This interlude happens between generation 2 and 3 of the Huffmans, but we’re not concentrating on our heirs although both Sam and Pippin have their parts to play. It’s a little more story-driven but the main events all did happen in-game, one way or another. I’m just interpreting them a little more creatively. Since it’s been a while since I’ve written the Huffmans (almost a year) and we’ve done a bit of time jump, if you need a character reintroduction, it’s here.
“January 14.” Elisa Huffman wrote the final date on the label and carefully affixed it to the last empty test tube. She then capped the felt-tipped pen and tossed it onto the table leaning back with a stretch. She caught Cam smirking from across the room and gave him a smile in return. “I’m doing this for you, you know. My samples are all finished and stored already.”
“And I am triply grateful,” he replied. “I would be here till midnight if you had said no.”
She shrugged, “Samples are samples. I fully expect you to return the favor someday.”
“Of course.” Cam scooped up her labeled tubes and carried them over to his workstation where he started to carefully fill them with the solution he’d been preparing. “I’ll be done in another half hour. Wanna grab something to eat afterward?”
“Definitely.” It was already past 6pm and she was starving. She had planned to head home after she had checked on her experiments, not hang around for hours. Not that she minded. Elisa had been overseas last semester but they were Professor Maritos’ two grad students and she enjoyed hanging out with him. They ended up talking about everything under the sun and unlike most of the people, he could keep up with her conversations.
“Have you been to that new bistro?”
“The Open Face? No, I haven’t.” The restaurant had opened about six months ago, but she hadn’t managed to find the time to visit over the holidays. They were supposed to have the best Reubens in town.
“Just hold tight and I’ll finish this up.”
Elisa opened her laptop and pulled up the data from her sample’s run through the CLACKER. She tried to lose herself in the luminosity numbers and weights but instead remained hyper-aware of Cam moving around the room, the twist of his smile when he was thinking. She wondered what it would be like to spend more time with him outside of the lab.
She blushed and buried those thoughts as deep as she could. Cam was a classmate, nothing more. They used the same equipment and labs, some attraction was bound to happen. It didn’t hurt that Cam had a quick smile and a wicked sense of humor.
“Ready to go?”
Elisa looked up. Correction, a really nice smile. She closed her computer and grabbed her coat. “Let’s go.” Outside the snow had stopped falling and a fresh layer sparkled over everything. The university seemed shrouded in a blanket, it was so quiet.
“Oops, when did this happen?” Cam asked.
“It’s been snowing all day. Didn’t you notice?”
They stepped out onto the sidewalk. “Careful,” Cam said grabbing at Elisa’s elbow as she started to slip. “There was ice here before the snow covered it up. Looks like it’s still there.” His grip kept her from falling on her butt.
“Thanks.” They both walked gingerly down the sidewalk. “It’s so quiet tonight.” He didn’t remove his hand, and Elisa could feel his heat burning through her coat.
Cam nodded. “I wonder if they canceled classes this evening.”
“Probably, otherwise there’d be more people here.” Elisa’s phone buzzed in her pocket. She fumbled around her mittens to pull it out of her coat. When she saw who was calling, she felt the warmth leave her. She took a couple steps away from Cam, her mind racing. Why – was….? Oh shit. She answered it quickly.
“Elisa? Where are you?”
“Sorry I had to work late at the lab, I’m on my way now.” She hung up quickly before David could say anything more. “Shoot, Cam, I’m sorry,” she started.
“Plans?” Cam was still smiling, but she was pretty sure that was disappointment in his eyes.
“I totally forgot – ”
“Nah – it’s okay, I’ll see you tomorrow?” He gave her a quick wave and turned back the way they had come. She watched him walk away. A cold wind blew past reminding her to hurry.
“Raincheck on dinner?” Elisa called to his back, wondering why she was being so reckless.
He turned his smile wide. “I’ll hold you to that.”
What was she doing? She looked down at her phone. 7:45. The reservation had been at 6:00. She closed her eyes, shit, and hurried down the street.
The Future’s Past wasn’t far from the lab, that was one of the reasons they’d picked it for tonight. In the summer, the restaurant doubled as a site for the anthropology undergrad students to practice in. When the place had first been built there was a huge blow up when they started digging the foundation and ran into bones. Luckily a compromise was made. Restaurant on top, students below. And the diners could feel like part of the action. Elisa had never been there, but she’d heard that their food was impressive.
David was sitting at a candlelit table, his drink half finished on the table. Elisa frowned.
“I’m really sorry, David.” She said sliding out of her coat and sitting down across from him. “Maritos had some samples she needed run immediately and I didn’t realize it had gotten so late. I would have called you.”
“No worries,” David gave her a small smile. Elisa was getting tired of seeing that smile on his face. Really, she wished he’d yell at her or get hurt or something. He was so understanding it made her want to scream. “I figured that had happened. I just called to see how much longer I should wait.”
“I am sorry,” Elisa repeated. She seemed to be saying that a lot these days. “So, what looks good on the menu?” She opened the menu. No, it was okay David knew school came first, and there was just one more year until she finished the Ph.D. After that, life should get a little less hectic. Why did that feel like lying?
“I was planning to get the um… pasta, I can’t pronounce it, but it’s made with fettuccine and one of their ten secret sauces. You’d like their fish, I think.”
Elisa looked over the dish, fish did sound good – wait no, “Oh uhg, it’s got olives on it. I can’t eat olives.”
The server came over for their order and brought back Elisa’s drink. As she took her first sip, David pulled a small box out and slid it over to her.
“What – “
“Happy anniversary, Elisa.”
Smiling, Elisa reached for the box. Inside though, she was panicking. Shit, shit, no fuck! This was their anniversary, wasn’t it? That’s why they panned dinner at this fancy place last week. And why he’d reminded her of it this morning, she now remembered him calling after her as she left for school that morning. She hesitated, her hands hovering over the box.
Elisa opened the box to reveal a very pretty blue scarf. “Oh, that’s really pretty,” she pulled it out. “Four years?”
“Since we were engaged,” David grinned. And then his frown faltered. Oh no, here it comes. Elisa knew that look and she cast around for a way to stop it.
“Ooh, our food,” she said. And it was true, their server was heading their way. They watched silently as she arrived and then served them their food. Elisa hastily tucked the box and scarf into her bag to clear the table. After inquiring after pepper or anything else, the server left them again.
“This looks… impressive,” Elisa said staring down at her dish. It was quite impressive, but she wasn’t entirely sure where to start eating. They ate in silence, It was really good despite appearances. The server came back and refilled their glasses.
David cleared his throat. Damn. Elisa thought. Here it comes. “I was thinking about this summer, July.”
“For the wedding. You don’t have any classes in the summer. And I was…just checking online and Rose Park has an opening on the 17th and the 25th. I remember you said you’d love to get married there.
Elisa had said that. Back after he’d first proposed and they’d been thinking about the wedding every weekend. She and Evelyn had both plotted out the perfect wedding at the park during one of the many times they’d been stuck there waiting for mom to finish shopping. But this summer?! That was just months away.
“I’ll be working on my dissertation. There’s no way I can do that and plan a wedding.”
David’s shoulders slumped. “I could plan it all?” But he was shaking his head. Both of them knew that was a recipe for disaster. “The following summer?” he asked. Elisa bit back a sigh. “It’s just,” he said. “We keep pushing the date back and back, and now it’s been four years. It feels really weird not to have a date.”
“Your mom called today, didn’t she?” Elisa asked. He always started bugging after his mom called. The woman didn’t like her, though she was too … something … for her son. Why did they have to rush? Weddings were expensive, there was nothing wrong with waiting until they were more settled.
Elisa captured his hands in hers across the table and forced him to look at her. “David, dear. You know I love you. It’s not that I don’t want to get married. I- I just don’t want to rush it. Anyway, we’re all but married already so it’s not like we’re living in sin or anything. Not in this day and age. A wedding would be a celebration of our life together whenever it happens.”
David let the topic drop and Elisa heaved a sigh of relief. They ordered dessert and the mood lifted now that he had said his piece. She let him talk while she tried to think of what to do for him for the anniversary. Could Evelyn get some flowers to the apartment before they got home? At least as it would be a start. Then what? Wasn’t there a new album or something that he’d want? There was no way she could order that in time. Wait she’d just bought that new lingerie right?