I found her. At Kobenhavn, I thought I kept seeing her pass by with a friend, a nondescript one, one nobody would ever notice even after seeing her a thousand times. Three days in a row, that was her, with her friend, walking into the lounge right about this time.
I sat nearby and listened in. That's rude, I know, but I haven't exactly been working on my social skills lately. The more I listened, the more charmed I was by the musical sound of her bubbly voice. I watched her dim shadow (even THAT was adorable and compelling beyond description) for what seemed like hours as her friends gabbed on blissfully with her, then I heard something I hadn't expected.
After she had just finished describing someone she referred to mockingly as "a mallet," and ruefully recounted two days of ducking into shadows to avoid his constant attention, she mentioned me . . .
"Then there was this guy, smart, kind of funny, but nowhere near as funny as he seemed to think he was, came to the uni for his first class. You have NO idea how clueless this guy was. I thought maybe he was sick or something till I checked him out. Two days out of a cloning vat, and it turns out the director was trying like crazy to get hold of him because, you know, he's a collie--" All eyes stared at her in shock. That and a few gasps and giggles here and there told me all I needed to know about her friends.
A collie? I wasn't sure I wanted to hear the rest. She went on to describe the encounter more fully, more insultingly, and even included my name. Yes, she is just like the rest of them.
"Then, after all this time scoping me out, . . . crrrEEEEpeeee, . . . buuut hey, I'm a patsy, right? So I just deal with it, you know, . . . he asked me out . . . for coffee? I mean , , , shabby as he looked, how does he even know what coffee is, let alone where to get it, and like he's got the creds? I don't think so." Her bubbly laugh carried across the room, seeming to soothe everyone almost as much as it had me -- before I'd heard what she was actually saying.
What could I possibly have seen in her? I was wrong. It is possible to be mad at her, if you just don't look at those eyes, that cascading hair, those long, perfect fingers running through it, . . .
"Then he said 'you get asked a lot, don't you?' . . . Well, duh. Me patsy, you collie, ugh."
I suddenly realized I had stood up, and the whole room had fallen silent. She turned, slowly, shocked to see me, looked more 'put-off' than anything else, and sat there with her jaw hanging open. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guard who'd been leaning up against the wall move his hand toward his nightstick while I backed up slowly, in staggered steps, toward the door.
I don't remember much of the walk to the shuttle bay, or if it was even what you would call a walk. I think I must have hit the bar first. My wallet was a little lighter than I'd expect after getting paid for doing nothing all day. Wait, that goes in the bank, right? What am I thinking? AM I thinking? I just wanted to get back to Tau and hide in my bunk.