A/N: So much thanks to all of you who have put me on author alert. As a reward, you are probably the first ones to read this post. Enjoy!
Will was freaking out.
He knew he shouldn't be. This was just another problem to solve, nothing special. He could deal. Sure thing.
As long as this wasn't like one of those super-mega-extra-credit problems his Calc teacher liked using to frak with their brains—solvable, sure, but only with an IQ of 250.
No, screw that. This wasn't that type of problem. Damn it—if it had been, he'd at least have an excuse. No, no excuses. Some of the biggest dumbbells he knew had made it to the third date with a girl, and even they didn't screw it up. Plus, if Liz thought he'd screw it up, she'd have given him some pointers. Chick was not exactly shy about stuff like that. So the answer must be totally obvious.
Will reached across his bedroom floor for one of the trillion pieces to the puzzle he'd been slaving away at all morning, and accidentally sent it skittering into a corner.
First date — dinner. Easy-peasy.
Second date — that movie she told me about during dinner on the first date. Not rocket-science.
Third date — WHAT?
All they'd talked about after the movie was the movie; if she'd dropped any hints about where she'd like to go or what she'd like to do, he sure didn't catch 'em. He might not exactly be the king of picking up on subtle hints, but he'd have noticed if she'd said, say . . . "Will, let's go to the zoo!" or "Will, I love ice cream!"
And she hadn't. So he was stuck.
The retrieved puzzle piece turned out not to match at all. Will tossed it aside.
He blamed Liz and senioritis for combining to turn his brain into mush.
He had no business being in this fix, anyway. She was so far out of his league he hadn't even had the guts to crush on her until this year, and the fact that she was a sci-fi geek did not make her attainable; it just made her hotter. His so-called friends would not shut up about how mismatched they were, and he couldn't blame them. The painfully awkward Mathlete and the peppy cheerleader. It all felt like some kind of long, drawn-out mistake. He was on a course to crash and burn.
But hey, waaaait a minute . . . Who wouldn't like ice cream? Liz wasn't lactose intolerant or allergic or on any diet that he knew of, and oh yeah—he'd seen her buy a strawberry shortcake bar from the ice cream truck at recess last year. That totally counted for something.
But one other problem: Could he really take Liz to his favorite ice cream joint? Seriously, that place was weird. Little hole in the wall with flavor-of-the-day specials like "Herring" and "Medium-Rare Steak," plus all those ancient pictures on the walls of baseball players who'd played so long ago even he couldn't recognize any of them. Definitely not a place to take a girl—
His memory finally kicked in, clubbing him over the head with Liz's first words after leaving the movie theater on Saturday night: "That was way more fun than the Ken Burns baseball documentary I'm watching with my mom. Not as educational, though."
Man, he was slow. The joint was perfect! The pictures would give them something to talk about, plus it'd show Liz he was totally paying attention to some of the random stuff she was always saying. Girls loved that.
All the pieces fit. Problem solved.