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John Cusack

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There’s somebody singing outside of his window, a love song that is surprisingly in tune for somebody who is probably drunk off their ass.

To be honest it is something that John would normally find endearing, if it were actually directed at him.

Hell, he might have even found it endearing if it was for one of his neighbors, because love was love, and John wanted others to be happy.

If only his neighbors were actually here to receive it.

See the thing was, most people went away from winter break and the break in classes (or in some of their cases, work) meant that almost everyone in the apartment building was gone.

(Doing his laundry while the only other inhabitant of the building was their old lady landlord had been an experience John never intended to repeat).

Which included the three wonderful sisters that lived in the apartment next to his, the one that no doubt the aspiring Romeo outside of his window was trying to sing too. Briefly he wondered which of the sisters had won the heart of such a poor singer, but a second later he discards the thought, it’s not like it makes any difference.

John placed his laptop down onto his coffee table with extra care before going over to his balcony. The sliding glass door that he had left wedged open ever so slightly is pushed open fully, so John can stand out on it. Shivering for a brief second in his thin sweater as he looks down two stories to the man standing in the parking lot.

The stranger’s got a bright green sweatshirt on, waving his phone above his head like a flashlight, and still singing along to some song that John’s never heard of.

(Perhaps he’s making this all up as he goes).

It’s too dark and he’s too far away to see the other man’s expression properly, but the singing does falter for a second as the mystery man takes notice of John.

Seeing his chance, John shouts down to him. “The Schuyler sisters went upstate for break. You’ll have to come back next year.”

His little, “Oh,” doesn’t sound as disappointed as John would have expected. “Well, who are you?”

“Their neighbor,” he says, before adding, “John.”

“Hi Their Neighbor John. I’m Alexander. Also freezing. Just in case you were curious.”

“Is that a hint?”

“Depends, did it work?”

That is the part where he should laugh it off. Send Alexander on his way, but there’s something about him. The earnest manner of this complete stranger that has John ignoring every lecture he’s ever gotten about not letting strange potential serial killers into his apartment.

“I’ll buzz you up.”

There’s a rush of thank yous, fartoo many for John to keep track of as he retreats back into his apartment, to activate the buzzer that will let Alexander in through the front doors of the building. He hears the sound of someone thundering up the stairs – the wall in this apartment complex far too thin – before he hears the knock at the door. But he still hesitates a second before opening it, nearly shoots off a text to Lafeyette just in case he gets murdered in his own apartment, that way somebody knows where to look for the body, but a second later he realizes just how absurd that would sound.

No, there’s no way Alexander’s a serial killer, just some poor guy that happened to fall hard for one of the Schuyler sisters and seemed to forget that normal people go home for Christmas.

It’s those exact words that he leads with when he opens the door.

“I know that,” Alexander insists. As he unwraps a scarf from around his neck, to set on John’s couch with an ease that would seem strange for someone who has just entered in his house, but for some reason with this man looks almost charming. It probably has something to do with the fact that he is very attractive, there’s something about that hint of stubble and careless man bun that John is very much into, and well- “You’re staring at me.”

He hadn’t expected to be called out on it, and cannot help the blush that rises to his cheeks. “Strange person in my apartment, of course I’m staring,” John points out, even though that’s hardly the reason for his gaze. “And anyways, if you knew the sisters were be gone then what was up with the whole Romeo and Juliet act?”

Say Anything,” Alexander corrects. “That was a Say Anything reference and the fact that you don’t know that upset me Neighbor John.”

“I don’t like old movies.”

“You literally wound me,” Alexander clutches his heart dramatically at that, staggering in fake pain, before falling on John’s couch.

John can’t help but laugh as his antics. Minutes into meeting someone and he already feels comfortable around them, it’s weird, weirder than John would like to admit.

“You know you never answered my question.”

“What question was that?”

“What exactly you’re doing here?”

“Oh yes,” Alexander nods once, his fingers tucking into the pocket of his jacket to pull out his phone. The very phone he had been waving around as he’d stood beneath the balcony. He pulls something up on that, a messaging app, before tossing the phone in John’s direction.

There at the top of screen is the contact information Angelica written with a praise hands emoji and a fist emoji – a distinction that John doesn’t even want to begin to question, in fact, as he reads the messages any thought of Angelica’s contact name is forgotten.

For there is an incoming message that suddenly makes it all clear; why Alexander was standing under his balcony, why the phone had got tossed in his face, and why Angelica literally a week ago had shot him a wink as she promised to send him the best holiday gift ever this year.

It reads:

Alex! I need you to do me a huge favor? My neighbor John is being a loser and staying at school for the holiday, so get over there and make sure he hasn’t overdosed on eggnog. Also he’s super cute, single, and just your type. So get it.

There’s a follow up message reminding him to use protection that causes John to snort under his breath. Typical Angelica.

“So,” he says, shuffling a bit as he hands the phone back to Alexander. “You’ve done your job, you can report back that I’m safe and sound, not sad and lonely.”

“I don’t know,” Alexander replies, the grin on his face looking almost mischievous. “I’m concerned about you, maybe I should keep you company, make sure you don’t get too lonely.”

The words were surely meant to be said like an innuendo. There was no way he was misreading that situation, but still-

“And I mean, Angelica was right?”

“About what,” John asks.

“You are cute.”