The rain was unexpected.
Then again, Meg frowned as she pushed her wet bangs out of her face, nothing had been what she had expected since she started her university.
These past few days she had found exploring the campus on her own had become a past time. It was certainly better then sitting in a room all by herself, listening to Adrien play violin through the walls and fretting over a fool she had made of herself that first day. If she had the time, she would have laughed at her past self for worrying about how she would face him everyday.
It hadn’t even been something to consider apparently. After the Dean’s address they walked back to their suite in silence and he immediately shut himself in his room, leaving her to unpack in her own room. They hadn’t even spoken since that first day and, judging by the closed door every time she did return to dorm, that wasn’t about to change anytime soon.
Next week, their first classes were starting. She hoped she might have better luck with her classmates then she had with her roommate so far. Still… It was always so awkward coming back to the dorms and finding herself with silence or worse yet, the horrible closed door a beautiful haunting concerto echoing through the empty living room. It was like living with a ghost…
Meg’s foot splashed down into a puddle and cold water soaked the edges of her jeans, jarring her back to the present. OK, Meg, now is not the time to be fretting. Now we need to concentrate on not landing ourselves in the mud right before our counseling meeting.
She had lost track of time at the club fair she was wandering through and was running across campus through the unexpected rain. As Founder’s Hall came into view, she almost sighed in relief. She had on a light jacket but it wasn’t really much help, already soaked from the fall rain.
Reaching the top of the stairs, she pushed open the large doors stepping into the main hallway and sighing with relief.
The last time she had been here, when Journey and Tatianna had lead them towards the auditorium, Journey had pointed absently and mentioned the counselor’s office. Of course, at the time, she had been reliving the horrible introduction she had just experienced… It was on this floor she was sure… Pausing she looked around the hallway. “Did Journey say it was to the right… or left…?”
As she pondered what directions to go, a chill run down her back. She tensed a bit and was even more startled when a hand plopped down onto her shoulder.
“It’s that way,” a quiet voice said behind her.
The voice was quiet, a reserved, almost no more then a whisper and startled she turned to face the owner.
“Oh, my goodness, you scared me.” Meg stared at her and realized that she looked an awful lot like the girl she had seen the other day in the basement.
Did she just hang around here all the time or something? The thought passed through her mind unbidden as she took in the slightly surprised look on the girls face, which quickly morphed into a more embarrassed sort of look.
At Meg’s exclamation the girl took an uncertain step back looking a little surprised. “Oh.” for a moment she only stared at Meg and then she snapped to. “Sorry… usually– I mean I didn’t mean to scare you. I… you… you looked lost. You’re looking for the counselor’s office, right?”
Meg mentally shook her head at herself. Who was she to judge people, she was wandering around all over campus because she had an anti-social suite mate who probably hated her guts. At least this girl wanted to talk to her. Sheepishly, she smiled. “Is it that obvious? I’m late for my appointment….”
The girl smiled and it transformed her face. “It’s pretty common don’t worry. It’s to the right. First door, there.” she pointed towards the doorway and Meg smiled in return looking over her shoulder towards the door.
“Thanks, honestly, I have a horrible sense of direction.” Knowing she was late she started the direction the girl pointed and then turned back. “If it weren’t for people like you I would probably…”
She had intended to introduce herself to the girl. At the very least she meant to get her name since she had already seen her twice but the girl was already gone. “…forever lost….”
Instead of sharing a smile, she found herself talking to thin air.
The hallway behind Meg was empty. And the girl who she had just been talking to was just…gone. Strange, I didn’t even hear her walk away. But… She must have walked away, obviously, Megara. People don’t just vanish into thin air.
“…well, I guess, thanks again.” she said to no one.
Feeling odd for talking to an empty hallway, she turned and walked inside the counselor’s office checking in at the front desk. Thankfully the appointment before hers was going over. So she still needed to wait a bit.
With a sigh, she pulled off her backpack and set it on the floor besides her.
It was your typical waiting area with comfy chairs and secretary working hard to be busy so that your awkward eyes don’t meet. The faculty mailboxes were lined neatly in a case closest to the door and on a shelf next to them was old stack of college yearbooks. It was nicely decorated for a university office… but… as Meg glanced around idly, her mind still remained fixated on the girl.
Am I going crazy…? Or am I just that lonely? I mean she was there one moment and the next she was gone…Did I imagine that girl in the hallway… not once but twice?
Sighing, Meg looked down at the hands in her lap extended her legs in front of her. She must just be under too much stress with her awkward living arrangements that was all. She must be.
The girl had obviously been there and then she walked away. It was as simple as that. Nothing to get all worked up over, Megara.
“Naomi?” a male voice called again and Meg focused a pair of men’s shoes that had stopped in front of her. “Are you… Naomi?”
Looking up to find one of the counselors she saw at the Dean’s Address in front of her, Meg’s eyes widen. He had a charming face and smile but what really caught her attention was his eyes. They are flat grey. The kind of eyes that seem to almost bore into your soul, and seem to evaluate even as they smile. Overall the counselor was a handsome man, but his eyes made her uneasy, although she couldn’t say why.
“Naomi?” he asks again and Meg realizes he’s asking if that is her.
“Oh…me?”she pointed to herself. “Uh, no. Meg.”
“Ah…” he continued smiling charmingly., and looked down at his folder as if to double check the time. “I see. Sorry, I guess my student must be running late. It’s to be expected there are a lot of events going on around campus right now. Whose your counselor then?”
Meg shifted a little uneasily in her chair, not sure why he was so interested in her. “Oh, I have Fatima Brooks.”
“Ah, Fatima…” he gives her a contemplative look. “So, I’m guessing… Science…no, Biology. Mm… not pre-med though, you don’t look the type to want to be a doctor. So research based?”
Meg smiled a bit at him, not sure why it should matter to him, as much uncomfortable as bemused. “Environmental Biology, yes. Good guess.”
“Not just a guess. I’m good at my job.” giving her a jaunty wink he grinned again. He smiles a lot she thought, looking away for a minute and half hoping that her counselor would be coming soon. “I’m Zane, by the way, Zane McKinnon.”
Looking back to Zane, she saw that he had reached out a hand to her, still grinning. Not really wanting to shake his hand but knowing it would seem rude, she nodded. “Meg Blackwell…”
He seemed to notice her unease and clearing his throat he withdrew his hand and tucked the offending appendage back into his pocket. “I know it might seem odd, but here at the Academy all of us counselors try our best to make this a friendly environment.”
Smiling he plopped down into the chair next to her. “Since my student is running a little behind, I think I’ll wait right here if you don’t mind?”
Meg did mind, but it seemed rather rude to say it so she just shook her head politely.
“You know, Meg, I might not be your counselor but I just want to welcome you to the Academy. Many students come from far away and it can be very difficult transitioning away from family and friends.” Zane smiled again, an understanding edge to him that softened his face and made him even handsomer. “As a counselor, I try my best to be there as a friendly ear or just someone to talk to when times are rough.”
Meg looked away, feeling almost as if he had read every vulnerable thought she had been thinking on the way here. Am I that transparent…?
Zane continued casually. “So… if Fatima is ever not available. My door is always open as well.”
Meg forced a small smile. “Thank you, Mr. McKinnon… that’s… nice to know….
“Call me, Zane, please. No one holds to formalities here….While you’re at the Academy, we’re like an extended family.”
Meg nodded fidgetting with her hands on her laps, not really sure what to say to that.
“McKinnon, are you trying to poach my student again…?” a curvy woman with black hair pulled out of her face with a clip and wearing a brightly colored shirt and a simple brown pencil skirt walks determinedly into the room, a scowl on her face.
Turning Meg looked over, slightly alarmed. Zane on the other hand seemed completely unperturbed.
“Fatima.” Straightening, he resettled the folder he was carrying and charmingly greeted her. “We were just talking about you.”
Meg stood too feeling even more awkward as her counselor bore down on them. So, this is Fatima…
“I was just telling Meg, your student, that we counselors try our best to make this an open and friendly environment.” his smile was as charming as ever, but Meg could swear there was a sarcastic edge to it.
Fatima narrowed her eyes at him, obviously Meg wasn’t the only one feeling that sarcasm.
“Don’t you think you can charm me.” she pointed a finger at him.
Zane’s smile never faltered. “I was merely making small talk with Meg while I waited for my own student to arrive. She appears to be late. Not a surprise with all the campus activities.”
Fatima’s eyes glimmered with temper. “You’ve convince one too many of my excelling science students over to the Arts side for me to ever trust you.”
“Student pilfering…Fatima, I’m injured by you words…I would never. I can’t help it if the arts are a stress relief for overworked science majors.”
Quietly, the door to the office opened and Meg looked over to see a thin Asian Simmican girl enter. She wore a simple dress, cardigan outfit and looked around with wide eyes at the three of them gathered together. Zane smiled, his charming smiling upping its wattage, which Meg would have previously thought was impossible.
“And I think, this is my student now. Naomi?”
The girl meekly nodded and Zane looked back at them. “Fatima, always a pleasure. Meg, it was nice to meet you and I will see you around.” Tipping an imaginary hat, he walked towards the girl named Naomi.
Fatima watched him for a moment crossing her arms and shaking her head. Turning her attention back to Meg, she smiled visibly relaxing. “Hi, Megara, sorry my last appointment ran a little over. I’m Fatima, Fatima Brooks.” She held out a thin carefully manicured hand
Meg smiled, warming to her easy smile. When she wasn’t glaring daggers, Fatima was very pretty and there was also something reassuring about her presence. Reaching out she shook Fatima’s outstretched hand. It was warm and reassuring just like her smile. “It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Brooks.”
“Fatima, please. We really do try our best to keep things casual around. As Zane said…
Meg glanced towards Zane. “I see…”
“There’s enough competition in the classroom. So I want you to think of you and I as colleagues while you’re a student here.” shifting she pointed down the hallway she had come from. “My office is right down this way, if you’ll follow me.”
“Ok…Fatima.” she felt odd, but managed to make herself say it. “Then please call me Meg. Only my mother calls me Megara…”
“Ok, Meg…and also I hope I didn’t scare you with my entrance. Zane can be…a very persuasive man and I’ve had students completely change majors just from speaking with him… So I may have overreacted just a little bit.”
Fatima opened one of the doorways in the hallway and Meg glanced back at Zane speaking with Naomi in the lobby before she entered. She could see that. “Well, I am definitely set on a science degree so you don’t have to worry about me defecting.”
Fatima smiled. “Glad to hear it. So… let’s discuss what degree you want and where you want it to take you….”