Academic Excellence: Part 1

For Some, It’s Time To Knuckle Down. For Others, It’s A Non-Stop Party!

Some images are slightly NSFW
Spring, Year 6
Hollie is 25, Tina is 22, Elliott is 21, Fabian is 20, Zoe is 19, Danielle is 19, Heath is 19

Zoe was feeling a little stunned. It was a bright, spring morning in Britechester and she was staring blankly at her class schedule. Her grade from last year was printed neatly at the top. A C+ wasn’t close to what she’d been hoping to have and she was disappointed in herself.
She dearly wanted to be an actress and had been looking forward to starting the Drama could at UBrite since she was 15 years old. However, she was finding acting a little more difficult than she’d first anticipated.

Danielle was finding the courses a little more difficult than she’d first expected, too. The work felt like a muddle in her brain and her ears rang with the voices of various lecturers. She’d tried going for a run in the mornings before class, to try and clear her head a little but it didn’t seem to help much.

Fabian was the only one feeling relaxed about the year so far. He and Rex were going from strength to strength with their relationship. They’d been dating a year now and were still very close, although they’d yet to sleep together properly. They’d fooled around a lot but Fabian had been wanting to wait for a while. He wondered if this would be their year.

Both Danielle and Zoe were in the Debate club at the University and they wanted to get some practice in before the showdown at the weekend. At Darby’s Den, there was a debate hall for them to practice in.
Danielle yawned as Zoe finalised her argument, weak though it was. She’d won, fair and square and Zoe felt ashamed. Quite a few of their peers had turned out for the practice session and she felt rather foolish.

After the practice session, Danielle slipped into the computer room to do a bit of research. She’d been hearing rumours about the university being haunted; there’d even been whispers of ghostly sightings on the campus. Determined to get to the bottom of the spooky stories, she looked up the history of the University.
To her horror, the stories were backed up by evidence of a ghost on the premises. No photographs though.

There was a small party at the Quad that evening, to celebrate the school spirit. Danielle loved these; she and Elliott had a friendly rivalry going because he was a student at Foxbury and she was at UBrite. Neither were particularly sporty, nor did either of them play for the school teams but it was the principal.
As she posed for photographs with Darby, the mascot and performed the school cheer, she smirked inwardly at the thought of showing these pictures to Elliott when she next saw him.

Saturday arrived with bright blue skies; perfect for the debate showdown at the Quad. Danielle and Zoe stepped up to the podium to kick off; Danielle with a confident spring in her step and Zoe with a nervously shuffle.
The event had begun.

The judges scribbled away in their pads. Zoe glanced over at them nervously from time to time and from the looks on their faces, she knew she was doing appallingly and the results later confirmed it.

Heath was watching the debate absently. He had nothing else to be doing and part of him was dreading the trip into Windenburg the group had planned for that evening. He was tempted not to go.
Nightclubs weren’t really his scene. He’d never had much luck and he was going to feel a bit of a fool, going on his own. Zoe and Danielle would most likely be meeting up with Rohan and Elliott respectively, and Fabian was taking Rex along. Heath would be the only single one there. Again.

As predicted, when the group arrived at Muse that evening, Fabian and Rex hit the dancefloor together. Rex was hoping that tonight would be the night with Fabian but the shyer of the two hadn’t given any inkling yet.

Elliott arrived and offered Danielle a rose. They’d not seen each other for a while and they both loved the nightclub scene. She was delighted to see him and flung herself into his arms.

They too hit the dancefloor together. Heath rolled his eyes slightly as he watched them grinding to the music; just as he’d suspected, he felt very single tonight. Admittedly, he’d not seen Rohan anywhere but watching Fabian and Danielle with their partners was a bit depressing.

He was about to leave when he spotted a young woman sitting, alone, at a table to the side of the bar.
“You okay there?” He asked. She turned around and his eyes widened. “Mrs Richmond?”
“I’m sorry?” She looked puzzled. “Do I know you?”
“Not really.” Heath winced slightly. “You guest lectured at UBrite last term. My name’s Heath Daniels.”
She began to smile. “Well, I’m Hollie.”
Heath swallowed. “You look very pretty tonight,” he said. Then he panicked.
Instead, Hollie’s smile widened. “Thank you, I needed that.” Flattered, she motioned towards the opposite seat. “Have a seat.”

Heath sat down and smiled awkwardly. “So, um. Is your husband around?”
“We’re divorced.” Hollie bit her lip. “We split up last year.”
“Oh.” Heath could almost feel the foot in his mouth. “Um, I’m sorry.”
Hollie shrugged. “Don’t be. He was seeing my sister behind my back for at least six months, probably longer. He’s happy now and it’s probably for the best.” She sighed.
Heath peered at her in the dim lighting of the club. “You don’t believe that.”
Smiling slightly again, Hollie shrugged once more. “I suppose I do, really. It was more the way it happened and the feeling I have that Ethan would much rather we were still seeing each other.” She sighed heavily. “I think the truth of the matter is he wants both of us when it suits him. I don’t want that and I’m reasonably certain Daisy doesn’t either.”
“You seem very calm about it.” Heath gave a light laugh. “I’m not sure I would be!”
Laughing, Hollie shook her head. “I did the anger at the time. It’s been nine months since the divorce. I studied Psychology, I know that I needed to process the anger before I could come to terms with what happened. Any anyway, I have the children and the cats to think of. I can’t be a mess for long.” She shook herself slightly. “Anyway, let’s not talk about me all night. Tell me a bit more about you, Heath.” And she leaned forward slightly.

While Heath was flirting nervously with Hollie, Fabian was hiding in the stalls of the bathroom. He’d spotted Rex flirting casually with another man on the dancefloor and, feeling insecure, Fabian had fled.
Now he was sitting there, wondering what to do. Was Rex only kidding around or was he losing interest in Fabian?

Deciding to leave without saying anything, he pulled his jacket on and left the stall, where he bumped into Tina.
“You okay?” She asked.
Fabian shrugged. “Sort of.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t sound like you were okay. Did she dump you?”
“I wasn’t dumped.” Fabian said, defensively. “I just saw my boyfriend flirting with someone on the dancefloor.”
“Ahh, sorry.” Tina winced. “That’s a bit rough. Was it serious, or what?”
“Not sure.” Fabian shook his head. “Knowing me, I’m probably overreacting. Rex doesn’t usually flirt with just anybody.”
“Try talking to him,” she said, wisely. “I’m sure it’s nothing that can’t be solved with a conversation.”
Fabian gave a short laugh. “You know, you’re probably right. That would make more sense than just leaving.” He grinned. “Thanks for that.”
She shrugged. “Don’t mention it.”

All the way back to the dorm, Fabian was quiet. He wanted to prepare his speech to Rex first but in the end, Rex beat him to it.
“Hey, I realise I was a bit…inappropriate at the club tonight,” Rex began, nervously running his hand through his hair. “I was only playing around but I don’t think it came across right. I overstepped a mark. I’m sorry, Fabe. It won’t happen again, I promise.” He looked directly into Fabian’s eyes. “Forgiven?” He asked, hopefully.
Fabian threw his arms around Rex’s neck. “Forgiven,” he said before kissing him, passionately.

In the end, Rex had been right all along. Tonight was most definitely the night.

The following day, Heath had a meet-up with the Art Society down by the river. They were doing some life-drawing classes as an optional addon for his lectures. While studying the model, his mind kept jumping back to the pleasant evening he’d spent with Hollie. They’d ended up exchanging numbers and he could hardly believe what he was doing.
Somewhere, at the very back of his mind, he wondered if there was a moral question to be asked here but he decided not to ask it.

There was also another event for the school sports team to show off, so Danielle got out into the Quad to share her spirit with her peers.

Zoe had decided not to get involved in some of the school events. Instead, she’d travelled over to the theatre in Willow Creek to practice some of her lines for the production she was going to be in at the end of the year. Performing her monologue to a small audience was very helpful, if nerve wracking.

The extra experience was helpful towards her projects for class and she added some of her notes to the presentation she was working on. The preliminary presentation finally contained what she wanted; it was time to polish it up.

She managed to finally get into the Tea and Poetry reading event at the commons that evening. The more public speaking she could do, the better so she found a book of sonnets from the library upstairs and began to recite.
Hopefully, she was doing a good job. Her future career depended on it.

As she relaxed later with a game of table football, she found herself thinking about Rohan. She’d not seen him lately, nor had she heard from him much. She wondered if everything was okay between them. Rohan hadn’t really seemed himself this last year; certainly not since they’d got engaged anyway. She’d had her doubts about staying engaged to him before but this time, it seemed like he was miles away from her. Maybe she should reach out soon.

When she got home, she had the most bizarre conversation with her mother. Marie was struggling with empty nest syndrome: with Jared, Riccardo and Zoe all living away from home, and with Emilio due to start Uni later that year, she was feeling a bit lost and contemplating another baby.
Even though Zoe had been dismissive and thought her mother was kidding, she realised later that her mother had taken her seriously. Was Marie really planning on another baby?

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