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Study Date

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“Zoey, hey, wake up.  You’re gonna get a crick in your neck.”  Zoey followed Amanda’s voice into wakefulness and lifted her head off Amanda’s shoulder with a bashful smile.

“Sorry,” she said, glancing away from Amanda's bright face and down at the books and papers piled in Amanda’s lap.

“It’s fine.”  Amanda nudged her gently.  “You looked peaceful.”

Zoey had felt peaceful too.  She always did around Amanda, though she must have been even more tired than she thought to nod off on Amanda’s shoulder like that.

Zoey was always going to be a scientist.  The literature test they were studying for was always bound to frustrate her- but Zoey was glad she’d had to take the class for her degree because otherwise she might never have met Amanda, a new student looking to learn after her discharge from the military and the months of physical therapy that had followed.  Amanda was one of the few people who had recognized her from the news reports about the plane crash whose interest Zoey didn’t mind.  Just like- Zoey hoped- she was one of the few people Amanda didn’t mind looking at the scars on her neck. 

Their shared status as sole survivors had led to talking, to lunches and coffees, but lately there was more between them than just the pain they had in common- at least for Zoey.  She had talked about it- okay, complained about it- a great deal to her roommate, who was excited to finally have something romantic to enable and to needle Zoey about, but she hadn’t found a way to bring it up with Amanda yet.  Her roommate had obligingly cleared out for this “study session”- the air quotes were very much hers, as was the bright laughter and the would you prefer I used the d word?- but all her words of encouragement had flown out of Zoey’s mind the minute she saw Amanda at her door.  Zoey defaulted, as ever, to academics.

“Hey,” Amanda said.  “If I’d known that you were this tired, I wouldn’t have suggested we study tonight.”

“I had my end of term physics test this morning,” Zoey admitted.  “Stayed up late making sure I was ready.”

Amanda gave her a Look.

“I like spending time with you,” Zoey said softly.  It was the most she had yet managed to say about her blossoming feelings, and it felt like a drastic understatement.

“There’s more than one way to spend time with me,” Amanda murmured.  Her fingertips brushed Zoey’s arm before she went to work collecting books together.  “Listen, you’ll still be here over the break, right?”

“Yeah.”  It didn’t sting when she said it to Amanda. 

“So.  Friday night, we’ll go have dinner, okay?  And we’ll celebrate all the A’s you’ve inevitably gotten.  Especially in physics.”

Zoey intended to protest with something self-effacing- logically she knew Amanda was probably right, but she always worried that it wouldn’t work out that way- but what came out instead was, “Like a date?”

“Yeah,” Amanda said, smiling.  “Like a date.  But first-” she slid books and notebooks into her bag- “you’re going to go to sleep.”

Zoey nodded tiredly.  She knew she had to get up and get ready for bed, but right now putting her head down sounded so nice.  She blamed Amanda.  Amanda always made her feel safe.  And now they were going to go on a date

Amanda laughed softly.  Zoey felt her press a kiss to the top of her head.  “Rest now.  I’ll see you soon.”

“Soon,” Zoey agreed.  It had become an unfamiliar feeling, but she remembered it, and she’d been feeling it a lot since she first walked into a classroom and saw Amanda sitting there. 

Hope.