The elevator slid open, and Danielle led her two charges into the hallway. She quipped, "Here we are, third floor, shoes, men's wear, cosmetics, and the last empty room in the dorm. Everybody out!" Tony followed her first, loaded down with bags, while Kevin wheeled the push-cart of boxes after them. "You two are the last to move in. We'd almost given up on you."
Tony shot a sidelong glance at Kevin, who just rolled his eyes. "Had business to take care of before coming up." Specifically, all of Tony's packing. Kevin couldn't believe his friend had forgotten which day move-in was.
Dani smiled as the two gazed silently around at their surroundings with extreme interest. "It's not the Ritz, but it's home. Whaddaya think? Not much to look at, I'm afraid."
"It's small," the cat agreed. He'd hoped there would be more rooms, especially since this WAS a co-ed floor...
"Cozy," she grinned. "It was never fully rebuilt after the quake, so there aren't as many rooms up here. Consider yourself lucky, though, at least it's got all the amenities of Richter Hall right here. Laundry is in here...the lounge is over there, the kitchenette is behind us, men's bathroom is over here--the lady's room is on the floor below us--and you're in room 303...here. If you need anything else, I'm in room 301, but otherwise, make yourselves at home and I'll see you tonight at eight."
"Eight?" Tony echoed.
"Floor meeting. Mandatory. Rules 'n' stuff. Be there." Somehow, her words held the gravity of an unspoken "or else" at the end of it. But she smiled as she turned and retreated down the hall .
Tony watched her go. "Nice," he said. "We'd better behave, cuz somehow I'd hate to cross her."
"I like her," Kevin said, a lewd smirk on his face. The smirk grew larger when he saw the incredulous look Tony gave him. "Whaaaaat?"
The bull rolled his eyes and dropped the subject. He fumbled with his bags before managing to poke the key into its lock. "Well, shall we meet our new roommate now?"
"Must we?" Kevin murmured.
"Why not? Oh, you're not still sore about having to take a triple-occupant room, are you?"
It had turned out Tony was no better with move-in dates than housing application due dates. No double rooms had been available. Kevin sighed. "Not really. It's just...well..."
"Oh, it'll be nice. Just think, between the three of us, there'll always be someone around to talk to, to have dinner with, to go to football games with..." The disagreeable keyhole finally conceded and allowed the lock to click open, the door swinging into the room. Tony poked his head inside. It was empty.
"So much for THAT theory. Maybe we'll be lucky and he won't be around for anything except sleeping."
"Hey, you haven't even met him!"
"No, but this room is tiny! There's hardly enough room for the two of us." He frowned, then noticed the unoccupied bunk bed. With seldom-used agility, he sprung up to the top bunk. "Hey, I've always wanted one of these!" he crowed.
Tony grinned up at his friend. "Always wondered what it was like to feel tall, eh?" he chuckled.
"If this pillow didn't feel like it was stuffed with lead, I'd throw it at you," Kevin responded crisply. But he at least felt a tiny bit better. "Okay, so we don't know what our mysterious roommate is like yet. Let's go meet some of the other inmat--er, residents here."
"But we haven't unpacked yet--"
"Pack, shmack, c'mon, let's look around a bit."
As Danielle had said, everyone else had moved in, and it seemed most people had already settled in and had left for the day. Only Room 302 was occupied. Tony rapped on the doorway. "Hellooo...?"
Inside, a tall kangaroo pawed through some boxes. He didn't look up.
"Friendly sort, ain't he?"
"Maybe didn't hear us. Um...hi there..."
Shuffle. Flip. Sort.
Kevin gestured to his ears, indicating the guy was wearing headphones. Tony decided to step inside and introduce himself. He strolled over and lightly tapped the kangaroo on the shoulder. "Hi, I..."
Zapping him with a cattle-prod could not have produced a stronger reaction. The marsupial yelped, obviously thoroughly startled, and leapt into the air, clinging to one of the bedposts in reflex.
Tony recoiled, wondering what the lawsuit for a heart attack would cost him.
"Maybe it's your deodorant," Kevin snickered.
The kangaroo took a couple seconds to regain his wits and breath, then stared at the newcomers as if they had suddenly materialized out of thin air. "Oh. Hey, how's it going? Hope I didn't freak you out." He disentangled his limbs from the bedpost, then shook hands vigorously with the cat and bull. "Name's Mike, Mike Hopkins, call me Mikey if you want, or Michael, whatever, nice to meet you, what brings you here?" The words would have constituted a normal attempt at conversation, had they not all been said in one breath.
Tony took a second to process Mike's mile-a-minute words, then said, "We just moved into 303. I'm Tony Durham, and this is Kevin Nekohashi. Sorry if I scared you, I just--"
"Oh no, not at all. I'm just a bit high-strung, you know? Guess I'm nervous about starting college, that's all, or something, or maybe I'm just always high-strung. I like to keep busy, I suppose, a little stress never killed anyone, huh?"
Kevin blinked. It was like watching a movie on fast-forward. "Y-yeah. So, what do you think of it here?"
"Boring, quite boring, I'm afraid. They don't have enough to do around here, must be all the cutbacks on school spending, you know? Quite a pity. All the clubs don't start until two weeks into the semester. Two weeks! Tremendous waste of time, let me tell you. If they'd just organized they could have things up and running by now. Speaking of running, I get up and run at five every morning, and they don't even have the good sense to open the cafeteria by then. Laziness. Very, very aggravating. But I can't wait for classes to begin on Monday! I've already read half this textbook here, looks like an exciting class--Physics 2. I'm a physics major, by the way. Well, double-major in economics and a minor in music, but I'm seeing if they'll let me triple-major. Oh speaking of music, I sing and I sometimes have voice lessons...I hope the walls are thick around here, I'd hate to bother you. How about you guys? What's your story?"
The two stared back, slack-jawed. Kevin wondered if Mike knew the meaning of punctuation. "Well, we, uh..."
Mike glanced at his watch in a seemingly involuntary action. "Goodness, look at the time. Sorry, would love to chat, but I've got work to do before 11:37. Don't mind me--we can talk later." With a cheery smile, he suddenly turned back to his books, the headphones returning to their place in his ears.
Not certain the kangaroo would hear, Tony said, "S'okay, we were just leaving." He suddenly felt the need to find some aspirin, anyway. He turned to leave and almost ran smack into an iguana.
"Hey, whassup?" the reptile greeted him heartily. Noticing Tony's dazed expression, he said, "I see you've had a chat with Mikey."
"You could call it that."
"Wanna see something fun? Watch this..." Scott tiptoed over to the distracted kangaroo, then bellowed into one ear, "Hi-diddley-ho, neighbor!" He smirked back at Kevin and Tony as Mike leapt into the air with a flailing of limbs.
"Been there, done that. He grabbed the other bedpost last time," Kevin smiled, feeling satisfied somehow.
"You're new around here, ain't ya? I'm Scott. Welcome aboard. So, which room are you two in, anyway?"
Pointing to himself and his roommate, Kevin said, "Kevin, Tony. We're next door"
"Great. Have ya taken a look around yet?"
"Not really. You're the first ones we've seen besides Dani."
"Hoo-hoo, mark my words, that babe's one touch little cookie. But other than that, everyone else in the vicinity seems pretty cool. Well, ah, except for this one guy who's kinda temperamental. But that's not a problem unless..."
"Unless what???" Kevin inquired suspiciously. He didn't like the sound of that.
"Er, ah...nevermind." Deftly changing the subject, he said, "Say, you two want to have lunch now? The cafeteria should be opening about now."
"Oo! Yeah, let's, I'm starved!" Tony said eagerly.
Scott gave him an almost pitying glance. "Yup, you ARE new around here."
"Why? Is the food inedible?"
"Food? I don't recall saying anything about food." He grinned conspiratorily. He turned his attention to his own roommate. "Hey, Mikey, wanna go eat lunch?"
Having recovered from his second scare, Mike stared blankly at the question, then whipped out an organizer the size of a dictionary. "Lunch. Lunch lunch lunch lunch...lessee...if I go to the bookstore now, then get to the campus by noon..." His voice trailed away as he perused his schedule.
The iguana rolled his eyes. "Come ON, pal." He grabbed Mike's collar and dragged him towards the door. "You'd starve if I wasn't around. Whaddaya say?" he grinned at his floormates.
"If we must," Kevin groaned, not looking forwards to the food.
"I can pencil you in two weeks from Friday..." Mike said, still engrossed in the organizer.
"So, what's your major gonna be, anyway?" Kevin asked Scott as they filed slowly through the cafeteria line.
"What was that?"
"Math..." Scott hissed under his breath.
"Ooooh, what was that, pocket-protector boy? Did you say MATH???"
"Quiet!" Scott looked around, hoping none of the women had heard. "Yeah, what about you?"
"Engineering," Kevin replied proudly.
Scott scoffed. "You're calling ME a nerd?"
"Yeah, well I KNOW I'm a nerd. Isn't that right, Tony?"
"The geekiest," Tony continued to pile up his plate.
Mike had already gotten ahead of them in line. "Hey, ya wanna grab us a seat, Mikey?" Scott called out.
The kangaroo was eating standing up. Through a mouthful of salad, he said, "Sorry, runnin' late, gotta go, see you later, very nice meeting you two, bye..." Rollerblades whizzing, he zoomed past them, chucked his empty lunch tray into the wash rack with the wrist-snap of an experienced basketball player, and was out the door before Kevin could say, "Decaf, pal!"
"He doesn't drink coffee."
"Think what he'd be like if he did."