It was all Crissy's fault.
His pen rapped against his notebook in a frenzied staccato. He'd put on his last pair of clean boxers this morning, right before she announced that she was spending the damned weekend in Canada.
Canada! The bitch was going skiing.
His scowl deepened. So Luke wanted a study partner/housekeeper/fuck buddy on the side. Nathan got that part. What he didn't understand was why he had to get it from Crissy. Or why Crissy was at their house every waking minute of the day.
She cooked there. She slept there. She did laundry there.
Nathan didn't usually complain about the latter, because most of the time she did his and Luke's, too. Except that instead of doing laundry, she was going out to party and get laid while Luke wasn't there.
He'd woken up late this morning and couldn't even get a damned shower because she'd been in there shaving her legs or slapping mud on her face or whatever it was girls did in the morning. He'd waited forty-five minutes for her to get out of the bathroom before he'd barged into Luke's room and demanded he make Crissy get the hell out of the shower.
The most he'd gotten was a mumbled agreement before Luke had shoved the pillow back over his head and started snoring. She was still in the bathroom when he left sans washing, hoping he didn't reek too badly. Luckily, the hot girl in his Poly Sci class wasn't in class today anyway.
Unfortunately, Jade Kellerman was. It was a fucking horrible cap to an already horrible day.
Slouching lower in his seat, he tried to ignore her. Since the first day of class, she'd made it her personal mission to make his life miserable. She sat in the seat next to him every day without fail, smelling like some awful dead weed that he always had an embarrassing reaction to. Concentrating was like trying to shoot darts in the middle of a frat party – he was lucky to see the board, let aim well enough to get anywhere close to it.
If only she'd keep her fucking mouth shut, she might even be passably hot. Damned shame she was always such a bitch. It was an unwelcome distraction from the nice rack less than a foot below it.
Today they were discussing abortion rights – actually, Rick was drooling in his sleep on Nathan's left and Jade was watching him out of the corner of her eye. He was dreading the in-class discussion portion of the class. He already knew she was a feminist and he'd be willing to bet she was a right-wing fanatic to boot. She took the opposite stance on every other issue they'd covered. Why not this one, too?
He reached down to scratch his thigh just as the teacher paused mid-drone. He'd pulled his jeans off the floor this morning. They were the cleanest pair he had, but they sported ratty holes in both knees. He could try doing his laundry himself, but the last time he'd attempted it, he'd had an unfortunate accident with the color pink. Luke had laughed his fucking ass off until he did the same thing two days later.
Nathan had never let him live it down.
"Okay, now I want you to get in groups of four or five and discuss."
Rick and three-fourths of the class snapped awake, while the other fourth stopped doodling on whatever was conveniently in front of them. Desks scraped against the linoleum floor as students moved into groups. As usual, Nathan moved his so that his back was to Jade, but she still didn't get the hint. She pulled her desk around and beside his.
When everyone had settled in, the other three people in their group – Rick, Mark, and some chick named Bethany – turned to look at Jade expectantly. Nathan ignored them all, choosing to draw in the margins of his notebook instead.
No one said anything until Rick blinked sleepily and said, "Dude, abortion is murder."
Jade raised an eyebrow at him. "It's still legal."
"Dude, don't tell me you're pro-abortion!" He gaped at her.
She pursed her lips and stuck her nose in the air, but Nathan was too surprised by this turn of events to even sneer at her. "I'm pro-choice," she said. "I don't think anyone is 'pro-abortion.'"
"Whatever. I don't really give a fuck." He draped himself over the desk and went back to napping.
Bethany shrugged. "I'm with JK." She called everyone by their initials.
Mark frowned at Rick's head. "Me, too. I'm a guy anyway. It's not my body that thing has to come out of."
"That would be pretty sick anyway," Bethany snorted. She and Mark smirked at each other.
Nathan shook his head, still focused on Jade. "You're really pro-choice?"
Fucking amazing. He shook his head again. "So what are we supposed to be discussing?"
The others shrugged. "Wasn't listening," Rick mumbled.
Nathan gave up, resuming his doodling. Discussion only lasted ten minutes on average, and when he glanced at the clock, he saw that they only had two minutes of class left.
It passed quickly. The professor called their attention to the front of the classroom. "Don't forget about the papers that are due next Friday! Now, go home."
After a few minutes of general chaos, the classroom was mostly empty. Rick slapped him on the back. "You watching the game tonight?"
"Yeah, man," Nathan answered. "Matt and Genna are getting us a table at Kleigal's this afternoon. We're supposed to meet them at six. You wanna join?"
"Nah." Rick shook his head. "Got plans to meet Smack and Rob at The Sports Page."
"Cool." Nathan shrugged.
"Yeah, see you next class."
Rick sauntered out of the classroom. Nathan slid his pen into his pocket and grabbed his notebook only to realize that Jade was still there, and that she'd stood and was blocking the aisle. He nearly groaned. "What do you want?"
Her gaze was trained on his tee shirt. "Great band," she said.
He glanced down, not even sure what he'd put on this morning. His brow furrowed as he stared at the red star on its brown background. Wait, what? Stick-Up-Her-Ass Jade Kellerman liked Angels and Airwaves? He raised his head to gape at her, but she'd already slid out of the room.
The bar overflowed with people that evening and it was smokier than usual. It was a Tuesday, so by normal standards, it should have been karaoke night. If the Colts hadn't been trying to live up to last year's Superbowl title, it probably wouldn't have been as packed.
It took him a good five minutes to spot Matt in the back room and another five to make it through the crowd to the single empty seat. "Hey," he greeted the table when he finally reached them. "Thanks for saving me a seat."
Genna, Matt's new girlfriend, grinned impishly at him. "I had to engage in non-sectarian violence to keep it," she said. "How are you, Nate?"
Okay, so Genna was a little weird, but Matt liked her, and that was good enough for Nathan. "Not bad, not bad."
Matt tipped his beer in a casual hello. "I ordered you six teriyaki and a dozen hot. If you want more than that, order them yourself."
Nathan nodded at Matt gratefully. "Twenty-five cent wings tonight?"
True. He looked away from Matt to the other people at the table pointedly. He didn't know any of them. Genna seemed to realize this in a rush of contriteness.
"Oh! Nathan, these are my friends Morgan, Mika, and Quinn. Guys, this is Nate."
"What's up, man?"
"Nice to meet you," the two girls chorused.
"Hey," he said. He settled back in his chair as the waitress placed a dozen and a half wings in front of him. "Can I get an order of the nacho cheese fries and a beer, too? Thanks."
"No problem." She smiled at him and wandered back to punch the order in.
"What time did you guys get here?"
Matt glanced away from the television long enough to answer. "I got here at four. I still had to fight to get both these tables."
"It always gets really packed here on game days," the girl Genna had introduced as Morgan said. "You're usually lucky if you can get served."
Someone elbowed Nathan in the back of his head as they fought their way to the table behind him. "Ow!"
"Oh, shit, sorry." He looked up to see Jade Kellerman wincing in apology. The repentant expression dropped from her face as soon as she saw it was him. "Oh, it's you."
"Taking back that apology?"
She shrugged. "No. I still didn't mean to do it."
"Accepted." He turned back to the table, but she tapped him on the back before he had a chance to forget he'd seen her. "What now?"
Frowning at him, she asked, "That's it?"
It's like dealing with your mother, he told himself. You have to be nice even though you don't want to be. Patience, Nathan. "What are you talking about?"
Her scowl deepened. "No snarky comments?" She reached over and laid her hand on his forehead. "Well, you don't have a fever, so you're not sick."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to skew your world view. You're a crazy bitch and you can keep your damned apology. Is that better?" His beer finally appeared in front of him, so he turned away from her to take a long swig of it. Maybe she'd go away.
No luck. She didn't move, and when he glanced back at her, she looked stricken. "I didn't mean—"
He shrugged off her explanation. "No worries. You usually yell at me first thing anyway. It's cool."
Now her face flushed fuchsia. "I don't yell at you. I'm just not a morning person."
"Yeah, me, either," he answered dryly.
"Right." She took a deep breath. "I really don't mean to be a bitch."
He took another drink of his beer. "Yeah, you can't help what comes naturally."
A startled laugh escaped her. "So that just confirms that I was right. You are an ass."
Not offended, he raised his beer in a silent toast and turned back to his friends. Maybe he was, but either way, he wasn't going to waste congeniality on her. Now his wings were cold. Dammit. She usually ruined his breakfast just by virtue of being there, but now she was ruining his dinner, too.
And even worse, he could smell a hint of her perfume through the smoke.
The game had just started when she hit him on the head again. "What the hell, Jade? Watch what the fuck you're doing!"
"It's not like there's room to move in here," she snarled back. "If you didn't take up the entire aisle, I wouldn't have to hit you to get in my chair!"
The third time happened after first quarter.
"I'm starting to think you're doing this on purpose."
She smiled sweetly at him. "Well, if I have to touch you, I might as well be violent about it."
By halftime he was ready to strangle her.
Mika and Morgan had wandered off to talk to someone they knew and Quinn and Matt had wandered off to find more beer, since the waiters had disappeared into the black abyss of the kitchen and not returned.
Genna toyed with what was left of her beer. She'd surprised him during the game, talking intelligently about plays and actually understanding what was going on. Matt's last two broads had spent most of the games looking constipated and trying to steer the conversation elsewhere.
She turned her attention on him abruptly. "You should lose the homicidal look, Nate. Murder's still illegal in this country."
He gritted his teeth as Jade bumped her elbow next to his ear yet again. "What?"
"Want me to draw a diagram? I do a pretty good rendition of 'See Spot Run.'"
"I'm only thinking about killing her," he said. "It's not illegal unless I take steps to actually do it."
Genna appraised him knowingly. "The girl behind you?" He nodded. "She's cute."
"Are you sure it's Matt you're into?"
She laughed. "What's her name?"
A look of horror crossed his face. "Why do you want to know?"
"Because it's easier than yelling, 'Hey, girl in the purple shirt?'"
"Fuck that. I have better things to do than get harassed by both of you."
She raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Please. She's been staring at you the whole game; I'm not sure she knows where the televisions are. You're not even a teensy bit attracted to her?"
"Only if she's become mute in the last half hour."
"No wonder you're such a catch, Nate." The sarcasm was heavy in her voice. "What's your problem with her anyway?"
"I hate her perfume," he said automatically. "And she doesn't respect anyone else's opinion. She's an elitist. If I hear, 'when I was in France,' or 'when I was in Jamaica,' or 'when I was in Pakistan,' come out of her mouth one more time, I'm going to shove my textbook in it and hope it gets stuck."
"You sound jealous."
She smiled, and her amusement fed his outrage even more. "Of the fact that she's had all those opportunities. Why do you care how she starts her conversation?"
He sulked. "She doesn't need to throw it our faces."
"Maybe she feels like the experiences validate her opinions," Genna said gently. "She's been there and she learned from it and it supports why she feels the way she does."
Dammit, she was right. And what pissed him off was that this realization was going to make it really hard for him to continue thinking she was a stuck-up bitch without wondering about her motivations.
"Not everything fits in a nicely labeled box."
Nathan sighed. "Her name is Jade." Before Genna could say anything, he turned and tapped Jade on the shoulder. Her face turned stoic when she saw it was him. He'd grudgingly admit he deserved it. "Look, I'm sorry I was a jerk."
She blinked at him. "What?"
He bit down on a sharp retort. "I. Am. Sorry. I. Was. Such. A. Jerk." She glanced at the ceiling. "No, pigs aren't flying."
The fuchsia crept up her neck again. "I wasn't – Are you serious?"
"No, I make a habit of apologizing when I don't mean it. Just for the hell of it."
A shadow of suspicion crossed her features. "Okay. I'm sorry I was such a bitch. Are we bosom buddies now? Do I get a friendship bracelet?"
"No," he answered. "But you'll be able to drink your coffee without the usual morning acridity to go along with it. It'll probably taste better."
She was silent for a minute, but then she nodded. "Deal. It's not going to be an easy habit to break, but I'll make an effort."
"The lack of indigestion will probably cure that habit pretty quick," he grinned, "but we'll see."
"You're nicer at night."
The corner of his mouth turned up. "I told you I wasn't a morning person."
She nodded again, slowly. "Okay, then."
His friends returned then and the second half started. The home team quarterback threw an intercept, the receiver fumbled in the backfield, and they gave up a field goal and two touchdowns in the span of five minutes. He didn't even care.
Neither of the teams were ones he particularly liked, and as he watched the visiting team successfully complete a two-point conversion, he gave up all pretense of watching the game. He handed Matt a twenty. "That's for mine. I'ma take off."
He said his good-byes to Genna and the others, then turned to Jade. "See you in class on Thursday?"
"You're leaving? The game's not over." He raised an eyebrow. "Okay, yeah, for all intents and purposes, it is." She paused. "Are you sure you don't want to stay and hang out?"
He recognized it for the olive branch it was. "Smoke's giving me a headache. You want to go grab coffee?"
A shy smile broke across her face. "Yeah, I'd like that. Just give me a minute." She said something to her friends, threw some money on the table, and grabbed her jacket. "Ready?"
He followed her out of the bar, holding open the door for her at the bottom of the stairs. He unlocked the car and opened the door for her there, too. She climbed in gracefully and he admired the lean line of her leg. But he hesitated to close the door.
As she tucked herself inside, he asked, "Just one thing. Why did you say, 'yes?'"
"I've seen the band tee shirts you wear to class. You've got excellent taste in music." This time her smile was brilliant. "I figured you couldn't be all that bad."
He laughed. "That's it?"
"It's as good an excuse as any."
He chuckled all the way to his side of the car. He climbed in and turned on the ignition, sliding an amused glance her way. "You know, for once I can't even argue with you."
I was really bored and not in the mood to write about my Qualms (i.e., Morgan and Quinn). And I promised Myrika a story from a guy's POV since I made her try something different -- which I only mention because now she can't say I didn't give her her one-shot, and also because I need to blame the fact that it sucks on someone else. ;)
I don't own the Colts, Angels and Airwaves, or anything else that might have a copyright and is mentioned in here.
I've been told there will be a third part to this (apparently some people can predict the future). Whether or not this will actually happen is debatable, but I do like Genna, so she might show up again. You never know.