Science and Love

Chapter 8: A friend

”And thats it for todays activities! Id like to thank you all again for your presence here, and to celebrate the start of our conference well have a cocktail by the pool! Please keep your badges so you can enjoy the free cocktails! ”

Claire was so tired she could just plop down where she was standing, but her hunger was winning against the tiredness. She spent the whole day walking to-and-fro, carrying screens, putting posters up, guiding lost attendees, and in the end she forgot to eat. She knew summer would be at the pool already and Clara would probably just drop by to say hi and go to sleep, so she went directly to the cocktail party.

She found Summer with Yu and another researcher that, if Claire wasn mistaken, had studied with Summers father. Summer was already eyeing the cocktails when Claire came in front of her and said:

”No alcohol for you before we out some food in that digestive system of yours! Hi Yu. Dr. Austin. ”

”But Claire, they are my favourites! ”

”And thats exactly why I came running to stop you. Remember what happened last time? ”

”Okay, lets eat. Would you like to eat with us, Dr. Austin? ”

”Of course! What would you like to have… ”

Yu walked beside Claire, came close to her and whispered:

”What happened last time? ”

Claire looked at him, laughed at his curiosity and beckoned for him to come closer. When he did, she coupled his ear and said:

”Last time she organized one of this was really stressful. She was so happy nothing bad happened on the first day that she had around five of those little cocktails. thing is, when you work on the organization you have no time to eat, and you can go the whole day without eating. Which, for her, meant almost two litters of alcohol seating in an empty stomach, seeping into an hypoglycemic blood and inebriating a really starved brain. All that was fine, she at the time, she just got reaaaallly realllyyy drunk, but almost everybody was drunk, so nobody cared. The problem was her liver, poor thing, that was left with all the work and none of the fun. So he rebelled against Summer and made her sick for the next two days. ”

Yu couldn help but laugh at the colorful description, but then he caught something in what she had said and asked:

”So you haven eaten all day? ”

”Oh, no, but I also don drink alcohol so Im immune to liver rebellion. But Im starving, so Ill eat something. Will you eat with us too? ”

”Yeah, I could eat. What do you recommend? ”

”Look, you can never go wrong with a burger or pizza. As you had a burger yesterday, you should look at the pizzas. Ill have a burger because is cheaper and faster, but you can rob some of my french fries while you wait. ”

”Oh, can I? How noble of you. ”

”Im nothing but hospitable, Master Yu. As I said, always aiming to please. Come on, lets look at the menu. ”

When they caught up to Summer she was already sitting with Dr. Austin and Clara. Clara was already halfway through her burger and looked really uncomfortable with talking to Dr. Austin, so Claire led Yu to sit With Dr. Austin and Summer while she sat with Clara.

”Thank God you
e here. If I had to force another smile to get me out of talking my cheeks would cramp. ”

”Are you that shy? You seemed to talk alright to Yu yesterday. ”

”Yeah, because there was almost no talking. He was sleeping and I was in silent bliss. ”

”Okay, Ill shield you, don worry. Just finish your burger and tell me when you want to leave. Ill just say something that will get Summer rilled up and give you an opening to leave without anyone noticing. ”

”Did I tell you I love you already? ”

”Yeah, yeah, just focus on eating little bunny. ”

Summer was in a heated discussion with Dr. Austin about which city was better, his or hers. Yu was fascinated by how such a thing could almost turn into a real fight. Clara had already finished her burger and Claires had just arrived.

”Claire, Im ready to leave. ”

”Okay, give me a second. ”

Extending her arm between Summer and Dr. Austin, Claire said:

”Yu, do you want some? They are probably not as good as the ones from Summers city, from what she has told me, but they are quite tasty. ”

”Do you mean the french fries? The best ones are the ones from my city… ” Dr. Austin began to say, but wasn able to finish because Summer started a monologue about why the ones from her city were better, and Dr. Austin started talking over her in rebuttal. It was a mess.

”See? just a throwaway sentence and they are already screaming. Go, nobody will notice. ”

”Thank you, Claire! See you tomorrow. ”

While all this was happening, Yus pizza arrived. He was laughing at the discussion between the two Doctors that looked so much like children at this moment, but when he saw his pizza he was stunned.

”Summer, I think something is wrong. This can be my pizza, right? ”

”What do you mean? Are the toppings wrong? ”

”No, but look at the size of this! I can possibly eat all of this! ”

”Oh, I thought it was something serious! If you can finish it we can offer some slices to the students, don worry. ”

He looked at Claire and saw that she was laughing at his surprise. As he looked at her he finally noticed that Clara had left and she was eating alone. Since Summer and Dr. Austin were locked in their own world of arguing, which would only get worse now that they had started drinking, he decided to take his pizza and move to her side.

”Master Claire. ”

”Master Yu, to what do I owe the pleasure? ”

”Well, I figured we could help each other.

”Is that so? And in what way should we be of aid to each other, pray tell. ”

”Well, I need someone to eat this monster of a pizza with me, and you seemed to be rather lonely here. ”

”Is that so? ”

”Yes. Other than that, if we are talking to each other Summer can bring people around to introduce to us. Win-win situation, I think. ”

”I gather it didn go well with Lilian, then? ”

”Lilian? Whos Lilian? ”

”What? Yu, she is the PI I told Claire to introduce to you during breakfast. The one that hasn stopped looking at you since you arrived? ”

”Oh, I ran away from Summer when she called her over. ”

”Oh no, poor Lilian! Why don you give her a chance? She is really sweet, just a little shy, but you seem quite outgoing so that shouldn be a problem right? ”

”Me, outgoing? Im lucky Summer didn hear you or I wouldn hear the end of it. Also, I don like meeting new people that much. ”

”Really? If you hadn told me I wouldn know. You haven been anything but nice to me, and Im pretty sure we didn know each other before. ”

”Well, thats different. You
e really ease to talk to. Anyway, what about you? I know youve been running from Summer introducing you to one of her former students, too. ”

”That is because I don want to meet men right now. Specially not the ones introduced by Summer. ”

”Ouch, that hurt. ”

”No, you
e an exception. To tell you the truth, I was really nervous to meet you. You seemed to be really cool but you never know with Summer, do you? ”

”Yeah, you have a point there. But whats the problem with meeting men? ”

”Well, I just got divorced and most of my relationships where long-term relationships that did not go well, so I need some time to heal, I think. And Summer always tries to introduce me to her former students, and they generally are younger than me. I don need that kind of stress in my life! ”

”So you prefer older men? ”

”Honestly? Right now I prefer no men. But yeah, generally I prefer older men. I don know, at least from my experience they are easier to talk to and be myself around without needing to chance to fit their expectations. See, weve known each other for a day and Im more comfortable around you than I was around most of my colleagues after six months working together. ”

”Maybe you don see me as a men? ”

Claire laughed at that, a laugh that opened up her face and made her eyes shine.

”Oh, Yu, I doubt any women that has ever met you would not think of you as a men. ”

”Is that so? ”

”Yes, it is. You see, ” she leaned in so he could listen to her talking and lowered her voice. ”if you look at your two oclock, there will be a cluster with at least five girls looking at our table and smiling. At you eleven, youll see our adorable Lilian and another three researchers looking at you as if you
e the last cocktail in this party. You see, not only are you attractive, you
e quite intelligent and, upon closer contact, just a really nice human being. Who wouldn be interested? ”

e still close to each other, and at this point Claire looked directly into Yus eyes. Yu got a little closer and asked:

”Would you? ”

”Of course I would! but, alas, Im just a poor student. I would never be on the eyes of Master Yu. ”

She said that smiling, but Yu felt a pang in his heart to hear her talk about herself like that. Before he could say anything she had already sat back at her chair and was saying something to him.

”Sorry? ”

”I asked if the pizza is any good. ”

”Yes, its delicious. Would you like a slice? ”

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