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Demeli Taros looked at his friend Oa’Bria with one eyebrow raised. “What’s wrong?”

The green skinned woman rolled her eyes and gestured across the canteen. “Look at the way they all fawn over him. It’s disgusting.”

Demeli glanced over his shoulder. One of their classmates, a fair-haired human male, was sitting at a table on the other side of the room, surrounded by a dozen female students of all races who all seemed to be hanging on his every word.

He laughed. “I have to wonder how he can juggle that many girls,” he said. “Actually, I have to wonder what they see in him? Humans are so dull! Why do you care, anyway? Anybody would think you were jealous!”

Oa’bria folded all four arms and pouted. “I am not. Why would I be jealous of a mere human?”

“I don’t know,” Demeli said with a shrug. “Maybe because he passed top of the class? Ahead of you?”

Oa’Bria’s eyes narrowed. “He cheated.”

Demeli leaned forward. “You’re kidding, right? I mean, that’s a serious accusation, that could get him thrown out of the Academy. Or you, if you throw it around unfounded.”

She sniffed and spoke a little lower. “I have been in his workgroup since the beginning of the semester, with the two Beltarian boys, and I swear to you, that human could not navigate his way out of a paper bag, much less through the asteroid belts between Nateema and Striin.”

Demeli raised his glass. “I dunno. He could have improved.”

Oa’Bria laughed, a little too loudly. “Improved? That kind do not improve. They cheat. I hope those girls all know what they’re letting themselves in for.”

Demeli took a sip of his drink and considered for a moment before speaking. “Actually, I’ve seen him spending a lot of time in the navigation simulators lately. I even asked him why he was putting in so much time outside of class.”

There was silence for a moment. Demeli looked across the room, purposefully avoiding Oa’Bria’s gaze.

“He said there was a girl in his workgroup who made him too nervous to concentrate, but he wanted to pass to impress her.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Three Word Wednesday again – this week the words are Fawn, Juggle and Navigate.)