Pet Project

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Fiona, Dec 19, 2012.

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  1. Imogene clutched her books tightly to her chest as she weaved through the masses of students bustling out of classrooms and chattering loudly amongst themselves, looking frazzled and out-of-place. College still felt new to her, disconcerting and worrisome, though the term had been underway for a few weeks now. It hadn’t helped whatsoever that she’d already found someone in her classes to crush on, or that he was living in the same dorm block as she was. It was one more thing to worry about on top of homework and the teasing from her classmates. Hell, their team projects were being given out soon; if she was paired off with him she'd probably about die from tension, at least on her part.

    She almost ran across the campus in her rush to reach the dorms and shut out the rest of her peers, only stopping when she had put a front hall and a common room door between herself and the campus. Her bag dropped with a soft thump to the sofa and she collapsed down next to it, running a hand through her hair and sighing. At least she might have a few minutes of respite before anyone came to harass her further, all for the sake of seeing her squirming, blushing and nibbling the tip of her thumb. Apparently it was “cute”. She couldn’t tell if it aggrieved her or just embarrassed her that people enjoyed her discomfort.

    She flicked open a book and propped it on her lap to stare down at the pages should someone come in, not realizing yet that she’d opened it upside down. She could hear the murmur of people chatting in the corridor now. They’d be coming in soon.
  2. Zacharias, or Zach for short, walked at a much slower pace than the girl racing ahead of him. He spent it talking to a couple of friends he had made already in the first few weeks. They were babbling on about the video games they were looking forward to playing in lieu of homework, eventually getting to the dorm building. They lingered in the entrance hall before scattering to get onto their computers and log onto whatever game they planned on playing. Zach, while himself an avid gamer, was a little more school orientated, and instead took his bag and headed into the first common room he came across. The room hadn't quite filled up yet, but there was a giggling from a small group of people studying. He traced where their attention was focused, and found that they were looking at a girl curled up in a chair, a book in her lap as she stared down into the pages. Nothing immediately came off as wrong, until he realized the title was upside down, and yet this girl seemed to not notice, or even care.

    Deciding to do something nice, he walked up to her, to the chagrin of those finding amusement in it, and inquired, "So can you read upside down, or do you just not know how to read?" As she looked up startled, he was surprised to find that he actually knew her, albeit vaguely. They had a few of their classes together. Zach had her listed among the girls he found attractive, but she was reserved and barely spoke to anyone, let alone him. Still, he could use a wider variety of friends than the nerds he currently hung out with. Plus, she seemed easier to approach than the bombshells that were in their class, already swarmed by the other mindless males in his class.
  3. She jumped slightly at the all-too familiar voice, glancing up with an embarrassed, questioning look. It took only a moment for her to figure out what he was talking about, and as soon as she did the thumb made its way slowly but surely up to her mouth. She nibbled there, flushing dramatically as she fumbled to turn the book the correct way up.

    “…I… That… wasn’t deliberate,” she mumbled round the digit at her lips, eyes fixating on the lines of his neck and jaw rather than meeting his. It would be Zach who pointed it out and flustered her, she sighed to herself. At least if it had been one of the gigglers she could have ignored them. “Well, thanks, I think…” She glanced back at the book, seeming to consider it for a minute before closing it over softly. There was no way she’d get anything done here now. She’d been distant to begin with.

    “I’m not as much of a ditz as I look, I promise…” Again with the mumbling, trying not to let the gigglers overhear her. “Just… Wanted to look busy. Didn’t really work, I guess.” She squirmed under his gaze, staying seated despite feeling the urge to bolt. He was still listening though, and the expression wasn’t nearly as taunting as she’d come to expect of most people given the circumstances. She glanced off to the right, blinking at the group as more muffled laughter came from their general direction. She could see one of the males gnawing at his thumb, stopping every few moments to pant in an over-exaggerated manner at it, and then repeating when the snickers died down from the last demonstration. Her cheeks felt hot.
  4. Zach couldn't help but smile as her thumb, which she was infamous for, found its way inevitably between her lips. It was as if part of her hadn't grown up and still found comfort in her thumb as the sucked at the tip of it, hastily spewing out excuses for why she was caught reading an upside down book. He didn't really pay any mind to what she said, focused instead on how cute she looked trying to defend herself: her blushing cheeks, her squirming body in the chair, the way she couldn't focus her eyes on any one thing, yet always coming back to him. All of it gave her an overly attractive effect that surprised Zach. She was cute, to be sure, but to be this affected by her mannerisms took him off-guard.

    He noticed her glancing at the group of people still in fits over her thumb sucking, giving amusing parodies of her and guffawing over each other. Zach had little patience for those that openly mocked others, and quietly whispered to her, "Hey, if you want we can go head somewhere a bit less filled with jerks. You know, get to know each other. After all, we are classmates" He extended a hand to help her up, noticing that the group had quieted down, perhaps surprised that he hadn't joined in with the rest of them. No, he was too interested in Imogene to care about what some goons thought of her.
  5. There was a long pause as Zach followed her gaze, then spoke quietly into her ear, holding his hand out to her. She smiled weakly, pleasantly surprised at the gesture, then nodded and took the hand slowly. “Sounds good,” she muttered, sliding the book into her satchel and swinging it over her shoulder as she stood. The snickers had stopped with his actions, or at least died down a little. She let her hand drop as soon as she’d gotten to her feet, glancing down at her feet for a minute before gesturing him to follow and leaving the room. The door closed behind them with a click.

    “I figured I could let them laugh it out eventually, but nobody seems to have gotten it out of their systems yet,” she explained quietly to him, zipping and unzipping the satchel nervously. “Then again it did take high school students about a year or so to get it totally done with…” She sighed resignedly, shrugging and smiling at him once more. It only made sense that the first time she spoke to her crush was a flustered, embarrassed experience. She hadn’t expected to ever make contact, if she was honest, but then again she was a wallflower for the most part and rarely spoke to anyone, let alone someone whose very existence made her hot and bothered.

    “I’m sort of surprised you didn’t get some sort of weird twisted joy out of it to be honest,” she admitted. “You don’t look like the type, admittedly, but few of them do.”
  6. "Weird twisted joy? Nah, though I do think it's a bit cute if you don't mind me saying." Zach gave her a smile as they walked slowly through the hall of the dorm building, going nowhere in particular. He was quick to notice how fidgety she was around him, and it didn't take long for him to begin to think of reasons why. It could be that she was just shy, though he had seen her talk with others before without nearly this much issue. Perhaps a crush? Zach entertained the idea briefly, though he didn't think it likely, as this was the most contact they've had together. Still, the possibility was there, and Zach felt as though he had to dig a bit deeper, if only to make her squirm.

    Acting casually as they walked together, people passing by without much notice, he shot a harmless question, "Tell me Imogene, how have you adjusted to the college life? Found it hard to adapt to so many new people?" Zach waited for the answer, knowing that this was just build-up for the true question he planned on asking. Her reaction to that would be quite telling, and he found it odd that he hoped to find her thumb back between her lips. Seeing her acting as such was oddly arousing, though Zach didn't bother focusing on it.
  7. “…yeah, most people seem to, but some folk like to make fun of it because it gets worse when they do. I’m sort of my own worst enemy in that regard,” she smiled back, albeit a little awkwardly. She usually just fantasized about him from the other side of the classroom; walking alongside him was intensely awkward as a result, her mind floating back to the occasional daydream that had kept her rather busy in lectures or the dreams from sleep that had resulted in rather ruined pyjama pants overnight. She was lost in thought when he spoke up once more, causing her cheeks to turn even pinker if that were possible.

    “I-uh, tha…” she blustered for the words, unprepared. “I still haven’t really managed to integrate well, and I’m pretty sure you know why,” she avoided his gaze as best she could, concentrating hard in her attempt to keep the thumb out of her mouth. Whether he thought it was cute or not, she was self-conscious now. “It… High school was smaller, and I’m not the most confident thing ever, so obviously it’s a bit difficult,” she explained, feeling the heat of embarrassment wrap round her. Long moments passed before the hand eventually rose on its own, her efforts essentially in vain, and she started nibbling at the tip of her thumb once more. The other hand had wrapped round the strap of the satchel, pawing and clutching at it in quick succession.
  8. Zach found himself oddly happy that, despite her self-conscious effort not to, her thumb ended up in her mouth once again. It seemed to happen whenever her mind was idle, or she got nervous; a bad habit that was only made worse by the attention paid to it. As they reached the end of the hall, they leaned against the wall near the exit, deciding not to just loop around and continue walking. Zach noticed that her hands always seemed to be busy; either having her thumb in her mouth, or unzipping her satchel, she couldn't seem to actually relax. Zach wondered why she was always on edge, figuring that she hadn't gotten the chance to truly open up and get comfortable with many people, given her unique habits.

    Zach had initially planned on asking Imogene if she had any crushes, but at this point it seemed almost mean to fluster her to that point. He was beginning to care about her more than he should, and instead went with, "That's a shame, you seem like a really nice person. I don't suppose you'll let me hang around you every now and then?" It was a rather awkward way of saying it to be sure, but given who he was talking to, it was perhaps the best way to put it. Zach certainly didn't want to overwhelm the girl, but at the same time, it was apparent Imogene needed someone whom she could talk to without fear of teasing or other sorts of bullying that had plagued her school years. Zach wasn't quite sure yet, but for the moment he was fine with being that person for her.
  9. They’d come to a stop at the end of the corridor. Zach leaned against the wall while she positively pressed herself into it, only pausing in her nibbling when he spoke up once more and even then only to stare at him. Another dark, scarlet blush rose to her cheeks and she could feel her ears beginning to burn, lips slightly parted and thumb resting upon the lower one.

    “I… th-that is, uh…” She struggled to find words, looking lost under his gaze, squirming for a few long moments before nodding vigorously. Her hair fell forwards into her face, sloppily obscuring red cheeks and averted eyes.

    Try not to think about it too hard. He’s not asking you out or flirting with you. He just wants to hang around.

    All the same, part of her mind flitted idly to the fantasies that had been keeping her company for a while now, the same ones that followed her at night into her sleep and then set a strange fire in her flesh. She eyed him from under the cloak of hair, wondering exactly how close her imagination got her to the real thing and then squeaking quietly as she realized what she was doing.

    “S-sorry! That sounds good, yes,” she managed to choke out, trying to hide the less-than-savoury thoughts even though he couldn’t hear them. “I’m sure that’s.. Uh, rather, you’re always welcome to if you want to, though I don’t know whether I’m interesting enough to keep you entertained, but-” She stopped mid-sentence.

    “…I’m running everything together again…” she blushed, the nibbling starting once more. “I do that when I’m nervous…”
  10. Zach watched as Imogene seemed stunned by the words that he had spoken, going from scarlet and stammering, to quiet and staring, to once again stammering as she realized she had gone quiet. It was an impressive reaction given the casual question he had asked, and her overreaction amused him. He didn't even need to do anything out of the ordinary to have her flustered bad enough that talking and forming sentences was an issue.

    "You sure you can handle being friends? It seems talking to me is hard enough on you as it is. Do I need to give you a bit to warm up to me?" Zach joked, not fully understanding the issue here. He had suspected a crush, but not even he could have guessed just how strong her feelings were for him, despite this being their first true encounter together. He had it chalked up to her probably having been home schooled for most of her life, having been thrust into the public school scene at high school. It seemed to make the most sense to him.

    "Anyways, perhaps you'd like to go study for the quiz we have tomorrow? I think I'm ready for it, but I wouldn't mind bouncing questions off of someone other than myself." He smiled, wondering how badly she'll react to the question, expecting her to have to decline due to inability to do anything not involving stammering and blushing madly. She was so awkward around him, and yet it only seemed to draw him closer to her.
  11. Her actions were disconcerting him; she could see it in his face. She shook her head rapidly at the joking questions, straightening up a little and trying to give off a slightly more confident image without too much success. Moments ticked by slowly before he asked her if she’d like to go and study with him. She sighed with relief – finally something she could actually do without coming across as over-shy and twitchy.

    “I can do studying, that’s no problem,” she said, for the first time speaking in anything other than a vague whisper or mumble. Studying was quiet, calming, usually in a controlled environment – or perhaps that was just how she did it. Either way, she could at least somewhat hide in the books and acclimatise to his presence at an easy pace.

    “Do you study in the dorms or do you go elsewhere?” She was usually one for either locking herself into her room and relaxing while she worked, or when there were parties and drunken dorm-mates around, for abusing the library with its strictly-enforced quietness and calm atmosphere. Admittedly you couldn’t bum around in your favourite shorty pyjamas there, but she wouldn’t be doing that around Zach for the foreseeable future anyway.

    “I know one of the boys upstairs from me had today off so he might be a bit… ah… rambunctious?” That was about as kindly as she could phrase the description without biting her tongue. “So that might not be the best idea ever…”
  12. Zach was moderately surprised to see that she seemed to calm down at the prospect of studying with him. Perhaps she was a bookworm type, he thought as he thought about her question. The truth was, he had never made it a habit to study; it bored him and he had never needed to do it to pass his classes. He had only brought it up because it was a convenient excuse to hang out with her. Thinking quickly, he said, "Well, the library is generally a quiet place, good for studying, so I go there when I need to study. Makes it easy to focus. Though it might be hard having company now."

    He hadn't intended it to be flirting, but as soon as it was said, he realized that it very much sounded that way. Not that that mattered to him, but Zach wondered how Imogene would handle it. She didn't seem the type that had boys flirting and courting her from all directions, and even the slightest conversation had her giddy. "Shall we head there now? Shouldn't be all that busy right now, so it'll be nice and quiet there."
  13. She nodded, flushing at the last sentence or so he’d tagged on in his musings but letting it go unremarked upon; she’d only stutter and stumble on her own words if she tried to comment.
    “There’s a section closed off for a class extension right now, but the back should be free. Most people don’t bother going in while there are classes in there. People only ever want to use the computers…” Clearly she was in rather a lot if she knew when people were pencilled in. She pushed herself away from the wall and started to wander off in the general direction of the campus library, for once able to take the lead.

    She groped inside her satchel and tugged one of the books out, clinging to it, keeping it close to her chest as she pushed the door open. She could hear the question coming before he even had the chance to ask it.
    “Self-defence mechanism. People don’t bother with someone hiding behind a book, not when there are girls with shirts open down to their belly buttons.” Secretly she wished she had even a fraction of their confidence.
  14. Zach nodded, slightly surprised that Imogene knew that the library was reserved, at least part of it, wondering if she volunteered there often. It was quiet there, this was true, and given she had issues with a majority of the people on campus, a library would make a very nice retreat when her room wasn't. As she headed out, Zach followed alongside her, letting her lead him to the library. Truth be told, he wasn't exactly sure of where it was, his sense of direction horrible, and he normally went directly from class to the library; not really from the dorm. So it was nice that she seemed to know exactly where to go.

    As they headed outside, he noticed her curl her arms around a book, pressing it tight to her chest, as if she might lose it otherwise. Before he could ask why, she read his mind and answered. He found it sad that she was that afraid to be noticed that she had to hide herself using any means possible. Zach felt like that shouldn't be necessary, and he grabbed her shoulder, stopping her from progressing. "Hey, you're with me, remember? I won't let anyone mess with you, ok?" He was hoping that the contact wasn't going to startle her, but Zach felt like he had to make her feel at least a bit more comfortable around him.
  15. She stiffened the instant his hand touched her shoulder, spinning to face him with an apprehensive look in her eyes. He seemed to be annoyed by her security book, for reasons she wasn’t entirely sure she understood. She glanced down at it, then disengaged one hand from it and inched closer to him, not quite comfortable enough to abandon it completely but wanting to oblige somehow in spite of it. She was flushed and hearing fire in his words that probably wasn’t there.

    “I’ve been doing it forever. Sorry to say, you’re going to have to put up with it being there at least a little unless you want me clinging off your arm like a scared little limpet.” The words left her mouth without thinking. She clamped the free hand across it when she realized what she’d said, shrugging him off with a hot blush and continuing to walk forwards. “Sorry,” she mumbled across her shoulder, checking he was still following her. He seemed to be, thankfully enough.
    “I’m used to hiding. It makes things easier.”

    The main building was looming back up in front of them, the crammed shelves and soft lights of the library vaguely visible through the lower windows. She glanced back at Zach, gesturing he should hurry. There was really no rush but she was eager to get inside and be able to talk without feeling she had to constantly cling to something.
  16. Zach almost immediately regretted asking her to put the book away, as he felt he had crossed some sort of invisible line that he wasn't allowed past. Her eyes spoke of annoyance, yet she complied, at least half way, perhaps as an attempt to be polite. Zach pulled away his hand quickly, shoving it into his pocket, pinching at his thigh as he chastised himself mentally for being so coarse with her. Of course she'd have little insecurities; most would after taking the amount of teasing she went through.

    "I-I'm sorry, I should try to be a bit more considerate. You're free to do as you wish, I was just, I don't know, being a bit controlling." He gave a chuckle, as his mind entertained the idea of her hanging off of his arm like a lost girl, clutching tightly. Zach liked the image, but knew it was weird to focus on it after knowing her for not even a day. He could tell he made her nervous, and wondered if she was really that in need of friends that she'd still try to study with someone that made her so uneasy as him.

    After a few more moments, the library loomed before them, in all its glory, the windows promising aisle after aisle of paper bound wisdom and knowledge. He saw her look back at him, and pick up the pace slightly, as if it were about to downpour. He also quickened his step, moving past her only to open the door for her. He knew it was silly, but it was something his parents had pounded into his head since he was old enough. "After you," Zach spoke softly, gesturing with his free hand inside.
  17. It wasn’t as big a deal as he seemed to think. In fact, Imogene usually liked someone instructing her or controlling her somehow, part of why she flourished more under the restrictive lecturers than with other more laid-back instructors. She didn’t mention any of it, knowing she could only unload so much strange on someone at once and feeling that fact was pretty damn weird. As she mused that over Zach had moved past and tugged the door open. She blinked at him, then quickly stepped through into the library.

    The smell of books folded round them when the door closed, and after a deep breath she visibly relaxed down. She poked her head round one row of shelves and waved down to the librarian, pointing from herself to Zach and then up to the back end of the room, barely waiting for the wave and nod back before she turned to take his wrist. “This way. She doesn’t mind us being in, but we have to be quiet,” she whispered, steering well clear of the soft hum of computers as she led the way up to the back.

    She quickly found her usual spot; a little sofa squished snugly between two shelves, a table plonked down in front of it. Usually people didn’t bother with it, since it was so far from the computers and a bit out of the usual sections of reference. She’d even managed to sleep there for an hour or two on a few occasions. “We can grab ‘normal’ stiff-backed chairs from somewhere if you prefer, I know some folk don’t like being squeezed up together while they study…” She’d let go of his wrist and was already settling down as she spoke, though she knew Zach might not be so quick to get comfortable.
  18. The library had a soft, muted aura about it, muffled conversations heard every now and then from groups of huddled students who were studying, working on a project, or other assorted schoolwork. The lights were plentiful, but none harsh; allowing a warmth to spread between the tall bookshelves that filled every nook and cranny of the library. It was quite a large size, the biggest in town, and as such had tons of room for students to come in and work.

    This library was one of immense familiarity to Imogene, who immediately acted as if she were at home, quickly finding the librarian to let her know that she had a guest, before dragging him off to no doubt her favorite spot in the library. Zach could've sworn he saw a smirk on the librarian's face, but he couldn't be sure, pulled away too fast to get a good glimpse. Zach guessed though that Imogene didn't often bring guests in with her, let alone one guy.

    They weaved throughout bookshelf after bookshelf, the clicking and clattering of mice and keyboards fading behind them, until they reached a small table and couch nestled between two large shelves. Zach was unsure just what section they were in; not that it mattered, his books were in his bag and he didn't need to look in the library to study. It was here that they stopped, Imogene finally letting her soft grip of his wrist go. She began sitting down, offering to either share the seat or get another chair; whichever he was comfortable with.

    "If you don't mind, I'll sit with you, the couch looks quite comfy." Though his main motive was to simply be a bit closer to this new girl, when he sat down beside her, the plush cushions of the chair were indeed quite relaxing. Though as he pulled out his book and placed it on the table beside hers, he noticed just how close they would be. The couch was more of a loveseat, and as such not much room was afforded between the two occupants. Their shoulders rubbed as they flipped through pages. Deciding to get more comfortable, he leaned back, placing the book in his lap as he studied, letting the silence of the library take over. Nothing was heard; only the flipping of pages and their own breathing breaking the silence.
  19. Flick, flick, flick.

    She peeked at Zach over the edge of her book. It seemed impossible to concentrate whenever she felt his shoulder rubbing against hers, and she was sure her breathing was quicker than it should have been even though she couldn’t have been somewhere more relaxing and familiar. Either he was too immersed to notice or he was perceptive enough not to comment. She wondered which of the two it was as she eyed him across the top of the book. She wasn’t the most subtle person in the world and it was never more apparent than when she was examining someone.

    She cleared her throat and let her gaze drop back to the book, a momentary look of confusion crossing her face as she realized she’d turned a few pages too many in her attempt to sneak peeks. Blushing slightly, she flicked backwards, hoping he’d not noticed. Quiet tension was rising in her, tying her stomach in knots. Another clearing of the throat and she leant forward to tug something different out of her satchel. Maybe she just needed something different, that must be it. Couldn’t concentrate on one subject too long.

    The same problem arose though; she leant back and grazed her arm against Zach’s, then her shoulder rubbed against his as she tried to shift back. She shivered, uncertain as to what exactly she could do in the situation. She’d been the one to bring them up to the back of the room and settle on the tight little sofa, totally neglecting to check whether it was fitting for them both. Another glance at him, this time without the cover of the book, with the blush deepening dramatically as she regarded him.

    Crushes were difficult, she decided, bringing her thumb up to her mouth and beginning to nibble at the tip once more.
  20. They were there for studying, but Zach felt neither one of them was learning much of anything. It seemed that even the tiniest movement between the two of them caused friction, that nothing went unnoticed. A turn of the page resulted in brushing forearms; a shift in position caused shoulders to bump. There was near constant contact between the two of them, and given that they really had only met today, the situation was full of tension and awkwardness. Zach could tell, with a few well-timed glances from his textbook, that Imogene was beginning to grow restless. She seemed to be unable to sit still and focus, and what was more curious is that the cause of her distress was the constant amount of contact between the two of them.

    As time passed, her face grew in reddish hue, until she was quite visibly blushing, her thumb inevitably reaching her mouth in order to soothe her. Her eyes darted from book, to him, and back again, hardly focusing on the text in front of her. Zach briefly wondered what she could be thinking about, what it could be that was bothering her. Was she worried that she was distracting him? Could be, as he had studied just about as much as she did. Could it be that she didn't like being touchy feely with new people? Could be, though if that were the case, wouldn't she have brought the chairs without asking? Still, he felt he had to do something, before she whittled away her poor thumb into nothingness.

    "Do you... want me to get a chair to sit in?" He asked softly, looking up at her from his book, mildly surprised to find her eyes already looking back. His cheeks turned a slight pink, having known she had been glancing, but having had no idea how intensely. It was as if he was what she was studying, not her book. Zach shifted, trying to distract himself, but then he felt his thigh brush against hers, and for that moment he was glad the book was in his lap, blocking access to what surely would've made things more awkward. He had a feeling that perhaps a bit of space would makes things better, as he wasn't sure either of them could handle the current situation; at least not while studying.
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