Her last year of high school, Lisa works to ensure that the twice held-back Nelson will finally get to graduate.
She walked into her Chemistry class, nodding to Nelson on her way in. "Nelson."
He nodded back, "Lisa."
She continued walking toward an empty lab table in the back of the classroom, when suddenly she stopped short. "/Wait/ a minute..."
"You didn't know?" Janey hissed to her, understanding what her confusion was about in an instant and always willing to pass on gossip. "He was held back again last year."
"Oh, poor Nelson!" Lisa sat down, looking worriedly toward the front of the classroom.
"Poor Nelson? Poor all the people he bullies!"
"Come on, Janey," Lisa said, sitting up a little straighter as the teacher came into the room, "think about it! He must really want to graduate if he's still coming to school instead of dropping out. He just hasn't been able to do so, for some reason."
"Whatever you say, Lisa," Janey said doubtfully, then they quieted down as class started.
- - -
"Come with me, Nelson!" Lisa grabbed Nelson by the elbow when she saw him in the hall after their final class of the day, and began dragging him across the school. Around them other students gasped and pressed themselves back against the walls. /Nobody/, as far as they were concerned, treated Nelson like that unless they wanted to get pounded into the floor. But Lisa knew better; ever since she was seven she'd been able to take liberties with him that nobody else could get away with.
"What're we doin' here?" he asked when she pulled him into the school library.
"Your homework." She sat down at a chair and began pulling things out of her backpack.
"Buh?" In spite of his confusion he sat down next to her and took the pencil she offered.
"We have that take-home introductory quiz in chemistry, and I bet that's not the only homework you got, is it?"
"Uh, I got this what I did on my summer vacation thing to write, and this stupid math worksheet I already did last year." He slouched in his chair and looked at her as she put her own chemistry book and calculator down on the table. "Why do you wanna do this junk."
She poked him in the chest, her eyes blazing the way they did every time she took on a new cause. "You are going to graduate with me in the spring, Nelson Muntz, if I need to drag you in here every afternoon this year."
- - -
"Close. B is boron, Ba is barium. But you're really doing better!" Lisa said as she drilled him on the periodic table, trying as hard as she could to hide her frustration. "Could I ask you something, Nelson?"
"Shoot," he replied, his attention mostly on the next flash card she held up. "Al, that's... aluminum foil!"
"Just aluminum works." She moved to the next card. "Why did you even pick chemistry? If you need a science credit, wouldn't life science be easier?"
He shrugged. "See, I figured that class would be the one where I might get to make something that blows up. Or just do that thing where you dip junk in that cold stuff and break it. That one's kryptonite."
"Krypton. The difference is that it's a gas, not a rock that kills Superman."
"Eh, same difference."
"Not... really. Oh, and the cold stuff is liquid nitrogen." She passed the flash cards over to him and stretched. "I'm sure you've got this down well enough to pass the test, especially since it's supposed to be multiple choice, but you might want to brush up on it tomorrow morning. If you don't get at least a C+, I'll... I'll skip my next exam!"
His eyes widened like she'd just told him he had a chance at becoming valedictorian. "A C+? /Seriously?/"
She smiled at him and gave him a pat on the hand. "And if you can manage a /B/+, I'll tell you what, I'll make something that blows up with you."
He held out his hand and it took her a second to realize he was waiting for her to shake it. "Lisa, you've got yourself a deal."
- - -
She waited for him at a small park across town, surprised at how nervous he felt. On one side of her she had a cooler full of dry ice and some other supplies, and on the other she had a pile of study aids. They would be making use of either one or the other that day, depending on what score he had to show her. He'd refused to let her look at his test when it was returned during class, insisting that it was supposed to be a surprise.
This was the first real test of the year. The first chance she had to see if he was actually retaining knowledge or if it left his mind again as soon as the homework she helped him with was done. "Please, at least let him have gotten a C," she whispered to herself as she spotted him coming toward her.
He kept a straight face until he was right in front of her, then held up his paper. "Read it and weep!"
"An A-? Oh, Nelson, I'm so happy for you!" she said, jumping up and throwing her arms around him.
"Yeah, well," he said, rubbing the back of his head without returning her hug, though he didn't push her away, "I guess that studying and learning junk actually does work, if you try it. So, let's make with the explosions!"
"I've got everything ready," she said, pulling him to the table. "Tell me, Nelson, have you ever heard of a dry ice bomb?"
- - -
"Good morning, kids! Good morning, Nelson!" Marge trilled as they all trudged into the kitchen in their pajamas.
"Morning, Mom," her children chorused back.
"Morning Mrs. S."
Marge hummed as she continued working on breakfast, then suddenly stopped. "Wait... Bart! I know you're an adult now, but you're still supposed to ask before having sleepovers!"
"Hey, don't look at me!" Bart said, raising his hands defensively.
"/Lisa's/ the one having the sleepover, Mom," Maggie said, smirking at her sister.
"W-/what?/" Marge whirled around, her spatula clattering to the floor. "Excuse me kids, your sister and I need to have a little talk," she said in a rush, grabbing Lisa by the arm and pulling her into the basement.
"Mom, it's not what you think," Lisa said, trying to cut off the misunderstanding at its source.
Marge wasn't listening. "Oh, my baby/. What made you think it would be all right for you and a boy to... to... to /sleep over here? And then have him come down for breakfast!"
"Mom, /listen/, it's really not--"
"And for it to be Nelson/. I know he'd better than Milhouse, sweetie, but that doesn't mean much. /Anyone's better than him."
"/Mom!/ Midterms are next week!"
"So it's the stress that made you snap? Honey, you have a 4.3 GPA. It's okay if you slip a little now to keep yourself calm."
"Mom, listen to me. Midterms are next week, and Nelson needs intensive study sessions to make sure he passes them. We stayed up so late that I offered to let him sleep on the couch." She shook her head slowly. "I thought you'd be okay with that. You've invited him to stay over before."
"Oh. /Oh!/" Marge studied at Lisa closely, looking for any trace of a lie in her expression. "So there's been no hanky-panky going on in my house?"
"No, Mom. No hanky-panky."
As if she'd ever be dumb enough to do anything like that under her parent's roof anyway, Lisa thought, then wondered why she would even think that.
- - -
"Hey, Lisa?" Nelson said, walking up to her in the hall.
Lisa was a little surprised. They'd taken to sitting together during chemistry, but other than that they mostly stuck to only talking to each other outside of school hours. During them he had his group of friends, she had hers, and they didn't even share a lunch hour that they could have broken down those lines during. "Yes, Nelson?"
"Girls like, you know, dance... things, right?" He looked at the ceiling, the lockers, everything but her. "I mean, girls like you."
"Dance things?" she repeated, then realized what he was getting at. "Dance things like the prom."
"Yeah, like that. I mean as, like, thanks for all the help and stuff."
Lisa was pretty sure that Nelson had never gone to the prom during all the years he'd been allowed to. In fact, the year before they'd both ended up at the movies together that night, compromising without even really needing to talk about it on seeing an action movie instead of the fart-humor comedy he'd come for or the art film she'd been planning on seeing so they wouldn't need to go alone.
She'd thought that this year Thelonius would be to ask her, but as she leaned against her locker and thought about it she slowly said, "You know, Nelson, when I was a kid my mom told me about how she was asked to her senior prom by two different men; a charming, sophisticated, intelligent guy who grew up to be filthy rich, and my dad, who she'd been tutoring that year. And she said she made the wrong choice."
"Oh," he said, sagging. "You mean she should've gone with the smart guy instead of your old man, and she wanted to make sure you wouldn't make the same mistake, huh?"
She reached out to touch his arm, and smiled. "No, she realized that she should have gone with Dad instead of the guy everyone thought was 'suitable' for her. ...But no after-prom, okay? We'll need to get back to studying the next day, and we shouldn't be exhausted."
He stared at her, his mouth gaping open, as she walked away toward her next class, but when Thelonius passed her coming from the opposite direction she could hear behind her that Nelson had gotten over his shock quickly.
"Ha-/ha!/ The person you've thought was your soulmate since you were seven picked me over you!"
- - -
When she opened the door on prom night she blushed and covered her face with both hands the minute she saw him, although she couldn't keep herself from laughing. "Oh my god! I can't believe you remember that."
"Hey, I figured that since I knew what you liked I might as well go with it," he said, holding up his hands and turning in a circle. Far from the tux one would expect a guy to be wearing to a dance, he was dressed in an exact replica of the outfit she'd dressed him in the first time they'd tried dating when they were children, right down to the sweater vest.
"Oh my god," she repeated, then made herself lower her hands to really look at him. "You look... great. But, you know, you don't need to try pretending to be what you think I'd want anymore. I'm not a silly little girl anymore."
"Thank /god!/" he said, tearing off the vest and running his hand through his hair to mess it up almost before she'd stopped speaking. "Okay, let's go. Smell you later, Mr. and Mrs. S!"