“I’m Adrien. Who are you?”
Meg could only stare at him for a moment before she regained herself. “You’re Adrien… Cordoza?”
He nods slowly, a quizzical look on his face.
“How is that possible? There was a vacancy, they said, and here’s the name of your roommate but it was never stated—I mean I assumed—That is…” she felt a blush stealing up her cheeks.
The two stood face to face for a moment, neither really sure what to do when a noise startled them and they looked over as two new people entered the dorm.
“Hello, freshmen! We have arrived!”
The loud, raucous boy who entered the room had bright blue, short hair and was not daunted by the looks of uncertainty as he swung his arms open wide in the doorway like he was announcing a coming of great importance. Very thin, he wore a slim grey striped shirt and ripped red jeans. Behind them, an African-Simmican girl with giant curls and thick black glasses walked up glancing at her clipboard as she did.
Seeing Blue Hair and his stance she sighed, and walking up beside him pushed his arm down before smiling a resigned but gentle smile at him and then turning her attention to Meg and Adrien. “What Journey means to say is: Hello, we’re your cohort leaders. He’s Journey and I’m Tatianna.”
Journey frowns.“Hey, Tati, why do you always have to steal my thunder?”
“Because Journey, you’re overly dramatic.” she looked mildly irritated by his nickname but made no other comment. “Anyway, we’re here to take you all to the Dean’s Address.”
Looking down, Tatianna consulted her clipboard. “You’re Adrien…?”
“Yes, I’m Adrien. Everyone seems to be questioning this today.” he looks over at Meg, who wondered if there was a limit to how much one could blush.
Tatianna smiled bemusedly and then looked back at her clipboard in confusion. “And…. you are….?”
Meg looked over at them, feeling more sure with their presence. “I’m–”
“That is exactly what I would like to know…” Adrien crossed his arms and looked over at Meg.
Journey and Tatianna both turned to look at her more fully, obviously curious and Meg sighed. “Oh Watcher, I’m making such a mess of this.”
“A bit.” Adrien agreed and then lapsed back into silence.
She frowned over at him getting more annoyed by the second. He didn’t have to be so….so… I don’t even have the words to describe his attitude at the moment, but I… don’t like it. For certain, he was being less than helpful.
Although, at least, it helped her get past the embarrassment. Clearing her throat she tried explained. “My name is Megara Blackwell. I was assigned to this dorm this morning because there was a clerical mistake and I didn’t have a dorm already.” she said the words a little more bite then was probably necessary before turning to look back towards Tatianna and Journey. “I was under the impression Adrien was a female. So obviously there must have been a mistake… or there was a mix-up….again.”
“No mistake,” Journey chimed in smiling.
Meg looked over at him in shock. “Excuse me? How can there not be a mistake, I can’t room with…a boy!?”
Journey chuckled and Tatianna shook her head. “Journey, will you just explain it already?”
Journey smiles. “Let me clear up a little bit for you. It’s a co-ed dorm. So guys and girls live together in suites. This is a suite.” He held his arms wide indicating the entire room and the living room area together. “This room is the boys’ room, Adrien will sleep here with—“
“I don’t have a roommate.”
“By himself,” Journey quickly corrected himself and continued on, obviously not at all perturbed by Adrien’s less-then-civil tone. “And that room,” Journey leaned out the door to point towards the other door that Meg had never gotten around to opening, “is the girls’ room in the suite. It’s a two-person room, so you’ll most likely have a roommate at some point… It’s very rare for anyone to remain without a roommate for long, honestly.”
“Oh.” Meg didn’t know what to say. She just looked down to her feet, embarrassment returning full-fledged. She had really made a mess of things now.
Tatianna smiled sweetly. “So now that we cleared that up… maybe you two suite mates should properly introduce yourselves so we can hurry along get everyone to the Dean’s Address. We have more people to collect after all.”
Meg turned to look at Adrien again. He looked less than pleased but taking a deep breath and swallowing her embarrassment, she held out a hand. “Meg Blackwell, it’s nice to meet you.”
Looking at him, she watched as Adrien looked at her hand. He frowned, not meeting her gaze, simply staring at her hand. His hesitation was a bit baffling after his tough facade so far but he truly looked as if he didn’t want to touch her in any way. Frowning at his expression, Meg stood that way for a long moment, her hand outstretched waiting…she almost thought he might never actually shake her hand. Feeling strained, she was just about to put her hand away and leave the the introductions at that when, finally, he reached and out and clasped her hand in his.
A bit surprised after the pause, she looked down at their two hands entwined. His hand was large and completely engulfed hers. Her first impression was warmth. She felt very small and fragile gripping his hand. But his hand was also gentle in a way she wouldn’t have expected from his gruff outward nature thus far. He pressed with just the right amount of pressure. A firm and sure handshake that let her know he was confident but not rude.
Realizing she was probably staring in the oddest way she looked back up at see dark brown eyes assessing her.
“Adrien Cordoza.” he murmured as a way of greeting.
She nodded a small smile kicking up on her lips. Then, unexpectedly she felt a deep sadness roll through her. To her it almost felt like the feeling ran from his hand up through her arm. Tears beginning to prick at the corner of her eyes and she found herself blinking rapidly to keep them at bay. Why do I suddenly want to cry…?
She barely had time to register the thought before Adrien pulled his hand away and just as suddenly as the feeling came it disappeared as if it had never been. Even the feeling of wanting to cry.
Adrien stuffed his hands into his jean pockets adopting a relaxed stance. Did he feel the same thing she had? She looked at him and when he raised an eyebrow at her, she decided that he mustn’t have. “…Nice to meet you. Odd as it was.” He continued and she made herself nod, stiffly as she was still in a bit of shock from what had just transpired.
Glancing back down at her hand, she closed it into a fist and put to her side. Whatever that feeling was, it was obviously only she who experienced…whatever that was. What was that…?
Looking back up she realized that there was more awkward silence. It was almost becoming the norm around Adrien. She managed another small smile, trying to ease it. “Yeah, sorry about that.”
Wonderful first impression Megara…Keep this up and not only will your suite mate think you’re crazy but so will the rest of campus. She looked over and saw Journey glancing between the two of them. When he noticed her looking he grinned and threw his arm up again. “Well, then, onward we go, young freshman!”
Tatianna sighed as he turned towards the door and headed out into the hallway. Shaking her head, she looked back them. “Better follow, before he makes a fuss. We have to collect the rest of our cohort.” she smiled good-naturedly. “Believe it or not, you’ll get used to him.”
The Auditorium was packed full of students. They entered in groups of eight, two upperclassmen and six freshman. Journey had enthusiastically explained, once they had collected the four other freshman, it was a new initiative of Dean Lieberman to try to promote a support system for incoming freshman. Due to the competitive nature of the Academy, dropout rates had reach an all-time high. There were even rumors that some students… had ended more than just their academics here and the Academy was earning an unwelcome reputation.
Meg was familiar with this reputation, as she, like most students, had come across it when she had begun to research the Academy. She had seen it as a challenge, a terrifying one, but a challenge none-the-less. If she could make it here, then she knew she would excel in her field. Looking around the packed auditorium, she felt like that must be the same reason many of the students were here as well.
Shifting in her seat uncomfortably she glanced from the corner of her eye over at Adrien who was seated to her right, at Journey’s insistence. She still didn’t know much about him. He was obviously very talented and not made nervous by anything from what she could tell. And now she was most likely in his cohort and would have to see him regularly. Great.
Sighing, she made herself look around the Auditorium again partially wondering if her cohort was seated close. Of course, that was assuming she wasn’t with this group. Sneaking another glance at Adrien, she almost wished that she wasn’t. Then she wouldn’t have to deal with reliving today’s embarrassment at every meeting. She would forever be the girl who fell into his room in his mind she was sure. How could someone break that kind of impression? Then again… how could someone actually make that impression to begin with… At least she could say that she was very unique.
Catching herself before she sighed again, she continued looking around the auditorium, her eyes catching Journey’s for a moment and he smiled over at her before turning back to Tati, who shook her head at whatever he was saying. She found herself smiling. She really liked Journey already. There was something full of like and zeal that you just couldn’t help but smile at. Her eyes trailed over to Tatianna, the other cohort leader. She seemed really sweet. Structured but sweet. Together the two seemed really balanced and she wondered if outside of being cohort leaders the two were friends. She was sure they would be very good senior mentors.
Journey certainly would have no trouble finding a way to bounce back from the embarrassing encounter like the one she had created. She could learn a thing or two from him she was sure. Looking away, she found her eyes drawn to the front and paused noticing a girl seated on the stage. Unlike other people she wasn’t talking to anyone. In fact, she looked bored as her eyes glanced across the crowd.
Of course, everyone else was talking among themselves, all bored, all waiting for the address to begin. But…There were some older people in the front row. Meg assumed they must be teachers or some other type of staff that were mandatory attending the meeting. None of them paid any mind to the girl seated brazenly on the empty stage. And, although Meg told herself it shouldn’t matter, it wasn’t as if the girl was an ordinary or plain sort either.
Her hair was black, cut messily short so that her bangs flopped around her eyes. She was wearing a faded burgundy tank top which left nothing to the imagination and a faded denim jacket which did more accenting them covering. On her legs, which seemed impossibly long as she sat with one hanging off the stage, torn dark jeans that were like a second skin and to finish it off jet black ankle boots… If nothing else, she seemed the type of girl who would have boys salivating to talk to her. Yet…no one talked to her. No one reprimanded her.
Maybe she was too intimidating to approach? Meg found herself curious about her and then, the dark haired girl paused in her scanning. Meg realized that she had noticed that Meg was staring at her. Even from across the room, a chill ran down Meg’s spine. Meg almost felt as if the girl was looking through her as her brown eyes widened and then her eyebrows furrowed.
A microphone on the stage kicked back as someone adjusted it and Meg broke eye contact, covering her ears reflexively.
As she did, the lights in the auditorium lowered and the ones of the stage turned on. She glancing up, she saw that a large muscular blonde man had stepped up to the podium. His hair was bleach blonde and yet his skin was more tanned then anyone she had met in her entire life. “Attention, attention!” he boomed, obviously not needing a microphone to be heard and Meg winced along with half the auditorium she was sure.
Silence filled the auditorium and the man looked around for a moment apparently satisfied he had their attention. “Welcome, incoming freshman and cohort leaders! I am Dean Lieberman and it is my pleasure to welcome the most talented class to date.”
Cheering broke out from the auditorium, the boy on the other side of her yelled and she clapped with a small smile on her lips. Glancing back to where she had seen the girl she noticed that she had disappeared. She probably sat back down… Brushing the girl aside, she refocused on Dean Lieberman.
“As you are all highly aware, Sims Academy of Advanced Studies is the highest ranking academic university in all of Simmica. But this year’s incoming applicants have the highest overall scores and GPAs of any incoming academic year. The portfolios selected this year were of the highest quality and the most innovative we have ever seen. As such, we are looking forward to seeing how you all progress throughout your time here.” Dean Lieberman grinned at his students and then he sobered.
“Now, as most of you know, the Academy has fallen some bad press due to our high drop out rate…” he paused, brows furrowed. “So this year, we will be implementing a cohort system. As your cohort leaders collected you for this assembly I hope this has been partially explained to you but I would like to discuss it as well. You will meet a few times a month with students outside of your major in order to give you a stable, supportive environment to fall back on. Your senior class men have been through the same intense class schedules and pressures that you have so I want you to utilize their experiences and never be afraid to confide in them if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Dean Lieberman put his hand over his chest. “The staff and myself also want to let you know that we are available. You will find the counselor’s office in Founder’s Hall. Together I hope that you will make this our most successful year. As part of orientation week, you will be meeting with your counselors. A few are in attendance now.”
As he spoke a few of the people in the front row stood up. So they were staff as Meg had thought.
“But… aside from Academics, the Academy has amazing extracurricular events and clubs. This week in particular the Student Council has prepared many exciting ways for you to begin to make comrades in arms and to find exciting new opportunities all around campus. To speak to this, please join me in welcoming Student Council President, Carrie Fischer.”
Meg almost groaned when she saw the blond girl who had helped her to the dorm room. Of course, Carrie was the Student Council President. Happily she stepped up to the president and took the microphone. “Thank you, Dean Lieberman.” looking across the auditorium she smile extremely wide before she launched into a welcoming speech. “Here at the Academy…”
Meg found herself trying not to laugh. Granted, Carrie was a surprisingly great speaker. A bit enthusiastic, everything about Carrie was enthusiastic though… Still she was eloquent and expressive in her own right. Obviously she was very dedicated, just judging by the amount of time that Meg alone had already seen her around campus in the first day. Yet even as Meg watched Carrie on the stage her mind wandered.
Carrie being in front of her reminded her that when she was done here she was headed back to her dorm. Back to the suite she was sharing with Adrien. The boy who for at least the next year she would have to come face to face with most likely on a regular basis. I mean they lived in the same suite for Watcher’s Sake. Sneaking another glance she saw that he was watching Carrie, a bored expression on his face.
Shaking her head slightly she forced her eyes back to Carrie resolutely, although she didn’t really hear anything Carrie was saying. She couldn’t help but sigh at herself. What was wrong with her today…? What was done was done. She could blame it on the stress. I mean who wouldn’t be stressed when you discovered you didn’t know where you were going to sleep that night? Still…she thought about meeting Adrien and blushed. Regardless, she could never be able to redo how she and Adrien met. There was no use worrying about it.
Meg looked down at her hands. No use…and yet. I get the feeling I will have a difficult time not worrying about it. This is going to a long freshman year.