolling waves. The wooden deck seems to glow with golden light. They lie down, arms wrapped around each other.
“Don't ever let me go,” Jackie whispers.
Courtly doesn't answer, just holds her tight and lightly runs her nails over Jackie's scalp.

Speed of Sound by Coldplay
Jackie doesn't know how long it will be before she finds love. Her soul is as cold as ice. She knows this. She feels like she's constantly climbing a mountain, the terrain growing rougher every day.
She winds up in Wonderland one day, the result of a strange portal that had opened in the front yard of the Winter Palace. Courtly is who she finds, a strange woman who Jackie is instantly intrigued by.
“I'll take you to the city,” Courtly says. “It will be a few days’ trip.”
Courtly climbs a tree that night when darkness has fallen and they've set up camp.
“About time," she teases as Jackie finally reaches the top. "Look at the sky."
Jackie doesn't like to ever show that she has feelings, but her eyes widen and her mouth drops when she sees the blazing stars.
“So many planets visible tonight,” Courtly notes.
She points them out to Jackie. Jackie looks at Courtly, suddenly wanting to kiss her as the starlight shines on her face.
They talk, laugh, and argue as they walk through forests and meadows. The days roll by. They sleep in each other's arms for warmth at night.
Four days later, Jackie can feel and smell how dirty she is.
“That's easily fixed,” Courtly says. “We’ll go bathe in the creek over there.”
Jackie quizzically looks at Courtly as they reach the rocky bank and the jester starts to undress.
“What are you doing?” Jackie asks incredulously. “I thought we were going to take turns!”
“What's the point in that?”
Courtly clearly can't understand the logic in that.
Jackie blushes as she turns away and undresses. She forces herself not to look as they walk into the brisk water together.
“I'll look away while you wash up,” Jackie says.
She turns around, staring at the oak trees on the opposite bank.
“You're really that oblivious?” Courtly asks, her voice calm but calculating.
Jackie spins around, forgetting to close her eyes and getting a full view of Courtly’s, well, fabulous body.
“What do you mean?” she demands. “I'm not oblivious!”
“I want you to see me naked!” Courtly exclaims.
Jackie gasps.
“What in the world?!” she stutters.
Courtly walks slowly toward her.
“I love sleeping in your arms at night! I wish we could do more than just lie side by side!”
Jackie's face burns. She doesn't even realize Courtly is next to her until calloused fingers slide under her chin and tilt her head up. She gazes into Courtly’s magenta eyes, only getting a glimpse before soft lips touch hers.

Castle by Halsey
Jackie wants to be Queen. This was revealed after all, when she tried to overthrow the Snow King and Queen four years ago.
When Crystal suddenly dies one night, crushed by a snowflake that was made too large by the amateur factory workers, Jackie pretends that her heart isn't shattered and focuses only on her opportunity. She will be the next Queen of Winter! It's a no-brainer now!
The day after the funeral, she goes to the dining room to see if the former King and Queen are there and not mourning in their room anymore. She finds them sitting at the long ice table in heavy silence.
“Jackie, no matter how much you have changed these past four years,” the Snow King says, “you still probably shouldn't be so mean. You can’t be queen unless you have a heart as pure as my sweet Crystal’s.” His voice breaks.
Jackie scowls. She puts up a fight, but they soon ignore her. She retires to her room and plots, and if she sheds a few tears over her Crystal, well, nobody will ever know.
One snowy night, she sees a figure outside the castle gate. She lights a lantern, walking through the swirling snowflakes. When she approaches the silver gate, she squints, looking at the person. It is a woman, tall and skinny, layered in shawls.
“Who are you?” she asks, unafraid.
“The name is Courtly Jester,” the woman says. “I pose no threat, to you at least.”
Jackie doesn't know why, but she opens the gate and lets her in.
“What are you here for?” she asks.
“I've been trying to take over a kingdom for a while,” Courtly explains. “Wonderland was a fail. I heard about the young Queen of Winter's passing, though, and I thought maybe I have another chance.”
She laughs under her breath, looking at Jackie with a hungry gleam in her eyes.
“I know you want it, too,” she says. “We can do it together. Co-queens?”
She holds her hand out, and with a shrug and a nod, Jackie finds herself making a strange but most likely rewarding deal. Jackie’s gut has never let her down; and it's telling her that Courtly is her best chance.

A Whole New World (from Aladdin) by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane
“Have you really never seen anything but this pathetic little snow world?” Courtly asks, her eyes wide.
Jackie sheepishly smiles.
“Oh my God, Jackie!” Courtly exclaims. “This calls for desperate measures! Here, I have Maddie's hat with me! I stole it!”
Jackie cackles. Courtly smirks, pulling out the purple hat and beginning to pull various objects out of it.
After multiple attempts, a midnight blue carpet with gold fringe flies out. It levitates a few inches off the ground. Jackie has lived among magic long enough to not be surprised.
“This will be perfect!” Courtly cheers.
She takes Jackie’s hand and, together, they step on to it. As soon as they sit, the carpet takes off, flying out of the open window. Jackie screams. The air is bitter cold. Snowflakes swirl around them. She soon forgets the freezing temperature, though, as she sees the bright, glistening stars, so much bigger and brighter when she's in the sky among them.
The carpet descends, leaving the winter world. They fly through Ever After, looking down at the glittering castles, quaint towns, ancient forests, sandy beaches. Light blue sky and fluffy white clouds surround them. Jackie gazes in amazement, unable to speak. She can only feel Courtly's arms around her waist.
The carpet dives down a well, and they appear in a world that Jackie immediately knows is Wonderland.
“Welcome to my home,” Courtly says happily.
The world is as strange as Courtly. Nature here seems to be on steroids, inventing wonders that Jackie could never dream of. With her girlfriend beside her, though, seeing the place where she grew up, she feels more connected to her than she ever has.

If It's Love by Train
“I can't believe it's already six in the morning!” Courtly exclaims as she and Jackie collapse into the queen bed.
“Time goes by so fast when we're talking,” Jackie says, unable to stop smiling.
Courtly grins, scooting closer to Jackie, and gently taking her face in her hands, she kisses her with all the passion in her heart.
Jackie pulls away a moment later, her eyes wide. Courtly feels suddenly panicked. Did she do something wrong?
“What?” she insists.
“This is love right?” Jackie asks slowly, gazing at Courtly with eyes gentler than the quilts heaped over them.
“It definitely is love for me,” Courtly says, not a trace of uncertainty in her voice. “I love you more than anything in all the worlds.”
Jackie smiles, pecking Courtly on the lips before whispering, “So do I.”

Chapter Text

Don’t Take the Money by The Bleachers
Cupid sighs happily as the morning sun shines through the windows. She lightly brushes golden hair back from Blondie’s sleeping face. These quiet mornings when she can gaze at her peacefully sleeping girlfriend are what she looks forward to as she falls asleep. She bites her lip, remembering last night.
“I’m tired of fighting with you,” Cupid said, her voice weary. “Let’s just go to bed.”
She lies down, sighing in defeat. Blondie climbs in bed on the opposite side, turning her back to Cupid.
Blondie slowly wakes up, blinking in the bright sunlight. Her clear blue eyes sparkle. This girl takes Cupid’s breath away. Even though they fight, Cupid can never let her go. She knows that for sure.

Mamma Mia by ABBA
Blondie groans, pressing her hand to her face as she thinks, once again, of Cupid, the pink-haired angel who occupied her heart more than any other.
“We’re over!” Blondie had shouted, not caring how childish she was acting.
“Fine,” Cupid snapped. “Have it your way, as usual.”
Blondie knows that she is more than foolish for letting Cupid go. She feels more empty than she ever has without the sweet, loving ball of energy that is Cupid in her life. She used to think the term brokenhearted was, to put it eloquently, stupid, but now she knows what people mean. It feels like her heart has shattered into millions of pieces.
She gasps as she sees Cupid across the grocery store one rainy March morning. She hasn’t seen her since the day they broke up. God, how can she resist her? Ignoring her better judgement, she walks toward her, hoping that she is ready for whatever happens.

Viva La Vida by Coldplay
Blondie used to feel like she ruled the world. Everybody loved her. They would do anything for her. Popularity was a mild way of putting it. She was the most beloved queen that the kingdom had ever seen. Ever since she met the cherub that had blown into her bedroom one stormy night, things have changed. She doesn’t know what it is about this beautiful girl that possesses her so. All she knows is that she suddenly doesn’t want to rule the world anymore. All she wants is Cupid who is love itself, she has come to learn.
“My subjects don’t know what I’ve become,” Blondie mutters, tucked in Cupid’s warm, feathery wings that envelop her shivering body.
The cold night wind blows around them.
“I never even go out anymore. All I want to do is be here with you. I don’t even want to be queen anymore.”
She gasps as she admits this.
“I want to run away, free to be with you and only you.”
Cupid runs her fingers through her hair, humming under her breath. She doesn’t say anything. What could she say? This is Blondie’s life, not hers. If Blondie wants to run away together, Cupid will agree. But if she wants to be queen, to rule over the land? She will also let her do that. Blondie’s wish is Cupid’s command.

Can We Hang On? by Cold War Kids
“I need you, Cupid!” Blondie sobs. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
Cupid stares at the crying girl, her jaw set, forcing herself to not cry.
“I’m getting rid of my ego,” Blondie insists, looking pleadingly at Cupid, her eyes red and puffy. “I will focus on you first. Not me. Not my job. You.”
“Blondie,” Cupid sighs.
She sits on the couch, passing Blondie a box of tissues.
“Remember the old days?” Blondie asks, wiping her eyes. “Remember high school and cutting class to make out in the gym storage closet and prom and the date at the amusement park when you threw up all over me on the roller coaster?”
Cupid snorts, unable to stop herself. Blondie smiles, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“We’re not young anymore, Blondie,” Cupid says a minute later, her face darkening. “We need to get out of our heads. We need to apply ourselves. We need to think about how we could possibly make this work.”
“We can hang on!” Blondie exclaims, gazing at her with wide blue eyes.
“Can we, Blondie?” Cupid asks, her voice shaking. “Can we hang on?”
“I don’t know,” Blondie admits, her voice small. “But I hope that we can try because I love you. I really do.”
Love. That should be enough for Cupid. But suddenly, it feels like it isn’t.

Never Say Never by The Fray
“I’m here,” Blondie murmurs, squeezing Cupid tighter as the girl’s tears soak through her shirt.
“Just don’t let me go,” Cupid sobs, gripping the collar of Blondie’s dress.
“I won’t,” Blondie soothes. “I promise.”
They’re not talking about Blondie’s confession, the most embarrassing thing she’s ever done, telling the goddess of love that she is in love with her. They have been walking on eggshells around each other, afraid that whatever they say will just make things more awkward. Now Cupid is heartbroken, though, and it’s Blondie’s job as her best friend to comfort her. She strokes her hair, breathing in the rosy scent of Cupid’s shampoo.
“I can’t believe Dexter and I can never be together,” Cupid whimpers.
“Never say never, Cupid,” Blondie whispers, her voice cracking. “There's always a chance that it could work out.”
No matter how much it hurts, Blondie will encourage her. She can’t be selfish and wish that it was she who Cupid felt so passionately about. That would be wrong. And if Blondie is anything, it is just right.

Wild Heart by The Bleachers
Blondie has always been a perfectionist, wanting everything to be just right. She is rigid, always afraid that she’s going to mess up. Ever since becoming roommates with Cupid at the beginning of sophomore year, they’ve become closer and closer. Cupid is free and airy like the wind, doing what her heart tells her to do. One night when she comes back late, laughing about what a good night she had at the bowling alley and goes to bed, homework undone, Blondie just gapes.
“She’s wild,” she mutters to herself. “Absolutely wild.”
“I’ll never be good enough!” Blondie sobs one sunny afternoon, obsessing over the nasty comments on her Mirrorcast.
Cupid is immediately by her side, wiping her tears and hugging her tightly.
“Yes you are, sweetie,” she reassures her, her voice determined. “You’re more than enough. You’re perfect.”
Before Blondie knows it, she has quit her Mirrorcast. Suddenly, something is more important than being a school icon. Cupid, with her sunny outlook, her undying love and compassion, her wild heart that is always blooming. She wants to find her way into that heart, to be loved by Cupid like no other. As Cupid and her lie on the balcony under the stars, the cherub’s wings folded securely around her, she knows that there must be a space in Cupid’s heart filled with her.

Let Her Go by Passenger
“I want you back, Blondie,” Cupid sobs into the phone. “I’m so sorry! I always took you for granted. I took advantage of your goodness, your patience! I love you so much! Please come back to me! Please!”
“It’s too late,” Blondie says, her voice hollow. “You screwed up too many times. I’m not going to put up with it anymore.”
Cupid sobs at the bar counter, her tears falling into the glass of wine. There’s a cavity in her chest, a gaping hole that she knows only Blondie can ever fill. She didn’t know until Blondie left how much she loves her, how much she needs her. She can’t believe how stupid she is for letting her go, for treating her like any less than the wonder she is.
She struggles to fall asleep that night, her face slick with tears as she stares at the ceiling, images of Blondie flashing through her mind. Blondie smiling and laughing, whispering how much she loves her, kissing her with all the sweetness in the world.
“I love you, Blondie,” she quietly sobs. “I’ll always love you.”

Machine by Imagine Dragons
“Cupid, you can’t see a movie tonight!” Blondie exclaims, a flash of irritation sweeping across her face. “Tonight is our study session. And not tomorrow either--that’s the night we read and snuggle in bed!”
The anger in Cupid’s chest is simmering, and with one more annoyed look from Blondie, it explodes.
“Blondie, this perfectionism is becoming aggressively controlling!” she yells.
Blondie’s eyes widen.
“When are you going to see that I’m not yours to order around? That I’m not part of this crazy machine you sometimes become?!”
“I just want the best for you,” Blondie stutters, her face falling.
“Well, this bossiness needs to stop!” Cupid orders, finally reaching the point where her bossy side comes out. “You’re going to let me be. I’m a big girl, and I get to choose when I see movies with my other friends. Have a good night!”
As she walks quickly down the hall, tears prick at her eyes. She knows that Blondie is an amazing person who would never want to hurt her. She’s just so stressed out all the time. Cupid knows she needs to do something to soothe her girlfriend’s anxiety, but she feels helpless.
Instead of seeing a movie with Briar, she ends up crying in her and Ashlynn’s dorm room. Briar holds her close.
“Blondie loves you, Cupid,” Briar murmurs, slowly rubbing her back. “So much.”
“I know,” Cupid hiccups. “I love her too. I always will no matter how she acts.”
When she goes back to her dorm room hours later, as soon as she steps in and sees Blondie’s red eyes, she says the first thing that comes into her mind.
“In bed,” she orders. “Now.”
Their anger and guilt is released in a flurry of physical passion, and afterward, Cupid lies in Blondie’s arms, sleeping soundly as a crushing weight is lifted from her sweaty body.

The World I Know by Collective Soul
University is a frightening place for Cupid. She doesn’t know anybody here. She feels completely and utterly alone. Her roommate, Natalia, is terribly unkind to her. Every night a new boy is in their dorm room, under the covers with Natalia, breathing heavily as she dramatically moans. Does this girl have no conscience?
She finds herself on a train, with one destination in mind. Blondie. She needs kindness and love, now more than ever. Hours later, when she arrives at the university Blondie attends, she finds Blondie’s dorm room, remembering the room number Blondie told her. When Blondie answers the door, her smile bright when she sees her, Cupid throws herself into her arms.
“I missed you so much!” she sobs.
Blondie hugs her and brings her to her bed, where she holds her close. When Cupid finally calms down, the peace that is Blondie washing over her shaking body, she pulls back and looks into Blondie’s concerned eyes. This is the world Cupid knows. Not the strange, unfriendly world that is her college. But the warm, caring world that she resides in with Blondie.
“This is all I want,” she whispers, pressing her lips to Blondie’s forehead. “You. I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Blondie whispers, gently kissing her lips.
This is the only world I want to be in, Cupid knows.

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s
“I miss you so much,” Blondie says. “I can’t wait to see you this summer.”
“I hate being so far away from you,” Cupid mutters.
She sniffles.
“Hey,” Blondie whispers, her eyes stinging. “Don’t worry about the distance. I’m always right there with you.”
Blondie wishes, more than anything, that she had enough money to visit Cupid in New York City.
“You’ll be done with this term of school in June,” Blondie reminds her when they’re Skyping the next night. “We’ll see each other then. I know that times are hard for you and me right now, but it’s not forever.”
“I love you,” Cupid says, pressing her hand to the computer screen.
Blondie presses her hand to her computer screen, almost believing that their hands are actually touching.
“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons
“It wasn’t your fault, Kitty,” Lizzie says, her voice weary as she tries to look comforting. “It was a natural fear-related response.”
Kitty squeezes her eyes shut, images of the battle plastered to her brain. Unable to see through the swirling ash. Connie lying, her legs stuck beneath a boulder. More gunshots thundering near them.
“Go!” Connie croaked. “Leave me!”
“No!” Kitty yelled. “I won’t!”
The gunshots drew nearer and nearer, though, and before she knew it, she was running away, retreating to the forest where she fell to her knees and screamed wildly, the feral animal in her taking over.
“I fucked it all up!” Kitty sobs, staring at Lizzie with blank eyes. “It’s all my fault that she died!”
Lizzie wraps her in her arms, petting the girl’s head.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” she whispers, even though they both know it isn’t. “It’s going to be okay.”

How To Save A Life by The Fray
Lizzie sits on a rock, her feet chilled as she sweeps them through the frothy water. Tears drop on her white satin skirt.
“Where did I go wrong?” she whispers, staring with blurry eyes at the endless ocean. “How did I fuck up enough to lose the best friend I’ve ever had?”
She remembers driving to Kitty’s house at midnight, feeling in her gut that something was wrong. Kitty’s eyes were wide and dark.
“You need help,” Lizzie insisted. “Please let me help you.”
“Get the fuck out of my house!” Kitty roared.
She picked up a plate from the table and threw it in Lizzie’s direction. It shattered against the wall. Lizzie, trembling with fear, ran from the house.
She remembers Kitty’s pale, lifeless body in the coffin, more makeup on her delicate face than she would’ve ever tolerated.
Now, looking at the crashing waves, Lizzie stands.
“I deserve this,” she says determinedly. “I was a coward, and now I must pay.”
She walks farther and farther into the sea, her legs shaking, her heart pounding in her ears.
“I really hope I’m about to see you, Kitty,” she whispers before she lets herself sink, breathing in the salty water and closing her eyes one last time.

Carry On by Fun.
Lizzie enters Kitty’s house. She runs into the living room where Kitty is slumped on the couch, weakly raising a bottle of wine to her lips.
“I’m here, sweetheart,” Lizzie says, her voice shaking.
She dashes over to the couch where she drops beside Kitty and gently eases the bottle from her hands.
“What’s the matter, darling?” Lizzie asks softly. “What was with the urgent phone call?”
Kitty drops her head onto Lizzie’s lap.
“Mom is worse now,” she mutters, her voice slurred. “I don’t know what to do. The cancer has spread everywhere. I just don’t think I can carry on anymore.”
“Oh, baby,” Lizzie murmurs, running her fingers through the girl’s violet locks. “It’ll be alright. I’m right here.”
“I don’t even want to face the world anymore,” Kitty whispers, her voice thick with tears.
Lizzie leans down, pressing her lips to the girl’s head. Her eyes burn with the tears she is fighting to hold back. Kitty needs her to be strong.
“We can carry on,” she says gently, squeezing Kitty’s hand. “Together. I promise.”
“Can we?” Kitty squeaks, her tears warm on Lizzie's lap.
“We can,” Lizzie insists, determined to make her friend believe it. “I’ll always be right beside you, helping you carry on. I promise. You’ll never be alone, my dear. Never.”

Smile Like You Mean It by The Killers
Kitty knows that she should be enjoying life. It’s a wonderful world, filled with laughter, magic, and friendship. It’s not Wonderland, though. There’s a hole in her heart ever since they were forced to leave their home. Sometimes this world looks black and white. Even though she knows that there is color, she just can’t see it.
“Smile like you mean it,” Lizzie says, sounding exasperated as she attempts to take a selfie of them.
“What if I don’t mean it?” Kitty grumbles.
“What?” Lizzie asks, shocked. “You aren’t enjoying yourself? It’s such a beautiful day.”
Lizzie’s beautiful green eyes stare at her, sparkling in the sunlight. She gingerly takes Kitty’s hand, lightly stroking her fingers.
“What’s the matter, darling? You look upset.”
Kitty is thankfully able to vanish before a sob forces its way from her chest. She appears in a tree deep in the forest. She curls up on the sturdy branch and cries.
“I should be happy,” she whispers, wiping her eyes. “I’m young, and I’m free. I have friends. I should be grateful. But--” she hiccups, “I miss home.”
She desires Lizzie’s warm arms wrapped around her, her soft, soothing voice that she adopts when somebody is upset. She can’t tell Lizzie what is troubling her, though. Lizzie will get sad, too, and Kitty is not nearly as good at consoling people. She hugs the branch and lets the leaves brush against her face. For now, Kitty will just have to shoulder this pain alone. She should be used to it by now.

For Good from the musical Wicked (composed by Stephen Schwartz, performed by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel)
“I’m limited,” Kitty says, her voice small. “Just look at me.”
“I am looking, Kitty,” Lizzie says sternly, gazing intently into the girl’s eyes, trying to make her understand.
“Now it’s up to you,” Kitty says, stepping forward and taking Lizzie’s hands, squeezing tightly. “I have to leave and never come back. Luther the Tyrant will kill you and everybody I care about if I don’t.”
Kitty looks down, her grip loosening. She blinks back tears. Lizzie, her eyes burning, holds on tighter.
“I’ve heard it said,” she says, her voice choked, “that people come into our lives for a reason.”
She sniffs, blinking the tears from her eyes.
“I know you came into my life for a reason, Kitty. You have taught me the most how to grow. You’ve helped me, supported me, loved me unconditionally. I know I am who I am today because I knew you.”
She stifles a sob, letting go with one hand and covering her mouth. Kitty pulls her hand back into hers.
“It well may be,” she says, her voice breaking, “that we will never meet again. In this lifetime. So just let me say, Lizzie, so much of me came from what I learned from you.”
She lets her tears fall now, squeezing Lizzie’s hands tighter.
“You’ll be with me. Always. Like a hand-print on my heart.”
Lizzie sniffles, cracking a small smile.
“Your metaphors were always beautiful,” she says, an adoring smile on her face.
Kitty smiles, gently wiping a tear from Lizzie’s cheek.
“Our lives are stories,” Kitty says. “And I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend. I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today if it weren’t for you.”
Lizzie lets out a broken laugh.
“Who can say if I’ve changed you for the better?” she hiccups.
“I have been changed. For good,” Kitty says, staring into Lizzie’s bright green eyes, hoping that she can somehow understand.
Lizzie seems to get it as she nods, squeezing Kitty’s hands even tighter.
“Thank you,” Lizzie whispers, “for being the best friend I could’ve ever asked for.”
“Thank you too,” Kitty murmurs.
In sync, they step forward and melt into each other’s arms.
“I love you,” Lizzie sobs, hugging her tightly.
Kitty kisses her lips, savoring the softness and sweetness, knowing she’ll never experience it again.
“I love you too,” she says as she pulls back, looking one last time at Lizzie’s beautiful eyes.
Lizzie nods, trying to look brave. With one last glimpse at her beautiful queen, Kitty runs into the dark forest.

Mr. Brightside by The Killers
Kitty’s eyes are glued to the scene unfolding in Lizzie’s dorm room as the tree branch sways beneath her. She digs her claws into the wood, her chest hot. Daring is taking Lizzie’s dress off as she laughs giddily, her arms around his neck. They drop onto the bed together, and Kitty still can’t look away, no matter how much the sight is killing her. Lizzie lies on top of Daring, running her fingers over his broad chest. She leans in, kissing him deeply. Kitty shudders. She digs her claws into her arm, gritting her teeth as the physical pain somewhat quells the emotions stabbing her chest. They’re under the covers now. All Kitty can see is the bed shaking. With a pounding heart and burning eyes, she slowly falls into a fitful sleep.

Chandelier by Sia
Kitty can’t feel anything. All she cares about is the alcohol warming her body, the music reverberating through her skull. She dances wildly in the crowd of partygoers, swinging her arms and shaking her head. She doesn’t care what people think. She needs this, the pleasant buzzing in her head, the adrenaline pumping through her veins.
When she wakes up the next morning, she isn’t in her bed. She blinks, wincing at the pain stabbing her head. Lizzie is suddenly there, handing her a glass of water and two pills.
“Take this,” she says shortly. “It’ll help your head.”
Kitty obeys her, sighing as the cool water soothes her aching throat. Lizzie sits on the bed beside her and stares at her, her face blank.
“I know you’re not happy about this,” Kitty says, her voice hoarse.
“How could I be?!” Lizzie exclaims. “Having my best friend carried into my house by her girlfriend who doesn’t give a fuck at three in the morning?! Seeing you hungover constantly, in pain and joyless?! Why the fuck would I be happy about that?!”
Kitty swallows, casting her gaze to the blue sheets as the hot shame floods her chest.
“I don’t feel anything, though,” she whispers, unable to look up. “I can’t. And I don’t want to.”

Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg
Lizzie walks through the frozen foods section, breathing in the scent of cinnamon that fills the grocery store. She forgot to get frozen corn when she was shopping yesterday, which is unfortunately the staple of the corn chowder she makes every Christmas Eve. She suddenly stops, a thrill racing through her. Is that who she thinks it is? The long, curly violet hair is unmistakable. She rushes forward, gently touching Kitty’s arm.
“Kitty?” she says incredulously.
Kitty gasps as she recognizes Lizzie.
“Lizzie!” she exclaims, leaning in hug her.
The contents of Kitty’s purse spill. They both look at the pile before locking eyes and bursting into laughter.
“Oh my gosh!” Lizzie laughs as she bends over and helps Kitty pick up her belongings, stuffing them back into the purse.
They then hug properly. Lizzie breathes in Kitty’s achingly familiar fruity scent.
“We need to catch up!” Lizzie exclaims.
“Yes! How about a drink?” Kitty suggests.
“All the bars will be closed at this time of night,” Lizzie says.
Kitty smiles, taking a six pack of beer out of her cart.
“How about we go in my car and catch up there?”
Lizzie laughs.
“Sounds good.”
Soon, they sit in Kitty’s light blue Toyota minivan, each nursing a bottle of beer.
“Never thought you would have a minivan,” Lizzie says, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment from the bizzarity of this experience.
Kitty shrugs, smiling sheepishly.
“It’s my wife’s,” she says nonchalantly.
A wave of shock crashes through Lizzie’s chest.
“Your wife?” she stutters, her cheeks burning hotter.
Kitty nods.
“Yep,” she says, her cheeks also turning pink.
“How lovely,” Lizzie says as she catches her breath. “What’s her name?”
Kitty blinks before smiling brightly.
“Cecelia,” she says softly. “She’s an architect.”
“That’s cool,” Lizzie says, not sure what else to say. “I always thought being an architect would be interesting.”
Kitty nods.
“Yeah,” she says.
They discuss their lives, trying to compress all the details into a concise explanation, which is easier said than done. Kitty talks about her wife who is pregnant with their first child and her job as a psychologist (Lizzie gapes at this). Lizzie stutters her way through the happenings of her life--her girlfriend Rachel, her job as a fashion designer, her work with Ashlynn to open their own boutique.
“Ashlynn,” Kitty says distantly. “I haven’t seen her in ages.”
“Have you seen any of our other high school friends?” Lizzie asks.
Kitty shakes her head.
“No, I haven’t.”
They soon run out of beer and things to say.
“I should get going,” Lizzie says.
“Merry Christmas, Lizzie,” Kitty says, her voice soft.
Lizzie’s heart seems to stop as she gazes into Kitty’s ice blue eyes. Without thinking, she leans in, quickly kissing Kitty’s cheek. Kitty looks at her, shocked. Lizzie clears her throat, looking down.
“Merry Christmas, Kitty.”
She watches Kitty drive away, a long-hidden ache in her heart returning more swiftly than the falling snow. She doesn’t know how long she stands there before the snow turns into rain. Shivering, she rushes to her car and drives home, ready to celebrate Christmas Eve with her girlfriend.

Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye
“I can’t believe she just completely cut me off!” Kitty hisses, looking furiously at Maddie who clearly doesn’t know how to react. “That bitch had to fucking change her number!”
Maddie isn’t allowed to be Lizzie’s friend anymore. Kitty made sure of that.
“Nobody treats my friend like that,” Maddie had said, “so okay.”
“She said we could eventually still be friends!” Kitty exclaims, pacing around the room. “That was a bold-faced lie!”
“I’m sorry, Kitty,” Maddie says quietly.
“Well, screw her!” Kitty suddenly explodes. “She’s nobody! Nothing! She’s just somebody that I used to know!”
Maddie’s eyes are wide as she stares at Kitty.
“I don’t need her love! She doesn’t even know how to love! Her last name is Hearts, but I’ll be damned--she doesn’t even have a heart!”

You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift
“Another fight?” Lizzie asks gently as she catches up with Kitty who is walking swiftly through the school halls.
Kitty nods, frowning.
“It’s like whatever I say, it’s wrong to her.”
She doesn’t get her humor like I do, Lizzie thinks bitterly.
“Well, it’ll be okay,” Lizzie reassures her.
She steps out of the way as Kitty’s girlfriend, Ava, strutting in her high heels and sporting her revealing cheerleader’s uniform, walks over to them. She slings her arm over Kitty’s shoulder.
“Hey, babe.”
With a quick smile at Kitty, Lizzie walks away, her heart aching.
The weekend comes, and Kitty and Lizzie are walking along the sidewalk, drinking their Starbucks coffees as they peer into the windows of little shops.
“I wish I could afford that dress,” Kitty says, pointing at a sleeveless blue dress hanging on display that Lizzie agrees is beautiful.
Lizzie smiles. This is how it should always be, Lizzie thinks. Kitty and I. She mentally berates herself for even having that thought. They’re friends, and that’s all they’ll ever be.
When Kitty calls her one night, sobbing because Ava dumped her, Lizzie is in her car, driving to Kitty’s house before Kitty can even protest. Kitty lets her in, and Lizzie immediately hugs her.
“It’ll be okay,” she murmurs. “I’m here.”
They sit on the couch. Lizzie, not knowing what else to do, cracks one of their inside jokes about the worst (or, actually no, the absolute best movie they’d ever seen). Kitty lets out a weak laugh. It’s better than her crying, Lizzie thinks uselessly.
“Can you sing to me?” Kitty quietly asks as she lies her head on Lizzie’s lap.
“Of course,” Lizzie says, stroking the girl’s hair.
Kitty is the only person Lizzie will ever sing for. She gently sings the most relaxing song she can think of, and soon Kitty is lightly snoring. Lizzie continues to run her fingers through her hair.
“I’ll always be here for you, Kitty,” Lizzie whispers. “I’m the one who understands you. I always will.”

Chapter Text

Never Let Me Go by Florence + The Machine
“I hate the water!” Dexter yelps as Sparrow leads him farther into the ocean. “Can we go back now?”
“It’s not even deep here,” Sparrow says, waving his hand dismissively.
“I can’t swim, though!” Dexter exclaims.
He tries to turn back, but Sparrow grips his hand tighter and pulls him along. Waves roll past them, bobbing them up and down. For a second, Dexter feels the sand under his feet sloping down, and he shrieks.
“Sparrow!” he cries, jumping into his arms.
Water splashes as he jumps, spraying Sparrow’s face.
“Aggh! Dexter!” Sparrow growls.
Despite his irritation, he keeps his arms wrapped around Dexter who shivers, clinging to his wet body.
“You’ll be fine,” he says, trying to sound less careless than usual. “I won’t let you go. Even if you did just douse my face with water.”
“Sorry,” Dexter stutters, holding onto him tighter.
“Nah, don’t worry about it.”

Winter Wonderland by Darlene Love
Dexter and Sparrow run through the snowy meadow, yelling gleefully as they race up a glistening white hill.
“I totally beat you!” Sparrow sings loudly.
“Whatever,” Dexter laughs. “I’ll beat you to the bottom!”
He jumps onto his sled and streaks down the hill, cheering as the cold snow sprays his face.
“Whoooo!” Sparrow yells as he speeds past Dexter on his sled.
“No fair!” Dexter exclaims as he finally reaches the bottom.
“The best model in Ever After,” Sparrow brags as he strokes his bright red sled affectionately.
“This is completely childish,” Sparrow grumbles as Dexter adds another snowball to their snowman.
“We could finish faster if you’d help,” Dexter says. “Maybe you could go get a carrot and raisins from the cabin?”
Sparrow sighs exaggeratedly.
“I suppose.”
He returns a few minutes later with said ingredients, dragging his feet through the snow. Dexter finishes packing the snow together and steps back to admire his work. Sparrow stabs the carrot through the snowman’s head.
“There you go,” he says dramatically. “It’s got a nose. Now the damn thing can breathe.”
Dexter rolls his eyes affectionately.
Later, after they finish a semi-presentable snowman, they snuggle on the couch by the fire. They sip hot cocoa, watching a cheesy Disney movie on the television. Dexter feels warm and fuzzy inside as he rests his head on Sparrow’s shoulder, basking in the warmth of the room and the love he has for this boy.

Paradise by Coldplay
Sparrow knows that he expects the world. His mother always told him so, chiding him for his selfishness. It’s true that his expectations are unfairly high. He wants to be admired, cherished and revered by everybody. He wants to be recognized for the awesome person he is, the fantastic musician, the rebellious rule-breaker. Knowing that he won’t ever get what he wants in real life, he wills himself to dream of it at night. A life in paradise. Playing at concerts every night, strumming his guitar and rocking out as screaming girls jump and dance in front of the stage, reaching up as they desire just one touch from him.
Suddenly, this desire to escape his life, to make his own, fades away as a bumbling but kind boy, Dexter, stumbles into his life. Feelings that he’s never had erupt in his chest. Soon, after a cringey love confession complete with a guitar solo and loud singing, Dexter and Sparrow are constantly together. In the Enchanted Forest, Dexter lying in the grass as he listens to Sparrow play his guitar, riding their bikes through Book End, playing at the arcade, seeing action and horror movies at the Multihex Theater, spending lazy afternoons in their dorm rooms, just talking about anything that comes into their scattered minds. Sparrow thinks he finally knows what real paradise is.

We Belong by Pat Benatar
Dexter growls, rubbing his hand over his face.
“I can’t believe we broke up again,” he grumbles. “That stupid boy. He thinks he’s all that, but you know what? He’s not!”
Daring stares at him, blinking.
“I’m sure you guys will get back together,” Daring says, shrugging. “You always do.”
Dexter scoffs.
“Because I’m a freaking pushover. That’s why.”
“You guys are good together,” Daring insists. “I would even say you belong together.”
“What?!” Dexter splutters. “We’re not even that serious, Daring!”
Daring shrugs. He suddenly laughs, then he smirks and points.
“Speak of the devil,” he says.
Dexter turns around, gasping as he sees Sparrow coming down the hall toward them, holding his green electric guitar.
"Oh man," Dexter whines, wincing as he sees the fire in Sparrow's eyes.
Faster than an arrow shooting toward its target, Sparrow drops to his knees and starts wildly playing his guitar.
"Oh yeah!" he screeches. "Dexter, my baby! We belong together! Oh yeah, we do!"
Dexter's face burns, but he can't ignore the butterflies in his stomach. His legs pull him forward, and before he knows it, he's standing in front of Sparrow who continues to "rock out."
"Oh yeah, baby, yeah! We belong together! More than PB & J! We belong! Yeah!"
Dexter stifles his laughter, putting his hand on Sparrow's shoulder. Sparrow stops abruptly, his eyes wide. He looks up, and an uncharacteristic bright smile lights up his face.
He stands up and Dexter, more boldly than he knew was possible for him, steps forward and takes Sparrow's face in his hands, kissing him with all the passion inside of him. He can barely hear the students cheering as he closes his eyes, cherishing the surprising softness of Sparrow's lips. No matter how annoying Sparrow is, they do belong together.

I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry
“This isn’t how I planned it,” Sparrow insists. “It was an accident. I wouldn’t have told you if it wasn’t for Duchess’s big mouth!”
Dexter scoffs.
“I know that at least,” he grumbles.
“Babe, I promise it was an accident.”
“I know,” Dexter sighs, “but it’s still cheating, Sparrow. There’s no way around it.”
“It was stupid, Dexter! I’m--” he stutters, his face reddening, “sorry!”
An apology from him is less common than a blizzard in summer. Now both have happened this year. Sparrow squeezes his eyes shut, remembering the taste of her cherry chapstick, how it stuck to his lips until he washed it off hours later. It felt so wrong. Duchess’s lips aren’t Dexter’s after all. But they’re softer and smaller, easier to fit in his mouth. Damn, it felt right in some ways. And Sparrow is terrified. Is Dexter going to mind? he had thought desperately. Now he knows: yes, Dexter does mind.
“I need some time to think this over,” Dexter says, his face blank. “I just--” he sighs, “can’t right now.”
He swiftly exits the dorm. Sparrow sits on his bed, putting his face in his hands, the sensation of Duchess’s glossy lips still clinging to his consciousness.
“Fuck,” he hisses.

Shots by Imagine Dragons
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done,” Sparrow says, his voice uncharacteristically quiet. “For not caring, for being such an ass, for messing up time and time again.”
Dexter runs his hands over his face, sighing.
“It’s like every time I think our relationship is going well,” he says, “you say or do something hurtful again.”
Something hot aches in Sparrow’s chest. His eyes are hurting for some reason.
“It’s just my luck,” he says, his voice not sounding anywhere near as amazing as usual. “I always mess up. Always. Ever since I was born, everything I do is wrong. It’s like I was born to be a failure.”
He screws his eyes shut, his heart pounding as liquid runs down his face. Damn it, he hasn’t cried since he was a little kid! Suddenly, he feels warm hands on his shoulders and familiar, gentle lips kiss his cheek.
“You’re not a failure,” Dexter whispers, his warm breath tickling Sparrow’s ear. “You’re amazing. Believe me.”

Words As Weapons by Birdy
“You’re such a helpless infant!” Sparrow teases, his voice like a dull blade that cuts through Dexter’s chest with every word. “Seriously, just grow up! Fend for yourself instead of always having your manly sister stand up for you!”
Blood rushes to Dexter’s face. His stomach constricts.
“Don’t you dare talk about my sister!” he yells, hot tears burning his eyes. “Why do you have to be so damn foul?”
Sparrow only looks shocked for a second before a nasty smirk takes over his face.
“You just can’t handle it,” Sparrow says, waving his hand dismissively. “You can’t handle anything. I have no idea why I even date you!”
Needles are jabbing into Dexter’s heart. It’s like it’s actually being broken into pieces. Dexter always thought a heart breaking was just a dramatic expression but no--he literally feels the beating muscle being torn by Sparrow’s weaponized words.
“Well, you don’t have to worry about having a boyfriend anymore,” Dexter says, his throat so thick he can barely breathe.
He walks out of the dorm room, his entire body trembling.

Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift
Dexter hits the car with all his strength, swinging the baseball bat wildly. Glass shatters, spilling all over the sidewalk.
“Look what you made me do, you fucker,” Dexter hisses. “Look what you made me do.”
Dexter finally had the courage to stand up to Sparrow, his mean, stupid, callous ex-boyfriend who doesn’t give a shit about anybody but himself.
“I don’t like your lies, your little stupid games, your worthless insults,” Dexter had spat out.
Sparrow hadn’t even looked at him. He just stood there with a cruel smirk on his face, clearly thinking he’s too good for Dexter, too good to even acknowledge him.
Now Dexter beats Sparrow’s bright red car like it’s actually him, spitting out curse words. He has never felt this much anger before, a blazing inferno in his chest, controlling his every move.
“Look what you made me do, you pathetic piece of shit,” Dexter gasps out. “You are going to pay.”

Never Enough (from The Greatest Showman, performed by Loren Allred)
“It’s never enough for you!” Dexter exclaims, his voice choked with anger. “This beautiful mansion, an amazing job, so much fame! And now you’re insisting we move to another country because most of your fans are there! It’s pathetic!”
His body shakes, his face twisted with rage.
“You’re so damn selfish! What about Sam? Our son who you should care more about than yourself obviously?! Do you think he wants to leave all his friends, his school that he loves so much? Do you think I want to leave all my friends and my job?!”
He shakes his head wildly, gripping tufts of his hair in his fists.
“It’s never enough!” he yells.
He lets out a crazed laugh.
“Never enough for King Sparrow!” he says mockingly.
“You’re right!” Sparrow explodes, his face redder than his hair. “It is never enough! Good job! You cracked the code of my soul! I want more! I’ll always want more! It’ll never be enough for me! Never!”

Boomerang by Imagine Dragons
“How long is it going to take me to move on?” Dexter wonders aloud.
He stares at the ceiling, the blankets doing little to warm him as he shivers. Images of Sparrow rush through his head. Sparrow playing his electric guitar, serenading Dexter with his rough, admittedly obnoxious voice, kissing him with more tenderness than Dexter ever thought this boy could possess.
Every day, seeing Sparrow in the halls, walking from class to class, he can’t help but lock eyes with him. Sparrow nods, but all Dexter can do is gaze at the boy he wishes he could just get over. He needs to grow as a person, and he knows he can’t do that with Sparrow by his side. Still, when one rainy evening in Bookend, Sparrow runs for cover under Dextra’s umbrella, he doesn’t bother to stop the kiss that happens more naturally than water flowing.

Chapter Text

Bad Liar by Imagine Dragons
“Hush, my dearest,” Ashlynn whispers, wrapping her arms around Farrah’s trembling body. “Trust me, darling. I promise I’m safe.”
Ashlynn sighs, her chest tight with pain as she looks at her wife’s pale face. She is too ashamed of herself for doing this to her. She can’t even look at her own scarred complexion in the mirror anymore.
Ashlynn can’t sit by and watch people be murdered any more, though. She has to stand up and fight for those who can’t defend themselves, even if it means frightening the love of her life; coming home to her every night limping and covered in blood. But if it means tracking down the fascist bastards who are participating in this genocide and killing them with a kickass group of women, then so be it. This country is far past the point of peaceful protesting now.
“Your face,” Farrah chokes, gently tracing her fingers over Ashlynn’s bruised face. “Somebody punched you. Hard.” Her voice breaks.
Ashlynn kisses her, stroking Farrah’s tear stained cheeks.
“I’m fine,” she murmurs as she slowly pulls back. “I’ll be fine. It’s perfectly safe.”
She knows how fake she sounds, but she can’t help it. She’s a bad liar. Even if it’s to protect somebody she loves more than life itself, she can’t be sincere if it’s not the truth. She just can’t.

Family of Me by Ben Folds
“I’m so alone,” Farrah mutters, her voice cracked as she curls into a ball on the wet pavement of the alleyway. “I’m so tired.”
With a long, rattling breath, she falls into a restless sleep. She dreams of her mother and father’s pale bodies in black coffins, the feeling of the cool earth on her hands as she drops it into the deep hole. Her sisters’ small, blue bodies as they’re pulled out of the dark water.
“I’m all alone now!” she distantly hears herself cry out. “Everybody’s gone!”
She gasps as she’s awoken to a warm hand on her shoulder. Warmth. She hasn’t felt it in so long.
“Farrah,” a soft voice says. “Is it really you?”
Farrah blinks, her mind foggy. It can’t be who she thinks it is.
“Ash?” she croaks.
She doubles over, coughing harshly. Even the smallest breath hurts her lungs terribly. Warm arms carefully wrap around her. A soft hand gently rubs her back.
“It’ll be okay,” the person who is definitely Ashlynn murmurs. “I’m here now. I’m going to take care of you. God, I can't believe I finally found you...” Her voice is choked with emotion.
Farrah coughs painfully between sobs that take over her skinny body.
“I’m all alone,” she weeps, clinging tightly to Ashlynn. “Everybody’s gone.”
“Shhh, baby,” Ashlynn whispers. “It’s alright.”

White Blank Page by Mumford & Sons
“I love you,” Farrah whispers as she lies next to Ashlynn, her arms tightly around her.
“What’s that, honey?” Ashlynn asks quietly.
Her voice is still hoarse from crying. You'll be better off without Hunter. He doesn't deserve you or Willow, is what Farrah had really wanted to tell the sobbing woman as she cried into her chest. Ashlynn is delicate, though, especially right now. “I’m here” is all she’d ended up saying.
Farrah blinks, the dark bedroom spinning around her. Did Ashlynn really not hear her? Her heart pounds.
“I love you,” she repeats, louder this time, “and I’m going to be right by your side as you raise this baby. I promise.”
She lightly touches Ashlynn’s bulging stomach, breathing heavily. Warm, soft hands grip hers. She dares herself to meet Ashlynn’s emerald gaze.
“I love you too,” Ashlynn says, her voice trembling as she squeezes Farrah’s hands.
Farrah’s eyes widen as Ashlynn pulls her forward into a deep kiss. After the initial shock fades, though, the sweetness of Ashlynn’s lips overwhelm her, and she smiles, kissing her back.

Farrah stirs her margarita as she stares across the ballroom at Ashlynn and Hunter. Baby Willow is sitting on Hunter’s lap, babbling away as her big blue eyes gaze around at the festive Christmas decorations. Farrah’s heart stabs with pain as Ashlynn, beautiful as ever in her forest green dress, kisses Hunter. Farrah stands up, her head pounding and as Ashlynn turns to look at her, a miffed expression on her flushed face, Farrah runs out of the room. She was wrong to love Ashlynn as anything more than a friend, to give her heart fully to her. She knows this now. Hindsight is a horrible but inevitable thing.

 

Fifteen by Taylor Swift
Ashlynn takes a deep breath as she walks through the doors. It’s her first day of freshman year, and the butterflies in her stomach are making her nauseous. She hopes that high school isn’t as bad as her mom says it is.
“Hi, I’m Farrah,” a short, purple-haired girl says to her as she sits down at the desk next to Ashlynn's.
Ashlynn feels a glimmer of hope as she sees the girl's kind blue eyes and wide smile.
“Hi, I’m Ashlynn. Nice to meet you.”

Ashlynn eats her veggie sandwich as Farrah lies down in the grass, describing the cloud shapes that she sees.
“I see a really ugly unicorn,” she says, smiling at Ashlynn’s mock horrified expression.
“An ugly unicorn?!” Ashlynn gasps. “That isn’t a thing, dear Farrah!”
Farrah giggles.
“If you say so.”

They’re sitting at a cafe table after school, doing their homework. The delicious smell of roasted coffee beans fills the warm air.
“Ughhh, geometry is soooo hard,” Farrah groans. “Can you help me with this problem?"
“Of course, baby,” Ashlynn says, looking at Farrah’s worksheet. “Oh wow, that is hard…” Her voice trails off.
The most handsome boy she’s ever seen just walked in. Tall and muscular, close-cropped chestnut hair, gorgeous green eyes, wearing a Save the Rainforest T-shirt. She places a hand over her chest.
“Look at him,” she whispers.
“What about him?” Farrah asks innocently.
“He’s so cute,” Ashlynn breathes.
Despite her usual shyness, she finds herself walking toward him and striking up a casual conversation about the rainforest. She looks back at Farrah who winks and smiles.

“Hunter has a car!” Ashlynn shrieks. “And he’s going to take me for a ride tonight!”
“Wow,” Farrah says, softly smiling. “That’s cool.”
“Are you okay?” Ashlynn asks gently, noticing the lack of enthusiasm in her cheerful friend’s tone.
“Oh, yeah,” Farrah says quickly. “Just tired.”
Ashlynn nods.
“What about this dress?” she asks, taking a short light green one out of her closet and holding it up to her body. “My mom would kill me if I wore it, but I can hide it in my backpack and change after school.”
“It’s really cute!” Farrah exclaims. “I love it!”
The butterflies in Ashlynn's tummy are back as Hunter drives down the street. The cool air rushing in through the open window blows her hair into her face. Pop music blasts as they go farther into town, the shops and restaurants that Ashlynn knows like the back of her hand fading as they zip by. Hunter puts his hand on the center console, his fingers stretching out. Ashlynn finds her hand floating toward his, and then they’re holding hands. Soon she’s running her fingers over his arm. He’s pulling over, and all of a sudden, she’s doing something she never thought she’d do until she’s much older. But she's in high school now. This is what being grown up is like.

“He won’t call me back!” Ashlynn sobs as she sits in Farrah’s bed. “He ignores me at school! I don’t know what to do!”
Farrah hugs her.
“It’s okay,” she murmurs. “I’m sure you guys will figure it out.”
"I don't think we will," Ashlynn squeaks.

She stumbles up the driveway of Farrah’s house a few nights later, unable to stop the sobs that ruthlessly shake her body. Farrah throws open the door and immediately takes her hands, gently pulling her into the big, warm house.
“What happened?” she asks, her voice soft but strained with worry as she pulls Ashlynn into her arms.
“It’s over!” Ashlynn chokes out, burying her face in Farrah’s shoulder. “He never wants to see me again!”
She feels worse than she ever has as she clings to Farrah like a lifeline. Farrah slowly rubs her back.
“I gave him, everything, Farrah!” she weeps. “Everything I had!”
Farrah squeezes her tightly, the pain she feels for he friend more visceral than she could ever describe. Tears stream down her cheeks.
“I’m here, baby," she whispers. "I’m here.”
Ashlynn doesn’t want to grow up anymore. More than anything, she wants to be a little kid again, protected from the harshness of this world. She can’t go back, though, no matter how much she wants to. The one good thing that’s come out of high school is Farrah, though, and she’s determined to keep her by her side as long as she lives.

 

Natural by Imagine Dragons
“You are the light in this world, Farrah,” Ashlynn murmurs, running her fingers through Farrah’s hair.
“There’s nothing more we can do,” the doctor had said. “The cancer has spread to the liver and kidneys.”
“We’re not going to stop fighting,” Ashlynn had said, her voice level and demertined, despite the aching behind her eyes. “We will never give up.”
Now sitting on the couch, Farrah shaking like a leaf in her lap, all Ashlynn can do is tell her how much she loves her.
“Nobody is as sweet and purely loving as you are. I love you so incredibly much, sweetheart.”
Farrah laughs quietly.
“Thank you, baby. And I love you too.” She takes a shaky breath. “That’s not going to stop me from dying, though.”
She starts choking on sobs again. Ashlynn pulls her into her arms, crying silently as she holds Farrah close.
XXX
“I can’t believe you got promoted to CEO, Ash!” Apple exclaims, hugging her tightly. “Congratulations!”
Ashlynn forces herself to smile.
“Thank you, Apple. All it took was a lot of hard work. It helped when I let Lavender go. She was bringing the whole company down.”
Apple frowns.
“Really? That doesn’t sound like you, Ash,” she says quietly.
Ashlynn laughs humorlessly.
“You mean the old sweet, helpless, naive me? I hate to break it to you, Apple, but that Ashlynn is gone.”
Apple’s eyes are wide as Ashlynn stares her down, refusing to break eye contact. It’s an important business tactic to never let go of your opponent’s gaze.
“I’ve grown up and faced reality now,” Ashlynn says harshly. “The world is cruel, and you know what? It’s time I act a bit cruel, too.”

Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds
“I think we should just call it,” Farrah says, her voice quiet. “We’re both going to get hurt if we keep this up.”
“Farrah, please don’t give up,” Ashlynn says, her throat raw. “Think of everything we’ve worked on and gotten through together. I love you.”
Farrah chews on her lip, whispering a pained “I’m sorry” before shutting the door.
XXX
“Did she ever even love me?” Ashlynn asks Briar miserably. “Does she even remember me? She’s probably just forgotten about me, honestly. I was nothing to her.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” Briar says gently. “Who could not love you?”
Ashlynn smiles, leaning her head on Briar’s shoulder.
“Thank you, baby,” she whispers.
XXX
It’s been months when Ashlynn sees Farrah in the park, sitting on a bench and reading a book. Ashlynn’s stomach twists. She walks slowly, unable to take her eyes off her. Farrah looks up. Ashlynn’s heart pounds. Does she see her? She is rooted to the spot as Farrah’s eyes meet hers. Is she going to say something? Ashlynn isn’t sure if she wants her to or not.
“Ashlynn?” Farrah calls.
She stands up, putting her book in her purse.
“Um, do you want to talk?”
Ashlynn can’t hide the spring in her step as she walks to meet her.

 

Taylor, The Latte Boy by Kristin Chenoweth
Farrah walks into the coffee shop at exactly 8:11. The only thing she’s looking forward to more than coffee is seeing the adorable barista.
The barista smiles as Farrah walks up to the counter.
“Good morning,” she says brightly. “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” Farrah says, her cheeks flushing. “How are you?”
“I’m good, thanks.”
“By the way, my name is Farrah,” says Farrah, wincing at how awkward she sounds. “I just figured I should tell you, since we see each other every day.”
The barista smiles even bigger.
“Hi, Farrah. I’m Ashlynn.”
There’s an awkward silence as Ashlynn makes her drink. Farrah is rummaging through her purse to find her wallet when Ashlynn speaks up.
“Just keep the $3.55,” she says lightly. “This triple latte is on me.”
“Oh no, I couldn't,” Farrah says, her cheeks hotter than ever.
“No, please. I insist.”
“Thank you so much,” Farrah says as Ashlynn hands her the cup. “You’re too kind.”
An electric shock race down her spine as their hands touch.
“No problem, sweetie,” Ashlynn says happily.
Farrah’s stomach drops. Oh my goodness, the super cute, nice barista just called her sweetie! She can’t even comprehend that this is happening right now. Before she can make a fool of herself and ruin this incredible progress, Farrah says goodbye.
The next morning, Farrah is returning to the coffee shop at 8:11. She and Ashlynn start talking, less awkwardly than yesterday. The butterflies are still in her stomach, though.
“You play guitar?” Farrah says enthusiastically. “That’s so cool!”
“My band is actually playing tonight,” Ashlynn says, “if you’d like to come.”
Farrah’s stomach jolts.
“Yes, I’d love to,” she manages to breathe out. “What time are you playing?”
“6:30 in the basement of the Ugly Duckling Bar.”
“Awesome!” Farrah exclaims, her heart racing. “I’ll see you then.”
Ashlynn, who is thankfully letting Farrah pay today, winks.
“I’ll see you then,” she replies, waving cheerfully as Farrah goes.
Farrah skips to her car, happier than she thinks she’s ever been. Ashlynn likes her. Like really likes her. She can’t wait to see what happens next.

Sail by AWLONATION
Ashlynn sighs, wiping her hand over her sweaty forehead, as she packs up her guitar. She is exhausted from jumping around the stage. She doesn’t feel the joy that she used to from performing. It’s like there’s a void in her chest, sucking the happiness and excitement out of her. When she gets home, Farrah is reading in bed.
“How was your show, baby?” Farrah asks.
“It was okay,” Ashlynn says, shrugging.
She start undressing. She starts as arms wrap around her from behind.
“Baby,” Farrah murmurs, resting her face against her neck. “You can talk to me. I’m here for you.”
Ashlynn stiffens. Should she tell Farrah how she’s feeling? A desperate voice deep within her insists that she should.
“I just feel really different,” she ends up saying. “Like I’m a different breed or something.”
“Well, that’s okay,” Farrah says softly, kissing her cheek. “So am I. We’re different together.”
It’s not the same, though, Ashlynn thinks desperately. She’s not alone. Logically, she knows this. She can’t escape the sense of foreboding inside her, though, no matter how tightly Farrah hugs her.

If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
“If you leave, it’s going to be okay,” Farrah says softly. “I understand this is a really great opportunity for you. To study with top fashion designer, Betta Reeves, in New York. I get it, baby.”
“I love you,” Ashlynn says, tears streaming down her face. “So much, baby. So much.”
“I know, honey,” Farrah says soothingly, brushing tears from Ashlynn’s cheeks. “I love you too.”
“We’ll still always be friends,” Ashlynn says desperately, cupping Farrah’s cheeks. “We’ll meet each other again soon. As soon as I can earn enough money to fly you out there.”
Farrah nods, refusing to cry.
“Of course, sweetie. Of course.”
“Now, let’s just enjoy this night,” Ashlynn says softly, kissing Farrah’s neck. “It’ll be our last one together for a while.”
It turns out it was their last one for more than a while. It’s been seven years now, and did Ashlynn ever earn that money to fly Farrah out there? Farrah doesn’t know. They haven’t talked in two years. Sometimes it feels like time has stood still. These seven years have raced by, too quickly for Farrah to even catch her breath. It has been that long, though, no matter how much Farrah wishes it hadn't. Time doesn’t stop for anybody.

Little Do You Know by Alex & Sierra
More than anything in this entire world, Ashlynn wishes that Farrah knew. How much she is still haunted by the memories. How broken she is. Every night as she lies in bed, all she can see is Farrah, her pale blue eyes twinkling, her plump face grinning, her soft, pink lips against hers.
“I love you,” Ashlynn sobs into her pillow. “I love you, Farrah.”
Farrah has a life of her own now, though. A wife and two beautiful little girls. Ashlynn wishes she could find the strength to stop stalking Farrah on Facebook. She knows what a horrible person she is for wishing that she was Farrah’s wife, that those kids were hers. Maybe she is just a horrible person now, though. What else is she without Farrah?
I’ll love you ‘til the sun dies, Ashlynn silently promises the distant ghost of Farrah in her mind. I will.