Chapter 9

Simon noted to himself that his old teachers would be proud if they could see him now. Never before had his brain been able to retain lengthy quotes, much less churn them forth in response to life situations, as it was doing now.

At the moment, the quote that came to mind was in response to his broken Xbox lying on the floor in front of him.

"Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."

"I'm so sorry!" his roommate was moaning. "It was an accident! I'll pay you for it, please don't kill me."

Simon wondered why his roommate felt so intimidated, before realizing that he was currently glaring daggers at the other boy. With intense effort, he schooled his expression into a more neutral one.

"It's okay," he forced himself to say, then muttered very stiffly, "I…forgive you."

His roommate looked amazed. "Wh—what?"

He cleared his throat. "I said," he voiced more loudly, "Don't worry about it. I haven't used it for months. I was probably going to get rid of it anyway."

It was true, now that he thought about it. The thing was old and had just been sitting around. His initial impulse to drown his roommate in the bathtub had been fueled mostly by the testosterone-driven instinct to attack any homo sapien that messed with his stuff.

Judging by the relieved look on the other boy's face, he was aware of how close he had been to death.

"Thanks man," he said to Simon.

Simon went back to studying without making a reply. He figured that he had already spoken more words to his roommate in this one moment than he had all semester. There was no need to go overboard. And besides, he needed to focus on tomorrow's exam.

Gazing over Christine's notes, he wondered to himself at what exact point it was, in the last twenty four hours, that he had decided to give this whole "acting biblical" thing a go. The last logical conclusion that his mind had made was that it was clearly something Christine valued. And that John's suggestion to speak through actions rather than words was a good one. Because Simon Petersen, emotionally inept as he was, could not quite bring himself to express his feelings in any other way.

He told himself that this was just his way of showing gratitude. Of demonstrating that she had made a positive and lasting impression on him. He told himself that this was just his way of showing that he did in fact value her as a friend, despite all of his behavior that suggested otherwise.

Yes. This was only to prove that he wasn't a complete jerk who didn't even know what year his friend was in.

He continued to tell himself this for the rest of the evening, each time unbidden thoughts of Christine drifted into his mind.

On his way to the exam the next morning, Simon's brain generated yet another quote.

He was already running a few minutes behind. In his haste, he bumped into another student, knocking her over. Books went flying.

"Sorry," he said automatically, bending down to pick up the fallen books as the girl struggled back to her feet. She had been carrying a lot of books. As Simon gathered the last of them and straightened up to hand them back, he got a good look at her for the first time.

The girl had one leg in a cast and was leaning on a crutch.

"No worries, it was just an accident," she replied, reaching out for her books.

Simon assessed the precariously high pile of books. A sudden impulse hit him.

"Where are you going?" he asked bluntly.

The other student pulled her hand back. "What?" she asked warily, looking ready to pull out a can of mace.

Simon mentally cursed at himself. He was terribly awkward at this whole helping others thing.

"These are pretty heavy," he tried again. "Do you want help carrying them to wherever you're going?"

"Oh." The girl's expression softened in understanding. "That would be great, thanks…I need to go to the other side of campus though. Is that okay?"

Simon hesitated as he remembered the time and where he needed to be. The first thing that Christine had ever quoted to him floated into his head.

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

"That's fine," he heard himself say.

He arrived at the exam twenty minutes late.

Christine looked up as he entered the room, and an expression of relief colored her features. She gave him an encouraging smile as he grabbed a test and made his way to his seat.

Sitting down, he noticed that the exam booklet was thicker than he had anticipated. Anxiety suddenly hit him as he wondered if he would be able to finish the exam in time…and if he would even be able to remember everything that he had learned.

It was much like the sinking feeling he had felt after getting his failed midterm back. What would happen if, after all this time and effort, his exam grade still wasn't enough to keep him on the team? Mind swimming with doubt, he instinctively glanced up at Christine for help.

The girl didn't notice him looking at her, absorbed as she was by her test. Simon observed a sense of calm confidence about her as she steadily scribbled down answers. He wondered what she would say to him right now. Probably a Jesus quote.

O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

His lips twitched ever so slightly. That was almost certainly what she would say to him, with not a small hint of snark and an encouraging smile.

Without further hesitation, he began his exam.

The class period had been over for three minutes.

Simon and one other boy were still in their seats, finishing up the exam. All the other students had already left, including Christine. Simon was surprised that the professor was showing such lenience at the moment.

"Alright guys," the professor said. "Two more minutes, and then I need you to hand those in."

The other student jotted down one last answer and stood up to turn in his test. As he left the room, Simon hurriedly scribbled down a final sentence before setting down his pen with a relieved exhale.

"Cutting it close, Mr. Petersen," remarked the professor as Simon handed his exam over to her. He looked downwards, remembering a verse that he had just quoted on his exam.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

"Thank you for allowing me to finish the test," he muttered. "And for your…lenience with me, this semester."

"It was hardly lenience, just a warning to commit to your studies," she replied with an arched eyebrow. "Though I'm glad to see that it didn't fall on deaf ears. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to inform you that you needn't worry any longer about losing your spot on the swim team."

Simon looked up, surprised. His test hadn't even been graded yet.

"Your paper happened to be the first one I started grading while the exam was still in progress," she continued. "Let's just say the grade you'll be receiving for it will more than ensure that you pass. And if your exam reflects the same familiarity with the text as your essay did, then I'd say you have nothing to worry about at all."

"I—thank you," he said again.

He left the classroom amazed. Mostly by the fact that he had just said the words "thank you" twice.

Wandering through the hall, he looked to see if Christine was around. She had finished her test early and left about twenty minutes ago, and she was nowhere to be seen now. He set off in search for her, hoping that she hadn't gone back to her dorm already to pack for summer break. Although she had said she would stay for the summer semester, he wasn't so sure she would follow through with that after the less than encouraging response he had given her.

He still felt committed to this whole showing his gratitude through actions rather than words thing. The last forty hours had involved exerting a lot more labor than was typical or comfortable for him, all in order to put that into practice. If, after all that effort, she ended up leaving for the summer without getting to witness it firsthand for herself, then he might very well go and drown his roommate in the bathtub after all.

He exited the building and squinted into the sunlight. Ahead, Christine was seated at a bench, reading. She looked up as she heard him approach. A dazzling smile broke out across her face when she saw that it was him.

He took in the way that she smiled at him. The smile that he had come to know was just for him. In that moment, Simon Petersen—emotionally challenged aquaphile—suddenly knew exactly what his feelings were. At the same time, another verse came to mind.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.

"Simon!" she greeted him eagerly. "How did you do on—"

She was cut off as he swooped in and stopped her lips with his own.

After a moment he stepped back. Christine's eyes were wide.

"Simon?" she asked softly. "What was that?"

"A holy kiss."

She looked at him blankly. "What?"

He cleared his throat, suddenly nervous. "It was a holy kiss. You said that a holy kiss is a representation of true love. Thus, I found it appropriate to greet you with one as scripture commands. Since that's—how I feel."

Christine looked stunned.

Unnerved, he restrained the urge to run away. He wasn't exactly skilled at love confessions. That a vague and roundabout one was the best he could come up with was, perhaps, not what most women would hope and dream for.

Slowly, however, a small smile crept onto Christine's lips. She reached out and grabbed his hand with her own.

"Are you sure you don't have me confused for the ocean?" she asked lightly.

"Quite sure." He tightened his fingers around hers. "But I hope you don't mind that our first date will be at the beach."

Christine wrapped her arms around him, threw her head back, and laughed and laughed. The sound was filled with such joy that it brought a faint smile to Simon's own lips. As he instinctively brought his hands up to meet her waist, memories of a time when he was hesitant to do so now seemed perfectly absurd. Looking down fondly at the laughing woman in his arms, he thought of one final, fitting verse.

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say…Rejoice.


A/N: Thank you for reading this story! If you enjoyed it, there are plans to expand and totally revamp it into a new and improved, novel-length version. So stay tuned for more, coming later this year!