Disclaimer: Do not own Ant Farm
So this was it. The moment Fletcher Quimby had been waiting for. The sun was setting now, and Chyna should be coming at any moment. He was seated out in the boardwalk, not too far from Webster High, at this table set for two.
He and Olive had planned it for some time now. It took a lot of whisperings behind Chyna's back, some near slip ups here and there, and painful, embarrassing moments to get here, but he had managed to do it, and all with his pride, mostly intact.
He smiled, red faced, at the memories.
Tip tap, tip tap, went his fingers as they drummed lightly over the table, draped with a white tablecloth and a candle right in the middle. He felt the heat rise in his face. He didn't know whether it was from the sun, setting now but still really large and high in the sky, or from his anxiety over the date.
A date. Could it be called a date, if one side of the date was tricked?
Very suddenly, he felt his heart race. What if Chyna didn't take kindly to the trickery? He could picture her now, her trademark glare fixed on him. He felt himself shake at that mental picture.
Maybe it wasn't too late to call it off. He would call Olive, tell her to tell Chyna something, anything, and he could make off the boardwalk without a scene happening.
He didn't want his best friend mad at him. He didn't know how he'd take it.
He flipped his phone over, and it made a big jump in his hands when a familiar voice spooked him: "Hey, Fletcher!"
He looked up to see his best friend, her large eyes, her smile stretched from ear to ear. She was dressed in a pink dress with matching sandals. Her hair was done up, and it took all of his composure not to swoon openly at the sight.
"Oh hey…! …Chyna. You look… oh hey! What's up?" He really didn't know what else to say. He diverted his eyes to the waves crashing on the beach to keep from staring at his best friend in a dress.
Chyna rolled her eyes, but she was still smiling. She sat down at the seat opposite him. "So I guess you and I are kinda early. Olive said the time was 6:35 pm sharp. It's like 6:40," she looked at the time, "maybe the others are still on the way over. And why are there just two seats?"
"Yea, uhh – about that," Fletcher laughed nervously. When he was planning it out, he had imagined his explanation much more smoothly in his head, but already he could see his lame delivery, and Chyna's trademark raised eyebrow, or worse. "It's just…the two of us, uhh – nobody else is coming."
Fletcher could see Chyna put two and two together in her head. "But what about Olive – and her date Jason, my date Milo, and your date..."
"Chyna. My date is Chyna. Jason and Milo are just two dudes Olive made up."
Fletcher couldn't make out what was going on in Chyna's mind. She didn't look mad that she was tricked (thank god!) but she didn't smile either.
He braced himself. But good or bad, he wanted to give Chyna her going away for the summer gift. As he waited, he fiddled with it in his hands.
"Fletcher, I think it's time you and I talked."
Chyna's tone made his heart sink.
"See, I –" she began. "What I mean to say is –" She paused.
She was taking her time, and this was unusual for Chyna, Fletcher knew. Whatever it was that Chyna has on her mind, she usually spits it out. That was how Chyna was. She always spoke her mind. That was one of the things that he liked about her.
"I don't think I can ever like you as a boyfriend."
Oh, there it was.
Fletched just stood dumbly at her with his lips shaped into a small O.
Chyna made another face. "I've been – kinda knowing for a while." She laughed, a little. "I mean, you make it pretty obvious. I wanted to ignore it and hope that it'll go away. But I can see it hasn't and I don't wanna keep your hopes up – "
She stood closer to him now, her right hand on his shoulder. He'd imagined her, this close to him before, but not really like this.
"Please, Fletcher?" Her eyes bore into his. "I just want to stay friends. And always, just friends. You're a great guy but, I just don't see you, like that."
Fletcher's throat felt dry. He swallowed, and it hurt.
After a moment, he recovered, somewhat. "Sure yea – whatever." He laughed as if the whole thing wasn't a big deal.
Chyna smiled again. But it wasn't one of those ear to ear smiles. It was one of those smiles he'd seen her give Cameron when he'd say something she didn't know what to say to.
"Where's the food?" She asked finally.
"Still on the way over."
"O0oo0oh, special delivery! Do you think, maybe, it's not too late to send it back, get a refund? I hate to think that you spent all your money, for well, nothing. Then I'd feel bad."
"Sure," he lied. "I can do that."
"Well ok, then!" She was back to smiling in the way that made his heart flip, usually anyway. His heart did not flip now.
It was silence after that. Really awkward silence. He wasn't used to that with Chyna. Usually any other time they're together, he would be saying something stupid right now and at the very least, she'd roll her eyes at him.
But now both Chyna and Fletcher were just sitting there, and time ticked.
He was wondering how best to get away, and disappear, when finally, Chyna spoke. It was always her that made the first move. "It's 7. It's getting late. I, uhh -I'm sorry you wasted your time Fletcher."
Fletcher didn't say anything.
Chyna said, "Just remember! It's summertime. You, me, Olive, we all live practically next to each other. We'll hang out. Oooh, I know! We should go bowling together next Friday!" Chyna's eyes lit up, but Fletcher's heart did not swoon.
Chyna left the boardwalk without another word. Fletcher sat there for a long time after. It was getting dark, finally. His parents were sure to start wondering where he was. His gift for Chyna – a small portrait he had drawn in class - was still in his hands. He had forgotten all about giving it to her, despite his every intention to give it to her, good or bad.