Bittersweet Symphony

by Zahra

It takes a lot to be bitter over a song, because of a song, but Pete's not above this sort of behavior. He doesn't care that he's dancing with the hottest girl in the freshman class or that by most people's standards he's pretty lucky. Luck is irrelevant when Pete doesn't have what he wants. Who he wants.

Pete hates Remy Zero.

He hates them with every chord that the guitarist flattens with his wa-wa pedal, and every warbled note that the vocalist mangles with a shake of his bald veneer. Pete hates their sappy lyrics and their sad-ass tunes, and the way that Chloe's face lights up when they sing the intro of this stupid-ass song.

This song sucks.

Give Pete Outkast or 311 any day of the week. Give Pete artists that sing about life and parties and girls who don't like you back and lust after your best friend.

Pete likes songs he can relate to. Pete is not relating to whatever this Lex Luthor wannabe is screeching. The singer sounds like a series of cats being declawed without anesthetic, and Pete is feeling a lot more sympathy for his mom's calico right about now. He's also feeling a lot more sympathy for himself and how he's wound up here in the first goddamn place.

There are a lot of guys who would give their eyeteeth to be dancing with Erika Johnson right now. Pete couldn't care less, he's kind of hoping that one of them will come up and take her off his hands.

She's no Chloe, but she still likes Remy Zero.

Pete hates Remy Zero enough to have bought two copies of their CD, and then run them over with his dad's car after Chloe announced that she was going to the Spring Formal with Clark.

It was a very satisfying experience, even if his mom was a bit freaked out about how calm he was when she found him picking the pieces up from the driveway.

Still, it's not as though Pete has anyone else to blame. It's not like he ever told Chloe how he felt.

He never said he was angry at being overlooked and relegated to the background. But being black does not equal blending into the background, and sometimes Pete wishes people realized that instead of automatically assuming that good old Pete never had a problem or an issue, or any sort of feelings of any kind.

Pete has a lot of reasons to be bitter.

Not the least of which have to do with Chloe and Clark.

Pete hates Remy Zero because Chloe loves them, and not him. Because she loves this song enough to tell him about it, and then dance it with someone else.

Pete's learned a lot about hate over the last year. His hate has turned every ounce of baby fat that he had in middle school into muscle through innumerable hours spent in the gym after school. Pete's hate has kept him at The Torch offices after school when he could've, should've, been doing a million other things.

When he should've been doing anything to get over her. To get over Chloe.

But that's not how it works, that's not how they work, because Pete and Chloe are friends and Pete and Clark are friends, and it's just a shame that the three of them together isn't going to work out in the long run.

Too much wanting, too much settling, too much not saying a goddamn thing.

Everyone wanting something they can't have, and Pete didn't actually need to pick up his copy of Romeo and Juliet to see that. It was as clear as the white writing on the chalkboard the minute Chloe walked into Mrs. Genelli's eighth grade English class.

Pete looked right at Chloe and she looked right at Clark sitting next to him.

Pete Ross' life drastically improved the day that Chloe Sullivan arrived. It also got much more complex.

From the beginning it was clear that Chloe had those kind of feelings for Clark, but it also became clear that the only thing Clark could see - apart from the pavement every time he got near her - was Lana Lang.

Not that Pete ever thought for two seconds that Clark and Lana would happen, but he encouraged it nevertheless because Clark was his friend, and it was just so goddamn obvious that Clark was never going to want Chloe.

Not in a million years did Pete ever think that Clark would be interested in Chloe. Not in a million years did he ever see them going to any formal of any kind together.

If Pete's being honest he thinks he figured that they would all just go along with the flow and the uneasy undercurrent until they went to college. Not because it was right thing, but because it was easiest thing. Because that whole mini-drama was what made them friends. That quasi-attraction that they channeled into other things they could do together: the Torch, movies, the Beanery, the meteor rock mysteries. The sort of stuff that really kept the three of them involved in their friendship.

It's easy to hate friends.

It would be a lot easier for Pete to hate Clark if they weren't best friends. If Clark hadn't cried when he broke Pete's Tonka truck when they were six; and Pete hadn't tried to flush Clark's Matchbox Camero down the toilet when they were eight.

It would be a lot harder for Pete to hate Clark if he was dancing with anyone else but Chloe. Anyone but the one girl that Pete has wanted for the last two years. But that's not what's happening. Everything is changing around Pete, and pretty soon it won't be Clark and Chloe and Pete. It will be Clark and Chloe, who occasionally hang out with Pete, and Pete will have to find someone else to dance with. Someone else to want. Someone else to take Chloe's place, and unfortunately it won't be his date.

Erika may be the prettiest girl in the freshman class, but she's got the personality of his mom's Jello mould. She doesn't have flippy hair or a cute nose. Sarcasm flies right over her pretty head, and she wouldn't be able to crack a news story if it was inside a hard-boiled egg.

Erika isn't Chloe; nobody's Chloe, except Chloe, which is why Pete wants Chloe. But Chloe doesn't want Pete. Chloe wants Clark, and Chloe likes Remy Zero. And when this song is over Pete never wants to hear another Remy Zero song in his life.

He'll be able to find more that enough songs that can explain his bitterness.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Zahra

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