Tissues surrounded the couch, a half-eaten bowl of soup and an undrunk cup of tea sat on the table in front of it, and Darcy lay in the middle of the sickness mayhem, switching between mouth breathing and sniffles and coughing fits. She zoned, half-paying attention to the action movie in front of her, the volume down low because the bad acting and explosions hurt her ears.
“Oh, wow. I take it you’re not feeling better?”
She turned with a low moan, her roommate Kate suddenly appearing behind the couch. She must have really been zonked out since she hadn’t even heard the front door and the clatter of sports bags and equipment the woman always dropped as soon as she was through the door.
“Hey,” she answered, giving a weak hand flop of a wave with the one hand that wasn't under the blankets.
"I could have sworn I left you in this exact position when I took off last week,” Kate teased as she prodded the nest of bedding her roommate was buried under.
“Eh,” she shrugged, the movement not visible beneath the mass of blankets and quilts. “I have some good moments. But I’ve been doing everything I can from home because of coughing fits and the requirement to stand and wear pants when in public.”
“Probably for the safety and health of all involved,” Kate said solemnly, patting her on the head.
Darcy wanted to snort, but it would just bring on another coughing fit, so she settled for a nod. But then she remembered where her roommate had been and sat up a couple inches before lying back down in a rush.
“How was the archery tournament?”
Kate took pity and stepped around to plop onto the other end of the couch with a growl, moving the forgotten soup aside to rest her feet on the table.
“Coach Barton is being an idiot.”
“This sounds both normal and not good.”
With an exaggerated eye roll, her roommate continued. “I mean. I get it. His wife is pregnant and he’s worried about her. But he’s not at practice half the time and the other half when he is there, he vacillates between riding my ass about my form or being completely himself, no doubt worrying how he’s gonna screw up."
Darcy gave a hum of sympathy.
"Add to that the fact that my dad called me again this morning about my choices in life. Why am I still avoiding all the dates my aunt sets up? Why can’t I do the more recognized talents of piano or singing? Why don’t I go to a real prestigious school?” She sat farther up, pulling the ever-present hair tie off her wrist and angrily piling her dark hair into a haphazard bun as she continued her rant. “First of all, no. Second of all, I did those and they were boring. And third of all, this may not be ivy league, but Avengers U is no slouch.”
“Not at all.” Darcy shook her head in support. “But I am biased.”
“True.” Kate was silent for a moment before sighing. “Anyway. Enough whining. I think I just need to go practice some more. Shoot things. Let off some steam.”
If she hadn’t been cocooned, Darcy would have poked her roommate. As it was she settled for a shimmy under the blankets to get her attention. “Just as long as you’re not doing it in your room again. I have nightmares about arrows suddenly popping through the drywall to my room, trying to impale me.”
“It only happened the one time and I already said I'd pay you back for your half of the safety deposit.”
“Yeah, but I’d rather survive long enough to get my Current Events paper finished and turned in. I really need this one to impress Dr. Coulson.”
Kate's brows came together, her focus shifting fully to her roommate. “Why are you so worried? You always blow the curve on these things."
"Humble brag much? And what’s the big deal about Coulson anyway?”
“Because he’s legendary for always picking amazing talent to supervise.” Darcy paused, face contorting before she let out a huge sneeze.
“Gesundheit,” Kate said, holding out what she hoped was a clean tissue with a restrained look of disgust. She never had been good with sickness and other people’s germs.
“Thanks,” she sniffled, wiping her face and talking around the tissue. “If I can somehow fool him into thinking I’m awesome and agreeing to supervise me, I’ll be set for post-college networking based on the association alone.”
“How about you calm down and remember that you are awesome.”
“Aw, thanks.” Darcy's following sniffle was half from her cold and half from the heightened emotion brought on by the terrible sleep she’d had all week.
“Besides. If he’s the savant you describe, he’d already have been able to see through you if you suck.”
The sappy emotion faded and she shook her head at her roommate's smirk. “Not as encouraging.”
“That’s what I’m here for. Keep you grounded.”
“Oh, so that’s why I let you live with me.”
“Totes. Besides, you’ve got like what, five weeks left before finals? Plenty of time.”
“Yes. And I’m going to set up a meeting with him in like two weeks, so I should hopefully be able to think of ways to get him to agree to be my supervisor by then.”
"Good." Kate clapped her hands, signalling the end of that topic. “And in the meantime, you can tell me about developments with your art professor. Didn’t you have a lecture with his beautyousness today?”
Darcy buried her face under a pillow. Her following dramatic exhale was somewhat ruined by the coughing it spurred, but she forged ahead. “Ugh, I really need to stop telling people about this. It just makes it worse.”
“Oh come on. You know you want to talk about how his shoulders filled out his lumberjack flannel today in class. Or how the late afternoon sun filtered in and lit up his cerulean eyes.”
She turned to properly direct her glare at its target. “I wouldn’t know. I didn’t go.”
“I haven’t really left the couch in two days.”
“Gross. Remind me to have it steam cleaned.”
Darcy stuck out her tongue before continuing. “I didn’t go today for obvious reasons, and last week was when I was first getting sick, so I didn’t go then either. Next week I’m helping Jane out with the symposium, so I’m really hoping whatever thing this crush is will go away by the time I go back.”
“In three weeks? Is your heart that fickle?”
“I can only hope.”
“Why do you want it go away anyway?” Kate turned to stick her feet under the blanket cocoon and leaned her head against the back of the couch. “If he’s as attractive and nerdily funny as you seem to think he is, why not ride it out? See what happens when the class is over?"
“Because so far he seems like a unicorn.”
“A unicorn? As in he only goes for virgins?”
Darcy glared at the deadpan tone.
“You know that’s not what I meant but I’m moving on because arguing will just take extra effort and my throat is starting to hurt.” She stopped to swallow some of the now-cold tea her roommate handed her. “He, ugh, he seems too perfect. There’s gotta be something I don’t know about. But if I keep going this way I’ll be halfway in love with him before I find out he’s got a secret wife and kids, or he likes to club baby seals on the weekends, or he is a serial killer, or something worse.”
“True. For all we know, he could be a Nickelback fan.”
She snorted, restrained herself to two coughs, and nodded emphatically. “Exactly, and we don’t want that.”