Title: Thrilling - Part 1
Rating: PG - M
Information: The name 'Evrim' means 'evolution' in Turkish
At twenty-eight years of age, Richard Dawkins could claim to be more accomplished than most men among him. Soon-to-be writer of a radical new book on evolutionary biology, and professor at the University of California, he had easily achieved more than his peers studying zoology had. Full of energy and passion, the world was nothing but possibility; a challenge. He was not ashamed to say he had a certain amount of pride.
Delivering his lecture, he drank in the admiring faces of his students. His co-workers agreed he had a certain charm to him – they were quite envious, in fact, of how he could make them “shut up and pay attention” as the crabby old economics assistant professor had told him.
Except for one girl.
She was dark-haired, of some kind of eastern descent, and she frustrated him almost as much as those Christian fundamentalists. It wasn’t simple enough for her to listen to what he said (which was quite clever if he did say so himself), no, she had to question everything.
He was already ten minutes overtime, and not even three quarters through his lecture.
And her hand was up again.
Dawkins wasn’t sure that this was really acceptable protocol, to question a lecturer when he had specifically stated to ask questions at the end. Perhaps she suffered from a lack of social skills...perhaps like he himself had, when younger, he thought sardonically.
Perhaps she was just infuriating.
His light and reasoned tone of voice was already giving way to a snap; his brown eyes boring into her darker ones. Lectures with this girl were not so much lectures, as debates, and somehow despite being however many years his junior she could hold his own against him.
Maybe that was what annoyed him the most, that oftentimes, he was outwitted by a girl who he had originally seen to be not particularly brilliant. Compared to him, she was still not particularly brilliant. At least, he tried to tell himself that.
She beamed up at him, teeth dazzling. ‘But Professor, isn’t it the phenotype that actually interacts with the environment? How can natural selection really apply to the genotype? Gene differences can’t cause evolutionary changes, they just...record them.’
Dawkins opened his mouth, closed it. ‘...I’ll cover that next lecture.’
Evrim, he learned her name was. It meant “evolution”. Perhaps there was a God, after all, and he was having a damn good laugh.
They weren’t so much lectures anymore, as debates. The rest of the students, the hall, the slides could have become immaterial to Dawkins – all he saw was her, anticipating her next move, counter-attacking her arguments.
It was like a game of tennis, between two grand-masters; less of a sport than a dance.
He met her after class a few times, to have a more private debate (on her insistence). She wasn’t quite as frustrating when he could talk to her directly. Dawkins even admitted he owed her a grudging respect.
Discussing zoology and evolution with her was almost pleasant. Face-to-face it was clear, the respect and admiration she had for him, and immediately he had felt more comfortable. It was humiliating to think he had ever really felt threatened by a girl just over half his age, and so he tried not to remember such feelings.
There was a sparkle in her eyes that he recognised; the same sparkle he himself had once had. He was beginning to realise they were, perhaps, the same sparkle as the one she reignited in him whenever they debated, talked, discussed, argued.
She left with that cheeky grin, and his office almost felt constricted without her presence in it. Their next lecture was in two days’ time, his third of the day, twelve forty-five in the afternoon. He knew the times off by heart.
He even dared to admit that he looked forward to them, now.
She really was a metaphor, Dawkins thought, for everything he believed in. Clearly there was no god, because then those whispered prayers that she might be sick, those sworn oaths not to think of her the night before their next lecture together or meeting, would surely have been answered.
And she was a fitting example of how human evolution now favoured the smart, rather than the strong.
The other kids giggled now when they argued in lectures, teasing him behind his back. He had lost his charm. The other professors teased him too, and he didn’t blame them, what with how often he mentioned her.
When they met for private tutoring, the conversation drifted. Certainly, they would start on the topic of evolution, or biology, or whatever was troubling her this time, but Dawkins would let something of a more familiar note slip; his mood, his family, his ambitions and desires.
Before he could stop himself, she was smiling at him kindly and healing his problems with the perfect words. He could talk to her about anything, and she would have an answer, a comforting hand on his shoulder, a giggly kiss on the cheek. She was a close friend, a sister perhaps. At times Dawkins fancied she knew more about his life than his own mother.
He would never have guessed it, but there was even more to her than he had thought. A sensitive, deep and caring side that drove away any lingering feelings of annoyance he still harboured. There was an incredible respect in Evrim, for every living person and creature, and he kicked himself for ever thinking she had none.
He found himself making up stupid excuses for her to stay longer, inventing stories so he could feel her loving touch on his jaw, her sweet smile lingering over his face. He couldn’t stop thinking about her, when they were apart, what new things he would have to discuss with her. He would dream of her, of travelling the stars together, sharing coffee.
Doubts were surfacing in his mind, by this time, if he really only saw her as his protégé. She was too young; it was wrong, and so he denied any accusations he could point upon himself. It simply could not be true that he would have any...feelings, for the girl. She was more like a daughter; a close bond couldn’t be blamed.
So why was her gorgeous figure so distracting? Or that mischievous tingle in her eyes making him tingle in return in some very different places?
She was barely twenty, yet it was Dawkins who felt like the teenager.
They were sitting, close, his body pressed against hers on the couch in his office. Sunlight filtered in through the blinds, dappling over her face. He thought he could count every cell on her skin, if he tried. The beams of light were striking her deep brown eyes, fixated in a concerned frown on his own. Her arm had woven around his side, stroking his ribs.
‘I couldn’t help it; I shot the poor thing,’ he lied, looking away. ‘It was in pain.’
That sweet smile stole over Evrim’s lips, and he relished it. ‘Shh...you couldn’t have done anything, it wasn’t your fault. You made the right choice, taking it to the vet they would only have put it down, and that would have only meant it would spend longer in pain. You’re a good man!’
‘Good, peh!’ he muttered, and this time he did not need to lie. ‘I’m a horrible old bastard.’
‘What?’ she laughed, grabbing his chin with her other hand and sparks flying from her touch. ‘You are not! You’re smart and clever and very kind!’
He opened his mouth and the words seemed to stick there before they could be coughed out. ‘No...I’m a bad man.’
‘Professor,’ began Evrim, no laughter in her voice now, ‘Has something happened?’
That moment of fear in her eyes was enough encouragement for him to spit it out, unwilling to play her heart any longer. ‘No...oh no. Nothing like that. I’m a bad man because I...well.’
Some crazy notion overtook him and he pressed his lips against hers for an instant, a brief moment of passion, and then he pulled away just as quickly. Then her hands were around his waist again, tugging, and his lips smashed into hers again.
‘Darling,’ she panted, when they broke apart, ‘This is not bad.’
‘I do consider myself to be quite the excellent kisser,’ he chuckled, raising an eyebrow.
She looked at him impishly, and slipped one hand under his trousers and squeezed and he sorely regretted commenting.