Part VI: New Friends
As I walked back to the dorm, I looked over the elective classes options that we had to choose from. The choice wasn’t a hard one for me as they had both studio art and Korean open. Somewhere along the way, Allison and the new guys split up from our group and walked toward the administration building. Once outside, I noticed Charlie and Caroline leaving and sitting by one of the statue not too far away, presumably to talk.
Once I got home, my stomach began rebelling from the lack of lunch, I half heartedly satisfied it’s demand; stuffing some leftovers. Someone, I had no idea whom, had made some mac and cheese and I took what was left.
A few minutes later, Caroline and Charlie came in, the two of them holding hands. I wasn’t sure if these two were dating or just being gal pals but they were cute together.
“I need volunteers; we’re throwing a mini party for the new guys.” Caroline said. “I need someone to make sandwiches while I make some cake.”
A few of the others volunteered to give a hand, which included Mace, Yougen, Ahti and Sanjay. As Caroline started working on her cake with Charlie, the others were assigned different sandwiches to prepare; tuna, eggs, ham and a tomato grilled cheese.
I felt a little bad for not helping but I was exhausted. Rather than hide in my room, where I knew I’d fall asleep the moment I lied down, I quietly retreated to sun room at the back and lied down on one of the big fluffy couches. At this time of the day, the sun brightened up the whole room and gave it a comforting warmth.
I stayed there for a moment, eyes closed, just trying to relax until the party encore started up. After a few minutes, I heard the door slide open and the person walking toward me, the cracking of the wooden floor giving their position away.
I opened my eyes and saw a pair of hands just at my eye level, one of which hold a glass of water and the other had two long white pills.
“You look like you got ran over by a truck. Thought you could use a pick-me up.” Tyler said. I stared at the pills for a second and he explained. “It’s just Ibuprofen. I keep a bottle with me at all times; frequent migraines.”
“Oh thank you.” I got up and picked both the meds and the water glass and gulped them down.
“How are you doing?”
“As you said, it’s like a truck ran over me. I’ve never been so sore in my life… And I say that considering three days ago I was running away and zapping demons to ashes.”
“It’s a long story.” I sighed. “Got into some trouble with the Shigeo-kai back in San Francisco.”
“And if you ask me, the Onis were more sporting than the Rook.”
“Yeah, guy’s jerk if you ask me.”
“Hey, he went easy on you.”
“He still threw bombs and knives at me. It’s not like I didn’t get my ass kicked too.”
“Boohoo, the invincible guy got worf’ed.” I said humorously.
“You didn’t just reference Star Trek didn’t you?”
“What if I did?” I asked, crossing my arms.
“You get a cookie. Well, it’s going to be an IOU cookie for now.”
“I’ll keep your debt in mind. Chocolate chips?”
“I was thinking peanut butter, they’re the best.”
I faked a gasp. “Tyler, how could you betray me like that? I thought we were friends!”
“I’m sorry.” He said, wiping an imaginary tear from his eye. “I didn’t mean to… Macadam maybe?”
“Oh heck yeah.”
After the beating and the rough day, just messing around with Tyler was a welcome change from everything. Socializing felt strangely refreshing although the meds did help. We kept talking, mostly about random nerdy things.
“Guys! They’re coming!” I heard Charlie yell. Tyler and I got up and joined the others in the common room. Caroline was still putting the last of the raspberries on her cake but she managed to put it on a presentation tray just a second before the door opened.
The others came in and Caroline stepped forward flanked by Charlie, cake in hand.
“Welcome to the team!” Caroline said.
Sage and Jaeger visibly blushed, surprised by the attention. Before they could react, Caroline was already cutting up portions of the cake for everyone before going to the backyard where they’d placed all the food they’d prepared.
Tyler and I hung out as well, just talking more about video games and tv shows. Like me he was a massive RPG geek.
I noticed Allen had slipped into the backyard but was staying alone in his own corner of the yard. During class, he’s managed to say some very offensive things which hadn’t won him any friends. Surprisingly, Caroline approached him with a plate of cake, saying something before leaving. Allen didn’t seem to know what to make of it.
“Be right back in a moment.” Tyler said a few minutes later, going inside.
Since I was alone, I got up and picked a few sandwich pieces from the buffet along with some mountain dew.
“Everything to your liking, Anna?” Mace said, approaching me.
“Uh-huh.” I absently answered before stuffing food in my mouth.
He tried to flirt but I only answered in one word answers, hoping he’d get a clue and realize I wasn’t interested… Admittedly he seemed nice, but niceness doesn’t prevail over gayness. I wanted to tell him to stop, but couldn’t find the courage.
“No longer following Allison like a lost puppy?” Amber asked, coming up behind Mace. I secretly thanked the heavens for the save.
“They’re busy with the new guy.” He said, pointing into their direction with his chin. Sage and Allison hung out together. The two of them being non-binary probably made it easy for them to get along, because they seemed to enjoy themselves.
“So you’re going to bother Annabelle?”
“What, no… I was just going to talk to her jeez…” He said, hands raised.
Amber stared at him and he just quietly backed off.
“Someone needs his gaydar adjusted.” I mumbled once Mace left. I got my plate and went for my earlier spot, Amber following me.
“I don’t think it’s the gaydar.” Amber said. “I don’t think you could get through to him if you had a huge neon sign saying ‘gay as all hell’.”
“You seem to have gotten through to him.”
“Yeah, I just needed to remind him I could crush him if I wanted to.”
“So he’s really not your type, eh?”
“No, my type is a little different.” She said, putting emphasis on the word ‘little’ “Quieter, fleshier and a whole lot nerdier.” She then added, her steel colored eyes meeting mine.
My train of thought completely derailed and I felt my skin flush as time slowed to a grinding halt.
Holy hell; Was she flirting with me?
She gave me a mischievous grin, as if she could read my thoughts — not an irrational thought considering our location.
Fuck. She was definitely flirting.
I stayed quiet for a moment, desperately trying to think of something to say but failing miserably. I had a ridiculously cute chick most likely flirting with me.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
“Yeah, I was just… uh… You know… uh…” I had my foot so far up my mouth I could taste my knee pit.
“Oh hey Amber.” Tyler said, having just come back, breaking the moment. I wasn’t sure what I thought of his interruption.
“Hi…” She answered, not seeming too particularly happy to having been interrupted. “I better get some food before it’s all gone.” She said, getting up.
“What was that about?” He asked.
“Nothing!” I answered a little too defensively.
“If you say so.” He said with a shrug. “So, what’s your Balance Bringer build for HotM?” I noticed he’d brought his laptop with him.
“Oh it’s really easy.” I said. “It’s a balance bringer and power leech hybrid.”
Like that, we spent some time talking different builds for Heroes of the Metropolis. I couldn’t help but think about Amber’s words and her actions. Was she really into me? I mean…
I was just a fat nerd and she was amazingly confident and gorgeous chick…