The Program Director

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Hazen hadn't seen Renny this shy.

To be fair, Salvatore Stephenson was an intimidating figure. But the six foot five inch, gray haired, impeccably dressed man was smooth, and Hazen knew he could win over anyone. And, it was a fortunate bit of luck on his end that he'd suggested they have drinks in the library, where Renny would be at ease.

Accepting that he was off the wagon, Hazen sipped his Aberlour and grinned over his glass. They sat in leather chairs next to a grand fireplace, and the beautiful room was as pristine as ever. Renny was trying to listen to Sal – he insisted everyone call him that – talk about the latest developments at his branch of the World Space Program. But, Renny couldn't keep her gaze from drifting around the ceiling-high bookshelves.

"When they discovered new planets that might sustain human life, it prompted a resurgence of interest in space. The WSP's focus is finding a way to travel to..." Sal saw Renny was distracted and mistook it for boredom. "Sorry, I do tend to go on and on about the space program. It's such an exciting time."

Renny's head snapped back. "No, no. I'm sorry. It is interesting. I was admiring your collection of zombie fiction. It surprised me. You don't seem..." She didn't know where to go with this and looked to Hazen for help.

Hazen chuckled at her. "Dad's an eclectic guy."

Sal toasted him.

Hazen smiled. This was the parent he'd always known loved him. His mother was difficult, to put it mildly, but Hazen had always had a good relationship with his father.

"I may be a space nut," said Sal, "but I have my guilty pleasures. And I admit, the entertainment of my youth has always had a soft spot in my heart."

Renny smiled openly now. "I love millennial culture."

"It was a turbulent time, that's for sure. I still can't believe how much long-buried prejudice spilled back into the mainstream. But it did wake us up." Sal waved a hand to move on. "As for the more enjoyable aspects of the culture, I'm admittedly a nerdy fan."

Renny rolled her eyes. "My mom named me after an actor who was on one episode of a sci-fi show she liked."

"Ha! Our parents gave us weird names too, but we hipsters took it to a whole new level."

"Yes! It's like a competition to see who can be more ridiculously inventive."

Sal laughed and pointed at Hazen. "I picked his name because his mother wouldn't let me name him Raison!"

Hazen looked at the ceiling.

Renny burst out laughing.

Sal looked pleased with himself and took a gulp from his whiskey.

Hazen looked between them. "Do I even need to be here?"

"Sorry, Raison."

Renny lost it again.

Sal turned back to his son more seriously. "Where've you been gallivanting this time?"

Hazen restarted the conversation he'd tried an hour ago when they first sat down. "I was in Toronto. That's where I met Renny. Then we flew to Vegas."

Sal's eyes widened. "Did you two elope? And you didn't even tell-"

"No!" Hazen felt himself blush, and he slapped his face. "That's not what I meant. We were-"

Renny laughed, then looked at Hazen and contemplated his face. "You know, Hazen does look a lot like that famous singer my mom loved. I always thought he was cute."

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