All night long, I had been looking over at where the boy I loved sat. Tonight was our schools Homecoming dance, and the only reason I had come at all was because of him. It was actually a pretty stupid reason since I had never spoken a word to him, but I still had enough hope (or maybe it was better described as desperation) to think that he may ask me to dance. It hadn't happened so far, making my hope droop a little, but my mind kept reminding me that I still had time, that the night wasn't over yet.
"Andy, you haven't moved a muscle the whole time we've been here. You wouldn't even walk around with us at the game," Scout, my long time best friend and former girlfriend, told me while standing in front of me with her arms folded over her chest and a pout on her face. "You have to dance at least one song with us."
"Scout," I whined, dragging out her name. She had blocked my view and I knew she wasn't going to be moving out of the way any time soon. If she had known why I didn't want do dance, she might have moved, but she didn't and I wasn't about to tell her.
"You will dance."
"I don't want to though."
"Then why the hell did you come to the dance?"
Even though I knew it was a bad idea, I ignored her question and started looking anywhere but her face.
"You're not telling me something," she said as her pout turned to a look of anger. "What are you not telling me?"
I put my hands up in surrender. "There's nothing I'm not telling you."
"Bullshit," she said and sat down on the bench with me, "If you aren't going to tell me then I'm going to sit here until you do."
I didn't answer her. Knowing Scout like I did, I knew she wouldn't be able to sit there for very long. She was the kind of girl who needed to know what she wanted to know right away and didn't care how she acquired the information as long as it didn't take long for her to get it. I really had no intention of telling her what she wanted to know, but from past experiences I knew that when she said she would do anything to make me tell her, she meant it.
"Okay Andy," she said about five minutes later, just like I knew she would, "You really need to tell me why you won't dance. Unlike you, I came here to actually do stuff. Wait," Scout said, jumping off the bench with wide eyes, "It's a boy!"
If I wasn't crushing on the boy I was, I wouldn't have had a problem with the guessing game that I knew would come next. The guy that I liked was popular, unlike me, attractive, smart, and didn't conform to what all the other popular kids were doing. He was so different than me that I knew Scout would just about die when she eventually figured it out. Then there was also the small detail that I used to swear I hated his guts.
"Give me a clue," she started as she looked around the gymnasium, "Is he here?"
"Is he the Homecoming king or one of the guys that were runner ups?"
Shaking my head, I dared to look over in his direction. If Scout followed my gaze, I knew she would figure it out, but thankfully she was too busy trying to figure out who it was that she didn't look over at me.
Scout pouted as she thought. "Is he older than us?"
"Nope, he's in our grade."
She nodded. "Is he on the football team?"
Sighing, I nodded my head.
Scout clapped her hands happily. "That narrows it down to three guys! Hmm, is it Ashley?"
"Ha-ha!" she said jumping up and down in her seat, totally drawing attention to us. "Andy! That is so adorable!"
I smiled shyly as heat rose to my cheeks. Thankfully it was pretty dark in here.
"You have a chance with this one Andy!"
"What?" Not only was I confused by that, I was also really confused by her reaction. The main reason I hadn't told her before was I had thought she would flip. She always preached that we should stay with our own "kind" and I was certain Ashley didn't fit into that category.
"Didn't you hear that Ashley was claiming to be bisexual?"
I shook my head.
"So, what are you going to do to get him to notice you?" she asked after a few minutes of silence.
Looking at her like she was crazy, I replied, "What are you talking about?"
"I know now that that's the reason you haven't moved. He hasn't moved all night either so you've been sitting here watching him, hoping he will look over and finally see you. Not to burst your bubble, but that definitely won't happen. What are you going to do to catch his attention? To make him finally see that you exists? Oh, and you only have half an hour to do it."
I wanted desperately to tell Scout that I didn't want him to notice me, but it was a lie and she would know it. She knew me better than anyone, and I knew her better than anyone, that's what being best friends since kindergarten and dating for three years got us, so I knew that she would be able to come up with a fool proof plan, but half an hour wasn't much time.
That was the first time since my crush on Ashley had formed that I actually wished I had told Scout before now.
"Scout, I-I don't know," I began nervously, "I can't just thrust myself upon him when he's surrounded by his friends. IF I went over there, if I got within ten feet of their group, I would get beaten up. All of his friends think I'm a worthless fag." Even though Scout didn't want to admit it, she knew what I said was right.
"Okay," she said, standing up from her seat and smoothing out her skirt, "Then I'll go over there."
My eyes widened in terror and my jaw fell to the ground. "That is the worst idea ever."
Scout ignored me and continued. "The plan is that I'll go over there and ask Ashley to dance. If he says yes I'll start talking about you, telling him how amazing you are."
"And if he says no?" I asked, taking into account that she had said if he said yes.
"Then I beg." With that Scout turned on her heel and walked right through the group.
Not being good at lip reading gave me a total disadvantage. I knew that Scout had been standing there talking to Ashley for too long for him to have said yes right away, but looking at their faces told me that Ashley hadn't said no either. It actually looked like they were having a friendly conversation. The only way you could tell that Scout wasn't truly welcome in the group was the looks she was getting from the girls, so I assumed it was going well.
After a few minutes, Ashley and Scout smiled at each other, seeming to end their conversation, and Ashley stood up.
Since our schools Homecoming was a) formal, letting everyone come in jeans and t-shirts and b) being right after a football game, which no one would want to dress up for, Ashley was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but he looked sexy even though he had played in the game. He, unlike every other popular person, wore a dirty pair of cowboy boots that clicked when he walked, a ripped pair of black jeans, and a black long sleeve shirt that had the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. Around his neck was the shiny star pendant that almost everyone knew him for, and his wrists were adorned with multiple rubber wristbands. Ashley's hair, even right after a game, was styled to perfection. His eyes were outlined heavily in black eyeliner that made his honey-brown eyes pop. Everything Ashley wore made him look and seem different than the people who he called friends but they welcomed him in because he's the star player of the football team.
Ashley dusted off his pants, grinned at Scout, and started walking. To my surprise, and horror, Ashley was talking in a different direction than Scout and that direction was toward me.
My first instinct was to get up and run, to hide from him so I wouldn't have to chance to embarrass myself. I knew if I said one word to him I would say something stupid and I really didn't want to. I was fine with him not noticing me if it meant that I wouldn't embarrass myself while talking to him.
I also knew that even though he would be the one coming to talk to me, if in fact he was coming to talk to me and I wasn't overreacting, I would be the one that got bullied and beaten for it. I would be the one that his friends would find a way to blame if he said anything to me.
"Hey Andy," Ashley said to me with a soft smile on his face.
Did I mention how dreamy I thought his slight accent was?
"H-h-hi," I replied, looking down at my hands, hoping that if his friends looked over they would see I wasn't trying to strike up conversation with him.
"Scout's quite a nice girl."
I nodded. Really, when he said that I started to worry that he was going to try to use me to get to Scout, but then he took my hand in his.
I quickly noticed that Ashley's hands were heavily calloused and that you could see his veins stick out on the top. I wondered if it was from playing football, but I had also heard that he played bass guitar, so I figured it could be from that too.
"You have soft hands Andy," Ashley said softly, turning my hand over in his.
Ashley chuckled, making me turn to face him in confusion. "What?" I asked him.
"You didn't seem too sure if that was a compliment or not."
"Probably because I wasn't. Was it one?"
Ashley looked at me, flashing a smile that I had seen him give dozens of girls. I had always dreamed that one day he would smile at me like that.
"Of course it was Andy." Ashley stood up, this time without dusting his jeans off. "Would you like to dance with me?" he asked, letting go of my hand to offer his to me.
Right as he said the words, a slow song came on. I had no clue what the song was since I don't listen to that kind of music normally, but it was soft and sounded sweet, so I took Ashley's outstretched hand.
Ashley led me to the dance floor and I knew people were staring at us. Under normal circumstances, the thought of people staring at me would have terrified me, but for some reason I felt co9nfident. Maybe it was the fact that the guy I had a major crush on was holding my hand and willing to dance with me, but the glares didn't seem to affect me as bad as they usually did.
Once Ashley stopped leading me, I turned to face him and he grinned up at me. He snaked his arms around my waist, a feeling I definitely enjoyed, and I put my arms loosely around his shoulders. "You know," he started to say just as I had started to worry that this was going to be awkward, "You didn't need to send Scout after me. You could have asked me to dance."
"I didn't send Scout after you, she had told me a plan, because he had just found out about my crush on you and had wanted me to get off my butt, but had lied to me about it. And also, just liked I told her, I probably would have gotten beat up by your friends if I had come near you." Even though I realized I had just admitted to having a crush on him, and was totally mentally freaking out about it, I decided to just go with it and hope he hadn't noticed.
"You have a crush on me?" Ashley said, sounding totally surprised.
Dammit. "Yes," I replied shyly.
"Well, that's good. I was actually trying to gain the confidence to ask you to dance with me when Scout came over."
"Yeah. I was afraid that since we are from two different worlds you would say no." In that moment, Ashley looked truly vulnerable. Instead of the bulletproof football player he was day-to-day; he just looked like a boy hoping someone would love him.
"And I was afraid that you would either laugh at me or your friends would beat me up before I could even talk to you."
For a minute, Ashley and I danced there in silence. Neither of us really had any idea what to say after that.
Too soon the song ended and people flooded around us. I thought that was going to be the end when Ashley grabbed me, pulled me in close and yelled, "Go out with me sometime?"
I nodded excitedly, making Ashley grin.
Then, when I thought my life couldn't get any better, Ashley pressed his lips to mine in front of pretty much our whole school.