"Christ! What happened?"
"My name is Max, silly," my friend and flat-mate stuck his tongue out at me, "and it's fairly obvious, don't you think?"
"Very mature," I retorted, smiling despite myself. "But seriously, how'd you get your shirt torn?"
"A dog." He frowned. A very unfriendly one, I might add."
Concern kicked in instinctively and I rushed towards my friend. "A dog? Damn, Max! I thought you'd just scratched yourself against a tree or something! Did the cut go deep? Do we need to see a doctor?"
I wasn't in the least offended by his response of laughter - I'd long since accepted that I was always going to have the tendency to worry about him, no matter what it was - and he'd just think I was overreacting.
You have no idea, Max. I don't know what I'd do if something ever happened to you.
"I'm fine, Nicky. Its nails weren't even that sharp, all I've got is that white line thingy of a scratch." He paused, and then I assume in response to the critical look I was still giving him, raised his hands in surrender. "I swear."
"Alright, fine." I took a step back. "As long as it's nothing serious."
"But it is!" My forehead creased as I watched my friend flop onto the kitchen chair. "I don't have any decent red shirts anymore!"
For a moment, I was bewildered about his concern with the shirt, but understanding dawned quickly - Max had a meeting, that he hadn't been looking forward to, with one of his professors who was rumored to be much kinder if the person had worn red.
"You were right, Nicky," he whined, "I shouldn't have worn it three hours in advance. Now what am I going to do? I don't want to risk getting caught up in traffic and being late for the meeting by going to buy a new one!"
"Has anyone ever told you you're a drama queen? Relax, you can borrow mine."
He straightened up with a frown. "You don't own any red shirt though."
"I do, remember?" He shook his head. "That day we'd gone hunting for shoes and I'd bought that set?"
His face brightened for a moment, then fell. "But it's a new shirt."
He looked at me as though I'd grown a few more heads. "Nicky, you kind of love your new clothes! You really don't like not being the first one to wear something. And I'm being more superstitious than anything else anyway. If he's not going to like my idea, he's not going to no matter what I wear." He smiled then. "But thanks a lot for offering, yeah. I appreciate it."
"It's just one shirt," I pointed out, "and it's worth it if you're going to feel more confident and not mess up because you're worried about how you look."
He took a moment to consider my words while I just looked on in disbelief with the 'why are you even thinking about it?' expression etched onto my face. "You have a point," he conceded eventually, "and I feel really bad for taking you up on the offer, but, are you sure?"
"And you're not just saying it because you know I'd do the same for you?"
"You're sure I'm not the only one who's told you you're too dramatic sometimes?"
That sealed the deal. He hopped up, suddenly cheery again. "Thanks, Nicky! You're the best!"
Whether or not it was the same thing as four years ago, I didn't know - what that was, I mean. Now, however, there was no doubt: I'd do anything for that smile.
YOU ARE READING
In A World Like ThisRomance
You know this. And it *does* belong in Romance! ;) (And if you don't, well, all me to refer you to New Days, Undone, Savior and In A World Like This in that order - this as a standalone will feel pretty useless - though you could come here after ND...