The observatory was a lot lonelier when Altair knew he couldn't communicate with the outside world, including, but not limited to, Conrad, of course. Using the radio equipment would definitely get him kicked out, but even using his cell phone seemed risky. If he got caught doing that, it might be nearly as bad.
He peered up at the stars while a cello played something over the radio. Just because he couldn't respond to anything Conrad said didn't mean he couldn't listen in, and he kept his own radio in the observatory.
Conrad sounded lonely now, though, and definitely embarrassed when a call-in period came and went without any callers. It was just as bad as what convinced Altair to call him in the first place. One night, Altair hadn't even heard anything from him, and he'd immediately gotten worried that the other student had given up on the radio entirely. His relief when Conrad's voice and music returned the next night was something he wasn't sure he could even describe properly.
At that point, he'd considered texting or calling him to explain the situation, but he hadn't had a night out of the observatory since his professor had confronted him about his misuse of university equipment and he was too scared to call when he was there. He didn't know Conrad's schedule, and it would be rude to call when he was in class or busy.
He would have to figure out something. It was rude to let Conrad think he was ignoring him, and he didn't want Conrad to get that impression, anyway. It was far from true.
The music ended and he heard the deep-voiced DJ clear his throat. Altair smiled. It was very far from true.
"So, um, hello to my listeners, if there are any of you out there. If not…well…hi, stars. You're looking lovely this evening." Conrad chuckled, but Altair frowned. It was a joke, but it sounded a touch too strained for proper humor. Conrad was worried he didn't have any listeners.
This was his fault. When he talked to Conrad, he got distracted from the fact that no one else ever called. That didn't mean he didn't have listeners—Altair listened to the radio a lot, and he never called any station but Conrad's—but it meant that he didn't know they were there.
He eyed his phone speculatively, weighing his options. Possible expulsion versus making a man he never met feel better. Put that way, it sounded ludicrous and he didn't know why he was considering it. But this wasn't just some person he never met. It was Conrad.
But no. He would have to do something else at another time. There had to be a way to apologize to Conrad without jeopardizing the education he'd worked so hard to earn. A phone call at an awkward time might be a problem, but maybe texting wouldn't be too bad. Even if it was going to cost him an extra dime on his phone bill to send it.
"So, um, I don't have a whole lot to say tonight, and I'll be going off air sooner than normal because I've got a big test tomorrow and I need the sleep. I just…I wanted to say to….someone…who used to talk to me every night and hasn't been recently…um…if you're still out there to hear this, I'd like to meet you. If you want to, meet me by the fountain outside the University Center on Friday evening at 5:30? Um, please?"
Altair grinned. Or, instead of worrying himself sick, he could have just wait for Conrad to say something.