[Two new Murphy's in two days? That must be a record.]
As usual, I had papers sprawled from over almost the entire surface of the round table in the common space outside my corner single. The only difference was that it wasn't physics homework. It was my major declaration form.
For a bachelor of science degree in chemistry.
It's not unusual for college kids to switch majors. My cousin at Potsdam switched at least four times while he was there. It was odd, though, for science majors to switch, as they normally know they're going to be science majors by the end of high school at the earliest, middle of their first year at the latest. My saving grace was that bio and chem majors shared so many courses. Intro chem, both organics, and two semesters of physics.
Really wish the physics was debatable. Not a big fan.
I'd already switched advisers, Yeng to Montrose. Even gone so far as to tell my parents that I was no longer a bio major but that underwater basket weaving had yet to be approved as an acceptable course of study. Since my sister and I like to joke about having degrees in underwater basket weaving - utterly useless in the so-called real world - I chuckled.
And started filling in classes on the little lines.
And tried to ignore the fact that this may or may not be a life-changing process. In a quiet kind of way.
Ten minutes and some slightly complicated choices later I had, more or less, planned out the rest of my collegiate career. Minus my minors. With teaching as a back-up plan, it provided me an automatic education minor. This happy fact meant that I technically didn't need an interdisciplinary minor to go with my disciplinary major. So while I might not need my creative writing minor, I wanted it. Just to go with my three-year work-in-progress I happen to call a novel.
Which I hadn't touched in about four months.
The shower kicked on down the hall; music flared as a door opened while another thumped shut. There was some shuffling; I looked up to see Jo come 'round the corner.
"That time already?" I unearthed my phone and verified that it was nearly five-thirty. It didn't seem like that long ago - almost six hours now - that Murph had crawled out of my bed to head downstairs to get some work done. After about five minutes of last kisses, of course.
"Yeah," Jo said, flopping into the beat-to-shit armchair with a thump and a cloud of particles only visible in the shaft of sunlight. She pointed to the papers. "You leavin' us?"
"Yup." I gathered everything and stuffed it back in its manila folder. "I've gone to the dark side. The pull of the cookies was too strong."
"Drat," she deadpanned.
I went back into my room, dumped the folder onto my laptop, pulled on my sneakers, and started to hunt for my WS soccer hoodie, the one I'd bought when Izzy had taken me to the Open House that cold day September before last. The same hoodie I'd had to cut the neck of to get my head through comfortably, despite it being an XL. Funny, I'd thrown it over the back of the moon chair, last I knew. And there it was, predictably where I'd left it.
Second thought, what I'd found wasn't mine. It was too big, and -
Oh. Hold the phone. I looked at the front. That sneaky, sneaky....sneak.
Jo knocked on the partially open door. "Ol?"
"Be right there." I tugged the sweatshirt over my head and shoved my arms through the sleeves. It was a bit big, but I wasn't swimming in it. I pulled the neck up to my nose and breathed in while I grabbed my Vera.
The scent was pure, unadulterated Murph. I could drown in that.
And run the risk of whacking into walls in the process. Which was an acceptable risk.
"That's a new one," Jo said, pointing to my chest.
"Not mine, if you can't tell." I locked my door. "See, there's this guy that hangs around and he's pretty good-looking, and he stole my sweatshirt."
She snorted. "And left you a present."
"Yeah," I chuckled, "much like an elf."
And if she had to wait by the second floor door for me to get over my fit of hysterics at my own cleverness, well, she wouldn't hold it against me. Not until later, at least.
I'm somewhat used to being stared at but this was ridiculous. All because of a sweatshirt. When Mike nearly ran into some half-terrified first year with a tray, I was ready to stand in the middle of the second tier and yell, "Grow the hell up, people!" Counter-intuitive, that is.
Shoving at one of my half-assed bangs as it dropped onto my nose, I deposited my Vera at the table Mel and Em had already claimed and high-tailed it toward food before they could ask any questions.
There was shrimp alfredo at Hal's station. Which sounded like a winner. One quick trip through the veggin' line for some wheat penne and a quick wait at Showtime Hal's with his typical "Hi, lady," and my "Hi, Hal" and then it was on to the wolves.
"That Murphy's?" Mel asked as I pushed up my sleeves.
"Yup." Barely restrained my Captain Obvious reply. "And yes, before you even ask, he has my sweatshirt and yes, this smells like him and it's wonderful." I looked up at three somewhat dumbstruck faces. "Any other questions?"
"When can you start practicing with the team again? Like, full contact?" Em asked. She was poking delicately at her shepherd's pie - the part that wasn't smothered in gravy - her lithe dancer's form hunched slightly. She might have slouched at the table, and I'd seen her sink and sprawl at her desk in T-S Britain, but from what Sasha told me she was the most form-correct dancer Sasha had ever seen. And Sasha had danced for as many years as I've played soccer.
"We're looking at Tuesday, though it'll be light contact. Then Mac'll do his thing and if he likes what he sees we might go full on Thursday. Whether I play on Saturday is still up for grabs." That happy fact stung. Much more than one would think. And I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to slide back in like I'd never left or if I was going to have to fight. I had no issues fighting for my position - and starting spot - in practice, but I really wasn't up for an all-out battle, either.
Mostly because there was a physics test on Wednesday.
That I was more or less not-so-quietly freaking out about though Pat - some professors insist you call them by their first name and won't even answer to professor - had told us repeatedly it wasn't something to freak out about. Then again, considering that Pat was, and still is in some ways, a physics major, how valid is that opinion? Seriously. I'm physics stupid.
"Hope you do play," Mel said softly.
"You and me both." I looked at Em. "How did auditions go?"
She grinned. "From what I could see, Sasha and Cara's dance is going to be awesome."
I nearly choked on a shrimp; Jo thumped my back as I coughed.
"She tried out?" I gasped when I could breathe.
Em snorted. "Auditioned and kicked butt."
Which was no surprise, honestly. Cara was a ridiculously good choreographer and Sasha was a sick dancer, especially jazz and ballet. Odd combination, sure, but no odder than a chem major with a penchant for creative writing.
"How's the bio goin', you two?" Mel asked as the silence stretched. She was an unrepentant computer science major coupled with a taste for foreign language. Specifically Russian.
"Well," Jo said sadly, "we've lost another to that crap called chemistry."
I kicked her foot under the table. "Grump. Least I didn't move to something like English."
"Hey!" Em shot me a dark look that softened into a half-smile almost immediately.
"I could have said it sucked."
She shrugged. "True."
An awkward silence descended; Mel, Em, and Jo looked pointedly behind me. I turned in my chair, narrowly avoiding dragging my sleeve through alfredo sauce, and openly stared. Colby was standing at the opposite end of the third tier and motioning toward us to someone out of view. He wouldn't - He wasn't -
Yeah. They would.
Sure enough he was joined by Liam, Dev, and Murph. And they headed our way.
"Can we join you ladies?" Colby asked as they gathered 'round.
There was some generally shrugging and scuffling in agreement, and we pushed the nearest table together with ours. There was some squeezing and the line between cozy and rubbin' elbows? We were flirtin' with it.
"Uh, Mel, Em, Jo," I started and then looked at what Murph was wearing. My sweatshirt. On him. Honestly, it fit him better than it did me.
And oh, did that boy look downright sinful.
"This is Colby, Murphy, Liam, and Devan," I said when I'd found my voice. "Guys, Mel, Em, and Jo." Murph had met Jo accidentally that morning, and this was the first time his friends were really meeting mine.
To call me nervous was an understatement.
"So, do you all play soccer?" Colby asked while mixing his shepherd's pie and gravy. It resembled soup more than solid food.
Em shook her head; I desperately wanted ice cream.
"Ollie's the only soccer chick among us," Mel said with a grin. "Though I play a mean game of badminton."
"Jo likes to ride horses," I added quickly, moving my shins away from her feet. The table jiggled a few seconds later and she winced.
"Liam tried that once," Murph chuckled.
Seven stares turned to a furiously blushing Liam.
"The soccer thing or the horse thing?" Em asked innocently. She pulled it off better than I could.
"Murphy - "
"The horse thing." He grinned at his positively flaming twin.
Colby's eyes lit up. "Oh - I think I remember that. Weren't we at my grandpa's farm?"
Dev, caught between Liam and Murph, wisely kept his mouth shut. His expression said everything quite clearly.
"What happened?" Mel leaned forward on her elbows.
"We were at my grandpa's farm and he asked if we would take the horses out for a ride since the guy he pays to do it normally - since he's got bad knees because of his arthritis - couldn't make it because of a family obligation." He looked at Liam and stifled a laugh. "It'd been a couple of months since I was in the saddle and taking two horses out was not going to feel good later. SO I ask Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum if they know how to ride."
Murph cleared his throat, trying to keep his smile under wraps. "So Tweedle Dum over there says he'll do it, no problem." There was a thunk and the rattle of cutlery; Liam's forehead was on the table, shoulders twitching with embarrassed laughter. "When the last time we were both rode was when Ma sent us to summer camp when we were eight." He paused.
"Just friggin' tell them, Murphy," Liam growled.
"And that was a pony ride at the end of camp carnival."
I pulled the neck of the sweatshirt up to my nose to hide my grin.
Colby snickered. "So, he watches me saddle one and I ask if he's good to go. He says yeah, and Murph gives him a hand into the saddle. We're only going around the paddock to start with. Flat, soft ground. We start and I look over, and his legs are clamped so tight to the mare's sides that I'm impressed she can still breathe right. We make it around the paddock a couple of times and I want to move on to the field. Let them have a bit of a run. Murph opens the gate and out into the field we go. At a trot. And I can hear Murph laughin' at somethin' and I look over and there's Liam and the saddle practically getting hang-time. Milly, the mare, turns to follow the track over a bit of uneven ground, and Liam and the saddle go sliding off the horse. Right into a puddle."
"I'm impressed he didn't break himself," Murph got out between bits of laughter. I was chuckling so hard my sides hurt.
Liam, still blushing furiously, had cracked a grin when he lifted his head. "I was bruised from shoulder to hip and on my shin where the saddle landed. And I was sitting in ankle deep water."
That must have acted as an appropriate ice-breaker because pretty soon we couldn't get the stories out fast enough.
Hell, I didn't even want ice cream anymore because I was afraid I'd miss something. And this? Definitely better entertainment than cable.