Rush – Chapter 2
It was days before I saw Russell again.
And at that moment, I wish I didn't.
I was in the pantry, eating lunch by myself at 2PM. I hate eating at 12 noon because the place is crowded. You would probably classify me as a loner, and I wouldn't disagree. So yeah, I was eating lunch, minding my own business, when he walked in. With a girl. Their arms were tangled, as if they were muse and escort. My heart sank and started beating faster. He's still really handsome, with his spiky hair (I'm a sucker for short spiky hair). And I hate to admit it, but she was pretty. They were the same height, she was slim; they were talking and occasionally laughing.
He didn't see me right away, but when he did, he disentangled himself from her. I didn't know if I should be happy that he extricated himself from her, or be sad that I saw them together in the first place. She was probably the girl Lana told me about. I dropped my gaze, and looked at my food, moving it here and there with my fork. From my peripheral vision (well not really peripheral, more like what you see up when your head is down. Does that make sense?), the girl went to a table, and I can see him approaching me.
THUMP THUMP. THUMP THUMP.
That was my heart by the way.
“Hey! Albert right?” He was smiling, and I can't help but not be mad anymore; he even remembered me.
“Uhm yeah, Chi right?” Fuck, I'm so lame. I pretended to not know him to throw him off a bit. I'm such a loser.
“No actually, it's Russell. Chi's my friend, we both helped you move to 33.”
“Oh yeah yeah, sorry, I'm not good with names.”
“No worries. So have you requested for your phone yet?”
“Yeah but I haven't gotten any update yet so...”
“Oh okay, maybe I'll browse through the requests, there are a lot of new hires with you so it maybe in the backlog or something.”
“It's okay, I share my teammate's phone when we have a phone conference.”
“Are you only eating lunch now? Do you want to join me and Kristel?”
Fuck no. Of course I didn't say that. “No that's okay, I don't want to intrude on you guys or anything.”
“It's okay, unless you want to eat alone or something.” I couldn't decline, so I said sure, join me. He went to the table Kristel was in, and soon they were walking towards my table.
“Kristel, this is Albert, he's a new hire. Albert, this is Kristel.” I shouldn't be over-analyzing a simple introduction, but he didn't state a relationship between the two of them, like, this is Kristel my friend, or this is Kristel my girlfriend. Should I be hopeful? I don't know.
“Hi, nice to meet you!” It's hard to not like her, because she genuinely seemed like it was really nice to meet me. We shook hands. They sat across from me. She touched his biceps, and it stayed there. Russell looked a bit nervous, and I'm sure I was the same, and I don't even know why.
“Likewise. Have you guys eaten yet? I can share my food if you want to try it.”
“No it's okay, we're just hanging out here. I needed to get away from work so I asked Russell to join me. How are you liking Acquire so far?”
“It's okay, I'm not busy yet with actual development, more on onboarding and introduction to the technologies being used here and stuff.” (I won't bore you with details) “Have long have you known each other?” Shit, why did I ask that?
“Almost a year now, we're from the same batch of new hires and we kind of stuck with each other. Are you joining the summer outing in May?”
Russell seemed content listening in on our conversation. He'd look at whoever was talking. I'm still using my peripheral vision because I couldn't look at him directly, afraid that it might give me away.
“I'm not yet sure... I barely know anyone and I'm not really a social person.”
“Oh come on it will be fun! Do you know what house you're in?”
Our company, apparently, has so many employees that we have to be 'sorted' into 'houses' a la Harry Potter for offsite activities, such as the summer outing. I'm not kidding. But I actually like it. I'm a big Harry Potter fan; it was the in thing when I was in high school, and I'm really into magic and stuff.
“Um yeah, I'm in Gryffindor, unfortunately.”
“Hahaha why do you say that, unfortunately, as if it's a bad thing?”
“Well when we were in high school, my friends and I would choose our own houses. I'm always in Slytherin, by choice.”
“Really? Most people like Gryffindor.”
“Meh, I don't like being in the protagonist house. I'm more of a villain.” I tried giving them my villain look, but Russell grinned and looked away. I probably looked like a dork.
“That's cool. I'm in Slytherin and Russ is in Ravenclaw.” I think my heart stopped beating when she called him Russ, like it's her pet name for him. Dagger.
“Oh yeah? Then we'll probably compete against each other.” My face was pretty blank at this point.
“Yeah, so you should come! The management doesn't even mind if we drink at night. It's pretty relaxed every summer outing. Really fun.”
“I'll think about it then. Uhm, I have to go back. It was nice meeting you again Kristel.”
“Oh okay. You didn't finish your food though?”
“Yeah I think I lost my appetite. And we have a meeting in 10 minutes anyway.”
“I see, well see you around! Hope to see you in the summer outing!” Russell didn't even speak a word. He just gave me a curt smile, then they stood up to leave. I wanted to hug him so bad.
At around 5, I was about to shutdown my computer and go home, when Russell chatted me in our IM.
R: Hey Albert! I found your request in the list, we've already ordered the phones for all the requests, they'll probably be delivered tomorrow. I put yours ahead of everyone so you'll get it right away :)
A: That's cool, thanks man!
R: Sure thing! Anyway, some of my friends and I are going out to karaoke and drink beers, do you wanna join us?
A: I don't know, I don't like singing and I wouldn't know anyone... I did mention that I'm not a social person, yes?
R: I'll be there. And you know me right? :p
A: Ha ha. You're such a funny guy.
R: C'mon it'll be fun! Kristel will be there too, and Chi. And you don't have to sing solo, you can just sing along with us and eat and drink.
A: Fine... What time are you guys meeting?
R: Right now actually, are you done with your stuff?
A: Yeah sure, I'll meet you guys in the pantry in 5 minutes.
I was nervous as hell. Not just about meeting Russell, but about singing as well. I really didn't like singing or being in the spot. I mean, yeah, I sing when I'm alone.
I packed up my stuff, shutdown my computer, and braced myself. When I reached the pantry, there were 7 of them there, including Russell, Chi, and Kristel.
“Hey Albert my man! I didn't know you were joining us?” Chi asked. He's such a macho guy. I could never pull off “my man.”
“Uhm yeah, Russell invited me. I hope you guys don't mind.”
“Not at all! We like hanging out with a big crowd. Anyway, these are...” (Chi introduced the others to me, but they're not important to this story, and I myself don't like reading stories that have a lot of characters in it, so I'll spare you)
As we were leaving, Russell stood on my left, Kristel on my right, and then he put his arm around me, in a bro kind of way. It was a bit difficult because I am taller than him, but I didn't mind at all.
“We'll show you how we have a good time,” he said, smiling.
Hoo-boy. Here we go.
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