I'd been keeping half an eye out for him for a while now. I felt I owed him an apology for my part in the cargo bay incident. I had disrespected him and regardless of his role in the events, he is still an officer who warrants the correct address. So when I saw him sitting in the Mess Hall this afternoon, eating alone, I knew it was time I sorted it out.
Rutter was studying a datapad while he dipped chunks, torn off a ciabatta roll, into his soup. I admit, I was hoping to catch him when he was alone, but the Mess Hall was relatively quiet so I walked over to him. He didn't look up.
"May I sit with you?" I asked quietly after a few moments. He stiffened at the sound of my voice.
"If you so wish," he replied coldly.
I sat awkwardly, folding my hands into my lap and cleared my throat. I may have been imagining it, but I swear the room quietened as if to pry.
"So? What can I do for you?" he asked, chivvying me along.
"I just wanted to say sorry ... that I didn't respect your rank ... back on the Drakonia." I spoke quietly.
"Oh," he sounded surprised.
"And that I didn't think it was fair ... you being made to sit in on that first lecture."
I shuffled uncomfortably in my chair. Rutter looked up from his soup and studied me for what seemed like endless minutes.
"That's it. I just wanted to say it. Clear the air ... you know," I added, smiled weakly and then stood up to leave. Rutter scowled at me.
"What makes you think I had to be there?"
"What? Oh!" I exclaimed.
He was right. I had jumped to that conclusion.
"I just assumed—"
"And wrongly. I was there because I asked to be there. As your mentor, I wanted to know what you were being told. There was an opportunity to hear it first hand, so I took it."
"Oh ... Right ... Well ... I'm pleased about that then." I bit my lip nervously. "I'll leave you to it then ... sir." The word stuck in my throat as I added it, but I knew it was necessary. I couldn't help wishing that the ground would open up and swallow me whole though.
I shuffled nervously on the spot for a moment and then turned.
"Cadet," he called after me.
"Yes ... sir," I said, still trying to be respectful.
"I ..." he paused as though finding the moment as awkward as I did. "I commend you."
It was a clumsy thank you, but a thank you nonetheless.
"You're welcome," I said smiling softly and left him to his soup.
As I left the room, I passed a group of cadets and heard one of them say, "Well, that's buggered that up. What do we do now?"
It piqued my curiosity for a moment, but only a moment. The important thing was that Rutter and I may have reached an understanding.