Merja “Mer” Aaltonen
Evergreen Library || Thursday Afternoon || @Letter Bee@Savo@LetMeDoStuff@Sync@Conscripts
Just as Mikhail started apologizing, a brown-blonde boy arrived, Mer recognizing him by his height and hair. If she remembered correctly, his name was Laurence, and they’d shared a philosophy class last year. However, since she’d chosen psychology over philosophy, they didn't share any classes this year, so she was surprised to see him now despite having never talked to him. While she didn’t understand the cryptic phrase he’d led with, she understood the rest, and she looked to check if Mikhail was okay with Laurence listening along. It was his past and pursuit, after all, and Mer was relieved when he responded by introducing himself. If more people got roped into the conversation, perhaps Mikhail would feel less of a need to ask for help from her specifically. After all, she’d given all the reasons she could, and at this point she was left with hoping he saw the sense in her words.
Soon enough, though, another person announced their arrival, and Mer was unhappily surprised to find that she recognized him. Alex—a familiar face, and an expected one, given that their biology study group was slated to meet up in a bit. He was, unfortunately, also one of the two people Mikhail had given nicknames to, and Mer hoped he hadn’t overheard. As he continued, however, it became clear that he had, and her eyes widened when he stated that he didn’t know why she was dating Mikhail. Glancing at Mikhail, then back at Alex, Mer found herself unable to find words to clear the situation up, but when Alex continued, proving that he had indeed overheard the nicknames, she cringed, deciding it’d be better to stay silent until he finished.
When Alex accused Mikhail of manipulating her, and she again did a double-take to Mikhail. The encounter had felt a little forced at times, but manipulation? That was a harsh word, and Mikhail had cited his reasons. For now, Mer wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, and an opinion from Alex, who’d misunderstood portions of the conversation, didn’t seem like something she should take to heart.
His choice of words for Mikhail also made her wince, and it dawned on her that perhaps Alex was the worst person to overhear all this. Her fears were confirmed when Mikhail spoke again, his language also taking a turn for the worse. While she was relieved to hear him clear up the dating situation, explaining the real sequence of events for everyone to hear, she was a bit stunned to hear the scope of his plan. Since when was she to purchase lab rats, and if Britain’s best doctors and scientists had failed to make an antidote, why did he expect her to do what they couldn’t?
Mikhail’s last jibe at Alex also made her wince, but Mer was distracted by Laurence producing a pair of glasses. Putting them on, he addressed the table in a way that stunned her. Was he playing a part? Where was the hidden camera?
Still, she was glad that he took control of the conversation, doing his best to diffuse the tension and clear the air. Alex did need to be called out, as did Mikhail, and though Laurence’s choice of words for Mikhail was rather unkind, Mer appreciated the sentiment. Then, as he tied it all off with thoughts Mer could agree with, Mer’s attention was called again to someone arriving, identifying himself as Romani from Laurence’s philosophy class. Feeling bad for him as he realized his mistake midway through, Mer watched as Laurence addressed him, then turned to address her, much to her surprise.
“Yep, nice to meet you!” she said, her voice pitching oddly when multiple sets of eyes turned to her. Given that she wasn’t about speak despite being spoken to multiple times during the past ten minutes, she realized that perhaps calling attention to herself wasn’t the best idea, but thankfully the arrival of yet another person distracted everyone from that. This time, it was a boy in a suit and tie rather than a school uniform, suggesting that he was probably a St. Paul’s student. Like any reasonable person, he’d come to inform the group that they were beginning to become a public nuisance, and Mer was horrified to note that she was part of that group.
Surprisingly—or not—it was Mikhail that jumped on the newcomer, recognizing the boy as Philip and piling on praise to him. By the way Mikhail addressed him before admitting his own attempts at flattery, Mer found herself glancing at Alex, reconsidering his words. Okay, so perhaps Mikhail had resorted to some manipulation, but that didn’t change the fact that he’d had a hard life. It showed the lengths he as willing to go to fulfill his mission, however hopeless it might be, and even if she couldn’t respect or understand his means and motives, Mer admired his persistence. More importantly, though, Mikhail’s words indicated that Philip was a much better candidate than her to help, and she immediately focused on him, hoping to help Mikhail’s case.
While his final jab at Alex didn’t help his cause since Laurence had already mitigated the situation earlier, Mer looked past it to Philip, who seemed like a person of reason. Perhaps he would agree with her, and perhaps he wouldn’t. Either way, she felt that she should try.
“Um, Philip, was it? I’m Merja, or Mer. Mikhail approached me first about making the antidote, and while it does sound impossible, I think you’re the most fit out of any of us to try. I’m not sure whether using lab rats would be considered animal abuse,” she said, giving Mikhail a meaningful look before turning back to Philip, “but I think Mikhail’s cause is a good one. So, please, could you consider helping him?”