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The Way To Your Roommate's Heart Is Through Free Dinner

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                  Lapis was just on the verge of drifting off into a nice, 5PM nap of indeterminate length when she heard the unmistakable sound of a key in the door. Though she couldn’t see the intruder from her bed (the dorm room had an S-shaped floor plan, which was certainly…unique), the loud clinking noises produced by turning the doorhandle confirmed that it was her roommate, back from whatever club she had been attending. Nobody else she knew could possibly have as many keychains.

                  “Hey Lapis! How was your afternoon?” came the chipper voice from the other section of the dorm room. Ever since Lapis had moved in a few weeks ago (after the disagreements she’d had with her previous roommate had proven to be too severe for even the harried RA and Res Life staff to resolve), Peridot had been trying her hardest to befriend her. Not that she blamed the girl—Peridot’s former roommate had dropped out after the first two weeks of the semester, leaving Peridot with the room to herself for a month before Lapis had been assigned as her new roommate--and by Peridot’s own admission, she wasn’t good at living alone.

                  “I have three papers due next week and I haven’t even looked at the assignment details. I tried to sleep and couldn’t even manage that. So all in all…pretty average?” Lapis replied to the shouted inquiry. “How was….what club was it today?”

                  Peridot came into view, leaning on the bedpost at the foot of Lapis’ bed. “Alien Club! We had a really good debate about the theories surrounding the Roswell incident. I just wish we could have stayed longer, but the field hockey team had reserved the room right after our meeting for some sort of study hall, so they kicked us out.”

                  “That sucks. Though it was probably a good thing they did, otherwise you might still be there this time tomorrow.”

                  “We’re not that bad! You should come sometime—we’re always looking for new members! You don’t even need to know anything about extraterrestrial life forms.”

                  Lapis laughed briefly. “I think I’ll pass, thanks. Besides, you know I’m more interested in the weird shit you can find under the sea. Have you seen some of the fish who live in total darkness?”

                  Peridot shuddered. “Only because you insist on showing me the photos!” She walked to her bed, rearranging the duvet and moving her laptop out of harm’s way, before backing up a few feet and getting a running start in order to spring up onto the mattress. Lapis shoved her own covers away and sat up, leaning back against the painted cinderblock wall behind her.

                  “Why do you even have your bed set that high?” she inquired.

                  “It’s great for storage! I was even thinking of putting some pillows and stuff under there as well to make a place to study when you want the lights turned off at night.”

                  “Yeah, but it takes so much effort for you to actually get onto it? You could at least get a stepstool.”

                  Peridot pouted. “It’s fun to jump onto it! Plus, I’ve got the strategy down now. I can even get up when I’m carrying a cup of hot chocolate without spilling it.” She looked impressively proud of that last point. Lapis found herself smiling without consciously realizing she was doing so.

                  Peridot opened her laptop, and Lapis assumed the conversation was over. However, her roommate stopped before logging into the computer to turn and look at her.

                  “Hey, Lapis—what are you doing for dinner?” She looked almost…nervous? That was strange.

                  Lapis shrugged. “I guess I was probably gonna see what I could grab from the caf, or just microwave some mac and cheese, depending on if I actually felt like leaving the room. Why?”

                  Peridot fidgeted with the wires for her headphones, discarded on the bed when she had left the dorm earlier. “I think, well…I was thinking of checking out that Thai place down the street, because I’d heard it was pretty good, and I was wondering if you’d like to go with me? It’s no fun to eat alone.”

                  Lapis considered the offer for a minute. On one hand, Thai food sounded much better than either the limited variety of caf food, or the dubious palatability of microwave macaroni. On the other hand….“I’m not sure if I’ve got enough money right now, Peri—I don’t get paid for another couple days and it’s not like the campus coffee shop offers a stunning hourly rate.” She brought her right hand up to her mouth and worried the edge of her thumbnail with her teeth. “I’m really sorry—maybe next time?”

                  Lapis was surprised to find that she really was disappointed. She’d figured that since she saw Peridot around so much anyway, as a side effect of, y’know, living with her, it wouldn’t be too much of a big deal to miss out on eating with her. Maybe it was partly the prospect of having her hopes of a good meal dashed.

                  “I can pay! I mean…you don’t have to come, if you really don’t want to. But I actually found some old birthday money in a card that I’d left in my old backpack the other day, and since I wasn’t counting on having it anyway, what does it matter what I spend it on? Right?” Peridot chuckled awkwardly, trying to defuse some imagined tension.

                  “Well, if you’re okay with that…I’d love to go. What time?”

                  “Oh, um….if you’re not busy, we could go now? I’m pretty hungry, so…”

                  Lapis thought for a moment, and then realized that she had no valid reason to put off dinner. That, and now that she thought about it, she hadn’t eaten all day. Whoops.

                  “Yeah, sounds good. Let me just put on some shoes, though.”

                  “Of course!” Peridot jumped down from her bed and grabbed her noisy keys, and Lapis shoved her feet into her much-abused blue Converse. She hopped off of her own bed, and stretched her arms above her head, feeling her back crack satisfyingly and tying a black jacket around her waist before joining her roommate at the door to their room. Peridot smiled up at her, and pulled the door open. Lapis hit the lights, and the two proceeded on their Food Quest.

 


 

                  Later on, after the sun had long since set and they were on their way back to the dorm, and with a plastic bag containing Pad Thai leftovers swinging from Peridot’s fingers, Lapis considered voicing the question that had been forming at the back of her mind ever since their meal. She looked down at Peridot, noticing how happy the other girl seemed, cast in the yellow glow of streetlights and humming the opening notes of the theme song of her strangely addictive Canadian summer-camp-themed soap opera. The sight caught her off guard—she had to fight the urge to reach down and twine their fingers together, or brush the stray strands of blonde hair off of Peridot’s forehead. Instead, she crossed her arms in front of her waist and stared straight ahead.

                  “Hey Lapis….did you have a nice evening?” Peridot’s voice was unusually timid. Lapis hurried to reassure her.

                  “Yeah! Yeah, I really did. You were right, the food was great! Plus, we’ve got enough for lunch tomorrow.” She gestured to the bag. Peridot replied with a shaky smile.

                  “What’s wrong? You did like the food, right?” Lapis inquired. Peridot laughed, high-pitched and breathy.

                  “The food was fine! Everything was great. No, it’s stupid, I’m just…it’s a little cold, isn’t it?” The shorter girl blew out a breath, pointing out the faint white cloud that rose from the exhalation.

                  Lapis frowned. “I guess it did get kind of chilly…didn’t really notice it.” She suddenly remembered her last-minute outfit addition. “Hey, do you want to borrow my jacket?”

                  Peridot glanced at the garment tied around Lapis’ waist. “Unless you need it? I’ll be okay…probably.”

                  “Don’t be self-sacrificing, you’re clearly freezing.” Lapis slipped the jacket off, and placed it around Peridot’s shoulders. “There, does that help?”

                  Her roommate handed her the leftovers in order to shove her arms through the sleeves of the coat, and zipped it up to her chin. When she took back the bag, she grinned up at Lapis. “Thanks! That’s actually a lot warmer than I thought. Where’d you get it?”

                  “It’s one of my swim team jackets—it can get pretty chilly leaving the pool in the winter. See, it’s got my name embroidered on the left sleeve.” Lapis pointed out the cursive lettering, and saw Peridot’s eyes go wide.

                  “That’s so cool! I’d better remember to give this back to you, then.”

                  “Peri, we live in the same room, I don’t think it’ll be hard.”

                  The two students walked the next couple blocks in silence, until they were well and truly back on campus, surrounded by grey stone buildings and elaborately-maintained lawns. Lapis counted the paving stones underfoot and finally decided that it was time to voice her question.

                  “Peridot…is this a date?”

                  Her roommate stopped dead, and Lapis almost walked into her.

                  “How did you…I mean…it could be? But only if you wanted it to be.” Her cheeks were more red than Lapis had previously thought possible.

                  She considered the idea. Did she mind that Peridot had asked her on a maybe-date? Not really, she realized. Actually, it seemed pretty nice. Lapis was starting to realize that she genuinely liked Peridot, and she was fairly certain that it wasn’t all in an entirely platonic, friendly way.

                   “I…wouldn’t mind if you wanted to think of this as a date.” She cursed her sudden inability to make a conclusive statement. Peridot exhaled a breath she seemed to have been holding for a while.

                  “So…if we’re on a date…can I do this?” The blonde tentatively wrapped her fingers around Lapis’ hand, looking at her over the wire rims of her circular glasses. Lapis squeezed her hand in reply, and started walking once more towards the dorm.

                   “You can do that as much as you’d like…but on one condition.” Their building was getting closer, and Lapis wasn’t sure if she’d have the guts to go through with what she was planning.

                   “What’s that?” Peridot seemed confused. They came to a halt in front of the door to the dorm, and Peridot reached to grab her wallet to take out her ID. Lapis swallowed hard.

                   “That I get to do this.” She placed her hands on either side of Peridot’s face and met her eyes, giving her a moment to back out if she wanted to, before quickly pressing a kiss to her chapped lips and turning back to the door, holding her bag to the card sensor and yanking it open as soon as she heard the beep!.

                   Once inside, Lapis realized Peridot was no longer with her. She opened the door again, only to see her roommate still stood outside, an expression of stunned disbelief frozen on her face.

                   “Hello? Earth to Peri?” Lapis held the door open wide, and watched Peridot slowly turn to her, a giant grin stretching across her face.

                  As they took the stairs two at a time up towards their room, Lapis glanced over at Peridot. She was still smiling widely, and her joy was infectious. Lapis found herself dwelling on the way the other girl had looked at her a few moments earlier, realizing that she would probably never forget that expression.

                  For a moment, at least, Lapis could have sworn her roommate had stars in her eyes.