There she blows
There she blows again
Pulsing through my veins
And I just can't contain
This feeling that remains
There she goes...
The realization was accompanied by a soft sigh of appreciation, as a pair of admiring eyes followed her every move. Smooth locks of caramel brown hair, just kissing at her shoulders, obediently kept in perfect order as they swayed with ever graceful step that she took. The top portion of her hair was styled in a ponytail, tied with a pink band high atop her head. It swayed faster than the hair allowed to hang freely, creating an interesting pace of energetic motion. Full bangs sat at the top of her head, hanging in soft strands over her forehead, but not casting a shadow over her eyes.
Perfect, soft brown eyes, with just a hint of gray near the pupils. They twinkled with excitement at just about all hours of the day, apparently for no reason at all. The windows into her very soul, which was just as bright and captivating as the portals.
While the eyes were his favorite feature, the rest of her was certainly no disappointment. A small, slightly upturned nose denoted her perky personality, and her full lips were, as always, moving frantically with animated conversation. This time, she was discussing something with her best friend Trini Kwan, yet their conversation was out of his earshot. As always, those lips were a bold shade of pink, accentuating the soft, vibrant quality he knew they possessed.
Well, he didn't know this based on any a priori experience. No... he'd never come close enough, nor have the opportunity to ever touch those rose-petal lips.
She was unreachable. She might as well have been a goddess, or him some sort of troll. She was the most popular girl in school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, and co-founder of the Green Earth Club with Trini. She was intelligent, although not bookish, and incredibly charming. She was gorgeous, funny, sweet, friendly, graceful, athletic, and talented.
But, what was he? He was nothing. Average at anything physical, sub-average on most things academic.
He wasn't dumb... his low grades were a result mostly from his distaste with many subjects in school, coupled with peer pressure to be a comedian. He wasn't particularly cruel in nature either. It was 'Skull' that was rude, obnoxious, rebellious, and tormenting. Eugene was gentle, shy, sensitive, and very fragile and self-conscious.
Kimberly didn't know Eugene. That's one reason why he was Skull. She would notice Skull. Of course, she wouldn't date him; girls like her date quarterbacks or class presidents. But at least Skull would exist in her mind.
She hated Skull. Skull always harassed her, boldly leaning against her locker every morning as she came in, and asking her out for the weekend. And every time, she declined profusely.
But, at least she would speak to him.
It was certainly pathetic... but what other recourse did he have? He had to choose between Kim's hatred and Kim's indifference. And it's a well-known fact that there's a fine line between love and hate.
It was as close as he'd ever get... but it was worth it, in his opinion.
He quickly insured that his spiked hair was arranged perfectly, and popped a wad of Bubble Yum into his mouth before shutting his locker closed, and slinking towards Kim's.
"...and then he winked at me and did that cute, confident grin... and then he asked me to the Valentine Ball!"
Trini smiled, pulling a notebook from her backpack and neatly placing it in her locker. "So... this is George?"
Kim rolled her eyes, exhaling slowly. "No, George and I just didn't have any chemistry. I'm talking about Donnie Fitzgerald!"
Trini frowned slightly, turning from her locker to gaze at her best friend worriedly. "You mean the same Donald Fitzgerald that's the team captain of the varsity basketball team?"
Kim nodded proudly.
"Kim, he's a senior! Doesn't that sound weird to you?"
She shrugged nonchalantly. "Nope. He's cute, he's got his own car, and he's popular! He even has a full scholarship to North Carolina! He's one of the best power forwards in the state!"
Trini sighed, her frown remaining fixed upon her porcelain face. "I don't know, Kim... you should be careful with Donnie."
She grinned, puffing out her chest proudly. "Hey, don't forget both you and Jase have been showing me self-defense! I can take care of myself."
Trini nodded in consent, closing her locker and hefting her back onto one shoulder. "Well, I've gotta get to the newspaper office before I go to homeroom. See you later!"
"Take care!" Kim called, waving at her friend. She then turned around, and began walking toward her own locker.
She groaned audibly when she spied Skull leaning against her locker nonchalantly. They made eye contact, and he winked at her. Her eyes narrowed.
"Could I please get into my locker?" she growled, her hands on her hips as she stopped right in front of him. He gazed down into her flawless face, gnawing on his gum loudly.
"What'll ya give me?" he inquired, shrugging his eyebrows flirtatiously.
"If you don't move, I'll give you a broken nose!"
Skull then released his trademark, nasal giggle as he slid across two lockers, giving the sparkplug enough room to get into her locker. She threw him snarling smile before she turned her attention to her belongings. She quickly peeled off her light jacket, revealing a shape-hugging tie-dyed T-shirt. She then grabbed her wooden brush, which had a permanent home in her locker, and carefully adjusted her bangs with the help of the small mirror magnetically attacked to the inside of the locker door.
Skull watched her through the corner of his eye, while sometimes glancing away in case she'd raise her eyes. Still, he loved watching her painstakingly arrange her hair, or reapply her lipstick during the day.
It was as if she were trying to make herself supercede perfection itself.
Every morning they went through this routine. Every morning, he'd await her at her locker, and they'd trade a little banter before class. Often she'd throw a threat at him, but he knew she'd never see it through. If she really wanted to hurt him, all she had to do was ask either Zack or Jason, her two "big brothers," to kindly warn him to keep his distance.
While she usually had no tolerance for Bulk and Skull during the day, the early morning rendezvous with Skull apparently wasn't that awful for her. If it were... Jason surely would've waited at her locker to scare the young punk away.
"So, Babe, I'll pick you up at seven tomorrow night for the Ball..."
"No you won't," she interrupted, her eyes still fixed on her own reflection as she gently secured a butterfly barrette just above each ear, "Not that I'd ever want to see you outside of a classroom setting, but I happen to be going with Donnie Fitzgerald."
"I guess that means you do like seeing me- wait... Donnie Fitzgerald?"
"That's what I said," she stated, fishing through her locker for a textbook.
Skull frowned slightly, and pushed off the locker he was leaning against. He stood behind Kim, worry in his eyes.
"I don't think that's a good idea."
Kim blinked at the serious tone his goofish voice had taken, but she continued her search. "Like I care what you think."
Skull's lips tightened, and he unthinkingly reached out and grabbed Kim's arm. She was speechless as he forced her to turn around, and fixed his steady gaze with her shocked one.
"I'm not kidding around here, Kim. Donnie's dangerous-"
"Like you would know!" she muttered vehemently, struggling against his surprisingly firm grip, "Now let me go!"
Skull released her, cringing slightly at her hurt glare. While he was bothersome, he never went so far as to physically assault her.
"What's going on?" inquired a deep, menacing voice. Skull turned around, and swallowed hard when he saw Jason Lee standing behind him. The tall, powerful athlete glared at Skull, his sleeveless shirt only accentuating the tight, firm muscles of his arms. He stood with those mighty arms crossed, and one eyebrow raised.
Skull met the threatening glare with a disarming giggle. "Just saying hello."
"That's not what it looked like to me," Jason stated.
"Hey, whadda you think you're doing, Pin-Head?" growled another voice, as Bulk pushed his large frame between them. His dark blue eyes were narrow with outrage, as he pushed his index finger into Jason's broad chest without the slightest intimidation. "No one messes with Skull here but me, got it?"
The silence that followed was broken when the first bell rang. Everyone looked up, and noticed the crowd of students that had formed around them, watching intently and no doubt hoping for a fight between the two toughest freshmen in the school.
Jason breathed deeply, his gaze remaining on Bulk. "Kim, you ready?"
"Yeah," she breathed, closing her locker. Jason stepped away from Bulk and wrapped his broad arm around her shoulder, escorting her away.
Skull watched her go with a heavy heart. He hadn't intended things to get so out of hand- he was only trying to protect her. It's funny how the best intentions often lead to terrible outcomes.
"Who does he think he is?" Bulk grumbled, staring after the departing red form angrily, "You can hit on any girl you want!"
"Forget it," Skull said somberly, "Let's go."
Bulk glanced at his watch, a surprised expression growing on his face. "I can't remember the last time I was in early enough for homeroom," he stated, "How 'bout we play poker until second period? I don't feel like going to class anyway."
Skull nodded in consent, and dutifully followed his protector down the hall.
Skull grumbled something under his breath as he strolled down the sidewalk of Beverly Avenue, his mind immersed in deep thought. His face blatantly showed his frustration, and his shoulders were slumped as he kicked a rock that was on the sidewalk, sending it careening into the street.
He was enraged with himself more than anything or anyone else. He couldn't reach Kim for the rest of the day. He saw her at lunch, and in English, but he couldn't bring himself to talk to her. The shame of how he handled the situation that morning still weighed heavily upon him.
She'll never listen to me now, he reflected grimly, Why would she believe me over Donnie? He's handsome, popular, smart... and I'm just a loser who's been head-over-heels for her since middle school! Of course she'd think I'm trying to sabotage her Valentine's Day. If only she'd take me seriously, just for a moment...
His thoughts dissolved when he reached the spacious property of the Skullovitch family. To his surprise, a small black 1990 BMW sat at the tip of the semicircle driveway with an Arizona license plate hanging in the front.
Skull's grim frown deflated into an excited smile as he sprinted up the cobblestone driveway, and fished for his keys in his stone-washed jeans pocket.
"I left my key in my backpack," he groaned, slapping his forehead with frustration, "and I left my backpack at school." He hadn't been in the mood to do homework... again. So, he opted to just leave it in his locker, and not deal with carrying it home since he had no intention of even looking at it.
He sighed deeply, and rang the doorbell.
After several minutes, the door opened, revealing a tall, slender young man with a neat raven ponytail and deep slate eyes. He grinned broadly when he saw Skull standing there, and immediately engaged him in a fierce hug.
"Gene!" he said, releasing him after a few moments. He held him at arms' length, and took in his punkish appearance with an amused grin. "Hmm... that tiger print polyester shirt is kinda loud, don't you think?"
He then reached out, and ruffled Skull's heavily-gelled hair. "Wow... it barely moves! Those spikes are sure persistent!"
Skull cracked a half-grin, and lightly elbowed the man in the side. "You know me, Eddie: I wanna defy every rule in the book. Even gravity."
The pair walked into the house, both laughing at Skull's defiance. Once inside, Skull cast a quick glance at the kitchen. Sure enough, there was a mess of vegetables, breadcrumbs, and deli meats scattered about the countertop. He rolled his eyes, and fixed Eddie with a knowing glance.
"Ten minutes in the house, and you've already torn it up, Bro," he pointed out.
"Actually, I've been here since lunchtime," Eddie corrected, "Hence the mess."
Skull then fixed his brother with an authoritative glare, and wagged his index finger in his face sternly. "Edmund Arthur Skullovitch! You are grounded for the entire weekend. And you will clean up this mess now!"
Skull's paternal command was greeted with a deep laughter, as Eddie strolled back into the kitchen. "Yes, Dad," he said meekly, sweeping the crumbs with palm. He then glanced up, and saw his younger brother sit down heavily at the kitchen table. "You know, Dad hasn't talked like that since we moved here."
"Yeah, six years ago," Skull said, a sigh in his voice as he cupped his chin in his hands, his elbows leaning on the edge of the table. "After he made executive, he carted us all to Angel Grove, and dropped out of our lives."
"He didn't 'drop out,' Gene. He's just busy."
"Whatever," he groaned, dropping one hand to drum his fingers on the embroidered tablecloth, "Both him and Ma... they just stopped being parents and started trying to be 'friends.'"
"At least they're trying," Eddie said, stacking some ham and turkey slices on a piece of French bread.
Skull scoffed. "This New Age parenting is a load of crap," he growled, "No discipline... just let the kid run wild. Don't correct him, try and identify with him. I swear, if they show up to one more Parent's Day dressed as punks, I'm going to put a bullet in my cranium."
"Don't joke about that, Eugene," Eddie said sternly, walking around the counter to the table. He dropped a paper plate in front of his brother, and headed back to the refrigerator. "What do you want to drink?"
"I'm not really hungry or thirsty," Skull stated quietly, "Thanks, though."
"Shut up and eat," Eddie stated, pulling a Coke from the fridge, "You look like a skeleton."
"You're not much bulkier," Skull commented, as he pulled the plate toward him. He carefully examined the contents of the sandwich, lifting layers of meats and cheeses.
"What are you doing?" Eddie sighed, sitting the can on the table and taking a seat across from his brother.
"Looking for tomatoes," Skull responded matter-of-factly, "I'm allergic to tomatoes."
"You are not allergic to tomatoes," Eddie sighed, a grin tugging at his lips. He leaned back in his seat, and watched his younger brother amusedly.
"Yes I am," Skull insisted, "They trigger my involuntary upchuck reflex!"
Eddie stifled a chuckle. "Well, don't worry. I didn't put any tomatoes in there."
"I'll take your word for it," Skull said, lifting the sandwich to his mouth. He took a big bite, and slowly chewed as his eyes rose to the ceiling thoughtfully.
"Well?" Eddie inquired.
"You forgot the Genoa," he stated, his mouth full, "It's pretty good, but a sub's not complete without the Genoa."
"It's not my fault there's no Genoa in the fridge," Eddie pointed out. He grabbed the bag of potato chips from the counter behind him, and sat it in the center of the table. He grabbed a handful, and shoved several in his mouth.
"So, what're you doing here?" Skull asked, once he had swallowed his first bite, "I haven't seen you since Thanksgiving."
"You know I was in France and Italy this Christmas," Eddie said, folding his arms over his chest. "Don't pull that guilt-trip on me for leaving you alone with the 'rents for the holidays."
"I'm not," he said firmly.
"I'm in for Valentine's," Eddie answered, "I haven't seen Lark since Thanksgiving either."
Skull sunk his teeth into the sandwich again, and shook his head. "I can't believe you're still with her," he said, his words drowned by the food in his mouth, "You've been dating her since junior year of high school!"
"What can I say? I... love her."
Skull gasped, causing the food in his mouth to be inhaled into his throat. He coughed heavily, dropping the sandwich into the plate and taking a long sip of soda.
"You're kidding!" Skull wheezed.
"No, I'm serious. In fact, I bought her this."
Eddie reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small jewelry box. He flipped it open, and Skull gaped at the impressive arrangement of diamonds on the golden band.
"Oh wow," Skull breathed, "That must've cost you a few limbs."
"Well, it definitely cost me my privacy. I had to get a roommate this year. I couldn't afford the rent alone."
Skull shook his head in disbelief, a smile forming on his face. "That's so incredible!"
Eddie grinned proudly, putting the ring into his pocket again. "I'm going to see her tonight... and then I'm gonna do it."
"Oh wow," Skull repeated in awe.
"So, how're you doing in the female department?" Eddie inquired, leaning forward and reaching for more chips, "Got a date for the Valentine Ball?"
Skull dropped his gaze to the table. Eddie frowned, shaking his head sadly.
"Don't tell me you're still hung up on Miss Priss."
Skull lifted his gaze, and threw his brother a withering glare. "She's not prissy," he affirmed.
"If you say so," Eddie sighed, "Still, I really don't think I need to go into that 'other fish in the sea' stuff. You must realize by now that she's not interested."
"I know," Skull said weakly, sitting the sandwich down.
"Then why do you insist on ruining your romantic life by pursuing what you can't have?"
"Dammit, Ed, it's not like I can just turn it off!" Skull shouted, "I know it's fruitless. I know it's hopeless... but I can't help it. I love her!"
"You don't love her," Eddie said strictly, "You can't love her. You don't even know her!"
"I know her well enough," Skull insisted.
"No, you don't. You have a crush on her. That's very different. You can forget about a crush easily enough."
"But that's the point! I can't!"
"You haven't tried!"
Skull withdrew into the back of his seat, folding his arms angrily. "You don't understand," he muttered, "I'd do anything for her. Anything."
"Really?" Eddie inquired, his eyebrow rising.
"Really. In fact, I'm going to that Valentine's Ball."
Eddie blinked in surprise. "You're kidding!"
Skull shook his head slowly.
"Eugene, you can't go to a Valentine's Ball alone! It's embarrassing! And everyone else will be there with their date. It's a couples dance, not a stag party!"
Skull pursed his lips, a dark shadow over his eyes. "She's going with Donnie Fitzgerald."
Eddie was thunderstruck. He remained silent, his eyes widening with alarm. "My God... I thought he would've been arrested for statutory rape by now."
"He's kept clean since that whole incident with Yasmine when you were still at Angel Grove High," Skull stated, "and even then, nobody knew about it other than a few of his friends... like you. No one at the school now knows what's happened. Especially the freshman. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't know about it either. But he does seem to like younger women. And now, he's got his eye on Kimberly."
"You didn't warn her!" Eddie stated incredulously.
"I tried!" he insisted, "But why would she believe me anyway?"
Eddie and Skull both fell into a long, disturbed silence. Finally, Eddie rose to his feet, keeping his gaze locked with his brother's.
"Then you'd better go. Just to be on the safe side."
The music was an animated dance beat, pulsing through the gym like an earthquake. Still, hundreds of students held conversations over the music, congregating in tight groups at either a round table or near one of the refreshment stands. Even more students swayed to the music on the dance floor, as a live band played on the stage.
One student stood alone, refilling his punch glass at a table. Several others were surprised to see him there, dressed in a neat charcoal suit complete with a bow tie and polished black shoes. For once, his sleek jet-black hair was combed neatly, allowed to fall down naturally rather than stick straight up.
He stood up tall, with one hand behind his back as he hovered his glass just inches from his lips. His narrow gaze sliced through crowds of students, landing on a short, slender form dressed in a glittery blush pink knee-length dress, complete with rhinestone straps and a matching ring just under her bust-line.
While Skull was cold and confident on the outside, he was trembling within. It took a quick sweep of the gym to take note that this dance wasn't quite formal. The guys were wearing shirts and slacks, while the girls simply wore skirts and dresses.
Kimberly was wearing a gown because she was stunning, and liked to make an impression. The tactic worked, for she was literally breath-taking compared to everyone else.
Skull was finely dressed as an accident rather than a strategy. He had never been to a dance, and he assumed it would be a formal engagement, like when he went with his parents to the symphony on New Year's Eve.
He felt vulnerable... not only because he wasn't wearing the forbidding outfits he usually donned at school, but also because he stood out nonetheless.
He felt a thousand eyes on him, staring in wonder and laughing on the inside.
Also, he was disquieted by the fact that Bulk wasn't there. Neither were Jason, Zack, Trini, or Billy. Neither his friend nor Kim's, which meant he was trapped and alone.
He was trapped, for there was no one else there to keep an eye on Kimberly. She was surrounded by a sea of strangers, and surely no one else was going to pay particular attention to her that evening.
He was alone, for he was within that sea of strangers, unable to find a single familiar and amiable face. He saw faces of upperclassmen, of athletes who sneered, and average kids who snickered at the cleaned-up bully.
Never in his life did he feel the need to escape as he did now. He never felt so out of place.
But, looking at him wouldn't give such an impression. His expression was flat and cold as he slowly sipped his punch.
His eyebrow rose slightly as he watched Donnie lean forward, and whisper something into Kim's ear while they swayed to a slow song. She threw her head back slightly, giggling as she let Donnie lead her from the dance floor. Skull's eyes panned the floor, watching intently as Donnie firmly gripped Kimberly's hand, and lead her out of the gym via the outside door.
Skull's brow furrowed as he finished his punch in one long sip, and tossed the empty glass in the trash on his way out. He walked right across the dance floor, cutting in between dancing couples.
He didn't hear the shouts of annoyance from those he pushed passed, nor the smooth rhythm of the dance song that played. He didn't see the pulsing lights of the dance floor.
All he saw was red anger as he hurried outside. As he stepped onto the grass, he loosened his tie, allowing the silk cloth to dangle from his throat.
He wandered through the trees and bushes that ringed the gym, being careful not to tear his suit in the naked winter branches. The sound of owls and crickets filled the air, making it difficult for him to follow the sounds of other footsteps.
He deflated, turning full circle and gazing at his surroundings. He had run at least fifty feet from the building, but he didn't see any sign of them. He exhaled deeply with frustration, leaning over to catch his breath.
That's when he heard a high-pitched "Hey!"
Skull perked up, quickly straightening and hurrying in the direction of the faint shout. As he drew closer, he could hear more of their conversation, along with the pulsing beat of his own heart thumping in his ears.
"Relax, Kim... I know what I'm doing."
"Yeah, and I do too!"
"Don't you like me? You were coming on to me since I laid eyes on you!"
"As if! Don't flatter yourself, Bub. Now... take your hand back, or else."
"Or else what?" he inquired, humor in his voice.
Skull stopped in his tracks when he heard a loud, echoing slap. His breath caught in his throat, and his eyes widened.
He... he hit her! he marveled, his blood boiling in his veins as he began running again.
"OW!!" screamed a male voice. Skull stopped again, a relieved smile on his face.
"You are such a jerk!" Kim growled, as a rustling sound emitted from the patch of bushes just in front of Skull. He ducked into the shadow, and watched as Kimberly marched through the bushes. Her chin was high, and the moonlight glimmered off the rivulets of moisture tracking down her cheek. Her hands were balled up fists, and it was clear she was greatly enraged, but she took each step very methodically.
It seemed she was a volcano just waiting to erupt... either with blazing fury or bitter tears.
"Hey, Kim!" said another voice, causing Skull to once again step into the shadows. One quick look assured him that Kim was completely out of sight and earshot. That's when Donnie emerged from the grotto, rubbing his cheek tenderly.
"Leave her alone," Skull ordered, his face blanketed in shadow. Donnie turned sharply, and a humored grin crossed his lips as Skull emerged from the shadows, his arms hanging tensely at his side and a fierce glare pouring from his eyes.
"If it isn't Skullovitch," Donnie mocked, folding his arms, "What're you doing out here? Playing the voyeur?"
"Just making sure you keep your hands to yourself," he answered darkly.
Donnie smirked, looking down at Skull disdainfully. "She's a bit frisky now... but that just makes conquest all the sweeter."
He chuckled as he saw Skull's arms tremble, and turned towards the school. "Now, if you'll excuse me... I've got a dumb little freshman to-"
Donnie's sentence was lost as a furious fist crashed into his face, colliding with his nose with brutal force. Donnie, who was completely unprepared for the assault, fell limply to the ground.
Skull's eyes widened as he lifted his trembling fist to his face. A smear of blood stained his knuckles, causing his throat to close up. Urgently, Skull fell to his knees beside the still body.
Donnie was out cold, and a trickle of blood fell from his swollen nose.
"You deserve worse," Skull muttered, pulling out his handkerchief and wiping the blood from his hand, "I warned you."
With that, Skull rose to his feet. He stuffed the bloodied handkerchief into his back pocket, and tucked in his wayward shirt as he walked back to the gym. He was beaming with pride and relief.
After a brisk walk back to the building, Skull stopped in his tracks when he saw a shadowed figure standing against the wall a few feet from the exit. She leaned her head against the cold brick, and stared up at the stars.
Skull approached so quietly, she didn't notice his presence until he was standing beside her, leaning against the wall and gazing up at the sky himself.
"Skull?" she whispered softly, her voice wavering, "What are you doing here?"
"I just needed some quiet," he answered, "That music is mind-numbing after a while."
"No... I meant the dance."
Skull chuckled softly, which sharply contrasted his famous jubilant giggle. "Ouch!"
"I'm sorry," Kim whispered, turning from him to gaze at the ground, "I didn't mean to insult you."
"For a change."
Kim smiled at his light-hearted humor, but her laughter quaked as sobs threatened to break free from their confinement.
"What are you doing out here?" Skull inquired, inching closer.
"I can't go back in there," she whispered, wiping her eyes with her finger, "I'm a mess. My mascara must've run down my cheek, and my hair's a mess."
She glanced up at him, a glint of worry in her eye. "Donnie and I went for a walk, and these darn allergies of mine acted up. I couldn't stop from tearing."
Skull nodded. He wasn't surprised Kimberly wouldn't tell him the truth. Why would she? After all, she had no reason to trust that Skull wouldn't make fun of her, or respond with the every-dreaded "I told you so."
"So... where's Donnie, anyway?"
Kim frowned slightly, glancing back in the direction whence she came. "You know... I don't know."
"You want me to walk you home?" he offered.
Kim cracked a smile. "That's okay. I called my mother already."
Skull nodded slowly, biting his lip. "Need anything? Some punch, maybe?"
She shook her head, rubbing her arms. "No. Go ahead and enjoy the party."
"That's okay," he insisted, pulling off his blazer, "I wasn't enjoying it anyway."
He walked toward her, and draped the jacket over her shoulders.
"You looked cold," he stated simply.
"Thanks," she said, smiling weakly. She then glanced at the label as she pulled it onto her arms. "Stanley Blacker? Wow, you're really dressed up today."
Skull shrugged. "Shows how much I know about Valentine's parties."
Kim giggled quietly, and they stood against the wall together in a comfortable silence. After about ten minutes, a black Camry pulled up through the horseshoe driveway. Kim smiled, pushing off the wall and shedding the jacket.
"That's my ride," she stated, handing Skull the jacket, "Thanks for the blazer... and for waiting with me."
"I was bored anyway," he said.
Kim looked at him in silent confusion for a moment, as if trying to read his thoughts. Skull bit his lip, trying his best not to make eye contact. His heart was beating so powerfully in his chest, it felt like it was trying to break free from his ribcage.
Kim shrugged. "Oh, what the heck."
Skull opened his mouth to ask what she was referring to, but was stunned silent as Kim pressed her soft lips against his cheek.
"See you Monday!" she called, waving as she hurried to her mother's car.
Skull watched in silence as she disappeared into the black automobile, and rode along the street into the dark night. Slowly, his hand crept to his cheek, and brushed the spot where her perfect lips touched his skin.
They were just as soft as he imagined.
There was a skip in his step as Skull strolled up the stairs into Angel Grove High. The sun was just peaking over the horizon, indicating that there was another hour before homeroom.
Not that the early hour bothered him, for Skull hadn't gotten much sleep that entire weekend. He was practically floating as he walked home after the Valentine's Day party, and the adrenaline kept him awake until three o'clock, which was when Eddie finally got back home. He woke up the entire house, and announced that Lark had agreed to marry him. They'd start planning their wedding after they were both finished with college, so sometime in 1997 was the tentative time.
Skull and Eddie were awake all evening, just talking and laughing about their loves. Skull was so overwhelmed by what happened, he couldn't stop blabbering about how he knocked out that huge, strong athlete with one punch, and how he finally got a kiss from Kimberly.
In his opinion, his entire life was changing. Kimberly finally got to see that he's not just some idiot punk... that he had a soft side. That he could be classy, suave, and sensitive.
Eddie, however, was much more rational. He warned Skull not to make too much out of what happened.
You're right... she'll may never look at you the same way. But that doesn't mean she's ready to start going out with you or something. You've got to take this slowly. Don't expect her to fall all over you.
But Skull didn't care what Edmund had to say. In fact, that following morning, Skull went shopping.
He finally had a reason to buy Kimberly a present. He'd always wanted to... and he had chosen this gift back in seventh grade.
The heels of his combat boots echoed down the empty halls with each step he took. He was careful to take a peek down each intersection, just to make sure there was no one around. Then, after glancing once at the large round clock atop the stairwell, Skull raced to locker 132.
He stood beside it for a moment, looking both ways rapidly before swirling around, and turning the combination.
He'd known her combination since the second week of school. After all, he was always lurking at her locker, bothering her first thing in the morning. He'd seen her open her locker practically a hundred times.
Sure enough, the locker slid open. While he was curious about the contents, he respected her privacy. He quickly emptied the contents of the plastic bag he carried into the locker.
He carefully arranged his gifts to hang from her coat hanger, for fear if he placed them at the top she wouldn't see them. She was petite, after all.
After he managed to sit them on the hanger, he took a step back. A small smile stretched on his lips, and he nodded contentedly.
"Perfect," he whispered, "Today... I tell her everything. Everything I've been feeling. Everything I've hidden from her..."
"Hey! Just what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Skull froze, and turned his head slowly to the source of the yelling. He saw Zack Taylor standing atop the staircase, his bookbag dangling from his shoulder. Skull swallowed hard as the popular teen raced down the stairs, and met him eye to eye.
"What... are you dong here?" Skull inquired, his body shaking in panic.
"I'm here for extra help," he responded, his eyes narrow, "The question is... what are you doing here? This is Kimberly's locker."
"I... I know..." Skull stuttered, too overwhelmed to speak.
"If you took something..."
"I... I... didn't," he whispered, trembling with embarrassment. Zack duly noted the flush that rose on his pale cheeks. He blinked in confusion, and glanced into Kim's locker. He approached, and scanned until his dark gaze fell upon the coat hanger.
His eyes widened, and a grin crossed his face. "You're kidding."
Skull was beet red by now, pursing his lips tightly and averting his gaze.
"Well, Happy Valentine's Day to you, too!"
Skull's lips trembled, and he unthinkingly grabbed Zack's shoulder before he could depart. Zack gazed at him quizzically.
"Please don't say anything," Skull pleaded, "Not to Kim... not to anyone. It's a surprise!"
Zack's grin returned, and he squeezed Skull's shoulder securely. "I won't breathe a word."
"So, how was the dance, Kim?"
Kim's face curled into an annoyed frown, and she shrugged her shoulders at her friend. "Not as well as I would've wanted."
Trini's brow creased. "Uh oh... what happened?"
"Eh, Donnie and I just didn't have any chemistry," she stated with a smirk, "I guess I'll just keep looking for Mr. Right."
Trini laughed. "Don't try to find him at this school!"
Kim giggled as Trini opened her locker, and hung her jacket on the hook. "So, what were you up to this weekend?"
"Nothing special," she answered, "My grandmother came on Friday night, and spent the weekend."
Kim smiled widely. "Your Nanna is the sweetest woman alive!" she cooed.
Trini nodded in consent. "She really is terrific."
"Hey gals!" called a voice, as Zack emerged from the passing traffic, "What's up?"
"Nothing in particular," Kim responded.
"You're not gonna believe this," Zack said excitedly, "Rumor has it that Donnie Fitzgerald was in the hospital Saturday night!"
Kim gasped audibly, her hand rising to her lips. "For what?"
"A broken nose!"
Trini frowned, glancing at Kimberly. "What happened?"
Kim shook her head slowly in amazement. "I... I don't know. I mean, he was fine when I saw him last. That's so awful!"
She then stepped away from her friends. "I've gotta go to my locker. See you in English!"
After waving, she wove her way through the traffic to her locker. Sure enough, Skull was leaning against it.
She cracked a small smile, shaking her head as she gently pushed him out of her way. "Hi, Skull."
"So... how 'bout I pick you up tonight? We can catch a movie..."
"Dream on, Skull," she interrupted.
Skull's smile collapsed, and he gazed down at her. She was holding in a giggle as she turned her combination. When she saw him gaze at her, she smirked.
"What?" she asked, her eyes wide with curiosity.
A smile stretched on Skull's lips. "You don't know what you're missing, Babe."
With that, he pushed off the locker, and strode through the hallway. He swallowed hard, ducking into the men's bathroom and leaning against the wall heavily. Fortunately, no one was there.
"Ed was right," he sighed, slowly moving to the sink. He leaned on the sink's edge, and stared at the clouded mirror. "What... did I really expect her to just fall in love with me?"
Nothing had really changed. Not really. She may have a droplet more respect for him... but that was all. She wasn't overcome by his charm and charisma. He didn't race to her rescue, and carry her away on his white horse.
He just offered her a blazer, and a few minutes of his time. That didn't really mean anything. It was more an act of friendship than love.
She was vulnerable that night... so shaken by what Donnie had tried. It wouldn't have been right for Skull to take advantage of what happened anyway.
But, he still felt he had let the perfect opportunity slip through his fingers.
As far as Kimberly Hart was concerned, Saturday night wasn't anything special. She probably passed off Donnie's behavior as him just being a jerk, and Skull's as just being nice... or perhaps pitying her. Nothing happened that would change her life.
Or his, apparently.
He bit his lip, glancing at the bathroom door.
She'd be opening her locker at any second. But it didn't really matter, after all.
If she knew it was from him, she'd probably think it was some kind of joke.
Kim had watched Skull leave incredulously. It almost seemed as if he were upset about something.
She shrugged, erasing the thought from her memory before finally opening her locker door. She laid her bookbag on the floor, and peeled off her denim jacket. She reached to hang it up, when something touched her skin.
She jumped slightly, wondering what could be in her locker. So, she peeked inside, and her eyes widened in amazement.
She pulled out a single long-stem rose, with bright red petals and a tender, delicate scent.
Also, she felt something metallic hanging from the hook. She pulled that out with her other hand, and gasped in wonder. A delicate sterling silver charm bracelet dangled from her fingers, with several charms swaying in the air. There was a heart, a gymnast, a flower, a star, and a bird with its wings spread wide.
She blinked in astonishment as she gently slid the bracelet onto her wrist. She then tilted the rose to her nose, and breathed in the fresh scent deeply.
She blinked again, shaking her head to try and appease the amazement that still numbed her brain. She then examined her locker carefully, moving aside everything around.
There wasn't a note, or anything else to show who the gifts were from.
She shook her head in amazement as she slowly collected the materials she would need for class. She then shut her locker, and lifted her bookbag. She gazed around the hall, looking for someone who seemed to be watching her. Some kind of clue as to this mysterious secret admirer.
A secret admirer? How romantic!
A soft blush rose on her cheeks as she once again inhaled the sweet essence of the flower. She then flung her bag over her shoulder, and walked to homeroom, a skip speeding her step.
Skull stepped out of the bathroom, and watched the pink princess depart. She seemed to like the presents, for she was practically bouncing as she walked.
He smiled to himself, watching her depart.
"There she goes," he sighed, walking to his own locker.
The goddess. The angel. The most perfect woman in the world. She was sweet, intelligent, charming, funny, spirited... gorgeous.
And he was nothing.
There she goes
Calls my name, she goes again
There she goes, she goes again
There she goes, she goes again...