1963-08-23 - Rough Landings and First Dates
Summary: An unfortunate skateboard accident leads to an unexpected first date.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
christine nova 


It's getting pretty late in the evening; the sun has long since dipped down below the horizon, but the heat of the summer sun can still be felt in the air. There aren't too many people hanging around the quad of the Columbia University campus, but a few linger here and there; a trio discussing politics as they walk from the library, a pair of, one supposes, lovers, walking hand in hand trying to find a quiet corner or privacy. Sam, a young looking man perhaps in his late teens, is apparently in a rush to get from one end of the quad to the other, moving quickly through the area atop a skateboard, weaving past the few others gathered on his way from point A to wherever point B might be. No helmet, no pads; skateboarding hasn't exactly hit the mainstream, and Sam is an early adopter. He seems pretty sure on his feet, at least until he isn't. A brief shout or surprise, and Sam's board slips out from under him, causing him to fall on the pavement. He ducks into a bit of a roll to mitigate the injury, but the damage is done. Scraped legs, palms, and shoulder. Thankfully he didn't smash his head on the ground, but he's a bit dazed from the fall.

*

Christine Preston is still settling into life at Columbia, glad to be free and out of her family's home for the first time. With the late summer weather being so pleasant, she's been taking to studying out in the quad. Dressed in a light blue dress remeniscent of something Jackie Kenedy would wear, she's drawing some attention for her looks as well as the books on physics that she's been reading. As she starts to make her way across the quad, studying done for now, there's suddenly a young man tumbling to come to a stop near her feet. Christine is rather amused and tries hard not to laugh as she looks down at the young man. "Are you okay?"

*

Sam opens his eyes to see Christine looking down at him, and blinks a couple times to refocus the image. Girl. "Uh," he starts, and tries to get to move into a sitting position in a way that doesn't make him cringe with pain, or look /really/ awkward. Being a teenage boy, the latter is impossible, and having just bailed hard on pavement, so too is the former. Somehow, he manages to get himself at least upright, if not to his feet. "I'm okay," he says, though all of the evidence is to the contrary. He's bleeding from one of his knees, his palm is rather scraped up, and his pants are pretty much ruined. He looks down at his leg, and grimaces. "I meant to do that," he says, managing a bit of a grin. "Now you'll have to take pity on me, nurse me back to health." Smooth.

*

Christine smiles a bit more, until the mention of nursing him back to health. "Awww," she says in a teasing/lecturing tone. "If I did that, you wouldn't learn not to get back on that thing again, would you?" Still, she offers him a hand to help him up and smiles, cradling 3 textbooks in her other arm. "What is that thing, anyways?" The question is asked as she looks for the board that he was using. "It didn't exactly look safe to be on, whatever it was." Sam's injuries are noticed, and Christine's lips become tight with concern. "It definately doesn't seem safe to be on, judging by you. YOu should probably get to an aid station for some band-aids. And chuck that board in the trash."

*

Sam gladly accepts the help back up to his feet, taking care not to get any blood on the girl in the process. "Thanks," he says as she helps him. "It's a skateboard," he says, leaving the board alone for the moment. Not really in a big rush to get back on it now. "It's not so dangerous, if you can keep your balance. Takes a bit of practice, which I guess I could use more of." At the mention of the need for some first-aid, he grimaces, and looks down at his bleeding knee. "You're probably right, but I have no idea where that is.. haven't been here very long, and this is the first time I've managed to hurt myself," he says, and laughs quietly at the irony he sees in the situation. "I'm Sam, by the way."

*

"Christine," she replies with a nod to Sam. "Well, come on then," she says after a pause. "I think it's over here by the bookstore." She carefully guides him in the direction of the aid station. "Where are you from, Sam? You definately don't sound like you're from New York. Or even New England, for that matter." Christine, herself, has a slight 'Lawn-Guy-Land' accent, although not as pronounced as many inhabitants of the Big Apple that Sam may have encountered.

*

"I'm from a little town in Arizona no-one's ever heard of," Sam replies, following Christine's lead toward the aid station. "Is it that obvious? Thought I was doing an alright job of fitting in around here," he says, smirking lightly. "Where are you from?" Part of him wants to follow the question with 'heaven?', but he thinks better of it at the last second; best to leave the cheesy lines to one per meeting, right? He doesn't recognize the accent, but let's be serious; Sam isn't worldly enough to identify regional accents, except the most obvious.

*

Sam's answer causes Christine to arch an eyebrow in surprise. "Arizona? Wow, you made a big move. Were the schools out there closer to you, like in California, not good enough?" They walk along a bit more before Christine answers Sam's question. "I'm a native daughter, proud to say. I was born and grew up on Long Island. And it never really crossed my mind to go to school anywhere else but here in Manhattan. It's got to be the greatest city on Earth." There's a proud smile on Christine's face as she talks. "You can find anything you could ever want here. And then you have all the heroes that live here. It's all very exciting."

*

"I didn't really apply anywhere close to home," Sam says with a bit of a shrug. "I wanted a change, I guess. After my father passed away, staying back out west didn't seem like the best thing for me." He continues to walk along, laughing a little at the mention of 'heroes'. "New York is definitely different from home. I got lost in Macy's the other day trying to find shoes, so I'll have to disagree about the 'finding anything you want'. Took a seven-foot-tall Russian to navigate that place. Haven't met any 'heroes' though, but I keep hearing things in the news. Guess it's only a matter of time though. You must have run into a few super-hero types, since you've been here your whole life?"

*

"Actually, no," Christine admits with a bit of a blush. "I've seen a few from far away. Like Thor flying overhead. But mostly, you read about them in the newspapers. If you want to try and catch a glimpse, Avengers Mansion is on the other side of Central Park." Her smile fades some as Sam explains the reason for his decision to relocate. "I'm sorry to hear that," she says; she really doesn't know Sam, but it's the polite response at least. "And you probably got lost in Macy's becsue you said it yourself: you're from a very small town. You're probably not used to such big department stores. But I can assure you, Macy's does stock men's shoes of all kinds. And jeans to replace those pair." With that, Christine and Sam are standing in front of the aid station, and the young woman gives Sam another smile. "And, here we are. The nurse should have you all bandaged up quickly." There's a pause, and then Christine asks, "DO you want me to wait for you, or are you going to be alright on your own?" She's not trying to be patronizing; rather, she's just concerned about him.

*

Sam nods along as Christine speaks, about the Avengers, when she gives her condolences about his father, to which he offers a simple, but honest "Thanks", and then about Macy's. When they arrive at the aid station, he say, "Oh, I'll be alright, but.. if you're not doing anything, would you like to come with me to get something to eat? My treat, as a thanks for escorting me all the way here?" It takes a certain kind of man to parley a wipe-out into a date, and whether or not the consensus is with him, Sam kind of fancies himself that kind of man. "I mean, I'll run up and change into something less.. ragged, first." Probably wouldn't do to be seen with a man wearing ripped, bloodstained pants. Not for a proper Long Island girl, right?

*

No, it certainly wouldn't do, Christine thinks. And she can just about hear her grandmother's voice in her head, nattering on about what kind of boy Sam is and various other aspersions on his character. Which, more than anything else, is why Christine nods and says, "Alright' to the offer for a quick meal. "How about if we meet back here in, say, half an hour? That would give me time to freshen up a bit myself and drop off my books."

*

"That sounds great," Sam says with a smile. Hey, it worked! "See you in thirty," he says, and happily heads on in to the aid station, where no doubt a dour nurse unhappy about her stint on the night shift will be both confused and put off by Sam's gleeful demeanour, considering his injuries. When he tells her that his injuries earned him a date, she'll be less confused by his mood, but not less sour about having drawn the short straw for this shift. Nonetheless, she applies bandages and antiseptic ointment as necessary, to prevent the teen from developing a nasty infection, because that's her job, and she takes it seriously, even if the kids she treats don't. Sam emerges from the aid station fifteen minutes or so later, and bolts up to his dorm room to find non-ripped pants a clean shirt. He arrives back in front the aid station just before the thirty-minute deadline, looking, if he can say so himself, quite dapper. Well, relatively. Hair combed, clean button-down shirt and trousers which might, at some point, have actually been ironed. He cleans up okay.

*

Even with the 30 minute head start, Christine is a couple minutes late. Just five minutes, enough to be fashionable but not enough to get Sam worried. She's wearing the same dress as earlier, but has assed a matching light blue hairband, a white silk scarf around her neck, touched up her cosmetics, and switched into shoes with heels, giving her a slight lift in height. She's also carrying a white handbag now. Christine is smiling as she walks up to Sam. "Well, that really is an improvement over the jeans," she says teasingly. "You look very handsome," she adds in for reassurance. "So, did you have a particular restaurant in mind?"

*

Sam smiles as Christine comes into view. "Thanks," he says, stepping forward to meet the girl as she approaches, "You look beautiful," he says, offering her his arm, like he's a gentleman or something. "I didn't have anything fancy in mind, really. There's a nice little diner not far from campus, if you don't mind a bit of a walk?" This is the Upper West Side though, so a diner in this area isn't a dive joint like it might be in the less affluent parts of town.

*

Christine crocks her arm to allow herself to be escorted. "Thank you," she replies to the compliment. "No, I don't mind a walk. It's a nice night for it, don't you think?" She walks alongside him for a while, then starts up the small talk. "So, Sam from Arizona. Tell me a bit more about yourself? Do you have any brothers or sisters? What are you studying here at Columbia?" Christine looks at Sam, a curious smile on her face and an appearance of being very interested in his answers.

*

"Very nice night," he agrees with a smile. One of the best he's had in recent days, actually; he should fall off his board more often. "I'm from a town called Carefree, on the edge of the Sonoran," he says, perfectly happy to tell a bit of his story. Not /all/ of his story though, because a girl he just met doesn't necessarily need to know about the whole 'dad was an alien' part. "My mom and my sister Kaelynn still live back there, she's a few years younger. I expect she'll want to come out here when she finished high school, too. Nobody stays in Carefree unless they don't have a way out," he continues, smirking a bit at that. "I'm in the Mathematics program here," he says, looking for a reaction. Usually when he tells someone that, they give him a bit of a strange look, since he doesn't exactly look the part of the math nerd. "What about you? Family? Boyfriend? What program are you in?" Slyly slipping in the important question there.

*

She definately didn't miss that question and Christine's eyebrow lifts up in amusement when he asks it. But, she starts at the beginning. "Well, like I said, I was born and raised on Long Island. I live there with my mother and grandparents. No brothers or sisters." She waits a bit before clarifying the family situation. "I never knew my father. My mother met him in World War 2; he was a soldier, she was in the WAVES. They were married for a few months before he was killed in action. Mother discovered she was preganat with me a few months later and returned home." Christine doesn't sound upset about the circumstances of her birth, just reciting facts. She does, though, break out into a very, overly-sweet smile as she replies to Sam's main question. "No. I don't have a boyfriend." She stiffens up a bit, raising her chin up and putting her nose slightly into the air. "A proper lady would never accept an invitaion to a meal from a man who was not her intended," Christine says in a mock-haugty tone. Then, her features return to that warm smile of hers that comes so easily. "That's what my grandmother would say, at least." The mention of his being in the mathematics department gets her attention. "A mathematics major? That's pretty impressive, I have to say. I'm a physics major, myself. I'm hoping to focus in Theoretical Physics; the new theories about quantum mechanics are really exciting!"

*

Sam begins to walk along with Christine, leading her along the walkway toward the campus gates, and the main road. He offers understanding nods when she speaks about her father, and a light laugh when she puts on that mock-proper tone. "Your grandmother sounds like she knows a thing or two about men," he says with a bit of a wry smile. "Math always made sense to me, ever since I was a kid. "That's pretty neat," he says in response to her statement about being in the physics department. "Not too many other girls in your classes, though, I would think. Do you find it intimidating at all?" Sadly, the sciences aren't exactly brimming with female students these days; certainly Sam's own classes have very few women. It's a pretty exciting prospect to find a girl in the same kind of field. "Not that I think you should, it's just.. you know, not very common," he says. "Not that you're common, I just.." Foot, mouth. "You're probably smarter than every other guy in there," he says finally. Nice save?
"

*

Rogue arrives from Midtown.

*

Rogue has arrived.

*

Rogue leaves, heading towards Harlem [N].

*

Rogue has left.

*

"My grandmother has…very strong opinions," Christine says with a weary smile. "Very, very strong opinions. Frequently." There's a bit of exasperation in her laugh, like letting lots of frustration escape. "No, there's not many women in my class, sadly," She confirms. "But I don't find it intimidating. I find it challenging, instead. I see it as the oportunity to become the next Marie Curie. Or Ada Lovelace. Or any of dozens of other women who made massive contributions to scientific knowledge. If I have to work twice as hard to be considered an equal to the men in my class, then I'll be working even harder than that so that women and girls in the future won't have to contend with the same barriers." Christine sounds like she has all the confidence nad self-assurance in the world as she proclaims her intentions. When she's done, the turns and looks at Sam, smiling. "I know what you meant. And it was very sweet. Thank you. And anyone that can get accepted as a freshman into the Mathematics program at Columbia isn't exactly common himself."

*

Sam smiles, glad his question wasn't taken the wrong way. As she speaks, he nods along, listening to her. It's only when she finishes that he speaks. See, gentleman! "I didn't do well in very many subjects in high school. I guess I wasn't trying very hard in most of my classes, but math was always something that came pretty naturally to me. Numbers make more sense than a lot of things, I think." He smiles a bit sheepishly at her compliment, "I think my teachers pulled some strings for me, really. Maybe they felt sorry for me, maybe they thought I could do better than I had been, in a different situation. I'm lucky to be here, and I hope I don't disappoint anyone," he says. They've walked a little ways now, and the diner isn't too far. "What kinds of things do you like to do outside of class?"

*

And there's a slight pause as Christine finds herself at a loss for word. "Well… not much, to be honest." There's a slight blush in her cheeks and a guilty shrug. "I'm afraid that I really didn't do much outside of studying when I was in high school. Well, horse riding and swimming for exercise, but to be honest, I really became a bookworm in high school. I was very focused on learning and studying. I think by the time I was a sophomore, I knew what I wanted to be and knew how hard I was going to have to work to become that." There's a bit more to the reasons why she started studying so hard, but Sam doesn't really need to know about that. "What about you?" she asks to try and deflect from her own lack of activities. "What do you like doing?"

*

"Hey, nobody can fault you for being dedicated, Chris," Sam says, reassuringly. "I think most girls are more focused on being pretty and finding a husband these days, which is kind of.. boring?" He looks at her, hoping he hasn't offended her feminine sensibilities by saying so. He takes the opportunity to change the subject with her question about his his own extracurriculars. "Besides falling off a skateboard, I play basketball, baseball.. that kind of thing," he says. "I don't do much reading, but I just started a book about a world where monkeys run everything, and humans are treated like animals," he says, realizing after a moment how dumb that must sound. "You like science fiction at all?" After another few minutes they arrive at their destination, and Sam moves to open the door for Christine.

*

The opened door gets Sam an appreciative smile. "Really? That sounds rather interesting, actually. It sounds a bit like 'Animal Farm' by Geroge Orwell. And yes, I do like science fiction. I adore Jules Verne and HG Wells. Issac Asimov, E.E. Smith are also favorites of mine. Have you read any of the Foundation stories?" Once they are shown to a table, Christine slidesinto the booth, smoothing out her dress. "Well, if you like baseball, we have the Yankees, of course, and the Mets team just started last year. I'm afraid I don't know that much about basketball."

*

Sam would rather keep the conversation to a topic his date is at least somewhat interested in, so he drops the sports talk in favour of the book. He slides into the booth opposite Christine before continuing the discussion, "It's called 'Planet of the Apes'. Really interesting, and it has a bit of everything. Space travel, monkeys.." It isn't long though before the waitress appears at their table, asking what they'd like to drink to start with. Sam asks politely for a Coke, and looks to Christine to order her own beverage; she doesn't so much seem the type that would appreciate his ordering on her behalf.

*

Christine looks up at the waitress, replying, "I'll have a Vanilla Coke, please." She looks back at Sam and explains, "I like Coke when it's a little bit sweeter." Getting back to the conversation after the waitress leaves. "Well, the title makes sense." A laugh escapes her lips. "Maybe I'll borrow the book from you when you're done with it?" The waitress returns with their drinks and Christine orders a Club Sandwich. Once the pair are alone again, Christine continues the conversation. "So, which part of the book has you interested more? The space travel or the monkeys?"

*

Sam orders the same when the waitress brings their drinks, and takes a quick sip of his coke before continuing to speak. "Definitely the space travel," he says without hesitation. "I mean, I like monkeys, but it's the idea of travelling to other planets and stars, seeing what else is out there that gets me. We barely know anything about our own solar system, much less other stars. There could be alien civilizations just out of our reach, and we might never know," he says. Of course it'd be the space travel and the aliens he's interested in; you know, for reasons. "Of course, if there were, our we'd probably just try to blow it up," he says a bit grimly. "Humans are weird."

*

"We can be," Christine nods as she sips her drink. "Be then, we can also create amazing works of art and beauty. DaVinci, Beethoven, Mozart, Shakespere. And look at the amazing things we've built in our cities. The Empire State BUilding, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park…the….the…." Christine pauses, looks over at Sam and gives him a teasing smirk. "What's Arizona known for? Beside the heat?" She giggles a bit and reaches out to pat his hand. "I'm kidding. But my point is, that humans have an amazing capacity to create or destroy. And I think it's better to focus on inspiring discovery and creation, right?"

*

"You're right," Sam says, smiling and agreeing. "That whole thing last year with Cuba, just.. you know, scary," he says. "Arizona's got a lot of great things going for it, too, they're not all just in New York," he says, teasing. "We've got the.." Give him a second. Arizona's got stuff, I swear. "Hey, the Lowell Observatory is in Flagstaff. That's where they discovered Pluto," he says after a moment of thought. There, take that New York! When was the last time you discovered a planet? Sam smiles, and doesn't at all flinch or pull away when Christine touches his hand. "That's one thing I miss about home. At night, you could stare up at the sky and see every star. Here, the lights of the city make everything so bright, you can barely see anything. Seems like most of the people I've met here, if they were born in the city, have never left. Can't imagine having lived without having ever properly seen the stars," he says, a bit wistfully.

*

Christine smiles at Sam, his romantic notions of the stars very much touching her. "Well, of course we don't look at the stars when walking around Manhattan at night," she says matter-of-factly. "If you want to see the starts at night, you go to the beaches. You get to Long Island or Coney Island after the rides shut down, and you can get a pretty good view of the stars. If you want a better look, you take a day trip to the Catskills and Upstate. Plenty of open land out there without a city in sight to spoil the view."

*

Sam grins, "My god, you're one of them," he says jokingly. "I'm sure the view from Upstate is fine, but you can't get better than an open summer sky in the Sonoron," he says. "If I could, I'd fly you out there now, show you what you're missing." Of course, Sam /could/, but that's more of a third date than a first. The service in this place is quick, and it's not long before the waitress returns with two club sandwiches, both served with a side of fries. The waitress places a bottle of Heinz ketchup as well, and asks if there's anything else before departing. Sam politely says, "Thank you", when she gives him her plate; his mother's a waitress, so she made sure her kids learned to treat people who worked in such places with kindness and respect.

*

"Maybe someday," Christine replies with an enegmatic smile. When the food is served, Christine also smiles to the waitress and says, "Thank you." Although her respect is coming from an entriely different perspective than Sam's; politeness to the hired help was drilled into her at an early age. She takes a bite of the sandwich, dabbing away a bit of mayo on the corner of her lips with a napkin. "So, what's the biggest change you've had to make living here? And don't say the crowds or the traffic. I'm talking cultural change, not a change of scale."

*

Sam takes a bit at the same time as his date, taking care not to be chewing too much while she's talking. "The crowds and the traffic weren't really a shock.. I knew what I was getting into when I came here," Sam says. "The biggest thing I've had to deal with, I guess, would be just the lack of acknowledgement. Back home, you knew everybody. You couldn't walk down the street without getting caught up in conversation with someone. Here, you can walk for miles without so much as a hello. People actively avoid each other, but come here because there's so many other people. It's a bit ironic," he says after a moment. "I guess that's kind of a function of scale, though. It'd probably be just as shocking to you to visit a place where everyone who sees you wants to say 'hi' and talk about the weather," he finishes with a light laugh.

*

"I don't know about that," Christine says after chewing thoughtfully. "Neighborhoods here are freindly and like that. Once you settle into a neighborhood, people will get to know you and you'll get that kind of interaction. New York sees so many people come and go, so many tourists, that you really don't know the average person on the street. You save it up for your neighbors. Once a neighborhood gets to know you, I think you'll feel right at home here." She takes a few more bites, then asks, "So, what are you planning on doing with a degree in math? Teach? Work for NASA?"

*

"Oh, I'd be an awful teacher," Sam says. "NASA would be my dream job, I guess. Helping send people into space, working with and helping to develop new technology.." A degree in mathematics can open a lot of doors, and in some ways Sam is a bit spoiled for choice of career path, he's not put a great deal of thought yet into exactly what he could do. "What about you? A physics degree seems like a no-brainer for somewhere like NASA, Boeing, or any of those," he says between bites. "Of course, by the time we graduate we could be looking at a whole new world of possibilities, depending on how the upcoming launches go."

*

"Exactly!" Christine says excitedly. "There's just so much possibility now. Honestly, I think I'd like to go into pure research, rather than direct, practical aplications. I like figuring out how the universe works. Doing research like Dr. Richards or Dr. Pym and making these incredible discoveries about space and dimensions. Maybe even study how superhuman powers work. With the published work done by Dr. MacTaggart, we know some of the base mechanism regarding evolutionary mutaions and superhuman abilities. But how do those powers work on a *physical* level? How can someone like, say, the Hulk, lift up a massive weight, like a cargo container, and not have it collapse around his hands since the PSI on the points of contact would be much greater than the material strength of the steel? Things like that are what I'm interested in. We're gaining the knowledge to craft thekey to unlock the universe, and I want to be one of the locksmiths."

*

Sam stares a little bit blankly as Christine speaks. Not because he doesn't understand what she's saying, but it's strange to see a girl speak so comfortably about science; most of the girls he's known have been /much/ different. But then, as discussed, he's from small-town Arizona. Maybe girls in the Big Apple are just more ambitious. This one certainly is, and Sam is impressed by no small margin. "Wow," he says quietly, smiling, ignoring his food for a moment. "When you've got your Nobel Prize, I'll be able to brag that I took you to dinner one night when you first got your start," he says with a grin on his lips.

*

"Thank you," Christine replies happily. It's a rather strange feeling, having someone that listens to you and understands a little something about you. She's used to being looked at like a space cadet by her high school classmates and even her family. But Sam seems to get her. And even encourages her. Definately interesting. "So, since you asked me the question, I guess it's only fair for me to ask you. Back home in Arizona, do you have a girlfriend pining away for you while you're out here?" She pops the remains of one of the sandwich wedges in her mouth, chewing carefully as she looks at Sam for the answer.

*

"Only fair," Sam repeats, putting his sandwich down a moment to take a sip of his cola. "No girlfriend, no," he says. "If there are any girls besides my mom and sister missing me much back home, I'd be surprised to find out. The girls I went to school with tended to have a type, and I didn't really fit it, I guess. I had lots of friends, and lot of friends who were girls, but.. it never really worked out any further than that, I guess," he says, offering a bit of a shrug, as if the fact didn't really bother him. "My mom would be thrilled if she knew I was out with you," he says, immediately regretting having brought up his mother in the middle of a date. Sip some more cola, Sam.

*

Christine smiles and blushes a bit at the compliment, then sighs. "I really wish I could say the same about my family," she says quietly. Realizing how that sounds, Christine blushes harder and holds up her hands. "Not that you're a bad guy. You're really fantastic; someone that I can actually talk to and not stare at me like I'm an alien. What I mean is, my grandmother is very…particular." Christine bites her lip nervously for a moment. "She has certain expectations about who is suitable and who is not. And it usually comes down to a matter of family lineage and money. She'd never approve of me associating with someone from a small town out in the desert, no matter how smart he is or how much of a gentleman he is." She takes another deep breath and looks down at her plate. A few moments later, Christine looks back up at Sam, a slight smile on her lips. "So, I guess it's a good thing that I've never really taken my grandmother's opinions to heart, right?"

*

Sam looks just a little bit disappointed at Christine's explanation that her grandmother would never think he's good enough for her grand-daughter, but he brightens up when she states her lack of serious regard for the woman's opinion. "Good thing for me," he says, returning the girl's smile. A moment later, and the waitress returns, asking if they want anything else, and mentions that they'll be closing down the diner for the night soon. "Nothing else for me, thanks. We'll be on one check, by the way," he says to the woman, and looks toward Christine. The waitress does as well, asking, "Anything else for you, dear?"

*

Christine shakes her head at the waitress. "No thank you," she replies. After the waitress leaves, Christine returns her attention to Sam. "Well, thank you very much for dinner and a lovely evening, Sam. I must admit, I didn't think things would turn out quite like this when you landed at my feet. But I'm really glad they did." The confidnce and self assurance Christine had when talking about physics is gone now, replaced by a coyly smiling girl with a slight blush in her cheeks.

*

"My pleasure, Christine," Sam says. "I didn't imagine this is how the night would end up, but I think it couldn't have turned out better if I'd planned it. You know, except for the rough landing," he says with a smirk. His knee still stings, but pain is temporary, and at this point, totally worth it. Sam's confidence is brimming, in sharp contrast to Christine's more coy and demure demeanour. "I'd love to see you again," he says after a moment, looking to the girl's eyes for a reaction. "Would you go on a second date with me? Friday, maybe?"

*

"Absolutely," Christine says without much hesitation after the question was asked. "On the condition that I pay for it. Maybe we can catch a movie and a light dinner?" With similar tastes in books, she's fairly sure they can agree on a movie that they'd both enjoy watching. "But, we can talk more about it while you walk me home?" The question is asked with a hopeful tone, even though she's fairly certain what his response will be.

*

"Deal," Sam says, after a moment. The idea of the girl paying for the date is a bit out of the ordinary, but, frankly, Sam's wallet is pretty skint these days. This diner trip even, isn't inside his budget, not that he'd ever let on. He has his pride, after all. "Dinner and a movie sounds great," he says just before the waitress arrives with the bill. He thanks her, and fishes enough cash out of his wallet for the meals and a tip, leaving the money on the table. Sam stands up from the table, stepping away just enough to leave Christine room to get up unimpeded, but close enough to offer her his hand to help her up. He'll be happy to walk her home, and he's pretty sure that much was obvious from the start.

*

Christine graciously accepts the offered hand to help her up. "Thank you again," she says, and then walks with her date, as she;s thinking of Sam as now, through the exit and out into the Manhattan night. She looks up a bit, trying to see something out there, but the city lights are too bright, like Sam complained about. And for the first time ever, as Sam walks her to her apartment a few blocks from campus, Christine wonders if maybe there really is more to see to the universe than she can find or study in New York.

*

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