“So, what’s up?” Sora asked nonchalantly, betraying the seriousness undercutting the rationale for the impromptu before class meeting.
“I dunno. Same ol’, same ol’ I guess” Reno coyly responded, trying his best to imitate the average dispassionate coolness of hanging out with someone.
“Oh, come on Reno. Out with the truth. You practically ran out of the Tech. Commons once the quest was over and by the time I got back to your dorm, everything was pitch black; I couldn’t see any light even sneaking a peek under the door. Something got you upset. Out with it. Get butt-hurt about not being right about your intuition on the quest?”
‘Butt-hurt’? The word sent Reno over the edge; that was how Sora described his emotional well-being— butt-hurt?! That is how he reduced his unique and rich inner-life, in a manner no more sophisticated than an edgy twelve-year-old? Reno wasn’t going to sit here, on Sora’s bed, and take this; breaking away visual contact by suddenly jerkin’ his head, he launched himself from the bed and rushed to grab his bag while muttering something about disrespect.
Sora immediately recognized his error. Acting with the swiftness of someone who has seen this scenario play out before, but with less than tangible results, but knowing what to do now, Sora leaped in front of Reno moments before he could turn the door handle.
Reno was but inches from Sora’s face; Sora had awkwardly wedged himself between Reno and the door and the position had left much to be desired since it was essentially throwing his body weight to a position where it wasn’t meant to be. Sora’s body weirdly blocked Reno exiting. As a result, Sora could almost feel the anger emanate from Reno.
“Okay, I am sorry; bad choice of word!” Sora quickly said before things could escalate.
The anger in Reno’s face seemed to die down. Not fade away completely but at least temper down to a shade less intense. Sora had to continue placating.
“I didn’t mean any disrespect, that’s just how I talk to my friends. I will try and remember to be less crude with you in the future until such a time when you get to know my personality— assuming you still want to hang out with me.”
“I… thank you.” Reno softly mumbled.
“Okay. No prob. Let’s sit down and chat about what’s been bothering you.”
And they did just that; Sora gradually untangled himself from the door and the awkward position while Reno reclaimed his spot on the bed. After stretching for a moment, Sora joined Reno on the bed where they rapped.
“It’s just been difficult,” Reno spoke, an emotional veil barely holding back the frustration.
Sora placed his hand on Reno’s shoulder in a brotherly sign of affection.
“Of course it is hard. It’s university. I remember being a first-year; especially at a place like this drowned in Poindexter’s! Sure, it is intellectually stimulating, but the less-than-welcoming atmosphere doesn’t exactly acclimate one very well to ‘discovering yourself’ or whatever the college comedies are saying these days.” Sora said at length.
“It’s such a big shift. I don’t know anybody, I don’t like having a roommate, and I don’t know how to talk to anybody; my teammates hate me…” Reno said, close to weeping.
“Hey, hey… “ Sora soothed, gently rubbing his hand on Reno’s upper back. “It is okay. I know the deal. Been there, done that” he joked.
“Listen, bud, it takes time to get used to this all; remember, no one entered university and found the experience an easy transition! Hell, I found it all super-confusing: not having my own space, having to do my own laundry, never having any privacy— seriously, I think I found all the secret hide-holes on campus to wank.”
To this, Reno smiled a bit which just reinforced the reality that masturbation and first-years were an important hot-topic. Sora continued: “You do, though, get used to it, Reno. I promise. The university wouldn’t have accepted you if you couldn’t do the work; hell, you were accepted into a Senior Seminar during your first fucking semester! You had to lobby to do that, right? You are smart, bro. It isn’t that the work is difficult, I know, it is just that it is such a change to be in this Interactive Seminar. I know that feeling since that is where I was at my first year too, scrambling to get by and catch up. But, again, you DO catch up; you just have to be patient.”
Reno seemed calmed. He now leaned against Sora silently crying, Sora doing his best to embrace him with his free hand.
“Airya and Issac are just dick-heads. As I said before, they are upper-classmen and New Media majors. They were inoculated to this ‘Interactive’ shit in the first term. I bet if you looked up ‘elitist’ in the dictionary, you would find their pictures; actually,” Sora said, smiling deviously, “if you go to some of the libraries on campus, then you will find their pictures as I placed them there in my second term when I had them for a low-level seminar and they treated me like they treat you. Payback. Hehe.”
Reno stopped crying. Sora absently wondered if he was even aware of his tears. Taking a nearby piece of paper-towel, he wiped away the dampness on Reno’s cheeks. Reno had closed his eyes and taking the initiative, Sora had scooped up Reno into his arms to hold him like a teddy-bear, tightly closing his arms around his friend. Resting Reno’s head against his shoulder, Sora gently leaned his own head against Reno’s left temple. He closed his eyes and let the brotherly passion of the moment overtake him.
Sora and I were about ten minutes late to the seminar. Nothing of a big deal, yeah, but still; sneaking in was impossible with the class set-up and it was always awkward. But, we both found our seats with our teammates and tried our best to blend into the remainder of the lecture. According to Airya’s whispers, Algrotto had just gotten done talking about expectations for the semester.
“Okay. Now that that is out of the way, I wanted to emphasize that next week, we will be starting the actual text of Le Morte Darthur. So, far, I have only assigned some preparatory readings to better help you understand the nature of chivalry and medieval Romance literature. Now, however, we will be getting into the real material.
“The quest that I had assigned over this past weekend was just meant to assist you all in bonding with your teammates. Honestly, as some of you probably guessed, I didn’t have much of a hand in creating that quest; I just borrowed it from a colleague and changed some things around. I was going to create an original quest for its assigned paper, but I had a minor medical emergency and had to shift my focus. Starting next week, however, you can expect all-original content.
“I want to underline this point, students— things are only going to get more difficult from here on out. So far, I’ve barely assigned anything in terms of work. This is about to change; here on out, you are going to be expected to do a lot of additional work. By the end of next week, I will have expected you to at least finish an initial read-through of the first book of Malory’s Morte. That’ll give you two whole weeks to finish the first book while in Vingaard.
“Now, let me say this: two weeks may seem like a lot of time to goof around, especially when you can read through the book the old-fashioned way in under an hour, but enacting it in Vingaard and rectifying all of the discrepancies, is another matter all together. It will be a time-consuming affair. This is literally not something that can be done the night before; you will have to put in at least thirty minutes a day to complete this on time. I would recommend longer to be safe.
“Our next class meeting is on Wednesday; I don’t expect you to have completed any more than a handful of chapters by then, if any more than a couple, but we will meet briefly to discuss everyone’s experience. I won’t spoil anything but let me say this— the adventure I have prepared for you is something I have been working on for the past several years, and I can promise you that it is nothing like the previous Interactive courses some of you might have taken here at this university. On Wednesday, we will meet and discuss what everyone likes and hates about the seminar so far. Until then, let’s turn our attention to the readings.”