She made the few steps to the bar, ordered the drinks and returned with them.
“Thank you,” said Ian, receiving his beer. “So, what’s the news about Brad?”
“Oh Ian; she’s teaching him how to survive.”
“Yeah. He’s learning the difference between plant saps and how to use them. She wants to make him fitter and she’s training him to use his senses. I think he’s going to be alright, Ian.”
Ian grinned. “Well, that is good news.”
He held up his glass until Lisa touched it with her her cocktail glass. Already, she felt drawn to Ian. He did seem the human equivalent of Professor Hunter. Ian had no feelings for her. They hardly knew each other, but she felt drawn to him and wished for more.
“And I think there’s love somewhere in the future,” she said.
Ian laughed. “With a manine. That’s a mistake.”
Legally, human beings and merge mutations could enter into relationships and even marriages, except genetics disallowed pregnancies. The most unlikely union came between men and female manines. Marriage counsellors recommended against such engagements, and society at large accepted that manines acted selfishly, resulting in inevitable breakdowns.
“There’s always the exception,” said Lisa, staring over the rim of her glass.
Ian seemed oblivious to her meaning, but that didn’t faze her. She knew the way the world turned, even if Ian didn’t. Long before the man ever makes the first move, the woman had already chosen him. Lisa would only have to nurture the relationship until Ian realised that.
They spoke for a nearly an hour on Brad, his exploits, and those yet to come. Then Lisa grew bored with the subject and steered it towards Ian. He spoke sparingly on the life of a wanderer, who left home at an early age. By the end of the night, they parted ways, a little closer than before. He even asked “if he could see her again” as he walked her out to her car.
Lisa’s heart raced, and she attempted to kiss him. Unfortunately, Ian misread the gesture and hugged her.
That’ll do for now she thought, getting into her car.
She drove off, smiling to herself then realised something; Ian wasn’t so much the same as Professor Hunter, but like Brad; the man he would become. It also occurred to her that she behaved like Teyata, infatuated and impulsive. The turn off for her suburb drew near then fell behind as she passed.
She knew in her heart that Brad and Teyata would eventually be more than travelling companions. Ludicrous as it seemed, she saw their relationship as a possible template for hers with Ian. Her car motored ahead to find the main road that would take her to the museum. She had to see how it turned out between Brad and Teyata. To know that, gave her something she hadn’t had for years… hope.
Parking the car, she ran up the museum stairs and tapped on the glass doors. Ken looked up from his desk, a little less surprised than before. He allowed her inside, to enter the lift. A minute later, Lisa ran along the underground corridor.
“Professor Gudgeon,” she said on the run, before passing through the door of her lab.
The lights of her computer had barely started up, when she cried, “play!”