“You’re staring at her again, Richard.”
“Huh? What? Who?”
“The Noxian girl. The only person in that section of auditorium.”
“Well, I wouldn’t really call her a girl, more like a lady.”
“You mean a woman?”
“That… certainly makes more sense. My brain has been kind of jumbled up lately.”
Richard hesitated. He’d really only known Jot for three weeks. Somehow, though, it felt like forever. He’d never felt this way with his other friends back on Maropa, even though he’d known them much longer, and spent more total time with them. Still… Richard felt like Jot wouldn’t judge him, or call him crazy. Unless he was crazy, in which case Jot would get him help. Then everything would be better.
Richard explained everything he’d been seeing and feeling. The glowing, the weird senses, and feeling like he had a second brain.
“So I don’t glow?”
“Not just you. Xevaronians. It’s really weird. You guys are the only one who don’t glow besides, well, me.”
“Nothing, go on. About the Noxian.”
“Ok, well, that’s sort of related to the glowing. I feel…afraid, because I almost died.”
“I also feel… I don’t know, I want to be her friend. She’s all alone. It’s probably because of the accident involving me.”
“You are kind. I can tell that.”
“Yes, but I also feel, well, my weird, metaphysical brain thing… It half wants to be her friend, and half wants to… have children with her because she has excellent genes. I don’t even know how I would know something like that. Also, I could totally die just from shaking her hand again. Anything more than that would be not only pointless but massively irresponsible since I don’t even know her name. I just don’t know what to do about this. I can’t even go up and talk to her.”
“Well, I have a solution for one of your problems.”
“You do? Great. Tell me what it is.”
“It will be a hard process, and you have to promise to not back out.”
“Will it work?”
“…Okay, fine. What is it?”
Richard hadn’t noticed that class was over and most of the students had left the classroom. Jot, however, had.
“It’s a complicated, three step process.”
“Okay, what’s the first step?”
Jot picked Richard up over his shoulder.
“Umm… Jot? What’s going on?”
“No backing out. This is step one.”
Richard resigned himself to being carried… wherever he was going. He soon found out, as he was unceremoniously dumped into a chair a few seats away from the Noxian.
“This is Richard. He wants to be your friend but was too chicken to come talk to you.”
The Noxian just sort of sat there in shock for a few moments. Then, she suddenly straightened and smiled. “Pleased to meet you Richard. In Common, I’m Elena.”
“Err, hi, I’m Richard.” By habit, he stuck out his hand for a handshake. As he saw her reaching out her hand, his brain panicked. ‘Danger’ it said. He almost jerked his hand back. He would have, if not for the other half of him that thought otherwise. ‘Survivable’ was a small part of what it thought. The other, larger part was just a jumble of strange thoughts including the desire to know more data. In the end, it managed to barely balance out. It was an awkward handshake, but not so bad as it could have been.
Elena seemed to sense his discomfort and made the handshake short. “So, who’s your large friend here?”
“Who? Oh!” Richard quickly turned to hide his embarrassed face. “This is Jot. He’s my friend.” Very smooth.
Jot shook hands with Elena, although his hand completely encompassed hers. Richard’s too, for that matter.
“So, what drove you to want to become friends with a scary Noxian?” She said this with a somewhat skeptical smile.
“What? You’re not … That is umm…” Richard stumbled over all of his words. “I just… you looked alone, and I felt bad because it’s partly my fault.”
Her smile turned more genuine. “Your fault? How?”
“Well… the accident. It was you right? I figure all kinds of nasty rumors spread… and it wasn’t even your fault!” Richard looked like he was going to say more, but Elena interrupted him.
“No, there weren’t. New rumors that is. Somehow nobody heard about the incident, and thus there were no nasty rumors about me specifically. Maybe I have friends with connections I don’t know about?” She raised her eyebrows. “No, rumors about Noxians being dangerous have always been floating about. I’m used to it. They’re true, to a point.”
“But… but… “ Richard stammered, “but most of the time, you’re no danger at all! Heck, even Jot here is more dangerous than you, he could fall on me and squish me! Then where would I be?”
“I could also throw you through a wall,” interjected Jot.
“Yeah, he could do that too.”
Elena responded to this after thinking for a short time. “You’re… surprisingly unprejudiced for someone I almost killed. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I would have come to see you to say it sooner… but when you were in the clinic, visiting was strongly advised against. Then, when I saw you here, it was too intimidating.”
“I can see how you’d think that,” said Jot. “Look at his massive teeth. Not to mention the claws.” Jot paused to shift to a more serious note. “It is understandable, though. Many people are not so nice as our friend Richard. People are often rude without reason, and more so to those who have harmed them.”
“I can’t imagine anyone being rude to a Xevaronian,” said Richard.
“You would be… surprised.”
“Yeah, I guess Utopia is just… less prejudiced. I never really understood why prejudice would exist.”
Elena spoke up at this, “You’re from Utopia? I’ve never been there. I’ve heard it’s… unbelievably nice.”
“I guess? I’ve actually never left for long, so I don’t really know.”
“You should tell me about it sometime.” She looked down to check the time. “Sorry, I have to head to my next class.”
“That’s fine… listen, would you mind if we sat with you?”
Elena smiled. “How could I not let my friends sit with me? I’ll see you later.”
Richard silently pumped his fist in victory after she was out of sight.
“Wait, what were steps 2 and 3?”
“Step 2. Introduce you. Step 3. Hear you talk like an idiot. You were doing pretty good at that at first, but then you stopped being nervous. We may have to try again.”
“Thanks Jot. Can we just call the plan finished?”
“Oh fine. At least until we find your eye on another girl.”
This time it was Richard’s turn to smile.