Oliver looked up from the food he was poking at with his fork, "Oh...Hey, Ash..." He said forlornly, looking back down.
The girl raised an eyebrow, dropping her lunch tray down on the table and sitting beside him, "Something wrong?"
Oliver sighed, "I don't want to bother you with my problems, Ashley..."
"Ah, C'mon, Hummel," She urged, nudging him lightly with her elbow.
Oliver gave her a questioning look.
Ashley shrugged, "With the big, innocent, Bambi-eyes, pale skin, and pink-dusted cheeks, you're a perfect fit."
Rolling his eyes, Oliver continued to poke at his untouched lunch.
"Hey, come on, what's wrong?"
Sighing, Oliver explained, "Neil just seems distant, lately. I mean, I still get little 'I love you' texts, and all that, but...I don't know...We haven't even kissed for a few months, which upsets me..."
Ashley started laughing, "Is that all?"
"Well...Honestly, no...We've haven't exactly been...Er...He hasn't felt like..."
Oliver turned pink. "It sounds so trashy when you say it like that...But...Yes, and I miss the feeling of him being so...so close to me..."
He glared at her.
"Calm down, Doll-Boy, I'm only messing with you. Besides, I've got something that may help," Ashley said, giving him a pat on the shoulder.
Oliver scoffed, "What could you possibly have that would help me?" He turned away.
"No need to get all sassy-diva on me."
Ashely nodded understandingly, and smiled, "I call it, A.G.T.L."
That forced Oliver to turn around, with the most confused face he could muster, "...Excuse me?"
"A.G.T.L.; 'Ashley's Guide To Love'," She explained.
This time Oliver laughed, "I'm sorry, Ash, but...Since when do you know about love?"
"Since I had a lot of admirers in the past. Plus, you always force me to watch musicals and rom-coms with you; I've got a good idea of love."
"Ash, I really don't-"
She shook her head, "You're not getting out of this one, Lady Miller. Besides, it's a simple 10-step plan that I have the utmost confidence will work."
He sighed, "How many times have you used this?"
"None. You're my first customer."
Step One: Clothing
Later that day, Ashley and Oliver were up in his bedroom, Oliver seated in front of his vanity, and Ashely standing behind him, hands resting upon his shoulders.
"Now, I'm going to give you all ten steps, right now; write them down if you need to. Promise me that you'll follow them?"
"Ash, I'm still not-"
Oliver sighed and nodded, "Alright, alright. I promise. Just...Let me get a pen and paper?"
He got up from his seat, and Ashley watched him rummage around his room for something to write on and with. "When are you two scheduled to get together next?" She asked.
Oliver was slightly taken aback by the question, Ashley normally didn't inquire about dates anyone else went on, normally just asking if they had engaged in any...activities, to put it lightly.
Shaking off the shock, he answered, "Um...Saturday afternoon, 1:00, we've got a study session together."
Ashley nodded, "Good, then we can start this first step."
"What is the first step?"
Ashley walked over to his closet, proceeding to open it and shuffle through shirts, skinny jeans, and various scarves.
She paused for a moment, picking up a pair of strange, bedazzled, 10-inch high heels. "...Do I even want to know?"
Oliver shook his head, "Dance team, Lady GaGa assignment, don't ask."
Ashley shrugged and dropped the heels, only to pick up a leather corset and fishnet stockings.
"Sweet Transvestite, I was-...Look, just, give me that!" He snatched the items away and stowed them back in his closet. "What are you looking for, anyway?"
"A long-sleeved, fairly loose, but not too loose, black shirt," She replied.
Biting his lower lip in thought, Oliver began sifting through his large array of clothes, "Armani...Marc Jacobs...Aeropostale...Cheerleading Uniform...Ah! Here it is." He grabbed a shirt exactly like the one Ashley had described.
"Perfect; See, step one, is all about clothing."
Quirking an eyebrow, Oliver asked, "What's wrong with my designer clothes?"
"Nothing, Gelfling, they're just...Too tight, you need to get his attention."
Neil sat on his bed, trying with much difficulty to understand the words within his textbook.
The doorbell rang, and he yelled out an, "I got it!" Before walking down the stairs and making his way towards the front door.
"Hey, Oli-..." He stopped short.
There stood Oliver, wearing a simple, black shirt, but the way he was wearing it was something entirely different.
"See, it's all about showing your neck,"
The shirt had no collar, so the entire pale, flawless column of his neck was exposed.
One of the shoulders on the top was pushed down, so part of his collarbone could be seen, and one of his smooth shoulders as well.
"And your forearms."
The sleeves must've been a little big, since Oliver had pushed them up to the crook of his elbow, revealing both of his porcelain-like forearms.
Neil blinked, "...Sorry, Yeah?" He looked back to Oliver.
Oliver quirked one of his perfectly plucked eyebrows, "I was asking if I could come in...Are you feeling okay?"
He nodded, "Just...Just a little distracted...Oh, sorry, come on in." Neil moved away from the door and held it open, allowing Oliver to step through.
"Those skinny jeans of yours can be helpful here, too."
Oliver smiled at him and walked past; Neil couldn't help but notice how his jeans hugged his legs perfectly.
Neil shut the door and started for the stairs, but then stopped. There was no way he could focus on the studying when Oliver was dressed like that, no possible way. "Um...No, no, I don't think so."
Oliver looked confused, putting a hand on his hip, "No?"
Neil nodded, "Yeah, I...I want to take you out...For lunch...If that's okay."
"What's the occasion?"
"Nothing, I just...Want to take you on a date."
"What about studying?" Oliver asked.
Neil shook his head, "I'm not really feeling up for it today, maybe next weekend...So, can I?"
Pausing for a moment, using his other hand to idly run his fingertips across his lower lip, he finally nodded, "I suppose I have some time."
"Great! Let me grab my wallet first," Neil said, running up the stairs and to his bedroom.
Once he was gone, Oliver smiled, whispering, "Yes!"
Ashley's plan was working, now onto Step Two...
Step Two: Eating
"Clothing...Okay, I got it." Oliver lifted his pen up from the notepad and looked back at the dark-haired girl, who was looking at the pictures upon his nightstand.
She picked up one of a young boy and a man, both of them with bright green eyes and chestnut hair. "This your dad?"
"Um...Yeah, that's him..." Oliver looked down sadly. "He died, when I was ten..."
Ashley's expression softened slightly, "...I'm sorry."
They remained in a silence of sorts for a while after that, before Oliver finally shook his head, "So, what was step two?"
Nodding, Ashley began to walk out of his room and down the steps.
"Ash?" Oliver called after her, following her downstairs as she moved into the kitchen.
"Step two, my Sweet Porcelain," She explained, opening up the refrigerator and grabbing an apple. "Is all about eating."
She tossed the fruit over to him, closing the door to the fridge, and he caught it clumsily, "Eating? You mean, like...Popsicles?"
Ashley shrugged, "Not just popsicles, Bambi."
"What else could there be?" Oliver asked, taking a small bite from the apple in his hands.
"Any type of food can work if you eat it correctly."
The pair had went out to a local restaurant together after Neil had retrieved his wallet. They moved to a table outside, and when they ordered, all Oliver had asked for was a simple fruit salad.
Neil, however, just couldn't take his eyes off of him.
"What would work best, though, is probably something juicy,"
Just the way Oliver was eating was driving him crazy. The fruits were all very juicy: Watermelon, strawberry, blueberry, mango, grape, and all of those.
"Or something you can close your lips around,"
When he picked up a piece of watermelon, he would place part of it in his mouth, before pursing his lips around the small piece of fruit and sucking on it very lightly, getting rid of any excess juices before popping the rest into his mouth.
"Maybe something that you can lick away any extra from the corners of your mouth,"
Occasionally, a bit of juice would hit just above or below Oliver's lips, and Neil could see the tip of his tongue poke out to remove the small spot.
"Anything in a particular shape would work pretty well,"
Oliver had requested that they leave his banana separate, so he could peel it and eat it. Just the general form of it and the way Oliver's lips stretched around it had Neil swallowing hard and looking down, fidgeting slightly.
"Neil, are you sure you're okay?" He asked, lowering the fruit from his mouth and looking at the older boy.
"Fine, I'm just peachy..."
Oliver chuckled a little bit at Neil's word choice. "That's great, but...You know, you really haven't touched your food."
They ate together in silence, mostly, occasionally having brief small-talk over random things like Oliver's dance practice or Neil's 'evil' English teacher; overall, it was quiet, (Neil sometimes glancing across the table to watch Oliver eat parts of his salad).
The waitress came back, notepad in hand, "Anything else I can get you boys?" She asked, smiling pleasantly.
Neil shook his head, "Nothing for me, thanks. Oliver?"
"Popsicles can be very affective, too."
Oliver drummed his fingertips lightly on the table, "...I guess I'd just like a popsicle, if you have any."
Neil froze for only a moment. After all of that, with the fruit and the licking and everything, he was getting a popsicle on top of it?! He didn't know if he could stand that.
The waitress nodded, "One popsicle, coming right up."
She walked away, and Oliver mentally smirked, something told him that what Ashley had taught him was working, and working very well, at that.
Coming back a moment later, the waitress held out a popsicle to Oliver, "Here you go."
Smiling and thanking her, Oliver took the frozen treat. It was already beginning to melt from the midday summer heat, so he gave it a few long licks along the side.
Neil had to avert his eyes for fear of blush breaking out across his face. What was wrong with him? It was only a popsicle for God's sake! At this rate, Neil wasn't sure how he could make it through the rest of the day...