C R O S S W O R D S
a - o n e - s h o t - b y - m a d f o r f i g s ( p u b l i s h e d - 8 - 2 9 - 2 o o 8 )
A stranger hovering over my shoulder should be enough to scare away anybody. Instead, I found myself intrigued by him in a way I didn't even find possible... and apparently I wasn't the only one.
I looked up from my crossword, startled to see someone leaning so closely over my shoulder. His light brown hair hung down over his gray-blue eyes, tickling my skin lightly.
"What?" I choked out, staring straight into his eyes. I found myself lost in them as I spoke. Who was he and how have I never seen him around here before? With good reason, him being this close to me was slightly terrifying. But for some reason, I was more intrigued that scared.
"One down." His voice was deep as he swept his hair to the side. "Automobile with the lion logo. Considering how one across is pirouette, there's no other choice."
"Oh." I replied, turning back to the newspaper sprawled in front of me on the table. Sure enough, the seven letter word fit magically. "Thanks." I said, after filling in the space only to discover there was absolutely no one around me.
Frowning, I looked towards the exit, but no one stood there. In fact, it seemed like I had just procured his existence. Nothing seemed to have changed in the café in the past thirty seconds.
"Hey, Dylan?" I yelled to the guy making a coffee. He looked at me, nodding his head to acknowledge me. "Was there some brunette guy standing right here ten seconds ago?" I asked.
"Nah, didn't see anyone." He replied, fixing his visor. "Sorry."
I mouthed another 'oh', frowning as I went back to the crossword. My eyes roamed the paper, stopping at the top right corner. 'Hello' was scrawled messily across, leaving me to wonder who the hell that person was.
I was back the next day, sipping a coffee and working on the Sunday crossword. I had only managed a few words before I found myself utterly stuck again. I knew I wasn't good at word puzzles. In fact, I more than despised the stupid crosswords but I figured it would be helpful to give them a shot.
I chewed the end of my eraser, pondering over the words. Before I could figure anything out, a warm breath spread over the back of my neck. I froze at the sudden contact, wondering if it was him again.
"An operatic solo is an aria." He whispered. "Come on, you need me to give you the answers to everything?"
I quickly turned and latched my hand around his wrist before he could make another slick escape. Only when we made contact did I realize what I had actually done. I blushed and dropped my hand, but he remained motionless. He merely cocked an eyebrow as I embarrassedly motioned for him to sit down. "Who are you?" I asked the second he was settled.
He laughed softly and took the pencil from my fingers. "That's absolutely none of your concern." I could almost hear the smirk in his voice as he began writing letters into the crossword. "Do you not have anything to do? I see you here everyday."
I scoffed at that, leaning back against the chair. "I could ask you the same. You were the sketchy one leaning over my shoulder just the other day. And for your information, I'm a second year at college, thank you very much. I like the atmosphere here so I stop by for the hour before class starts everyday."
"Ah." He replied, but there wasn't an ounce of enthusiasm or care in his tone. He tilted his head a bit, still scribbling in what I supposed to be answers. "So I'm guessing you're twenty."
"Yeah, and yourself?"
"Same." He lifted his head, smiling absently. "I'm sure you can do the rest." He smirked and pushed himself out of the chair. I tried to stop him with my hand; I was nowhere close to finished with the questions I wanted to ask him. He merely winked at me and moved to leave. I watched him pound fists with Dylan, sparking even more inquiries. In the past four months I've been here, not once had I seen this guy and now he's suddenly buddy-buddy with Dylan?
"Dylan!" I yelled after the guy had left the café. He looked at me in shock, probably wondering if I was about to have a heart attack. "Who was that person you just pounded fists with?" I asked, hoping that it wasn't just another figment of my imagination.
"Oh, Jason?" he laughed. "He lives on East Campus, Donner Hall I think. Don't you know him?" Dylan asked, tilting his head. A customer was waiting impatiently at the cashier, but Dylan blatantly ignored her as he waited for me to respond.
"Actually, I don't." I answered in awe. I was more surprised at myself than his response. How could I be so ignorant? I lived in that same dormitory and not once had I seen anyone similar to the likings of this Jason.
Instead of gracing me with a sarcastic comment, he waved me off and returned to his job. I shook my head and took a sip of my coffee. I never had the chance to even taste the warmth of French Vanilla coffee. My eyes focused on the crossword that was once less than two percent completed.
Now it sat in front of me, taunting me to finish it. In the past ten or so minutes, Jason had somehow filled in all of the across clues and left around half of the down clues for me to do.
The Monday crosswords were always so unbelievably easy. It always took around twenty minutes, depending on my luck. Seems like Mr. I-Know-Everything-About-Crosswords needn't help me this time.
I had just filled in the last clue when the other chair at my table pulled out. Sure enough, Jason sat down, taking a glance at the newspaper. A grin broke out as he met my eyes again. My breath hitched as we made contact; how could I have never noticed him in the past four months of living in the same building?
"Good job." He said, leaning against the back of the chair. He flung an arm along the wooden back and rested his leg on the adjacent chair. "You've actually finished one."
"Haha." I mock laughed. "Why are you always here anyway? Don't you have some place more important to be?"
Jason grinned at that. "You still have no idea, huh? To think I was about to give you the benefit of the doubt."
I frowned at that. So maybe I was a bit oblivious especially considering his existence was unknown to me until three days ago. "I fail at crosswords." I finally retorted. "How the hell am I supposed to figure out the mind of someone I've never seen in my life?"
"Observation." Jason replied calmly, not even missing a bit. It was as if he wanted me to say all that. "I never coined you as the oblivious type, Emily."
I immediately froze as he emphasized my name. He knew who I was, yet I didn't- how unfair was that? How was he allowed to know everything while my brain was littered with random facts that couldn't even help me out in a crossword?
"You know who I am?" I asked, putting a hand to my forehead. I wasn't trying to be dramatic. I just needed to make sure this was reality.
The amusement on Jason's face immediately disappeared. Had I said something wrong? He stood up and walked away, pausing only when he was at my side. "Open your eyes." He whispered. I didn't have time to even respond, he had already bolted out the door.
He hadn't shown up the next day or the day after. In fact, it seemed as if he had just disappeared off the face of the Earth. Tuesday and Wednesday's crosswords had gone unfinished without Jason's help.
I was tapping my pencil against the tabletop, my face scrunched up in thought. I wasn't even concentrating on the clues anymore; all I could think about was Jason. No one had ever plagued my thoughts like he did. It was a funny feeling, but I just couldn't seem to control it.
"Garth." My heart did a somersault when someone said my name. I spun to see if it was Jason, but Dylan Saunders stood in what should have been Jason's spot. "Can I sit?"
Despite the sudden roller coaster of emotions in the past ten seconds, I brought myself to nod at him. I never really knew Dylan which was why I was a bit weary about this inevitable conversation. He was in the year above me, though we had rock climbing together for physical education. Asides from that, we barely talked outside of the café.
"What'd I do to get your attention today?" I asked, staring down my crossword. If Jason was here, he'd be able to tell me right off the bat who the president of Georgia was.
"Jason Bradshaw." So that was his name. I refused to flinch or do anything at the sound of his name. "Do you know him?"
"He's the really hot guy who's been helping me with the crosswords, right?" I blurted out. Dylan's expression immediately went from serious to amused, as my words sunk into both of us. I began blushing as he laughed at my outburst.
"Whoo." He managed to breathe out, wiping away a faux tear. "Anyway, as I was saying. Have you seen him around lately?"
I shook my head. So apparently Dylan hadn't seen him either. Maybe he wasn't just deliberately ignoring me after all. Had something actually happened to him?
"Dylan, who is he?" I groaned, holding my head up with my hands. "He apparently lives in my dorm, so that means he definitely goes to the same college as me. Why the hell have I never seen him in my life? Am I stupid or something?"
I waited for an answer, but it never came. Dylan's eyes had traveled elsewhere, focusing on something close to the front door. I followed his eyes, stopping at a familiar figure.
He was wearing a striped black and gray hoodie, accompanied by jeans. His hands were shoved into his pockets as he leaned casually against the countertop. My heart stopped when I saw him smiling at a girl talking animatedly with him. His attention was focused solely on her, eyes twinkling.
"He likes you, you know?" Dylan finally said. The words struck me instantly. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't bear to even face Dylan. However, he continued talking as if I was actually paying attention. "He's always talking about some girl in his U.S Government lecture. When he told me the name, I immediately realized that you were her and that you came here nearly every morning."
"He's in my class?" I said in wonder. It was a large class, yes, considering that it was held in one of the largest lecture halls on campus. However, I often took the time to scan the class to watch for interesting happenings during the dreadful forty-five minutes of hell. Surely someone like Jason would have jumped out immediately in the past four months I've had the class.
"Yeah." He said just as the girl punched Jason lightly in the shoulder. I saw him reach up and grab her fist, pulling her into his body for a hug. I knew nothing about Jason and I had no clue who this girl was, but already I was feeling this jealousy sweep through my nerves. "He comes here so often with his roommate, Quinn Sampson. They always sit at the table four down from yours. Quinn hasn't been here lately since he's back home for a brief family emergency. That's why Jason's been approaching you. That's why he's saying, open your eyes."
This was all too much for me to handle. I had been so wrapped up in my own world and my own friends that I had refused to look elsewhere. If I had taken the opportunity to look up and to my right, I probably wouldn't be in this position right now. That wasn't the larger concern though; it came down to how quickly I fallen for Jason. Three days was all it took for me to be pulled towards him. The sad thing was how I never saw this sooner when every single door was wide open for four months.
"I have to go." I muttered, swiping everything into my bag. I knew the sudden commotion caught the attention of everyone in the café as I accidentally knocked the ceramic cup onto the floor.
So much for a swift get away.
I got down on my knees and picked up the pieces. My mind was so muddled; I had absolutely no idea where I was putting the shards.
A hand quickly reached out and grasped my wrist, stopping me from reaching out for the pieces. "Just talk to her." I heard someone mutter to whoever was holding me. Through my confusion, I realized who it was without even thinking and ripped out of his hold. Getting my bag, I shouldered past Jason who was staring after me in befuddlement.
This time, let him be the confused one.
"Who doesn't know Jason Bradshaw?" my roommate and best friend, Gina Liu, scoffed. "He lives in 408, which is exactly two floors above us."
"So he's in our grade too?" I groaned, flopping down on my not so comfortable mattress. Immediately after my slight mishap in the café, I had gone straight to my U.S. Government lecture. Sure enough within five minutes of me sitting in my seat, I watched as Jason Bradshaw, hottie extraordinaire, came strolling in, greetings being thrown at him from left and right. He didn't even make eye contact with me though I knew he acknowledged my presence. Imagine my shock when I saw him take a seat one row in front of me and at least eleven seats to my right.
I really was a blind bat.
"Where have you been?" Gina laughed, sitting down next to me on my bed. "Aren't you and Quinn both in orchestra? Maybe if you talked with some other people occasionally, then-"
"Oh, don't you start on that crap too." I interrupted her. I knew she was right though, as I had figured out myself only a few hours ago. I preferred a small group of friends and never really spread my social circle, but I was happy with that. Unfortunately, now that was coming back and biting me in the ass when the oh-so-popular and well-known Jason Bradshaw liked me and I never even knew who he was.
"So seriously. You and Jason Bradshaw?" Gina said, trying to return the conversation back to its original course. "I could see that happening, he does seem to like you."
"And how would you know?" I cried out. "Does everyone in the world see this except for me?"
"Oh, stop whining." She swatted me on the back of my head, effectively shutting me up. "I think you should try it. He's a good guy, you know. You guys already seem to get along pretty well, especially with the whole crossword thing? The fact that you didn't get scared off immediately should be a sign that you guys are meant to be together."
I sighed and dramatically pulled my face down with my hands. Life wasn't supposed to be this complicated; drama wasn't supposed to happen to me. That was reserved for people who had a sign plastered on their back, screaming for drama to smack them in the butt. Not me…
"But what do I do? I'm pretty much positive Jason has no intentions of talking with me ever again."
Gina rolled her eyes and hit me in the stomach one with my pillow. "Then you talk with me and make sure he listens. Even if he doesn't respond, say what you have to say. If he doesn't say anything, leave. If he says something, kiss him. It's as simple as that." She ended with a simple flick of her hand.
As if that'd ever work…
I was at the café again, but this time I had no crossword. I was still situated in my same spot every morning. I could see Dylan out of the corner of my eye, carefully watching my every move. I had absolutely no intention of killing Jason, if that was what he was worried about.
I needed to talk to him. I didn't care that I barely knew him. All that mattered was that he made me happy in the short time I knew him. In fact, he was able to capture my attention in less than a tenth of the time I take to even acknowledge another male. There was just something about Jason that made me want to be with him.
The bell rang above the door as he came strolling into the café, shaking snow from his hair. I saw him raise at hand at Dylan, smiling as he approached the cashier. He had this easy air about him as he ordered his daily coffee, automatically handing Dylan the one dollar and forty three cents a medium cup cost, with tax.
Jason waited patiently, leaning against the service counter, checking his cell phone for any messages, I assumed. This entire time, I was watching him, though not daring to walk up to him. What was I supposed to say?
"Hi, I was really stupid before and I never knew you existed. I'm sorry. Oh and by the way, did I mention I like you and I hope we can go out on a date?"
I'm sure that'd go over real well, considering how I was on his bad side right now. "Hey, Emily." I looked up to see Dylan smirking at me. I knew my eyes were as wide as saucers; the idiot had done it on purpose. He knew I'd be too chicken to call Jason out first. "How's the crossword coming along?"
I could shoot him.
"I didn't bring one today, thank you very much." I retorted. I let my eyes slide to the right, falling on Jason Bradshaw's figure. His arms were crossed over his chest as he stared at me intently, probably trying to see if I was going to acknowledge him.
"Oh, what a shame. I'm sure Jason would've been more than happy to help you out with that one."
Scratch that; I will shoot him.
"Just finish my coffee, won't you?" Jason responded, not focusing his attention on me anymore. "I've got class in twenty minutes."
"Twenty minutes!" Dylan laughed. "You've answered my question right there. It doesn't take that long to get to your writing seminar, I'm pretty sure. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, both you and Emily are heading over to the same building."
I hate him.
"Yeah, sure." Jason murmured, turning away. I looked up at Dylan who was mouthing indecipherable words at me. Though without thinking, I knew what he was trying to say- 'Go, you idiot!'.
"Jason." I called out, grabbing my bag. I walked up to him, scratching my neck uncertainly. "Can we talk, you know, outside or something when you get your coffee?"
"Why not." He shrugged. He took the coffee from Dylan, thanking him quietly. He began to walk out the door as I stood there idly.
"Go!" Dylan hissed, throwing a discarded receipt at my head. "What the hell are you waiting for?"
Suddenly remembering where I was, I saw Jason standing by the entrance, his head tilted in confusion. I let out a small peep, and ran towards the door, thanking him as he held it open for me.
We walked together down the sidewalk, side by side, in silence. I was still debating how to start my speech, but him actually being here seemed to cloud my mind. "Jason. I don't even know how to start saying this." I sighed, pulling my side bag over my head so it crossed over my chest. "I didn't even realize that you were in my class or my dorm. I've been in this weird dream world… I can't even explain this without making myself sound crazy."
Jason was silent, occasionally taking sips of coffee, but overall, just ignoring my existence. Oh wait. Everything clicked together in my head when I saw his eyes slide over to me.
"Don't you dare start ignoring me!" I accused, pointing a finger at me. He raised his eyebrow, looking at me as he drank his coffee. "I talked with you when we started a conversation. I've never deliberately avoided you like you've been doing for the past few days."
"It hurts, doesn't it?" he said, completely ignoring what I had just said. "I mean, honestly, you like a girl who sits on the same side of the room as you. She lives in the same dorm, yet she doesn't even give you a second of her day until you get in her face. People usually hate that, you know?" he asked, finally fully facing me. "Hovering is awkward, especially when they're strangers. Why didn't you just shove me away and call me a creeper?"
I looked down at my fingers, twiddling my thumbs as I tried to come up with a response. I'd been trying to answer this question myself, but I never could call on a logical answer. "Because you're you?"
"Good one, but not quite what I was aiming for." Jason laughed, a real one that I hadn't heard in days. "Ask yourself this, Emily." He stopped walking and pulled on my backpack strap to cease my steps as well. I was brought closer to his body, forcing myself to look up at him. "Why are you here? Why are you trying to tell me something you have no idea how to say without sounding like a blubbering idiot?"
Gee, thanks Jason.
"I…" I stopped talking again mid-sentence. He was right yet again, rendering me speechless with these simple questions. "I don't know." I ended dejectedly.
"I think you do know." He replied, a corner of his lips lifting up in a half smile. "Think for a moment, won't you? I'm sure the answer will come to you."
I bit my lip nervously, taking in the position I was currently in. Jason's hand was still gripped around the strap of my bag, putting approximately an inch between our bodies. I could feel the warmth of his breath contrasting with the winter air around us. It was almost like how Jason and that other girl were the other day, only he brought her into a hug. Was that the answer?
Except I didn't want just a hug… I wanted…more? I had no idea what I wanted at the moment, but something in Jason's eyes was telling me exactly what he wanted. Sighing, I shut my eyes and took in a deep breath. I couldn't back down now, not when everything was going according to plan (or at least how Gina had envisioned it).
'If he says something, kiss him. It's as simple as that'.
I grabbed the collar of his jacket with both my hands, pulling him down closer to my level. Without hesitation, I pushed my lips against his, softly, briefly, not wanting to scare him away. I felt his hand fall away from my bag, instead finding a spot on my waist. I pulled my lips away from his, not daring to go any further in case I had completely mistook his intentions. If that was the case, Dylan and Gina are the first to die.
"That took you long enough." Jason whispered, laughing gently as I looked up into his eyes in shock. "It only took you four months to actually realize I was alive." I blushed and looked away in embarrassment. "But it only took you five days to realize how much you meant to me and that's all that counts." He ended softly before pulling me into his arms.
Maybe crosswords aren't so bad after all…
I'm just coughing up one-shots like there's no tomorrow. I may run out of things to write eventually if I keep this up. I actually have two more in the making so I want to get those up as well. Damage Control seems to have hit a speed bump. The original chapter five I had written unfortunately moves too fast for my liking, so it's been scratched. I'm hoping by some time in September though.
I hope you guys like this, because this is just one of those one-shots that are just fun to write because of... yeah. It's straightforward. I've been in an extremely good mood lately and that's why I'm spewing out happy one-shots like there's no tomorrow. This high might hit a speed bump soon though, when school starts.
Happy Labor Day weekend, guys!