The Outsider Ch. 11bycaligula97236©
Chapter 11 - An answer to Ruthie's question
The following day was Friday. As usual Mike did his morning trek to the Student Center to buy his normal cup of regular coffee. As usual, Ruthie was wearing her apron and little else: just a pair of old running shorts, a thin t-shirt, and her battered running shoes. Mike wondered how she withstood the walk from the dorm; because it was drizzling and the temperature outside was 48 degrees. It was obvious that she was not comfortable at all, because her skin was covered with goose-bumps and she looked pale. She admitted that she had gone outside without bothering to check the forecast, and upon getting out on the sidewalk she wanted to turn back and get a jacket, but did not want to deal with going back in the room where Shannon was still sleeping.
Mike resisted the urge to roll his eyes, but he had to ask. Ruthie was so afraid of Shannon that she wouldn't even go back into her room to get a jacket? She responded that she was not exactly afraid of Shannon, but that dealing with her was so stressful that she tried to have as little contact with "super-bitch" as possible. Mike handed over his jacket and insisted that she put it on. She looked very funny in the oversized garment, with the sleeves covering her hands and the waist extending past the bottom of her shorts, but at least she quit shivering.
"You're gonna have to keep a jacket or two at my room. If you get yourself sick that's not gonna do anyone any good."
Ruthie and Mike sat in the literature class together and had lunch together. Since the day was still very dreary and chilly, Ruthie had no desire to be outside and was planning to go to the library. Mike suggested his room instead. Ruthie hesitated for a moment, but her resistance quickly broke down. The thought of having a room to herself for an entire afternoon, with no interruptions, no roommate and no CD player, no one walking by...where she could sit at a desk or lie on a bed...where she could spread her books out and just study in peace...the temptation was too much for her. Finally she accepted Mike's offer and accompanied him to the room.
As soon as Mike was gone Ruthie locked the door and took off her clothes, which consisted of nothing more than pulling down her shorts and taking off her t-shirt. She pulled down the covers of the spare bed and spread out her books with the idea that she would spend her afternoon reading while lying down. However, Mike's window, which was high enough that no one outside could see into, proved too much of a temptation for her attention. She sat in the vacant chair and spent a few minutes just looking out at the campus and all the students below as they made their way to and from their classes. The silence of the room was delicious to a person who had been subjected to so much noise from her roommate and her friends. At that moment Ruthie hated Shannon all that much more, because she had a chance to experience the tranquility she was missing out on because of the presence of "super-bitch" in her life.
Ruthie had not realized it, but she was badly sleep-deprived. Typically she went to sleep around 11:00 pm or midnight and had to wake up at 4:30 to be at work by 5:00. The day's cold and dampness had affected her as well. Within a few minutes of sitting down at Mike's window she began nodding off. No problem...there's a bed right here, I'll just rest for a little bit and then get up and study. She rested alright...but living more than two months without adequate sleep finally caught up with her. She lay down without bothering to pull the sheet over herself, passed out, and remained sleeping with nothing to disturb her for the next five hours.
That afternoon was another "pay dirt" day for Parking Officer # 036. Because it was chilly and drizzling, over a hundred students blissfully assumed that surely the "Parking Nazi" of lot Econ-A would not spend an afternoon standing out in the cold just to write tickets.
Wrong...Mike knew that precisely because it was a cold rainy day, he had the chance to drive home the message he had been trying to push on the parking meter violators over the past two weeks: that at no time, and under no circumstances, was lot Econ-A a free parking zone. In spite of the trouble he had keeping his ticketing machine and envelopes dry, he still managed to write nearly 300 tickets. Infuriated students returned to their cars and jerked off two or three tickets from their windshields. Several yelled things such as:
"It's fucking raining! Why are you out here? What's fucking wrong with you, goddamn Nazi?" ...to which Mike casually responded that the meters worked just as well in the rain as they did when it was sunny, and that as far as he knew, coins were water-proof.
As usual there was the roaring of engines and screeching of tires from infuriated students, but the lesson had been taught. Rain or no rain, there simply was no free parking in lot Econ-A. Assuming the weather was clear next week, the situation there would be under control, with the exception of a few die-hards whose cars eventually would have to be towed.
Mike's clothing was very wet when he returned his ticketing machine to the dispatcher. He was known as the fanatic of the Parking Department and his stats for Friday did not disappoint. He had written 265 tickets for the shift, slowed down only slightly by the rain and having to keep the machine and the ticketing supplies reasonably dry. No one else came even close to Mike's numbers: the best any of his co-workers had done that day was under 50 tickets. Only Mike Sinclair was stupid enough, or dedicated enough, to stand in the rain for five hours writing meter tickets.
Mike changed his shirt when he got off work, but that did him no good whatsoever because his jacket, pants, and shoes were soaked. He would be very happy to get back to his dorm room, take a hot shower, and put on dry clothes. He remembered that his...girlfriend?...was studying in his room. That presented him with a dilemma. He wondered if he should call ahead or knock to let her know that he was coming, but then decided against it. Ruthie knew full-well that his shift ended at 5:00 and that he'd be back no later than 5:30, the time they always went to dinner. The thought crossed his mind that she might be sleeping, and if so, it'd be better not to disturb her.
Besides...maybe...she'd be naked? Why not? Just the previous night hadn't she, with no prompting whatsoever, run nude in a complete circle around the Econ Building? If she did that, she had proven that she definitely was not shy...so maybe upon returning to the room he would get a chance to see her.
Mike noticed that the light was not turned in his window as he approached the dorm building. When he came up to the door there was no sound coming from the room. He was deeply disappointed, because he figured that Ruthie must have left sometime during the afternoon. He put his key into the door and quietly opened it. He was expecting to see Todd's side of the room empty, except for perhaps a few items she had decided not to take with her. Instead, he was shocked to see her uncovered body soundly asleep on his former roommate's bed. She was lying on her stomach with her face turned towards the window. Mike could tell from her breathing that he had not woken her up and that she was not aware that he was in the room.
Mike knew that he needed to do one of two things. He either needed to back out of the room and knock, or cover her with a sheet so she could continue sleeping and he could change. He opted for the second choice, but for the moment he couldn't resist the urge to take a close look at his companion's lovely figure. She had left the curtains open and it was still mostly light outside, so there was plenty of light in the room. Yes, he had seen her the previous night, but only for a few seconds and in a place that was very poorly lit.
Mike's hungry eyes roamed up and down his friend's uncovered body, taking in every detail. Except for her back going up and down slightly from her respiration, she was lying perfectly still. Her body was small, but well proportioned. She had slender legs and shapely hips. Her bottom was somewhat flat. She had no tan-lines from a swimsuit, but her arms and legs were slightly darker than her torso from running around in shorts and a t-shirt all the time. Her arms were folded up close to her chest and hid her breasts, but her legs and bottom cheeks were slightly spread, allowing him to see a small portion of the black hair that covered her vulva. She did not have very much hair on the rest of her body. Mike noticed that she had not shaved her legs or under her arms for several days. From what he could see that moment, and from what he had seen of her the previous night, apparently she never shaved her vulva. That was new for him, because Lisa completely shaved herself every couple of days. Mike already knew that Ruthie shaved on an irregular basis, whenever she "got around to it."
A strange thought crossed Mike's mind as he studied Ruthie's figure. Ruthie was the new girl in his life, so this body that he was looking at was "his".
Finally he forced himself to stop admiring her. He knew that if she woke up and saw him standing next to the bed staring at her, chances were that would be the end of their relationship. He figured that it would not be so much the embarrassment him seeing her naked that would make her upset, but rather him doing something that she would perceive as a violation of her trust. She already had expressed that part of herself during the conversation about Lisa.
Mike eased a couple of her books off the bed and gently pulled the cover over her. She still did not wake up, although she moved slightly when he let the blanket rest on her body. Now that she no longer was exposed, Mike figured that he could go about his normal activities in the room. He opened up a closet door to partially conceal himself from her view, undressed, wrapped a towel around his waist, and went to the men's bathroom to shower and get cleaned up.
Ruthie woke up while Mike was out of the room. She sat up confused, because outside it was dusk, the final light of a dreary wet gray afternoon. She was lying in the bed near the window, which was the bed that Shannon had taken. What was she doing in Shannon's bed? She sat up in a panic, knowing there would be hell to pay if her roommate caught her sleeping in her bed and even more so because she was naked. Ruthie then looked at Shannon's desk, only to realize that none of her roommate's things were on it. Her own stuff was there instead...her backpack and some of her geology books. She looked around the darkening room, and then realized that she was not in her own dorm at all, but instead in Mike's. She lay back down in the bed, tired and still disoriented, not yet comprehending that she had been asleep the entire afternoon. Finally she glanced at Mike's clock...6:23 pm. She looked again...6:23? Was that right? Then she saw Mike's wet jacket hanging on his desk chair and his wet shoes lying on the floor. With that she realized that it really was already well past 6:00, that she had slept the entire afternoon, and that Mike already had returned to the room, changed, and for whatever reason had left. Then she remembered that she had not bothered to pull the blanket over herself when she lay down. It was possible that she had covered herself while she was sleeping, but she knew that it was much more likely that Mike had come into the room, saw her lying on the bed, and decided to cover her up. She shuddered and blushed, because that would mean he had seen her sleeping in the nude.
She was contemplating whether or not to get dressed and leave when she heard Mike's key in the door. She quickly lay back down, with the blanket pulled above her breasts. She knew what she was doing was silly, given her behavior less than 24 hours before. She had shared her love of being naked with Mike and wanted his room to be the one place on campus where she could be honest with both him and herself about that part of her personality. However, the issue of sex loomed over her. She wanted to be free to be naked around Mike, but she did not want him to interpret that as an invitation for having sex. She knew that Mike was a young guy, and that as such he needed and wanted sexual intercourse. She understood that if she wanted to have him as a boyfriend for any length of time, at some point she would have to share her body with him...but...just...not right now.
Mike felt nervous seeing her awake in bed, naked but with the blanket covering her. He said hello and bent down to kiss her. He asked her about her afternoon, to which she responded:
"I didn't have much of an afternoon. I kinda slept."
He decided that one thing he was going to do was not bother about being modest around her anymore. He took off his towel and deliberately walked around the room in the nude, doing things like combing his hair and tending to his wet clothes. He was nervous about what he was doing, but he wanted to push being openly naked as part of the relationship he was developing with her. She shyly kept the blanket tight around her chest, but she watched him intently, taking in the details of his body.
Once Mike had dressed and the danger of sex with him had passed, Ruthie reluctantly got out of bed. She tried to act casual, as Mike had done, but her heart was pounding. She allowed him to have another good look at her backside as she put on her shorts and t-shirt. When she stepped towards the door, Mike brusquely told her that she needed a jacket and at the very least she should put on some socks to protect her feet from the cold. Blushing, she did as she was told.
Because they already had missed dinner at Watson Hall, Mike decided to invite Ruthie out to Santa Cruz. He knew they needed to get off-campus and put the uncomfortable encounter in the doom room behind them. They repeated the activities from their first night in town, wandering around used bookstores, going out to eat, and walking along the city's boardwalk. Mike pointed out a couple of books that covered the impact of evangelical Christianity on US politics. One of Mike's recent favorites was a book by a political analyst called Kevin Phillips that argued that a combination of over-reliance on financial services and evangelical Christianity were factors in the national decline of several powerful nations over the past 500 years. Phillips pointed out that conditions in the US were following the same pattern and the process of national decline in North America already was well underway. Ruthie was extremely interested. Mike commented: "No need to buy this one; I already have it. You'd be interested in borrowing it?"
Ruthie nodded with enthusiasm.
Without saying anything, that evening the couple worked out how much physical contact they would have in public. They both felt uncomfortable holding hands while walking, but if they stopped anywhere for more than a few seconds, Mike put his arms around her. She enjoyed that; having the feeling of being protected by someone she cared about and who she knew cared for her.
When they went back to Davenport, Ruthie began to feel uncomfortable, because she realized that she and Mike had reached a turning point in their relationship. The next time they were alone together in his room, the question of sex would have to be addressed. It was clear that Mike wanted and expected a sexual relationship from her, but she simply did not feel ready. She did not want to turn him down when he approached her, especially if she was going to be sleeping in his room and using it to study. However, that night was not the time she wanted to commit herself to that aspect of a serious relationship.
She could tell that Mike was hugely disappointed when she told him that she wanted to go back to her room for the night. She dreaded the thought that maybe Shannon would be in the room partying, because if that were so, she'd have no option other than to return with Mike to his room. Fortunately for her, Shannon was gone and the lights were turned out. Ruthie hugged him and kissed him goodnight, but the message was clear. That night they would sleep apart.
The following day Ruthie woke up to see that her nemesis had returned and was passed out in her bed, probably from a night of heavy drinking. She grabbed some more of her books, a towel, and a few articles of clothing and stuffed everything in a shopping bag. As an afterthought she took her cell phone charger and her camera, realizing it made more sense to keep them at Mike's room instead of her own. That moment was significant, because she had decided that she was going to be spending most of her time with Mike and only use her own room as a place to sleep. Anyhow, she no longer trusted Shannon around her things. She glanced at her computer, thinking that at some point in the near future she'd want to move it as well.
She slipped out of the room and stepped outside into a thick fog. She could tell however, that the storm front had passed and throughout the morning the temperature would warm up after the sun came out. If it warmed up enough, she could put on the dress that Mike had bought her the previous week and wear it around Davenport. That would be neat!
Mike already was up working on a term paper when he heard a faint knock on his door. He knew who it was, because surely no one else would be knocking at 7:30 in the morning. Mike normally slept naked and had not yet bothered to get dressed. He thought about answering the door in the nude, but figured that it probably would be better to be wearing something when she entered. He put on a pair of clean shorts and one of his t-shirts and opened up for her.
The full shopping bag in his friend's hand told him that it was obvious she expected to spend the entire day with him. At that moment he had conflicting thoughts about what was happening. She had not bothered to call ahead to see if he wanted her to come over so early, if he had other plans, or if he was even in the room. She just showed up, taking it for granted they were close enough that he would not consider her coming over an imposition. He was conflicted between being irritated at her self-centeredness and being flattered that she trusted him enough to assume he'd always be glad to see her, no matter what. He put aside his reservations about her impromptu visit and kissed her good morning. If nothing else he'd get a good make-out and hug out of it.
Ruthie's sudden appearance forced Mike to re-think his plans for the day. He had expected to get together with her in the evening for dinner and then take her to the Student Center to celebrate Halloween. Before doing that he was planning to study in the morning, go for a hike in the afternoon, and take a nap before dinner so he would not be tired later that night. None of those activities were things he had to do alone. He'd let Ruthie stay with him in the morning and study, then take her with him hiking, and then...maybe... before taking a nap... finally...
Ruthie quickly settled down on Todd's bed to study. She was more rested than she had been at any time since the semester began, but also she was stressed about having not studied the day before. Mike said nothing more and returned to his term paper.
By 1:00 it was much warmer and sunny outside, so Mike suggested going out for a late lunch. Ruthie agreed and decided that it was just warm enough that she could wear her dress. Mike's heart pounded at the thought that she actually was going to go out, in broad daylight, in her little red dress. Sure enough, she turned her back to him, pulled out the dress from the wardrobe where she had her clothes, and took off her t-shirt. She put on the dress and pulled down her shorts. She slipped on her sandals and that was it, she was ready to go out.