Homecoming

"I used to be a noble gas, hanging out all alone. But then I met you, and I musta' changed into an alkali metal, 'cause, baby, I'm reacting with you!" Mike tried to put his arm around me, but I ducked out of the way.

"You're such a nerd, Michael," I said, glaring.

"C'mon Milly! Loosen up a little!" He grinned and waggled his eyebrows. "I can help you there."

I had to laugh. "Like you know the first thing about loosening up girls."

"I'm willing to give it a try if you are." He offered me his hand. Underneath the friendly teasing in his eyes, I could see his sincerity.

"I'm going to be late for class," I sighed, "and you are too if you don't get going!" I started walking backwards down the almost empty science hallway.

"Fine. I'll see you later."

Michael and I have been dancing around each other since freshman year. He used to go to the Lutheran school up by the hospital, but it stops after eighth grade. The first time we met, I thought I killed him.

It was the second week of school, and I was running errands for Mrs. Garret, the art teacher. I happened to be carrying a stack of canvases when I turned the corner— right into Michael.

I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't make any cutesy noises of surprise or discomfort. I grunted rather mannishly and yanked up my jeans when I realized that my underwear was sticking out.

Michael was lying on the floor with his head through two canvases and his leg through another. I had never formally met him, but I'd seen him around town.

"Oh jeeze!" I crawled over to him and poked his arm. "Are you breathing?" I asked.

He groaned. "No. You've gone and killed me."

"I'm sorry! I'm such a klutz!"

"Break the news to my parents gently. I'm their only son."

After he'd extracted himself from the mess I'd gotten him in, I invited him out with my friends and me. It was the least I could do after nearly decapitating him. Next thing I knew, we were both nursing crushes on each other that the whole school knew about. By all accounts, we should have been dating for three years now. I don't know what stopped me before, but I was gathering my courage. I was going to ask him out tomorrow. Or next week. Or never.

"Milly!" my friend, Amanda, yelled in my ear.

"Eek!" I jumped. We were in gym class, so nobody noticed my outburst.

"Oh my gosh, you're thinking about Mike again, aren't you?"

I nodded and blushed.

"Just get it over with. The worst he can do is say no, right? And he won't. He adores you."

I shrugged. "What if he doesn't? He's my best friend. I don't want anything to get in the way of that."

Amanda rolled her eyes. "If you're that nervous, just wait until Saturday at the homecoming dance. Ask him to dance, then take him outside and tell him that you've been in like with him since freshmen year."

I sighed. Things like that came easy to Amanda. She always has a boyfriend. Guys stick to her like gum to the bottom of my high tops. She can't possibly understand what I'm going through.

Eighth hour I made my decision. I was going to corner him before football practice and…something. I hadn't quite worked out what I was going to say. The bell rang and I raced out of the room, heart in my throat.

The hallway by the locker room is mostly empty after school. All the football players stand around in the doorway until their coach yells at them to get going. The same doorway that leads to their lockers also leads to my beloved band room. Today, it offered little comfort.

"Um…Mike?" I said.

He turned around and smiled. "What's up?"

"Could I talk to you just quick?" I asked. I could feel myself shrinking into a miniature nerd, able to hide in my backpack beneath all my books at a moment's notice.

"Sure." He put his hand on my shoulder and led me into an empty room. "What do you need?" His dark brown eyes were serious as they held my green ones.

The words were coming out. They were on the tip of my tongue, perfect and sweet and appealing. I took a deep breath, feeling confident for the first time that day.

"There you are!" a perky voice said. I stiffened.

"Hey Lilith," I Mike said. "Can you wait a moment? I was talking to Milly."

"I'll just be a second. It's just Milly. Do you have it?"

"Have what? Oh! Yeah." Mike dug in his backpack and came up with his spare football jersey. I watched, stunned as he handed it over to my stereotype cheerleader nemesis. "Clean and everything."

"Thanks Michael," she said. She gave him a cute little hug and pranced off to cheerleading practice.

I know it's shallow and lame and petty, but in that moment I hated Lilith. The words that had seemed so perfect to me moments ago trickled into my stomach and sat there in a cold, hard ball.

"Milly?"

"Never mind, Mike. I'll see you tomorrow." I fled the room before he could see my tears. A part of me had always wished that on homecoming I'd get to wear his jersey. Only this year, my last chance, he'd given it away to the head cheerleader.

So much for the homecoming dance.

A/N- This entire story is based on the whole football jersey thing. It's a shallow wish, but c'mon and admit it. You would be exstatic if you wore the highschool football hero's jersey. Well, that's a bit extreme, but I'm sure you'd be pleased. Or maybe that's just a small town thing. Anyways, I totally stole the layout of the town and school from my own hometown. We really do have a Lutheran school up by the hospital, a football locker room right next to the band room, and a science hallway (it used to be yellow, but they painted it red and white over the summer). Mike is loosely based on three guys I know, none of which play football. The pickup line at the beginning is 100 mine. If you don't understand it, here's a brief explaination that totally kills any humor it has: Chemically, noble gasses don't combine with any other element. Ever. Alkali metals, howerver combine with everything they come into contact with. That's the best explaination I can give because this author's note is too long already. R&R please!