Friday, December 18, Winter Carnival

"Here," Michael blurted in the face of Mia's stunned confusion and, no doubt, irritation. "This just fell out of your locker."

He practically threw the rose at Mia, but she didn't scowl or ask what he was doing snooping in her locker. No, she swallowed hard and took the flower in one of her gentle hands, looking like it was the answer to all the mysteries of the universe.

Michael kinda wished she would look at him like that.

Only when Mia's eyes roved down did he notice a note tied to the flower. He tried not to be too obvious as he peered over the top of the small, white square of paper and, when that failed, as he attempted to read the words through the paper under the bright hallway lights.

Michael made out a single word: Snowflake.

His hammering heart and sinking stomach returned to normal. There wasn't a secret admirer, just a Secret Snowflake.

Trying to repress his sudden grin, Michael asked, "Well? What's the verdict?"

Mia looked up from the flower in her hand with an expression of such utter confusion that he wondered if it was just her permanent 'look' today. Then the thought struck him that something bad might have actually happened, which was why Mia was acting so weird, or that she'd failed Algebra and it was his fault for not being around to help her.

His forehead creased in worry, his eyebrows lifted, and he tilted his head forward a little as he asked slowly, "What did you get in Algebra?"

The dreaded 'A'-word seemed to shake Mia out of whatever cloud she'd thrust her head into, and she hurriedly pulled out a thick sheet of paper from her backpack (the expensive one he knew her grandmother had bought her, but which Mia had made her own by pinning a 'Save the Whales' badge to.)

Michael glimpsed the computer type spelling out her name and 'B–' right before his arms were full of Mia and she was laughing and smiling and singing, "Wheeee!"

It was so right, and it felt so good, and for single second Michael thought that maybe – maybe – he didn't have to put himself out there at the carnival and make some grand gesture to show Mia that they could be good together. He thought that maybe she would just look up from where her head was resting on his shoulder and he'd see that look – the dark-eyed, parted-lip one – and they'd kiss, and that would be it.

Together. No Kenny, no Judith, and nothing standing in the way.

But Mia eventually pulled back, and though Michael thought he saw something in her expression that hinted at what he really wanted to see, she just smiled and thanked him for all his help, giving him a second to say 'no problem' before telling him she'd see him at the Winter Carnival later.

"Don't be late," he told her, before retreating to set up the rest of the Computer Club's booth with Judith.

Weinberger had already vacated the area, leaving Michael to thank his lucky glow-in-the-dark stars because he really didn't need that type of discouragement at that particular moment.

He had a grand gesture to make.