Harold Finch, president of the George Washington Carver High School Science Club, glanced up at the wall clock with a frown and then back to the two girls sitting across the table from him. "I'm glad most of us could make it. So, I have good news and bad news. Our results from Regionals came back this morning. Combined, we scored over 9000!"
"That qualifies us for State," said Sameen Shaw, their chemistry wunderkind, pausing for a moment as she unwrapped an impressive foot long, triple roast beef, submarine sandwich.
"Yes. But, we only have thirteen dollars and sixty-two cents left in the club account."
Samantha Groves, or Root, as the young hacker preferred to be called, looked up from her chipped nail polish repair just long enough to add the obvious. "That won't get us out of Lassiter."
"Which is why I called this meeting. State competition begins in two weeks and between now and then, we need to raise $300."
"How are the three of us – four if you count the mascot – going to raise that kind of money?" Root asked, waving her hand to air dry the polish.
"I'm glad you asked. The school fair is this weekend and I propose we set up a fund raising table."
"Ugh! Not another bake sale!" Shaw groaned.
"Not exactly. Luckily for us, the choice has already been made." His face set in grim lines, Harold pulled a sheet of paper from his bag and slid it across to Root and Shaw.
Shaw's brows inched higher and she slowly sat her Big Gulp down.
Root glanced at the list then leaned back in her chair and turned to Shaw, a beatific smile lighting her face.
"No. Way." Shaw ground out.
"Every other school club signed up before us. This is what's left."
"Come on, Sameen, I think it's a great idea. Heck, I'm pretty sure I've got at least $300 in my college fund."
"Harold." Shaw said in a low, menacing voice.
"Of course we'll take a vote," Harold said, shooting a pained look in Root's direction.
"I vote Sameen."
Shaw plucked the straw from her drink, splattering soda onto the table as she raised it in a threatening manner. Just then, the classroom door opened.
"Sorry I'm late, guys. Basketball practice went a little long and then the cheerleaders wanted to show me their new routine, and, you know how it is." John Reese, the fourth member of the club, gave an apologetic smile as he dropped his gear on one of the desks then came over to the table to join them. He took in the sight of a straw wielding Shaw, Root's maniacal smile, and Harold's pink flushed face. "Did I miss anything good?"
"Oh, nothing much," Root purred. "We scored over 9000 at Regionals." She paused for a moment, pouting, "I'm just going to guess that it was your titanium stress fracture project that kept us from a perfect 10,000. Anyway, Harry has a new project for us." She flashed a wide smile at John then turned to Harold. "I change my vote."
Harold covered his face with his palm and dropped his head.
Two days later Harold and John were back in the classroom, the table covered in blank poster board and markers.
"Everything? Even the dunking booth?"
"4H club called that one," Harold muttered as he stenciled an outline onto one of the posters.
"Geez." John ran a hand through his hair, shaking his head. "I didn't want to say anything in front of the girls the other day but... I don't think I'm going to be any good at this."
"Don't be silly, you'll do fine. You're the captain of the basketball team for Pete's sake."
Harold looked up from his work. "What?"
"I've never..." John gulped. "I'm not exactly qualified to man a kissing booth."
Harold ruined his poster with a deep, jagged pencil scrawl. "What?"
"I've never kissed anyone before." John said flatly.
"How?! I mean..." Harold laid his pencil down. "Never?"
"Rub it in, why don't you! No."
"Geez." Harold dragged his hands over his face. "You should have said something."
"I already messed up your perfect score streak," John said, his shoulders slumped.
"Look, we have a few days still. Why don't you practice? Kara, the cheerleader, she seems like a nice girl. Or Iris – heck she's probably up in the library right now. I'll finish up these posters while..."
"No," John said softly.
"Oh, god," Harold blanched. "Please don't ask me to ask Root or Shaw. I want to live to graduation."
John's dark lashes fluttered closed. "Not the girls either. That's...kinda' it."
Harold's shook his head, brows knitted. "I don't understand?"
"I don't want to kiss Kara, or Iris, or Shaw, or Root."
"I still don't..."
Harold's wide eyes went wider. He opened his mouth to protest but nothing came out.
"Look," John grumbled as the awkward silence stretched on, "Forget I ...forget we had this conversation." He pushed back in his chair, grabbed his backpack and stood. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. I didn't mean to make you feel weird too."
"No, wait," Harold said, standing. "It's not weird. You're not weird. Well... you are, but not because of that."
John grinned despite himself.
Harold walked to the classroom door and set the lock. "It's not hard," he said, coming back to the table. "Put your bag down and I'll show you."
Harold shrugged the question off as he took a step closer. "It's a lot like whistling. You can whistle, right?"
"Sure," John said, wiping his palms over his jeans.
"Then do that, and aim for the lips." Harold slipped his arms around John and tipped his chin up.
Eyes closed, John dropped his head slowly. Their lips met, soft and tender, and it was better than anything John had ever imagined. All too quickly Harold broke the kiss.
"Not too hard, was it?"
"I've wanted to do that for a while now," John mumbled.
"You're going to get your fill of it this weekend. Do you want to practice some more until then?"
John nodded and leaned in for another.
George Washington Carver High School Science club's kissing booth made $543 that weekend, including $1 –"No thanks. Consider it a donation."– from Root's college fund. The next week they traveled to Des Moines and successfully defended their state championship.