Actions

Work Header

all the pieces there will fit

Work Text:

“Did you hear?” Violet Bridgerton exclaims to her oldest daughter, her excitement raising her voice to a pitch so high it actually breaks up a bit over the phone. “Did you hear about him?”

Daphne grins, propping her feet up on her desk. “And by ‘him,’ you of course mean visiting scholar Simon Basset, and not any of the other three billion ‘hims’ on the planet?”

“Don’t you take that tone with me, Daphne Bridgerton,” Violet says, but she sounds amused despite herself. “Do you realize what an opportunity this is?”

Daphne’s gaze swivels back to her laptop, currently displaying the faculty page of Dr. Simon Basset of Oxford University—recently arrived to Daphne’s university as a visiting scholar—featuring a CV of impressive length and a list of publications nearly as long. And a small picture, which Daphne has to admit is arresting even in its small size and grainy quality.

“You do realize that he’s a professor of mathematics, don’t you?” she points out. Not that she expects it to do any good; they’ve had this conversation nearly half a dozen times this summer, ever since Anthony first let the news slip. “And that I barely scraped by my algebra requirements in high school?”

“Surely that doesn’t matter so much!” Daphne hears typing in the background; from Violet’s little gasp, she can only assume her mother’s found Dr. Basset’s list of articles again. Good god. “I mean, look at how prolific his career has been—and only three years after getting his degree! Daphne, he’s famous, he’s been on television, he’s written books—”

“Haven’t you met him, Mom?” Daphne interrupts. “This has to be a bit too much drama for someone who’s been friends with Anthony for eight years.”

Violet splutters a little, which Daphne takes as a win. “Well—but—it’s been years, and he was still in school the last time I saw him, now he’s possibly the biggest name in the field—and Daphne, making those connections is so important for your career—”

“Mother,” Daphne puts in again, more firmly. It’s hard to stop Violet when she’s on a roll, but an early interruption is usually her best bet, even if it’s an argument she feels like she’s made a hundred times. “He’s in a different field than I am. How is a math scholar supposed to help me advance my career in English? I don’t even know if the best math programs are in the same state as the schools I’m applying to, let alone the same schools. How could he help?”

“Don’t discount any chance you have for your professional advancement,” Violet says, a phrase Daphne has heard so often she’s surprised her mother hasn’t had it cross-stitched for all of her children. “It may not seem like a likely opportunity—but it can’t hurt to meet with him, can it?”

“He’ll probably have half the campus clamoring to work with him,” Daphne points out. “Not to mention people wanting to date him. He’s very attractive.”

There’s a pause on the other end of the line; when Violet speaks again, her voice is considerably more coy. “Is he? I hadn’t noticed.”

“Mother,” Daphne groans, covering her face with her hand. Is she actually blushing? Thank god her mom can’t tell. “He’s got to be almost thirty. Are you really so desperate to get me married off?”

“You make me sound so old-fashioned,” Violet says teasingly; Daphne can almost hear the smile in her voice. “You can’t blame a mother for worrying—after things ended so poorly with Nigel…”

Daphne groans again, more loudly and overdramatically. “We promised we’d never talk about that again, didn’t we? Seeing him at mixers is still so awkward.”

“I’m sorry,” Violet says, her voice warm with sympathy. “I know how awful you felt about the whole thing. I’m just concerned, Daphne. You’ve said you don’t like being single—”

“I don’t,” Daphne admits. She’s as forward-thinking as any modern woman, and she does want to go to grad school and find the job of her dreams and be wildly professionally successful—but the truth is that she wants just as much to fall in love, to find the man she’s going to marry and start planning a future together. She knows it isn’t likely that she’ll find it so young, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want it, and everything stereotypically domestic that goes with it. A house in the suburbs and a joint bank account and kids and maybe a dog or two. Reading in bed together, picking out kitchen equipment, decorating the house at Christmas. Everything she knows her parents had had.

“I want everything you had with Dad,” Daphne says softly, suddenly feeling more vulnerable than she has before. It’s not that she hasn’t spoken honestly or openly to her mother before; it’s just that she suddenly realizes that she’s rarely done so as an adult. She only has one year of college left—she could be working next year, during her master’s degree. She’s never thought about how that might affect her relationship with her mother. “I can imagine so many worse paths in life than following your example.”

“Daphne,” her mother murmurs, suddenly sounding a little choked up. “That’s such a nice thing to say.”

Daphne’s feeling a little sentimental herself, which means it’s time to lighten the mood. “I’m more than happy to follow your example when it comes to marriage and children,” she says brightly, “as long as I don’t have to have eight.”

 

Simon Basset, Hastings Visiting Professor in the math department, didn’t expect that he would be in his office this late, but he also hadn’t expected to be besieged by quite so many students.

Anthony had laughed at him when he talked about putting up an application for an undergraduate research assistant. “They’re going to bombard you,” he’d said, looking as devilishly pleased as only a real friend could. “Everyone’s already been talking about you coming here for months. It’s the biggest news of the year.”

Anthony had exaggerated, but Simon’s been very well aware that his arrival is something of a spectacle. Most of the school isn’t exactly enthused about the prospect of a young math professor visiting the department for a year, but he knows that his fame and looks and British accent make it more interesting to them than it would be otherwise. The math department, though, and all of the fields associated with it, have been abuzz over the field’s superstar visiting their campus. The other professors all wanted to chat with him about his latest paper or colleagues of theirs with whom he’d collaborated. The graduate students either stared at him in awe or tried to strike up awkward, chummy chatter.

Some of them took the chatter in a different direction—followed by phone numbers—which have made Simon intensely uncomfortable. No matter how he feels about his academic fame, he’s always been very serious about his career, and he isn’t about to jeopardize it by fraternizing with any of the students.

(He’s said so to Anthony, who had laughed so hard he’d nearly fallen out of his seat. This was what happened when you didn’t speak to your college friends for years.)

Still, it’s been good to see Anthony despite that. They had been so close in college; he’d been Simon’s first real friend, and the holidays Simon had spent with the Bridgertons (a loving, attentive mother and a positive gaggle of small, chestnut-haired children) had been some of the best of his life. Going to Oxford had meant he hadn’t seen Anthony in years, and catching up with him has been immensely satisfying. Anthony’s grown up in the meantime—became the male head of his family, ran a successful business, and preparing to defend his dissertation proposal. Simon couldn’t have said this without embarrassing both of them, but he’s proud of his friend.

This was why Simon had told Anthony his plans to hire a research assistant for help with his newest project. Two, actually—a graduate student for the more involved literature reviews and an undergrad for the grunt work. That had been when Anthony had laughed at him and told him he had no idea what can of worms he was opening up.

Simon hadn’t believed him. Now, he wishes he had. It’s been a hell of a day, filled with a blur of names and faces. The graduate students haven’t been so bad; the qualifications Simon required had kept any but the most determined from applying, and most of the people he’s spoken to have been intelligent and genuinely interested in his project (even if some have been interested in him, too). The undergrads, though…

Simon groans, rubbing at his temples, staring at the stack of applications. A literal stack, much to his dismay. He’d been accepting applications online, too—hadn’t thought he would get more than letters of interest and CVs electronically—but as Anthony had said, he’s really underestimated how many people wanted a look at him. And most of the ones delivering their applications in person haven’t even been qualified for the position.

Some of the non-math students—engineering, physics, even chemistry—Simon can understand. There are a few social science students thrown in, and he thinks that maybe some of the skills are transferable. But the fine arts students? The humanities? They’re obviously only there because they’ve heard about them, and a few—not all female, either—have been giggling in a manner that makes it clear they’re not there for his academics.

Simon’s trying not to let it discourage him; he’s trying to let the CVs and resumes speak for themselves, and not remember the names of the students who have made fools of themselves over him. He’s had years to get accustomed to the fuss his professional reputation has warranted him, but it still doesn’t feel real—not as real as years of abandonment and dismissal from his father.

He wonders, sometimes, if that’s ever going to leave him. Most days, he can’t imagine that it ever would. The scars run much too deep.

Simon sighs heavily, dropping the whole stack of papers on the ground next to his desk. The sound is not quite as satisfying as he had hoped for, but it’ll do for now. He’s definitely done for the evening, and he wonders if Anthony would be willing to join him for a drink.

Grinning at the prospect of no longer having to stare at poorly organized (and often not very well proofread, either) resumes, Simon grabs the stack and plops them back onto the desk. But as he’s straightening back up, he hears something from the hallway, through his partly open door.

Frowning, Simon strides closer, opening the door a little more, and hears the word—“No.”

No? Simon’s frown deepens. It’s a woman saying it, and the responding voice sounds male, which points to a situation that Simon’s morals won’t let him ignore. He stifles a sigh. He was really, really looking forward to going home. A reasonably quiet night after a messy day.

As he leaves his office and walks down the hallway, he hears the conversation (coming, he thinks, from the stairwell) more clearly: “Nigel, you really shouldn’t have followed me here. There’s still people at the bar, aren’t there?”

“Yes,” the man says, his voice rather high-pitched, and more than a little slurred; it sort of sounds like he’s saying yeth. “But I don’t wanna be with them. I wanna be with you. I love you!”

Great, Simon thinks, wincing. Not only does he have to listen to some young idiot get rejected, but said young idiot is also so drunk he can barely form full sentences.

“Nigel,” the woman says again, sounding much more patient than Simon would under similar circumstances, “we’ve been over this. It just didn’t work out with us. But you’re such a good guy, and I really want to be friends with you.”

“Dammit, Laffney,” the man wails, “if you don’t date me, who will?”

Simon blinks. Not only is he pretty positive that that can’t be the woman’s real name (though with modern naming conventions, he can’t really be sure), but that’s possibly the least romantic way to ask anyone out that Simon’s ever heard.

The woman clearly agrees, because she sounds more annoyed when she responds, “I’m sure you’ll find someone, Nigel. There are so many other girls who’d be happy to have you. Even at the bar right now—”

“No,” says Nigel, sounding sad. Simon walks closer to the stairwell, and he manages to see his back; he’s slumping, his shoulders forward, his head bowed, looking defeated. “No, you don’t get it. They… they… they…”

Simon winces again. It’s not a real stutter, just nerves, but he can’t help but feel sympathy for him. He doesn’t seem like the brightest (though that could just be the alcohol), but being unable to get your words out is never a good feeling.

“No one’s as nice as you,” Nigel finally says, his voice edging closer to a whine. “You smile every time you see me. No one else does.”

“Oh, Nigel, that’s not true,” the woman says, but she sounds like she doesn’t mean it, especially considering the volume of the sigh that precedes her words. And it’s starting to sound more and more like Simon definitely isn’t needed in this situation, and in fact would feel extremely awkward if they realized he’d been listening in.

But as Simon’s turning and, as quietly as possible, walking away from the stairwell, he hears a little shriek coming from the woman.

“Please!” Nigel is yelling, amidst protesting noises. “There’s no one else! You have to date me!”

“Nigel, stop!”

Simon stifles a groan. It seems Nigel’s gone from annoying and sad to actually dangerous. It looks like he’s going to have to step in after all.

So he turns, and he walks back towards the stairwell, but just as he’s entering, he sees the girl shove Nigel back and punch him in the jaw.

Simon lets out a choking sound of surprise as Nigel goes down, arms flailing—and he lets out another one as the woman follows him down, yelping in surprise as she kneels next to his twitching body. “Nigel! Are you okay? I didn’t mean to hit you so hard!”

Simon laughs, unable to help himself. Really, this is not how he thought his night was going to go.

Unfortunately, this alerts the woman to the fact that he’s there, and she whirls around to face him.

Simon’s first thought is that she’s beautiful—not conventionally so, but with thick, dark hair, wide eyes, gorgeous bone structure, and full lips. His second, following right on the heels of the first, is that he knows exactly who she is.

He doesn’t have any social media accounts, but ever since he’d befriended Anthony, he’s gotten Bridgerton family Christmas cards every single year. It’s a little silly, not to mention old-fashioned, but he’s always appreciated them; it’s nice to keep up with their accomplishments, and it warms his heart to see a family that functions as it should, something he’s never known.

There are eight Bridgerton siblings, all named in alphabetical order, a full eighteen years between Anthony, the oldest, and Hyacinth, still in elementary school. All of them, despite the age difference, look extremely alike—like their father, Simon’s been told, though the man died before Simon and Anthony had become friends—the same bone structure, the same hair. When they were younger, it made it hard to tell them apart, especially the three oldest sisters, all in a row, all within four or five years of one another’s age.

As they grew up, though, Simon found it easier to distinguish who was who, and now—given that only one of Anthony’s sisters is college-aged—it’s not difficult to recognize her from the picture taken less than a year before. So he looks from the semi-conscious drunk man on the floor to the now-scowling woman straightening to her feet in front of him, and he says, slowly, “Daphne Bridgerton.”

 

Daphne has not had a good night.

She wasn’t even going to go to the happy hour tonight, organized by some undergrad association or another. Usually she likes them; she likes meeting new people, seeing her friends who are members of student government or other organizations, enjoying pretty much any form of group socializing. So she goes to way more events than a senior trying to get into graduate school should, but ever since she broke up with Nigel—who, unfortunately, likes these mixers just as much as she does—she’s been avoiding them.

But she hadn’t felt like doing homework for one more minute, and she had been bored, and her friend Philipa had texted her to ask if she was coming—and Daphne had thought that there would be no harm in going for just one drink. Maybe she wouldn’t even see Nigel.

But, of course, just as she was finishing up her wine and making her escape, she’d tripped over Philipa’s foot, and Philipa had squealed “Daphne! Are you okay?” so loudly it was clear everyone in the bar had heard her—and much to Daphne’s dismay, “everyone in the bar” included Nigel, who had immediately looked over to her, attempting to rush across the crowded bar to her side.

Daphne had almost gotten away. She had been so close. She had, without thinking, rushed into the first building she saw—the math building—hoping to lose Nigel as quickly as possible.

She’d made it halfway up the stairs before he caught up with her, and the encounter’s been every bit as awkward as she feared (especially since Nigel’s definitely had at least one drink over his limit), and now she’s actually punched him in order to get him to stop—and if that weren’t bad enough, it looks like this tall and handsome stranger has witnessed all of it, and to top it off he knows her name, and—

Wait. Daphne’s eyes narrow, then widen in shock. “Dr. Basset?” she exclaims, stumbling back half a step, feeling a flush rise to her face.

“Simon,” he says, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall, looking amused. “You might as well call me Simon. I’ve seen Christmas pictures of you for the last ten years.”

Daphne’s face goes even hotter. How can he say something like that under these circumstances? That’s not the kind of thing you say to someone when meeting them for the first time—let alone when you’ve just witnessed them punch someone in the face. Shit.

“Well—I’ve grown a little since the first one,” she finds herself saying, cringing when he throws his head back and laughs. “Just a little, though,” she mumbles, trying to pretend she isn’t talking to a man—an incredibly handsome and successful man—who’s seen pictures of her through braces, awkward teenage gangliness and acne, and highly questionable early college fashion choices.

“It’s true,” he says after a moment, looking her over—not in any particularly intense or lustful way, but with a thoroughness that embarrasses her. “You aren’t very tall.”

“Oh, stop,” she exclaims before she can stop herself, though she’s stifling a laugh as she says it. “What are you doing here so late? I meant to stop in to your office to say hello—you know, during normal hours—to introduce myself properly—”

“Good of you,” Simon says, looking halfway between amused and surprised. “I was finishing up work and I heard you and—ah—Nigel, and I thought I would see if you needed any help—I didn’t know it was you, of course, but—”

“Oh!” Daphne can’t believe she’s actually, however briefly, forgotten about Nigel, who’s squirming around on the floor now, making little noises of distress. “Yeah. Of course. Thank you. I appreciate the thought. Wish you’d gotten here a little sooner so I didn’t have to hit him, but—”

“Clearly you can handle yourself.” Simon’s back to sounding amused now, and he snorts aloud and Nigel starts slurring “Laffy, Laffy, I love you, Laffy.”

“This is embarrassing,” Daphne mutters, because pretty much the only way to make it less embarrassing is to point out how ridiculous it is. “Look, I appreciate you trying to help—but do you think you can actually help? I should—do something with Nigel, make sure he’s safe—”

Simon’s brows knit together in disbelief. “He attacked you,” he says flatly.

“He didn’t attack me,” Daphne protests automatically; Simon arches an eyebrow, and she amends hastily, “Okay—he sort of attacked me. But he didn’t mean it, not really. He’s a nice guy.”

Simon studies her with a strange sort of expression; Daphne can’t read it at all, and after almost two decades of living with four brothers, she’s always thought she was something of an expert in weird faces that men make. Simon must, she thinks, just be really good at hiding his feelings.

“You’re sure?” he finally says, and Daphne nods, firm.

“Like I said—he’s a good person. He didn’t mean—” She sighs, rubbing at the back of her neck. “We didn’t date for very long, but he was more invested in the relationship than I was. I always tried to be nice to him, and I think he thought that meant I was more interested in him than I actually was. You know? I don’t think he would really ever hurt me. I just hope that—that he gets the hint after this. I never wanted to hurt him, either.”

There’s silence for a moment after she’s done talking, and Daphne looks back up at Simon. He’s still looking at her with that expression she can’t quite interpret, for long enough that she starts to feel a little—well, she’s not sure what it is, but it’s something, in her chest or maybe her stomach, just a little fizzle of something. There’s no possible way he’s interested in her, and no chance she would ever do something so inappropriate as flirt with a professor, even if he’s so good-looking, even if he’s friends with her brother—but if she’s enjoying having the incredibly handsome man half of campus is talking about staring at her with so much unbroken, intense focus, well, she’s only human, isn’t she?

“He can stay in my office,” Simon says eventually, bending down to lift Nigel (still slurring incoherently about how much he loves Daphne—or rather “Laffrey”) off of the floor. Daphne spares a moment to be impressed; Nigel isn’t exactly heavy, but it doesn’t look like it’s taking Simon much effort at all. “We’ll get some water in him, make sure he doesn’t throw up, and call the night ride service to escort him home. I assume you don’t want to take him back yourself?”

“Absolutely not,” Daphne says hastily. She wants to make sure Nigel’s all right and she doesn’t want to be cruel to him, but really, enough is enough. “That sounds great. Thank you so much.”

Simon grins at her, and Daphne feels all of the air rush out of her body. It’s a little mischievous, a little boyish, and extremely handsome, and—is she actually getting weak in the knees? She’d always thought she was made of sterner stuff, but she’s pretty sure there is no stuff stern enough to stand up to a smile like that. Damn.

“I did say I intended to help,” he points out, turning towards the hallway and walking as he talks; Daphne hurries to keep up, trying not to look as if she has actually gone weak in the knees. “As you said, I should follow through on those intentions. Damn, he reeks. How much did you say he had to drink?”

“I didn’t, but clearly a lot. He doesn’t have any kind of speech impediment when he’s sober.” Simon stops walking at that, just for a moment—Daphne blinks at him, surprised, but he continues onward as if nothing’s happened. Strange. A little off-balance, she keeps talking. “I—I think he just wanted to—you know, have the courage to talk to me. Which is crazy to think about, that he would need that. I’m not very difficult to talk to, I can’t imagine he would—”

She breaks off as Simon unceremoniously dumps Nigel onto the floor, and Nigel lets out a low sound that might be either pain or further general drunkenness. Daphne isn’t sure, but as she steps into Simon’s office, she makes sure she isn’t anywhere near his head. At the rate he’s going, he definitely will be throwing up sooner rather than later.

Simon seems to have come to the same conclusion, and he reaches for a trash can, which he sets down right next to Nigel’s head. Daphne barely manages to stifle a laugh, but she does say “Good thinking” when Simon looks back at her.

This elicits another grin, which, much to her irritation, affects her exactly the same way the earlier one did. And she thinks that she probably could have happily spent the rest of her life not knowing that Dr. Simon Basset’s smiles turn him into the most unbelievably attractive man she’s ever seen.

 

It’s amazing, Simon thinks as he watches Daphne Bridgerton check Nigel’s pulse and turn him on his side, how quickly a night can turn around.

True, babysitting a drunk undergrad isn’t exactly his idea of a good time, but spending time with Daphne is proving to be one of the best things to happen to him since he got here. He’s starting to understand exactly why Anthony’s never talked much about his sister to Simon. Or shown Simon any pictures.

He’s not surprised that Daphne punched Nigel; any woman with four brothers would likely have learned how to defend herself (although he is a little impressed by her strength in doing so). But he is surprised that she defended him so ardently, that she was so concerned for his safety. He’d judged for himself that Nigel isn’t likely to be a serious threat to her, but it impresses him that she was so generous towards him. And he can’t help but find her funny as well as kind, not to mention resourceful in the face of a difficult situation.

And it’s undeniable that the thick hair and high cheekbones common to all Bridgertons, in addition to wide dark eyes and full lips, look really good on her. The bun in which she’s twisted her hair is coming loose and a long curl is hanging down past her shoulder, drawing Simon’s attention to—

Well, he’s never been the sort of person who’s ever been tempted by the idea of flirting with undergrads. It’s not like he’s had so much trouble attracting women that he’s had to resort to ones in a subordinate position from him. He just has to remind himself of that even as he finds his gaze compelled to the lines of Daphne’s profile.

“You’re not a math student, are you?” he asks, because he can’t think that Anthony wouldn’t have mentioned it if she were.

Daphne looks up as she gets to her feet, crossing the room to the chair by Simon’s desk, a few feet away. “Me? No way.” She’s laughing at the mere idea, which Simon is used to; a lot of people have that reaction to math. “English. And don’t ask me to admit the highest level of math class I took, because it’s embarrassingly low and I barely even passed that one.”

“It was multivariate calculus, wasn’t it,” Simon murmurs, and is rewarded by the sound of Daphne’s laugh as she looks around the office. Her eyes widen as she sees the stack of forms on Simon’s desk, and she peers over to look at the top one. Her lips purse with suppressed laughter, and she’s grinning when she turns to look at Simon.

“Are all of these applications for you?” she says, eyes wide, and Simon feels a faint scowl cross his features. Maybe Daphne Bridgerton is more annoying than he initially gave her credit for.

“I’m looking for a research assistant,” he explains, leaning back in his chair and eyeing the stack of applications with such distaste that Daphne stifles a giggle. “I was hoping it would be someone studying math, or at least an adjacent field. As you can probably see—competition is fierce.”

Daphne looks at the papers again, this time not managing to suppress her laugh. “Don’t tell her I said this—she’s a friend of mine—but under no circumstances should Philipa Featherington be your RA.”

“Considering she’s a theater major,” Simon says wryly, “the thought really hadn’t crossed my mind for a second.”

Daphne laughs again, reaching over to flip through the forms before pulling away. “No—I shouldn’t. But I have to ask; are they all like this? I can’t believe you’re so popular.”

Simon arches an eyebrow, slow and deliberate. “You can’t?” he drawls, and finds himself much too pleased by the embarrassment on Daphne’s face.

“Not because—I mean—I didn’t mean it like that,” she splutters out, then scowls faintly at the little grin on Simon’s face. “You’re making fun of me, aren’t you? You know I get enough of that from Anthony.”

“I believe it,” Simon murmurs wryly. “He warned me about this, you know. About my—” He gestures at the papers, then assumes a world-weary, cynical tone. “Popularity.”

Daphne giggles, leaning her elbow against the desk and resting her chin in her hand. “I believe that, too. Even my mother kept talking to me—you know, ‘oh, Daphne, he’s so established, he’s published so much, surely you should at least meet him’—because obviously you’re going to do wonders for furthering my English career, right?”

“Are you looking at graduate schools?” Simon asks, curious. Whenever he talks to Anthony about his siblings, he never says anything too specific; Simon knows he’s proud of them and adores all seven beyond reason, but considering Anthony is the de facto male head of the family, Simon wouldn’t blame him for wanting some parts of his life to just be his own.

Daphne nods. “I’ll be applying soon. And I’m not going to lie to you, a TA position would do wonders for my CV, but I should probably stick to, you know, my own school if not my own department, don’t you think?”

She’s smiling at him, inviting him along in the joke, but Simon’s feeling his own expression shift into something more serious as he assesses the facts at hand.

Fact #1: he needs an RA.

Fact #2: his graduate assistants are going to be the ones doing most of the work involving mathematics, and the ones who need the most knowledge of the field. His undergraduate RAs really don’t need anything but the most basic knowledge.

Fact #3: the traits he needs in an undergraduate RA are primarily dedication, diligence, and a willingness to learn.

Fact #4: from what he remembers from Anthony and the Christmas cards, Daphne Bridgerton is intelligent and accomplished; from what he’s seen tonight, she’s responsible and quick on her feet in difficult and new situations. And if she’s applying to graduate schools, she’s dedicated to her studies and willing to work hard.

Fact #5: even if it’s a bit of a stretch, in all honesty, having someone who’s good at analyzing documents and who writes well on the team is probably a good idea, and something Simon can easily justify in his grant reports.

Fact #6 (and perhaps the most salient one of all): if Simon hires Daphne Bridgerton, he no longer has to face the stacks of applications and the unrelenting stream of potential new recruits in his office.

Maybe it’s a cowardly way out, but hell, it’s academia. Simon can, off the top of his head, name at least half a dozen other hiring decisions he’s been privy to that have been made in more unsavory and less sound ways.

So he leans forward in his chair, grins widely, and says “Daphne—I have a proposition for you.”