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“Guess what?” J asked, looking like she was dying to tell me something. I ignored her and continued eating; if you act too interested in anything J has to say, the stories take forever.
Finally she couldn’t take it anymore and spilled. “I met someone so interesting!” She watched me for a reaction but I wasn’t falling for that again. She continued anyway. “I wanted to bring him up and show him off because he was just so fascinating, so he said he might stop by later! Everybody would love him.” That was J, always trying to be the entertainment hub of our group of friends.
Her eyes unfocused for a split second, and I felt a new picture message arrive. I opened it and froze; now she had my attention. “This is your friend?” I demanded.
“That’s him! His name is Bem or Ben or something; he said I wasn’t saying it right. He says he’s a pilot and–”
“J,” I interrupted. “Look at him. What does he look like to you?”
She gave me a warning look. “You’re not going to get racist on me are you?”
“What are you talking about? I’m not–”
“I’ve never seen anyone like him either, but that doesn’t mean anything. Lotsa people come through that Station every day, girl!”
I looked around nervously and sent her a message. J. Seriously. What does he remind you of?
She huffed when she received it. “I don’t know. What?”
She was not taking this seriously enough. I did a quick image search and sent her a new one. Does he, I don’t know, remind you of THIS GUY?
She stopped for a second when she received that one. “Yeah, actually. Where’d you get that?”
I couldn’t believe it. “You’re serious,” I said out loud, more statement than question. When she still looked blank I sent her a link. I watched her face grow more and more shocked as she read. Did I seriously just meet an emperor? she sent.
I sent her a blast of noise. No he’s not an emperor, you gidget. But he’s a nodeloving HUMAN BEING.
She actually drew back at that. She never was very good in history, but even J had heard legends and stories at sleepovers. She was looking a little spooked now. You mean, like, an actual human.
I just spent half an hour chatting up an actual, real-life, honest-to-Gor human being. That’s what you’re telling me right now.
J. Yes. That is what I’m telling you right now.
J sat back, absent-mindedly clicking her finger joints. “I can’t believe this. I didn’t even know they were, like, real.”
“Oh they’re real all right. I don’t think there more than a few million left out there, so it’s not like they’ll be making any more empires or anything. But seriously, J.” Seriously, you can be such a gidget.
She started laughing. “You know what?” She kept laughing, too hard to talk. I still think he’s cute.
I started laughing too. Maybe you just have a thing for homicidal psychos.
We were still laughing when the door chimed.

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