blue enamelled kettle on stovetop

Amelia heads for the kitchen to grab a quick cup of Ramen soup to get through the afternoon.  She plugs in the kettle and nips upstairs for the book she needs.  They say Kindles might be free soon, maybe that’ll make it easier to have the right books every time.   Returning to the kitchen she’s shocked to see a strange man pouring water out of her kettle – until she realizes it’s Eric.

“Hope you left enough for me,” she says.

He nods to the soup bowl and she sees that he filled it before filling his mug.

“Thanks.  You’re better trained than most.”  she smiles, and he nods. God he looks rough.   “You coming to class today?”

Eric shrugs as he fishes out the tea bag, and starts ladling in sugar.   “Probably not,” he mutters.

She leans back on the counter and looks at him.  Unkempt. Stubble does not suit this guy.   “Why not?”

“‘Cause I really don’t feel like it, that’s why not.”

She cocks her head, “So what, you’re gonna wallow in self pity for the rest of your life?”

He takes a sip of his tea.  She can see it’s too hot and he’s burnt his tongue, but he sticks to the tough guy act and pretends it doesn’t.  “Maybe.”

“I’d think about it.  You wanna kiss off the semester, fine, but if it was me I’d be down at the office dropping out formally so I’d get at least some of my money back.”

Eric nods, continuing to look miserable.

“‘Course, it was me I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.”

He pins her with a glower, “But it wasn’t you, was it.”

She glowers right back, “No it wasn’t.  You don’t have the market cornered on pain and suffering.  This is the first time you’ve said two words to me and you wanna be a jerk?  I may not be a goddess but I sure don’t deserve any crap.  You wanna dump on somebody, dump on her, not me.”

Amelia turns on her heel and stomps out of the kitchen, soup and notebook forgotten  in the grip of overwhelming anger.

Eric’s jaw drops, then he calls, “Wait.”  But she doesn’t hear him, she’s too angry.   Feeling like a jerk Eric goes after her,  “Wait.  I’m sorry.”  She keeps on going for the door and is just getting it open when he catches up with her and stops the door with his hand.

“You’re right.  Look.  I didn’t mean to be a jerk.  I haven’t been thinking, and, and, you haven’t even touched your soup.”

His contrition drains away her annoyance.  “No.  I haven’t.”

“Look,” says Eric, “Why don’t you eat your soup and I’ll go get cleaned up so I can come to the lecture with you.”

She looks at him, appraisingly.

“I’m really not a jerk.”

Amelia raises an eyebrow.

“Not usually.”  Eric makes a pitiful stab at a smile.

“Okay.  Go get cleaned up.  If you’re good I’ll let you come to class with me.”  Amelia shakes her head, smiling ruefully.

His smile touches his eyes for moment.  “Deal.”

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