Willow picked at his stiff collar and tie, wishing not for the first time that Troy would have agreed to apply for the grant alone. Troy was so much better at this sort of thing.
Troy was charismatic and had a kind of trustworthy voice that made people sure that he was smart enough to accomplish exactly what he said he wanted to do. Willow had the kind of voice that made people wonder how he had managed to graduate at all. If they didn’t get the grant, it would be Willow’s fault. He was sure of it.
Troy emerged from the washroom and joined Willow on the bench. “I have a great feeling about this, Will,” he said, leaning against the wall with both hands tucked behind his head. Willow wondered how he managed to still have such a range of movement available to him when dressed formally. Willow felt like he was in a body cast.
“One of our interviewers went to school with my aunt,” Troy went on, either oblivious to Willow’s discomfort and anxiety, or else ignoring it in the hopes that it fed on attention and he could starve it out of existence. “She said he was always hoping to be part of a project that really mattered.”
Willow felt dizzy. Sure, Unitime would make a difference in the world, but would he be able to make other people realize that?
“Now, I don’t want you to clam up once we’re in there, okay?” Troy said. “I know how you get. It’ll look suspicious as anything if you make me do all the talking.”
“You’re so much better at talking,” Willow said. “And this is so important.”
“Yeah. It is.” Troy turned to look at him directly. “And I don’t have a memory like yours, so I need to know you’ll be jumping in with statistics and such. And there are still some aspects of the coding that I don’t understand. I can not do this without you.”
Willow’s eyebrows lifted into his curls. He’d actually never heard Troy say that before. It was an established fact that they admired one another’s intellect, and that they enjoyed working together, but Willow had always assumed that Troy could have completed the Unitime project without him if need be.
“I couldn’t do it alone either,” Willow admitted.
There was a brief sentimental moment, which Troy broke with a laugh. “Well, you certainly couldn’t have picked your outfit alone. What was that first jacket you tried on? Plaid?”
The door opened and the admin called for them. “The committee is ready for you.”
Willow gave his collar one final tug and then followed Troy into the room that would decide the rest of their lives.
If you’re curious about
Willow and Troy, you can
find their book here.