Chapter 5

Skipping ahead a few days-I already explained why, so stop looking at me like that! Geez! *sigh*. Skipping ahead a few days...what, no more interruptions? To the point where we find out what you were all curious about, what exactly Nichole's scheme was, so see? I had good reason to skip, get off my back already. It was after school. My parents had caved on the whole 'you must be driven everywhere' thing, because, as I had predicted, they were sick of dropping me off and picking me up from school. I would normally be walking home from school right away, but instead Nichole dragged me off to the girls' locker room, where she began stripping me down. Now, any boys in my audience here, don't bother getting horny over this, I already told you I'm not hot. I mean, I pretty much look like a boy...we'll get that in just a minute here. The point is, this scene of my life is not fan service.

Normally I don't pay too much attention to what I wear, despite Nichole's attempts to get me interested in fashion, but it's at least apparent that there's a girl somewhere under there, usually. After getting me down to my undies, Nichole pulled some clothes out of her backpack and handed them to me. I just stared at her in confusion.

"What are you waiting for? Put them on!" She said in exasperation.

"What's this all about, Nichole?" I asked suspiciously. I knew this was part of a hairbrained scheme that I would majorly regret taking part in.

"I'll explain in a minute. Just put them on already! Unless you like parading around like a streaker?"

Grumbling, I put on the clothes she gave me. "Now what?"

"Just one more thing." She pulled out a baseball cap and put it on my head, stuffing all my hair into it. "There, all done." Then she dragged me in front of a mirror. "Let me introduce you to...Aaron!"

I stared at us in the mirror. "Um, yeah. Here's the thing, Nichole. I know I'm not the smartest person in the world, but I do know my own name."

She laughed. "Not you, Erin! Aaron, the boy!"

Realization slowly came over me. I did look like a boy. With the clothes and the hat, I looked just like a boy. "So this is about you still trying to hook me up with Aaron."

"Yes!" She said cheerfully. "Now you'll have a chance with him!"

I shook my head in dispair. "There's no way this will work."

"Of course it will. I came up with it, after all. My ideas always work."

"It won't! There's way too many problems with it! Even if he's Gay, which I'm not sure is true, there's no reason he would go for a guy version of me, and even if he did, he'd just be ticked off when he found out I wasn't a guy! In fact, he'll know right away, since we've already met, especially if I call myself Aaron. He's not going to be fooled just because I'm wearing guy clothes. And what about the fact that last time I was around him I couldn't put two words together? This doesn't do anything to fix that!"

Nichole bounced up and down. She was clearly very excited about her idea. "Yes it does, don't you see? You were all nervous before because you were a girl trying to talk to a guy, but now you're a guy trying to talk to another guy! You just have to get yourself in that mindset. It should be easy for you, after all, you're already into all that guy stuff like the NBA or whatever. You're like, halfway to being a guy in your brain already, you just gotta go the rest of the way!"

She patted me on the shoulder. "And as for him not falling for you as a guy, of course he will! You're totally a cute guy, I'd date you myself if I saw you on the street! Have some more confidence in your handsomness here! And no, he won't recognize you. He's really, really bad with remembering people, he told me himself, and you guys didn't even introduce yourselves to each other, so he never knew your name. And the thing about him being mad when he finds out you're a girl...well, you'll just have to get him so madly in love with you by then that he won't care. Problem solved!"

"I'm pretty sure that's not how it works, Nichole."

She finally lost her smile. "Fine! So it's not a perfect plan! What's your plan? Nope, don't tell me, I already know. Your plan is to do absolutely nothing and pretend you don't have a Grand Canyon sized crush on the guy. Well, I'm not letting you do that! We're going forward with my plan, and that's final!"

There's no arguing with Nichole when she's like this, so I did what I always do with these things. I gave in. Besides, as much as I was terrified of the results, I really, really wanted to see him again. And maybe Nichole was right, at least about the whole 'being able to talk to him as another guy' thing goes, if not everything else. "Okay, I give. So what's the next step?"

She squealed and gave me a big squeeze. "This is going to be so awesome! You won't regret this." I was already regretting it. "So next, we take advantage of the research I've been doing on the guy. Apparently, he runs this weird 'anti-bullying' club. They meet after school and do...stuff. I'm not really sure what. Anti-bullying stuff, I guess. And then, he walks home in a big group with everyone that has trouble with people picking on them on their way home. So, you're going to crash the club meeting, and then go home with him!"

Fear shot through me. "Wait, me? As in, you're not coming with me?"

"Well, yeah. After all, we met him for the first time when we were together. I mean, I know I said he won't recognize you, but why take chances?"

"I don't think I can do this alone." I said weakly.

"Yes you can! If you can't believe in yourself, believe in the me who believes in you!"

I laughed, the humor relieving my nerves a little. "Alright, I'll try. Lead the way, fearless leader."

"Good. They meet at 5th street High. Originally, it was a club only for people at that school, but it got kind of big, and now people from all over go, so they don't meet until four o'clock to give everyone time to get there. Let's go, I'll walk you over there."

The longer we walked, the more time my nerves had to return in full force. By the time we reached the meeting site, I was nearly hyperventilating. "I can't, I can't, I can't! What if he knows why I'm here? What if he hates me and makes fun of me? I can't do it, I'm scared!"

Nichole quickly pulled me into a hug. "He doesn't know why you're here. You're going to sneak your way into his life, and he'll never see it coming. And he won't hate you. No one could ever hate you, you're like the most lovable person in the world. I know it's scary, but it'll be worth it, I promise. And when you guys get married, invite me to the wedding, okay?"

I laughed and squeezed her back, still feeling very nervous, but my willpower restored. "That's a very optimistic outlook there, Miss Glass Half-Full."

"Hey, when your best friend is acting like the entire glass is empty, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?" She gave me one last squeeze, then turned me around and slapped my behind. "Now, no more stalling! Go bag your man!"

With my heart full of fear and borrowed confidence, I opened the door and stepped into the room.