Part IV: Roommate
My alarm woke me up early. Like the previous day Caroline was already gone. I quickly changed out of my pajama and put on shorts with tights as well as my favorite band tee shirt.
I came out just as Caroline was coming out of the shower room, her hair still damp. She wore a short black dress with a colorful flower print, she had yoga pants underneath.
“Good morning, Caroline.”
“Good morning!” She said, coming closer to me. “I wanted to thank you again for yesterday… I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t calmed me down and showed me that trick.”
“Don’t mention it, it was nothing.”
“It’s just that just feel like such a dummy for freaking out and needing help with my power…”
“You’re not a dummy, Caroline. It’s okay to be scared and not to know things. And if you need someone, I’ll be there for you.”
“Thank you… You’re a terrific friend Charlie… Can I have a hug? I really could use one right now.”
Part of me just wanted to tell that I didn’t just want to be pal, but I didn’t. I couldn’t risk alienating her by saying how I felt, not after only knowing her for two days… Beside, what were my chance with an openly asexual girl?
“Of course.” Was all I said before stepping closer to her.
She wrapped her arms around me tightly and I just took her fragrance in; the sweet smell of honeysuckle and orange scented body wash still clung to her. When I realized what I was doing, I immediately began feeling weird.
“Are you okay?” She asked me. “You look a little weird.”
“Yeah, I’m okay…” I lied.
“Oh alright. Say, what do you think about homemade muffins for breakfast?”
“That sounds great. It’s really kind of you to make breakfast.”
“Hey, it’s the least I can do.”
She tied her damp hair back with an elastic and began her preparation; making blueberry and banana muffins from scratch. I helped her as best I could; mostly acting as her lackey.
A few minutes after we put the muffins in the oven there was a ring at the door.
“I’ll get it.” I said. I cleaned my hands and walked to the door, opened it and saw Ian waiting on the porch in civilian clothes; just jeans and a designer tee-shirt. Behind him was our car, we might have been rich but Ian had always favored discrete car; just a blue colored hatchback with some under the hood performance upgrades.
“Hey dad.” I said, giving him a hug. “Come to check up on me?”
“Among other things. There’s a little someone waiting for you in the car.”
I rushed to the car and found Nibbles waiting for me in a cage along with all his gears. He was the cutest little rabbit in the world; white with gray-brown spots, lopped ears and the tiniest antlers. Okay so he technically wasn’t a true bunny, being a genetically engineered chimera, but he was mine.
“Hello little guy. I missed you.” I opened his cage and he walked out onto the hatchback floor. I quickly found his leash in a bag and harnessed him before setting him down on the ground and walking him indoor. He was really well behaved and I’d trained him to leash walk and run agility courses.
“Hey, I got someone to show you.”
Caroline moved away from the oven and quickly came over, her eyes followed the leash down toward Nibbles.
“This is Nibbles and I hope you like him because we’re going to be rooming with him.”
“Aww… He so cute…” She said, leaning down and reaching with her hand. “Wait, why does it have antlers?”
“Because he’s a jackalope.”
“Aren’t jackalopes a myth?”
“Yeah, but this little guy is actually a chimera that was rescued from an illegal lab. I’ve been asked to take care of him for the last two years.”
Chimera was the catch-all name for any creature that were significantly hybridized between two or more species. They had become illegal a few years back after a whole lot of controversy. They still remained a favorite of mad scientist type villains though.
“How did you get your hand on him, your dad?”
“Yeah, technically taking care of him was my first Legion assignment. So you’re okay with having a bun in our room?”
“Of course, I have some at home anyway. These little guys are as amazingly adorable as they are delicious.”
“We are so not eating Nibbles.”
“Of course not, I don’t want to go to jail for poaching an endangered species.”
“I got to move my things from the car to our room, you mind watching over him for a few minutes? You can give him a snack if you want, he loves bananas.”
Ian came in, carrying a box of stuff.
“Dad, this is Caroline my roommate. Caroline meet my dad Ian.”
“It’s an honor to meet you sir.” She said with a bow.
“Oh, please no for formalities. Ian is fine.” He said coming toward her and shaking her hand, holding everything with one arm. “Which room is yours?”
“The next to last one.”
Ian went to drop my stuff and I went out to pick another box.
“So, what did you think of your new roommate?” He asked once he came out again.
“She’s really nice…”
“Just nice?” He asked. I didn’t answer. “Is she Sabrina kind nice?”
Sabrina had been one of the first girl I’d crushed on. Ian and I had always been really open about gender and sexuality stuff; which was kind of a given when your adoptive dad was actually a bisexual transgender man. So he was one hundred percent supportive of me being gay as heck.
“Maybe…” Was all I could answer.
Ian ran his hand through my hair and gave me an understanding grin.
“Well, I hope you have a good time. And maybe you could invite her home on the weekend? I could get us a really good dinner chef.”
“That sounds like a great idea.”
“Alright, last boxes and then I’ve got a meeting with the staff to attend.” Ian said.
“No rest for the wicked.”
We did another trip back and forth, grabbing the rest of the stuff and putting it in my room before Ian kissed me goodbye and left. With all the stuff, the room was a mess, filled with boxes and Nibble’s indoor hutch. I quickly prepared things; Nibbles’ litter box, set up his hutch and favorite toys around. Thankfully the room itself was mostly rabbit proofed. I’d have to secure the wiring with PVC but with the way everything was there wasn’t any dangerous spot Nibble could go to. I unplugged our electronics and put them in a safe spot high up on the desks.
When I came out I saw that Ahti was crouched down on all four and staring at Nibbles. They tried to pet him but Nibbles wasn’t having it. Recoiling away from their hand. Nibbles hadn’t ever met an alien and was probably not too keen on having a relatively big, for him at least, orange being it had never seen try to touch him.
“I see you’ve met Nibbles.”
“It’s so weird…” Ahti answered.
“Yeah I know bunnies don’t normally have–” Before I could complete my sentence Ahti spoke again.
“Why is everything on earth so fuzzy? You can’t even see its skin. Even some of your bugs and flying animals are fuzzy, it’s weird… They look like plants.” Ahti seemed completely oblivious to the fact bunnies didn’t normally have antlers.
“Wasn’t there any furred animals on Ithar?”
“No, they have skin, scales or carapaces like animals normally do. But you’re fibrous like plants.”
As Nibbles wasn’t letting them touch him, Ahti got up and sat on the counter just as Caroline served her first muffin. I took one and ate it as it was, ignoring the platter of jams and other spreads. It was warm, fluffy, sweet and just had that banana goodness through it.
The others began coming out soon enough, either going straight for the shower or food. After my second muffin I went and took a shower before sitting down to watch tv with the others. Caroline came and sat right by my side, giving me a smile.
“What’s our morning classes today?” Annabelle asked as she came out of the shower as the rest of us prepared to leave. She’d gotten up late and had delayed her shower until the last minute.
“Basic physical training, followed by introduction to parahuman combat.” Yikaru answered, making it one of the few times I’d heard her talk since we’d met. She was dressed in what looked like military fatigues before you applied camouflage to it, her hair in a bundle under her military cap.
With Annabelle ready we got going. The morning was about to become interesting.