Return to Earth - 07
I made some classical errors in writing this chapter, and hope I mange to get them fixed. I'm not 100% thrilled with how it came out. So for all you English professors out there reading, if you want to complain about the grammar or a few incorrect spellings, save it for your students. I'm doing this for fun, so once again if you don't like it, read something else please. I'm sure there are plenty of stories out there just waiting for your input. Constructive criticism is welcomed. enjoy everyone.
“Daniel, so good to see you again,” Cynthia’s mother met them at the door. She was the only one home. “I see my daughter has finally broken you free of your rigid studies. Thank you for letting her come home to see her mother,” she added with a twist of humor.
“Actually it was his idea to get away today. He actually said we could take a day or two to relax. I was almost shocked.” Cynthia offered up quickly. “And don’t be so dramatic. I was home a few days ago.” She added as she hugged her mother.
“I know, you were here a whole fifteen minutes. You ran out like the room was on fire.”
“That was last week mom, lots to do I told you that. We should have more time this week if you want to have lunch or go shopping or something.” Cynthia yelled from her room.
“And why is that? I thought you had final exams.”
Cynthia came out and had another bag draped over her shoulder. “It is final week. However, we don’t have to take most of them. Instead, we are helping others study. Seems Smart Boy here got us a pass on most of our finals. The professors figured it wouldn’t do any good to further test us. It wouldn’t change our grade any. The only one that is having us take it is professor Crème. Since the university uses it as a function, they make everyone take that one. On the bright side, the professor did say that she would have exempted us with a hope that we would still help with the event. She then said Daniel and I make a cute couple and our emotional attachment to each other reflects in our cooking.”
Daniel had taken a seat in the kitchen. He looked at her and cocked his head. Of all things, he had thought she would skip telling that last part. The wide-eyed look he gave her made her laugh.
“Daniel, I tell my parents everything. It’s a lot easier than trying to hide it.” She put her arm around her mother’s neck. “I told you I would take care of it and well I did.” She tightened her embrace with her mother. “They may not like it but they accepted that things need to change. Their conditions included that I be honest with them.” She looked at her mother. “Got any coffee mom? Daniel looks like he could use a cup.”
Her mother looked her with her eyes narrowing to a glare. Cynthia laughed as she then turned that glare on Daniel and raised a finger pointing at him. “I have been meaning to talk to you about that mister. How could you get her hooked on that stuff?”
Daniel tried but he couldn’t help but laugh. “Without intention, Mrs. Prieto, I assure you. She was thirsty one night. She forgot to bring a drink with her so she took drink from my cup. It’s an acquired taste for most as not many get past the first sip. She actually surprised me by drink half of the cup.”
“Yes well now she drinks it constantly. Her father and I don’t care for it and she’s brought four containers of it home.” She looked at her daughter as she went to a cabinet and got one of the containers.
“What? They’re different flavors.” She grinned as she defended her actions, she got two cups and took a seat next to Daniel. “Maybe you should give it another chance.” She took the container from her mother and started making two cups.
“Thank you no, I will stick to my tea,” she replied as she watched Cynthia. She turned her attention on Daniel as he teased her about how she was making it. She could see the admiration in his eyes but also a little frustration. He wasn’t use to being catered to.
“Since you have more time this week I’m sure you will be here on time for dinner this week. I’ll make your favorites. The butcher got some great deals on some meat and your father bought some,” she said sitting down and making her cup of tea.
“We haven’t been that late, we had to clean up first. You wouldn’t want some of the smells we had on us in here. You would never get it out of the furniture.” Cynthia moved one of the cups in front of Daniel.
“Since you no longer have your project, that shouldn’t be a problem should it. Daniel I’m holding you responsible to make sure you get here on time.”
Daniel looked over the top of the coffee cup as he sipped it and then slowly set it down. “Yes, Ma’am. I don’t see any foreseeable events that should hold us up. We’ll be spending time with each class to offer help, Professor Crème is leaving this week for everyone to make final preparations. We have a few things but mostly we will have to wait to make the dishes. Unfortunately, we thought to make some fresh items. The process of making them is time consuming.”
“Well you have done a fine job so far. Cynthia said that you are trying to do something that is a little outside the class teaching.”
Daniel looked at Cynthia who was smiling and sipping her coffee. “Just a little outside what they did in this class. The students that are actually studying to go into cooking will have a chance to try it later on. We only got permission because of one of our other professors. He ensured everyone that we could do it and not injure ourselves or anyone else in the process.”
“It sounds like you have them all willing to help you out. You could go a long way if you don’t have anything holding you back.”
Daniel shrugged. “I think we will do okay. They hit us with the easy courses first. As we get farther along it will take more and more to impress them. We just got lucky this session.”
Daniel swallowed the last of the coffee in his cup and set it down. He stood, he picked up the cup and walked it to the sink. Cynthia grabbed her bag and jumped up wither cup. “Why don’t you stay here with your mom for a while. I can do the checks by myself tonight. We can meet up at the chemistry lab in the morning,” he said as turned around, they brushed against one another. “Professor Kingston said he would send us the details once he knew who was going to sit in on our study and what they were struggling with. I can get there early and set up any lab equipment we might need.” Cynthia looked panicked as the dilemma of what to do sent chills over her entire body.
“Nonsense, Daniel. The two of you are partners. Whatever it is that you need to do, you both should do it.” Her mother replied making the choice for her. “It took time for her father and me to understand that. I hope you know it wasn’t anything against you personally. We feared the worst case and we are happy to be proven wrong. It’s a parents right to be overprotective at times. One day you will be for your child, or children if you are lucky. Besides as I recall this is supposed to be a day of relaxing for you both. Cynthia would never let me hear the end of it if she had to stay here and you went off to work. ” She noted the slight sound of relief from Cynthia as she hooked arms with Daniel and headed for the door.
“Thanks for the coffee, Mrs. Prieto,” Daniel called out as Cynthia rushed them to the door.
They heard her laughing as the door closed. When they got to the lift, they were the only ones in it. She turned and gave him a jab in the ribs. “What the hell was that about? Trying to dump me already.” She huffed and turned her back to him.
“Your mother seemed to be upset that you haven’t been home. I just thought that you would like to stay. Even though it ended slightly faster than I expected I enjoyed our day out together. Helping the Judge wasn’t part of the plan, but that too was a bit of fun. As much as I would have liked it to go on longer, it just didn’t work out that way. Knowing how close you are to your parents I thought I would offer the suggestion so you didn’t have to choose from staying or going with me.”
Cynthia closed her eyes and squeezed them shut. She turned and crashed into him grabbing around him tightly. “You are to much, Daniel Miller.”
Daniel didn’t question the motive behind the sudden emotionalism. He didn’t want her to pull away. It ended all too soon as the lift came to a stop and they exited towards the shuttle launch.
The shuttle waiting room was quiet when they got there. They had sometime before the next one left. Cynthia looked at the flight board as they registered for a seat. “Captain Sims is on flight. We should say hi.” They talked to Mary and John at the desk while there were no passengers needing their attention. They left them to their work when a group of businessmen arrived.
Although they could go in the staff lounge, they sat and waited with other passengers. They watched as they arrived and sat or went to the vending outlets. It was getting more crowded. Neither of them had seen so many for one flight. It was almost time to start loading when they were paged to the counter. They made their way through the crowd, getting a few disproving looks. John was at the desk when they got there, Mary was off to the side talking to a woman holding one child. She had another tugging at her arm as she tried to keep ahold of her.
“We have a full shuttle, and this woman needs to get to Station One Med Center. Some doctor over there is treating the baby for a heart condition. Protocol says need to bump someone.”
“No need to ask, we can wait.” Cynthia replied looking at the woman.
“Why wait?” Captain Sims came around from the back and smiled as he leaned on the counter. “There are still two seats available in the front. With this large of a crowd I could use the extra eyes on the cabin monitors. That is if you two haven’t forgotten everything. After all it’s been a while since either of you did anything in the cockpit.”
“Totally forgot it all, nothing left. You know how university teaching goes. They push everything else out and cram what they want in. So we been meaning to tell you we need to borrow that copy of shuttle piloting for dummies you’re always using.” Daniel replied slightly amused.
“Sorry that’s mine, get your own. On a different note, they will be launching new shuttles next week. Flight command wants all you newbies there to show you off to the public. Play nice and maybe I’ll have you two join me on the first flight.”
They followed him in and they took the seats just behind the pilots. It felt like they were back in training. Fortunately, nothing happened and they docked at Station One on time.
“You need to check the flight schedule for next week.” Captain Sims told them as they head out of the cockpit. “With the new shuttles comes the new schedule. Your university session should be over by then and they will be using everyone. They will be requiring everyone to sit in on the discussion of the new flight paths and the new weapon controls. Even the older shuttles will be equipped so don’t think you’re getting a new shuttle.”
Daniel shook his head. “That’s fine by me. If we get a choice, I’ll be happy to take shuttle four. I haven’t had any problems with it.”
Laughing Captain Sims slapped his shoulder. They had fallen back with Cynthia several steps ahead. “They will be rotating them. Eventually every pilot team will fly one. They want to make sure everyone gets accustomed to them. They will replace each of the older models as they are built. I for one am with you. I’ll take the older shuttles. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of things that are changing Daniel. Technology is not the only thing. We have to accept it for the better or worse.”
“I have nothing against things changing. Some change is good.” Daniel looked slightly towards Cynthia and smiled. “Especially some of the unexpected changes that have already occurred.”
Captain Sims caught the look and grinned. “My young friend you have a lot of changes a head of you. I expect the two of you to be at the forefront of what is ahead. Maybe you will be creating some of that change. Speaking of changes, Martin would like you to come by. He told me that you qualified for use with everything he has. As usual, you have gone above and beyond the expected. He has some new inventory. Since you seem to have a knack with them, he would like you to check out on them. Daniel, he has also told me that you haven’t selected one. Up to now, it hasn’t been a high priority. I can understand your reluctance Daniel. I don’t like it either. The truth be known, most of us don’t. However, with the changes coming Daniel we don’t know what can happen. You don’t have just yourself to think of anymore.”
Cynthia looked back at them and waited. She was tapping her foot when they got there. “What are you conspiring about this time?”
“Nothing at all. Captain Sims was just talking about change and how I need to look at the bigger picture,” Daniel quickly replied. It was how he was interpreted it so it was somewhat true.
“Uh yeah, you need to do that. Preferably before you talk to my parents this week.” She took his hand and kissed his cheek as he frowned. “You definitely have a lot to learn Smart Boy.”
Captain Sims went off as they said goodbye. He was preparing for his last flight of the day. With a quick stop over in the project room, and no major issues to deal with. They also stopped to get some sandwiches and soup for dinner. They were sitting on the sofa as Daniel checked the messages.
Each professor had a small group that wanted help the next day. Daniel was a little surprised that none wanted help in Chemistry lab. Professor Crème had arranged for the supplies they needed. The Dean also wanted to talk to them when they had a free moment. Cynthia’s mother had left a message as well. She was taking Cynthia up on the offer of lunch. She would shuttle over and meet her at a place on emporium level. She had read about a place called the Villa. Daniel went to the kitchen for a plate.
“You offered,” he said grinning.
Cynthia played the next message. It was Daniels mother. Cynthia’s mother had talked to her shortly after their visit earlier. She even knew that Cynthia was going to be having lunch with her mother and said that Daniel and she could do the same.
“We could have made lunch if they gave us more time,” he said flopping down in the sofa seat.
Cynthia curled up next to him. “It’s been a long session. I think they are just being typical moms and want to spend some time with us. They know that it’s not going to be easy to do as we progress.”
Daniel agreed and played the next messages. A few were from fellow students. The last one was from the professor that taught the class Cynthia wanted to take as an elective the next session. He had done some checking and liked what he found out about them. He accepted them into the class. That made Cynthia happy. Daniel just groaned.
“Come on. It will be great.” She took a bite and switched on a movie. “And at least this class we will be on even ground. That big brain of yours won’t be much of an advantage.”
“Part of the reason I don’t like these types of activities I guess.”
They finished eating as they talked about the class and what other classes they would take. They had watched a few shows and a movie when he suggested that she go to bed, as she kept drifting in and out.
She got up and walked part way to the bedroom when she turned around. She was going to say something and decide against it. She continued on saying good night as she walked through the door.
After cleaning up, Daniel sat up reading his class notes. He made a note to tell the professors to send the names of the students. He was flying a little blind on this one and didn’t know what sections they were having trouble with. He reviewed his summaries for each class.
He did fall asleep but woke before Cynthia. He started breakfast and a fresh pot of coffee. He heard her get up and go to the shower. He was sitting with his third cup of the morning when she came out.
“Morning,” he said as he yawned. “I made some pancakes and eggs. Coffee is fresh.” He yawned again.
“Did you sleep?” she asked as she filled a plate.
“Some I guess. I don’t sleep much. Some days more than others. Anyway, I spent some time reviewing my notes. I think we should split them up, maybe get them into small study groups if they have similar issues.”
“Let’s see what we have to do first. Some of them might just be nervous,” she offered as she sat down to eat.
Daniel nodded and poured another cup of coffee. “Better finish up the milk. It’s about to go bad. Maybe Betsey will be kind and give us a quart to go.”
Cynthia snorted. “Daniel she’s giving us almost eight gallons a day. We’ll have plenty to make what we planned. I’m sure we can get enough for coffee in the mornings.”
Cynthia was right. There wasn’t a whole lot for them to cover. Most were nervous about the more technical side of the courses. They formed one big group and had everyone go over the things they wanted to cover. They had some that had the same issues. For every issue there was someone there with the answer. Daniel barely said a word as Cynthia got them going and kept them on track. She answered questions and even directed them to sections in the text. They were all laughing and talking when they left for the next class.
Daniel picked up his tablets and stuck them in the carry bag. “Yeah I think that should eliminate any lingering doubt that you know the material.”
She blushed and grabbed his hand leading the way out. “You are lousy. I think you set me up.”
“No, in fact never occurred to me. But since it seemed to work out maybe ..”
“Don’t you dare. You better start pulling some weight Smart Boy or so help me.” She giggled and pulled him in close for a short kiss. They got some hoots from a group of students in the hall as they rushed off past them.
Daniel groaned and Cynthia laughed at his discomfort. “Get used to it. You know how students are.”
They went to each class and then went off campus to the emporium level. They had looked over the station map the places their parent s had picked were on opposite sides. They agreed to meet up at the next class.
“Can’t we just cancel. We can go have a quiet lunch somewhere.” Daniel whined as he refused to let her go.
She kissed him then shook him. “Daniel you can’t avoid your parents. It’s not nice and it won’t hurt you, they didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Maybe. They did kind of make me pick a training program that will take the next five years to finish.”
“You make it sound so horrible. If they hadn’t you wouldn’t have met me” she batted her eyes and pulled away. “Unless you think that’s a bad thing,” she teased caressing his face and then his neck as she gave him a long deep passionate kiss. She then pulled away quickly and pushed him in the direction he needed to go. “Better hurry, we don’t have a lot of time.”
“That was cheating,” Daniel groaned and headed off.
Daniel got to the restaurant a few minutes later. Why couldn’t they all have met together at the same place? It didn’t make sense. It made less sense when he heard his mother calling him. She was seated at a table on the outside of the restaurant, and she wasn’t sitting with his father. The waiter sidestepped to let him pass as Daniel hugged her and nodded to Cynthia’s mother seated in another chair.
“Mrs. Prieto, a pleasure as always, but I am confused. Your message was you were meeting Cynthia with her father.”
“Yes well I apologize for that. I wanted to speak to you without Cynthia being present. The two of you are inseparable and your mother was gracious enough to help. Your father and Cynthia’s are where we said we would meet her. They will be bringing her shortly so we really don’t have a lot of time. Please sit.”
Daniel did as asked and the waiter came over to ask if they were ready to order. They told him they just needed drinks and would be leaving shortly. Daniel was tempted to order the stiffest drink they had but opted for coffee.
“A little elaborate just to get me alone. You could have just asked,” Daniel said as he sat back and looked at the two women. “Yes Cynthia and I are spending more free time together but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything apart.”
“We know that Daniel. However, she may not like what I have to say,” Cynthia’s mother looked straight at him. He didn’t like the way this was sounding. “I didn’t want to chance it, Daniel. She can be very emotional,” she looked at Daniel’s mother who gave her a slight nod. “Okay here it is. I think you and her need to break up as partners. You’re getting to close and it will lead to thing that will affect your schoolwork, and even more your entire life. I have spoken with her father and he agrees, as do your parents. You are a smart boy Daniel and Cynthia is not at your level when it comes to intelligence. You need someone that is or maybe even someone smarter. You need someone that is going to challenge you intellectually. My Cynthia is a smart girl but she’s not the one for that. She said it herself, you got the two of you exempted from every final. If she were lucky, Cynthia would have that happen once on her own. I don’t think it’s fair to either of you. She can’t be at your level and it’s not right to ask you to come down to hers. It would be best for both of you if you both had other partners. I need you to request a change because I know she won’t.”
Daniel growled as the waiter over filled his coffee cup and it started to spill out on the table. “Pay attention to what you are doing and not customer conversations. Or at the very least learn to do it simultaneously.”
The waiter startled and pulled back and grabbed a towel from his waist as he cleaned the mess up and kept apologizing. He quickly filled the cup and rushed off.
“With all due respect Mrs. Prieto, that’s not how I see it,” he started as the waiter left. The mixed emotions made his voice tremble. “You’re right on a few points. Yes, I am smart. I can’t hide it, as much as I try to. I am smart enough to do a lot of things. You are right that she is smart, perhaps smarter than she lets on. You’re wrong on the rest,” he took a drink of coffee to try and clear the growing lump in his throat. “The truth of it is she is exactly what I needed. I don’t need someone like me. I would take her over ten people like me any day of the week. People like me get together and rarely do they get on the same page. They are always trying to up one another, to see who is the smartest, who can find the flaw in what someone else has done. She doesn’t do that. She takes it all and adds to it. She sees things differently and I don’t think this session would have turned out like it did if it wasn’t for her.”
“Daniel take another drink and calm down,” his mother said pushing the cup closer.
Daniel growled but did as she said. “I’ll tell you a secret, something I haven’t even told her. Every day I worry that she will come to me and tell me what you just did. Every day I think that I’m going to do something stupid and upset her or something to make her run away from me and that will be the last I see of her. I would do just about anything for her to stay. When she was going home every day, I would sit and hope that she returned the next day. I felt selfish when the time came for her to leave because when she was gone it felt wrong. I have tried to figure out why. I can say this, until I met her and spent time with her, I dreaded the idea of being in school any longer than needed. I was set to take the least requirement and run. Now for the first time I that I can remember I am enjoying school. I have her to thank for it. So I’m sorry I won’t,” he took a breath and another drink. His mother smiled as she saw his eyes water, “No, I can’t be the one to make that request. If it’s something that she wants and she can make me believe it is what she wants she can file the request. I will do everything to convince her otherwise, but if she absolutely wants it I won’t stand in her way.”
He stood up and fished in his pocket for a credit chip. It wasn’t even a second before Cynthia’s mother was out of her chair and wrapping her arms around him. He looked shocked and stunned as he glanced at his mother.
“Daniel, please sit,” Mrs. Prieto said crying. Daniel frowned but sat back down. “That is the sweetest thing. It was more than I was hoping for. I am sorry to put you through that. I needed to see your reaction. I wanted to see your intentions towards my daughter. I had a feeling about it before, but I am certain of it now. You have nothing but the best of intentions toward her, and you won’t do anything to harm her. I want you to know her father and I am very pleased that you and Cynthia are working together. She is a different person since meeting you. I believe I know why. I do have one question for you and you better be honest or else it will change everything. She wouldn’t let you answer for yourself. I think she’s under the impression that I might miss judge what you say because of how you say things. Therefore, I will ask it plain and simple. Are you sleeping with my daughter?”
Daniel processed everything and hazily replied, “I did fall asleep on the sofa a few times with her sitting on it, so I guess yes since we were both asleep in the same room .”
Cynthia’s mother stared at him looking for any sign of a joke and then turned to his mother, “Is he being serious.”
Daniel looked at her. “Yes I am serious. It was late and she had already fallen asleep. Usually I don’t sleep much but those times I just felt real relaxed and comfortable. I didn’t have the strength to move her as I usually did. I didn’t see any harm in it. She wasn’t upset about it.”
“Usually?” her mother asked.
“Yeah usually if she falls asleep on the sofa I would pick her up and put her in the bedroom. I figured she would be more comfortable there and I wouldn’t disturb her while I read cleaned or studied. I don’t sleep much. On a good day, I sleep couple hours so I slept on the sofa when I felt the need to. I figured she might as well use the bed. She would have privacy and be comfortable. She was always already in her pajamas so I tried to move her in while she still slept. It all made sense to me anyway.”
Daniel’s mother was doing her best to control a fit of laughter as she watched the face Cynthia’s mother made. “I believe you said Cynthia did warn you that Daniel takes things literal sometimes.”
“She asked a question and wanted honesty,” Daniel frowned, his head still swimming form the whole situation. “I answered the question that was asked. Answering it any other way would have been dishonest. I believe that it was part of the request when the question was asked that I be honest.”
They all heard a laugh from the other side of the café. Cynthia ran up and put her arms around his neck and kissed him. Both fathers were right behind her. “I didn’t hear everything but yes he is literal, but in this case I think he is also messing with you. He knows what you’re asking but he is acting defensive. The literalness,” she paused to think of that was a real word, “is because he is feeling accused of some wrong doing. Still you are better off asking direct questions if you want direct answers,” she said as she was looking at her mother. She looked back at Daniel, “You had your fun, be good and answer so we can get a quick bite to eat. I’m hungry and it’s a long time before we get to culinary class.”
Daniel rolled his eyes and wrinkled his nose at her. “I did answer her.. “ Cynthia grabbed his ear and pulled. “ Okay fine, “ he yowled as she gave him her I’m serious look. “In answer to your intended question, no Mrs. Prieto, Cynthia and I are not involved sexually. We have not advanced the relationship to that level.”
“It’s only a matter of time,” Cynthia’s father snorted. “They are both of an age to make choices and she’s already got him wrapped around her finger,” her father said waving to her still holding Daniel’s ear. “We have the answers we came for. All we can do is support whatever it is they do from here on out. They made it to this point and still proven themselves in school and life. We can’t ask for much more than that.” Cynthia’s father continued, taking hold of his wife. “Now let’s go get them something to eat so they can get back to school.”
Cynthia jumped up and grabbed Daniels hand in the process as she pulled him up heading for the exit. They needed quick food and she knew right were to go. Daniel quickly tossed a ten credit chip on the table. It was double what it cost for his coffee.
They all said good-byes after a quick bite. Both mothers had reminded about dinner in two days. Once they were alone and on their way back to the university they both breathed easier.
“Just what was that all about?” he asked her.
“Well let’s just say you no longer have to talk to my parents about me getting a place at the university. You just past the only test that you didn’t have a chance to study for, the parents test. You dear Smart Boy passed. That last was more to see if I lied to them. They knew that you knew I tell them everything. So if we were having sex and I didn’t tell them when they asked, you would, thinking I had already said we were so why bother to hide it. They were trying to catch us lying to them is what it all came down to.”
Daniel moaned. “They went through all that, just for one simple question? All they had to do is ask.”
“I told that to my father too. He said it was a parent thing and that I would understand better, when I was a parent. I think they didn’t think to do that because it was so simple. So I think we just let it go and consider this a win for us. No more running home for me and we can have more time together to do what we want or need to do.”
“I agree to the win, but I have a feeling that they all have something brewing. We got off easy. They don’t do easy.”
Cynthia giggled and bumped up against him. Taking his hand, she rubbed his arm. “I think you are right. We will have to deal with whatever they throw at us. We can handle it.”
They laughed as they head for the next class. The students that they were to meet had changed their mind. There was only two. Although mildly angry that they didn’t even call to tell them, Daniel figured it was as good a time to see the Dean since they had some time to spare. They did see if the professor needed anything first. Cynthia insisted. It turned out that they weren’t needed for anything. With reluctance, they headed off to see the dean, wondering what it was that she could want. They would know soon enough.