Writing Prompt Wednesday – “Exhaustion”

Holding hands by homarte

Robyn met Dante outside of his last class for the day, ready for the night they had planned. They’d officially been going out for a few months and were celebrating with dinner and a movie. In her excitement, Robyn had already dressed up for the evening, at the goading of her roommate Tasha, and was patiently waiting with makeup on and in a dressy blouse and skirt (ugh, makeup and skirts–the tomboy in her was writhing in near pain, yet simultaneously liking how her legs looked and how her eyes popped). Tasha had even helped with her hair, which was an adorable mass of blond and bouncy waves. Her head felt heavy with hair products.

Dante, not knowing of Robyn’s plans to meet him beforehand and walk him to his place, walked right past her as he hurried out of the building.

“Hey Robyn,” a voice called to her by the door. She blinked out of her surprise and turned to find Tim, one of Dante’s classmates. He smiled and waggled his eyebrows at her. “You look great. Big date tonight?”

“Um, thank you. That was the plan, but…” Her eyes went back to Dante, who was still stomping away in the opposite direction. “Is he okay?”

Tim shrugged. “He got a phone call near the beginning of class. Been out of it since.” He flashed her a reassuring smile. “You clean up nice, kid–he probably just didn’t recognize you and kept going.”

“Not sure if that’s a compliment or not, but, uh, thanks?” Robyn rolled her eyes, and the two waved as they parted ways. Robyn hurried to catch up to Dante, who, damn him, had longer legs and a head start on her. And damn Tasha for convincing her to wear heels, even if they were short.

Deciding to let him sort things out a bit before confronting him, Robyn followed a bit behind Dante, giving him his space. She felt creepy doing so, but from the look that had been on his face, she thought it best not to say anything yet.

Finally they reached Dante’s apartment, and it was only when Robyn finally decided to quirk her mouth in mild annoyance and clear her throat that he noticed she’d been there the whole time.

He’d made it to the elevator and mashed the button for his floor, with Robyn sliding in before the doors closed. She even stood right next to him–nothing. Whatever was bugging Dante must have been bad. Seriously bad.

As he glowered at the panel with the buttons for the floors, Robyn made her presence known.

Dante jerked, turning to whoever he was sharing the small space with to–what? Apologize, get snarky, yell? What would some stranger have to say to him anyway?

“R-Robyn!” he nearly squeaked, eyes so wide Robyn snorted a little in his face at the expression. “What are you doing here? You don’t live here.”

“Whoa,” she said, widening her own eyes and taking a step back. She raised her hands in front of her in a surrendering pose. “My god, you’re right! Why would I be here, in the building my boyfriend lives in, next to him in an elevator, on the day we were going to go out and celebrate dating for the last however-many-months?”

Dante stared at her a moment before frowning at her for her cheek. “Wow, okay. Were one of those your sarcasm hand that you just raised?” He huffed and took off his glasses, rubbing at his face tiredly. “I’m, ugh, I’m sorry.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened, letting them out on their floor. Weakly Dante held out his arm in a ‘ladies first’ gesture.

When they made it to his apartment, Dante shut the door behind them and practically face-planted into the couch. Sighing softly, Robyn went to the tiny kitchen and made some hot chocolate.

She laughed a little at his prone position once she made it back to the living room area, mugs in hand. Dante was bent over the arm of the couch, waist-up on and waist-down off. It didn’t look comfy at all.

She set the mugs down before seating herself on the opposite end of the couch, and tapped his head a few times. When she didn’t get a response, Robyn grabbed Dante’s shoulders and pulled him further onto the couch, holding his head above her lap.

Still not getting a response, she bent over and whispered in his ear, “Unless you want me to set you face-down in my lap, I suggest you at the very least roll over.”

Robyn could imagine his eyes getting as wide as saucers before he scrambled frantically to flip around. She laughed–he was as red as a beet.

Dante was about to sit up on the couch when she pulled him over and down again, face up this time, onto her lap. He opened his mouth to protest but she covered it with her hand. Leaning over, Robyn grabbed one of the mugs of hot chocolate and placed it in his hands, warming them. She then grabbed her own mug.

“Nope. The only thing I want to hear outta your mouth is what’s bothering you. I was right outside the building when you got out of class, and followed you all the way home. You’re obviously distracted by something big–I want to help.” She removed her hand and ran her fingers through his bangs. “What’s wrong?”

Dante huffed, fiddling with the mug in his hands and staring at it, not making eye contact. Finally he glanced up to meet her eyes. “You look really nice today.”

She blushed a bit. “Don’t change the subject,” she said, poking his cheek. She drank from her mug, looking at him from the corner of her eye. Dante grinned up at her sheepishly. “What’s wrong, Dante?”

He pouted a little, looking down at his mug again. Sighing, Dante sat up and placed himself next to Robyn, hunching down a little so he could snuggle into her side and the couch. His expression darkened, soured to the point that he looked to be on the verge of crying or shouting. Robyn grabbed his free hand with her own, warm from her mug. Dante rested his head on top of hers as an answering gesture.

“Near the beginning of that last class I got a call from the hospital back home,” he said quietly. Robyn felt his hand in hers begin to shake slightly. “Apparently my mom’s there.”

“Is she okay?” Robyn asked, instantly on edge. Dante’s mother had never been in the best of health, but in the last few years she’d certainly gotten better. Robyn hadn’t met her yet, but Dante held her highly and loved her dearly. She knew how important his mother was to him.

“I don’t know,” he admitted, biting his lip. He shakily took a sip of hot chocolate. “She was just heading into the operating room when I got the call. Appendicitis, they’re thinking. The doctor said that once the surgery was done it’d probably be at least twelve hours before she was out of it from the anesthesia and everything and could move about again. But with her previous health issues, I…” His breathing hitched in his throat. Dante grabbed his glasses from his face and tossed them carelessly onto the coffee table, clutched his mug to himself tightly and shook his head. “I don’t know. She might not make it.”

Setting her own mug aside, Robyn wrapped her arms around Dante’s torso, hugging him tightly to try and help him keep himself together. He returned the favor. “You can’t think that way, Dan,” she scolded softly, squeezing him even more. “From everything you’ve told me about your mom,” she continued, pecking him on the cheek, “she’s strong. Look at what she’s come back from already. She can handle an appendectomy, no sweat.”

He let out a teary laugh, and Robyn spotted a sudden wet spot on Dante’s shirt. “Easier to say than to believe,” he said, sniffling. He let out a loud sigh, ruffling Robyn’s bangs. “Thank you,” he muttered, smushing his face into her hair.

“Of course.” She wrinkled her nose a little. “But… um, don’t get snot in my hair. Ew. You know how long it took Tasha and I to get me looking this nice?” she teased.

He snorted a laugh, making noises so that it sounded like he was blowing his nose in her hair. She squirmed and squealed. “Ew, no, dude, gross!”

Laughing outright, Dante pulled back. He smiled down at Robyn and leaned forward, kissing her. She smiled into the kiss, glad she could at least make him smile a little. “Wanna hit the hay? Sleeping a little might make you feel better.”

“I can’t sleep now,” he said, quirking his mouth and glancing to the side. “Thinking way too much.”

“Then I’ll stay up with you,” she declared, turning a bit to grab the remote for the TV and settling more comfortably against Dante’s side. “We’ll just watch some crummy TV, and when that runs out late into the night, porn.”

Dante laughed again. “You have early classes in the morning,” he reminded her. “And no change of clothes here.”

“Psh. I’ll be fine,” she said, waving a hand dismissively and she channel surfed. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. I’m here for you. If I wake up late that’s my problem. But I’m staying up with you. I want to keep you company right now.”

Dante rolled his eyes, kissing the top of her head. “Thank you,” he said again.

Robyn grabbed one of his hands in her own, lacing their fingers together.

It wasn’t too long before Robyn drifted off to sleep. Didn’t even make it to the porn, Dante chuckled to himself.

She and Dante chatted for a little while during old sitcom reruns, talking about anything other than the pressing and depressing issue of Dante’s mom’s surgery. Soon they fell into silence, and after a bit Dante felt Robyn’s breathing even out.

Smiling, he fiddled with the ends of her hair. It was starting to grow out a bit from the typical just-past-the-shoulders length she usually kept it at. And the gentle curling waves she’d done it up with looked nice. He regretted not being able to take her out tonight. I’ll make it up to her. Once I hear about mom, he decided.

Still unable to sleep, Dante simply adjusted his hold on Robyn until they were both slightly leaning back into the couch, stretched out into a more comfortable position. His mind was weary, as was his body, but neither enough so that he could let himself fall asleep.

His eyes focused on the screen of the TV, his mind wandering elsewhere, but his hand remained loosely held in Robyn’s sleepy grasp.

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