Algorithm

Today

And now we're back. Today is Day 4 of borrowing time, which means it is time to return the reason for my solid A (so far; there's still the final remaining).

I walk to the cafe where we'd decided to meet. He is already by the door, waiting.

Now, with a calm demeanor and the cool morning, I note that Edward is incredibly handsome. Dashing. He has this adorable messy hairstyle. He's dressed nicely, too. But I guess most grad students learn to dress smart casual after spending years at college.

He waves and then smiles at me. I stand beside him, making sure to be out of people's way as they enter and exit the place. It was still before ten, so the wind was particularly cold, and the cafe a little busy.

"Hey," he says.

"Hey," I say back.

There is a second of silence, and then I retrieve the book from my backpack.

"Here you go."

"Thanks." He puts it in his messenger bag.

I try not to look so affected.

"Do you wanna get coffee?" he says suddenly.

His smile is friendly. Disarming.

"Oh, uh, sure," I say, following him inside.


He offers to pay for my drink, but I say no, he's already bought me a textbook, coffee I can deal with on my own. We find a table and settle ourselves.

This feels like a date.

I am freaking out a little. He's an attractive grad student. I'm just an undergrad, totally regular.

He's still smiling, and he's staring. I notice the crinkle in his eyes seems... forced. Can he be just a little bit nervous, like me?

I give a nervous laugh. "So..."

He laughs almost the same time as I do. "So," he replies, the same inflection in his smooth voice.

We try again.

"So how long did it take?" I ask. He tilts his head, and I think the action is charming and very cute. "To write all that stuff in the book, I mean. It must've taken ages."

"Oh. That." He laughs again, and this time he scratches the back of his neck. "Yeah, as you can probably tell, I'm a bit obsessed with graph theory."

"Just graph theory?"

He smirks. "No, not just graph theory. But I do want to specialize in combinatorics. I'm doing research on patterns—pattern avoidance, to be particular."

What the heck is he talking about...

He's still going on about theories and bijections and I hold a hand up. The boy is now blushing to his ears.

"Edward?"

"I'm rambling aren't I," he says, sheepish.

"I'm sure it's all interesting, but you are talking to the girl who's needed the help of your book to get through class."

He chuckles. "Thank you for stopping me though. You've no idea how many times this has happened."

"People stopping you?"

"No, people letting me go on and on about my work. I do that when I get nervous."

"You're nervous?" I say.

I hope he says something like his inadequacy in asking girls out for coffee.

"You're really pretty," he says.

That's surprising.

"Wow," I say, super flustered now. I must've laughed or something, because he too laughs.

Bella, why are you so awkward.

"Yeah, so," he says. "I'm... just, uh—"

"Yeah?"

He groans, frustrated. He covers his eyes with one hand. "I am a dork."

"You're a lot smoother over text."

"Because it doesn't involve looking at your face." He peeks at me in between his fingers. "But I like looking at your face. Will you go out with me, Bella Swan?"

"Will you let me borrow your book sometime?" I tease. Edward slides his hand off his face, now at ease.

He grins. "Of course. Only for you, though." He winks.

Holy hell he just winked at me. He must never know how crazy I get with a wink.

"Well I can't say no to that," I admit.

"Then don't."

"I'm not."

"Say yes?"

I smile. "Yes."

The end