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15: University – ‘Messages’

Julian Cosaro (Term 1), Gavin Klein (Term 1), Michelle Valdes (Term 1)

Julian Cosaro had been excited to head off to University–a whole new world of academia to uncover. He was majoring n Science along with Gavin Klein. The two were mild acquaintances from high school, though they didn’t travel in the same ‘social circles.’ Julian was surprised to see Michelle Valdes in attendance, as well.

“Are you saying that someone like me couldn’t get into university?” Michelle was brazen and forthright. She was only joking, but Julian was too nervous to notice. She was a transplant, having moved to Aperture with only two years left in high school. Her family was a bit… odd.

“W-What? No,” he began nervously, “that’s not what I meant at all–”

She waved him off and continued to her room, “calm down, boy wonder. I was kidding.”

Julian didn’t really have time to worry about offending certain high school crushes. He had other things overtaking his thoughts, like where the hell his mother had disappeared to. Much like Emma, Julian encountered vampires at university. He also tried questioning them, but to the same result. They weren’t talking.

Gavin’s acuity with the ladies only seemed to increase upon entrance to University. He wasn’t really interested in girls his age, though. It was all drama and games and silly things he really didn’t have time for. That didn’t mean he shirked their advances, however. They still had their uses, just not on the long term…

Gavin knew Michelle from high school. They hung with the less-than-reputable bunch that skipped classes, flooded the school, and smoked outside behind the shop garage. It had always been a easy sort of friendship, with Michelle having zero romantic interest in Gavin and vice versa. They shared a kinship in doing things just because they felt like it.

“You’re in classes with him, aren’t you?” Michelle asked quietly, gesturing towards Julian.

“Uh, yeah,” Gavin replied, quirking an eyebrow, “probably the only one who can usurp my eventual ‘evil genius’ title. You know who his mom is, right?”

“Vampire crime boss, killed her own husband and took his title, yeah yeah, who doesn’t know that story?”

“Then you know that her husband was my grandfather.”

“Oooh, yeah,” she shrugged a little, “sorry.” After a short pause. “Does that mean you’re like, related in a weird way or something?”

Gavin sighed and shook his head. Michelle would never be accused of being bright.

Gavin had never really had any personal experience with Julian, despite them being somewhat related (if not by blood.) After a few classes, Gavin was certain he needed to cultivate a friendship with this genius. He always had his head in the books and he was beyond awkward to talk to, but he was brilliant in ways Gavin couldn’t even begin to put to word.

It also helped that he was deeply passionate about his work to an almost scary extent. Gavin could definitely get behind that.

Michelle, on the other hand, did not spend her time locked up in a laboratory. Instead, she hung out with her classmates and continued her tradition of skipping classes. She wasn’t even sure why she’d come to university, only that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Her family had already left Aperture, so if she wanted to stay, she needed to find an excuse. College seemed to work.

Her family had always been that way, moving around constantly, never really staying in one place for very long. Michelle was a free spirit, but she’d had enough of the nomad life.

Julian was used to being ignored by the people around him, so he had zero experience when it came to people doing the exact opposite. It would seem that Emma was not the only one who had inherited their parents magnetism. Even with Julian’s awkwardness, women from all the different groups made it a point to chat him up.

It got them nowhere, of course. Julian’s narrow focus fell on his academics and science. He really didn’t have time to consider girls. Especially when they only seemed interested in him because he was ‘pretty.’

“Seriously, what is his deal?” Michelle demanded, stopping Gavin before he could escape the lecture hall and go make out with the professor.

Gavin stopped only because he was amused. This whole situation was becoming a major source of entertainment for him. Michelle seemed to be hung up on the genius for some reason he couldn’t quite fathom. It didn’t matter, so long as it continued to amuse him. “What do you mean?”

“That was freaking Ashley Corona!”

“Maybe she wanted him to help her study,” Gavin grinned, wiggling his eyebrows as he said the last word. “Geeze, Michelle. You know you can talk to him, right?”

“He clams up and looks at me like I’m going to throttle him any time I try!”

“You are kind of intimidating…”

“I AM NOT!” She coughed, looking around as everyone’s attention focused on her. “I’m not,” she added quietly. “My parents always said I was just intense.”

“Uh huh.”

Michelle’s brilliant plan had ended up with her running faster than she’d ever had to before in her life. This was worse than when she’d been chased by the cops for breaking into the alchemy shop. It wasn’t her fault that they’d had such shiny things in the windows!

Julian was faster than she’d anticipated. Perhaps she should have kept in mind that his dad was a star athlete. Even so, Michelle had a lot more experience running than the smart kid did. She’d been running her entire life. With his books secure, she ran across campus with Julian at her heels.

“Are you insane? Give them back!”

Michelle laughed, glancing behind her, “I’m just borrowing them!”

She’d taken his books, his freaking books. He’d been in the middle of a breakthrough and then she’d come up and swiped her arm across the table, collecting the books into a sack. And then she’d run off. He’d gaped at the empty table before hearing her laughter echo through the library as she ran away. What the hell was she, some sort of unabashed kleptomaniac?

Chasing her around campus had not been Julian’s plan for the evening. He had notes to go over and theorems to perfect. What was her problem, anyway? This wasn’t high school so why was she picking on him?

When he finally caught up with her, she was gone, his books in a haphazard pile. It took him until he returned to the dormitory to realize that one was missing. Fantastic.

Michelle moved tiredly next to Gavin, flopping down ungracefully. “So, I have this book.”

Gavin eyed it, recognizing the handwriting. “Julian’s notebook? Wow, Michelle. I see old habits die hard.”

“Shut up,” she snapped at him, settling down and leafing through it. “It’s all crazy stuff, though. Science, I guess, right?”

“Yes, science,” he said, using the word like an insult. He was awarded with her flipping him off. He laughed. “You realize we’re in college now, right? Besides, you’ve probably traumatized him. That book never leaves his hands.”

“It’s just filled with all these crazy lines of text and numbers and madness,” Michelle said, ignoring him. After a few moments of silence, she looked up from the book. “Is he crazy?”

“No, he’s smart,” Gavin responded matter-of-factually, clearly unimpressed with Michelle’s simplicity. “Perhaps smart is too easy. He’s a genius. I’ve been in school with him forever. It’s ridiculous. He reads things and knows them instantly. He’s not like us. We have fun, we do cool stuff… he just reads all the time. Boring.”

Michelle rolled her eyes. “This coming from the guy who is banging our fine arts professor…”

Fine Arts, indeed.”

“Ugh. You’re disgusting.”

Julian hadn’t noticed Michelle and Gavin until he heard a commotion and looked up from his book. Michelle was smacking Gavin ruthlessly with a book. He squinted and noticed that it was his notebook, the one that was missing. She was using his brilliant postulations and theories as a makeshift weapon!

If he were Emma, he’d run over and demand it back… but he wasn’t. So he would just sit in quiet anger. He’d started a new one, but he needed some of his old data. What was her problem, anyway? Most people were to afraid to ‘bully’ him for fear of his parents–or worse yet–Emma’s wrath. Michelle didn’t seem to care, but maybe it was just because they were outside of their influence now.

“You want your book back, right?” Michelle called out to Julian as he walked to his room. He paused. “Play me for it.”

“What?”

“Pool, c’mon,” Michelle said, racking up the balls. “You win, I give you the notebook back.”

He sighed. “I really don’t have time to play games right now–”

She wiggled the notebook in the air and raised her eyebrows. “Reeeeeally? I think it misses you.” She leaned towards the notebook, as if listening to it before taking on a sing-song voice: “Aw, poor little notebook, no one to spend endless hours scribbling silly science stuff in you. What a shame.”

“Fine,” Julian ground out, eyes never leaving the notebook, “but I’m not good at this. I’ve never played before.”

“What? Who hasn’t played pool? Sheesh, you must’ve lived in a cave,” Michelle countered, waiting for him to break. “It’s easy.”

After half an hour, Michelle began to realize that Julian wasn’t joking, he was abysmal. There were no words for how bad he was. She almost felt bad. In the end, she’d won. She feigned a sad face and shrugged, notebook in hand.

“Guess you better practice, huh? Later, wonder boy!”

“Are you stalking me now?” Julian asked bluntly when Michelle appeared in front of him at the cafeteria table.

“I don’t stalk people,” Michelle countered, watching as he rose to his feet, “what are you doing?”

He sighed, not bothering to hide his annoyance. “I”m going to the lab. Where it’s quiet.”

“You don’t want your book back?”

“N-” He began only to stop. He heaved another sigh. “Yes. I want it back.”

“Then spend less time in the lab and more time getting better at pool.”

Gavin’s popularity on campus was becoming a burden. It was a daily occurrence for girls to break into the lab at a sensitive point in time. It almost always ended with Julian shouting: “damn it, Gavin, one of your groupies is in here again!”

Julian had little tolerance for interruptions when it came to sensitive experiments. Gavin would have to give up his spot to Julian–who would run between the two machines like a madman–and shoo the girl out with platitudes interspersed with his eyeballs trying not to roll backwards.

When he returned, Julian would look disheveled, but triumphant. Again, he’d have missed the best part–the culmination of all their work. He was going to need to put a zapper or something on the lab doors.

“What are you doing?” Julian asked, clearly affronted at Michelle’s microwave meal.

“Making food?” She answered uncertainly, glancing back at him.

He sighed, shaking his head. “I’ll make you something that’s actually edible if you stop bullying me and give me my notebook back.”

“W-what? I’m not bullying you!” She turned to face him now, trying to ignore the suggestion of legitimate food. Michelle’s cooking skills left a lot to be desired.

He didn’t reply as he pushed her aside and promptly deposited what she’d been making in the trash. Michelle gaped at him. His movements were lacking in malice or emotion. He even reached over her, seeming not to notice that he was very much in her personal space. Michelle watched him and mumbled: “now who’s the bully?”

He gave her a funny look but didn’t comment on it.

Gavin was shameless when it came to his pursuits of women he found attractive. Their maid was one particular target. Other men in the dorm had tried hitting on her to no avail, but Gavin was smooth. He didn’t act his age at all, able to don a persona of complete maturity at a moment’s notice. It was kind of interesting to watch.

It helped that the other guys had gone after the maid because of her ‘assets’, but Gavin’s interest was usually intellectual. He liked figuring out what made people tick.

Michelle returned Julian’s notebook after the whole cooking thing. A bridge had been built, it seemed, and Julian now spoke to her without looking like he was going to run away in terror. Michelle still had to corner him, however. He always had his head stuck in a book or he was at the lab. Keeping his attention was probably the biggest challenge.

“Is that Gavin making out with the maid?” He asked, looking past her, his face caught somewhere between scandalized and muted interest.

Michelle followed his gaze and shook her head. “He’s so shameless.”

It had taken nearly a year and a half, but Michelle had finally gotten Julian to the point where he was comfortable around her. She’d even managed to drag him out with her and Gavin, though he would usually run off and hide in a corner with a book. Something had changed with him between high school and college. He’d never been this antisocial before.

“See, by dancing, you can observe the fairy without being creepy,” Michelle instructed. She’d lured him into dancing, finally, with the promise of being able to see the fairy closer.

“I’m not creepy,” Julian countered, looking mildly hurt.

“You’re very creepy. Your mother is terrifying, your sister is pretty much her clone, and you lurk around in dark corners, scrawling crazy things in a notebook. That’s like, the definition of creepy.”

“I’m just observant,” Julian said, glancing over at the fairy. “I wonder if he’d mind if I ask some questions…”

“Calm down, science boy.” Michelle placed a hand on his arm, keeping him from scuttling off. “You can interrogate the fairy later. Why not just pretend you’re normal for like, five minutes?”

“Stop whining,” Michelle chastised, throwing him a pool stick, “and shoot already. You act like I’m torturing you or something.”

“You are,” Julian said, his voice a perfect monotone despite the pained expression on his face, “I have things to do. Science things.” That was his word for the complex things he got up to. He’d rambled about them once and Michelle was certain her brain would leak out her ears, so from then on, he simply said ‘science.’

Science can wait. I can’t. Let’s get this show on the road!”

“Get a good shot of this, Anoki,” Michelle called to the school photographer. He was snapping pictures for the end-of-year flier that went out, highlighting the year that had passed. “My victory will be sweet.”

She watched with anticipation as Julian lined up his shot. He was breaking. It was a mercy to let him go first, after all. She was shocked when he sunk several of the balls at once. She blinked as he stood up, grinning all the while.

“W-What?!”

“It’s all geometry,” Julian explained, taking another perfectly executed shot. “Once I figured that out, it was simple.”

“Y-You… that’s not fair! You’re cheating!”

“I’m not,” he said, another ball making a ‘chunk’ noise as it smacked against the others resting inside the table. “It’s a legitimate strategy.”

“Argh!”

“I win,” he said after a few more shots. Michelle hadn’t even gotten a chance to shoot. He gave her a look, eyes bright with purpose. “My terms. Science!”

“Why are we out here again?” Michelle groaned. She’d been following him across campus for the past half an hour. It was nearly midnight and the only people present were security and a few professors.

“Because I won,” Julian countered in a matter-of-fact tone, “and these are my terms.”

“Okay, fine. So what do you want, then?”

At this, he fell quiet. Michelle was just glad he’d stopped. She’d had enough walking for the night. After a few drinks, she was pretty useless when it came to athletic endeavors. Julian hadn’t had a drop, she was just the same as always.

“Weeell?”

He turned to face her suddenly, looking strangely shy. “You’ll think I’m weird.”

“I already think you’re weird,” she said abruptly. When he looked mildly hurt, she laughed and quickly added, “but in like, an okay way. It’s a cute weird. Like a puppy with three legs or something.”

She was being an idiot, but he no longer looked hurt, so that was progress. “All right, but you can’t say no.”

“Fine, I won’t,” Michelle relented, peering at him. Was he going to ask what she thought he was? He took her hand and her eyes widened.

“You realize I have no idea what in the hell I’m doing, right?!” Michelle shouted over the sound of the machine’s whirring. She felt like a small fish in a very big pond. “There’s so many buttons!”

“Just follow what I say exactly,” Julian instructed from above her, hands moving deftly over the laptop keyboard. He was looking everywhere and nowhere all at the same time, moving quicker than Michelle thought should be humanly possible. “Hit the blue switch, then the green one, and then turn the left-most dial to two.”

Michelle followed his instructions explicitly, if a little clumsily. She should have known better. He’d grabbed her hand and drug her towards the locked cage, undoing it with little issue. Clearly, breaking into the science building’s facilities was something he did often.

It was kind of exciting, in a weird, nerdy way. Michelle had never been someone with the sort of IQ that made her any better than anyone else. She was lucky to get through high school, much less into college. She was a bit of a slacker, a habitual ‘I’ll try later, right now I’m going to take a nap’ kind of girl. The fact that she counted Gavin amongst her friends was testament enough to her lack of consideration for intellect or grownup oriented things.

Suddenly, the machine kicked up a gear and began making a really loud, pulsating sound. Michelle glanced up at Julian, her voice tinged lightly with fear: “Uh, is it supposed to make that noise?”

“Move the right slider to five,” came his monotone instruction.

Michelle did that. She remembered doing that. Unfortunately, that was the last thing she remembered. Her finger did its job and then she heard the weirdest noise she’d ever heard before in her life and then… nothing. It was just dark.

“Why does it feel like someone tried to scoop my brain out with a melon-baller?” Michelle groaned, blinking awake and feeling absolutely horrible. She glanced around, realizing that she wasn’t in her dorm room. “Where the hell am I?”

Getting out of bed proved problematic. Her legs felt like limp, wet noodles when she tried to put her weight on them. Her entire body tingled, little electric shocks surging beneath her skin. This was the worst and weirdest hangover she’d ever had.

“Oh, you’re up. Good! You’re okay.” Julian. She was going to kill him.

“What the hell did you do?!” Michelle demanded, ignoring the fact that this was his room. “What’s wrong with me? What happened?”

“Calm down, you’re fine,” Julian said, quickly adding, “well, I think you’re fine. As fine as you’ll be…”

“Damn it, just answer my questions!”

“Uh, well, I can’t. Because I don’t entirely know. I just needed someone else to control the lower panel while I input the data directly into the feed and then something… happened.”

Something?”

He gestured at her, hands sweeping over her body as a point of reference, “this, you, that is. You got… um. Well it sort of zapped you.”

“Oh, my, God,” Michelle panicked, her eyes going wide. Her hands moved to the side of her face, fingertips in her hair as she sunk to the floor. “Most girls get a hangover and end up in some guy’s bed feeling shamed. I get turned into a science experiment.”

Julian knelt down next to her, “we haven’t noticed anything abnormal… yet. So there’s nothing to be worried about.”

Yet?” She glanced up at him, frenzy overtaking her features. “I’m going to kill you!”

—————————

 Sorry this one is so long. I have too much fun with university entries. :P I also really wanted to expand on Julian’s personality, because we never really got to see it. I was so excited for university, but Michelle sort of threw a wrench into the works. I hadn’t realized she’d already been friends with Gavin, too. So that made things tie together nicely.

Julian is a literal genius. I mean that in the clearest definition of the term. He’s not an abstract genius or an artistic/creative genius, he’s the type who sucks with people, thinks about science stuff constantly, and when he speaks, it’s like you’re listening to Doctor Who ramble about the space time continuum. I married one such genius, so it’s a fun point of reference. They can also be assholes without intending to, which is funny from the outside, but not so much the inside, lol. The pool scene, where Julian trumps Michelle ridiculously, comes from RL. My dad was in a pool league, I grew up with a very expensive pool table in my house. The husband played maybe ONCE in his life. And he totaled me. I was shamed horribly. I stole his lines for Julian because they were cute.

Julian has spun up a wish to date Michelle, but I don’t see that coming easily. Girls don’t tend to like when you accidentally expose them to radiation or whatever the hell he did. Never expect a kiss from a crazy genius, you’ll only get hit by some weird laser. Michelle has the ‘Unstable’ trait, so this is how I’m explaining it. :)

Gavin is so fun. He reminds me so much of Francis from Boreal Springs. THE FEELS, YOU GUYS. I loved Francis, I love Gavin. He’ll get more time the next update. I wanted to focus on Julian and Michelle because they were underdeveloped in comparison to Gavin.

Since the Uni world is so touch-and-go with getting people back, I’m cramming two terms into one update per round. This is subject to change, of course. Uni updates will never have a set ‘order’ in regards to when they appear during the round. I am doing this so I can play Uni when I feel like it, because it’s a very long process. It usually takes me a few days.

10 comments to 15: University – ‘Messages’

  • Josh

    I loved the long entry! I kept waiting for Julian & Michelle to kiss but I really like what you did with them. She’s great, you know I like me some sassy women and she’s perfect for challenging him!

    Gavin is weird looking but I guess he’s good with women in the way Ted Bundy was? We’ll see. I like him but I’m interested in seeing what makes HIM tick.

    • Mao

      Thanks, Josh! I figured they would kiss autonomously, but they didn’t until after I was done playing. Go figure, lol! I love me some sassy ladies, too. So fun to write.

      HAHAHA, you know… that’s a really apt description. We do need to find out what goes on in his head. I think it’s hilarious that he’s an almost perfect copy of Oskar!

  • LOL, oh my gosh, Julian, what have you done?!

    This was a bit longer than usual but I think it was awesome to get a good idea of what Gavin and Julian (and Michelle) are going to be like as young adults, so I enjoyed it regardless.

    I thought Julian was going to ask Michelle out right after he slaughtered her at pool but I should have known that was far too conventional for him! I’m sure Michelle probably would have preferred an offer of a date to…whatever she actually got instead!

    • Mao

      I don’t think even he knows!

      I’m glad it developed their personalities a bit more. I felt so bad that they took the backseat to the elder siblings for so long. Time for them to get their own shine. ;) Michelle is an odd ball, so hopefully she’ll be a good match for Julian’s own eccentricities.

  • LMAO! That was my reaction the entire entry. Michelle getting in and get friendship with Gavin and her sudden interest in Julian and him being so absolutely nerdy yet beating her in pool and the big machine! The lulz, they kill me.

    I really want to see Michelle get him on a real date but with his track record so far, that might not happen till after uni! I loved this take on them and watching them interact.

    • Mao

      Hahaha, I’m glad! That’s a good reaction. :D I really enjoy sassy ladies and quirky, nerdy guys. It’s just too much fun. I haven’t had an obscure scientist in this hood yet, so it was only a matter of time. ;)

      Goodness only knows how long it’ll take these two to properly ‘get together’ officially. This little ‘snag’ certainly didn’t help things along… or maybe it did. Michelle is an odd one. ;)

  • This was a fantastic update, I am seriously fangirling here over Julian, I totally love him, he is smoking hot, with a great smoldering look. When he’s at the lab at the beginning, with that sexy expression, yum! I see why Michelle started teasing him, and behaving like a school girl. ;) This was a super fun update, and I love these guys in college! Julian has been in need of an update devoted to him, and this one did not disappoint! When Julian turned to face Michelle, I thought oh yeah we are gonna kiss… haha nope! Sheesh Julian!

    • Mao

      LOL! I love how you’re fangirling over Julian. I always tend to like the ones who keep to themselves and have questionable moral integrity. Julian’s not a bad guy, but with his traits and his family… he’s not necessarily a good one either, haha!

      I seriously had too much fun playing this. A lot of it wasn’t staged beyond character whims, which I love. I like to be directed, not be the director. ;)

  • jess

    I just read up about the unstable trait. It sounds so cool. I bet it’ll be really fun from a writing POV. I can’t wait for Michelle to roll genius after an episode to see her shock julian XD

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