Science and Love

Chapter 11: The game is afoot

The next days of the conference came and went in a blur. As she expected, Claire had to spend her whole time going after presenters and fixing posters and dragging evaluators from the coffee break to their sessions. It was a nightmare. The only enjoyable part of the day was her diners with Summer and Yu. Summer always had gossip about someone and Yu was always shocked about them.

The last day arrived. Claire would leave on the afternoon and Clara would stay to accompany Yu to the airport the next day. So, after lunch, Claire started saying her goodbyes. She hugged Summer and Clara, who desperately wanted her to stay and continue working as her social buffer and shook Dr. Austin and Maggies hands.

”Are you leaving already? ” asked Yu, seeing her say goodbye to everyone.

”Yes, I have to catch the 3 p.m. transfer. I thought I had told you. ”

”No, I thought you would leave with me tomorrow. ”

”Im sorry. No, I have an appointment tomorrow, so I can stay. ”

She hugged him and said:

”Thank you so much for your patience, Im sure I almost talked your ear off. ”

”Not at all. I was planning on speaking with you later, but seeing as you
e leaving Ill be quick: I would like to extend you an offer to come to my lab for your PhD. Ill only know about funding by the end of the year, but I would love to have you in my team. ”

”Really?! Oh my God, Yu! Thank you! ”

She hugged him again, tighter this time, and kissed his cheek.

Dr. Austin, seeing this, whispered to Summer:

”Do you think they have any idea? ”

”Im certain Claire hasn got a clue. Yu seems to be aware already, but if i know him it will be months before he externalizes anything. Thank God he told me he would like to have a student like Claire yesterday so I could nudge him to talk to her, otherwise it would take much longer. ”

Claire loosened the hug, taking Yus hands in hers. She had an enormous smile in her face, her eyes had almost disappeared into two crescents.

”Thank you so much, Yu! I won let you down. ”

”Thank me after I get the funding, Claire. ”

”You don understand, do you? Even if you rescind the offer, just the fact that it happened was more validation than Ive ever thought Id have. Seriously, thank you. ”

”You deserve much more, Claire. Lets keep in touch okay? ”

”Definitely! Oops, the bus is almost leaving, I have to go. Ill send you an e-mail okay? See you next week, Summer! Love you all, muah! ”

And after sending a kiss to everyone, she ran away. Seeing her running away was weirdly sad to Yu.

Summer came close to Yu and he kept looking to were Claire had disappeared. She put her arm around him and squeezed his shoulder.

”Missing her already, bud? ”

”Huh? ”

”Yeah, thought so. Come on, I have some things I would like to talk to you about.

* * *

Summer took Yu to one of the verandas that looked over the sea and sat him down.

”What are your intentions with my baby Claire? ”

”What?! ”

”Im just kidding. Im proud of you for not chickening out because she was leaving earlier than you planned. That was very unlike you. What made you do it? ”

”I don know. Although I just met her, talking to Claire was really comfortable. I didn need to prepare myself in advance to talk to her, I just talked. So, when I saw she was leaving, I just talked. ”

”Well, if you keep the offer the both of you will live in the same place. ”

”Thats a weird way of phrasing it, but yeah. ”

”Do you know what that means? ”

”Not really, but that happens for half of what you say to me. ”

”Ha ha, very funny. It meeaaannsss you go back to being the best option. ”

”Best option to what? ”

”Why, to date Claire, of course! ”

”Summer… ”

”I know, I know, you don like the women I introduce you to, but you like Claire don you. ”

”Do you want the honest answer or the polite one? ”

”Always honest. ”

”And do you want the complete version or the simplified one? ”

”Of course the complete one. ”

”Yes, I do like Claire. At least I like her and her company more than any other women Ive met. And yes, that includes you. ”

”Ouch, but okay, because I love you both. ”

”But Claire is not interested in me. Or in a relationship, for that matter. You said it yourself, she needs to heal, and the last thing she needs now is an impertinent man trying to woo her. You know what she needs? A friend that respects her. ”

”And you
e okay with being only a friend? ”

”For now, at least. I can tell you about the future, but for now Im happy to have found someone like her. So thank you, my friend. ”

”Why are both of you such good people? It will take three lifetimes for one of you to cross even a millimeter of the others boundaries. ”

”I have no problems with her getting into mine, but I won cross hers unless she lets me. ”

”And did you offer her a position because you like her? ”

”Of course not, who do you think I am? No, I offered her a position because I genuinely think she is a great scientist and would be a great addition to my group. You know I came thinking of recruiting. ”

”Yes, I know she is good, I just wanted to be certain. And it would be great for her to get away from here. I heard from her best friend that her crazy ex-boyfriend from her uni years is stalking her again after the divorce. ”

”What?! ”

”Yeah, he did it before but it stopped after she moved, since he didn know where she was. Apparently a mutual friend saw her in her new building and told him. I don know if Im more upset that its happening again of that she didn tell me. ”

”She probably feels ashamed. From what I gathered, she still feels guilty for what happened to her. ”

”But it wasn her fault! ”

”Of course not. I know that, you know that, but she doesn . We
e talking the other day about what happened with that Mara and she said that maybe Mara saw her as a threat to her plans of, and I quote, seducing me. But when I asked if she was a threat she said that wouldn be possible, because Im out of her league. I told her everything good I thought about her and she got really sad and said people that knew her longer would argue that she was the contrary o everything I said. It broke my heart to see her denying herself like that. ”

”You really are in love, aren you. ”

”Anyway, the best I can do for her is support her in building her confidence, and the best place to start is her career. ”

”Thank you, Yu. Please take good care of her. She truly is one of a kind, and she deserves much more than what she got from life. ”

”Don worry, Summer, I will. In any case, if I don youll certainly strangle me, so I have no choice. ”

”Good thing you know. ”

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