“Nothing to eat?” Skye asked. He held a steaming cup of coffee, cream flecking the sides. The girl at the counter scowled at his back while they walked toward the door, and Chris wondered if it was because of the uniform jacket.
“No, I’ll eat later. Or drink later, I guess.” Chris wished, for once, he could not say something dumb.
Chris paid close attention as he followed Skye through the winding halls of the student center. He still wasn’t used to the entire campus—it was way too big—and hadn’t even known that small café in the basement was there. They passed tables of chattering students, and one girl working on a laptop looked up as they walked by, but Skye made no move to sit down until he found a table, by itself, on the edge of the room.
“Ah,” he sighed when he sat down. “I watched the entire club fair. You saw the most exciting event of the day.”
“Oh.” Chris wished he had bought something so he had something to do with his hands. “Um, is getting written up bad?”
“If it happens three times you get pulled into a disciplinary hearing.” Skye sipped his coffee, the steam curling around his face. “And then depending on the case, you can end up with lots of different outcomes.” He checked his watch. “But that’s not what you’re concerned about, is it?”
“No.” Chris took a breath, trying to get his stampeding thoughts in order. “I was just…thinking about Frederick.” Skye smiled into his drink and nodded. “Um, I’m picking up psychology. I’m hoping I can get an ability so I can talk to Frederick more. Or help him.”
Skye hummed, setting his drink down. “I don’t really know what to say about that, honestly. But you’d have a better chance than I did, for sure.”
“I know you’re not necessarily majoring in psych, but I did, along with criminal justice. There are two types of people who major in it, and they each tend to get the same kinds of abilities. Those who really want to help people end up with things like enhanced empathy or an ability that will help you figure things out about people, like how at risk for mental illness someone is. One guy I knew could monitor someone’s dopamine levels.” Chris didn’t know what that was. “Alternatively, you get people like me, who can tell if someone is lying, or even people who can convince someone of things—they usually end up in marketing.” Skye grinned. “Point is, if you want to help people, you’re probably going to end up with abilities like that. I mean, I don’t research them, but that’s what I’ve seen.”
Chris nodded. It made sense.
“Anyway, you want to help Frederick? Why? Is something wrong?”
Chris wondered how Skye could have dated him and not noticed. Of course, it was possible Chris was just being paranoid or oversensitive. “Well, I don’t know…Oh. Did you know he gets migraines?”
“Yeah. Bad ones, too, but he only mentioned them, I never saw him sick.” Skye frowned. “Why?”
“I don’t know…” Chris tapped the table. He felt like he was being weird. “I just feel like he’s sad.”
“He’s lonely, I know that much. I told you before.” Skye sipped his drink again. “And I guess he might be stressed if he doesn’t have an ability yet as a senior.”
Chris kept quiet. Skye was partially right—Frederick was worried about graduating, but it was because he thought his ability wasn’t useful, not because he didn’t have one.
That thought brought him back to his own fears about getting abilities. He was so concerned with Frederick, when he should be worrying about his own college career.
“I take it you aren’t dating him yet?” Chris glanced around the room, making sure no one had heard. Skye raised an eyebrow. “And I also take it you’re still snug in the closet.”
“I…I might go to the GSA meeting this Monday,” he said.
Skye smiled. “That’s awesome,” he said. “I’ll see you there. Are you curious about it?” Chris nodded.
“Well, the first meeting of the semester after the club fair is usually for freshmen, so if you’re going to come, now is a good time for it. Not everyone who comes to the meetings is gay, though, so don’t go expecting to find a date. Not that I’d think you would, but some do.” He waved a hand. “We usually go over events, and introductions, of course, though if you’re nervous you don’t have to talk. We do have a coming out day sometime in the future, which may be helpful for you. Do your parents know?”
“Yeah.” Chris ran a hand through his hair. “It’s just…college, you know.”
“Like I said before, college is more open than you’d think. Oh, and Frederick might open up to you more if you tell him you’re gay.” Skye shrugged. “It’s worth a shot, although he always refused to join the GSA too.”
Chris’s face heated. “Right.” Somehow, he didn’t think Frederick would care if Chris was gay or not. Frederick certainly hadn’t shown any interest.
“Anyway, I should be getting back to work. I’ll see you Monday evening, though.” Skye stood, coffee cup in hand, and paused for a moment before speaking. “You know, if it doesn’t work out with Frederick, you have my number.” He grinned. “No pressure, of course, but you’re pretty cute for a freshmen.”
Chris froze for a second. “Thanks,” he stammered. Skye clapped him on the shoulder before heading off down the hall.
Chris waited until he was sure his face wasn’t flaming red before getting up. He had way too much to think about.