Christopher Finds That University Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be…
This post has mild alcohol mentions.
Autumn, Year 6
Maggie is 53, Ryan is 27, Sasha is 22, Lucia is 22, Ashley is 21, Elliott is 21, Anthony is 21, Arianna is 20, Christopher is 18, Emilio is 18 and Rosie is 17
“Did you remember to pack underwear?” Maggie asked for the third time.
Christopher was ready to head off for University. It was the crack of dawn and Maggie had done nothing but fuss since he’d woken up.
“Mum, I have everything!” He pulled his Mum into a hug. “I’ll be fine, honestly!”
Eventually, Maggie let him go. His taxi was waiting to take him to the station; from there, he’d catch the train to Britechester and start his new life.
Later that morning, Christopher arrived at the dorm he was going to stay in. He stepped out of the lift and into the hallway.
Ashley was settling herself down at the table when she stopped dead in her tracks. She was re-starting her University studies, having struggled to keep her grades up before. She’d only arrived at the campus that morning herself and hadn’t seen too many other people yet. When Christopher stepped into the hallway, she thought her heart was going to burst out of her chest.
He was gorgeous.
The first morning was spent at an introduction meeting at Larry’s Lagoon. It was a good opportunity to meet the tutors and get to know other students.
George was keen on starting his Robotics studies and began practicing on the workbench. Unfortunately, he didn’t really know what he was doing and ended up giving himself a mild electric shock, which is tutor advised him to sleep off.
Not the best start to a new term.
Sasha was talking to her tutor about her grades. Like Ashley, she was returning after a break due to a struggle to focus and was kick-starting her Drama studies again. This time, she really wanted to go all-out and ace these classes. Without some acting experience behind her, he career as an actress felt like it was slipping away.
Ashley and Arianna weren’t quite making friends yet. Arianna was close to expulsion from Foxbury. Having already been caught cheating last year, she was on thin ice with the University anyway and this was her last chance. Seeing someone like Ashley getting a second chance made her cross and, with slightly clashing personalities, the two women disliked each other intensely.
Arianna, at least, could take her tensions out during a kickabout on the grass with the new football team. She and Anthony had been members of the team before with Grace but Christopher was new and they wanted to initiate him into the team. So a quick practice session was in order and Arianna gave it all she had.
Right after the session was the weekly juice-pong party. The team usually showed up to celebrate the upcoming matches and revel in past ones.
Anthony and Grace were getting nicely reacquainted. Anthony fancied himself as a bit of a player and enjoyed the female attention he frequently got.
“Come on, take it like a man!” Someone shouted as Christopher downed yet another cup of juice. He could feel it starting to go to his head. He’d not touched much alcohol before now; he’d never have got away with it with William around so there hadn’t been much point. So it wasn’t taking much in this juice-pong game to start making him feel a little strange.
Lucia sat aside from the party, talking in earnest with Giovanni, a very close friend of hers.
“So he’s not invited you to meet his family?” Giovanni looked surprised.
“Not officially, no. The closest we came was his brother’s engagement party, but it doesn’t really count.”
“Why not? Weren’t his parents there?”
“They were but we didn’t really meet. And I was invited as a party guest; it wasn’t official, if that makes sense? He didn’t invite me specifically to meet his parents.” Lucia sighed. She did love Riccardo but being kept as such a distance from most of his family was upsetting her.
Giovanni began to wonder if Lucia and Riccardo were going to go the distance.
After the party, the team returned to the dorms in high spirits. Anthony was in particularly high spirits and started working his charms on Sasha, who’d been making an early start on some of her coursework.
Sasha was flattered. She wasn’t used to attention; she was usually in the background, rehearsing lines or studying. She definitely wasn’t used to attractive guys like Anthony flirting with her.
The following morning kicked off with a few sore heads, so several of the students caught the bus to Windenburg for a spa day at Lux Park.
Lucia had been a little low on confidence lately so, to pamper herself, she went for a manicure and was thrilled with the results.
Ashley and Anthony tried their luck at methods of relaxation. Ashley was still stinging from her fight with Arianna; she never normally fought with people but Arianna really did rile her so much.
Anthony was trying yoga. Someone had told him once it’d do him some good and be great for relaxing. With the headache he had that morning, he was willing to try anything.
He didn’t realise yoga could be so painful.
That definitely turned out to be a mistake. Anthony winced as he limped away from the yoga class.
He was immediately pounced on by an employee of the centre, offering him a massage to soothe his aching muscles. Keen to relieve the pain (especially as they had a match that evening), he agreed.
For a while, Anthony was reasonably certain the massage therapist was trying to kill him. She certainly seemed sadistic as she kneaded his back muscles.
Surprisingly by the end, he was feeling considerably better and calmer. Obviously the massage had been far better for his state of mind than the yoga had been.
The rest of the day had passed without incident. The match that evening had gone fairly well; while the team hadn’t won, their performance had been respectable.
Christopher and Emilio had arrived back at the dorm first. Emilio had been playing for the UBrite team and had been teasing Chris all the way back, since they were going to hang out for a while before Emilio returned to the UBrite campus.
Both guys showered and were happily laughing when they heard a commotion outside the bathroom. They returned to the main room to find two Sims fighting.
“Who’s that?” Christopher asked Arianna, who was standing nearby, looking stunned.
“Anthony and Sasha.” Arianna blinked disbelievingly.
“Sasha?” Christopher raised his eyebrows.
“Look, I said I was sorry,” Anthony rubbed his head as the fight ended abruptly. “I really am sorry.”
“What happened?” Christopher hissed towards George, who was looking equally stunned.
“Apparently, Sasha saw Anthony and Grace flirting just now. I think Anthony’s been playing around.”
“You didn’t say you were sorry, you said you were drunk.” Sasha was furious still.
“I meant I was drunk when I flirted with Grace,” Anthony said, soothingly. He offered up a new apology, in the form of a flower. “I knew what I was doing when I was with you last night.”
“Last night?” Grace was crushed. She’d missed the fight but had stepped back into the room to hear Anthony soothing Sasha. “What the plumbob were you doing with her last night?”
Anthony closed his eyes and wondered when this would all be over.
Grace stormed out of the building and the room descended into silence.
Suddenly, both Anthony and Sasha were aware that everyone was looking at them. Without another word, they both disappeared; Sasha to her room and the comfort of her bed and Anthony to the showers.
“Well, that was one heck of a post-match party,” Emilio commented. The guys had left the stifling atmosphere of the dorm and moved out to the cool, night air. “I mean, you Foxbury guys really know how to throw a party.”
Christopher grimaced. “I think the next practice is going to be fairly brutal,” he said. “If Grace and Anthony hate each other now, that’s going to be rough.”
“True, I hadn’t thought of that.” The guys were quiet for a bit as a gentle rain began to fall. Christopher thought he felt a whisper of something in the air but it was gone as quickly as it arrived. Suddenly, Emilio spoke.
“I think I’m going to break up with Rosie.”
Christopher was surprised. “Oh? I though things were going well with you two?”
“Not really.” Emilio bit his lip. “Look, I probably should have told you before but I’ve been struggling with something for a while. This hasn’t been easy to say and I probably should have come to you first but…” He took a deep breath before continuing. “I’m bi, Chris. I’ve been struggling for a while with it – trying to deny it, if I’m honest. You know what Padre’s like, he’ll go mad. But since getting to UBrite, it’s been more…obvious.”
Christopher nodded. “Okay. You know this doesn’t change anything, right? With us, I mean. You’re still my best mate, Emil. Nothing’s ever going to change that, okay?”
Visibly relieved, Emilio nodded. “Thanks, Chris. I really appreciate that.”
“So…what’s happened with Rosie? Have you…told her yet?”
Emilio nodded again. “I did, yes. She…didn’t seem to take it very well. I haven’t spoken to her since; she won’t answer my texts.” He sighed. “She thought I’d been cheating on her with Phoebe, one of my teammates? I haven’t been – I’m not like that.”
“I know.” Christopher smiled. “If you’re one thing, Emilio, it’s loyal.”
Emilio gave a weak smile. “Thanks. Anyway, I told her I wasn’t cheating but I did have something important to tell her. So I told her I’m bi and she walked away. She muttered something but I didn’t hear what she said.”
“Emil, I am so sorry.” Christopher clapped his hands to his mouth. “I don’t know what’s the matter with her but I will promise you; I’m on your side. I don’t care what she says, I’m with you. You being bi won’t change a thing; you’ve been my best friend since the first day of primary school and I’m not changing that for anything.”
“That means more than you can imagine, Chris,” Emilio said.
Christopher pulled his best friend into a hug. “And if anyone, and I mean anyone, gives you any grief for it, I’ll kick their arse so hard, they’ll be the first person into space with my foot as a fuel tank.”
Emilio laughed and hugged Christopher tighter. He didn’t know yet what he was going to do about Rosie – but at least Christopher was on his side.
After Emilio left to return to the UBrite campus, Christopher returned to the dorm to crack open his books.
“Oh Chris, glad I caught you,” came a voice Christopher knew very well.
“Ryan?” Christopher was stunned. He didn’t see his eldest brother very often and, while he was tired, it was a lovely surprise. He pulled Ryan into a hug. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see my favourite brother,” Ryan said, grinning.
“Yeah, right.” Christopher laughed. “Hey, is it true you’re still dating Hayley Bolton? I saw a couple of pictures of you recently.”
“Which ones?” Ryan peered over Christopher’s shoulder as they browsed the photos. It was nice to catch up with the family.
“So, why are you really here?” Christopher asked later when the brothers were sitting down. “I mean, it’s a long way to come.”
“We need a family meeting. It’s about Dad.” Ryan sighed heavily. “He’s been giving a few of us grief again.”
Christopher groaned. “Family meeting? Where are the others?”
As if on a cue, Rosie and Elliott arrived in the room, bickering.
“Rosie, Elliott!” Christopher stood up to greet his siblings. “Lovely to see you both.”
“Don’t start on my clothes!” Rosie snapped.
Christopher was surprised. “I wasn’t going to! I did, however, want to talk about Emil. What are you playing at, Rosie?”
“Look Chris, we don’t have time for that,” Elliott cut him off quickly. “Can we go for a coffee or something? It’s just that I haven’t got long before I have to leave.”
Christopher frowned. “Fine. Come on, we’ll go to Coastal.”
The siblings grabbed a table in the coffee shop. “Okay, what’s going on then?” Christopher asked.
“It’s Dad.” Rosie scowled. “He’s driving me CRAZY about my clothes, my makeup and my videos.”
“Videos?” Ryan raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, beauty videos.” Rosie flicked her hair over her shoulder. “I want to be a stylist, like Mum.”
“Never mind that right now.” Elliott sighed irritably. “Look, Dad’s driving us all round the bend. He’s going on at me over my job, Rosie over her clothes and Ryan over Hayley.”
“We thought a coordinated response might be a pace to start,” Ryan continued. “If we start backing each other up, he might realise that out of five children, he’s alienating four of them.”
“Especially if Mum doesn’t back us up,” Elliott added. “I know he’s had a go at her too over her job but she doesn’t exactly jump to our defence these days, does she? Look what she was like over my bedroom.”
Christopher nodded. He’d been very surprised with Maggie’s willingness to convert Elliott’s bedroom into a nursery for Celestia when his brother had just left for University. “Okay, I’m in.”
Elliott had to leave for work so the rest of the siblings took their discussion to the bridge. They chattered for a while about Hayley, their parents and their future plans.
Christopher chimed in from time to time but inside, he was furious with his sister. What was Rosie playing at with Emilio?
University living wasn’t quite what he’d expected so far.