Three hours later, Will estimated that he was 1/4 giddy, 1/4 nervous, and 1/2 terrified out of his frakking mind. But he was already standing on her front porch in the dim glow of the streetlights, holding his peace offering behind his back, so turning tail now would just be plain spineless.
He knocked, and the door was opened too quickly by a short, balding man wearing an apron that said Real Men Can Cook. "Can I help you, young man?"
He suddenly got why Liz had always kept him away from her front door when he'd picked her up and dropped her off; her parents obviously knew jack-squat about her slutty dating habits. Click. Another piece in place. "Is Liz home yet? I - I'm a friend from school. She said she had to work tonight so I should come over late—"
"Yeah, yeah, I gotcha. Hang on a sec."
Liz's dad disappeared into the house, and Will felt the seconds ticking by on his wristwatch. Thirty ticks and no Liz. Forty-five. Fifty. Fifty-five—Oh, thank god.
She came sashaying up the hall toward him, eyebrows raised. He noticed that she'd changed—she had no makeup on and was now wearing a white miniskirt with turquoise fishnet-type stockings, plus a button-down denim shirt with the collar popped. Man, he loved her clothes.
Without grabbing her coat from the hooks just inside the doorway, she stepped outside and closed the door. "Hey, Will. Long time no see. What's up?"
Her nonchalant tone and smile couldn't fool him anymore. He might not know exactly what she was feeling, but he knew it wasn't that. "I brought you something." He pulled it from behind his back and handed it to her.
Liz stared, taking in the bottle, the pink cutout of a dress he'd taped to it, and her Facebook profile picture stuck to the top.
Will bit his lip. "It's, uh, it's Elizabeth Shampoo Roberts."
"Oh my god."
"I know you think all your randomness is stupid and stuff but I kinda like it and I don't think it's stupid, I think it's funny and weird and—"
"Oh my god." She was shaking from head to foot, she was laughing so hard. Will's giddy fraction shot up to 3/4 and he stood there grinning until she'd caught her breath.
"Will," she choked out, "you are the corniest person on the planet, you know that?"
"Yeah, I had a feeling this might bump me up to number one." The last of his terror melted into a puddle of goo and he kept grinning like a moron, feeling ten feet tall. "So . . . will you go out with me again?"
"No." Liz reached over and tugged him forward by his collar. "But I won't be going out with anyone else either." She placed a tiny kiss at the corner of his mouth.
His heart stopped, then dropped. "Oh god, your mom—"
"They found another tumor." She released his collar, backing away, blinking furiously. "The cancer metastasized to her heart. It's crammed in too deep to operate, so she needs a transplant, but she was a goner before this tumor so the doctors say there's no chance of even getting her on the list so she's got maybe a month left and she doesn't want to finish the Ken Burns because she wants to watch every Johnny Depp movie ever made even if they absolutely suck and I know a lot of them do—I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry, I really wanted—" Liz choked on the end of her sentence. "I can't talk about this right now."
She turned and rushed inside, leaving him speechless and empty handed on the porch.
The streetlight behind him flickered.
Will stumbled back down the stairs, eyes glued to the front door, willing it to open just one more time. But no. He turned slowly, and as he headed back to his car through the cold, he had to admit that Johnny Depp was a way funkier band-aid than he could ever be.
A/N: Well, that's it. I know I usually go for happy endings and this is not such a positive note. But there's a lot of wiggle room regarding what could potentially happen next - I'm not going to write any more, but if anyone's writer's blocked and wants to, uh, use this as a writing prompt or something and write a continuation, I would be totally fine that. Not that I think this story is so amazingly amazing that people are going to spontaneously start writing fanfic on it. Just, you know, if you want.