HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 237

“How did you…?” Frederica stammered.

Tobias moved in the blink of an eye, little more than a blur in her vision, and then he was holding a beer. He smirked. Frederica peered into his eyes and the world around her took on an almost dreamlike, lethargic quality. The classic rock music playing over the sound system slowed to a crawl, then to a dull rumble.

“Whoa,” she said.

“Melody didn’t mention you could do that,” he said.

“This one’s new to me,” Frederica said, watching a TV on the wall playing a news broadcast frame by frame. “I wish I’d met you a few days ago. I could’ve stretched out my time with Melody before it was too late.”

“What do you mean, too late?” Tobias asked.

“Her folks called this morning,” Frederica replied. “She has to go home tomorrow.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Tobias said. “She was really excited about hanging out with you more. She must be crushed. How did she react?”

“She took off right after she got the call,” Frederica said. “I haven’t heard from her since so I don’t know how she’s doing.”

“Want me to ask Violet to check on her?” he offered.

“Uh, that’s okay,” Frederica said. “I wouldn’t want to be too clingy. We’re already rushing things as it is.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Tobias said. “When I proposed to Violet, we’d only been dating three months.”

“Wow,” Frederica muttered.

“Yeah, that was most people’s reaction,” he said. “But sometimes you just know, and there’s no point trying to delay things. Everybody’s relationship is different. There’s no such thing as too fast or too slow.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Frederica said. “I definitely don’t want what Melody and I have to end when she goes back home. We talked a bit about doing the long-distance thing but I’m not sure if that was serious or just, like, playful banter.”

“And you don’t want to find out you were the only one who meant it,” Tobias said.

“Something like that,” she said.