Thursday, September 13, 2018

16 ~ Catrina Miser

Robert adjusted his glasses on his nose after placing his empty dish in the dish bin. He still hadn’t gotten used to the feeling of something on his face, but it was nice to be able to see things clearly when he needed to read. The world, in general, had grown a lot less blurry.



The glasses push happened when Abigail had caught him reading with his book "too close" over the Saturnalia break and dragged him to see a special doctor about it - apparently his eyesight had been going bad for quite a while.
Who knew eyes had an expiration date?
The doctor didn’t seem to think his joke was funny, but he had accepted that he would always have odd humor. Maybe he should have Cain look at his psyche, or something?


Then again he was sure that whatever Cain would find wouldn’t be good. Ignorance is bliss, sometimes. Life picked up at full-speed when everyone got back from Saturnalia.


Ming had dislodged Cain’s jaw when she arrived with 3 feet less hair than she usually had.




Stefan and Hesper returned together, confirming that they were now in a relationship which came as a surprise to absolutely no one. Especially not Sam and Robert.


Mincia announced her wedding date was set for the moment she stepped home for the 3-week summer break. It was later than her father wanted it to be, but still sooner than her own desires. She had agreed to the engagement over the break.


The class schedule changed and suddenly Robert wasn’t that new kid who was falling behind anymore. It was such a relief.
Jacob, on the other hand, had started a sort-of relationship with Artis. It was a relationship whenever she needed something, and Jacob fell for it every single time. Robert had originally objected to it, but Jacob only pulled away harder when he would, so Robert, Sam, and Stefan were forced to the sidelines.


Mama would definitely be hearing about it from Robert, as he had run out of ideas. Since Saturnalia they’ve been together for ‘three months’ according to Jacob, but the collective time looked more like two weeks, given how fast she’ll pick him up and drop him time and time again.


It was hard to watch his best friend get hurt, but there was very little he could do, so he’d just support him and be there to help him up when the “off” times would arrive.
Saturnalia had been the shake Robert needed. He’d been mourning the loss of his family, but he was realizing that his family had never left him. They were always with him - and that was comforting.
He was able to put away his mourning clothes and think about it a little less every day.
It wasn't gone, but it was getting easier.
“Hey, Rob! Wait up!” It was Sam calling to him before he casually slid an arm over his shoulder as they walked.



“What’s up, Sam?”
“We’re all going out tonight, and I thought I’d let you know.” Sam nodded, giving his usual relaxed grin.


“Gee, I’m glad you told me before I wondered how I suddenly wound up outside of my room tonight with everyone else.” Robert grinned right back.


Sam slid off of Robert’s shoulder and shrugged. “Yes, I know I’m fantastic. You’re welcome. They’ve got some new music rolling through town, so we’re definitely going to have to check it out. You know… for science! Or… something.”


“Yes I’m sure when we break curfew we can tell the professors that it was all for science.” Robert rolled his eyes at Sam.



“Now you’re getting it!” Sam slapped his hand on Robert’s shoulders and shook him a bit. “Well, I’m heading the other way…” His voice dropped with a dramatic eyebrow wiggle, “I’ve got a date with Maria.”


His guitar.
Robert nearly laughed but he tried to keep his face serious, walking backwards as they split off in opposite directions. “Strumming, or… plucking?” He made motions of a guitar with his hands.


Sam gave him a sly grin and shrugged, also walking backwards, “I dunno man, I’m a free spirit, maybe a bit of both. Maria is a fine lady! She needs some variety in her life.”


“Oui, oui!” Robert dramatically kissed his fingertips and gestured it away as if he were complimenting a fine piece of art.


They both snorted into laughter and Sam waved him off, “you know where to find me. See ya later, man!”


“See you-!” He had already begun turning back around when he was cut off.
“Robert?”


His head swiveled around and all of his breath left him.



“...Cat?”
~

“This place is so huge.” Catrina practically whispered as she looked down the long hallways.
Robert looked around, finding amusement in seeing how awed she was. He had been awed by it too, and now it had become like home.


It was like he could see it again through new eyes. “Yeah, it really is, isn’t it?” He watched her take it in as they walked. “You’ll get used to it, and I’ll show you around so don’t worry too much. Did they say who your student mentor was?”


“Uh… I can’t remember.” Catrina fidgeted with a strand of her hair in thought.
She seemed so much more subdued than he remembered her. It didn’t feel quite natural. It would seem odd if he asked her outright if something was wrong, but he couldn't shake it. If that meant he was odd, then he accepted that. “Is everything alright, Cat?”
She snapped up to look at him with wide eyes before looking away quickly and nodding. “Yes, I’m fine, thank you.”


Who was this person and what had they done with the Catrina Miser that Robert knew?
“Oh wait, this is you!” He stopped suddenly, wishing he hadn’t let himself get distracted as they approached her door. He knocked a few times, yet no answer came. He held his hand out and Catrina gently handed him her key.
Had someone done something to her? This was not the Cat he knew and it was starting to worry him.



The room with two beds was thankfully empty, Essence help him if Cat’s roommate had just ignored their knocking and he’d walked in on something he shouldn’t have.
Catrina’s eyes only grew wider as she saw her bags on the bed. “That’s… so… weird.”


Robert eased into a grin, there she was. He walked over to the schedule on her bed and examined it. “Your student mentor is… oh! Ming! She’s a friend of mine, and super nice. Your roommate is…” He closed his eyes and sighed. Niamh. Of course she’d be put with the girl who hangs around with Victor.


In any normal circumstance he’d love to see the Catrina he knew give Niamh a run for her money, but like this?
“Not a friend of yours, I take it?” Catrina shifted, fidgeting with her fingers.


“You could say that.” He tried to not roll his eyes. “Her name is Niamh, and if you pronounce it wrong you’ll never hear the end of it.” He looked over at her and was compelled to add: “if she gives you any trouble, just let me know.”
He had enough social leverage around here he could pull some strings. At the very least he could sic Sam and Stefan onto her.


Catrina was carefully looking at her schedule from around his arm and he hadn’t even heard her move closer.


He bit his cheek as he watched her blue eyes scan the document. No, without a doubt, something was not right. He could feel it in his gut. Maybe she was nervous about the school? He had been extremely overwhelmed when he came here too.


“Let’s not worry about it too much,” he stretched and moved for the door. “We can head up a floor and I’ll show you to the library, I bet that’s where we’ll find Ming.”
“Robert?”
Robert couldn’t swivel around fast enough. “Oui?”



Catrina’s lip twitched slightly into a smile at his use of French and he grinned back at her.
She turned to her bags then and began to dig into one. “I want to give you something before I forget, hold on a second.”
His brow furrowed and he tipped his head with a smirk. “Give me something? Like a ‘what-for?’”
“No!” Her head had jerked around with a glare, but it softened before he could even start to claim it as a victory. She tugged free a book and walked over to hand it to him. “Just this.”



Robert tried to think of a wise-crack quickly enough but instead his gaze fell to the cover of the book and his mouth fell open.
Grendel.


“This is like… from…”
Beowulf? Yeah, as soon as I saw it I knew I had to get it for you. I mean, your dad used to read Beowulf to you so when I saw the name in the window at Devi’s…” Catrina gave a slightly nervous shrug.


He was dumbstruck.
“I read it, mostly out of curiosity. It’s not like Beowulf exactly, it follows Grendel’s point of view… it’s also a bit more politically charged. It’s very eloquent though, so I think you’ll like it, you… tend to like eloquent things.” She straightened herself and cleared her throat.


“Cat… this is… incredible. Thank you. You didn’t have to do this…” His eyes danced from the decorated book cover back to Catrina’s fidgeting form.


“I wanted to, and…” She sighed, her shoulders slumping as she did so as her eyes focused on the floor.
Robert reached behind him without turning his gaze off her and swung the door closed.



Catrina slumped onto the bed with a soft huff. “After you left to come here I… I had a lot of time on my hands to think and it made me realize what a crummy friend I’d been to you in the past. You were always that annoying neighbor I saw everyday or every other day and… I took you for granted. I should’ve been there for you more with everything you were going through… things with your mom… and I…”


He was grinning. He couldn’t help it. She remembered his favorite book and found a spin-off to it, and now she was apologizing? Perhaps he was dreaming after all.
She scowled, clenching her fists, “Robert! I’m trying to apologize!”



“I’m sorry… I just…” Robert shook his head with his grin growing as he moved to sit next to her on the bed. “I had come up with four dozen scenarios that were running through my head as to why you seemed upset and this wasn't one of them!”
Catrina huffed and crossed her arms with a pout. “Ugh! Dummy.” Her face softened suddenly and she looked at him with wide eyes. “Sorry…”


Yet he just grinned and leaned his shoulder against hers. “Don’t apologize, Cat. You don’t need to. You’ve not been a crummy friend to me - you stayed with me that entire week after my mom passed. You were the first person to find me out in the woods. I don’t even think I said two words to you and you still stayed with me anyways. How in the world are you going to pass that off as being a crummy friend?”


She was shaking her head. “I didn’t even remember to grab the address so I could write to you! Plus you didn’t even come back for the holidays and I thought…”


His brow furrowed now. “You thought I didn’t come home because I was mad at you? Cat… no! That’s completely ridiculous. It’s not that at all! I just… didn’t want to come home to an empty house, it was more than I could handle for a while. I made a friend here and he offered for me to go home with him, so I ended up in Roaring Heights - which, by the way, had skyscraper buildings… it’s larger than life. You have to see them to understand; they made the clock tower in Lunaris look small!”
Catrina’s eyes looked like they might pop out of her head. “You went to Roaring Heights?! Ugh, Robert! I’m so jealous!”


“I’ll have to take you to see it, it’s insane!” Robert calmed himself enough to shake his head once again. “Look, Cat… if anything I’m the one who should apologize. I wasn’t in the best headspace for a while - I mean, you know that, you saw it, but I should’ve written you at the very least to let you know I was ok. I dropped the ball on that one, and I'm sorry.”
“Yeah, you did.” She made a face at him and then it softened a little, “but… I understand. I’m glad that you’ve found a place here. Hopefully… there’ll be one for me too.”


“I’m sure there is.” Robert bounced his shoulder against hers as he looked around the room. “You just might have to fight Niamh for it first… in an epic battle to the death!” He dramatically moved his hands up in front of him.



Catrina snorted before she bumped back into him with her shoulder. “You’re still such a dork!” She tried to roll her eyes dramatically yet she smiled at him. "I'm glad for it."
They settled into the quiet.



It was such an unusual feeling to see Catrina in this place he’d come to see as home. She looked so different yet the same all at once. Her icy eyes were softer now and her wildfire hair wasn’t fraying out from her twin braids she always used to wear. It was an unusual feeling, but it wasn’t a bad one.


“I’ve missed you, Cat.”
Catrina turned to look at him skeptically and she shook her head. “Don’t go getting all sentimental on me now, Egan.”
He grinned bigger. He really had missed her. “We’ll you’re not going to find your way around if we stay in here all day, so…”
“Hey Robert!”


He turned to look back at her.
She gave him a soft smile. “I’ve missed you too.” She paused. “Just… don’t let it go to your head.”


He smirked. “Too late.”



~ Next Chapter Coming Soon ~

SimNaNo Final Count: 
Words: 2,378
Words (total): 10,776 ⭐
Pictures: 62
Pictures (total): 388 ⭐

2 comments:

  1. I followed your advice and read this story. You were right, even though you are 1000% biases :P

    I absolutely loved the world that can be glimpsed in this story. It's so beautiful and you're an excellent author.

    Robert stole my heart (all of them, realy, but he's special).

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    Replies
    1. I'm so happy to hear! See, I can be both 1000% biased AND right. XD

      Thank you, so, so much! This really means a lot to me. I try really hard to keep the world a fluid place between all four of my stories, so when people enjoy that it's a reminder to me of why I love doing it too. :D

      Robert has got to be one of my favorites; it's hard not to love him! <3 He always finds the will to carry on and do better.

      Thank you so much for this awesome comment!

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