The Britechester Students Are Back At Class, Making Friends And Studying Hard…
Spring, Year 5
Heath blinked several times. He’d recently met one of his dorm mates, Sheenagh O’Neil. Since then, he’d barely been able to think of anybody else. She seemed fascinating and he couldn’t get her out of his head. He wasn’t normally one for instant crushes so this had thrown him off balance.
He desperately wanted to get to know her.
To get his mind off Sheenagh, Heath went with Fabian and Zoe to Darby’s Den to hang out and get a head start on their coursework. Five minutes later, Heath noticed Fabian had disappeared.
Rex and Fabian had been harmlessly flirting with each other for weeks but neither had the courage to make a move on the other. Fabian had watched Heath stammering and stuttering every time Sheenagh was in the room and decided it was time to make a move.
“Hey, Rex!” Fabian smiled as he spotted his friend. “Have you got a minute?”
Rex smiled nervously. “Yeah, I have.”
“Let’s go down to the river. It’s quieter there.” Fabian led the way.
“I think I know what you want to say.” Rex said, when they stopped on the river bank. “I’ve been wanting to say it too.”
Fabian blushed. “Ah, yeah. Well, you see…Heath fancies on of the girls and he…he gets so nervous around her. All stutters and stammers and-”
“Kind of like you right now,” Rex said, laughing. “Fabian, I like you too. I think we’ve got something here.”
Fabian almost fainted with relief.
“Rex, wait.” The boys had returned to the den and Fabian suddenly realised he’d forgotten something. “Rex, I forgot to ask you.”
“Yeah?” Rex turned around. “And what did you forget to ask.”
“Are you free tonight? Maybe a movie, or something?” Fabian asked, nervously.
Rex grinned. “Yeah, I’m free. You’re on.”
Fabian took Rex to the cinema at Creek Street. He’d heard a lot about Simder from Zoe but he’d never actually seen it himself, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to go with Rex, who had also never seen it.
He was normally fairly shy. Something about Rex made him confident; almost fearless.
Rex smiled as he felt Fabian’s arm around him.
Neither Fabian nor Rex saw much of the end of the movie.
It had started snowing lightly as they left the cinema that evening. Fabian barely noticed; he felt on top of the world. He’d worried so much about fitting in when he started University. To meet someone as incredible as Rex so soon was almost surreal. This sort of thing didn’t normally happen to him. He’d never had trouble making friends; but he’d never met someone he just clicked with before.
All throughout the following day, Fabian kept thinking about his date the night before. Everything had gone so well but he couldn’t help feeling ever so slightly insecure; had it all been too good to be true?
He jumped when his phone buzzed with a text. It was Rex, asking if he wanted to go for coffee. Fabian smiled and felt the relief flow through him as he tapped out a response. Perhaps this really was the start of something rather wonderful.
“I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure this was going to work,” Fabian said as Rex reached out for him. “I was certain I’d imagined last night.”
Rex smiled. “You don’t normally mix with people, do you?”
“Not really.” Fabian shrugged. “I suppose I was never the party type at school. I had a decent enough group of friends, I just never got into the parties and going out to clubs and stuff.”
“Me neither.” Rex grinned. “Love dancing, hate nightclubs. What’s that about?”
“Not into crowds?” Fabian asked.
Rex shrugged. “It’s not that. I suppose growing up, I felt like all eyes were on me. I’m the only boy; I’ve got three sisters. I suppose I prefer blending into the background.” A clouded look passed over his face for a moment. Fabian blinked and suddenly Rex’s face had changed. “Want to dance?”
Fabian laughed. “What?”
“Here, now. Want to dance?” Rex wiggled his eyebrows and Fabian laughed again.
“Okay, why not?”
“Look how late it is!” Fabian squealed much later. They’d been dancing and talking all afternoon and well into the evening. Fabian felt buzzed after so many cups of coffee but he’d been so engrossed in the conversation, he’d barely noticed anything else.
“Woah!” Rex laughed. “I can’t believe we’ve been here all afternoon. We’ve got classes tomorrow!”
As the two young men laughed, Fabian felt something shift. Almost imperceptibly but it was definitely different. His confidence grew and he felt relaxed. Maybe it was the relaxed feeling that was so alien. Whatever it was, it was odd; but in a good way.
Meanwhile, Zoe was stunning everyone with her fire dance. She’d studied numerous Youtube videos on the special form of dance and was determined to show it off. Even though she was partying with her brother and some of his friends, it was still an impressive night!
The following morning, Heath dragged himself out of bed. The weekend had passed far too quickly and it was time to get cracking with classes. It felt like the hardest thing in the world to drag himself out of bed but if he was going to pass this course, he knew he’d have many more mornings like this ahead of him.
The thought was a little depressing.
Magnus was finding it difficult to accept his eldest daughter was grown up. He’d been phoning and texting Zoe a lot since she’d arrived back in Britechester after the winter break. When she woke up, she found yet another text from him, asking when she was going to be back for a visit.
Zoe groaned. She knew her father didn’t pester Ricky like this, nor had he pestered Jared. It was only her and it was driving her crazy. Sulkily, she tapped out a reply, reminding him she had classes and lectures all week. She knew he wasn’t going to like it but there wasn’t much she could do about that.
She trudged out into the rain and over to her class.
Fabian was already waiting outside, swotting up on his coursework. “You okay, Zoe?” he asked as she approached.
She shrugged. “Sort of. Family stuff.” She didn’t really want to go into much detail. Her relationship with Magnus had been strained since she’d introduced him to Rohan last summer. She didn’t really feel motivated to go home for a visit, especially if her father was going to continue to be in a lousy mood.
Meanwhile, Heath was challenging some of the other dorm mates to a game of cards; not very sensible since Heath isn’t really that good at cards.
He later set off for Darby’s Den to play darts. Things didn’t really feel like they were working out that well; he hadn’t settled yet into a group of friends; he hadn’t summoned up the courage to talk to Sheenagh much yet and he wasn’t really excelling in class. He was hopeless at cards and generally felt like he was under-achieving in everything. It was a sobering thought.
Zoe had joined the debate club and they had a mock-debate at the Den that evening. She was up against Sheenagh, who had a frustrating habit of winning, in spite of her lack of understanding of basic Simlish. It drove Zoe nuts; she spent hours preparing her speeches in the computer room and Sheenagh came along at the last minute and wiped the floor with her in her broken Simlish. Even the audience were transfixed by her debate technique.
Zoe felt mildly envious of Fabian and Rex; their relationship seemed so solid. She often caught herself wondering if she was doing the right thing with Rohan. She’d agreed to marry him but something was nagging at her; was marriage really want she wanted right now?
She pondered this as she settled in the common room to play on the console. She wanted the stability of a long-term relationship; it was lovely knowing she had a date for any event that might crop up. That didn’t mean she was really ready to marry Rohan, though. She didn’t really feel like she knew him well. She hadn’t met his grandparents, she didn’t really know much about his plans for the future. Were they really that compatible? Did she really want to be tied down so soon? She enjoyed flirting; she did it a lot with guys she met. Did she want to give that up?
But if she broke off the engagement now, she would likely lose Rohan altogether. She’d already persuaded him to give up his ‘no sex before marriage’ stance; she doubted he’d stay with her if she then broke off their engagement.