Melanie Rose Pourri
The Warren, 12:40PM.
"Mhm, mhm," Melanie nodded, taking in the information. "Oh, it's nothing. I'm just happy I can help," Melanie replied modestly. Her snout and cheek picked up a pinkish hue. She stoked the back of her head and closed her eyes in a shy smile. A moment of awkaward silence passed as Melanie's mind became a blank.
It was the owl-girl who broke the silence, saying her goodbyes to 'Melody'. Melanie didn't even blink at the mistake. Nolan raised a brow, grinning. "Oh, uh, thank you! You too, umm... umm... See you at the Carnival!" Mel stumbled. She smiled, looking a little embarrassed as she hunched over and gave her the slightest wave with her paw just barely visible over the edge of the table. Mel watched quietly as the owl retreated to a corner and sat down to eat.
"So, 'Melody', she seems... nice. How do you know each other?" Nolan teased, before grabbing a french fry. He chewed with an amused look on his face. Melanie smiled nervously and scratched at her cheek with one claw. "You know, um, I'm not really sure. I think she's in my Common Anatomy class, but I honestly can't remember her name. So embarrassing," Mel admitted. For a moment, she thought she saw worry in his eyes,"Heh, to be fair, she only got your name half-right, so don't worry about it," he offered jokingly. The corner of Melanie's lips turned up in an attempt at a smile. She looked back to her classmate, who now seemed to going through flashcards.
"Do you have many friends?" Nolan asked. Melanie looked back, for a moment getting caught in his deep blue eyes. "Well... no, not really. It's just me and Kayla, my dorm-mate. I'm trying to make friends but it's so hard," Melanie answered, looking down. "I hear you. I only have a few friends, too, Nolan said with a touch of sadness in his voice. Melanie's eyes went big with surprise. As if in response, he added, "Being a carnivore isn't all it's cracked up to be. "
Melanie looked tilted her head curiously. Was he referring to social expectations? In the animal and business world, carnivores and predators were seen as beautiful and powerful creatures. White collar. Upper-class. They were politicians, stars, tycoons. Extraverted go-getters. They were the kind of people that Melanie avoided, feared, and kept her head down around.
"It's tough being an omnivore, too," Melanie sympathized. "I had a tough time fitting in. I wasn't cool enough for the carnivores, but I scared the herbivores. I may seem cute now, but I can be vicious," she warned. Mel raised her claws and baring her teeth mischievously and letting out a playful growl. Both of them chuckled. Melanie smiled.
The waitress returned with a checkbook in hand, leaving the bill in front of the lion. He nodded politely and grabbed a scrappy looking wallet out of his pocket. He flipped it open, grabbed a few large bills, and placed them in the checkbook.
The lion in front of her, Nolan, seemed different from all the carnivores she'd ever known. He seemed kind, quiet, maybe even a little insecure. His clothes were worn down, his hooded sweatshirt was tattered on the ends. His arms, what she could see of them, were scarred. He pulled his sleeves further down. Mel looked up and they met eyes. She could get lost in those deep, ocean eyes...
A rumbling growl startled the little skunk, causing her tail to snap up and her eyes to go wide. "Just my stomach, don't worry," Nolan assured her. He was hunched over with paw on his stomach and his eyes closing in what looked like pain. A muffled growl escaped his bared teeth.
"Are-are you okay?" Melanie asked. He looked at her, his eyes now a raging ocean. He closed his eyes, and she pulled back, tail twitching. She pulled it down and into her lap and stroked it nervously. The lion looked up at her through scrunched eyes and forced a smile, still a little hunched over. "I'm fine. Just a stomach ache. I had too much herbivore food. Sorry," he apologized, smiling sheepishly.
Melanie stood up, clumsily hitting the table. "No, don't be sorry! Let's get you to the school nurse! Maybe she can help..." Melanie insisted as she scooted out of the booth to his side. Nolan shook his head. "I can take care of myself. And I want to walk you to class," he argued as he got up from his seat.
"You won't take no for an answer, will you?" Mel asked. Nolan smiled. The waters of his eyes were calming down. "Okay. But don't forget to take care of yourself after, alright?" Mel replied reluctantly. "Yeah, okay," Nolan answered dismissively. Mel rolled her eyes.
The two animals collected their belongings and put on their jackets, then head toward the door. The bell jingled when Nolan opened the door. He held the door open for Melanie. "Thank you, come again!" the squirrel waitress waved after them. Nolan raised his paw and smiled back at her before returning to the bitter cold.
Eukary Quad, 12:55PM.
The walk back to campus wasn't long, but the cold seemed even colder after getting used to the cozy tavern. Nolan kept close, his large body blocking the wind. He kept his paws in his pockets as they made their way back. His tail swished anxiously. It seemed that humans were still keeping tabs on her. Melanie flipped up her hood.
They kept mostly quiet as Mel lead them to the Science Building. Melanie stopped them outside, not far from the entrance. "I'd like to take it from here, if that's okay. But I, um, was wondering do you think maybe you could keep me company whenever you get the chance? I would feel a lot safer. It would mean a lot to me..." Melanie asked shyly. She looked down and kicked the snow nervously as she asked.
"Of course, I'll keep an eye out for you and walk you to classes whenever I can,", Nolan offered with a warm smile. "As long as you want or need me to." Melanie smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Nolan," Mel said graciously with her squinty smile. She turned and waved, opening a door to a new chapter.