Chapter 11: Some Help is Requested

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When I got home after the dance, Tosh wasn't in the room—or the house so far as I could tell—and I was pretty beat, so I just headed straight to our room.  I stripped off my borrowed duds, dropped them to the floor, and fell into bed.  Several hours of heavy making out had gotten me pretty—ahem—worked up, but I was too tired to do anything about it, and fell asleep almost the minute I lay down.  I did have some pretty pleasant dreams, though, primarily prurient.  Which I am going to spare you from.

When I woke up the next morning, it was late—after 10—and Tosh had clearly been and gone.  I got up and made my way downstairs to the kitchen, hoping that someone had already made some coffee.  Which, thank god, turned out to be the case.  I took my mug and a bagel out onto the deck and looked out at the water.  It was foggy that morning and I couldn't see far, but it did look like Tosh was out there, doing his weird surfing/non-surfing/zen-meditation thing.  I shook my head and went back inside; cold foggy mornings in Santa Cruz in the fall are best appreciated from inside.  Preferably while snuggling with someone.

I whapped the heel of my hand against my forehead.  Studies, Zack!  Studies!

I went upstairs, got my books, and hauled them down into the living room, parking myself on the sofa in front of the fireplace.  In the morning it was a nice spot; the sun slanted in from the West, giving plenty of light through the south-facing windows without being the glary kind of light that can kill the head of a poor suffering student with a hangover or who was out much too late.

Five minutes of staring at my Physics textbook while being totally preoccupied by a certain redhead in a green dress—and vague wonderings what she'd look like out of said dress—convinced me that I wasn't going to get anything done quite yet.  I gathered up my books, stomped back up the stairs, and pulled out one of my science fiction novels.  Maybe some good ol' fashioned entertainment would clear my head a bit.  (I have often found Keith Laumer’s “Retief” stories were good for that.)

I hadn't been sitting there reading for very long—maybe 30 minutes or so—when Tosh came back into the room.  He saw me sitting in my chair reading “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and grinned.

“Having trouble concentrating?” he said.

“Yeah, a bit,” I said, grinning back.  I stopped smiling; “Did you find out what you wanted?”

He nodded.  ”Yes, I did.  And the best part is, since so many people saw you, um,” he hesitated, clearly wrestling with whether or not to describe exactly what said people saw me doing, then continued, “at the dance, it's pretty clear that your official whereabouts last night are well corroborated.”

“And that's important,” I said, ignoring the subtext, “For reasons that you'll eventually share with me, right?”

“Definitely,” he said.  ”Very soon.”  He grinned again.  ”And I'll try not to interrupt any future dates with Sara.  What time did you leave campus, anyway?”

“A gentleman never tells,” I answered with fake wounded dignity, and went back to reading my book. Tosh laughed and went into the bathroom to shower.

It wasn't too very long before he came out, wrapped in a towel.  I decided to grasp the nettle and go hang my dignity.

“OK, I can't stand it; what happened?”

He smiled and started getting dressed.  ”Well, it worked great, actually.  Although,” and he looked up from rummaging in his dresser, “You banged into me a little too hard, you don't mind my saying.”

“They didn't teach how to gently fake-tackle people in training.”

“I guess not.”  He pulled on his pants and sat down on his bed to put on his shoes and socks.  (Despite my earlier crack, Tosh didn't wear Birkenstocks.  That I knew of.)  ”Well, he didn't want to leave the lab, even to chase you, but I put on that fake hurt professor act pretty strong, I think, and after just a few seconds he went tearing after you.”

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