In all, there are about sixty of us on this first intake of the Professional Development Program and when we arrived, we felt a bit odd among these fresh-faced individuals; rather like mature students. Over the time that we have been here, we've had to suffer the odd dig or two from them as well. They've been light-hearted enough and generally, we've ignored them, but being called the 'old folks' when you've only got a handful of extra years under your belt is a bit annoying. Anyway, we got to show the 'babies' how to party last night and without a drop of alcohol or synthahol in sight, just enough adrenaline to put elephants on clouds.
We laughed and joked, danced and sang all evening and never got to see our beds. What we did get was told off. Apparently, we kept some of the 'babies' awake! Aw! Bless!
We finally broke up around 7 o'clock in the morning and headed back to our rooms still high on sheer exhilaration. I got first dibs on the shower because Bairn isn't leaving until the end of the month, but showered quickly nonetheless. By the time I got out, Bairn was crashed out on the bed in what I can only describe as an exhausted stupor. Lying on her stomach with her arms stretched out by her side, her face was twisted and squashed against the pillow. I've never seen Bairn look anything other than glamorous before but as she lay there, snoring loudly, she looked distinctly unsophisticated!
I woke her, of course, otherwise she would be late for her first lecture of the day, but then left her to it. I still had some of Tez's materials that he had kindly lent to me and I needed to return them. I dressed quickly and left with my hair still wet and limp about my shoulders.
As I crossed the gardens burdened with Tez's things, I nearly ran over Boothby—literally!
Everybody knows Boothby. He's legendary and I'd seen him tending the gardens many times before but never had the opportunity to say hello. As it was, I was scurrying through the rose gardens, so intent on not dropping any of Tez's things that I didn't see him crouched down, pruning one of the rose bushes until the last minute. I veritably skidded to a halt and then juggled with my possessions, apologising profusely.
"Slow down, Ms Terran!" he laughed in his low, soft voice. "The shuttle won't leave without you!"
I couldn't help but laugh back. He really is so good-natured.
"Sorry!" I said for the umpteenth time. "You'd have thought I would have learnt to look where I'm going by now!"
It was only after I had left that I wondered how come he knew who I was, but then, as I've discovered before, everybody seems to know who the legendary Jenny Terran is ... except maybe me.
I arrived at Tez and Rutter's room shortly afterwards and a little out of breath. Tez opened the door and welcomed me in. It's very similar to the one Bairn and I share, only a little bigger. Rutter wasn't there, which was probably just as well. They are constantly at each other's throats, bickering and bitching like a couple of old women. They remind me greatly of a very old play I saw some years ago.
Entitled 'The Odd Couple', it's a comedy about two chaps, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, who are both divorcees. Due to finances, they end up sharing an apartment and while Felix is a real neat freak, Oscar is a bit of a slob. Their conflicts and clashes over everything from lifestyle to principles are very entertaining. Watching Tez and Rutter quarrel as they do is equally as amusing. Rutter is the neat freak (no surprises there) and Tez, the slob who takes great pride in winding Rutter up. The strange thing is that on the Drakonia, Tez's quarters were fastidiously tidy and indeed, as I walked in, they were again; Tez was dusting! I just had to ask, and he laughed.
"Oh Jen. Don't hate me, but I abhor mess probably more than Rutter does."
"But I've seen you. You're such a slob. You walk in the door, take your jacket off and throw it on the floor!"
"Yes, and who picks it up?"
"Exactly. I've had an unpaid housekeeper for the past three months. I've not had to lift a finger!"
What a rotter! Rutter will murder him if he ever finds out!
Anyway, time was wearing on so I headed back to my room. I had to pick up my stuff and get it over to the shuttle pads before noon.
I walked into our hall of residence, hurtled up the stairs taking them two at a time and burst into our room where I tripped over my bags and fell flat on my face! Will I never learn?
As I picked myself up, I could hear Bairn scuttling about. I looked up and saw her, although fully dressed, lying on her bed again. She looked flushed and was fussing over the covers.
"Bairn!" I exclaimed. "Have you been there all morning? I thought you had a lecture!"
"Uhm. Yes. I know, but I ... uhm ... I didn't feel well. I'm too tired."
Bairn is good at many things, but not lying. My suspicions rose and that's when I noticed that she had grown an extra foot over the course of the morning. Either that or there was someone else hidden under the bedclothes because there were definitely three booted feet there. Suddenly embarrassed, I wondered if I had interrupted something, but there was no loose clothing lying around, and Bairn and I had always had an agreement about entertaining in our room. It was always by prior arrangement and she would never break that agreement.
It could only be that whoever it was, she didn't want me to know. So who was it? Wickedly, I grabbed the edge of the blanket and flipped it up into the air. I laughed loudly as it ballooned in front of me, but as it came to settle, my mouth dropped in awe.
Splayed across Bairn, fully clothed but nonetheless in a somewhat compromising position was Rutter!
Bairn tutted and rolled her eyes at me.
"Thank you, Jen!" she shouted angrily. Rutter, meanwhile, buried his face in her pillow.
"Oh! I see you've finally got on top of your xenophobia then?" The words just rolled out of my mouth.
I've never had to run so fast in my entire life! Bairn can really move. And Rutter, he just laughed!