That's what was being shoved up my ass!
I let out an annoyed huff, trying to adjust myself as I sat on the empty bench in the school courtyard. It wasn't my idea to be sent away to a school nowhere near home for my first try at college, for my first try at being social all the time- no home to disappear into. The 'homes' that the school gave us were small dormitories, hardly fitting two people.
And by now, I knew I should've complained about my roommate- but damn it, he was a gem.
He was caring and reckless, and I always happened to fall back into his arms. My roommate understood me in all of the right ways, no matter how much he got on my nerves. He said he'd meet me here- the damn flowers up my ass bench- for a late afternoon snack. He always found ways to drag me along with his charming smirks, I knew I could count on somebody for once. The crippling social anxiety that I had suffered from even after graduation hadn't made any of this easy, but my roommate listened to me.
There's no one else I'd rather have as my friend.
As if on cue, my roommate- Thomas Jefferson- burst through the doors. The same dummy that had gotten me through my first weeks of college. He'd never seen me cry, but I'm sure he had heard it way too many times. I cried into my pillow for the first day- all day- from being away from home. I know, I know, but it was difficult to leave my siblings at home. I was close to them all, but education was important.
And Thomas, he helped so much. He had strutted through the door of our dorm, tossed his bag down, then told me how upset he had been the first time he was away from home. He climbed up to the top of our bunk beds as I sobbed, and let his legs swing over the edge as he just spoke. How could he simply speak, so easy too? Unfair. And the way the only way I could only repay him was locking the door- both locks- after him asking just once. I wished there was more I could do, but Thomas wasn't exactly one for accepting help.
But why wasn't he upset to be away from home? I never had the chance to ask him, but thank god regardless for his smiles.
"James!" Thomas exclaimed, his bag slung over his shoulder as he rushed over to me.
"Hey Thomas," I said nervously, trying to brush away the fact I had been reminiscing over our friendship for the past twenty minutes. Yep, that was totally normal. "How's it going-"
"We gotta go!" He shouted, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me as my feet obeyed with curiosity. His southern accent was slowly disappearing, it was rich on the first day of class. But I still liked his voice, friends liked each other's little quirks like that. "Might've taken somethin' from Hamilton!"
"Thomas!" I groaned, a small smile appearing on my face as we dashed through the opposite side of the courtyard and into the halls of our school. "I thought you had to get along with him? Direct orders from Professor Washington?"
He flashed me a dazzling grin, his grip on my arms disappearing as a new warmth against my hand appeared. "Eh, that's no fun Jems!" My lips turned up at the nickname, his fingers laced with mine as we headed down a flight of stairs to the spare classroom. "Can't let that jerk catch us, but if he does- make sure he knows I'll sue."
I smiled as he laughed deeply, rolling his eyes as we ducked into a small classroom, empty seats reflected on the equally empty screen. Thomas' hair was frazzled from the sudden movement, and I couldn't help but chuckle at the excitement in his gaze. An unfamiliar warmth flooded through my mind, and I had to stare at the ground to get rid of it. The adrenaline was really getting to me, wasn't it?
"There," he purred, shooting me a grin as he took off his bag and dug through it. "Thanks, Jems, I promise the run was worth it."
"I should hope so," I joked, taking a seat against the wall in case Hamilton tried to look through the door's window. "What you got for me, Thomas?"
He laughed, running a hand through his messy hair as he tossed me a lollipop and a huge one at that! I could see why Hamilton was chasing him. I chuckled softly to myself while he took a seat next to me, settling against the hard wall.
"He had more, right?" I mumbled, watching as Thomas popped it into his mouth with ease. "I'd feel bad... Just taking this entire thing."
"'Course he does! He was givin' some out to the people in psychology- skipped me- so I had to steal two or so. But he's fine, he's got like fifty in there." I let out a relieved sigh, snorting sarcastically at my worry. Of course, Thomas didn't take the only ones. He was too... Kind. Even if it was Hamilton. "Plus, I know how much it damn sucks to get food taken. This is just revenge for last week."
I smiled to myself, taking the lollipop in between my lips as Thomas explained a 'brutal' revenge for the shit Hamilton had pulled on him. I was glad that I had gotten as lucky as him, impulsive and sarcastic, but even more, caring and warm. High school had been so different from this, it was a shame I hadn't known him when the issues at school wouldn't stop being replayed in my head.
I glanced at Thomas, still talking excitedly about his plans. He always included me, as a real friend would do. My eyes trailed down his sharp features, the hint of a beard on his dark skin. He was handsome, no doubt, he was pretty confident- in his joking way- with his looks anyway. He had told me about the girls he had been with in high school, and I knew he could be with anyone here if he wanted to. He was actually with someone here, in a way. I'd seen him talking to one of our fellow students many times, he even talked about her when we were alone. Jealousy bit at my traitorous heart.
The bell buzzed loudly, interrupting my thoughts, and Thomas ignored it completely. I snorted, nudging him with my shoulder as he finally got the idea. He stood, chipper as always, putting out a hand for me to take. His hands were rough with constant exercise, but they felt pretty soft to me. I took his outstretched grip, his strength well enough to pull me up.
"Wanna head back to the dorm Jems?" He asked, opening the door for me after letting go of my hand. My hand felt... Empty almost. "Gotta get some stuff done, don't want to keep you too long. I'll let you have a moment to yourself!"
I grinned at his playful words, he knew he couldn't bother me like that. I liked spending time with Thomas, his words- in the few months I had known him- were easy enough to make me flush to my core. It wasn't that easy to get a crush, especially when it came to me, but Thomas was truly something else. But for now, I would pretend nothing was wrong, everything was normal. It'd disappear soon enough.
We walked through the campus, Thomas looking for Hamilton at every turn. I grinned at his jumpiness, it was surprisingly often that I got to see him all suspicious. And I couldn't help but enjoy the touches he gave my arms whenever he thought he needed to hide.
He opened the door for the dorm room, and I felt his warmth pass by me as he followed me in, immediately tossing his things onto our shared desk with a smirk.
"Hey! No, I get to use the desk today, you know it," I hissed, poking him in the shoulder as he spread his stuff out. "I missed last time just cause I was sick, doesn't count."
Ah, yes. Our shared work area. We tried using it at the same time once, and oh man, that did not end well. It ended with me chucking a pencil at him, and him tossing an uncapped highlighter at me. So that was the day I had a smudge of bright orange across my cheek all day.
"No, no no." He grinned, scooting his chair in with a devilish smirk. "You know it's my day, you can use your bed."
"I don't like that," I muttered, trying to push him out of the chair. "I called dibs on the desk, alright?!"
"You can't do just that Jems!"
And that was our evening. Two damn college students arguing over who got to use a desk, even though we should have been studying. College is nowhere near easy. But, even after a day filled with Thomas' smiles, when I went to sleep that night, my chest felt painfully heavy.
"Thomas?" I said softly, testing to see if he was still awake. Darkness and cold surrounded the room, my t-shirt hardly keeping me warm. I didn't want to interrupt his beauty sleep, as he called it. He worked so much, I was secretly glad he was sleeping for once. "You up?"
"Mm." I heard from the bed above me, the wooden ceiling to my bottom bunk not giving away much besides a few rustles. "Yeah. What's up Jems?"
"Does the... Does the air feel heavy to you?"
I heard his soft and dazzling laugh, and he tossed his hand over the side of his bunk. "The air seems 'bout usual weight. You're feeling okay Jems?"
I chuckled halfheartedly, my heart pounding as if I were being squeezed. "Mm, yeah. Like, my chest hurts for some reason and... Yeah, just weird."
"C'mere Jems, let me feel your forehead. Don't want you getting sick again. Your first week you spent coughing and doing your little sneezes. You sound like a kitten when you do."
I snorted, but my chest felt so heavy I could hardly sit up so Thomas could feel my forehead. His touch was gentle, and I couldn't help but melt into it. Even in the complete darkness, he was still so gentle with me. The overly excited and dramatic man was so careful. How the hell did that happen?
"Nah, not too bad of a fever. We can get to the pharmacy tomorrow morning and get you some stuff." I tried to smile, but the vicious pain in my heart stopped me. But I was still grateful, this was probably some head cold, something like that. "You okay Jems? You're quieter than usual. Though you are always pretty quiet!"
"Just... Tired. Get some sleep Thomas, don't worry about it. Wake me when you get up."
He always let me sleep in. Always walked around quietly, waiting until I got my 'full eight hours' or whatever little remark he thought of that day. It oddly enough made me feel good.
"Got it," he murmured softly, and I could hear the smile laced into his words. "Go to sleep, kitten sneeze man."
I laughed, my cheeks feeling warm at his words. "Goodnight, Thomas."
"Nighty night, Jems. Get some sleep."
I- even with the horrible pain in my chest- fell asleep quickly after his words.
I woke up in a cold sweat, my chest heaving desperately. It was still early in the morning, Thomas' bunk quiet in sleep. But fuck! My mind was reeling, sheets sticking to my sweaty arms. I couldn't breathe, my dreams were vicious and I felt like I was bleeding from the inside out. The bleeding hearts that I had seen with Thomas, I thought they were inside of me, ripping and taking me under their vines. Adrenaline buzzed in my mind, the low hum of fear loud in my ears.
I sat up, my eyes darting to the door. The room spun, and I coughed into my hands. Damn it, the pharmacy couldn't come soon enough. But when I pulled away my hands were decorated with spots. I looked closer at my palm.
There were tiny white flowers.
Tiny white petals fell out of my mouth as I coughed, my entire body heaving as I shot out of bed and onto the floor. God- flowers? What the hell was that? I was dreaming, wasn't I? I stumbled into the bathroom, neat and clean that I was about to wreck. I gagged, tiny petals spilling out of my lips into the bathroom sink. My eyes burned as I straightened, splashing ice cold water on my face. It had to be a dream.
I made a soft noise with my aching throat. This was better than throwing up at least, but flowers? It was too early in the morning for me to understand, it had to be a dream. I sat on the edge of the sink with a swift hop, pulling out my phone that I had luckily left in my pocket. The low hum of fear swelled up in my ears, a desperate buzzing crawling in my skin as I tried to make sense of what was going on.
My fingers moved quickly over the keyboard, I wasn't wasting a second of this, even if it was a dream. Shit, what if I was dying? Flowers?! What if this was a prank? My throat had been scratchy for the past few days, but this was probably nothing. I didn't want to get Thomas worked up over some stupid petals, but damn! What the hell was this? My eyes widened as I skimmed along the words on my phone.
'Hanahaki Disease' is an illness born from one-sided love, where the patient throws up and coughs up flower petals when they suffer from the lack of returned love. When the carrier receives a verbal conformation of love, the flowers will get significantly less painful, drying themselves up. The infection can also be removed through surgery, but the memories with the one they love disappear along with the petals.
Vicious tears blurred my vision as I began to cough again, the white flowers tinted with a bit of pink. I brought my fist down onto the edge of the sink in pain, gagging on the small petals being tossed into the sink. Damn it, who was it? Who did I love? Scientifically it only took four minutes to fall in love, but damn it, I wasn't in love with anybody!
"James!" I heard from outside the bathroom door, pounding knocks ringing in my ears as I brushed the petals down the drain. I must have woken Thomas up. What if this wasn't a dream? "James, you okay?"
"Yeah," I coughed out, trying to calm myself down. I opened the door, a frantic Thomas staring back at me. A handsome, shirtless Thomas. His curls were falling into his face, sleep still heavy on his features. But he looked terrified as he took a step into the bathroom, patting my back. "I'm okay, Thomas. A-And sorry, did I wake you up?"
"Don't worry. Just don't throw up on me!" He laughed at the joke, but I could feel him inspecting my watering eyes and trembling grasp on my phone. I knew he thought simply had caught the flu, he had no idea there were flowers growing in my lungs. "Here, let me get you some water. Throwin' up sucks, believe me. I've had too many hangovers to let you go through this alone."
My heart twinged at his words, him somehow still making me smile even though I had been hacking up flowers for the past hour. But he didn't know what was happening, hell, I didn't know what was happening! But- he handed me a glass of water with a grin- Thomas sure made it easier.
"What happened, Jems?" He asked as I sipped the water, unable to keep my eyes off of his own dark ones. "Just feeling sick?"
"Mhm," I mumbled. That seemed like the simplest thing to say. "You can... Go back to sleep, I'll be okay."
"I want you to be okay now though!" Thomas exclaimed, making me smile into the almost empty glass. "Here, I think the pharmacy on Main Street is open all night too."
"It's alright, don't worry about it, Thomas." I sighed softly, scooting myself closer to him without realizing it. I wanted to be... Near him. It was hellishly early in the morning, I was not a goddamn owl! I hated being awake, especially after all the years of spending all night studying. The toll it takes on people... Is not good. "You need to go to sleep."
"I ain't sleeping unless you are Jems," he said with a smirk, taking me by the hand and pushing me towards the bed.
I could see the imprints of tiny white petals, but I slid in between the sheets before Thomas could see them too. What would he think if he saw them? I sighed to myself, I didn't want to scare my closest friend away. Thomas took a seat at the desk, giving me a playful look.
"Not gonna leave you, James. Wake me up if you need anything."
I nodded, my stomach still reeling from the flowers. Thomas was so caring, even if the way he showed it was through sleepy smiles at two in the morning. I would take it any day. I'd do more research on the disease once I woke up if I could even fall asleep at this point. But with Thomas' soft snores giving me the protection I never knew I needed, I finally fell asleep.
The next morning, more flowers left my lips.
It happened just as I was getting dressed in the bathroom as Thomas finished up a report at the desk. I started coughing, normal. Maybe the night before was just a dream, when had I seen flowers leave someone else's mouth. But then I started gasping for breath, petals landing on my clothes. Thomas knocked on the door with the same worried expression as I refused to let him see what was going on. I was alright, just a bit woozy.
"I can come with you to the pharmacy if you'd like," Thomas murmured as he handed me a fresh glass of water. His warm brown skin looked incredibly soft in the morning sunlight. "I just have a debate this morning, I can afford to cancel. Plus Hamilton is there, so just another reason to skip."
I smiled to myself at his words. "Thanks, Thomas, it's alright. I'll be back by late afternoon, we can-" my heart pattered unfamiliarly as I spoke- "maybe meet by our usual spot? Though I am not the biggest fan of those creepy flowers around it."
I shuddered at the mere thought of flowers, I couldn't stand looking at the bleeding hearts all around the bench. But Thomas made it so much better, it was just a spot we both knew where it was. We hardly ever stayed. Thomas was fond of eating and walking, plus playfully teasing me about the sandwich I ate every day.
He snorted, giving my back a gentle touch that I craved for. "Got it Jems, see you then! Take a nap if you get back early, you were up pretty late. I've got a lunch date today with that girl I was telling you about, so sleep!" My heart burned with jealously, why was I like this? I brushed off the thought, it was just a date! It's nothing! "I want you to get better, I need my partner in crime at one hundred percent!"
I nodded, a grin tugging at my lips. I was so lucky to room with him, he was amazing. He gave my shoulder a squeeze as he walked out with his magenta bag over his arm, shooting me a smile and a wave before disappearing down the hall. I felt my heart sink without him there, but I didn't want to get him sick too! What if it could be spread?
I tapped at my phone as I picked up a bottle of decongestant and cooling stuff for my raw throat. The walk to the pharmacy wasn't bad, thankfully our campus was close to a place perfect for hangover cures. I didn't have one, but still. And more importantly, who the hell was in love with? The only person that made me feel cared for was Thomas, so who could it be? Besides the fluff of hair I called my roommate, I didn't have any close friends. I knew a few of Hamilton's friends, after a run-in with him and Thomas.
And speaking of which, Laurens was at the pharmacy too. He was the only guy out of Hamilton's group that I had talked to, we even exchanged numbers, but still, we weren't close. But it was nice to get through college with a few people of support! I nodded encouragingly to myself, waving at Laurens as he approached me with a grin.
"Hey, James!" The freckled man grinned, glancing down to the medicine in my hands. "What's up?"
"Ah, hey Laurens," I smiled tiredly, shaking my bag of pills with an eye roll. I wasn't telling him that I'm gagging up flowers, in love with someone I didn't even know. "Just- er- uh, I'm just sick. A bit under the weather, this new state is weird. I was living in California for a while, moved to Virginia, now New Jersey."
"Oh cool!" He exclaimed, giving me a pat on my back. It didn't warm my skin like Thomas' touch did for some reason. "Little colder in New Jersey than California, eh?"
I chuckled, nodding in agreement as I studied the large coffee and a new pair of extra strength glasses. "What're you doing here Laurens? Don't you have classes later?"
"Oh!" He laughed, looking down at the things in his hands. "Yeah, but Alex pulled an all-nighter last night, and being his boyfriend, I gotta take care of him. Plus, his eyes are gonna strain unless he uses these, and he doesn't like contacts. He's a picky guy."
I snorted, a small smile crossing my features. "Sounds like Thomas! Gotta keep him from starting a fight every other hour, but I mean- I'm sure Hamil- Alex, can be like that too."
Laurens rolled his eyes, smiling as if recalling a good memory. "Yeah, he really can be! Are you close to Thomas? He's a handful, I knew him in high school and he was somehow even more chaotic than he is now."
"I'm- We're just friends, roommates. But he's still-" I chuckled- "pretty chaotic. Y'know, I'm trying to keep him under wraps."
"Well, keep doing what you're doing James, Thomas has been surprisingly chipper! Sure, he's always snarky, but I think you really help. Make sure you make him know that he's not the boss of you."
"Oh," I chuckled. "I know. He can just get a bit... Excited and all. That's Thomas for you. I'll make sure that he's not picking a fight with you or any of your friends."
Laurens grinned, patting me on the back as he started to walk away. "Thanks, man. Hope you feel better, I gotta run!" He waved at me, and I said a brief goodbye, my spirits lifted a bit from the conversation. "See ya, James!"
"Bye," I said. I turned back to the shelf, a grin tugging at the corners of my lips.
A friend! I just made a damn friend, well, had a conversation with someone who I wasn't sure about our relationship. So... Yay? But I guess all of this would be a little better, I was excited to tell Thomas all about it during lunch. But- wait! Damn it! He had that date for lunch, I'll just tell him about it this late afternoon. My heart sank, but I brushed it off. It was just jealousy, Thomas was a good man and I wanted to spend time with him, nothing wrong with that.
My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I tugged it out with a smile as I saw the familiar caller profile.
"Hey Thomas, how's it going?" I said into the phone, only to be greeted by a loud laugh.
"James! The girl and I- her name is Maria- we're totally hitting it off. I didn't want you worrying about me Jems, trying to seduce her with my charm." I slipped out of the pharmacy, things in hand as I returned to the dorm. The door clicked gently behind me as I set my things down softly. Of course she liked him. "I'll see you for our early evening snack, I can't wait to see ya! Like, Maria is so cool, like- oh damn it! Gotta go Jems, can't wait to tell you about it! Bye!"
"Er- bye Thomas, uh, see you!"
I coughed up flowers for the rest of the afternoon.
By the time Thomas returned to the dorm, I was basically dying.
Okay, I was being a bit dramatic, but after coughing of slightly larger petals for three hours straight, my throat felt like the depths of hell. And I still didn't know what was going on, I still didn't know who I had my 'one-sided love' for, and damn it, I was curious too. Why would I, James Madison, want to fall in love? I knew there wasn't a choice most of the time, but still! I had a right to know!
I had heard about the hanahaki disease before, but never like this! What if it was someone I didn't even know? Oh no, I was not getting into astrological 'soulmate' shit.
I groaned as I smashed my face into the pillows, annoyed at the fact the only person I could think about was Thomas. I had a simple crush on him, who wouldn't! But I can keep my cool when I'm with him. His smiles were the thing that got me through lonely days, he was simply so caring and kind and everything at once, damn it. I wondered if I could tell him about this... He always said I could talk to him about anything.
I trusted Thomas.
But what would he say? My pathetic attempt at trying to understand this hanahaki stuff, what would he say to that? Maybe he could help me find whoever I was in 'love' with, he did know a good amount of the school's students. I shivered in my blanket, and then I heard the door open. I shoved the petals that were still lying on my sweatshirt into my pockets, I hadn't even bothered to make it to the sink. I'd get rid of them once I was along, I didn't want to stress or gross Thomas out.
"Jems! Hey, I didn't expect to see you here!"
The familiar voice rang nicely in my ears, warmth making my heart patter softly. My heart felt as if a single vine unwrapped from my heart, Thomas was always an amazing distraction. I snorted as I glanced to see the man, still talking excitedly. My head was banging and fuzzy, I should have taken those stupid pills! I forgot to, too taken over by coughing.
"God, I can't wait to tell about this girl, she's- hey, Jemmy! What's wrong?"
He kneeled down next to me, and I sat up and shot him an awkward smile. "I-I'm sorry, just sick. As usual. Anyway, how was it? When do I get a chance to meet this mysterious Maria?"
"Oh man." He took a seat next to me, his hair hitting the top of the bunk. "She was so cool, like just... Awesome. I don't know, who knows if it's going to go anywhere, but damn, she's cool. And there was this other girl, Eliza, and she was sweet."
I teetered on my feet, and I could hear Thomas talking passionately. My chest heaved, and I almost starting coughing again, but I felt Thomas' warm grip on my arm.
"No, no, don't worry." I looked up to him, smiling to show the fact that I was alright. Just sick, that's it. Just coughing up flowers every other minute, I was alright. Speaking of which, was I supposed to get a doctors appointment after getting this? It is called a disease after all. "Keep talking, don't worry. I'm listening."
"Jems," Thomas breathed out, his hand going to my forehead. "You're burning up! We need to get you to a doctor, alright?"
I nodded dully, still protesting even though he was tugging me out by my arm. "Don't worry Thomas, chill. I'm fine, just a bit of a fever, it's nothing."
"James, you're mumbling, I think you're a bit less than fine," Thomas murmured softly, and I found myself burying into his shoulder. His arm wrapped around my side, and we stumbled through the dormitory halls. "James, hey. We're going to the hospital, okay? It's not too far away, we can walk. You think you can do that?"
I nodded woozily, only to be hoisted up by the waist by strong arms. And suddenly I was face to face with Thomas, in his arms bridal style as he smiled, worry etching against his features. I nuzzled impulsively into his chest, heat flooding my already cloudy mind. Darkness tinted the corners of my vision. When did I get so out of it? But Thomas helped, and I felt our fast pace change as we entered a big room with... A white ceiling? Ah, that's right, hospital! I was curious why Thomas was so concerned, but I couldn't help but smile nonetheless.
"Hey, Jems," Thomas murmured softly as I felt a cold seat beneath me as I was shifted out of his arms. I wanted to reach out and touch him again, he was so damn warm. "We're here."
"Here?" I mumbled, sitting upright and blinking viciously. My vision was flooded with white walls, and nurses running about. "What? We got here fast. Did I fall asleep or something?"
Thomas laughed, a smirk appearing on his face. "Mhm! Glad to see sleeping beauty is feeling a bit better, I got you an appointment and you're good to go Jems. Damn, you should've seen yourself, mumbling and everything." I blinked, a small thank you leaving my lips. "Hah, you're cute."
"Cute?" I repeated, grinning. My chest wasn't heaving so violently anymore, it almost felt... Alright. Wow, not even a few weeks into college and I was already in the hospital. With Thomas nonetheless. "I'm short, but I'm not cute."
"Don't make me take it back!" Thomas laughed, helping me stand up as a doctor came. My cheeks were warm as he gave me his soft hand. "I'm just being nice 'cause you're sick Jems."
"Mhm, yep. Sure!" I snorted, glancing between the doctor and Thomas. "Oh- er-"
"Yeah," Thomas sighed dramatically, taking a seat as he waved to me. "Doctors won't let me come back unless I'm family, but I'll be here if you need anything Jems, like always."
My face softened, my heart pounding at his chuckled words. I waved back before we disappeared. "Thank you, Thomas. Really."
I ducked away before he could see my face. Ah, god. I hated feeling like this, I was probably just so flustered from feeling so woozy. This crush on him was really not helping my case. I was alright, seriously. Now, it was time to convince a doctor that.
It was a young woman, her helping me up and sit on a small bench sort of thing. But the bench was soft and elevated, and she inspected me with a polite smile.
"So, Mr. Madison, what brings you in today?" She asked, skimming over my pale features.
"W-Well," I started, a vicious stammer arising at the sudden conversation. I was the worst with talking to new people. "Ahem- I mean- I've been coughing. I have a fever, and I've been throwing up..."
"Flower petals?" She said softly, her eyebrows furrowed together in thought as I nodded frantically. This was an actual thing? Oh god, was she going to tell me I was going to die like this? "Mr. Madison, is there any special people in your life?"
I shook my head, confused. "No, nothing like that. But I read about it online, hanahaki disease-" she nodded as I began to tremble-"and I don't even know who it is."
"Mr. Madison, that's completely okay." I breathed a sigh of relief at her words, and she wrote something on her clipboard. "What I'm going to have you do is go on antibiotics. Flowers are blooming inside of your lungs, and these will definitely slow down the growth."
Slow down, not stop. "Uh, got it. What can I do? I mean, why am I just in love... With no one?"
Her face changed, as if she knew something I didn't. "Mr. Madison, please focus right now on finding who it is your experiencing this love with. This is a sophisticated disease and there is no immediate cure for, however twice a day with the medicine will make a difference. Considering how quickly the flowers are progressing in the growth, the treatment will be specialised for you."
I nodded along, but I felt like I was going to cry. Sure, I admit it, I wanted to be loved, but who didn't? And there are too many risks that come along with relationships, in the end you either break up or get married. Not a chance I want to take. But what if I had to? I shivered. It scientifically only took four minutes to fall in love, goddamnit, who could it even be?
"It's going to be okay, sir," she said. I wondered how many other people she said those words to. How many other people she had lied to. "It's important that you told us about this, thank you very much. If there are any progressions, let us know."
"I-I will. Okay. But what if the flowers don't stop growing? Like, what if I don't want to forget the person too?"
She sighed softly, biting her lip. "I'm sorry, Mr. Madison. Please, begin taking the medicine tonight. Every morning and night until you run out, then return so we can refill your prescription."
I sighed softly, nodding and thanking her as she continued. It was hopeless then? I only had the choice to forget someone, or... Get someone to fall in love with me. I wondered which was more impossible? I scowled to myself, looking at my shaking hands.
I needed to tell Thomas about this stuff tomorrow, I knew he had a paper due tonight, I wasn't about to let him fail his classes from worrying about me. I wanted to see Thomas... Be his best. Now, getting Thomas to accept help was something else. I chuckled fondly at our shared memories, the doctor giving me a odd look.
"I-I'm sorry, excuse me," I said, my cheeks flushing with embarrassment. "Just thinking. So, where should I pick up my medicine?"
We chatted a bit, and I was glad I could just pick my medicine up there. No prescription needed for hanahaki disease, apparently choking up flowers was an emergency enough. My eyes flicked to my watch, almost an hour had gone by, me listening to the gruesome details about what was stuck in my lungs. Real, living flowers. Apparently the bouts of nausea with a high fever were natural, I was glad that Thomas was there to catch me when I fell asleep from being so ill.
"Just keep taking the medicine, alright Mr. Madison? And the general flu medicine that you mentioned you bought, to help the fever. Do you have anyone to assist you around the college? You might feel woozy at times, even sleepy. You could feel safer with someone helping you."
"Thomas," I murmured without even realising it. "I-I! I mean, I have my roommate to help."
"That's great, Mr. Madison. I believe we're done here, any questions?"
Questions were practically falling out of my mouth! But I swallowed my desperation, nodding to her. I stood up, the Puerto Rican doctor flashing me a grin as she shook my hand. I tried to smile back, exhaustion wearing me down. I just wanted to get back to the dorm, back to the warm sheets and ignore the fact that I was coughing up flowers.
I slipped out of the room, my smile dropping as soon as I got out of the room. I wanted to sleep already! I had been up at two in the morning, and it was now time for me to go to bed! It was getting pretty late anyway, I'd be fine if I could get some sleep. Thomas was still stretched across the seats, and I snorted as he bounced back to life with a grin.
"Jems!" Thomas grinned, patting me on the back. My heart tapped in my chest, a gentle knocking on a door. "You alright? Do I need to beat someone up? Y'know, like whoever got you sick!"
I melted into his touch on my shoulder. "Let's just... Go back to the dorm. I'm damn exhausted."
He raised an eyebrow, but we walked outside nonetheless. "Don't you need to get some medicine Jemmy? Being sick sucks, I don't want you feeling like that. Like I said, gotta keep you feeling good."
I grinned up at him, his eyes looking like pools of honey in the evening sunlight. "Thanks. I got some there, I had a bit of luck. Got my meds here, don't worry about me Thomas. I'll be back to usual within a week." I hated lying to Thomas. "You have an essay due tonight, we can go back, you can work on that. I'll go to bed I think."
"I got it Jems, wanna get somethin' to eat beforehand?" Thomas smirked, glancing down at me- wrapped deeply in my scarf. "Maybe your growth was stunted 'cause you ain't eating enough Jems."
"Hey!" I exclaimed, chuckling as I swatted at his shoulder playfully. "I'm not short!"
"That's what short people say."
I laughed- a loud, real laugh- and Thomas' gaze on me flashed with something I hadn't seen before. He brought his gentle hand on top of my head, ruffling my hair as he turned away. My lips parted in surprise, he was usually so direct. His eyes would never falter from my own, but this was something else.
"We're gonna go get a waffle," he chuckled, turning back to me with the same smirk he always held.
"Those are my favourite!" I exclaimed, grinning. "You remembered!"
"Of course I did."
And that night, after our breakfast for dinner, once I was in bed, I cried so hard. Thomas told me to wake him up if I needed anything, and my eyes spilled tears down my cheeks so desperately because didn't want to have that surgery and forget what love was. I just realised it and I wasn't about to let go.
Because I was so in love with Thomas Jefferson that I could hardly breathe.
I was more worried than I let on.
My partner in crime James Madison was sick. I had known him for only a month or two, but it felt like I grew up with him by my side. But he had been so quiet lately. We visited the hospital about a week ago, but his throwing up, early in the morning hadn't stopped. My friend had various degrees of being quiet. There was a gentle, thoughtful silence, and then the one where I annoyed him too much. He always said I didn't though, making my heart patter. But this was a whole new quiet, his head ducked down as we walked together to our morning lectures.
I cared about him in ways I hadn't cared about a friend before. The mere thought of being gay in my head was long gone, I had been raised in a viciously Christian household and being gay was the ultimate insult. I was in college, I didn't care whether someone liked dick or not, but if I ever had any sort of 'impure' thoughts, as my mother delicately put it, I'd ruin the family. But James was simply... Him. And according to my mind, that's what I liked. Not even my mother could change that.
"Hey Jems," I said softly as he walked me to my first period like always. "You alright? You're looking very pale, do I need to carry you over to the hospital again?"
He chuckled quietly, his eyes bloodshot and red. "I'm okay Thomas, just tired. And still sick! I hate it, but... I am enjoying the attention from you."
I raised my eyebrows in surprise, cracking a grin. "Pfft, you know I'd give you attention any day Jems." Another smile from him. "But we can go back to the doctors tomorrow, it's been almost two weeks. You don't seem like you're feeling better."
He pushed away my words, a tiny smile on his face. "Nah, it's alright. But thank you, Thomas- g... I know this is probably weird and stuff, but could we go back to our usual early evening snacks maybe? You've been out with... Some girls a lot, and I miss having pretzels to look forward to."
"Aw, you don't miss me Jems? I'm hurt!" I laughed, but I knew what he was talking about. In a desperate attempt to try and push away my feelings for him, I've been out with some of the girls at school to push it back down. My feelings could probably be reversed, this couldn't have been anything. "But yeah, wanna meet up today?"
He perked up, his warm brown hand lingering on my shoulder as he spoke. "Y-Yeah! That'd be really cool, I'd like that. Erm... And I'm sorry Thomas. I've been being kind of... Weird. And it isn't your fault, it's just... It's nothing. Don't worry."
My expression softened as I nudged him gently with his elbow. "I've got your back. You know you can talk to me about anything Jems. Even sex positions, because seriously I-"
"Okay, okay! I get it, Thomas!" He laughed that wonderful laugh along with his words. I could feel the misplaced tension in between us melting away through our gentle teasing, who knew what the real reason behind its beginning. It happened when I brought James to the hospital, maybe he really was just not feeling great. "I don't want to know how you know that."
"I said I didn't want to know!"
So there we were two college roommates, laughing about anything we could think of. I grinned down at the chatty man, the bounce in his step returning after a few minutes. I hadn't seen it in almost two weeks, and I was overjoyed to see it again. And who knew that we were both hiding things from each other, and the desperation I felt to tell him my secrets was unbearable. If only I could simply sit down and just... Talk to him. But his wonderful eyes would watch me and I'd lose myself if I wasn't careful.
"You know what I've noticed Jems?" I said when we took a breath from laughing our heads off.
"You're never interested in any of the girls I've known." James raised his eyebrows at my words, glancing at me. Could he tell I was fighting feelings that were more than friendship towards him? Or did it seem like I was just being weird? "I could set you up if you'd like."
He chuckled shyly, poking me in the side as we slowly made our way to my first lecture of the day. "Eh, I'm good. I don't know if they'd want to put up with my sneezing all the time."
"Well I already do, and you sound like a kitten! Can't see how anyone could be objective of that."
He snorted, opening the classroom door. I smiled to myself, he was always such a gentleman, even when I was being odd.
"Well- er," he started as I stepped into the lecture room. "Well, I already am 'into' someone."
"Wait, who?" I exclaimed curiously, my professor shouting for me to get inside of the classroom or leave. "Jems, wait! Who is it?"
James chuckled, waving at me while shooting and glance to my annoyed teacher. "Looks like someone's calling for you. Better get to class Thomas."
"See you later!"
The hours ticked by painfully slowly. Curiosity wore down any sort of impulse control I had by that point, I was hella curious! He couldn't just leave me hanging like that, did he have any idea how excited he was making me? I chuckled silently to myself, I was always excited to see him, especially with the fact we haven't had our usual early evening snacks in a while! I made the thing up just to get to know him better, he was really a different guy than he was a few weeks ago. And I liked it.
I felt a sharp pain on the back of my neck, and I spun around with a scowl. A dark-haired man, Hamilton shot me a grin as he toyed with a small rubber band on his finger. His friends were bearable, some of them were actually decent, but he was just something else.
"Fuck off!" I whisper-shouted, glaring at him as angrily as possible. I would not be getting in trouble and missing my time with my close friend just cause of some jerk. I was in last period, I wasn't about to ruin this. "Leave me alone."
"What's up your ass today?" Hamilton muttered back, raising an eyebrow. "Seems like the stick is farther up than usual. You finally get laid by a guy? Someone's dick up your ass this time?"
I spun around in my seat, sudden tears pricking at my eyes. "I'm-! Fuck you!" My voice raised, my gaze set on Hamilton's tired but burning eyes. Why the hell did I have to feel like this? All those horrible, unlucky times where I told my mother I thought a boy was cute, why were they coming back? "What the-!"
I spun back around in my seat, Hamilton vicious snickering filling my ears. My mind was filled with painful memories. My mother told me if I was gay, I wouldn't be her son anymore. And Hamilton had to bring something so stupid up, and me- also being stupid- had to get so utterly worked up over it. I shoved the thoughts down. I knew it was unhealthy, but damn it, I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt. The professor gave me a sharp look, his eyes flicking to the man behind me as well.
"You two, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton will be staying after class," the older man sneered. My heart dropped, shooting another scowl towards a disgruntled Hamilton. "You need to pay for the time you've spent chatting in class today."
"Since when do we get punishments in college?" I hissed out before Hamilton could make his own witty remarks. "Last time I checked, detention only exists in high school."
"Mr. Jefferson!" My teacher growled. I bit my lip, already annoyed with myself. Damn it! I've already been pissed off because of Hamilton, and now I had to be a loud mouth. "Last time I checked, I was the one in charge here. Don't make me add time for you to stay later."
I nodded begrudgingly, but my throat felt like it was being scraped raw with anger and pain. Staying after, with Hamilton too! This wasn't my fault, not at all. I was just trying to get through this day. I just wanted to push through, but my day was being ruined. The period went horribly slow, bitterness in my mouth as I stamped up to the professor's desk at the end of the period.
I could be out of here in time to see James. Just gotta be on my best behavior, ignore Hamilton, and all of that jazz. I wasn't about to let some idiot take away my own time with my friend. I had the right to be pissed off, but I would have to swallow it down and give myself some space so I don't 'accidentally' punch him in the face. I always wanted to do that, sure, but it's frowned upon on campus. For some reason.
"Mr. Jefferson," the professor said coldly. I wasn't one for getting in trouble, but I did what I had to do. I felt a man shuffle up next to me, and I winced. I just felt like seeing James, but who knew what time I was getting out of here?! "And Mr. Hamilton. Ready for detention?"
All I knew was I walked back to the dormitory by myself.
When Thomas came back to the room, I pretended I was asleep. I faced the blank wall, tears spilling over my cheeks. I knew I shouldn't be so bothered by this, my day was absolute shit, and I was kind of losing it. I was so sick of throwing up flowers, I found out I was failing a class and I just, for one single moment, wanted to talk to Thomas. He didn't even show up. And I was such a crybaby for having just a little bump in the road and sobbing my eyes out over it.
"Jemmy," Thomas murmured to my unmoving body. I was pretty sure he could tell I was pretending to sleep, but he just kept talking in such a low voice that maybe he thought I was sleeping. He was always considerate. I shoved the thought out of my head. I was supposed to be angry at him, damn it! "I'm really sorry."
I didn't move, biting down on my lip to prevent myself from leaping into his arms. Because I loved the idiot whispering on the other side of me, and I didn't want to freak him about. He sounded so warm though as he explained why he couldn't come.
"Jems, I'm sorry. I got caught up arguing with Hamilton and we had to stay after class and clean the boards. I tried to text you but my teacher saw and took my phone, god, I really am sorry Jems."
My heart thumped loudly at his words, I wondered if he could hear it. I was supposed to be feeling so much hatred towards him, but I was so exhausted from the two weeks of pushing my feelings down, I couldn't help it. I just wanted to tell him already, it sucked so much not telling Thomas things. We had brief little moments, where I'd forget all about the stupid flowers and I'd just see Thomas and his fluffy head bouncing beside me. Those were the best.
"Looks like you really are asleep eh, James?" He chuckled softly and my heart dropped. "But... Just wake me up if you need anything." My mind was screaming for him to stay. I knew that he was just going to the bed on top of mine, but please, just stay. "Goodnight, Jemmy. I'm sorry."
I felt the bed above me creak as Thomas climbed into it, the lights turning off. The second darkness shrouded the room, tears fell down my cheeks and onto the flowers that had practically become one with my mattress. I curled as tightly into a ball as I could, trying to ignore the fact that it was either forget about Thomas, all our memories over these past few weeks or get a genuine confession out of him.
My body shook with sobs. I didn't want to forget him, that was the last thing I wanted. The only thing I wanted right now was to wake Thomas up, sit in his arms as I complained about my pissy professor and the fact that the only person I knew in any of my classes was Aaron Burr and he spent most of his time with a girl named Theodosia. 'Cause I had no idea how to talk to new people, and Thomas was the only one my words came out so easily that it made me want to smile.
Then I wanted to hear all about his run-in with Hamilton, and the comebacks he used. I knew I shouldn't believe his story, but Thomas never lied to me. But he said he would be there- he'd meet me at that damned bench and he didn't. Even so, what if what he said was true? Gah, it was all so confusing and it was too late at night to be thinking about this sort of thing anymore.
I let out a shuddering breath. It was alright. That's just what I needed, a good, solid cry. I'd try to talk to Thomas tomorrow, the medicine made me sleepy as hell, but Thomas hadn't suspected anything. I let my eyelids close as I dusted away the flower petals from my bunk.
I was in love with Thomas Jefferson and I'd be lying if I said I regretted it.
Even after everything.
Almost a week flicked by, and I was trying a new tactic to get rid of the flowers blooming in my lungs. And it was probably the most painful, heart-shattering tactic that I had ever done.
I was avoiding Thomas.
If anything, I was getting sicker. I'd duck my head down when I saw the familiar man in the hallways, pretended to be asleep by the time he returned home, because maybe, just maybe, I could shove these feelings down so I could feel normal again. I hardly talked, only to one friend I had made in a class named Aaron, though he spent a good amount of time with Hamilton's friend group and his girlfriend. So occasionally I'd talk, but nothing extreme. That's how much of my social life revolves around Thomas.
And yep, I was still in love with him.
I wasn't exactly sure how one fell out of love with someone else, but it sure wasn't easy. The more time I spent with my head smashed in my pillow or bent over my homework, the more I'd think about the fact I would rather be with Thomas.
Flowers came up more often, no matter how many consecutive days I had been taking my medication. And they weren't just simple petals anymore, they were full-on flowers. White ones decorated with blood from my practically ragged throat came up the most often, but I got the occasional red one or even purple. But I wasn't interested, flowers only served to disgust me by now. But all of this was for Thomas, and even if in the end I'd probably forget him through surgery, it was worth it.
I took a heavy step out of the bathroom stall, my throat burning with pain from my constant coughing. The petals of plants always looked so soft, but when I was gagging them up every so often, they weren't exactly 'soft.' I shuddered. I wished I could tell Thomas about all of this.
My gaze shot up, the warmly familiar voice settling nicely in my ears. There stood my roommate and the love of my life. And I was exhausted, a complete look of rings around my eyes, my gaze bloodshot. And while Thomas looked... Like him. Of course, beautiful as always.
"James, I haven't... Are you okay?" Thomas asked softly, drying his hands with a paper towel before taking a soft step towards me. My heart fluttered. "You've been leaving early and going to bed early... It feels like I haven't seen you in forever! Even though it's just been a few days, still."
I tried to smile, but he was so gorgeous I could hardly look at him without my face growing hot. "I-I'm okay, thank you. How are you? I'm... I'm sorry I haven't asked that lately."
He tilted his head, but that nice smile appeared on his lips. "I've been missin' you of course, Jems! We need to have some sort of time set aside to talk, seriously! Like, the other people here are so-" he stuck out his tongue in thought like the cutie he was-"not you."
My face burned, when had he gotten so smooth with his words? He always had been, sure, but his words simply struck me to the core. Did he really miss me as I missed him? I shook my head. Nope. No way.
"Ah, Jems," he muttered. "You have a bit of a thing on your neck, here let me-"
He reached out to touch me, and just the briefest pressure on my bloody throat made me let out a loud, pathetic yelp as I hopped backward. The back of my head crashed into the wall of one of the bathroom stalls, pain blooming immediately.
"James!" Thomas exclaimed, startled. He leaned down next to me, hoisting me back up to my feet and momentarily I melted so nicely into his touch. God, how I have missed this. But the pain of my neck and head thundered viciously, my mind shouting to stay in Thomas' arms forever and to run away. I was trying to avoid him, damn it! "James, oh god, are you okay? Here- I have some bandages in my bag-"
"No!" I shouted, slipping out of his grasp, tears already blurring my vision. "I-I'm okay," I panted, Thomas' eyes wide on my own. "I'm okay, I'm going to class- I'm-!"
I dashed out of the room, the door slamming behind me as I refused to look back. I wanted to though, so badly, damn it! I wanted to be with Thomas, I wanted- I didn't know what I wanted anymore.
My next two ending classes were exhausting. I wanted to lay down and cry, but could I cry... While lying on top of Thomas or something? That'd be good. I was so excited to climb into the sheets and just sleep for a bit, those medicines were horrible on my system, sleep seeming like the only thing that I could trust these days.
Except for Thomas.
I pushed the thought away, trying to avoid him, remember? If I could just not think about him for a bit, then maybe I'd be okay. But he gave me this flush of comfort, an odd sort of relief I felt whenever I thought about him. Was that normal or just some sort of side effect of the medicine? I chuckled dryly at my thoughts, was I seriously going insane?
I trudged through the day, taking a long stroll around the campus, debating whether or not to go to the hospital again. They just told me to come back if anything progresses or changes, were dramatic mood swings some sort of progression? And constant crying with the desperate need for sleep? Plus, from hitting my head today, I was sure I had been bleeding at one point or another.
By the time I got back to the dorm, the sun was just disappearing over the rooftops of the city. I peeked in the door, but the room was still quiet and empty. What if this was how Thomas and I stayed forever? Awkwardly avoiding each other, was that what I had forced our relationship to become?
I shoved the sad thoughts away, getting some studying in before I fell behind in any of my classes. I had already failed an important test, I wasn't about to fail an entire subject. Getting a degree in English was not exactly easy. An hour or two ticked by, and I realized I had been studying on my very uncomfortable bed the entire time. Because Thomas was the one who always said that it was his day to use the desk because maybe I was always waiting for him to sit down there and make one of his witty remarks.
I slid in between the sheets after a while, deciding that I would go to bed early and get up early. Maybe, I could even see Thomas before he woke up. He went to the gym most mornings and it was not a bad sight to see when Thomas was wearing only a tank top to cover his muscles. I chuckled weakly to myself, I had been so caught up in all my emotions, I could hardly laugh anymore.
I sighed softly, I'd talk to Thomas soon. I would do it, I promised myself. I let myself fall asleep, soon enough we would all be back on track. It was going to be okay, I'd be fine.
When I woke up, the morning light not even yet trickling through the blinds, and I started gasping, coughing and sobbing so viciously,
because suddenly, I couldn't breathe.
I woke up violently, noise ringing in my ears from who knew where. I had slowly walked back to the dormitory after a slow walk around the courtyard, it reminded me of my time with James. Gah, I kept thinking about 'my time with him' as if it was years ago. He had been gone almost all week, already asleep every time I got home. I was so stupid! I should've kept my mouth shut and I wouldn't have gotten detention, fuck!
I saw him in the bathroom today, broken and utterly terrified, I was so desperate to help him. But he ran right out of my grasp, and I basically... Shattered. I was left in a gasping mess, bent over the sink, splashing frigid water on my face. Why did he always get me so worked up? Goddamnit, all those lectures from my parents, boys should not enjoy the company of other boys, that's exactly what I was doing.
I shook with pain after he left, tears burning in my eyes. I never ever cried. I knew I had to face my childhood one way or another, but I never thought that I was gay. Was... Was there something wrong with me? What if I really was gay? Even bisexual? What if my mother found out, what would she do? I grew up in a Christian household, but there was something sinister underneath all our times at church. Most Christians are lovely, but gah, my mother was terrifying.
I tossed and turned in my bed, willing for sleep to come. I needed to talk to James. I was worried about him too, he hit his head pretty hard and it didn't seem like his cold was getting any better. My heart twinged in concern. Was he mad at me? Still for the detention? I sighed softly, grabbing my sheets to twist them over myself yet again. All of this was my fault, I just wanted James back.
I heard my roommate rustle in his blankets below as I let out a slow breath. He couldn't sleep either. Maybe this could be an opportunity to talk to him, to make things right. My heart lifted a bit, and I sat up on one elbow, curious if he actually was awake. This could be a chance!
He coughed once, but then his simple coughs turned into desperate, sputtering gasps as he sprung out of bed, darting into the bathroom. Must've been some sort of head cold, his throat was probably sore too! I sat up completely, debating whether or not to follow him. But his coughing didn't stop, turning into choking more than anything, and I jumped off my bed to go help him.
I found him, chest heaving as he leaned over the sink. "Hey, James," I murmured softly, careful not to startle him. "Are you okay? What's goin' on Jems?"
"I-I can't breathe!" He exclaimed, bouncing up, his fist on his chest as he coughed violently. Tears sprung into his eyes as I patted him with my hand, his lips opening only for a second. "I-I'm really sorry Thom-"
His eyes went wide. He spun back to the sink, away from me, beginning to cough even more viciously. He really was sick, shit! Should I get him to the hospital or something? I should've majored in some sort of medical training... I put my hand on his back, looking away from him. I surprisingly didn't mind comforting James- even if he was throwing up. I had done it times before with other people, but damn, this was something else.
James took my hand, his eyes red and then I saw it. He wasn't throwing up. Flowers spilled down his lips, full-on plants falling into the sink with blood-stained petals. God, that means-! James fell into my arms, and I immediately wrapped my arms around his trembling body, pulling him to me without another word. He was probably coughing flowers down the back of my shirt, but did I give a damn? This poor man was shaking in my arms, and I wasn't about to leave him alone.
We sunk to the floor, and he was so warm. "I know, I know," I said into his ear as he sobbed into my neck. "Why... Why didn't you tell me, Jemmy?"
"I-I'm sorry Thomas," he mumbled, tears dripping down my shirt. "God- I'm kinda losing it-"
His words subsided into more coughing, and I rubbed slow circles into his back. "It's okay, you're okay. No need for you to apologize Jems." I wrapped my arms even tighter around him, my heart thundering in my chest. Who was he in love with? Hanahaki disease was rare, inherited through genetics, but I had had multiple lessons on it in health class. And... It could be fatal. Had he been suffering alone all this time? He mumbled incoherent words into my neck, flowers decorating my tank top. "Shh, I've got you, it's okay. Let's get you back to bed, okay?"
He nodded weakly, and I helped him up, my eyes on his bloody lips. I grabbed a tissue, wiping at the edge of his lip. Poor man, he must have felt awful. I was sure that I could help some way, at least I wanted to, poor James! I smiled as I saw the tiny light behind his eyes bounce back to life, I wanted to just wrap him up in a blanket so he couldn't be hurt by this again.
I walked him to his bed, sitting down next to the tired James. "Are you alright? I can't have my partner in crime feeling so bad, I really don't want that Jems!"
A small smile appeared on his lips, and I felt his head rest on my shoulder. My heart pattered in my chest, and one side of me said to pull away like my mother would have wanted, and the other simply said to stay. I wanted so badly to stay. He looked so gentle, his eyes half-closed as he nudged me with a soft chuckle. So I stayed.
"I failed a really important test," James mumbled, wiping a stray flower off of his lip. "And I've been coughing up flowers for some time, and I realized that Hamilton is taller than me by three inches too many. And I haven't been able to talk to you at all, and I'm sick of-" he chuckled dryly-"being sick."
"I know Jews, I'm sorry about everything." He relaxed as I spoke. "I'll break Hamilton's knees so then he will have to be shorter than you, and then we can focus on getting you better. And if you'd like, we can start studying together, what subject was the test in?"
He grinned. "Er- just mathematics. I'm in college for English, I don't understand why I have to take math class."
He chuckled, his gaze only on the ground as I spoke. "Hey, I can tutor you! Seriously, and I'll do it for free, Jems. You know it."
"Of course, and then," I murmured, leaning an elbow on his shoulder. The perk of being close to a friend who's hella short, but he was amazing, still. "And then we can start working on this hanahaki disease nonsense, Jems."
He glanced up to me with a warm but confused gaze. "Why... Why would you do that for me Thomas? I've treated you like crap, and, I owe you so much."
"Jems, please." I reached out to brush a stray petal off of his shoulder. "You don't owe me a thing! And you know it! Free of charge. I can tutor you, and this flower petal stuff, it's going to be okay. You're strong, so strong Jems. Maybe... Even stronger than me."
He let out a loud laugh, as he gave me a playful punch. "Wow," he chuckled. "That would really be something! But... Thank you, Thomas. Really. I'm sorry for being such a dick these past few weeks, I was just nervous about talking about... The flower stuff, 'cause if I said anything then it'd be real. I wasn't wanting to cough up flowers to be a real thing, y'know?"
"Yeah," I said softly, glancing at James' gentle features. Who knew if it was the fact that it was almost three in the morning or if James just happened to be looking gorgeous. "I know Jems. Plus, you weren't being a dick at all, that was all me." A soft chuckle from him. "Who- Who are you in love with? I think Hanahaki is the result of one-sided love, what's going on Jems? If you feel comfortable with talkin' about it, of course."
His eyes darted to the floor. "Er- it's..." he mumbled something under his breath, warmth coming off of his body like nothing I had ever felt before. He was adorable, and the crush I had spent the last few weeks dwelling over, it felt... Okay for a moment. Maybe, maybe the person he liked-
My thoughts were interrupted by a shy voice. "Um, it's Aaron. Aaron Burr."
My heart dropped in my chest, nodding dully as he said the name. God- just for a second before he spoke, I really believed that he was about to say that it was me. Of course, it wasn't, of course. How could have I been so stupid? I chuckled wistfully, James had nodded off after we talked for a bit more, and I let him sleep. I shoved the unfamiliar, even a bit scary, of feelings away. God, I was losing it. Just needed to keep it together, come on, damn it.
'Cause he was in love with someone else, and I had no business feeling jealous.
He wasn't mine.
I fell asleep with a giant cat lying on top of me.
Oh- wait that was just Thomas. Good thing I loved cats.
I woke up groggy, but surprisingly, my face felt clean. I brought a hand up to my lips, and they felt as if I had never been sick in the first place. Thomas... He must have cleaned the stray blossoms of blood off of me, and I had to say that I wished I woke up with him still there. But last night- goddamnit! I told him it was Aaron, it wasn't Aaron! The entire time I was looking at him, I kept repeating a single phrase in my head.
I love you more than you will ever know.
I inhaled sharply, remembering his hands on my back, tracing small circles into my skin. I admittedly adored that. It was such a gentle, intimate touch and he probably didn't understand how much it meant to me. I smirked to myself, I just spent a very... Eventful night with the dork I was in love with. So many feelings were hitting me at once. I couldn't believe I'm making Thomas worry about me, I never wanted that. But he comforted me so kindly, my body still warm in the places his hands were. On top of all of that, he thought I was in love with Aaron! I shivered, slipping out of my bed to get dressed.
I tugged on a usual dark blue sweater, spotting a small folded piece of paper set out on top of our shared desk. I raised a curious eyebrow, unfolding it with a tiny smile.
Meet me at the library at five tonight for a bit of good (and free) tutoring!
Finally bested you in something Jems,
Suppose this means I get the desk tonight too ;)
- Guess who!
P.S. take your medicine
I grinned, closing my eyes, and slipped the piece of paper into my pocket. Damn it, how dare he be so cute. Whenever I was with him, the flowers stopped. Was that normal?
My heart slowed as I remembered my words from the night before. God damn it, why did I tell him it was Aaron? I hardly knew the guy! But then... Thomas said that he'd talk to Aaron for me, Thomas, I was in love with you! I sighed softly, I didn't want to freak him out with my feelings. If I told him, he'd probably go screaming for the hills. If someone like me told me that, I'd do the same. My mood had been all over the place with this damn medicine, who would want to deal with that?
I chuckled softly, I was swearing every other sentence. Thomas was rubbing off on me.
I finished getting dressed, slipping down the corridor after latching the door behind me. I knew it was silly listening, but Thomas asked me to lock it on both locks every time I left. He never actually explained it to me, but based on his expression, I didn't want to ask about it. I wondered why he did that. I was achingly curious, but it seemed like he'd get nervous whenever I would ask. I... I didn't like seeing Thomas feeling bad.
I had seen him shrieking in joy to his favorite music, but he wasn't the best at actually remembering lyrics. He always mixed simple sounds, and it happened to be the cutest thing in the entire world. I've seen him pissed off, but he never ever took it out on me. He always wrapped himself up in his sheet and rolled over to face the wall, grumbling soft insults to whoever he was angry with, but never to me. We'd discussed how he could improve our arguments, what he'll say next time. And soon enough, he'll be the happy guy I always see. But... I had never seen him vulnerable. He never cried. I didn't want to make him cry either.
I settled quietly in my seat, my thoughts running as fast as my pencil. We were just friends. It was painful for me to think about it. I loved him, but we were simply friends, and I wasn't sure if college buddies cried into each other's arms often. I had just done that last night. I chuckled softly, but I was actually growing concerned. It wasn't weird for people not to cry frequently, right? I cried way too often, so was this all just me?
I sighed loudly, Aaron who was sitting next to me giving a small glance. I was losing my mind, was this what happened when you loved someone? I wanted to see Thomas be proud of himself, I wanted to see him grow. We were in college, after all. I pushed away the unfamiliar, almost saddening thoughts, I was happy to see him later. Maybe I could teach him a thing or two at this tutoring lesson. I think that would be a victory in itself.
After all, I loved that dork.
My feet bounced along the pavement as I disappeared into the hallways, our final period let out. Thomas and I had opposite schedules, and it absolutely sucked. I probably would be too distracted with the ray of sunshine that is Thomas Jefferson, I'd fail even more courses. I smiled softly to myself, I really did hope Thomas was okay. My mind had hardly drifted away from the nervous thoughts about how Thomas was feeling. I needed to ask him, I'd been so focused on myself these days.
I entered the library, nodding to the librarian as I glanced around curious. Now, where was the adrenaline spike that was Thomas Jefferson? I grinned, my fingers wrapping around my bag yet again. I spotted the familiar curl of hair leaning against the window, legs crossed as he flipped through a book. He looked so... Gentle. That's not what I was expecting at all. I didn't want to disturb him. It was nice to see him as peaceful as that, he was simply gorgeous, and the damn autumn sunlight made him look even prettier! Not fair!
"Thomas," I said softly, gently touching him on the shoulder. My plans to avoid this guy were out the window, I didn't even know what I was working for now. What if I forgot him? I didn't want to forget this beautiful, and painfully addicting man. "Hey, how are you doing?"
"James!" Thomas exclaimed, bouncing out of his seat with a grin. Gah, it was lovely to see someone to be excited to see me. That didn't happen often. "Ready for some high class tutoring? Plus, I'm glad you could make it!"
"Me too," I murmured softly, my face warm. I glanced up to his face, and glasses! He was wearing glasses, my god! What a damn cutie, I wouldn't be leaving here without losing it! "Glasses? You... You wear glasses?"
He laughed, adjusting them with a small smirk. "Aw, you like 'em? I thought they looked kinda dorky, completely forgot my contacts today, never actually happened before. First time for everything!"
"I... I like them. Maybe-" I nudged him with my elbow playfully- "I should get rid of your contacts for good. You look like one of the kids majoring in English, hipster like almost." I'd be lying if I said he wasn't hot. "This could be your new look."
"Really!" He grinned, his eyes perfectly framed in his glasses. The ugly ceiling light was buzzing with that odd neon that could only be found in dentist offices and schools, and Thomas still looked great in it! How dare he! "Huh, maybe I'll keep wearing these if you like 'em Jems. I gotta be a handsome wingman, after all."
My heart twinged. Thomas, please. I love you.
I chuckled nervously, glancing towards his book. "Uh- what are you reading Thomas?"
"Oh!" He exclaimed softly, the corners of his lips turning up as I took a seat across the table from him. "I'm reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine! A girl I know told me to read it 'or else' and honestly I'm terrified of her so, I'm doin' it."
I laughed, sliding it away from him to skim the back cover. "Thomas Jefferson is intimidated by someone? We should tell a reporter, maybe they should do a story on it."
"Aw, Jems!" He chuckled, touching his hand to my shoulder. Warmth bloomed from the touch, god, Thomas please! I love you. "Have I ruined your view of me?"
I smirked mischievously, what a cutie. "Yep. Now honestly, I only see you with your glasses. And working at a bookstore. Hipster!"
"James!" He laughed deeply, my heart fluttering. "So damn glad that we could do this! Perhaps this-" he raised his eyebrows, gesturing to himself-"hipster, will teach you a thing or two 'bout math?"
I grinned, glancing at his hands, and how badly I wanted to hold them. "Sure, thank you. So the thing with math in general-" I laughed, tapping at the math book- "that I don't understand is..."
We studied for quite sometime, but we had times to chat cheerfully as I studied his hands. They gripped the pencil with something I hadn't seen before, the only person who had more fire in his eyes when it came to writing was probably Hamilton. I grinned, I wasn't about to tell Thomas about that, he'd immediately try to get the upper hand. Their rivalry went back for far too long, to elementary school too. Apparently Hamilton tried to trap Thomas in a box after luring him in with back and cheese, and it worked.
But, Thomas was a god at math! Holy shit, he was always one of the people who said lunch was their favorite subject, but my god, every single number was spread out on my paper and suddenly it all seemed so simple. When I was with Thomas, everything made sense. Even math somehow! And he was surprisingly patient with me, his fingers running over the numbers with a small smile.
"You know the reason I like numbers so much Jems?" He asked softly as we headed back to the dormitory.
The moonlight tinted his hair a silver colour, eyelashes sparkling. Our feet shuffled underneath us, and I couldn't keep the small smile off of my face. Thomas was just... Amazing. And even if I didn't have this hanahaki disease shit, I'd still be head over heels in love with him. But my heart was still aching from telling him the love was for Aaron, but Thomas was straight. I was pretty sure at least. And what would Thomas even say to my feelings? They were stupid and childish but... still. I had my reasons to be in love with him. So many reasons.
"Hmm?" I chirped, glancing up to him and his handsome face. Genes were so unfair!
"I like numbers so much 'cause there's always a right answer one way or another!" He grinned, and my lips parted in surprise. "With all of the random things that happen, I don't know, I guess I just like the fact that you can rely on them and all."
"Thomas," I breathed out softly. Thomas' eyes looked... So sad. "Thomas, are you-"
He let out a loud laugh, the look gone as quickly as it had came. "Man, listen to me! Talkin' about numbers as if I were some psychology major! Damn, I need some sleep, but I had fun tonight Jems. Hope you learned something, maybe I got some math into that head of yours."
I smiled, but I was still worried. "You did actually! But I don't know if I want to tell you 'bout that Thomas, your ego is already big enough!"
He laughed, pulling an arm around my neck and I could feel the warmth radiating off of him. "You're hurting me so badly Jems! I just gave you free tutoring and this is how you're thanking me?"
I grinned into his shoulder. "Oh hush, I already said I liked your glasses!"
He doubled over in laughter, clutching his chest with one hand. And it was then I just realised, I hadn't thrown up any flowers at all. All day, god, this was a victory. But Thomas occasionally talked about setting me up with Aaron, I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be with Thomas, that's all. There was something behind those beautiful brown eyes of his, something sadder, something pained.
I had to be overthinking everything again.
I had a date today.
I groaned into my pillows, kicking my feet as I exclaimed angrily.
It wasn't with Thomas!
I sighed, rolling over and kicking my feet up to the top of my bunk. Thomas set me up with Aaron, a friend of his. And a friend of mine, who had a girlfriend! Also the guy I accidentally said that I was in love with, but goddamn. I'd probably scare away this chance at a friend too, no doubt. Nervousness buzzed in my ears, a low hum against the silence of the dorm room. Thomas had his weekly violin practice that he did in the music room, that stretched all the way until five pm.
And my 'dinner date' was at five too, and I was dreading it! But I didn't want to say anything against it, Thomas had seemed so sad almost, ever since our studying about a week ago. There was this small glint in his eyes at certain topics, I really wanted to ask but what would I say? 'Hey guy I'm in love with, you good? You've been looking sad all week in those pretty eyes of yours?' I chuckled bitterly, I really wanted to help Thomas. With what? I wasn't sure, but I'd follow him to the ends of the Earth at this point.
Wow. Not great thoughts to be having before a date with someone else, eh?
I sighed softly, getting out of bed with a frown. The flowers hadn't been too often lately, I wasn't completely sure why. I had been spending a lot of time with Thomas, and being with him always helps. But sometimes, late at night, I'd begin to cough. And then suddenly flowers of every kind would come spilling out of my lips, and I'd do everything so Thomas didn't see. But when he noticed, he really noticed. He'd sit on the bathroom counter, wipe my increasingly bloodier lips with a towel, and hand me a glass of water with that same smirk. And he never went to bed before I did, he always waited.
I coughed, and ah, right on cue. A small bleeding heart tumbled into my palm. That... That was a new flower, hadn't seen that one before. It was the same kind that was growing around the bench where Thomas and I always meet at. The pink petals were fragile, but it was a flower with small spots of blood on it, so I tossed it down the drain without another thought. I suppose I had more important things to think about.
I shifted through my wardrobe, gah, I needed Thomas for this. Even being the sleep-deprived college student he was, he had an impeccable sense of style. But it's not as if this was a real date, I'd explain it was a mistake and I didn't mean to interrupt Aaron's and Theodosia's relationship. But... I was sure Aaron would say something to Thomas, and what would he say then? I smacked my hands against my cheeks. I was losing my mind!
But honestly... I twirled a stray flower in my fingers. I felt like I was doing better. Even though I was sorta panicking right now, I felt alright for once. I lifted my head, getting dressed with a thoughtful gaze. I needed to talk to Thomas. Even though I chatted with him constantly- and I wouldn't want it any other way- I really needed to get to the bottom of that sadness in his eyes. I hated seeing him down if he really was. What if I was just overreacting?
I awkwardly shuffled to the restaurant. Guilt swept through my mind as I pressed the door open, I didn't want to do this! But I couldn't just not show up, that would be rude and I wouldn't even wish it onto Hamilton. Okay, maybe I would, but still! I didn't want to just blow off someone who was trying to be nice to me, plus, he was a friend! If I walked away it would make my classes so awkward, damn it.
So, there I was, looking like a middle school student, on a 'date' with someone that another person I love set up for me. When did my life come to this? Oh, that's right. When I met Thomas Jefferson.
And there's no other way I would have it.
I stepped into the restaurant, some Italian place that I couldn't quite pronounce for probably the most awkward situation my entire life. I saw Aaron as soon as I walked in, a small smile on his face.
"Hey, James!" He exclaimed, raising an eyebrow as we took a seat in a small booth. My mind was screaming for me to run. That... Wouldn't make the best impression probably. "Didn't expect to get an invite from you, what's going on?"
"Er-" I tried to start speaking, but my tongue felt heavy in my mouth. I buried my nose in the menu, the words blurry so close. "Uh, Thomas set this up for me? Uhm, s-sorry?"
"Ah," he chuckled. "Of course it was Thomas, he's quite the handful, isn't he? You two are roommates, right? He must be pretty intense to live with!"
I tried to smile back. "Y'know, he has his moments. Uh, sorry if this makes things awkward between us, I didn't mean it, seriously! I'm really sorry Aaron."
"Hey, don't worry about it! I've wanted to get to know you better, you seem cool, and we can just tell Thomas that we had a decent date. Keep that guy guessing, it's fun when he does."
My hopes lifted a bit. "Really? Thank you, Aaron, I was really nervous, and I-I'm kinda dealing with some stuff right now, and I didn't want this to make everything worse."
"That sucks," Aaron said, tilting his head to the side. "What's going on James? If you can talk about it if course, I get it if not."
"I... I'm," I squeaked out, equally terrified and thankful for his question. "I'm in love with Thomas Jefferson!"
I clapped my hands over my mouth as my words struck the air, my face feeling as if it was on fire. People shot our table odd looks, and I realized I had probably said it a bit too loud. But it felt so damn nice to say it out loud like this weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Then again, everyone near us was staring at the tomato that was me. Fantastic.
I peeked through my fingers, to see Aaron smiling. "I can really see it! Based on how often he talks about you, he must be feeling a bit of something towards you."
My fave felt even warmer at his words, even if they were lies. "He's not gay, he wouldn't like me." The waitress appeared, briefly taking our orders and then disappearing into the bustle of people, and I gestured to her. "Thomas likes... Girls like her. Pretty, smart, y'know."
Aaron patted my hand, chuckling. "He wears magenta clothing every time he can. In high school, he never actually dated anyone. It was mostly one night stands, all that jazz."
"He has a girlfriend!" I exclaimed, raising an eyebrow. But Aaron did have a point, what if Thomas really was gay? Or bisexual maybe? I seriously doubted it. "Maria, I think. He... He talks about her a lot."
"Maria Reynolds? She's with Eliza Schuyler, and I know that Thomas and Maria are a cover for when her parents come around."
I should've been happy about the words, but I only felt bad for Thomas. Poor guy, and I were sure he knew by now! The parents can't visit forever, right? Maybe that was the sadness in his gaze that I've been seeing lately, I'd ask soon enough.
"Damn, wow. I wasn't expecting that, uh, how are you and Theodosia? You're dating her, right? I think Laurens told me some time ago, I wasn't sure."
"Oh, she's great. Like, she's amazing, I can actually see myself being with her for... Forever. Though that's what a lot of thoughts are like, she just seems like the one for me, y'know?" He grinned. Thomas was the one for me, and I was so sure about that. "I'm lucky to have her."
"That's really nice of you, Aaron-"
"I'm sure soon enough you'll be like that with good ol' Jefferson!"
My face blazed at his teasing words. "Aaron! I'm supposed to be out on a date with you, damn, Thomas is gonna be disappointed that we talked about... Other people the entire time."
Aaron snorted, the waitress bringing our food and placing it down in front of us. "Don't worry about it James, you can just let your love for Thomas wear him down. Though his ego is a bit..."
"Right!" I exclaimed, chuckling. "But he's... Thomas is just him. And that's why I like him, y'know?"
Aaron smiled softly, picking up his fork as he poked at his spaghetti. "Sure. You can wait for it, plus you two and Theodosia and I should have a double wedding."
"Aaron!" I laughed, swatting at him gently. My face felt so warm, and I was managing to smile. IIt was great to finally get this fact I was head over heels in love with Thomas out in the open. "God, I'm going to tell your girlfriend that you said that."
"James! You're a traitor, you want me to tell Thomas about all this?"
"Aaron, I-I swear!"
We chatted for some time after that, and probably from afar, we looked like a couple. But we were friends, and I was so excited to have another one! And someone I could talk to about my love for Thomas, and he could talk to me about his girlfriend. Plus, we could agree about how much we despise Hamilton. I made a note to tell Thomas about how well this went, he should hang out with us sometime. And another chance to hang out with the love of my life, let's do this!
I got home with a smile, maybe I actually had the chance to be with Thomas. I chuckled dryly, I wished I did. To be in Thomas' arms all the time, to stop the flowers from spilling out of my mouth, I would love that. The flowers didn't bother me too much anymore, Thomas would always let his touch linger around my shoulders as he calmed me down after a coughing fit.
I settled into bed, a small smile on my face. This was a good day, and tomorrow I could talk more with Thomas, I couldn't believe Aaron thought that I had a chance with him! That would be... Utterly amazing. I didn't want to get too hopeful, I just wanted to be with him, even if it was basically impossible.
But even with everything, I had tomorrow with Thomas and all the days after that. I grinned. I had a good day, and I was hoping tomorrow would follow.
Maybe things were turning around.
At that moment, I had no idea that the love of my life, lying right above me, was crying into his pillow.
I had no idea the amount of pain he was in.
My life was going pretty well!
I chuckled. What a surprise.
I had woken up bright and early the next morning after the meet-up, eager to talk to Thomas. Aaron had planted a small seed of hope in my mind, could Thomas actually like me back someday? I let out a soft breath. I needed to stop asking myself that. I knew it was impossible, it's not as if him feeling the same way would take the flowers out of my lungs, he would have to actually tell me.
But still- I glanced over to Thomas, who was wearing his glasses again for our new evening studying- this would work for now.
"And then-! James, you listening?"
I popped back into reality, my eyes landing on the grinning Thomas. "S-Sorry, I'm listening! Just thinking, y'know."
I flushed with embarrassment, but I wasn't about to tell him that I was thinking about him. Him and his pretty face, and his beautiful personality and everything damn it! He was too amazing, he was practically blinding me. He was like a star, I couldn't handle his amazingness! I grinned to myself, he was just... Breathtaking.
"Must be somethin' pretty thoughtful, Jems," Thomas chuckled, grinning. "You've been smiley today, I assume the date went well? Can I buy a medal that says 'World's Best Matchmaker?'"
I swatted at him playfully, us sitting close enough to each other that our knees were touching. If only I could close that gap. "Er- y'know, can't jump to conclusions like that Thomas! I just-"
I slammed my fist onto the table, letting out a vicious cough. Damn it! My chest felt as if it was going to explode, the flowers had been getting more intense, but the fits didn't come as often. Luckily. Pain buzzed in my eyes as I doubled over, gagging as flowers fell into my hands. My eyes watered, traitorous tears dripped out of my eyes.
"Hey!" Thomas exclaimed, getting on his knees and putting his hands on my shoulders as I basically crumpled over. Warmth bloomed at his touch. "Jemmy! Shh, I know," he whispered softly as I hung my head in shame. I was making a fool out of myself. "I know Jems, it's gonna be okay. God, I really want to beat up that Aaron, he needs to confess those feelings of his already."
I chuckled bitterly. Thomas, I love you. "S-Sorry. Didn't mean to do all of... This."
"Of course you didn't," He brushed away a stray tear off my cheek, a soft grin on his face. He was so sweet, just simply... So gentle. "Can I see that smile Jems?"
I tried to smile, my eyes on the floor. I couldn't just look at Thomas when I was being this pathetic, but his touch was so nice. I hated the fact that this was the only way that Thomas touched me, the only way I could get the warmth I wanted far too desperately. Petals fell onto my palms and I shoved them swiftly into my pockets, didn't need to be making a mess all over the library. I hated thinking about forgetting Thomas, getting the surgery was out of the question.
He grinned back, his hand finding the top of my head. "There's the smile! Do you need me to talk to Burr for you? I can-"
I palmed at my watering eyes, shaking my head. I used to think that this was better than normal throwing up, but when so many flowers were scraping my throat raw, it was difficult to believe it. Thomas sighed softly, taking one of my hands in his own. He hoisted me out of the seat, smirking.
"We're goin' back to the dorm Jems, you're pale! Can't have the library suing you for the flowers," he teased, gathering up the various books. My throat was bleeding too much to say much back, I just wanted to sleep in Thomas' arms. Was that normal? Well, I thought about it enough, maybe it would come true. That'd be nice.
"N-Nah, I'm okay. We can s-stay." My words subsided into more coughing, and Thomas frowned. "Sorry, m-maybe you're right."
"Damn straight," Thomas chuckled, but his eyebrows were strewn together with worry. Why was he worrying about me? "C'mere Jems."
I took a step towards him, him leaning down to feel my forehead. As he pulled away, his lips tugged down at the corners and I tried to smile. I just wanted to hug him already! We walked out the library, Thomas' eyes on my reddening face the entire time.
"You okay?" He asked softly, his dark eyes being framed perfectly by those damn glasses.
I nodded, glancing down at his roughed hands. Violin practice and his vigorous exercise made his hands calloused, but they were still soft. "I'm a-al- I'm okay. Throat is s-sore. But how a-are you Thomas?"
I cursed my halting words, this throat would be the death of me. "I'm just tired James." I knew what those words were in place of, my heart sinking. Was he really just tired? "College sucks, but I'm glad we can hang each other. Love us being study buddies. Finally a chance for me to teach you something."
I grinned, patting at his shoulder playfully. "Y-You wish! But still, thanks Thomas. Really."
He opened the door to the dorm for me, and I couldn't help but smile at his simple gesture. "Course Jems, gotta get you feelin' back to a hundred percent." He set his bags down, my face warm. I didn't know if it was from the fever or just Thomas being... Thomas. "I'm gonna take a shower real quick, Jems. Had a class with Hamilton, feel gross bein' in the same room as him, hah! But, lie down and get some rest."
I smiled as he walked into the bathroom, giving me finger guns before he closed the door. What a cutie. I slipped in between the sheets, tugging a blanket to my chin and tugging out a book. My eyes skimmed the words, a headache bursting before my eyes. I sighed angrily, pulling a bottle of pills. I took one, trying to rest before Thomas came back out. He was always so much fun to talk with, though it made my face burn. And I loved him like crazy, had I mentioned that?
It was about fifteen minutes after I closed my eyes, Thomas came out of the bathroom. My headache had disappeared, my throat feeling significantly better. I opened my eyes, seeing a shirtless Thomas. His curls were tucked behind one ear, humming to himself.
My god, he was shirtless!
And ripped at that! Damn it, he had too many muscles, despite the fact that I kinda wanted to touch his abs- but still. My cheeks flushed, my eyes raking along his toned chest. His gaze flickered to my own, a tiny smile on his face as he saw my opened eyes.
"No, no no." He walked up to me, only wearing a pair of shorts, hanging off of his hips. He was too hot, damn it! He smirked, clapping a hand over my eyes. "You gotta sleep Jems! Get some more."
I chuckled, patting his hands away. Cutie! My eyes wandered slowly over his body, falling onto a fading- but suddenly bloodied- scar. The scratch was jagged, almost more than half a foot long. It was mostly white, but the edges were a vicious shade of red, nail marks in Thomas' skin. Worry bloomed in my heart, god, what was that from? I sat up, kicking my feet off the bed, not letting my eyes leave the wound.
"Thomas," I breathed out, panic hitting me as Thomas glanced to me. "Thomas, what's that from?"
He followed my gaze, his eyes going wide as he realised what I was looking at. He covered it with his hand, turning his dark eyes away from me. Through the gaps between his fingers, I could still see his blotchy skin and my heart sank. It couldn't have been from him, why was it all red? Maybe it was from all the days where he was learning how to skateboard, please, just please! Who... Who did that to him?
He took a slow seat on the bed, and I was tempted to lean into his arms. "Nothin' Jems, don't worry about it."
"Thomas, but, are you sure-?"
"It's fine!" He snapped, his expression momentarily turning angry, but it was immediately replaced by regret. "I'm... I'm sorry for snapping. Just, it's just a thing in my life-" he sighed softly, his bare shoulder touching my own- "it wasn't... Too good. I'm sorry again for snapping Jems, didn't mean to."
I leaned into his warmth, shaking my head. "I know Thomas, don't worry. You-You can always talk to me if you need to. I'm sorry for bringing it up."
"Hey!" He exclaimed, turning to me with shock in his eyes. "Ain't your fault at all, don't worry 'bout it. But," his expression softened, and my heart melted-"thank you for asking about it."
I nodded, my face warm at his words. "No problem Thomas, seriously. Let me at least put a bandage on it. It looks really-" I bit my lip, thinking back to the angry nail marks- "red."
He nodded, a slow smile appearing across his handsome features. Curse my gay self. My lips parted in surprise, I didn't expect him to actually accept, but... Yay! I was glad I could help, seriously. I pulled the first aid kit out from under my bed, Thomas face-planting onto my white sheets before rolling to the right side. And his goddamn back was muscular too, I swear, any day now this was truly going to ruin me.
But regardless, that scar that he had, looked like he was in so much pain. I kneeled beside him leaning against the edge of the bed, his side completely exposed. I bit my lip, frowning.
"Y-You're bleeding," I said softly, digging through the box for some sort of gauze.
"I know," he mumbled softly, his eyes on my fingers. Small drops of blood sat near the scar, and I felt my breath hitch. "Just... Itchy."
My heart twinged, poor Thomas. Damn it, how did I not notice this? I pulled an eight by eight bandage around his scar, hoping that it would prevent him from scratching at it. Despite his words, I couldn't help but feel curious. Who did that to him? It looked like it was done by some piece of glass, even a knife. But he couldn't have. Why would someone do that to him? I suddenly felt a hand go up to my forehead, Thomas' touch warm against my skin.
"I'm really sorry for makin' you do this Jems!" The sad expression lingered on his features, but his voice was the complete opposite. I was desperate to help him, but I didn't want to... Intrude. Or make him feel uncomfortable, I did have a- probably obvious- love for him, and I didn't want to make him feel weird or anything like that. "Your forehead is still warm, and your cheeks are a bit red. I can run to the pharmacy if you'd like."
"It's okay," I said softly, flashing him a tiny smile. "You should stay, get some sleep. Sorry, I keep waking you up with coughing, you could try to sleep through it."
"And let you feel bad on your own? Never!" Thomas grinned, his hand going to my shoulder as he shuffled to the edge of bed. "I'm gonna finish up an essay Jimmy James, lie down a bit more."
"J-Jimmy James!" I echoed with a grin, I hadn't heard that one before! "That's new, I kinda like it."
Thomas smirked, grabbing his glasses from the desk and putting them on. "Glad to hear it, Jimmy James! I'll think of some more, and you know they'll be great."
He laughed, eyes crinkling up at the corners, and I chuckled, my eyes still lingering on the bandage along his abdomen. I pulled the sheet up to my chin, no worth trying to stay awake when I was feeling this horrible. I wish I could've talked to Thomas more, but we both had things to do. But I wanted to sit in his lap and talk to him, damn it! I wanted to know where that scar was from, if it was itchy... He should get it checked out by a doctor. I wouldn't want anything bad happening to him, I don't know what I would do without him.
I rolled over, my eyes on Thomas'- muscular- back. What would he do without me? Would he be having more fun? Getting that stupid surgery was out of the question, I didn't want to forget him. Ever. My heart sank. What if I had to at some point?
A restless sleep finally came, my mind giving out. But I swear- at some point in the night, I felt a pair of soft lips brush along my forehead. Whether it was from real life, or just a very nice dream my pathetic mind created, I longed for more.
I longed for Thomas.
-mentions of abuse
-implied homophobic characters
Pain bloomed into my vision every time I opened my eyes.
But my god, every time I saw that dorky short roommate of mine, grin and poke me in the back, I felt as if I could never feel pain again. And I hated every thought I had about him, I was told it was so wrong, all of my life. But how was I supposed to not adore this damn angel for everything he was? I squirmed in my seat next to Maria- my girlfriend? Who knew?- feeling the outline of the bandage around my childhood scar running up the side of my stomach. I let out a breath, shaking my head. I was not about to bring those horrible memories after all the work I took to forget.
I cringed mentally, scolding myself for... Everything. I couldn't believe I had kissed him last night- just on the forehead- I couldn't help it. My mother, not so much my dad, but I was absolutely horrible when it came to following directions. I'd been told that for some time, but I had finally accepted that. I couldn't leave James alone, and I didn't want to either! But that's what was best for him. He was in love with Burr, especially with that flower sickness- poor James- I couldn't simply intrude on their relationship. 'Hey, James! I know I set you up with him, but I kind of have feelings for you so I don't want you to be with him, so-' I shook my head viciously, no damn it! That was horrible. I had had a chance.
Why would he even like me?
I sighed softly, Maria giving me a confused look. "You okay? One of my friends, Eliza, has some headache medicine, you need that?"
I chuckled softly, putting my arm around her, raising an eyebrow. "Don't worry 'bout it, I'm good. What movie do you wanna watch?"
God, I was being horrible. In my very awkward attempt to ignore my feelings for James, I had begun 'seriously' dating Maria. But in reality, of course, she was pretty, clever and funny, but I liked her as a friend. That was it, I couldn't even think about being with a female. Fuck, listen to me! My mom must be so disappointed with me right now.
Maria chatted happily next to me, and I grinned to her. She was great, I had to admit it, but I was pretty oblivious when it came to relationships. I didn't know if she suspected anything, I didn't want to hurt her. I didn't want to hurt James either! I didn't want to hurt anyone ever again, but no doubt I would. I was being so useless, why did I keep dwelling over all of this? I was such a bad person, my god. I needed to keep it together, damn it! I ran my lips absentmindedly over Maria's cheek, trying to push away my bitter thoughts.
I heard a noise, a step and then a loud breath being let out. I turned in my soft seat on the couch in the main room. Near our dormitories was a small room filled with a foosball table, gaming system, all that shit. I lifted my head up, my eyes locking onto a certain angel's own gaze.
"Hey, James!" I exclaimed, pulling away from Maria, waving to him with my free arm.
He looked at me- with beautiful brown eyes- for a moment, before turning on his heel and disappearing from the room without another look. I settled back into my seat, frowning. Poor James, I hoped he was alright. He had seemed normal at breakfast this morning, his lovely words spilling out of his lips like usual. I could feel my mother's urge to hit me through my thoughts. But his flowers had been getting pretty severe lately. I made a note to tell a doctor about it, maybe he'd be alright if he got more medicine.
And I hated Burr for not feeling the same for James. I knew that hanahaki disease was genetically inherited, but Burr should have confessed already! I know, I was a hypocrite, but it's not like he had feelings for me. I sighed softly. I wished he did, maybe then my feelings would be returned. As if.
I tried to relax in Maria's presence, but I was seriously having trouble focusing. Whenever James was feeling bad, I knew that it was never good. That disease could be fatal and I absolutely didn't want that cutie to die on me. I wanted to be with James, I knew it! But goddamnit, he would never want to be with me.
I settled in my seat for about a half an hour, tapping my foot nervously as the movie played, unnoticed by me. After a while, Eliza Schuyler appeared, exclaiming happily as she saw Maria. That girl who was dating Hamilton for a while, she was the blue one, that's right. She hugged Maria, and I bounced up, seeing my chance.
"Hey Mare, I'm gonna go check on James real quick. He's been sick lately... I'm just gonna-"
She grinned, shooing me away with her hand. "Got it, go check in him. He needs you to get better."
My face felt hot as I slipped out of the room. Maria was more like a wingman than anything, well, wing woman, but she always ushered me away to go talk to James. I glanced back, her already invested in the movie again with Eliza. I smiled, chuckling. They were pretty great friends, ever since Hamilton's cheating incident. And surprisingly enough, they became close instead of turning on each other, it was nice to see that, even if I never admitted it.
"James?" I asked aloud, wandering the long halls and into the nearest men's bathroom. Our dorm was quite a walk from here, I didn't think he would go all the way back, but I'd still check in case. "James, you okay? You in here?"
I noticed a soft noise, and I frowned. "James? I heard that, are you okay?"
"Go away," he mumbled softly, my heart sinking in my chest. What happened? I turned the corner, seeing a trembling James sitting on the edge of a sink. "Go away."
"D-Don't call me that," he hissed out, turning his red eyes away from my own.
"James, please," I practically begged. I never begged. I hated seeing James like this, I had never seen him so upset before. His dark outfit contrasted the white ceilings and walls, but his eyes were painfully red as he wiped weakly at his face. "Jems, what's wrong?"
I took a step towards the shaking figure, my heart pattering nervously in my chest.
"I said go away!" James raised his voice, pushing me with a weak hand. It wasn't enough to place any distance between us, my urge to pull him into my arms not going away. Another tear dropped down his cheeks, my breath catching in my throat. "I'm fine, you can just leave."
I shuffled next to him, hopping up onto the edge of the sink, sitting on it like he was. I put a gentle hand on his shoulder, a brief explosion of happiness every time we touched, and I could feel myself lean into him. I ran my finger over his sweater, trying to offer some sort of comfort.
"We don't have to talk out loud Jems. I do have telepathy, after all, I do know what you're thinking." I smiled at him who was still wiping at his cheeks. "And you are thinking... How much you want me to go beat up Burr."
He shook his head, a tiny smile on his lips. "Thomas... I-Its fine. I just- you and Maria- I don't know."
"Hmm?" I said softly, his eyes filling up with tears again. I exclaimed softly, scooting closer to him with a concerned gaze. "James, hey, what's wrong? Come on, talk to me Jems. You gotta tell your best friend 'bout what's going on!"
He bit his lip, shutting his eyes. "James," I pleaded, him shaking his head again. "Here, can I get you anything? We can go raid the vending machines, you know that I know the janitor. Or I can punch the glass."
"Thomas," he chuckled, his voice watery. "I don't know- I just want what you h-have. God- that sounds so stupid, so selfish, I'm sorry, that was really dumb. I don't know these stupid flowers and everything, I hate them so much. I hate the fact that every time I see any sort of romance I can only think,'I'll never have that!' I just want-" he looked to me with his dark eyes- "I'm rambling, forget I said anything, sorry Thomas."
I brushed a tear off of his face with my thumb. God, if my mother saw me now... I shoved away the thoughts, focusing on James. He must've been in so much pain, I really was going to beat up Burr. Sure, we were friends, but still. Hurting this damn angel would result in a different type of pain. So, all of his sad words were for Burr. He was really in love with him. My heart sank pathetically in my chest. What did I expect?
"Jems, I know, I know," I said softly, wishing that I could hold him, wishing that I could take away his pain. He whimpered, biting his lip again. "Please- don't bite your lip, you're hurting yourself Jems. I don't want you to feel like that." He stopped as I gently rubbed circles into his back. I could hardly give any comfort to him, god, I just wanted to hold him so badly. "This is all from that Aaron Burr?"
He looked down, silent for a moment before talking. "Er- y-yeah. It's Aaron."
My heart dropped in my chest as if I was hearing it for the first time. "I'm sorry Jemmy, god, I hate that you're feeling like this, it's horrible." I put my arm around him, nervously trying to comfort him, but I could feel my mother silently scolding me. But then, he gently scooted up next to me, resting his head on my shoulder. My face burned. Y'know, just two college students sitting on a sink in a bathroom, holding each other as if... As if we were together. That's how rumours are started. "Jems, hey. I can go make Burr confess to you, who wouldn't like you back?"
"T-Thanks, Thomas. You're so..."
"Great?" I joked, nudging James with my elbow.
"I don't know if I want to make your ego any bigger than it already is, so I'm not denying or confirming that," he murmured, a small smile on his face despite his tears. I grinned, pulling my arm away but incredibly glad that his head stayed on my shoulder. "God, I sound so weird. E-Even to myself."
"Jems?" I said softly, his eyes closing. "Hey, please look at me, Jemmy."
He opened his eyes again, that warm brown gaze on my own as he chuckled softly. "Sorry for dragging you into this. And for snapping at you earlier... I didn't mean to. Thank you, Thomas."
I don't know what it was, I don't know if I was so desperate for James, I don't know if I was just being utterly pathetic. If my mother was here, she would slap me so damn hard, so hard. I could feel her breathing down my neck, just waiting. But I knew what I wanted- who I wanted- and I knew what was important to me.
I leaned in, and I kissed James.
I could feel my eyes fill up with tears.
"Man," Aaron said, patting me on the back as I poked unenthusiastically at my food. Tears blurred my vision, a low hum of pain ringing in my ears at my memories. "It's been two days, and you haven't seen him at all?"
"Yeah, not ever since we kissed. God- just the look on his face when he pulled away from me, he looked so disgusted. And I don't know if I saw it right, but he was crying. Not full-on crying, y'know, just tearing up and I... God, I ruined everything. He was probably crying 'cause I had been practically freaking him out for so long. I don't know if I'll ever see him again and gah. What if he's hurt or something?"
Laurens sighed, taking a sip of his drink. "Damn, I'm so sorry about that James. Seriously. He'll be fine, I'm sure he's just being pissy about it is all. Don't blame yourself man, and it is Thomas, he's way too confident to get hurt!"
I tried to laugh, but I couldn't help but think about the look on Thomas' face when he stepped away from me. He looked... Repulsed. He looked as if he hated me, did he hate me? I saw him kiss Maria and I lost it, I couldn't handle him being with anyone else, I was so selfish. And then I got so lost in his... Thomas-ness, I couldn't help but kiss him back. He was so warm, damn it, and he was so gentle and I couldn't handle it. He tasted like cinnamon, so much better than the constant flowers coming out of my lips. I loved Thomas so much, and he hadn't come back to the dormitory, when I was awake, at least. I hadn't seen him at all, and I deserved it, I had been being so weird with him lately. I missed him like crazy, it had hardly been two days! After everything, I wanted to kiss him again.
That was the worst part. I just clung to this tiny strand of hope, even after mistreating him by awkwardly forcing myself onto him, and I wanted to kiss him again.
I let out a shuddering sigh, Laurens, and Aaron exchanging a glance. The flowers had been horrible, last night it went on for multiple hours. And I didn't have Thomas' arms to wrap around myself. I knew I should be angry, but damn it, this was my fault after all. I had been trying to get him to like me back, and in a horribly vague manner too. I was practically throwing myself onto him, god I know he would be so upset if he heard me talking about myself like this. I chuckled softly. I loved him, so damn much.
"You okay man?" Aaron said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah," I mumbled, stabbing at a piece of broccoli with my fork. The three of us had gotten together today, and Hamilton was going to join us, but he had been caught up in studies. Thankfully, I made a few friends around campus, people I could rely on. "Just worried about Thomas. Have... Have either of you seen him?"
They shook their heads in unison, but Aaron spoke. "They'll be a party later today, I think John Adams is throwing it. I know Thomas and him were friends in high school at least, so maybe he'll be there. But James, Thomas can get a little sensitive about certain things."
"Huh?" I asked. Sensitive? Thomas was never anything like that. Never vulnerable, or sensitive or anything like that. "What do you mean?"
"He, um, gets kind of worked up. Not angry, but something else. Er, so in high school, you know his magenta outfits and everything?" I nodded. They were adorable, so of course, I knew what they were. "He used to be even more... Intense with all of it. Don't get me wrong, he was hilarious with it, plus pretty confident too. But then one time... Another student called him something. I don't want to say it, but it was pretty bad, the guy called him gay, but not as nice as that. He wasn't homophobic to others, still isn't, but being called that, Thomas kind of snapped."
My breath caught in my throat.
"He was quiet for some time, stopped wearing all the things he had worn. He's still not back to what he was, it took a pretty long time for him to get partially back to normal," Aaron explained, Laurens quiet. "If you decide to go, he might be a bit... Shaky about it all. I don't want you getting hurt if he reacts kind of weirdly."
Laurens let out a soft gasp at his words, raising an eyebrow. "Shit. I'll let Alexander know, I don't want to rile Thomas up or anything like that, I know that's his favorite activity. I don't want him to make him freak out at you James."
I tried to smile up at Laurens but I gnawed at my bottom lip. What if he was disgusted with himself for kissing me? My heart twinged, Thomas didn't tell me that story, but I didn't expect him to either. Still, was he alright? I definitely wouldn't be, but Thomas always seemed so strong. Now I was especially worried, what if he was punishing himself for kissing me? I was the one who forced myself onto him, flirty comments and everything, it wasn't his fault. I couldn't imagine Thomas being quiet, being scared as Aaron had told me. I didn't want to imagine it.
"I'm going to go to that party tonight," I said with a nervous smile, trying to gain my confidence back. "I want to make sure Thomas is okay, you know? Even if he doesn't feel the same for me, he's still my-" my voice cracked as I tried and failed to hide my fear-"he's still my best friend. He would have- he already has done the same for me."
Aaron and Laurens nodded, the freckled man speaking. "Be careful though James. As in, college parties can get intense. Don't accept drinks from strangers-"
Aaron cut it with a grin. "-and don't stay out too late! No doubt Thomas will be drunk, that's what people do at parties, after all, so make sure he doesn't be more of an idiot than usual."
I chuckled softly, my heart fluttering at the idea of seeing Thomas and from my friends' words. "Got it. I will."
Worry was stretching my mind thin. Thomas didn't seem to be alright, was that something to do with the scar? I hadn't forgotten about the jagged line on Thomas' side, I desperately hoped that he hadn't gotten it recently. If he did...
I steered the conversation away from the anxiety about- the love of my life, had I mentioned that?- Thomas. "So- Laurens, how's Hamil- I mean, Alexander?"
Laurens let out a loud laugh, glancing over his shoulder as if recalling a good memory. "He's... Him. Dorky and loud, argues with everyone, especially with Thomas. But he's great, y'know, he's Alex."
I grinned, Laurens and Aaron exchanging stories about their partners. I hoped someday I could tell them about Thomas even if it was utterly stupid to even think it. I was glad my friends were happy, but I couldn't stop the fear from picking at my thoughts. I was a bit excited about the party, even if I had never been to a real one before. Thomas always told me about them, poking at me to go with him and when I didn't, he was okay with it. How could someone be so... Accepting? And he always brought me back glow sticks too, wearing them in his hair, being adorable of course.
Time rolled on, and soon enough it was time for the party. I got the address from Laurens, my heart pattering desperately in my chest as I paced around the room. Thomas' sheets were messy, and out of habit, I organized the room, trying to gain some sort of control against my wild thoughts. Thomas always playfully teased me over it, his gaze steady as I anxiously tapped against our desk.
It was the first week of college, some weird entrance exam even though we had already entered the school. But I would constantly pace, organizing and reorganizing everything in the room. And I think that's when I realized I loved him, even if I didn't admit it to myself for way too long. He took my trembling hands in his steady ones and told me,'I'm proud, Jems. You've gotten this far, no doubt you'll ace these tests too.' Then he grinned at me, letting me go as if I hadn't been permanently changed inside.
I ran my fingers over the messy sheets, I knew he probably came in early in the morning. I hoped at least. I blinked away traitorous tears, inhaling sharply. I wasn't even sure if I'd see him tonight, but my heart was pounding like it was a date. I just wanted to be with Thomas, so desperately. I must have made him feel horrible. Guilt hit me like a ton of bricks as I simply tied my shoes, everything would've been so much easier if Thomas was here.
I swallowed, raising an eyebrow at my own thoughts. Why was I so clingy? And dependent all on Thomas? That wasn't a responsibility I should shove onto anybody! I had such little attention from my parents growing up, we had a big family and a middle child, like me, can get lost in the weeds. Especially when I wasn't particularly talented at anything, I was a pretty plain kid, despite being sick all the time. But with the scarce attention I got, I've almost become... Desperate for it now. I shivered pathetically, pushing away the thoughts. I was going to a college party for fuck's sake! I needed to get my head in the game.
I stumbled out if my room, pulling on a sweatshirt and disappearing down the hall. The party was off-campus, but the walk wasn't too bad. I strolled through the hallways, then soon enough the moon was above me as I left the main gates. The stars twinkled above me as I sighed softly. Even if Thomas was at this party, I didn't know if he would even talk to me. Thomas was never harsh or angry with me, but I've had quite the experience in high school with angry people. I shivered. I couldn't imagine Thomas getting angry at me, but after what I did, who knew?
I took in a slow breath, my feet moving forward even as my mind protested. I found the house easily, the door open and party music thumping, I could hear it from outside. I hopped up the stairs, and finally, slipped inside.
I woke up dazed and confused.
That could be the title of my biography honestly.
I rustled in the sheets, and damn, not a bad way to start with a severe hangover. Jesus, what time did I stay up until last night? I must have been drinking pretty hard if I hardly remembered anything. All I could think of was a faint flashing light and...
My breath hitched. James.
I rolled over in my bed, my heart dropping in my chest. Did I really see him last night? Or was I still drunk? And my god, I have never missed anyone as much as I missed James, but I had kissed him. And I had probably repulsed him for centuries to come, and now my mother would find out that I kissed a guy. Great. So, recap, I was falling head over heels for a guy to get a confession from the love of his life so he could stop throwing up flowers. I chuckled bitterly, my eyes not yet open. What a situation.
But I didn't regret kissing James. That's one thing in my life I didn't regret, one thing that I didn't lie awake at night and wish I could change everything.
What if James hated me now? I knew he was in love with someone else, damn it, and I kissed him anyway! I was such a horrible person, ruining people I care about left and right, then trying to drink myself into oblivion. I didn't want James to hate me, I was such a damn prick, kissing and then running from him? What was I thinking? My mother would be so disappointed with me, disgusted by what I had done. I was a cheater, ruining other relationships, and I kissed a boy, all in the same ten seconds. To my family, nothing was worse.
"Thomas?" A soft, angelic voice interrupted my thoughts. Had I actually drank myself into the afterlife? "Thomas, you up?"
"Am I dead?" I groaned out loud, rubbing my eyes.
"Nah, I made sure that you're alright, and still breathing." A small laugh. "I won't charge you extra."
I finally opened my eyes, immediately landing on the chuckling angel the pretty voice belonged to. James was sitting on the edge of my bed, a grin on his lips as I slowly came to. The room spun as I tried to sit up in bed, only to be ushered back down by James' surprising strength.
"Nope," he said, that same smile on his face. Damn, here he was. The adorable little man that had seen the absolute worst of me, and was still sitting here, and I knew he was real. I felt his hand, so at least I wasn't hallucinating. I had so much to say to him, so much to apologize for, and then thank him even more. I tried to speak, only to let out gasping words, my tongue feeling heavy and misplaced in my mouth. "Thomas, no, it's alright. I've got you, you don't gotta get up. Here, I have a glass of water and aspirin..."
"James," I finally managed as his warm eyes rested on me as if he wasn't angry for everything I've fucked up. I felt like I should be getting yelled at right now, should be being threatened. Why wasn't I being scolded right now? "J-James, why aren't you mad at me? I fucked up."
His gaze fell to the floor, but then back up to my own. "We all do that sometimes Thomas." My heart thumped in my chest as he smiled sheepishly. "I really couldn't be mad at you. Well actually-"
I managed a weak grin. "Even if I fuck up even bigger than I already have?"
"Come on, Thomas," he smiled, giving me gentle nudge. "You know I don't get mad easily. Don't press those limits though."
I laughed, even though it turned into an angry cough as James frowned. "But James- I've been really wanting to talk to you. And f-fuck, I'm so sorry. I know, I shouldn't have avoided you or anything like that, I shouldn't have kissed you either. It was s-stupid of me, and I'm sorry. It won't happen again, and I'm sorry, seriously Jems. I suck. I hope I didn't make you feel weird or anythin' and I feel like I can't apologize enough, or often enough either, so I'm sorry."
I ducked my head down, ashamed. I couldn't believe I had been that reckless. Sure, I'm an impulsive guy, but damn, kissing people who were dating someone to save their life? I didn't know if James had told Aaron about it, I was crossing my fingers that he didn't say anything. But I was forever in debt to James, he could tell the world and I'd be okay with it. I took in a heavy breath, sitting up on my pillow, still unable to meet James' eyes. He hated me now, I was sure of it.
But instead, I was greeted by warm arms wrapping around me. James was hugging me. A real live person was hugging me, and it was so oddly intimate- I basically melted into it. Was I touch-starved? Oh yes, absolutely. But heat flooded into my heart, and I leaned into him.
"I don't like seeing you like this Thomas," he said gently. When had he gotten so sweet? Nevertheless, he was the best. I needed to stop thinking like this, it was a bad idea. For both of us. "Here, it's Sunday and both of us could use a day off."
I chuckled softly as he pulled away, and my body immediately protested from lack of... Him. "Damn right." He watched me with a calculating gaze, and I cracked a smirk to avoid talking about my stupid feelings anymore. "Now, where's that aspirin you were talkin' about?"
"There he is!" He chuckled, reaching for the medicine with a small grin. "You should shower this morning, I think you'd feel better Thomas."
"Are you saying that I smell?" I laughed, sliding out from between the sheets as I realized I had been sleeping in James' bed all along. Burr would not like that- damn it! I told myself, no more thoughts like that.
"Not denyin' it!" He exclaimed, helping me get to the bathroom so I didn't face-plant into the ground. "I feel like a housemaid to an old man, do you need a cane?"
"With the state I'm in? Yep! But I'll use your shortness instead, plus it's free," I teased, James, swatting at my shoulder as he gently set me down on the rim of the bathtub.
"I'll be outside if you need anything, I'll let you take the aspirin after in case you throw up or anythin' Thomas," he said, taking a step away before I found myself calling out for him.
"Hmm?" James spun, my face on fire. Fantastic, there are those good old abandonment issues. How was I supposed to ask him to stay with me? I was about to shower for God's sake! "You okay Thomas?"
"Oh, er, sorry. Thought you had somethin' on your back, that's all. You're good, go get some rest Jems." I turned away from him, hoping he wasn't seeing right through my awkward lie to distract the fact that I wanted him to stay. While I was showering? God, I was so creepy, wasn't I? "I'm good. Thank you Jems, for everything."
"Of course Thomas," he murmured, a small smile sat on his features as he shut the door. He was in such a good mood, and it was quite cute to see.
I turned the water on, letting it heat up as I stared down the reflection in the mirror. Yuck. My eyes were tired and bloodshot from wailing my eyes out for the past few days. A hot shower was what I needed. Thankfully I had been drunk so much in my life, nausea and throwing up wasn't as bad. Was that a good thing, really? Even so, that doesn't mean I didn't throw the contents of my stomach up before getting in the shower.
I shivered as I stripped off my clothes, then disappeared into the warm water. Finally, I'd feel clean again. My throat felt raw from throwing up just once, I couldn't imagine what James was going through with those damn flowers. Poor thing, Burr should confess already! Who wouldn't love James? I didn't want him to be in so much pain anymore, sure the entire thing would break my heart, but damn! James! I wanted him to be okay. He deserved that.
I scrubbed the dried sweat off my skin, debating whether or not to do a full treatment of my extra curly hair again. I hadn't done it in a bit, and it's Sunday too. Free day! I chuckled, stepping completely under the water that was burning hot to some, to clean my hair. I wondered what temperatures James took in his showers. Goddamn! The thoughts were back, of course, they were!
I sighed loudly, stepping out of the shower after a lengthy shower, my skin soft for once. I took in a sharp breath, a small smile appearing on my lips. This was always great. I pulled on a pair of jeans- the weather was getting cold- and hesitated as I ran my fingers over the scar from my childhood.
My heart dropped, glaring at it with venom. Hatred bloomed from the wound besides pain, I should have never let my guard down for this to be done to me. But James' fingers were so nice along my skin, gah, I was truly the worst wasn't I? I stretched, yawning as I decided against the shirt and washed my face again.
"James!" I exclaimed, already opening the cabinet for our weekly routines. "Can you do my hair?"
I heard a loud sudden laugh, and I opened the door to a curious- and grinning- James. "We haven't done this in almost two weeks, dang, do you got all the products?"
I smirked, grabbing multiple tubes of moisturizer from the top shelf, anti-frizz cans, all that jazz. "Always. I've missed this, and you Jems." It was completely true, no flirty undertone. What a surprise. "Seriously, I've missed-" I took a seat on the edge of the tub, James grabbing my products- "all of this."
"Dork," he chuckled softly, and I closed my eyes as he gently cleaned up my hair. "Can't believe you and your big hair take up seventy-five percent of the bathroom cabinet. There's no way I rather have it honestly, cause then it's pretty easy to steal moisturizer from you."
"Hey!" I exclaimed, spinning my head around but then turned around by James' warm hand. "Do you do that Jems? 'Cause if you do, we're going to have some issues."
"Thomas," James chuckled, giving the back of my neck a brief squeeze and I let out a surprised yelp. That was one of his little quirks, lots of poking in my most sensitive spots. Also, that's what she said. "That's what you get! Next time I'll poke you in the side, and then you'll really pay."
I laughed, grinning from ear to ear. James never poked me in my side with the scar, always keeping a close eye on it ever since he found out. He was such a sweetheart, gah! He's claimed my heart by doing my hair perfectly every single time and poking me in the side. I smiled to myself, everything he did seemed to drag me deeper.
"Speaking of your side," James murmured, focused on my hair. Having curly hair had its perks, but damn, the stuff I had to buy to deal with it. "How's your... Scar doing, Thomas?"
"Feelin' better actually," I said. It was the truth. I found out that putting a bandage on it so I don't scratch it actually helped! Wow! "Thanks for the bandaid, you're the best."
"I kind of am, aren't I?" He teased softly, petting my hair in that way he did when he taunted me. God, he was so cute.
"And you know what would make you the best-est?"
"If you bought pizza later."
He poked my side and I let out a startled shout, glaring up at the grinning man. "What was that for Jems? I thought you were the best."
"I already know that I am, you dork!" He laughed, even harder like I had seen before.
His eyes shown with the light in the bathroom, my face warm as he teased me. His playful banter that I loved so much. I hadn't even thought about the message that I received yesterday that sent me into my drunken spiral, the one that made me feel hopeless. James was the one who helped, every single time. And you know what? He really was the best. Maybe he would never like me in the way I wanted, maybe he'd love Burr forever, but you know what?
I inhaled a shuddering breath.
As long as he was happy, that would be enough.
I truly loved Thomas.
And I realized this as I walked to another 'date' with Aaron, set up by Thomas. He told me he wanted me to be happy, and that he was about to 'beat Burr up' if he didn't confess soon. There was nothing to confess, of course! But still, he was so considerate and maybe if I was in love with Aaron, this would all work out. But I was more than willing to deal with everything if I could just keep Thomas by my side.
Before I left, he took me by the hand with a grin and thanked me for everything I've done. And when I left, I finally let myself redden with his touch and his words, and he remembered everything I had done for him. He told me that I needed to take care of myself, and then fluffed my hair as he tossed his own. His curly hair was honestly fantastic. He was fantastic in general, damn! He thanked me so much, so often, his dark eyes on my own. I didn't want to leave, even if it was just for a few hours.
I did his hair every few weeks, a little bet we had that he won with. I let him win. And damn, it was so difficult to do someone's hair, while they were shirtless, them also being so adorable and gorgeous, and not getting a boner! I swore, Thomas would be the death of me the day and I'd be so embarrassed I would literally die. The earth would just swallow me up if that day ever came, I crossed my fingers it wouldn't.
My phone buzzed suddenly, and I quickly pulled it out to be greeted by a text from Thomas.
my love with big hair: Jimmy James, I'll be gone for a few hours, gotta help my family out, will be back late tonight :)
my love with big hair: I'll buy you a cheeseburger on my way back, you're too short! ;) see you later Jem (take ur meds)
My heart sank sadly. It would only be a couple of hours, I'd see him when I woke up but still, I was looking forward to spending time with Thomas after this. I sighed softly, but I was sure that it was a good thing he'd be going to see his family. He rarely talked about them, if he did it would only be about what school his siblings were going to. I heart one thing about his dad and our classmate who apparently looks like him, but absolutely nothing about his mother. Maybe they weren't on good terms?
I was extremely close to my family, I had eight siblings, trying to keep in touch with all of them. Four of them had passed away when I was very young, but I swear my mother will talk about them like they're still there. Damn it, the more I think about it, the more I want Thomas to meet my family! Already getting to 'meeting the parents' step, hah! But even so, I think he'd like them and vice versa.
Now while I say I'm close to my family, that doesn't mean I've told them about the hanahaki disease nonsense. Being head over heels in love with someone I could never be with actually didn't bother me that much. I simply wanted to stay by Thomas' side, and if swallowing down my feelings was the way to go, then I could do it. Thomas was perfectly imperfect, and no matter how many times he claimed that he wasn't what he wanted to see in the mirror, he was perfect to me. Big hair and everything.
What if... I actually had to get the surgery to forget Thomas? What if the flowers got so damn bad that I couldn't take it anymore, and Thomas got scared of me? All of this, it wasn't his fault at all. I didn't want to tell Thomas because I didn't want to scare him off, ruin the warmth I got from his words, and I didn't want him to blame himself if he didn't reciprocate my feelings. But still. What if I had to forget the love of my life and every single memory with him? Would I lose my memories of every laugh we shared, or would I choke on the petals first?
I shivered, pulling my arms around myself. I hated thinking about that.
I heard a voice exclaim, glancing up to see Aaron. Thank god.
"Hey Aaron," I laughed, giving him a high five. "Uh, sorry about Thomas pestering you for goin' out with me again. He can be a little intense sometimes."
"No trouble," Aaron smiled, running his hand over his head. "How are you doing with lover boy? I saw your texts, I hope the guy is okay. He can't even be a 'lover man' honestly, there's a really angry ten-year-old inside of him."
My face burned, and I nudged him with my elbow. "He's doin' better, out helping his family today. He'll be back by tomorrow, he's still pretty shaken up so I've been taking care of him. He's already done the same for me, plus I am in love with him, so."
Aaron laughed loudly, patting my back. It was so easy to talk about Thomas, even after everything. The flowers had been getting pretty severe when Thomas was not around, but it didn't seem too bad currently. I was with a friend and my dorky love would be back at the dorm tomorrow, everything would be okay. I snorted to myself, every time I told myself that something bad would happen. I had the sudden urge to check on Thomas, I hoped he was alright.
My phone buzzed again.
my love with big hair: -view image attached-
I pressed the 'view' button, to be greeted with a photo of Thomas in a drive-thru getting dinner, sunglasses on, holding up a peace sign. I grinned. What a dork, damn! Aaron laughed as he looked over my shoulder as we chatted, strolling into the closest diner. We ordered burgers briefly as friends would do, and Aaron paid. Of course. I chuckled, my family wasn't rich, but they loved each other. It all worked out.
We took a seat, casually talking as we started on our food when three girls sat down with the two of us.
"Hey, Aaron!" They exclaimed, almost in unison. The youngest one, at least I assumed she was the youngest, tossed her hair that was strung with yellow ribbons as she spoke. "Who's your friend?"
My heart twinged nervously at the fact that I was being talked to, and I anxiously tapped at my thigh. "Er- I'm James. We were j-just getting dinner."
"Cool," the yellow one said, tilting her head with a grin. "I'm Peggy."
"Hi," I mumbled, raising my voice so I didn't seem completely pathetic. "Nice to meet you all."
"I'm Angelica," the tallest one said, having similar ribbons in her hair but pink. Maybe there was a festival or something around here? The one sitting in the middle shyly waved at me, blue ribbons in her hair instead. I could tell them apart at least. "This is Eliza, and you've already met Peggy. Don't play poker with her."
"Hey!" Peggy exclaimed, scowling. "That's the first thing you say to him? You're going to ruin me, Angelica, do you need to tell everyone that? Dad is going to hear about it."
Angelica grinned, playfully glancing at her. "Dad doesn't need to know 'bout it! So I'll keep blackmailing you for it as long as you can."
The middle- and blue- one spoke, rolling her eyes at the two of them as she spoke to Aaron. "So Aaron, how are you doing?"
"I'm good, thanks, Eliza." He smiled to me, and I nervously sank further into my seat. They were nice but social anxiety does not give a shit even if they were the nicest people on Earth. How could Thomas be so skilled in talking to people? And like it? "How's Maria doing?"
Eliza smiled, and I raised my gaze curiously. "She's great! We actually went out this morning, before these two dummies-" she gestured to what was probably her sisters- "interrupted us."
I smiled, sitting up straighter. "You're close with your... Sisters?"
They nodded in unison as they grumbled at each other sarcastically. "You could say that! Just... We're sisters, so we're close of course."
"Cool," I said, grinning. I was close to my family, probably more than other college students. "I have eight siblings, but seriously. I really missed them when I left for college, e-erm the youngest one said they would camp out in my dorm so she could come with me."
I chuckled fondly at the memory. Thomas told me when I was lying on my bed, sobbing my eyes out from being away from home, that he would be my little sister if I missed her that much. He laughed, 'wig and everything.' I think that's when I knew it, that Thomas would steal my heart, and damn! I was completely okay with that!
We chatted for a while, and I felt good in people I didn't know's company! It was crazy, after a while I stopped stammering every other sentence, and Aaron would grin along with the conversation, making awkward puns every so often. And the craziest part? I was having fun! I saw that Angelica was reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine, just like real Thomas was a few weeks ago!
"Did you happen to recommend that to T-Thomas?" I asked, gesturing to the book tucked neatly under her arm.
"Oh, Jefferson? Yep! I thought he could use a bit of woman's studies in his life. I'm majoring in it, after all, might as well out it to good use." Angelica grinned, tapping her fingers on the book. "Is he acting any better after reading it?"
I chuckled, ducking my head down. "Well, uh, he's scared of you."
She leaned back in her chair, a smirk on her face. "Good."
I laughed loudly, a sharp burst of noise. And this single moment would have been utterly perfect if Thomas was here, even if there was the risk of him starting a fight no matter where we go. But this for now, just laughing with friends, god this was great. I needed to tell Thomas all about this, the love of my life deserves to share these moments too. He had only been away for a couple of hours, and I missed him! Damn it!
Everyone continued to chat as I grinned to myself, tapping my foot absentmindedly as I glanced at my phone. Thomas hadn't texted me in a while, almost two hours. But he must have been enjoying his time with his family, what else are they for really? I chuckled. Maybe not everyone's relationship with their family was great, and sometimes it was better if the person stayed away from them. But Thomas was visiting them, so of course, he would like to see them. I was sure he was having fun.
How wrong I was.
It was another day before I saw Thomas again.
He hadn't slipped in quietly during the night, his bed untouched when I woke up. I sighed miserably, I had only gotten a text saying that he might be a little delayed. And for me to take my medicine. Of course, he remembered, gah I missed the cutie so much. I knew I should've just given up the thoughts, the thought that someday I could hold his hand and it not be weird, because we weren't simply friends anymore. I wanted to love him, and vice versa. If he loved me back... Wow. Though impossible, that would be something else.
When I got back to the dormitory after a long day of insanely boring lectures and throwing up flowers- bleeding hearts mostly- I was greeted with an empty room but, I zoned in on a showering Thomas. I could hear the water hitting the floor from the bathroom, and I grinned happily. His bag was sitting neatly on his bed, shoes already kicked off by the door.
My dork was finally back!
I'd never tell him that I was so possessive of him in my mind, even though he could never be mine. But still, those little moments where I found myself thinking of a future where we were together, were the best things ever, like hot damn. I perched happily at the desk, finishing up some writing while pretending I wasn't beyond excited. Damn it, Madison, chill! He had hardly been gone a day, but I simply wanted to see him.
I heard him get out of the shower and then open the door, and I felt a hand on my head. I glanced up, Thomas smiling tiredly down at me.
"Hey James," he breathed out, strangely quiet. He looked utterly exhausted, his eyes anywhere but my own. "Miss me?"
"Thomas?" I asked softly, standing up as he still wouldn't meet my gaze. Worry hit me like a truck as I glanced at his defeated stance, shoulders down. That didn't look right, he wasn't his usual self. This almost didn't seem like... Thomas. "Are you okay?"
He looked away, his hands shaking viciously as he reached up to rub his eyes. "I'm- I'm just tired. H-How was Burr today Jems? Finally gettin' those flowers out of your system maybe."
"Thomas," I repeated, taking his arm in my grasp. His hands were trembling, actually, all of him was trembling. Even his voice. And a bruise turning purple on his wrist, it had to be a day old at least. Pain, confusion, and worry were practically controlling me now, what was going on? I ran a slow and extremely gentle finger over it, him wincing from just the slightest amount of pressure. "Thomas, where did this bruise come from?"
He looked down towards it, not making any effort to move it out of my touch. "I think I just fell." I saw him shiver, adjusting his stance then reopened his eyes, a misplaced smile on his face. "But, how have you been doin' Jems? It feels like I haven't seen you in so long, I trust that you've been takin' extra good care of yourself!"
I nodded, my hands savoring the warmth from Thomas' arm, but I was insanely worried. "'Course Thomas. Have... Have you been taking care of yourself? You're shaking."
"I am?" He mumbled, and I ushered him onto the bed. I sat him down, holding him by the arm as I took a seat next to him. I was worried, I was beyond terrified, shit! He wasn't okay, I needed to help. How did I help?! Suddenly, I felt him lean his head on my shoulder, heat anywhere he touched. I watched nervously as he closed his eyes, his breathing steadying as I leaned into him. "Sorry James."
"Huh?" I asked softly, raising a concerned eyebrow. "No reason to apologize for anything Thomas, can I get you anything?"
"Just so tired," he whispered hoarsely. "Tell me somethin' good Jems. How goes the flowers?"
"I..." I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, he looked so helpless. I needed to help, that's all I wanted. Just for him to feel better. "Aaron is really nice, we should go see him together. A-And I saw your best bud Angelica today, out with her sisters."
He cracked a small grin. "Damn, I really do need to see her. Like, if I were president, she'd be my vice. Wait, no, you'd be my Vice President actually." I smiled fondly, gently running my thumb over his bruised wrist. "She'll be in charge of the military, I feel like she would be good at that."
"Of course," I said softly, grinning. "Aaron would be secretary."
"A-Absolutely!" His voice raised, but his it dropped quickly as if it was too much effort to keep it up. His body was still shaking, his fingers looking as if they were tapping against an invisible object. "You know me so well, we can toss Hamilton in jail if we're the presidents. 'Cause we are the presidents, we do what we want. Hamilton can't say a thing."
"We need to start our own government." I felt him nod against my shoulder, dozing off every so often for a moment. It was adorable, but I was so damn scared! Had something happened to him? "You need to get some rest Thomas, I'm worried."
He groaned, yawning as I pet him gently on the head. "Here, you can sleep right here, just sleep in my bed. I don't know if you have enough energy to get up the ladder, please lie down Thomas."
"Nah, you gotta get sleep t-too Jems! Here- c-could you just help me up, please? I ca-can get up there," he said softly, and a small smile on my lips, I swiftly pushed him into the bed, onto his back. He yelped, surprised as I rolled him in a blanket, his head on my pillow. "James! Hey! Jems- actually this is really warm, damn."
I watched as he snuggled up in my blankets, my heart pattering in my chest. I sat down next to him, his eyelids fluttering closed as he thanked me quietly, patting the large space next to him. For... For me to lie there. If I wasn't so worried about Thomas, I would absolutely have a boner, lying next to this absolutely gorgeous man. Plus, for being six foot two, Thomas was squished up next to the wall, and I had the urge to just tug him out of there and give him the entire bed. He deserved it.
I laid on top of the blankets, watching as Thomas fell asleep quickly. I sighed softly, running my fingertips as gently as possible over his bruise, biting my lip in worry. What happened to you, Thomas? I pulled the blanket over myself, and I could feel Thomas' warmth next to me. He was in his own cocoon of blankets, but I could still feel it.
He had been away for longer than he expected, I remembered the text of him saying that he got caught up with something and might be late. Was this the thing he had been caught up with? I frowned, scooting a little bit closer. He could talk to me about anything, I knew he knew that, but maybe this was one of the things people didn't like to talk about. Was he thinking he was weak for getting all the bruises? No, the way he wasn't hiding his arm after he realized I saw it, he just looked flat out exhausted. I never wanted him to feel like that.
I wanted to kiss him. I hated I still got thoughts like that, I just wanted to kiss him again, damn it. I watched his chest rise and fall, his breathing staggered as I thought the things I wish I could say. You're doing amazing, you big-haired dummy.
My heart drummed in my chest worriedly, but the heat radiating off of Thomas quickly lulled me into a warm sleep.
I woke up to an empty space beside me, my eyelids fluttering open, confused. I rolled over, stretching until I realized had been wrapped in my blankets, and then I saw Thomas eating a bowl of cereal on the edge of the bed. I made a weak noise as a good morning, nudging him in the side with my knee. I was secretly glad he was still with me, I would've been worried if he wasn't there.
"Good morning Jimmy James!" Thomas exclaimed, his voice still soft but pretty happy. "You looked cold so I gave you some more blankets."
"Good morning," I greeted softly, sitting myself up. He looked better, but an odd purpling bruise had formed on his chin. It didn't seem severe, just a small marking along his short dark beard. "Thank you, Thomas, r-really. How are you feeling?"
"Fine," he said softly, looking towards his phone with a small frown. He glanced back, the sad look in his gaze suddenly gone, as he raised an eyebrow. "Haven't seen any flowers lately Jemmington-" I let out a bark of a laugh, that was new- "something you wanna tell me?"
I glanced up at his handsome but still tired features. It's because I spent the entire night sleeping by your side. God, if only I could truly tell him. I simply wanted to rest in his arms, I just wanted him. And I wanted to help him with the bruises, did he really just fall? I absentmindedly stared at the blue bruise on his wrist, worry clouding my mind.
"I don't know," I chuckled. He still thought it was Aaron, god, no, I loved you, Thomas! What would he do if I told him right now? Just opened my lips and told him. "Yeah, I'm not sure, but thank you for asking Thomas. Really." He nodded, grinning as I continued. "I need coffee."
"I got you," Thomas chuckled, grabbing my favorite mug and pressing it into my hands. He was the best, oh jeez! I drank deeply from it, noticing how the Thomas from last night was long gone. He coughed viciously, and I frowned, but he cleared his throat easily. "Don't worry Jems, I was about to leave you hanging. Here, I need to play you a piece I've been workin' on, both of our lectures don't start 'til nine, you can't escape!"
I chuckled, smiling into my mug. "Let's hear it, Thomas, you've been goin' to those lessons for some time now!" My voice lowered as my face warmed. "I'm sure you're good at it."
He flashed me a grin, getting down on his knees to pull out a shiny violin case from under the bunk. He smiled, revealing a velvet interior to the case, a beautiful instrument settled neatly in the folds. I gasped softly, my eyes unable to stay off of the violin. His family was rich, I knew it for a fact, but he never flaunted it surprisingly. Besides an expensive magenta bag he had, this was the only other hint at his family's wealth.
"So that's where you hide it!" I smiled, shaking off the blankets and perching on the edge of the bed. "I'm excited to hear, never knew the great Thomas Jefferson could play."
He smirked, picking the instrument up with a gentleness I had rarely seen before, fingers gripping carefully at the frame. "I wish it was purple honestly." He chuckled softly, picking up the bow. "Ready to be amazed Jems?"
I nodded encouragingly, and he rested the violin elegantly on his shoulder, leaning into the small chin rest. I was surprised the wood wasn't magenta, it was a deep auburn color, but he still looked insanely amazing holding it. A wince hit his features as the chin rest hit the dark bruise, but I saw him ignore it without another look. How could he do that? I frowned slightly, I had to put some ice in that maybe. I didn't want him hurting.
He struck the strings with his bow once, a sharp noise that oddly enough struck me to my core. My heart fluttered warmly, his bow moving across the strings. A flourish of crescendos and the pace changes, all while similar background notes repeated themselves. How the hell was someone so good at violin?
I sat happily, listening for some time, I couldn't keep up with what my watch was saying when there was beauty going on right in front of me! He hummed in tune with the addicting music, and I could feel my heart beat in turn to the notes. I recognized the song, but then my mind filled with such a pain for him as I saw eyes brim with tears.
"Thomas," I breathed out, standing up and gently patting his hand as the haunting music continued, almost sad. "Are you okay?"
The music slowed as he turned away, digging the heel of his palm into his eyes. He spun back around, the tears gone as he cleared his throat. The smirk was back, but his gaze didn't quite reach my own.
"Ahem, sorry Jems," he chuckled, shaking his head as if he were shaking off thoughts. He never had to apologize, he had nothing to apologize for. "How'd you like it? Have you been properly impressed Jems?"
"I really like it!" I saw a grin appear on his face with the words. "I, uh, actually play a bit of an instrument myself. Piano. Haven't done it since I was a kid, but the song you played is really pretty."
"You play piano?" He asked, and I nodded eagerly. It's not like there was any room for a keyboard in our dorm, let alone a piano. I could probably put my arms out and touch both walls! He cleared his throat again, another cough hitting the air. "That's cool, we should totally play together sometimes! Oh shit, how 'bout after school? I think today is the music room's free day- no lessons or anything. How about it Jems?"
I hesitated. I hadn't played piano in years, I could hardly remember where my hands were supposed to be on the keys! My mom had a grand piano in the living room for some time, until we moved at least. I would have no idea what I was doing! But then again... Thomas. I would spend more time with Thomas, so I could have that warmth sitting next to me for a while.
The choice was easy.
Homophobic language and mentions of self harm
I was practically skipping to the music room.
Now I- James Madison- am not exactly a man who skips.
The day was long but damn it. I did not care, not a bit, and I had been looking forward to seeing Thomas all day. That sounded like some cheesy romantic comedy, damn it! 'Oh, I couldn't wait to see him!' And then some computer-generated laugh as someone's face reddened. Yep, that was those dumb Christmas movies. And oh, fantastic! It was almost Christmas too, the end of December would be in a few weeks. I was practically living a romantic comedy, besides being gay and in love with a specific- and utterly amazing- man, plus coughing up flowers. Close enough.
My hands lingered on the doorknob, my thoughts dark. What if Thomas didn't really want me here? I was horrible at the piano no doubt, I played in elementary school and that was it! I hoped he wasn't expecting anything, I didn't want to disappoint Thomas. He was too damn lovely to be disappointed, damn it! Even though once, he patted me on the head, and told me how he could never be disappointed in me. And that he was proud of me too. My heart twinged sadly, those words touched my heart more than anything ever. And he said them so simply, smiling as I told him about my siblings and family. How could he just say that?
I spun around, startled, to see a familiar figure running towards me. Thomas had been wearing this pretty magenta scarf for the past few weeks, and damn it! It was the cutest thing, thank god for cold weather. His dark skin looked so warm against the freezing temperatures, I bet his skin would feel amazing if I touched it. My face burned awkwardly, and I waved back as I opened the door for him.
He flashed me a smirk, waiting for me so we could walk inside together. "Damn, look at that piano! Woah, I've only been here once before, for a lesson, but I don't remember this!"
I watched, practically swooning, as he tossed his bag down next to the piano, running his fingers across the frame, his lips parted in awe. What a cutie, holy hell. He ran his fingers across the keys, a crescendo ringing out in the air as he laughed. He settled on the seat as I leaned against the wall, but then he patted the open space next to me.
"Sit down Jems!" He smirked, motioning for me to sit down with him. This was such a different person than last night, but the bruises along his wrist and chin had been darkening since I last saw him. "I need my instructor here."
"Oh!" I flushed, embarrassed. But the chance to be sitting next to a literal star, I had to take it. "Yeah, yeah, sure. Sorry."
He grinned happily, and I slipped onto the seat next to him, our thighs almost touching. "Okay, instructor, what do I do now?"
My face burned, and I gently tapped on a few keys. "So, you can hit these notes-" he pressed down on one of them with a smile- "yeah! Like that. And you can spread your fingers out so you can hit multiple keys at once."
I grinned as he tapped out an off-tune song, but it was cute nonetheless. "And then," I said softly, Thomas watching me with excitement. "So, each key is a different note, but uh, I don't have any sheet music with me, uh-"
"It's good, I just wanna play! Here, what kind of song do you like to do? I don't know a thing 'bout this stuff, you can do anything."
"Oh-Oh, okay!" I chuckled, happy to see Thomas so into it. "There's this one I like, so you're going to want to put your fingers here-" I tapped a few keys and Thomas complied- "and there. And press each of them down, starting over here."
He broke into a devilish grin as he tapped out a simple melody, exclaiming as he got through the song. "Damn, maybe this is my hidden talent!"
I chuckled, my face warm as I nudged him with my elbow. "Maybe owe a bit of credit to your teacher?"
"Sure, sure," he laughed, still poking at the keys as he coughed again. I hope he wasn't getting a cold, he had been coughing a lot lately. "I'll save you a front-row seat to my first performance. Which won't be that long, 'cause of how quick I'm learning, eh?"
I snorted, rolling my eyes. "Sure, whatever makes you think that's true."
"Hey!" He exclaimed, pushing me playfully on the shoulder as I began to laugh. There it was again, that warmth that struck me to my core and there was no way I could let go of that. "What's your favorite song on here that you remember? 'Cause I need to broaden my horizons if I gotta make a living from this."
I giggled, pressing my hands onto the piano. "I like this one called City of Stars, it's from this cheesy but really good movie, and the piano isn't too difficult. Here, uh, just put your fingers here-"
"Damn, we gotta watch that movie sometime then Jems. Okay, so and right here?" He pressed his hands onto the keys, touching them curiously. "Here, can you put your hand on mine? I don't know which note is first, all that shit."
"Oh-Oh, um! Yeah, sure, let me just-!" I nervously put my hand on top of his own, a bright flash of warmth from his skin again. We were basically holding hands, holy shit. He shot me an intrigued smile, watching the keys. "So like this-"
I hummed out each note as I pressed down on his fingers, and damn it. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to kiss him. I hadn't heard City of Stars in a while, but it was an utterly gorgeous song. Bits of my childhood were floating around my head, I could remember playing the piano as my dad kept me in tune. I glanced at Thomas. There's no one I rather share these moments with.
Once we had slowly gotten through the whole song, Thomas burst into an excited smile. "Holy hell! That sounds great, and it's actually surprisingly fun and everythin', holy shit! Yo, can we try that again? You can go faster too, I think I get it!"
I directed his fingers along the keys, my face burning hot. He cleared his throat, smirking with a hint of excitement in his features. Such a cutie. He tapped his foot in beat to the song, and I was not expecting him to be so into this. But it was so cute! He always told me about how much he enjoyed music, but this was something else. He was just so beautiful, damn it. I moved a little closer to him, I could easily kiss him. And I really really wanted to. Maybe I could, maybe just for a moment-
I spun around, and suddenly Thomas was up and halfway across the room. I hadn't heard that word in so long, it was a horrible thing to say, and for reason, people kept using it. What idiots. Yeah sure, go insult someone on something they have no control of, god I wanted to punch whoever just said that. Pieces of shit! Speaking of which, who was the useless fucker who just said that? Where was Thomas?
"Thomas!" I exclaimed loudly, realizing that he was standing down some guy who wasn't close his height. But his fists were clenched, raw anger on his features like I hadn't seen before. "Thomas, what is it?"
I could hardly hear Thomas' vicious words, staring down the horrible guy. "Do you still think this is high school, Reynolds? Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Don't you got someone's bed to whore around in?" Reynolds replied, causing Thomas to physically flinch. "Isn't that your thing? You doin' that here too?"
"Oh, would you fuck off already? This is a college, and you're still a fucking child! We ain't in high school, is somethin' wrong? No more people who are willing to be beaten up every day? You're such a dick, get out of my sight."
"I could say the same for you, Jefferson," Reynolds sneered, but he took a hesitant step back. "Remember in high school, damn, you are such a whore and now you come here, still tryna pretend that you're not a-" his words dropped dangerously low- "fag? You ain't gonna hurt me, you're too weak. Always have been. Remember when you cried-"
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Thomas shouted, obviously the more intimidating of the two of them as 'Reynolds' backed nervously into a wall. The other man stammered out a nervous beg for escape, playing it off as a joke. "You- a piece of shit- think you have a say in the fact that I'm going to beat you to the ground?"
"Thomas!" I exclaimed again, standing up but then sitting down as I began to cough.
No, no, not now! I gagged, pounding my fist against my chest as I felt my throat close up. I gasped desperately as I coughing harder into my hands, flowers suddenly decorating my hands. Petals hit the ground, escaping through the gaps of my fingers. Fuck. I tried to listen in on the arguing voices, finally settling onto Thomas' angry one.
"So fuck off already Reynolds!" Thomas hissed at a retreating Reynolds as I tried to bring my gaze up. I heard Thomas' footsteps as he moved towards me, getting on his knee as he gently patted my back and brushed stray hair back into place.
"You okay Jems?" He asked softly, the anger gone from his tone. I coughed out an awkward response, a pained smile settling onto my lips at the familiar touch. "Sorry 'bout that, just a dick from high school. Do you wanna head home? Sorry if that ruined your evening, you alright Jemmy?"
I coughed again, a few more flowers tumbling down my shirt and onto the floor as I frowned. I've never been a fan of this. Who would me? A voice rang out again in the room as my head shot up.
"Throwin' up flowers?" I heard Reynolds laugh, and Thomas was immediately back on his feet. "What a freak."
I heard Thomas shout at him to leave otherwise he'd destroy the man, springing from his seat, as I put my arms around myself pitifully. I never thought of it that way before. It was a genetic mutation, and after I first told Thomas, he told me having a mutation meant I was a new great X-Men character. It was generally inherited, but I suppose I- I chuckled bitterly- was the exception. I glanced down at my lap, flowers decorating it. I couldn't even say 'decorating.' It made everything uglier. Just made me uglier.
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder, Thomas' worried expression suddenly in my gaze. "You okay Jems? Don't listen to him, he's probably jealous of your amazingness. He ain't anythin' Jems, don't listen to his sorry ass." He ruffled my hair gently, taking a seat on the piano bench next to me. I couldn't deny the fact it hurt. I never thought of myself like that. "Jems, hey, look at me."
Annoying tears welled up in my eyes, and I awkwardly glanced up to Thomas. "I cry way too much in front of you," I chuckled, wiping my eyes with my sleeve. "Gotta stop doin' that. Sorry."
Thomas frowned deeply, scooting me towards him by the shoulders. My face burned at the touch, and my eyes finally stopped tearing up. It was a miracle. He nodded towards the piano softly, and I put my hands on the keys. And then- holy shit- he put his hand on my own and began to play the melody I had been teaching him. Fuck 'not crying,' my eyes shone with tears and I scooted closer to him. He really was the best, this dork was the best.
"Don't say that Jems. He's jealous, don't listen to that dick." He pressed my fingers down with ease, the warm song ringing into the air. "You're great to me."
My face burned at his words, and I glanced down at his hands. "You... You were really paying attention when I was teaching, eh?"
He grinned, pulling his warm away as the song ended. No, come back, damn it! "'Course shortie. But seriously, I'm glad you're with Burr." My heart shuddered at his words. I wanted Thomas, and that was all. "He's a good man, and you deserve that. You deserve the best! Let me know if he's botherin' you or anything, we can set him straight together- damn it to hell!"
He slammed his fist onto the piano as sour notes hit my ears as he coughed loudly. "Thomas!" I exclaimed, startled. He cleared his throat, recovering quickly. "Hey, you okay? That didn't sound good at all."
"Mhm, yeah, so sorry." He shot me a soft look, brow furrowed. He had been coughing a lot, poor guy! I was tempted to check his temperature, but anxiety overwhelmed me at the thought of touching such a perfection. "Just comin' down with something. Don't worry about me Jems, it's good."
I frowned. My weak immune system destroyed my social life when I was a boy, I was always on the inside looking at all the kids playing on the playground. I hardly had the chance to go outside, got sick every time someone sneezed on me. I never wanted anyone to feel like that, I made a note to myself to pick Thomas some medicine up the next time I was out.
We played the piano for not even five minutes before we were interrupted again. I loved the feeling of my skin on his own, his hands were rough from exercise and violin, but they felt pretty damn soft to me. Thomas would tap out a shaky- and adorable- melody, then cheerfully asked me for my thoughts. The sun long was gone from the sky by then, and I couldn't help but yawn every so often. Tragically, panic and coffee induced all-nighters had their downsides.
A quiet voice from the door was cut off by Thomas' own. "I told you to fuck off already-! Oh, hey Aaron. Sorry 'bout that."
"It's fine," Aaron chuckled and I waved to him awkwardly. It was always nice to see Aaron, but I secretly wanted to stay by Thomas' side. "Hey James, mind if I talk to you for a second out here?"
Thomas chuckled, nudging me with his elbow, but his eyes were still holding on the piano. "Go get 'em lover boy."
I flashed him a grin. I'm in love with you Thomas! I slipped out of my seat, giving Thomas back a pat as he winked at me again. Gah, cutie. Always thoughtful, even when he wasn't feeling great, and even when I would never think he would be so considerate. I smiled at Aaron, putting my hands in my pocket as Thomas disappointedly left my sight as we disappeared down the hall.
"Hey, Aaron. What's up?" I asked softly, my throat still sore from the coughing fit earlier.
"Hey, just wanted to check in on the two of you. And, you two look like high school sweethearts, adorable!" He laughed, patting me on the shoulder as we strolled along the empty hallways. My face burned. I was pretty sure the guy who didn't have flower petals all over him was the 'adorable' one of the pair. I groaned mentally at the thought, shoving it away as I tried to focus on my friend. Aaron had the afternoon into evening classes, the opposite of my own, so I rarely saw him. "Thomas wasn't doing too great during sixth period today, but I'm glad to see he's doing better."
"Huh?" I asked aloud, slowing down as I looked to Aaron, confused. "What happened?"
"Thomas was coughing pretty hard, he looked like he was in a lot of pain." Was that what all the coughing had been about? "He was even bleeding. Weirdly enough, also bleeding on his upper back, y'know, near his shoulder. Just little dots though. He looks much better now. When I asked about it, he made a pun about mac and cheese, then fell asleep on his textbook. General Thomas response, but I still wanted to check with you."
My mind was reeling. He was bleeding? He was wearing a sweatshirt, an Oakland t-shirt underneath, as always. Plus, the coughing was pretty severe, he had been coughing last night too. How hadn't I noticed it? I bit down on my lip in thought, trying to think of some options. Bring him to the doctor? No, I was pretty sure that Thomas didn't like them, the time he brought me for the flowers, he hadn't even tried to come inside with me. Flinching whenever he saw a needle, poor Thomas! One of my siblings was terrified of doctors too. I felt a pang of longing for home but shook it off, it wasn't the time to be thinking about that.
My thoughts trailed off to the long scar on Thomas' side. It had to be someone else's doing, it couldn't of been him. Ever since I saw the scar, my mind had been running with thoughts of Thomas purposely hurting himself. But... If the bleeding was on his back, he couldn't have done that to himself. No one deserves that kind of pain. I made another note to check on his scar, make sure it wasn't inflamed or anything. But... He couldn't be hurting himself. I let out a worried breath. Please, Thomas.
"I'll keep an eye on him tonight, thanks for telling me." I flashed Aaron a nervous smile. "Don't want anything to happen to the love of my life."
"Look at you!" He exclaimed, laughing. I flushed, tapping my fingers against my thigh. "Admitting it freely, wow! But seriously, I'm sure he feels the same. Since when has Thomas played the piano?"
"Since tonight," I chuckled softly, remembering his enthusiasm. "He showed me his violin this mornin' and I used to play piano, and he was the one who wanted to learn. He surprisingly likes it."
"Oh, he is absolutely in love with you. No doubt. Thomas doesn't do that for just anyone!"
My mind buzzed to get back to Thomas, and I was pretty sure Aaron could tell. Aaron was a great wingman. I had never had one of those before! But it was nice to have some hope to survive hanahaki disease and have the greatest guy on Earth love you back. My face was warm with simple thoughts about Thomas by the time we got outside of the small music classroom and Aaron pulled me in for a brief hug.
"Thanks for makin' sure the guy is safe. Take care of yourself too though James, and once you and Thomas get together, we could have a double date!"
I grinned, wishing him a good night as I pat him on the back, then parted ways. Aaron was a great guy, I was so glad to have him as a friend, even a wingman. I was unbelievably thankful for him telling me about Thomas, I didn't want anything happening to him. But, oh god, I hated thinking about my fate with the disease. Forget Thomas, die with flowers in my lungs, or have him confess to me. I groaned inwardly, but I felt my spirits lift as I slipped back into the music room, a bouncy Thomas awaiting me.
"Hey Jems," he exclaimed, his fingers busy on the piano. "Everythin' okay? I missed my teacher, I'm workin' on this new piece!"
I grinned, sliding on my coat as Thomas played the warmth filled tune to me. Cutie! Holy shit, I'd die before I let anything bad happen to this dork. He acted so toughly, but damn, every single layer of him was just... Wow. Simply perfect.
We decided we'd head back to the dorm for the night, come back within a few days for another practice. Thomas bounded ahead, opening the door for me with a smirk. But I saw him wince as the door hit him gently on the back, and he looked in pain simply leaning on it. His long legs kept him a few inches in front of me at all times, no matter how much we tried to walk in sync, and even in the night, I could make out small blotches on his sweatshirt as we chatted. I squinted, trying to get closer.
My breath hitched.
I woke up to gasping.
We had gotten back to the dorm within a few minutes, Thomas happily talking about his newfound talent in piano. I couldn't stop staring at the bloody spots on Thomas' back, my eyes counting them and recounting them nervously. I bit my lips in concern, our shoulders brushing up to each other. He wasn't okay, and I knew it. But Thomas was never one for asking for help, god, I wished I could simply help.
I opened the door for Thomas as we got back to the dorm. We had this ongoing competition, who could open the door for who. What a cutie! He was the one who invented the game, but his legs moved too fast for my own short ones. I fell into a restless sleep, Thomas collapsing into his bed before I could ask him about the blood. I loved him, so damn much. I never wanted him to get hurt, and it was killing me to see him like this.
I woke up to panicked breaths, and they weren't above me. I mumbled sleepily, trying to get some sort of grasp on reality. But I spun, towards the noise, and they were next to me! I shot up in bed, my heart drumming. Was it Thomas? What if there was some sort of intruder, what was going on? I glanced down, and suddenly I saw Thomas sprawled out on the floor. He had a hand over his mouth, the other over his torso. He groaned, and he tried to move up but fell quickly back onto the floor as I sprung out of bed.
"Thomas!" I exclaimed, my adrenaline rushing in my veins as I got down next to him. I didn't know where to put my hands! I needed to get help, I needed something! I could only see him through the faint light leaking from under the door, I flipped on a lamp to see the love of my life looking as if he were in so much pain. "Thomas, are you okay?"
He groaned, his hands shaking as he reached up for me. "H-Help me up, please. Just fell."
"Thomas, we need to get you to the doctors, right now!" I helped him up, panic thundering through my veins. The fall from his bunk wasn't enough to make him feel this bad, oh god, he wasn't alright. He leaned against the wall of our dorm, but then let out a loud yelp as his back collided with the frame. I put an arm around him, a weakly protesting Thomas melting into me as I helped him into the hallway. "Thomas, please, what's hurting?"
"S-Shit," he gasped, as he tried to regain his balance as we moved down the corridor. "My chest, m-my lungs hurt bad. Hurts when I breathe. James, I'm okay, I-I just need to lie d-down."
"I know, I know," I soothed, helping him into the elevator. He wasn't in any condition to take the stairs, damn it Thomas, I wasn’t about to lose you! It was probably nothing fatal, but damn it, I was so worried. "How long has this been going on?"
"Since I..." his words trailed off, lips pressed together in a grim line. "When I g-got back. God, it hurts an l-lot. And m-my back hurts too." It must have been the bleeding Aaron was telling me about, god, I needed to get him to a hospital! "Don't k-know why. Fuck-!"
He gasped, arching his back as he stumbled into a wall. "Thomas, shh, I know. We're going to get to the lobby, and then you can sit down. You can make it."
He groaned painfully as he nodded, squeezing his eyes shut as I slipped an arm around his warm shoulders. The elevator doors finally opened, Thomas swearing under his breath every time we took a step. His breaths were ragged and unsteady, and I carefully set him on a nearby couch. He whimpered, leaning into the cushions. He looked so helpless, so vulnerable, I hadn't seen this before, ever. I had seen a small version of this when he returned back to the dorm a few days ago, but this was so much more.
I sat with him, gently smoothing his hair back as his breathing steadied. I called the local hospital, there was no fee to send an ambulance with how close they were. I would've brought Thomas to the hospital myself, but he could hardly walk without falling. I glanced at his handsome but exhausted features, his eyes were closed but each breath he let out looked like a strain on his chest. And then I realized it. I hadn't let go of his hand, and I didn't want to honestly.
We sat there hand in hand as I murmured small comforts, whispering out a story from my childhood where I fell from a tree twice in a week. Broke my arm, but I was determined to climb higher, and then I fell again. Thomas snorted, swatting at me weakly, before sighing loudly. He squeezed my hand once, sending a shock to my heart. He knew we were holding hands, and he wasn't pulling away. He was probably feeling so bad he couldn't figure out reality, but still, it was nice to have a comfortable warmth in my hand.
"Sorry 'bout all of this. I k-kinda suck, don't I?" He chuckled, his usual smirk set nicely on his face, but I shook my head viciously. "But seriously, sorry for wakin' you up. A-And you weren't coughing too, I'm glad to see that J-Jems."
"Don't worry!" I said softly, watching as an ambulance pulled up in front of the building. Thomas grunted, taking a deep breath as he stood up. I put an arm around his waist to support him, carefully moving him towards the entrance. "I just want you to be okay, I gotta keep my... Best friend feeling good."
He let out a sharp laugh, his eyes surprisingly happy. "That's my line! You're great Jems. Even if you are short, y-you're still great."
"You sound like one of my siblings who forgot my Christmas present," I laughed, my hand settled on the small of his back. A nurse rushed up, pulling him out of my grasp and towards the stretcher, but he waved her off.
"Nah," he said to her, his free hand settled on his torso, other intertwined with my own. "I'm not that hurt, I can s-sit."
He winced sharply as he got up and into the back of the ambulance, letting out a pained shout, a nurse exchanging a concerned glance with me. "Thomas," I said softly, sitting down on the small bench as he sat on the stretcher, chest heaving. "How 'bout you lay down?"
"You might feel better!" A nurse exclaimed, and I squinted at her. She seemed... Familiar. Her dark hair looked incredibly long, even though it was pinned neatly back, matching her equally dark eyes. "My name is Eliza, and we're going to bring you to the hospital, alright Mr. Jefferson?"
He grunted as a nod, gasping in pain as I helped him lie down on the stretcher. My hands lingered on his waist, warmth literally anywhere I touched him. Did he ever feel the same way? Nope, impossible. But if he didn't feel the same way, I'd die. Or I would have to forget him. I desperately didn't want to do either, what would happen if I was gone? Would Thomas miss me? But he would never even know how I felt about him, he would never understand. Tears brimmed traitorously at my eyes. I always waited for late at night to have these thoughts, but damn it. I didn't want to cry in front of Thomas.
I could feel petals in my lungs, and I bit back a violent cough. The flowers, even when I was with Thomas, were getting worse. I took my medicine every day, and it helped, but it didn't stop the inevitable. Reynolds' words echoed in my mind, freak. I pulled an arm around myself, wiping away a stray tear. It was so easy for me to get worked up like this, damn it, I needed to be normal to for once in my life. I was such a crybaby. I just wanted to stay with Thomas, was that selfish? Was he sick? Or hurt? What if this was lung failure, and there wasn't any hope? No, I pushed the panicking thoughts out of my head. Thomas was going to be okay. Right?
"Jems?" Thomas mumbled hoarsely, reaching out to tap my knee. The ambulance rumbled to life, my heart rattling sadly in my chest. His own rose and fell, and I could see how much pain he was in, even with the tears shining in my vision, but of course, he was smiling. "What's wrong? Y-You okay?"
I sniffed, trying to force out a laugh. "I should be asking you that. You're the one on a stretcher."
"Don't ignore the question," Thomas grinned, poking at my knee, his own way of comfort when he seemed to be dying. "Come on, Jems. You a-alright? Just 'cause I'm in a stretcher don't mean that I can't tell when you ain't feelin' good Jems."
I palmed at my eyes, looking down at my feet. "Don't know," I mumbled pathetically as if I didn't have a reason to be crying my eyes out. "I'm just tired."
He frowned, rolling half out of the stretcher, while ignoring the nurse telling him to stay still, and patted at my cheek. "E-Er, here, I was trying to get rid of those tears of yours! Don't cry Jems, were those maybe a few tears for your long lost best bro?" He grinned, my face burning hotly at his touch. Damn. I loved this man so much. "But seriously, don't cry Jemmy, I have decided you will never be sad again. It's the Thomas law."
"It's the law?" I chuckled softly, and I could feel the ambulance slow under our feet. The hospital wasn't too far away, and I was so damn glad about that. "W-Well, my law is that you're not allowed to be feeling bad like this. Or I'll... Do something."
He laughed deeply, but he flinched as his chest heaved. The nurse gently coaxed him to lie down even though he shot her his signature glare. Thomas had never been a fan of being told what to do, even by the teachers. They slowly moved the stretcher off of the truck, and I followed along closely as Thomas swore every time they hit a bump. My foggy brain was moving too fast, then too slow. Suddenly I was surrounded by white walls, a protesting Thomas being quickly ushered down a corridor.
The nurse- Eliza- gently backed him into a room, and I saw Thomas wave at me with a pained smirk. My heart twinged, what an amazing dork. Even at three in the morning! I just wanted to see Thomas, make sure he was okay, he was in so much pain and I knew it. I never wanted him having sort of those feelings, it was the worst.
An older doctor came out at one point, asking how I knew 'Mr. Jefferson.' Fuck, oh god, I said without even thinking, that I was his boyfriend. I wasn't his boyfriend, no matter how much I wished for it! Damn it! I doubted it meant anything, probably just contact information. Even so, what if Thomas found out about that? My face burned, embarrassed, and I anxiously tapped at my thigh. I had to explain this to Thomas, please, Thomas be alright.
I coughed once, a stray bleeding heart and half of a lily falling into my palm before I shoved them into my coat pocket. Even after everything, I would do this forever if it meant more time with Thomas, and that was that. I let out a sharp breath, trying to push the embarrassing conversation with the older doctor out of my head. I closed my eyes for a moment, wishing Thomas was next to me.
A gentle voice rang out into my ears as I opened my eyes suddenly. I must have dozed off, but it couldn't have been for long, the clock's hands had hardly moved. The same nurse from earlier poked her head out of the room, a small smile on her face. Thank gosh it wasn't the other doctor I had spoken to earlier- I still couldn't believe I had said those things.
"How-How is he?" I said, a tad hysterical, standing up and regaining my balance.
"He's asleep," she responded softly, opening the door to his room a little more. "But you can come in with him, I believe the chairs here are more comfortable than the plastic ones."
We chuckled in unison as I finally connected the dots. "Wait! You're Eliza, we saw each other not too long ago." She laughed and shook my hand nicely. She was the middle of the three sisters, that's right! God, it took me long enough. "Sorry, I'm just kind of... Frazzled tonight. Is Thomas going to be okay?"
She frowned but nodded nonetheless. "Three broken ribs. Two of them seemed to be cracked up until just a few hours ago, you said that he fell out of bed?" I nodded, my heart thundering in my chest. Broken ribs? And what had cracked them in the first place, oh god, was that where he was held up a few days ago? When he said that he was originally visiting his family, was it something else? "The third rib had already been broken, but thankfully he didn't seem to land on that one too hard. He may need a cane for a week or so, to keep the pressure off his left side."
"I..." I couldn't even speak. Three broken ribs, one had already been broken before tonight. Holy shit, Thomas was hurt. What if one of the bones hit his lung? I was so relieved that they had caught it before anything else happened, but how had they gotten cracked and broken in the first place? "I understand. C-Can I see him?"
"Of course!" She smiled kindly, opening the door for me. "I'll be outside, please click the button on his monitor if anything is going on. I'm currently an intern here, and I just happened to get the night schedule."
She sighed, and I shot her a smile. "Thanks, Eliza. Really... Really good work tonight. Thank you."
She nodded, letting me walk into the room and then closing the door politely behind me. She was so damn nice, how were people in good moods at almost three in the morning? The room was dark, and it took my eyes a moment to get adjusted.
My gaze settled finally on the sleeping figure in the bed, hooked up to multiple machines. I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding. I pulled up a chair next to him, desperate to get close to him. His features looked amazing as always, but he seemed exhausted, but he did have broken bones. His dark hair was highlighted with the moon, fallen down around him, awkwardly shaped around his pillow. With the number of things he was connected to, I was expecting for his breathing to be alright. But still, his chest was still rising and falling unsteadily, a face mask fogging up every time he let out a breath. Poor Thomas.
There was a pastel blue blanket laid neatly over his hospital gown, his arms resting next to him. I knew I shouldn't have done it, but I took his hand. I couldn't help it- he was so addictive, so warm, and I never wanted to lose that. I rested my head on my arm, eyes moving over his bruised wrist.
I leaned forward briefly and brushed my lips over the purple and blue wound.
Whatever Thomas was going through, I would be there for him.
I loved the dork, bruises and all.
I had a new schedule.
And, hot damn, I loved it.
I had been basically living in the hospital for the past few days, plus I had Eliza's permission to stay with him during the afternoons. He slept for over thirteen hours on the first day, and during the night I slept next to him, my hand intertwined with his own. When I woke up, the blue blanket that was wrapped around me. I smiled at the thought, what a cutie.
But Thomas was finally getting out of the hospital today! I had bought a cane for him, purple of course, and I was crossing my fingers that he liked it. I simply wanted to do something for him, the countless amount of gifts he gave me on a weekly basis was intense and he deserved something good right about now.
I slipped into the freakishly clean lobby, Eliza greeting me happily as usual. I hadn't seen the doctor I had told Thomas was my boyfriend, and I didn't want to! I couldn't believe I had done that! I had gotten to know Eliza better over the past few days and Eliza was so kind, all hours of the day. It was impressive. I could never deal with grumpy patients all day, she was seriously magical, how did she do all of that?
"Hey, James!" She smiled, her eyes going down to the neatly wrapped cane in my hands. "A gift for him? I'm sure he'll love it, he's been a hell-raiser when he's awake. That's something to help him out, he's been in a lot of pain. Also, cut through most of our jello, and pretty annoyed that the cafeteria doesn't carry mac and cheese."
I grinned, walking down the familiar hallway with her yet again. "That's Thomas all right. But he's all bark and no bite, he just thinks he's cool 'cause of how tall he is."
"I can hear you!"
I grinned fondly at the voice from inside of the room, waving goodbye to Eliza as I slipped inside. Thomas- who was looking much better- was propped up on his pillows, a playful scowl on his face. He had changed back into his usual clothes, and damn it! He was so freaking pretty! I moved over towards him leaning against the wall as he poked me gently.
"Mean. You're gossiping 'bout me!" He hissed, swatting at anything he could. "First, they don't have any mac and cheese, and now my best friend is talkin' 'bout me behind my back! Not a good day."
I smiled as his warm words subsided into laughter. "There he is! How are you feeling Thomas? It's weird going back to the dorm with you not there, and the jello here is pretty good. But-" my eyes darted down to his bruised wrist- "you feelin' any better today?"
"Eh, so-so. Still hurts to breathe, but that's nothin' I can't handle," he chuckled, and then he spotted the wrapped present in my hands. "Is that a present I see? Somethin' fancy for your long lost roomie?"
I grinned, placing it on his outstretched- and soft- hands. "Open it slowly, I don't want it to break." He nodded, smirking, and ripping at the awkwardly done wrapping paper as his eyes fell onto the bedazzled cane. I bit my lip as he didn't speak, did he not like it? "B-But I mean-! You don't have to use it, it was kind of an impulsive purchase and-"
"I love it, holy shit!" He exclaimed loudly, wincing briefly but still staring at the shining cane. "Damn, I love it, fuck, I gotta rub this in Hamilton's face! Thanks so much, Jems, damn, could you help me up so I could try it?"
"Of course!" I grinned, unbelievably relieved. He liked it! Thank god, I knew he would've taken it no matter what, but he really, genuinely, liked it. I pulled him up slowly, and he slung an arm around my shoulders, grinning. I held him steady by his waist and reached for his cane. "Here-" I pressed it into his hand- "how's that?"
I pulled away from him, but just inches away in case he fell. But he propped himself up and moved a few feet before bursting into a grin, his hand tightly gripping his cane. He tapped the ground a few times, straightening himself as he spun unsteadily toward me.
"Look!" He laughed, twirling the object happily. My heart swelled. He told me he couldn't wait to be out of bed, and finally, here he was. Who knew how much energy he had been storing up? "Some fuckers better watch out, ol' Thomas ready to fight!"
"No, no fighting, Thomas," I teased, as he mimicked hitting someone in the side with his cane. "How 'bout we focus on getting you back to the dorm?"
He whined incoherently but pulled his scarf and sweatshirt from the coat rack. He walked happily, and I saw new confidence from the cane, or maybe just being out of bed. "Never been a fan of hospitals, honestly. Too many sad people, I don't like seeing that. Don't like seeing you sad either Jems, if anyone ever makes you sad, I will go for the throat with this cane-!"
"Thomas!" I chuckled, my heart pattering quickly in my chest. I could feel flowers almost suffocating me, but I couldn't even pay attention to that when there was the love of my life standing right next to me. And I couldn't even touch him, I was so desperate to feel his warmth. "It might have been a bad idea to give you that cane."
"Mine now!" He grinned, tossing an arm around me as he ruffled my hair. "Thanks to the moon and back Jems, seriously! Damn, it's dark out, shit, how long was I in there? It felt like years, and on another note, I feel like I could punch the sun."
"Have you had any caffeine today, Thomas?" I laughed softly, savoring his touch. "I know you're on a lot of painkillers, but damn, I should've told them not to give you any sort of coffee."
He continued to giggle loudly as we stepped out of the hospital and told horrible- but equally amazing- puns all the way until we got to our dorm. Thankfully, a professor of mine had been out for a bit, so homework wasn't too bad, so that meant more time with Thomas. But my lungs had been hurting insanely bad today, it felt like it was getting worse.
I took a heavy breath, taking a seat on my bunk as Thomas paced around the room. "I gotta do somethin'! I gotta... Discover the cure for cancer! Beat Hamilton in a debate battle! I feel like I could totally do it, don't you think Jems?"
I tried to smile, but it came out as a pained grimace. "Mhm, I'm sure you can. You should lie down before your ribs hurt anymore."
Thomas let out an odd Thomas-like noise, continuing to talk with me even though I was pretty quiet. He was always like that, and I loved him for it. "I'll be good Jems! Don't worry 'bout me! Okay, so, I have this idea for an invention that makes mac and cheese. But I have the only copy of the machine, so no one like Hamilton would get his grubby hands on it."
I attempted a laugh, I could see him doing that, but my lungs felt as if they were being squeezed. God, I hated flowers so much. I decided that I didn't like flowers, that if I ever received them from anyone I'd punt them as hard as I can. Well, I don't know if I could do all of that, but they would remind me of all of this. I sighed softly, swallowing down a cough as I felt Thomas' hand rest on my shoulder.
"You okay, Jems?" He asked, raising an eyebrow as he nudged me with his elbow. "I know you ain't been feelin' good lately, you alright?"
"Y'know, just-" I gestured vaguely to my torso- "lungs. Flowers. But you've got three broken ribs, so you beat me. I don't need the hospital, please take care of yourself, Thomas."
"Jems, hey, talk to me." His eyes were warm, and he tilted his head into my field of vision. "You've had this look in your eyes the past few days, and I'm not a fan of those sad sighs you do either Jemmy."
My heart pounded in my chest, he had noticed? "Uh- I'm fine. Just... I'm sick of being sick, y'know? Feelin' kinda hopeless about the whole 'get them to confess' sort of deal." I had the urge to lean into Thomas, who was listening to me intently. "Seriously, I'm nothing special."
"Hey!" Thomas blurted, furrowing his brow. "Don't talk about yourself like that! You are great Jems, you've visited me for the past few days at the hospital, and I'm sure I wasn't much fun. You're insanely caring- and kind too. Plus you're smart, not selfish at all, you have eight siblings and you're still completely selfless. You are great. Here, we're gonna go talk to Burr, I don't like how he's makin' you feel!"
My face burned hotly, and suddenly I felt Thomas hoist me up by the chest, and I let out a startled yelp. "T-Thomas! Where are we going? You're going to strain yourself- you have broken bones, you're gonna get hurt!"
"Jems!" Thomas smirked, pushing the door open and adjusting so he was carrying me in his arms. Before we got out, I grabbed his cane quickly. I had the feeling he needed it. "Broken bones ain't gonna stop me from makin' sure my best friend is okay! I gotta make sure Burr knows how good he's gotta treat you."
"Thomas," I protested weakly, my lungs burning as my face was pressed into Thomas' chest. Did he really think all of that? I nuzzled subtly into him, a tiny smile on my features. "Thomas, you need to slow down at least! You're gonna get hurt and I'm pretty sure the hospital is sick of seeing you."
"Pfft, they're just jealous 'cause I can eat so much jello at one time." He grinned down at me as we got to Aaron's door, and I mentally cringed. God, this was going to be so damn embarrassing, shit! He kicked the bottom of the door with his foot, and I flushed nervously, but also from being in the hottest man in the world's arms.
"Thomas?" Aaron asked, confused as he opened the door. I wiggled in Thomas' arms, waving slightly. "Oh, and James! Hey guys, what's up?"
Thomas set me down, and I immediately missed his warmth, damn. He slumped against the door frame, a small gasp leaving his lips as he tried to speak. "Ow, shit. Alright, okay, so! James ain't feeling good about himself, and as his boyfriend, you gotta help! He's great-" Thomas gestured to me, and my face heated up- "and he doesn't believe me!"
"Can-Can he sit down?" I asked Aaron, handing Thomas his bedazzled cane that I had been holding onto the entire time. He leaned into it, gasping for breath as Aaron ushered him inside and onto a chair. "Alright, sit there, while the adults do the talking, alright?"
He grinned, but his next words came out as a pained groan. My eyes scanned the room quickly, I should've made Thomas lie down in his bed instead of coming all the way here, poor guy! But then I saw a familiar head pop over the edge of the top bunk, and I internally screamed.
The dark-haired man let out a shriek as he saw Thomas, and Thomas prodded at the screaming man with his cane. This was not going to be good. Thomas jumped up, but then sat back down after a vicious wince of pain. Thomas yelled something incoherent and I can only imagine how many swear words were in his sentence.
"What the hell is he doing here?" They both scowled at the same time, gesturing to the other.
Aaron chuckled, putting his hands up awkwardly. "Alex is my roommate, and don't worry, Thomas just needs to sit down. Don't bother each other!"
"Thomas!" I said, poking him in the shoulder quickly. "Don't mess with him, just relax alright? Try to close your eyes, think 'bout that mac and cheese machine you were tellin' me about."
He mumbled a small agreement, hissing at Hamilton before spinning away in his chair. I chuckled, my face warm. That was the dork I loved.
Aaron closed the door, giving both of them a sharp look before shutting it completely. "Sorry 'bout that, Alex can get a little intense at times. Actually all the time, y'know coffee and energy drinks. Together." I laughed, leaning against the wall. "Anyway, what's up James? Is Thomas alright?"
"Yeah," I mumbled, frowning sadly. "Three broken ribs, just worried about him, he's been in the hospital for a few days. Got him the cane, trying to help out and all."
"Damn, do we know what happened?" Aaron said softly, patting my shoulder sympathetically. "I hope you're doing alright with all this, Thomas can be extra grumpy when he's hurt."
I smiled softly, he really could be. "Yeah, I'm not sure. Apparently, two of them had already been cracked, one broken already for a few days. Then he fell out of bed, and poor guy. Got him to the hospital, all of that."
"Wow!" Aaron said, his lips parting in surprise. "Glad to hear that he's doing better, erm, what happened that made him get all those original injuries?"
I sighed softly, remembering all the bruises on him, and the blood! Holy shit! I forgot about him bleeding, was his back alright? "I'm not sure, but I'm just really worried! And-" I lowered my voice- "still really in love with him. It's just hard to see him like this, I'm worried."
"I can imagine," he mumbled softly. "Maybe you could-"
We heard a loud shriek from inside the dorm, met with crash as Aaron pulled the door open quickly. Hamilton was on the floor, Thomas keeping him a few feet away with his cane as Hamilton kicked at his legs. I laughed exasperatedly, walking in as I helped Thomas up, while Aaron got Alex.
"Fight me!" Thomas hissed at Alex over my shoulder, wriggling out of my grasp.
"You-" I pulled an arm around his shoulders for balance- "are in no condition to fight. Come on dummy, let's go back to the dorm. I don't want either of you gettin' hurt, plus it's late, everyone needs some sleep."
"Except me!" Alex hissed, and Aaron laughed, patting me on my back.
"Alright, alright," Aaron said, sitting the angry Alex down in his chair. "Goodnight you two! Get some sleep James, and Thomas, feel better. Nice cane."
"I know," Thomas mumbled, leaning his head into my shoulder as I helped him outside.
"Goodnight, Aaron," I smiled, waving to him. My face burned as Aaron winked, gesturing towards Thomas. "See you tomorrow!"
"Night!" Aaron said, closing the door. What a nice guy, seriously. I was glad I knew him, he was really helping me out with everything. Wow, real friends! A miracle!
Thomas stumbled into my arms, gasping painfully into my shoulder. "Caffeine was a bad idea, I think. We should go to bed, you need sleep. Did Aaron help you feel better?"
I glanced down to Thomas, my face warm at his touch.
"Yeah. He really did."
I was no stranger to lightning storms.
I had slipped out of bed after multiple restless hours, and usually, Thomas' soft snores lulled me to sleep, but tonight, something felt off. I pulled the curtain around me awkwardly, watching the thunder rumble outside my window, the rain pattering against it angrily. My lungs had been aching for hours now, for the past few days actually.
I had brought Thomas back to bed, and he was gasping for breath after getting up half of the ladder. Tears appeared in his eyes, and I knew he was really hurting, but I didn't know how to help! Gah, it frustrated me so much, all I could do was gently coax him up to his bed, and offer to switch for the night. But he got that determination in his eyes, and I know I wasn't about to stop him. I motivated him all I could, and he made it. Of course, I knew he could. He always could.
My lungs burned in pain as I leaned weakly against the wall. I didn't want to wake Thomas up, he needed sleep, he had broken bones that could easily jab his lungs if he wasn't careful. I swallowed another cough, letting out a small gasp in pain. I hated flowers so much, but I never hated Thomas for what? Being himself, and then I fell in love with him? It was my fault, I wanted to be with him so desperately, things grew in my lungs.
I had that nauseous feeling where if I continued to lie down, I'd throw up. So I got up, sat down and studied for a bit, but now, I was literally standing up, and wow, who would've guessed? I still felt horribly uncomfortable, because I knew once I started coughing, I wouldn't stop. Pain bloomed- hah, get it?- in my lungs, and I gagged quietly. I hated this so much, I never wanted to do this. But if it was for Thomas, I could deal with it.
I doubled over in pain, leaning against the window frame, trying to focus on the storm raging on outside. It was okay, I was okay. I just had to breathe, everything was going to be fine. It felt like half of the air I was usually getting was gone. I read a book where someone climbed Mount Everest, and damn, she talked a lot about how the air was so thin all the way up. But honestly, I felt as if the air was sucked out of the room, and I was floating in space. Floating in space- I glanced outside- where rain fell.
And fuck! It felt like I was being stabbed in the lungs, some big ass knife right in my chest! Tears welled up in my eyes, and I pressed my cheek against the cool glass of the window. If only I could be outside right now, just sit in the rain. Nope, nope, not even thinking about being in the rain made me want to go to sleep, all I wanted to do was cough!
I groaned painfully, stumbling towards the bathroom and leaving my storm on the outside. So now, I had to deal with a different sort of storm, and this one was a little more... Colorful. I slipped inside, not wanting to wake Thomas up. He needs rest, and I wasn't about to make him deal with me when I was coughing my chest out.
I leaned pathetically over the sink, my eyes watering as I tried to cough quietly. But my voice suddenly rang out through the silence, angry, desperate coughs as I doubled over the sink, flowers falling into the counter. God, this was the worst, I couldn't do this much longer, and I knew it. I needed to stop shoving my feelings down, and then maybe it'd be better. But it was slightly difficult when all my feelings were shouting,'Kiss Thomas!'
"J-James?" I heard a sleepy voice stammer, and then a soft noise as Thomas' cane hit the edge of the bunk. I groaned, I didn't want to wake him up! I gagged, more flowers falling into the sink, my chest burning painfully. "James, you o-okay?"
I gasped out a yes, but I couldn't get it out. I slammed my fist into my chest, but that wasn't working. I was practically bruising myself with how hard I was hitting, but I needed to get these damn flowers out of me! I hated this, I hated this so so much.
"James, hey," Thomas mumbled, and I heard his cane hit the bathroom floor as he made a soft noise, his hand settling on my shoulder. I couldn't stop coughing! "Shh, I'm sorry Jems, bad night?"
I nodded, but the petals wouldn't stop- and blood was tinting each flower as I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn't want Thomas to see me like this, I didn't want to make the love of my life see me like this. I felt his hand move down, rubbing circles in between my shoulder blades. I relaxed slightly into his touch, but my chest heaved painfully as I palmed at my eyes.
"Hey, James, shh. I know it hurts," Thomas murmured, leaning into his cane. "But you're much stronger than all of it. Seriously. Here-" he took a towel, running it under water before holding it against my forehead- "how's that feel?"
"B-Better," I whimpered out, pain appearing just from the simple word. This wasn't normal, it was never this bad. "Th-Thanks."
"You know it, shortie." He flashed me a teasing grin, but I started coughing before I could smile back. Fantastic.
I was there for a solid ten minutes, but Thomas stayed, rubbing slow shapes into my back. He murmured occasional words of motivation, then started telling me stories about him and his cousin away in France. Cutie. My lungs slowly, painfully, returned to the usual dull throbbing, but the blood I had lost along the way was probably a bit much. I wiped my mouth with my hand, and when I pulled it away- fantastic- it was covered in crimson blood.
"Jems, hey," Thomas whispered, gently brushing my tears away with his thumb. I didn't even realize I was crying, and that one simple action destroyed me every single time. He did it a lot, softly touching my face and it killed me. He was so kind, I didn't deserve it. "That was a bad one, you feelin' okay Jems? Lemme feel your forehead, your face looks red."
I didn't have the energy to protest. Frowning, he pressed his cool hand against my forehead, and I could feel tears blaze in my eyes. He was so freaking nice, who would wake up in the middle of the night to help me feel better?
"You have a really high fever Jems, that hasn't happened in a while," he noted quietly, tucking one side of his hair behind his ear as he examined me. I wonder what it was like sleeping with that fluff of hair on his pillow, it couldn't be comfortable. "I'm worried, do you want me to call the doctors? See if there's anythin' we can do?"
I shook my head, letting out another cough then brushing away the flowers afterward. "I-I'm fine. I-I don't know i-if the doctors' wanna s-see your face anymore."
I tried to grin, but the words were so difficult to get out, there was no way I could gather the energy to smile. What was going on? It was never this bad, what the hell! I made an odd noise in my throat, Thomas frowning deeply as he put an arm around me, his cane steadying his own weight. His arm gave me such a relief, I was freezing cold and that made me feel safe for once. Thomas made me feel safe.
"Here, you can take a seat, you're not lookin' too good Jems. You're real pale, I think I should call the doctor. I could get Eliza to stop by, I can't have my roomie coughing up flowers all night!"
I breathed in shakily, sitting down on my messy bed. "N-Nah, I'm okay. Just cold, c-can I borrow that blanket you u-use? It's warm."
Thomas' lips parted in surprise, tugging down his magenta blanket from his bed as he nodded happily. "'Course Jems, anythin' you need. Just promise me you'll let me know if I can get you anything else."
I nodded weakly, Thomas pulling the warm blanket- that also smelled like him- around my shoulders. He felt so nice. He leaned down in front of me, giving my chest a poke. I knew he was hurting, he was biting his lip pretty hard, most of his weight on his cane. I gently reached out to... I'm not sure really. I touched his hair softly, an awkward sort of comfort and his gaze met my own. My chest was heaving, my heart pounding. I wanted to kiss him so badly, so fucking badly. I could just wrap my around him and pull him to me, and finally, kiss him.
I tried to lean forward, but my stomach lurched and I fell back onto the bed. I coughed painfully, my dizzied head resting on the sheets. Thomas mumbled something, but it fell short of my ears. I took in a deep breath, and I felt Thomas strong grasp wrap around me and pulled me upright again. I sat, slumped over, my head spinning. Holy fuck, was I dying? Thomas brushed away more tears I didn't know I was shedding and put his hands on my shoulders.
"James!" He said, raising his voice slightly. He outstretched his arms, kneeling awkwardly only the floor, keeping the pressure off his ribs. "Jems, you look really sick, c'mere. I'm really worried."
I don't know what he was expecting, but I tumbled forward into his arms as he let out a surprised noise. I felt his arms wrap around me, and I was freezing, but damn, he was so warm. I nuzzled subtly into him, but I was gasping in pain as if my lungs were bleeding out. And surprisingly, he didn't pull away. He held me closer, even though I was pretty sure I was... Dying?
"Hey, hey," he whispered softly, running a hand over my neck. "Need me to call Aaron? I bet he could help, you're feeling really warm, I'm seriously worried."
I shook my head weakly, and this time, I could feel myself crying. "Just, I-I wanna stay here. My... Everything hurts."
"Okay, okay," he said gently, surprisingly careful. He smoothed the blanket against my back, rocking slowly back and forth. I felt pathetic, though it was pretty difficult to feel pathetic in Thomas' arms, but even more- I felt safe. And loved. "Just try to rest, I'm here for you."
I had to say it. I had to tell him I loved him to the moon and back, before I passed out. I had to do it, what would I do if I didn't? I knew I was alive, in the morning I would be alright, but damn, I felt horrible. Maybe this was my chance, I could do it. I had to, damn it!
"I l-" I couldn't get it out. I looked up to Thomas, and he was breathing steadily, and I felt so safe. I loved him so damn much, and I had to tell him. "I'm r-really really in l-"
I coughed before I could speak, and then my vision went dark.
I opened my eyes.
There wasn't any fluttering of the eyelashes, brief yawns before returning to reality, I was simply awake. And with a pounding headache too! My gaze adjusted to the bright light ahead of me, damn it, did Thomas turn the light on for his usual five am runs around campus? He needed to stop doing that, he was going to strain himself, and he needed to sleep. I would run with him, but the damn flowers in my lungs-
My breath caught in my throat, memories suddenly rushing into my vision.
Fuck! Oh my god, has last night really happened? Had I seriously tried to kiss Thomas, and then announce my love for him before I 'died?' So much for that! God, I probably ruined our friendship, and if I was being hopeful, some sort of future relationship? All because of these stupid, stupid, flowers! It couldn't have happened- I rolled over, feeling the sheets underneath me. I must've been in my imagination, maybe a dream if I was being hopeful again?
"You're awake!" A soft voice exclaimed, and I realized the bright light I was looking into was a small flashlight. "Good morning, you had us all really worried."
The light clicked off, and suddenly Eliza filled my vision, smiling down at me. Holy fuck. Last night had actually happened, and to keep things short: I was a dead man. At least I was pretty sure, who would want to deal with all of this? I didn't see Thomas, he must've left sometime during the night. It was for the better, why would someone as legitimately amazing as him bother to stay? My heart sank heavily in my chest, and speaking of my chest, it felt like there were rocks in my lungs! Shit!
But suddenly I felt warm and protecting arms wrap around me, pulling me barely off of the pillow. Holy hell, these arms were like an oven. And that was a good thing, with how cold I felt! I melted into the touch, maybe someone was happy I was awake. But the arms, to my disappointment, pulled away, and there I saw a bloodshot-eyed Thomas, who palmed at his cheeks as he smiled weakly. Still handsome though.
He cleared his throat, his charming smirk appearing. "Look who's finally awake! Sleepin' beauty ain't sleeping anymore!" His voice dropped for a moment, Eliza stepping away to put the small flashlight away. "I was worried about you-" he smiled sheepishly- "I'm really glad you're alright."
I tried to speak, but it came out in gasps, my throat feeling as if someone had grated a rock on it. I reached out, placing my hand softly on Thomas' warm shoulder instead. "My-My throat f-feels like the depths of he-hell."
He laughed, tucking his hair cutely behind his ear. "I'm sure Jemmy, once you're feelin' good enough, I've got some medicine for you. And I know you told me not to get the doctor, but I needed to make sure my roomie was okay!" He gestured to a waving Eliza, who was tucking some tools away into a small first aid kit. "Who would do my hair if not you Jems?"
I grinned, propping myself up on the pillows. "Y-You'd be-be lost."
"I would and you know it," he teased, taking a seat on the bed as Eliza reappeared.
"Boys, boys. Thomas, don't strain yourself, or I'll release Angelica on you. And James, please take care of yourself, lots of water, you need sleep tonight. And, Thomas again-" he groaned loudly- "keep an eye on James. Both of you need to take care of yourselves, don't hesitate to contact me. I don't charge anything, even when you all are sick," she chuckled, and Thomas absentmindedly ran his fingers over my knees. "Feel better James, make sure your grumpy friend of yours stays in line."
"I-I will!" I said, raising my voice as much as I could, and frankly, it wasn't much.
Eliza waved goodbye, gently closing the door and the second she disappeared, Thomas stood up and picked me up, hugging me insanely hard. I let out a surprised laugh, warmth flooding me as Thomas slowly set me down on the floor, clearing his throat and taking a step back. I swear I saw a tad of blush on his cheeks as he chuckled. But as for me? My face was on fire! He was never so affectionate, he was always very enthusiastic but never hugged me so sweetly, he was trying to kill me!
"You passed out last night Jems, I got... Scared." He glanced away, and my heart tensed. "I'm real happy you're okay. And-" he chuckled softly and my cheeks burned- "sorry 'bout that! I was worried, all that stuff. I don't know who I'd go Christmas shoppin' with today."
I looked up curiously, trying to grin. It was painful to smile, my mouth had been scraped raw, along with my throat. "Christmas s-shopping? That was my-my favorite thing when I was a k-kid."
"I know." He grinned, pulling on a sweatshirt and gripping his cane. "When we first met, you told me about it, you said you enjoyed doin' that with your sisters. I'm buyin'!"
"Then I'm d-definitely coming a-along." Thomas let out a laugh at my words, and I wriggled out of bed to get ready. "But you don't ha-have to that Thomas, s-seriously."
"Don't worry, it's Sunday, and we can be study buddies later today too." He shot me a smirk but leaned against the wall to take some pressure off his ribs.
"I always get d-distracted when I'm with you-you though!" I laughed, taking a bit of the medicine Thomas had gotten for me. Jesus, he was so nice. I cleared my throat, cursing my halting words. "Okay, t-that's a little bet-better."
He grinned, poking the door open with his cane. "Good! Oh, you wanna invite Burr? The flowers can get a little better when you're around him." He spoke so casually, but it was the opposite. When I was around Thomas, the flowers got better, not Aaron, damn it! "I can text him now if you'd like."
"No!" I exclaimed without any hesitation, and then awkwardly clapped my hands over my mouth. "I'm just... I don't w-want to bother h-him or anything like that. Is it okay... Is it okay if it's just u-us?"
His lips parted in surprise, glancing away. "'Course, you know it. You might need to help me around though, I can't limp around that fast. The cane's just for keepin' my arm from flingin' around, but limping is also fun to do. Gets me a seat on the bus every time!"
I laughed, opening the door for him as he shot me another smirk. "Thomas, you have three broken ribs, I think you could get the seat even if you weren't limping."
He chuckled cheerfully, and I forgot how easy he was to talk to! With some- actually, with most people, I couldn't help but feel that I was bothering them, my words tripping awkwardly over themselves. We made our way to the small store near our college, New Jersey had an amazing Main Street. We chatted the entire time, and my god, I couldn't even comprehend how cute this singular man was. Our paces fell in sync, Thomas gripping his cane a little tighter whenever we turned a corner.
He seemed a little... Off, however? He flinched whenever I reached towards him, his comments lacking their usual fire. I could imagine, having broken bones was never fun. My throat was feeling much better, only a few coughs that yielded flowers. Thank god. But I was still worried, he seemed so quiet, something Thomas never was. I didn't like that.
We window shopped for some time, but Thomas had to take a seat every so often so he could catch his breath. But honestly, I wasn't annoyed by it at all. I sat with him on the bench, making comments about the people walking by. We had this game of making up stories for strangers, and sure, it was quite cheesy, but I still enjoyed it.
"Alright," I said, gesturing to an older lady, carrying a small purse. Thomas had needed to stop, gasping in pain as we tried to pick up our pace a little. But of course, I didn't mind. "What about her?"
"She's-" he sat up straighter, and I ran my fingers over the cane I had offered to hold. "She's a spy, of course. The purse has a bomb- no, a gun in it. She's goin' for someone, she ain't walking away anytime soon here. Maybe she's goin' for you, ever been in trouble with the law?"
"Oh, y'know, just a bit of jail time h-here and there." He let out a loud laugh, and stood up, ready to start walking again. I handed him his cane with a smile, and we went on our way. "How 'bout you? Maybe she's going for you instead."
"Oh, probably. Y'know, maybe she's one of those genies! What would you wish for Jems? Only one wish, ain't one of those three wish genies."
I let out a chuckle, biting back the urge to slip quietly into his arms. A wish? What would I wish for? I glanced up to Thomas, who was staring in awe at a new magenta coat through the window. I don't know, I just wanted Thomas to be alright. There are a lot of things I would wish for, but this genie-Russian spy woman apparently only granted one wish.
We went into the shop, and I saw Thomas' eyes light up at the coat. It was a cold season, no doubt, and I was glad Thomas was staying warm. But the question kept swirling around in my head, what would I wish for?
"I'm not sure," I chuckled softly, Thomas grasping at a few different colors of magenta coats. "I... Don't know what I'd wish for. Is one hundred more wishes an option?"
"Smart!" He flashed me a grin, and it made my heart melt. "I'd totally wish for Hamilton to not being at any more parties, like there is nothing worse to see when you walk into a happy room and you make eye contact with this-this gremlin! Truly the worst, no doubt. But if I could help out with... Aaron and all, I really would Jems. You don't deserve all that pain, seriously! Only one guy deserves that if you know what I mean."
"Aw," I chuckled, my heart pattering happily in my chest. "Someone's a bit cheerful with Christmas and all, I don't know if I've ever seen you so giggly before."
He laughed, holding up one coat next to the other. "It's the season of giving, I'm trying to be somewhat nicer. I've been told I'm a bit harsh at times, don't wanna accidentally rub someone- like the spy-genie lady- the wrong way. So, y'know, Christmas!" I smiled softly at his words, Thomas staring down at his two coats. "Which one you like, Jems?"
"Hmm." I glanced between the two, but honestly, they looked extremely similar. But Thomas and his impressive fashion sense thought otherwise! One was slightly less red, but both were a pretty intense purple. I tapped the left one, it was slightly more intensely colored, and I favored that one anyway. Plus, I knew Thomas would like that. "They look pretty similar, but, I like this one better."
He grinned, pressing one back into the racks and holding the other up to himself. "Same! Damn, look at us. Great minds think alike!"
I nudged him, raising a joking eyebrow. "You sure? I'm pretty sure in the two of us there's only one great mind."
He gasped, pressing a hand to his chest. "I'm hurt Jems! How could you, I'm injured! You hurt my heart, and my ribs are already broken, I'm using a cane for God's sake!"
I laughed harder, noticing Thomas' gaze on the festive items. "Sorry, Sorry! Joking, I'm kidding!" He continued to fake-pout, grumpily flipping through a holiday rack. "Oh, do you celebrate C-Christmas a lot?"
He tensed, pulling his hand away. "Sorta. My, uh, family has never been the biggest fan of presents, it's mostly just... Praying. They say I shouldn't get attached to material things and all."
He glanced solemnly at the coat he was holding, and I quickly intervened. "Well, it's always time to start new traditions!" He looked to me, his lips parted in surprise. "Seriously-" I nodded towards the gorgeous jacket that was wavering in his grasp- "I think you should get it. It looks good on you."
"Oh," he murmured softly, and for a moment he was quiet. I saw his eyes glaze over with... Tears? It couldn't have been, of course. I pushed the thoughts swiftly out of my head, but what if those were actually tears? But then, I saw his usual grin reappear, and suddenly Thomas was back to normal. "Thanks, Jems, I think I'll get it then! Let me know if you want anything, I'm buyin' after all."
"O-Oh, you don't have to do that," I mumbled, my face hot. I know, I know. It was completely stupid, but it was freezing cold outside, I was inside with the love of my life, and he was trying on insanely cute coats? I mean, no doubt my face would feel hot. And... Weirdly enough, I don't remember anyone ever buying me anything before. I probably took it too seriously, but it was simply kind of him.
"I want to!" He handed me a deep blue coat, decorated neatly with an orange scarf. "Here, blue is definitely your color, you should try it on!"
I grinned, Thomas looking the jacket over in thought. "I'll trust you with this, and it's just this once! I'll feel bad if I make you buy all my stuff."
"Don't worry," he smiled happily, nudging me. "You're doin' me a favor, I need to have some ideas for your gifts."
"You don't have to!" I prodded, tugging the comfortable jacket around myself, as Thomas shook his head stubbornly. I glared at the reflection into the mirror, I had never been happy with how I look. Thomas look was gorgeous in everything he wore, hell, he could be wearing a potato sack and he'd still be handsome! "I... I don't think I should get this."
"You don't like it?" Thomas murmured, glancing at a very self-conscious me. "Not comfortable? I thought they were pretty soft-"
"Oh, no, n-nothing like t-that!" I stammered out softly, Thomas running his fingers along the hem of my coat. "It's just... I like it. But I don't like how it, y'know, looks on me. I'm weirdly shaped."
"What?" Thomas exclaimed, startling me. I didn't expect him to say anything like that, why would he be so kind? "Not at all, you're shaped like a human! You look great in it, you should totally get it! And I'm payin' so, you don't have a choice. Unless you really don't like it, but you said it was comfortable, and you look awesome in it too."
My face was on fucking fire! I tugged off the jacket, putting it over my forearm, a small smile on his face. "I... I think I'll get it. Er- I used to look better, but y'know. College. And I used to run when I was younger, but it wasn't actually a good... Wasn't a good way."
"Huh? Whatcha mean Jems?" Thomas asked softly, taking the jacket from me and setting it neatly with his own.
"Oh, I took a bus... Ah, I took a bus but it didn't drop me off in my neighborhood, so lots of running to get back home and all." I frowned, painful memories lingering in my vision. I saw the question form on Thomas' lips, but I answered before he started. "I took the other bus 'cause I was picked on w-when I was younger. Not too bad, don't worry Thomas."
His brow furrowed, and he gently set his hand on my shoulder. "They should've met me! I'd totally beat their asses. We'd be best friends in school, so thank god that we met now!" His gaze softened, a small smile appearing on his features. "I'm lucky I got to meet you, seriously. I'm glad we're friends Jems."
"M-Me too!" I stuttered out, avoiding his gorgeous gaze. My face burned, he was so damn easy to talk to. I can't believe I had said something I had never told anyone before, and I was glad it was him, honestly. I loved him, after all. Had I mentioned that? "Could we head back maybe? You're looking kind of flushed. We can just stop by, I need to get my wallet too! I d-don't want you to pay for everything, after all."
He nodded happily, strutting up the cash register no matter how much I protested. He shot me a teasing grin, paying for both of the jackets without even batting an eye. I protested as we walked out of the small shop, trying to give him money but he refused. Fuck! He was just so kind, and I couldn't believe how lightly he teased me, without a hint of sharpness. I was glad I was in love with him, I wouldn't have anyone else.
We got back to the dorm quickly, and I took a seat on the chair as Thomas tried on his jacket.
"I swear," he mumbled, fixing the collar of his coat. Handsome. "These always look better in stores."
"You look good in it," I said softly, trying to raise his spirits. He had limped his way back, the one issue with the cane was that it was generally for keeping legs straight- not arms. But it seemed to be helping regardless. And he did look insanely good in the coat too! "It's really nice."
He flashed me a smile, chuckling. "You've got the best advice Jems, seriously. I think I'll keep it, put it in my closet with my other eighty magenta coats!" I laughed, but I was pretty sure he was being serious. Suddenly, a buzzing came from his pocket. "Oh, that's my phone, one sec Jems."
He turned out of the room, making a silly face as he closed the door. I grinned softly as he disappeared from my vision, and damn it was he cute! Honestly, I wanted to give him the best Christmas I could, especially with the fact that when his family did it, he didn't seem all that happy with it all. I could see that happening, and Thomas deserved the best! I hoped that the flowers relaxed before then, I wanted to spend the holidays with Thomas, and not bent over the sink.
The door reopened after a minute or two, and there stood a frowning Thomas, holding his phone in shock. But he didn't look sad, he looked furious.
"Thomas?" I asked softly, moving up out of the chair and standing up, worried. "You okay?"
My roommate's gaze was dark and cold as if he were the sun and he was now an eclipse. After several breathtaking moments, he spoke.
"What the hell have you done?"