Mopy Dick

Lavender Heights Community College 
#1


It was snowing.

He had thought, after getting off work at 2PM, that he would do something brave and make himself walk back to the campus on Lavender Heights, which might sound like some sort of progress toward healing except he veered regularly between vengeful foolhardiness and the kind of fear that made him feel small and naked and trapped. He had thought he might get something out of walking around under the trees where he had emerged after losing an evening, or maybe find some note staked there that would explain everything.

It had been a stupid idea. And now it was snowing.

Devin huddled under a balding tree, shivering in an undersized jacket and swinging through a revolving door of feelings. Snowflakes kept landing behind his ears. He sighed, hugging his arms to his chest, and kept himself busy feeling moody while lowkey marveling at the fact that he could see his breath.
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#2


 IT WAS SNOWING!

 Minerva loved warm, sunshiny days in which she could wear shorts and flip flops, but snow was just magical, and she had been prepared for it in the early morning when she checked the weather. It meant dragging out scarves and boots and pulling together an outfit that was both cute and functional because the magic of snow could quickly be lost to the painful chill of it.

 It did make schoolwork a little difficult to pay attention to, though, so she was grateful to find out her last class of the day had been cancelled. She all but burst out of the building in which her last class had been, and as much as she wanted to squeal loudly for the joy that built inside of her like a balloon, that kind of thing might be disruptive to others in the vicinity. So instead, she grinned like an idiot as she stomped across the cold grounds towards her car, having every intention of grabbing a hot cup of coffee before embarking on a snowy afternoon adventure.

 She was easily distracted by a familiar sight - tall boy Devin! It felt like it had been some time since she'd met him in that record store, and she was pretty sure he had said he wasn't in school right now. She wondered what he was doing here, but was mostly just intent on greeting him as he stood shivering beneath a tree.

 "Hey! Devin!" she called to him from some distance away, one hand waving eagerly at him in big, enthusiastic swings. The rush of air made her fingertips pink. Her steps were peppy as she moved closer to him. He didn't really seem appropriately dressed for the snow. "Gosh, aren't you cold?"
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#3
Unexpectedly, he heard his name. He looked for the source with a sense of unease, but look there: record store Minerva, looking exactly as perfect and put-together as he remembered, waving as she ran to meet him.

It was a relief to see her, like Minerva being around would make everything safe and normal again; he even managed a smile. It was hard to focus on how much you hated everything when the person next to you was that happy. He uncrossed his arms, which was kind of like waving if you were a lump all the time. "Hey." Not excited, but an appreciative hey. "I forgot you went here."

Also, yes, he was cold. "This is my warmest coat...I forgot snow was a thing."
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#4
 Minerva distinctly remembered Devin as a seemingly kind but pretty darn awkward person. But! He had not given her any signs that she was a bother, so she would barrel onward in her pursuit of friendship. Her perpetual grin was wide as ever, laughing a little as he remarked that he had forgotten her status as a Lavender Heights student, head bobbing affirmatively.

 "Oh, man," she responded with some knee-jerk pity, feeling like she was deeply empathetic to his freezing plight. Cool weather was nice, but being cold was not fun. Quickly, she unraveled the chunky, too-big scarf from around her neck and held it out to him insistently. Cold air sucked the warmth from her neck where the heavy material had just been, but she trusted her hair to take care of it to some degree. He didn't have enough hair to do that. "Here, you can borrow this. It's kinda girly but it's warm." She would not take no for an answer, Devin.
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#5
She was so happy about nothing — how did that work?

She immediately offered her scarf, which of course she did, and he made a slight poopy-face but allowed it to be placed in his hands. He was too cold and the scarf was too toasty to resist. He wound it slowly around his neck with another awkward smile. "Thanks." The warmth at the back of his neck made goosebumps run down his back and shoulders in protest.

He tucked his hands back under his arms, but only to conserve warmth, still smiling at Minerva. "What class did you get out of?"
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#6
 It seemed a bit like Devin was made uncomfortable by the offered scarf, and she briefly considered maybe taking no for an answer after all. But he looped the big warm thing around his neck and thanked her, and her heart was warmed by the knowledge that he might be more comfortable for it.

 "Math," she informed him with a playfully disdainful wrinkle of her nose. "My next class was American History, but it got cancelled for the day, so I was gonna go get some coffee and find something to do. You wanna come?" She grinned, before her expression became one of realization. "I mean, unless you're busy." Maybe he had class after all, or was meeting someone here. She didn't want to impose!
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#7
God, they made you take math in college? He thought the whole point was you just got to focus on the shit you were interested in. Gross.

He was already formulating a way to say yes when she backtracked, and he struggled for just a weirdly long time with how to respond to everything at once. "It's my day off," he settled on at last, looking carefully blank. "I'd freeze out here anyway." He did another weird smile, both trying his hardest and roasting privately with horror at his own inability to just be normal. Please just point him toward coffee.
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#8
 There was a stretch of silence after her wish-washy offer, and for a moment Minnie was self-conscious. Had she said something dumb? Maybe he didn’t want to hang out with her. The spiral didn’t get far, as Devin informed her it was his day off and, in a roundabout way, that he would hang out with her. He didn’t say it directly but it was good enough for her, and her face broke into that broad grin that took up most of her face out of pure joy.

 "Okay!" She piped, tangibly eager. "Wanna ride with me? I have heated seats!" The last statement came in a sing-songy voice as she began to step backwards towards the parking lot, beckoning him with the power of sheer enthusiasm.
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#9
Devin, being young, was a person easily pulled into other people's momentum, and Minnie had a lot of momentum to go around. It was impossible not to smile at her capering, and he allowed himself to be taken in. For the moment, anyway. "Sure," he said, following on long, dumb gawky legs. "What kind of car you got?"
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#10
 For all that Devin was a little awkward and maybe just kind of shy, Minerva decided that he was not terrible at all. She was determined to befriend him, to see what sort of person lay within that tall, thorny shell, besides an enjoyment for Atmosphere. "It is a Subaru Outback," she informed him as they walked, with some degree of loving pride in her voice. She fished the key fob out of her bag and raised it into the air, clicking a button until she could hear it beeping at them from the middle of the parking lot. "I wanted a Mustang but my parents decided it was too risky." This was said with more understanding than remorse, because in the end they were probably right, and she had fallen in love with the Subaru pretty quickly anyway.
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#11
It was hard to process two kinds of information at once: the kind that required him to appear friendly and normal (why was this never an issue with his old friends?) with a person he didn't know well, but also the kind that bleeped in his head like a low-battery alert, wait, this girl's parents bought her an SUV.. If he'd had the option, he would have sat down in place and stewed on all of this.

Luckily he didn't! Instead he legged after Minnie with the uncertain "nice girl?" smile he was getting so much use out of lately. "Nice," he said simply as he opened the passenger side door, looking down with anticipation at all the leg room. "I don't actually know shit about cars."
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#12
 Minerva all but skipped to her vehicle, plopping down into the driver's set and grinning at Devin in her scarf as he spoke, waiting patiently for him to get settled and buckle his seat belt. "Yeahhhh. I don't really know anything about cars either except whether they look pretty or not," she confessed sheepishly, starting the engine and moving quickly to turn on the heaters and the seat warmers both. "Which is kind of sad, or funny I guess depending on how you look at it, considering my dad sells cars for a living." A little tinkling of laughter as she put the car in gear and began to get them toward the coffee shop she had in mind. "So, what are you doing on your day off? Just... chillin'?" She laughed again at herself and that gloriously awful pun she had just made.
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#13
He smiled as he began to pack himself into the car, thinking, same. Though of course 'pretty' was not a word in his vocabulary. He buckled himself down as she continued to say small, sparkly Minerva things, each of which he could think about for a solid five minutes, only he was never going to have the chance. When she finally tossed the ball back to him, he got all tripped up at why she was laughing, taking too long to realize it was a joke about his dumb ass being out in the cold. He grimaced slightly, an understated expression of the resentful appreciation all humans feel at being exposed to puns. "Yeah. I work pretty close to here. I like to walk on the campus sometimes."

This was a lie, but a necessary one as he pondered uneasily about vampires. He wanted to play at the world being safe, not talk about mind control and blood sucking.
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#14
 "Oh, nice!" Minerva said simply, but genuinely. He had mentioned he wasn't in school - maybe he just really wanted to be? Was it insensitive to comment on that? She felt like it might be. Bringing up work also seemed like maybe not such a great idea. Who liked work? Not that she would know, but, maybe he didn't want to talk about work on his day off. Still, though the drive would be short, she was determined to fill it with conversation, and determined to make a friend of tall boy Devin.

 "So, have you made any good new music discoveries lately?" she tried tentatively, considering reaching for her phone to turn on some music but quickly deciding against it. She tried not to make a habit of handling her phone while driving in the first place, but she especially didn't want to endanger a passenger.
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#15
"Uhh." He sniffled and then scowled thoughtfully, sifting through the endless jazz that always played at Meat Cute, the B-list rappers from Dayton and St. Louis that he liked to follow. Minerva probably wouldn't know what to do with YelloPain. "I actually looked up Florence and the Machine."

He'd liked it, actually. Not his style of music, but the way she belted was hard not to be taken in by. It was easy to picture Minerva listening to it and feeling stuff, if he thought about it, which of course he hadn't because he would never like a person or think about them. Or wear their scarves. Or get his buns warmed by their car's heated seats.
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#16
 What! That was an unexpected but pleasant surprise! She grinned brightly, sparing him a quick glance and a laugh. "Isn’t she awesome?" Minnie gushed. Of course she was awesome - belatedly she realized that maybe a guy who liked rap might not actually be into Florence. Or maybe she had revealed to Devin a whole unearthed part of himself that included a deep love for her own favorite musician.
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