Author: Guede Mazaka
“Male roommate preferred,” Mariette obstinately insisted.
It definitely would’ve been a better idea to ask her to show up once the ad was drafted out. At this rate, it was going to take Galahad longer to write the stupid five-line thing than it would for him to write his thesis. “Look, I’ve only got so many lines before I have to pay extra. I’ll just tell any women that call that the space is taken already.”
“But it’s one more line.” She clamped onto his shoulder and leaned over so he could see nothing but hair. It was nice hair, and for once it was mostly down in a loose ponytail, but it was still pretty damn presumptuous. And ticklish. “Look, three words. Or no, two.”
“Only if I want to sound gay, and there’s enough of that going around. Sheesh. Next thing you know, Gawain’s going to walk in and say he and Tristan are bopping down to Massachusetts for a bit, so go rent a tux,” Galahad muttered. He batted her hair out of the way and quickly splayed his hands over the keyboard before she could mess with his work.
She didn’t even try. Actually, she dug her nails into his shoulder and elbowed him really hard in the same place where she’d accidentally kicked him last night. “They ruled out-of-state couples can’t marry unless their home state also recognizes same-sex marriage. Keep up with the news, idiot.”
“I’m an econ and philosophy major, not a law school drone.” Galahad kicked back, then hastily pulled himself forward again to grab the keyboard. Then he scooted away from the computer and flopped backwards to stare at the ceiling.
“He’s your fake brother!” Mariette said in an outraged tone. She was getting faster at figuring out what sounded awkward, so by the time she was halfway through, she was already squeaking in embarrassment. Now, if she only learned to stop talking sooner…
…yeah, yeah, Galahad wasn’t really the ideal authority for that. Whatever. Wow, this really was an awkward moment. And it was stretching on and on and on, and this probably was going to end up getting mentioned in some fight later. Really made him look forward to his day.
“He said you were okay with it.” Mariette’s chair had a funky wheel and sort of went off-kilter when she rolled up so her head ended up more on Galahad’s chest than his shoulder. She poked at his chin, then wrinkled her nose so much he could hear it. “Are you going to shave today?”
“Later. Later. And I am okay with it, so don’t even start with your pseudo-analysis crap. Swear to God, if you like it so much, then you should’ve done psychology,” Galahad muttered.
She smacked him on the head. Galahad jerked back and nearly fell off the other side of the chair. In the process of righting himself, he had to surrender the keyboard, which Mariette pounced on and clutched to her chest. When he reached for it, she rolled back a foot. He sighed and scooted forward…and she went back another foot.
She leaned forward and stared up at him the same way a squirrel might fixate on a bag of…not for the first time, Galahad wondered what the hell was with his life. Something definitely was fucked up when he couldn’t decide whether his default metaphors or his girlfriend was weirder.
“Are. You. Okay.” Mariette drew out each word the way dumb adults did when they thought they were talking to retarded children. She gave Galahad about thirty seconds before she sat back with a smug look on her face. “Because if you are not, then Kitty’s going to be asking even more than me. So you should say so now and deal with it.”
“Kitty? How the hell does she know?” Academia was way, way too inbred. “Oh, Arthur, right?”
When Mariette shrugged, her breasts squished up from behind the keyboard. Too bad she didn’t look like she was in that kind of mood. Shame, since she’d been a lot more…not really relaxed, but willing to be persuaded ever since they’d gotten that whole first-time weirdness over and done with. “They have tea once a week. You knew that, right? I hear Arthur’s nervous, but he doesn’t want to say anything to Tristan and something else is going on with his boyfriend and girlfriend so he’s not talking to them about it, and so he’s just—”
“Whoa, whoa, TMI,” Galahad said, slapping his hands against his ears. “Arthur’s my joint advisor, not my favorite soap opera star. Don’t need to know, don’t want to know.”
“You watch soap operas?” Mariette curiously asked.
Galahad rolled his eyes. “It’s just an expression, Mariette.”
Mariette stuck her tongue out at him. “You are so…so insecure about your masculinity. I know lots of—”
“I don’t watch soap operas! I hate them because they’re empty wastes of time and every single problem on them could get solved by one guy with commonsense and a quickie lobotomy kit! It has nothing to do with my goddamned masculinity—which I’m very comfortable about, by the way,” Galahad snapped. He slid his hands around to cover his eyes and dropped his arms to rest his elbows on his knees. “It’s not my fucking masculinity. It’s just Gawain being a…a…a fucking adult.”
Surprisingly enough, Mariette didn’t a) loudly ask ‘What?’ b) say Galahad was being selfish or c) coo at him and say it was okay, he could cry if he wanted to. Because that was all bullshit anyway. It wasn’t like Gawain was dying, or moving across the country without Galahad. He’d be ten minutes driving—if traffic was good—away, and probably over every other minute to fret over Tristan and cook because he firmly believed Galahad didn’t know shit about the kitchen. Despite the fact that Galahad had managed to hold a job as a short-order cook more than once.
“Asshole. He could’ve waited till our new lease ran out. I’m still going to have four months left on it,” Galahad muttered. Though that wasn’t really a big deal, either. It’d be the summer, which was an easy subletting season. Wintertime would’ve been harder. “I just hope this isn’t a continuation of their weird freak-out fight back in October.”
“I don’t think so,” Mariette said. “Then he’d be a fucking baby.”
After a moment of sheer disbelief, Galahad cracked up. He heard Mariette making a half-hearted attempt at taking back her words, but she gave up pretty fast and just glowered at him. When he kept on snickering, she started stomping on his toes.
“Ow. Ow. Jesus Christ, you’re nasty sometimes,” Galahad yelped, jerking back. She came after him with her heels and he pulled his feet up onto his seat. Then for some reason Mariette was laughing at him, and it was Galahad’s turn to fumble between being annoyed and pretending he’d done that on purpose.
She stopped after a while, and then it got awkward again. Galahad glanced at the computer screen. “Hell. I’m going to miss him.”
The chair squeaked as Mariette pulled herself back over. She dropped the keyboard on his lap and snuggled up to his side. “That’s why we advertise for a replacement.”
It was really, really hard not to laugh at her again. “Um. That’s not really the, uh, idea. I mean, at least now I can get somebody that doesn’t make cracks at me every time I take you out.”
“He does?” Mariette wrinkled her nose and sniffed haughtily. “And I really liked Gawain, too.”
“Yeah, well, he’s not without his annoying points,” Galahad mumbled. He stared at the screen some more. He was, in fact, all right with it, but not quite on the level where he wanted to get this goddamned ad done. He just wanted to let it sit in his head for a little longer—maybe till after he dragged Gawain out for some barcrawling later. Or after he’d made sure the squirrels wouldn’t eat Gawain in his sleep. Or after he’d talked to Tristan and made damn clear that—
A hand tentatively crawled down his arm. “I have to go run my last discussion section in ten minutes,” Mariette said. “Freshmen who don’t even know how to use natural logs to find continuously compounded interest—” rude noise “—want to make out first?”
Galahad immediately slewed around. “Brilliant idea.”
He tossed the keyboard back on the desk just as Mariette squeezed onto his lap. Hopefully that weird beeping noise didn’t mean his ad had gotten erased—but even if it had, it’d only take a couple minutes to retype it. He could get to it later.