It was the short people who alerted him to Dev. He'd have walked past otherwise. He almost did anyway. Dev was talking to a chick, lots of hair and big sunglasses. They sat on the lawn and whatever Dev was saying made her laugh. Dev was good at that, making people feel at ease. He was a kind of savant. It was no effort at all for him to make other people smile, laugh, want to spend time with him. That Dev wanted to spend time with Reid was one of life's mysteries but he'd come to accept it like he accepted alien life existed without proof. It had an internal logic he trusted.
Reid squinted at them. If he went back the way he'd come, he could avoid them. He'd see Dev later and he didn't want to interrupt. Maybe Dev was trying to score. He should watch, it might be instructive. Hah.
Nope. Total distraction.
He swung around to go back the way he'd come. He had enough to worry about without some chick messing with his head. Once, he'd let that happen once. That had been instructive. And sex, half his class were out of their heads chasing tail and getting laid. Someone was always crying in the corridors, smack talking in the gym. Who needed the hassle of that?
"Reid." Dev was on his feet, calling across the lawn. Anyone else, he'd keep walking, but he couldn't do that to Dev. There was a possibility he might actually starve without Dev bringing him food on the regular.
He lifted his hand, a half-hearted wave. "Check you later."
"Sandwich." Dev lifted a paper bag and waggled it.
He was so hungry his stomach was stuck to his ribs and he could taste bile. Will socialize for food. He picked his way across the lawn to Dev.
"Sarina Gallo, this is my lab partner, Reid McGrath."
Sarina smiled up at him. She patted the grass beside her. "Sit. You're blocking the sun."
He sat. Dev handed him the paper bag. He scarfed the sandwich while Sarina asked him questions to which he alternatively nodded and shook his head until she said, "When was the last time you ate?"
He shrugged. Dev said, "When was the last time you slept?"
"Sleep is for pussies," he mumbled, but the food, the sun, he could sleep, right here on the lawn. "I'm close." Too close to stop now.
"He's written this algorithm," Dev said, "It's genius." Reid tuned out, letting the sun and the calories trickle thought his body, as Dev explained what they were trying to build.
"Your own start-up. Impressive," Sarina slid her glasses off. "I should get a picture of you both so I can say I knew you before you were rich and famous."
"Just the code so far," said Dev.
Not even. The code didn't work, and Reid wasn't naïve enough to think the code alone was a business.
"But it's a start. Reid has a vision."
He had a headache. He should get a pair of cheap sunglasses if he was going to sit around in the sun wasting time. He didn't so much have a vision, he had an obsession and he couldn't think past it to achieve basic health and hygiene. He looked around the lawn: groups laughing, dude with a guitar, a couple making out. A different experience to the one he was living. Did he want to sit on the lawn trying to look cool with an instrument or argue about which superhero was primo, like the two losers to his left? Not a fucking chance.
"So out with it?" Sarina said.
She didn't really want to know, no one outside the lab did, but Dev was grinning at him so maybe this was part of the mating ritual he didn't grok, and he didn't want to fail Dev, so he told Sarina he wanted to revolutionize the way people worked in teams, make it more efficient, logical, create time saving tools and mechanisms to allow for creativity, for handing work off and allowing deep collaboration, and the surprising thing is she took her sunglasses off and her eyes didn't glaze over.