Ellie gives great speeches, but it's tough. She doesn't like crowds, and she really, really doesn't like it when the lecture hall's small enough that she can see every last face in it. She hates it when people sneer at her and laugh at her--or worse, are clearly not paying attention at all.
The blonde woman in the third row, right on the center aisle, is paying attention. She's not sneering, not laughing, and she's listening to every word Ellie says like the rest of the world's just totally dropped away.
Ellie gives the rest of her lecture to the blonde, and it's not until the question and answer session that she remembers there are people in the room other than the two of them. It doesn't surprise her that the blonde stays after, that she comes up and introduces herself.
"My name's Sam," she says. "You're really great. I wish there were more women like you in science."
Ellie laughs. "I don't hear that a lot."
"Well, yeah, men are dicks about women in 'their' fields. I get that a lot, too."
That's interesting. But Ellie had a wisecrack all planned out, and she's not about to lose the opportunity to use it. "I mean the part where you called it 'science'."
Sam laughs. "You want to go for a beer? I'll buy."
They talk history over beer and a pizza; personal history, Sam's history, Ellie's history, how they both fell in love with astronomy. Sam doesn't talk about her career, and Ellie doesn't push it. Maybe Sam's a philanthropist and she's willing to donate; maybe she's a journalist looking for a story; maybe she's with the government and she's trying to figure out whether Ellie needs to be shut down.
Or, and Ellie's really hoping for this one, as she watches Sam just about lick the rim of her Sam Adams bottle--maybe Sam's as interested in Ellie's body as she is in her brain, and Ellie could actually get laid for once. By someone who listens to her and doesn't think she's crazy for believing in little green men, or grey men, or hell, bacteria from distant galaxies. Someone who's not just humoring her to get into her pants.
Sam has a hotel room, and Ellie's happy about that; it means she doesn't have to worry about getting boxed in. She can leave when she wants.
When she wants is after about fourteen orgasms and finding out that Sam tastes a little like a virgin piña colada and acts nothing at all like a virgin in bed, and Ellie almost regrets sneaking out at four in the morning. She doesn't leave her number, but Sam found her this time; maybe, years down the road when Ellie actually has time for more than a few scattered one-night stands, Sam'll find her again.