It was just another Thanksgiving.
Cora opened the door of her dorm, thinking of grabbing a drink downstairs at the soda machines, when she was greeted by a surprising sight.
"Uh... are you alright there?"
Quite a stupid question to ask, Cora knew as soon as she spoke. The poor guy was practically spinach-green. Ugh.
Her first thought was to ask the RA down the hall for help, but then she remembered today was Thanksgiving. The RA was gone home for the holidays (like that stupid Walmart song). So was Cora's roomate; so was most everyone on this floor, in fact.
Maybe this was some kind of joke from the God of Turkeys. Who knows. But hey, the guy's half-conscious at her door. She couldn't do nothing.
"Come on," sighed Cora. She took hold of the guy's arm and tried to support his weight. "You'll have to help me out here," she said. He moaned a bit but thankfully did not throw up on her.
They managed to make it into Cora's room, where Cora led him to her bed. This was definitely not how she imagined her First Time Taking a Guy to Her Room would go.
"Lie down," Cora instructed. The guy seemed reluctant and uncomfortable, and was opening his mouth to argue, but Cora gave him her trademark glare. It worked. He laid down.
Cora rummaged her purse for some Aspirin. It was all she had. "Do you have the flu? Or a bad stomachache? What is it?"
The guy croaked, "Squid... in... sushi."
Enough said. Cora frowned to herself. The nearest CVS was a number of blocks away, and she didn't have a car. Moments like these she really wished she had been smart enough to buy a bike.
"I'll get you something, ok? It'll take a while though. Here..." Cora placed her trash can on the desk beside the bed. "If you feel sick, puke into that. Got it?"
The guy nodded weakly. Cora also left him a bottle of water for good measure.
As she walked to the door, she heard him speak again, voice barely audible. "Thank you."
"Idiot, lie back down," Cora said. But she cracked a smile.
His name was Jamie, apparently.
"This is good," he said. He was feeling much better after the pills and the Gatorades, and was now strong enough to sit up against Cora's pillow.
"Well, Heath Ledger is cute, but think this part's a bit cheesy..."
"No, this. This muffin slash pizza thing."
Cora was sitting on the far end of the bed, legs crossed, biting into the same food, still hot from the microwave. "Yeah? It's my specialty. Used to make it all the time for my sister." Cora regretted it instantly when it left her mouth.
"You got a little sis?" Jamie asked.
"What about you," said Cora, hopefully not too quickly. She kept her eyes on the TV screen. "Any siblings?"
Jamie laughed and said, "Too many."
"That's the understatement of the year. My mom has two brothers and two sisters. My dad, three brothers. I don't even know all the names of my cousins."
"Yep. Imagine all that, plus my grandparents and their siblings and their progeny, packed together in one house for Thanksgiving."
"No way," said Cora, turning to look at him. "You all spend it together?"
"It gets crazy," said Jamie solemnly. "Last year there were two broken noses and a mashed potato fight."
"You're joking," laughed Cora.
"Wish I was." Jamie leaned back, a smile on his face. "Bet this year was worse. Aunt Minne gave birth to triplets this June, after all."
"Jesus, does your family run on fertility drugs or something?" Cora joked. She was imagining what a dinner like that would be like, though. It would definitely be an event to be sorely missed. Cora realized that it must be a whole lot worse for Jamie to be here than for her. At least with her, it was like what they said: you never miss what you never had.
"How come you're not home for Thanksgiving?"
Cora flinched. As if her own thoughts had cued Jamie's inevitable question. But maybe it was the way he said it - softly, hesitantly, like he knew he was taking a risk asking this - or maybe it was just the fact that there was someone here to spend Thanksgiving with her, but Cora found herself saying the truth. "My mom took off. Landlord said she left sometime in October. Didn't leave an address, no phone number. She took my sister with her. I'm still looking, but no luck so far."
Jamie let this sink in. "And your dad?"
"Moved away when I was fifteen. He's remarried, maybe still lives in Illinois. Maybe not."
They were quiet for a moment, watching Heath Ledger woo Julia Stiles. "What's her name?" Jamie asked. "Your sister," he clarified.
The image of the eight-year-old girl, all freckly cheeks and toothy smiles, popped into Cora's mind. "Ruby," she answered, trying to swallow down the lump in her throat. You're ok, aren't you?
"She'll be fine," said Jamie. Cora wondered why he had this freaky power of reading people's minds. Or her mind. "And you'll find her. I know you will."
He said it so confidently that Cora found herself believing it too.
"Ok, scoot, this scene's my favorite," smirked Cora, sliding over so that she was next to him. She tucked her legs under the blanket. Their elbows bumped. "The kiss is always the best part," she told Jamie. "Don't you think?"
"Girls." Jamie rolled his eyes, which Cora noticed were brown. Warm kind of brown.
They spent the rest of Thanksgiving break together, hanging out in Cora's room, watching Friends reruns, arguing about pointless things like why chickens couldn't fly. Cora was surprised to find out that Jamie was the same guy she'd yelled at back in the beginning of the term for playing his guitar too loud.
"I'm hurt," he told her. "I mean, the least you can do after screaming at me like a banshee is remember me afterwards."
"I was on my period," said Cora flatly. Jamie made a face, while Cora picked at a thread on her pillow, thinking. "You still got your guitar?"
"Yeah, 'course," shrugged Jamie. "Why?"
"Know 'Angel from Montgomery'?"
And so, quite remarkably, they became friends, somewhere along the way. Cora was a little unsure about this. Jamie was her first guy friend. And it was weird because he was, you know, Jamie. The polar opposite of her. He was so happy-go-lucky sometimes she felt a little tired, like his positive aura sucked energy out of her.
Another thing about Jamie she could not yet get used to was how direct he was. Cora tended to shy away from feelings, from confrontations; he did not. Day before winter break, as they stood in front of the dorm building, breaths fogging up in the cold, Jamie did not bat an eye when he told her he would miss her.
"Stop it," said Cora, laughing. "It's only a few weeks, what are you looking so serious for?"
"Because you're important to me," said Jamie. Cora glanced around her, suddenly embarrassed. "Are you sure you don't want to come with me?"
"To your house? For Christmas?" Cora stared at him. "Jamie, what would your family think?"
"They'd think you and I were dating," said Jamie.
"Exactly. Isn't that totally awkward, since we're not?"
"Then..." Jamie said, slowly. "Maybe we should."
Cora wasn't sure if she heard right. "I'm sorry?"
"Oh, God," Jamie groaned. He looked up at the sky for a moment; it was snowing again. "I'll just say it. Cor, I like you."
"I like you too," said Cora stupidly.
"You know what I mean," Jamie turned to her, his eyes looking straight at hers. Cora felt her ears burn hot; a sure sign she was blushing.
"I... I, um, have to... go do my laundry," finished Cora lamely.
The entire break Cora could not concentrate on anything. Whenever she stared at her books, whenever she waited on the phone line as she tried to get in touch with a law office, Jamie's words echoed in her head. She finally buried her head in her arms. Why did he have to be so damn honest?
Two girls she'd met in her Writing class were happy to offer their advice.
"You should just say yes," said Denise, the more ethusiastic one of the two. "Don't worry, he's not the type to cheat on you. Even if he does, you can make him buy you new earrings for an apology. Always a perk."
"Denise," said Charlotte, shaking her head, "I don't think that's Cora's concern right now. She's just confused about her own feelings."
Cora nodded numbly.
"Anyway," Charlotte continued, "I heard he hooked up with Ashley Morango on New Year's Eve."
"What?" Cora cried out at once. The librarian, passing by, shot her an evil look (they were in the library, supposedly working on their term papers).
"Ha," Charlotte grinned. "Gotcha. You like him."
Cora narrowed her eyes. Curse those psych majors.
"Morango, really?" Denise was saying to Charlotte. "Sounds like the name of a fruit. Hey, Cora! Where are you going?"
"I have to call someone," muttered Cora. She was vaguely aware of Denise and Charlotte high-fiving behind her.
The next time she saw Jamie, it was Thursday night and Cora was coming down with a cold. She held up a wad of tissues to her nose as she thrust the box at him. "Here."
"What's this?" Jamie asked, blinking.
"Belated Christmas present." She shuffled on one foot nervously as he took off the wrapping paper, fighting the urge to bolt.
"Oh, hey! Neat!" Jamie looked at his ticket to an Aerosmith (on both of their top five favorites) concert and back at her. "This is great. You could have just handed it to me, though. You didn't have to waste all that nice wrapping paper," he teased.
"I had to build the hype," smiled Cora. Meanwhile, her stomach was tying into a knot and then twisting itself around.
"You're going too, right? Are Denise and Charlotte coming along?"
Here it was. Cora took a deep breath, "No."
"What do you mean? I'm going there alone?"
Cora coughed, which was pretty believable since she was sick. "I, um, I'm going."
"You're going," repeated Jamie. A smile was spreading on his face, as Cora tugged at her collar and looked anywhere but at his face. "And I'm going."
"So we're going... together."
"It would seem that way."
"You know," said Jamie, stepping closer. Cora tried to back up, but actually, she didn't have anywhere to go. She was basically backed up against the wall. "It's usually the guy who asks the girl out."
"Who said I was asking you out?" scowled Cora.
"No one," said Jamie. Their noses were barely touching now. When his lips met hers, everything was quiet around them, though distantly there was the sound of the A Cappella singing, coincidentally, "All I Want for Christmas is You."
Jamie got sick for two weeks after that.
Not that he minded.
This is PROBABLY going to be an Oneshot. I don't know, depends on whether or not I would have a tickling desire to tackle this again. There is potential for more chapters though. I mean, their relationship lasts ten years! TEN YEARS! lol