Advent Calendar, Day 3: 4PM (You should ask)
“You should ask them out.”
“I am not taking dating advice from you.”
Luz stretches her shoulders, feet stomping on the floor rhythmically. She lets out a long, long sigh. Eda packs her notebooks, her bag is a mess. She digs out her cup of coffee. It’s probably cold now, but it’s better than buying one from the machines, Luz guesses. She packs her own material, vaguely arranging the books she has to put back in place in the corner. She puts the ones Eda used, too.
“We’re closing the desks, do you need to check something out?”
Luz turns around, a smile spreading on her lips at the voice. Pink suits Amity, she thinks. With the exams around the corner, she hasn’t really got time to get used to her girlfriend’s new hair color. “No, we’re good.”
“Cool. I’m… I’m out in half an hour, do you…”
“I’ll be at the café across the street?”
A smile on Amity’s face, too, and a hand that lingers on her arm. Amity’s working, Luz reminds herself. She can’t take too much of her attention now. She can’t just hold her. Half an hour, she said? This will be long. But she’ll wait.
The librarian footsteps go away, and she turns her attention back to Eda. “You’re adorable, kiddo.”
A pat on her head, and she realizes Eda had the time to put on her coat and scarf. She takes half of the books under her arm; Eda takes the other. “You could be like that with Whispers if you asked them out.”
She snickers, in her very special Eda fashion, and Luz rolls her eyes.
“They’re my professor,” she says checking the label from the first book in her pile. “It is wildly inappropriate.”
Luz follows her in the library alleys, putting books down. Her eyes have a hard time focusing. “You are wildly inappropriate. I didn’t think you cared about that.”
No response at first, and Luz wonders is she somehow magically found the right words. She wishes she had. Eda did help her clarify her situation with Amity, back in September. She just wants to do the same. The other’s eyes are distant for a moment, but Eda snaps out of it soon enough, walking towards another bookshelf. “Well, they care about stuff like that.”
Luz cringes. She remembers the first few weeks of school. Eda had… well, she had a hard time figuring out how this all worked. She remembers that she flirted with Raine Whispers within five minutes of Introduction to Performing Arts Law, and that the professor wasn’t pleased, to say the least. It was a hell of a first class.
“It’s not even like you are in any of their classes next semester, right?”
Eda freezes for a second, and Luz feels her own face flatten with tiredness. “You. You signed up for another of their classes.”
Her tone is accusing, and she sees the way Eda grimaces. She sighs. She still doesn’t think it’s a big deal. There is a chance it’s against college policy, but this has to be a special case, right? Eda isn’t the impressionable young adult these rules are trying to protect.
She’s an emotionally stuck fully grown woman, grey hair, bad habits and all that.
“I still think it’s worth a shot. You just have to not put pressure on them. They’re monitoring their own exam Tuesday, and you have extra time. You’ll have a chance to talk to them.”
Golden eyes settle on her, and Luz realizes her hands are empty. “Look, Luz, I’m happy you’re trying to help, but don’t.”
Oh no. Eda’s running away. And if she does, Luz probably won’t see her before said exam. They don’t have any other studying session planned.
“Come on, Eda!”
“Think about it!”
The woman just turns around. There’s a wide grin on her face, but it doesn’t quite reach her eyes. “Trust me, I do that enough.”
A hand on her shoulder. Squeezing. Shaking her, just a bit, and she opens her eyes. She’s sleepy.
It’s not her room, it’s not a bed, it’s wood against her cheek and her back hurts. Her butt, too. And her legs. And her arm. She remembers a time she could fall asleep under her desk and wake up just fine. Oh, aging is no fun. Sitting on a chair for hours on end isn’t, either.
It was raining when she fell asleep, and now she can see sunlight caressing the floor. A pair of green eyes, shielded by red framed glasses. “Fuck.”
She sits up slowly. “I fell asleep.” Other students are still in the room. Do all of them have extra time? Or did a great deal of students turn their papers in early? She looks at her professor slowly, and she knows she has to wake herself up more than that. And quickly.
“You have an hour left.”
She nods, looks at her desk. There’s her thermos of coffee. Good. This will help. She takes a sip. Did she forget her meds? Or did she just not realize how tired she was? No, she took her meds. She thinks. “Thank you for waking me up.”
She instructed every person monitoring the exams to do so. She does have awful high school memories. Teachers usually had no problem waking her up during classes— and maybe she was a troublemaker, but that didn’t mean it was okay for them to let her sleep during tests. Fuck those guys.
She manages to smile at them, and dang, she must look ridiculous. She is pretty sure she has marks from the table on her face. And her eyes aren’t fully open. Well, it isn’t the first time they saw her like that. She yawns greatly, and they pinch their lips. “Hm?”
They shrug, but she just puts her chin on her palm, waiting.
They look at the other end of the room, where their colleague is standing. Eda doesn’t follow their gaze. “Do I?”
“Do you need something?”
She shakes her thermos. “Coffee. I’m good.”
They nod. But they don’t leave yet. She should be writing. She should read what she wrote before she fell asleep, and scratch it. It is bound to be bad. They look at her drink with a grimace. She cocks her head, and they scrunch their nose. “Cold coffee,” they justify. “It’s. Ew.”
She laughs, trying to keep it down. If some students gave the both of them attention at some point, everyone seems to be back to the exam now. She waits for them to leave, but they linger. She’s still sleepy. She feels bold. “Meh. You could buy me a hot one later.”
She doesn’t know what happens on their face exactly, but it’s something. She thinks they blush. But their eyes are serious.
“This is no joking matter.”
She has half a mind to say she isn’t joking. But they do look offended now, and she just nods. She sees their hand clutching at the fabric of their sweater vest. “Yeah. Okay.”
They open their mouth, but she goes back to her paper. Oh my. She wrote some phenomenal nonsense here.
Luz hands out her paper ten minutes before the end of the extra time. Eda catches her eyes before she exits the classroom, and can’t miss the way she points at Raine with her head, eyes big. Eda rolls her eyes, and she’s lucky Luz cannot take a promise out of her.
The minutes hand reaches the top of the clock exactly when Eda hands out her own paper. She’s happy with herself. She got better at this time management thing. She crosses Raine’s eyes, and there is something left unsaid there, impossible to ignore. If she doesn’t do anything about it, it will haunt her. But it’s okay. She’s used to live with her ghosts.
She pauses at the door. She remembers Luz’s eyes, her hope, and she finds herself leaning on the wall, waiting for the professors to come out. She wonders what Luz saw, that made her so sure Eda had a shot at this. It’s not even like she has the whole story. Some part of Eda regrets not telling her, but she has no clue what she’d even say.
That they already met? Luz would call it fate, she has this ability to throw out huge concepts, like soulmates, and love, and flowery words to describe her own feelings. That they already technically had sex? Luz would positively freak out. She wouldn’t let Eda get away with it. Ever. She grunts.
She doesn’t like remembering that night.
And she knows, somewhere, that she won’t like remembering today either. But she says, still, because she’s supposed to be an adult, and then she can tell Luz that she tried, that it didn’t work and that it’s okay, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
It’s ten past four when the professors exit the room, Eda heard their footsteps approaching, she heard Raine’s voice through the door and she stoop up a bit straighter. It’s almost funny, how they stop mid-sentence upon seeing her, how their face changes. They give the papers they were holding to their colleague, and she nods, like she understands. Eda wonders if Raine mentioned anything to her.
They don’t start the conversation.
“Let’s have that coffee,” she says, and she knows her casual tone is a disguise, but she can’t tell if they can tell, “not as a date, don’t worry. Just two adults, in the daylight, no alcohol, no funny business.”
“I didn’t know this was in your ability set.”
It’s not a no. Their arms are crossed, and she feels she really screwed up earlier. She really, really wants to blame her sleeping disorder for that. But she knows she let herself say it.
“I’m buying. I owe you that.”
They take a deep breath in, turn their heels, not sparing a glance. Maybe this is how she made them feel. She’s reaping what she sowed. It’s a bit bitter on her tongue, but she’ll take it.
“You threw up on my shoes.”
She cringes, and she wants to know, desperately so, what their expression looks like. But it feels like her feet are held in place.
“You gave me a fake name. You fell asleep on me during sex and still managed to sneak out while I was asleep. Then you either gave me a fake number or you ghosted me. After that, you flirted with me, during my class, in front of my other students, you disrupted lectures more times than I can count— and I don’t hold you falling asleep against you, but wow, you don’t even have to be awake to be loud and distract the rest of the group. If this is a joke to you, don’t bother.”
They turn around. Maybe she shouldn’t have wished that. Because their gaze pins her down, it’s heavy and straight like an arrow. She gulps. Her mouth is so, so dry.
“And if it isn’t, I am curious to hear your side of the story.”
They say side of the story, she hears explanations. She nods, still. Her behavior wasn’t exactly ideal. She can explain. She can stand the hit in her ego.
“Now my coffee won’t pay itself.”
They turn their heels again, and she follows silently. Their shoulders deflate as she catches up to them, and she can see their face is more relaxed, too. The beginning of a smile churns the corner of their lips. She so desperately wants to tease. But this can wait.
Even if it takes weeks, she can wait.
Actually. Even if it never happens, it’s worth waiting for.
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