Passing through the automated front doors, Freda surveyed the 24 hour pizza joint that she had just discovered. It was a surprising large and spacious place with quite a number of students around despite the fact that land pricing within the city had become ridiculously exorbitant in the recent years and to her knowledge at least, that students rarely hung out late at night when there were morning classes to attend the next day.
The place itself was designed with a circular concept, with the service counters in the middle of the building and the seating layout surrounding the center. Oddly enough, the main entrance seemed to be the only way in and out of the building, with a giant television mounted to the ceiling on the opposite end. Varying from a typical pizza place however, was that the lighting wasn’t a bright white but rather a soft white with a light orange glow. In addition, a relaxing classical piece was being played from the sound system. As a result, the place itself felt more like a huge cafe.
Approaching the counter, the menu boasted a wide selection, ranging from light snacks to main course meals with their signature pizza merely being one of the many choices. This menu board, along with the service counter, was split into two halfs. The first half was the usual self service counter where one would go up and make their order. The other half was more of a bar counter, giving off a classier feel.
From what she has seen so far, it was fair to say that the owner probably wasn’t planning to make much of a profit and is more than the average wealthy person to begin with. Deciding that she had seen enough, she proceeded to make her order.
The cashier was a girl of similar age who wore what seemed to be a maid uniform. As with the place itself, the uniform was different from the modern day skimpy styled outfits, being a half skirt accompanied with a short sleeved shirt that clearly priortised elegance over sensuality.
As there was no one else in line, the two remained in their respective positions, after Freda having turned down the suggestion of taking a seat while waiting. In an attempt to quell the awkward atmosphere, the counter girl attempted to make conversation with questions such as her choice in dinner timing and her course of studies.
The answers however, were short and had very little room for conversation to flow on. Slightly more than a minute later, it was obvious that they were running short of common topics and there didn’t seem to be much interest being shown on Freda’s part.
Just as the silence became unbearable, Freda felt a peck of coldness at her neck. Ignoring it at first, a second peck came, to which she turned to look in the direction of these frosty attacks. What she saw was two girls, one with long wavy black hair with streaks of red holding a straw, presumably the one resposible for the attacks and the other with mildly pink short hair, who was apparently trying to stop her companion.
Realising that they have been spotted, the girl with the straw started waving at her, signalling her to come closer while the other sat back down and tried to look away. While she didn’t feel like spending more time than necessary, she had a feeling that not going over would only warrant more icy shots to the neck. Maintaining a serious look, she promptly walked over to their table.
“Look. She is almost here. You can ask as much as you want now!”
“What seems to be the matter?” queried Freda, who had by then reached their table.
“No. It’s nothing. I apologise for my friend’s misbehaviour! She just had a little too much sugar tonight. Sorry for bothering-” replied Claire in a panic before being interrupted by Sarah.
“Hi! I’m sorry for calling you over like this. But Claire here was tugging at my sleeve earlier so I couldn’t call you over directly. So anyway, we have something important to ask you.”
“All right. What is it that you would like to know?”
“Would a SC like you ever consider having a non-SC as a lover?” exclaimed Sarah.
“NO! Uhm. She meant to say what do you think about people who are not classified as Super Competent in general.” corrected Claire.
Freda paused for a moment, attempting to come up with a suitable reply. However, as such thoughts had never crossed her mind before, she was not able to think up of anything that would answer these sort of questions well enough.
“Truthfully, I have not ever considered this before. However, my general view on people who are not classfied as Super Competent is simply that we are all still humans.”
“Ehh…what a dry answer.” noted Sarah, looking like she expected much more.
“As I have just demonstrated.” added Freda.
“Well, that wasn’t as bad. But not too many people will appreciate these sort of examples.”
“Ahem. Sorry for troubling you over this. Can we make it up to you somehow?” offered Claire.
“Why don’t you join us? I will treat you to whatever you like if you help us out here.” added Sarah.
At this moment, Freda had a moment of conflict where she needed to decide between messing up her schedule more or giving up what seemed to be a god sent opportunity to practise her social skills. Fate however, ultimately opposed her chance of picking the former.
“Ladies. Miss Freda. What gathers you all here at this time of the night?”
Walking towards them was a lanky man dressed in a brown suit with a dark red bow tie. To the students of CIT, he was well known for favouring the academically inclined, often ignoring the pleas of students who barely missed a passing grade in any of his examinations. Standing before them, his attention was clearly focused on Freda rather than the other two.
“Good evening, professor Hawthorne. Due to various circumstances, I have not had my dinner yet and came here to buy some. Since Claire and her friend had some questions to ask me, I am now trying to answer them to the best of my ability.” replied Freda in a polite but monotonous tone.
“I see. I presume it’s a question of significant complexity. Do I have the honour of hearing the question posed and your answer to which was given?” said the professor, displaying a broad smile.
“Professor. The question asked was more of a personal matter. So I’m afraid that I won’t be able to reveal the question. However, my answer was that I had not considered the question before, so I felt that it was inappropriate for me to give a casual response. I hope you will understand, sir.”
“Very well. A personal matter is not one of academic value in most cases. I will say though that I am looking forward to your presentation tomorrow morning. It’s truly a joy to have not just one but two outstanding students. And to these two ladies, may their efforts prove fruitful. Good night.”
Leaving as suddenly as he came, the three watched till he walked out of the doors.
“For an affordable sweet snack, he sure doesn’t live up to his name.” commented Sarah, who was evidently disgusted by the professor’s attitude.
“A snack?” asked Freda, not having heard of the relation between the two before.
“Hawthorne. It’s a type of berry. Makes a pretty good sweet or jam. You should try it sometime. But as expected, you must really be quite smart for someone like him to make it a point talk to you even when you are out of class.” commented Sarah.
“Ah! We actually haven’t introduced ourselves, right? I am Claire and my friend here is Sarah. Nice to meet you!” said Claire, stretching out her hand to offer a handshake.
Before Freda had a chance to react, Sarah leaped up towards her, giving her a tight hug. In her surprise, Freda froze up there as she tried to figure out an appropriate reaction.
“Really now. You should loosen up more. All that studying is making you stiff.” whispered Sarah, before letting her go.
“See, Claire? This is how you make an unforgettable impression! But for someone who can remember another’s name after hearing it once, you wouldn’t have forget mine so easily, would you?” teased Sarah, as she pat Freda on the shoulder.
“Sarah, we are troubling her. She still has a presentation in the morning. Let’s not delay her any further, okay?”
“Aww…that’s no fun at all. Fine. Claire and I hang out here at around this time during the term. If it suits you, come look us up sometime, okay? Claire will want to hear your answer after you think about it.” said Sarah, as Claire snapped at her last comment.
After bidding them farewell, Freda proceeded to collect her takeaway before leaving the place. As she walked towards her apartment, she thought about what had happened earlier and was partly regretting her decision to go with the flow. However, since they had asked her to join them again, she looked forward to freeing some time in her schedule to do so.