Writing Prompt Wednesday – “Simplicity”

Robyn and Dante had planned a homework session for their day off, and while it wouldn’t have been Dante’s first choice for spending it, he did have some backup on assignments. Plus, Robyn was willing to help, and he kind of sucked at writing papers.

“I’m gonna eat supper first, but you can come over right away if you want,” she texted him, and he messaged back that he would, so long as she didn’t mind him maybe sneaking some of her food.

“Fight me for it ;)” Robyn answered back. This and similar banter was what made Dante so unsure if he could manage being alone with Robyn. He was starting to like her a little more than friends should, it seemed.

“Roommate gonna be there?”

“Nope, so we can actually fight over the food if you want. Warning: I’ve got moxie.”

Dante groaned and didn’t bother replying. Stupid Robyn.

When he got there, out of habit and courtesy, he knocked, and Robyn called for him to come in. He could smell the pasta sauce from the doorway. She’d already started eating without him, and waved from her seat at the table.

Dante peeked into the pot on the stove. Well, he was right about the sauce, but other than that, it looked like it was just noodles mixed with it. He also saw the half empty jar of Prego on the counter. Wow, how plain.

Dante wrinkled his nose in disgust, and moved away from the easy dish to get a glass of milk. “How can you eat that? There’s like… two ingredients in it. And one is from a jar.”

“Three,” Robyn corrected, holding up the appropriate amount of fingers as she listed them, “Rigatoni noodles, Prego’s delicious sauce with mushrooms, and Parmesan.” She heaped a forkful of noodles into her mouth, wiggling her eyebrows teasingly.

“But it’s so… simple. And boring.”

I’m simple, though I’d like to think I can’t be too boring if you’re sticking around with me,” she said, shrugging. “It’s a meal that suits me. You don’t have to eat it.”

“I won’t,” Dante mumbled, a tone of ‘and thank god for that’ coloring his voice.

Robyn answered by sticking her tongue out at him, rigatoni noodle on the end to extend it. Busy taking a drink, Dante snorted and sprayed himself and the table. “Gross!”

“Sorry,” he coughed, cleaning up after himself.

After finishing with the food and dishes (Dante opting out of plain-pasta and making a sandwich instead) the two packed the small table with books and paper and laptops. Dante had a history paper due Monday about the journal of a soldier during Vietnam, and wanted Robyn to shoot some ideas at him and glance over it to make sure it wasn’t complete BS. He found history interesting, but boring to read about. He was a watcher rather than a reader.

Robyn was the complete opposite. All the books that weren’t textbooks in the apartment were hers (school books, of course, being about equally split between Robyn and her roommate), and there were lots. Huge chunks of her paycheck went to her addiction. Dante could understand, though–his were just CDs and records.

For ease of reading and revising, Dante had printed out a version of his paper, and Robyn was reading through it now. Occasionally a highlighter would mark it up, while other times pens would. He cringed every time he glanced up from his other homework to spy red pen instead of blue–red was for mistakes, blue for comments and suggestions.

When they’d first started ‘helping’ each other with homework, it had been all highlighter and red pen. Dante had complained that it looked like nothing was right at all with his work. Robyn said that not all red was bad–some of it was very good and she just had some minor suggestions.

“But it’s in red,” he’d pointed out.

“Oh,” she’d said, pursing her lips a bit in thought. “Well, fine. Wrong is red, suggestions are blue from now on. That way it won’t be so negative looking, right?”

Dante smiled at the memory, adjusting his glasses in the hopes of hiding it. Robyn was too patient with him, he felt. He deeply appreciated it, and wanted to show her how much, but what could he do? He thought back to the simplicity of her pasta meal. Well… he could cook for her, maybe.

“Astronomy is cool, Danny, but that creepy, goofy smile on your face while you stare at it is probably too big of a reaction.”

Dante looked up sharply, feeling his cheeks burn for being caught with such an expression, and also because–Robyn. She lazily twirled the blue pen in her hand, while the red one was resting behind her ear and holding back her hair (good, maybe that meant not as many mistakes this time). Her face was relaxed, with a teasing smile and a slightly canted brow in amusement.

What an adorable brat, he thought to himself.

He sighed, “A-actually,” he began, clearing his throat, “I was thinking about how to pay you back for always helping me with this.” He motioned to the table, identifying the ‘this’ he meant. “And I was thinking… since you don’t really seem to know how to cook–”

“Excuse you,” she muttered, frowning.

“–I could make meals. For the study nights. I’ll get the ingredients and clean up and everything. It’s the least I can do for you helping me keep some of my grades up.”

Robyn blinked in surprise. “You can cook?” she asked.

Dante only felt a wee bit insulted. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, uh, a lot of guys I know just… can’t,” she said lamely, shrugging.

“My mom and I used to take turns making meals,” he said, a little proud of this. He smiled. “Not to brag too much, but I’m actually pretty good. I’ll show you next time. It’s gotta beat just noodles and spaghetti sauce–”

“Hey, I lived off of that just fine until now,” she said, defending herself. “Plus, that’s not all I can make,” she grumbled sourly, intentionally jabbing at his paper with the red pen.

Dante rolled his eyes.

“But… that sounds nice. If you don’t mind cooking now and then.”

“Of course not, that’s why I offered.”

“Okay,” she said, smiling. “It’s a deal… thanks.”

Dante smiled himself and looked back to his work. Homework wasn’t his ideal time killer for the weekend, but simply being with Robyn was good for him.

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