"Ohhh," Megan said, when they got the TA assignment sheets for the semester.
"What?" Kris said.
"They gave you Lambert," she said, with the tones you'd use to someone who'd just been handed a burning stick of dynamite.
Kris tried to place the name. He was still pretty low on the department totem pole, and teaching more survey classes than seminars, so he hadn't met a lot of the senior grad students yet. He had a vague impression of a tall guy with spiky black hair talking animatedly and waving around a bottle of wine for emphasis, from one of the biweekly mixers. "He's specializing in—drama?" he said, looking at the sheet: yeah, there was the name LAMBERT next to 218 - SHAKESPEARE - ALLEN. "Am I going to have to chase him to do the grading?"
"You won't have to chase him to do anything," Megan said in an ominous way, as she turned to head back to her office.
Kris eyed her sidelong. "Uh, who's his advisor?"
"Simon," Megan said over her shoulder, and Kris was even more baffled: Simon didn't take on grad students unless they were rock stars in the making, guaranteed to achieve escape velocity in less than seven years and make tenure track or at least publish some pop bestseller somewhere. So—?
Kris sent out his usual friendly introductory email—looking forward to the semester, call me Kris, let's meet over coffee—to Lambert (also to the gaggle of six TAs for the English Lit survey, and the four for the 100-level on the Romantics, sigh), and winced a little when he got back an Awesome! See you tommorow! But okay, spelling wasn't everyone's strong point and didn't need to be.
He made a copy of the list of plays they were going to be doing, and the criticism, and took it over to the bookstore coffeeshop the next morning. He parked himself at a table with a cup of the hazelnut and Jursten's new book on Marlowe, and got engrossed enough that he didn't notice until Lambert was sliding into the chair across from him saying, "What do you think so far? I really get the impression he just wants to say 'ditto' to Steane and the whole thing is trying too hard."
"I don't know," Kris said. "I mean, yeah, it's a little—derivative, I guess, but I liked the chapter on—"
"—Dido?" Lambert said, nodding enthusiastically. "Yeah, that was the best part." He scooted his chair around and took the book out of Kris's hands and flipped straight to the exact two-page spread Kris had marked with five big stars scattered all over at the good points. "Yes, that is so it, right there—" and he was beaming at Kris, and Kris found himself grinning back, because seriously, this guy was awesome, what was going to be bad about this?
Later that afternoon, Megan stuck her head into his office. "So?"
"So Adam's great," Kris said. "What's your problem with him?"
She waved a hand impatiently. "Are you going to be seeing him again soon?"
"Yeah?" Kris said. "We're going to get together after each discussion section and go over—"
"Mm-hm," Megan said, and vanished back out of the door.
Kris blinked after her, confused.
"Hey, do you know Megan—er, Professor Joy?" Kris said, when Adam came into the library discussion room, his arms full of books and photocopies and two Starbucks cups. Kris leaned towards them automatically; he could smell hazelnut.
"Of course! I love Megan!" Adam said. "What do you think of grabbing the couch at the back, we can spread out some more?"
"Sure," Kris said, perfectly willing to follow the magical appearing coffee anywhere. Adam even beat Kris to his own bookbag, snagging it without dropping any of his pile in a vaguely physics-defying move. Kris felt a little guilty, because that was at least another fifteen pounds on top, but he couldn't see any way for him to take it back that wasn't going to end with a whole stack of Shakespeare crit everywhere.
They ended up going for two hours instead of one—they kept getting sidetracked into random conversations about anything from Stoppard to Iggy Pop—and eventually Adam said, "Hey, do you want to grab dinner at First Street? They're having a poetry slam happy hour tonight, it should be great."
Kris had planned to pick up some takeout and go home and write up the six lesson plans he needed to do for next week, which wasn't a lot of competition in the excitement department, so he ended up crammed next to Adam in a tiny booth up front. "This works, right?" Adam said. "I know it's a little tight, but we'll get decent acoustics here."
Kris had gotten kind of tunnel-visiony the last couple of years—tenure was never a sure thing, and he was keeping his head down and marching along the road of publish-teach-volunteer, every free minute crammed with committee meetings and department tasks. It had actually helped a lot at first to have the work, after he and Katy had given up trying to make it work long-distance, but now—squeezed-in with beer and fresh tacos and a crowd of students cheering on others at the mike, he realized he'd kind of forgotten to be a human being, too.
"That was awesome," he said, when they eventually made it outside—it was past eleven, and he was going to have to wing it for at least two classes next week, but it'd been worth it. "Do they do this a lot?"
"Only a couple of times a semester," Adam said, handing Kris his coat, "but Friday we're putting on a Chatterley-and-Cosmos fundraiser at Drama House. Bring a bottle or a banned book!"
The party was kind of overrun with undergrads, but not the really obnoxious variety, and Adam promptly showed up and tugged Kris to one of the comfy couches on the side, snagging them drinks along the way. The readings were great—from hilarious to actually sexy, and towards the end of the night Adam tipped back his glass and beamed at Kris and said, "Wish me luck!" and went up and read from Wilde's Teleny in a voice like smoke and honey that made the whole room go quiet.
Kris gulped the rest of what was supposed to be his last drink and another after that, trying not to blush, before Adam finished and got a standing ovation along with a whole lot of catcalls and whistling. "You did great," Kris managed as Adam dropped back onto the couch, inadequate but the best he could come up with that didn't make him sound like a complete asshole perving on his TA.
"Had a good time Friday?" Megan said, stopping by his office Sunday—Kris had come in to make up some grading he'd blown off.
"Huh? Yeah," Kris said. "Were you there? I didn't see you."
"No, but Allison was," Megan said—one of her grad students. "I'm assuming I'll see you Wednesday."
"What's Wednesday?" Kris said.
"Adam's singing at Cherry Bar," Megan said.
"Oh," Kris said. "I don't—?"
But when they met in the library on Monday, Adam had a door pass for him. "If you're not swamped!" he said, smiling. "I know the tenure track grind sucks."
"Yeah," Kris said, taking the card. "But man does not live by departmental meetings alone."
He ended up sitting with Megan and Allison while Adam blew through a set that mixed classic rock and punk and show tunes and torch songs. He came off stage at the end glowing and bright-eyed and slid into the booth next to Kris and stole half of his fries, one arm along the seat back behind Kris and leaning over to hear Megan and Allison talk, and Kris felt even more guilty warning signals going off.
He tried not to feel bad about it. Okay, he was human, Adam was hot, and it wasn't like he was going to do anything. But he still felt vaguely slinky and ashamed the next day—he didn't remember exactly what he'd been dreaming, and he was pretty sure he didn't want to—and stayed extra late to try and make up for it.
Anoop stuck his head in sometime around eight. "Dude, you're here tonight."
"Uh, yeah," Kris said, squashing down the minor panic of people noticing he hadn't been around as much. "Sorry if you were looking for me—you need something?"
"Nah, don't get me wrong, I'm all for any evidence that you're not actually the new Robo-Professor 5000 brought in to replace all us mere mortals," Anoop said. "Megan's just going to kill me in the pool." He waved and took off, leaving Kris saying, "The what?"
Megan rolled her eyes when he cornered her the next day. "This is academia, Kris. This is what we do for fun. We write papers, drink cheap wine, and gossip."
"About what?" Kris said in horror, because if people already thought he was macking on Adam —
"About how long it's going to take Adam to land you," Megan said. "I have money on next week."
"Wait. What?" Kris said.
"He's a known menace to the small and adorable," Megan said. "Have you told him you play guitar yet?"
"Yes...?" Kris said. He didn't remember how it had come up that first meeting, but—
Megan nodded cheerfully. "Like waving fresh meat at a great white."
"Megan!" Kris said. "He's my TA. I'm not going to—"
"Kris, honey," Megan said, "I'm sorry to break this to you, but you are definitely the yummy baby seal in this scenario."
Okay, first off, Kris was not going to sleep with his TA, because that was seriously wrong and exploitative and it didn't matter if Adam really wanted to, and how the hell would Megan know that anyway? Also, he was not a baby seal, and—Kris jumped as his phone buzzed his hip with a text message from Adam asking him if he wanted to come to the art gallery opening on Lavoisier Avenue Saturday night.
Kris stared at it, then texted back a short, can't make it, except then he felt bad and texted thanks for asking. Then he kicked himself, because if Megan was actually right about Adam being interested—and okay, so Megan did seem to have a scary ability to pick up on these things—then Kris had to find a way to make sure Adam knew that Kris was not that kind of professor, and it wasn't going to happen.
He went to their Monday meeting in the library grimly determined, except Adam blazed in with a printout of an awesome new essay on Coriolanus that hadn't even been published yet that a pal at another university had sent him, and Kris got distracted. "This is reminding me of something," Adam said, frowning at the paper. "Something I read about—Titus?"
"Yeah," Kris said. "Yeah, I know what you mean, it's in that—the green book, with the—" He waved his hand and couldn't dredge up the author's name or the editor's, so they went into the stacks to try and track it down.
"There!" Adam said, stretching to get it down off the top shelf, and Kris flipped through it and they found the essay and stood reading it with their heads together in the aisle under the one working light. It was great, it fit together with the other essay like glue—it was going to make a fantastic lecture, maybe even worth doing a comparative paper on the two—
Kris looked up and grinned at Adam, delighted, and Adam's eyes went heavy-lidded, and Kris had a moment of perfect clarity to think, oh, whoops. Then Adam's hand on his shoulder was sliding to cup the back of his neck, and Adam's thumb was under his chin tilting his head back to just the right angle, and Kris knew and somehow couldn't do anything about the fact that he was running out of time to stop this, and then Adam was kissing him, slow and hot and deep, while Kris clutched desperately onto the book with both hands to keep from grabbing him.
"Kris," Adam said, low and hungry, and tugged the book out of Kris's hands and stuck it back on the shelf—out of order, Kris tried to point out, they were never going to find it again—but Adam was opening Kris's belt, and sliding his hand down into Kris's pants, and instead Kris heard himself make a small helpless whimpering noise as he bucked into Adam's hand.
Adam made a hilarious growly sound back and kept kissing him, which was good because otherwise Kris would've been making a hell of a lot of noise, and bad because it kept Kris from saying any of the really smart and sensible things he could have said to put a stop to this. Adam was getting his own jeans open, shoving them down his thighs, and shit, they couldn't do this here, they were in freaking Shakespeare, not fifteenth century poetry or something—
Then Adam put his hands under Kris's thighs and hiked him up against the shelves, wrapping Kris's legs around his waist, and Kris suddenly discovered he didn't care if the entire population of the 010 level courses showed up.
"Hold on, baby," Adam said, between licks and kisses, and Kris grabbed onto his shoulders while Adam got the condom on and rubbed slick fingers over him. And wow, it had been a long time since he'd done this, and wow, Adam was kind of huge, and Kris couldn't help making more choked whimpers while Adam eased him down onto his cock.
Then Adam was fucking up into him with tiny short strokes that made the shelves creak, books tipping over at the end of the rows with horrifyingly loud thumps, and Kris moaned and said, "Someone's going to hear," desperately.
"Then—they're not—going to—come in," Adam panted, reasonably, and Kris saw his point and shut his eyes and let his hips grind down the way they wanted to, and Adam groaned and fucked him harder—harder—and—
"Oh, fuck," Kris said, getting his hand around his own cock and jerking along. Adam was kissing him again and Kris was spilling over, shuddering and trying to catch it all in his hand. Adam made demanding noises until Kris gave him his fingers to lick, still fucking him with long, thorough strokes, going deep. Kris shivered all over again and wondered wildly what kind of disciplinary proceedings you got for not only banging your TA but doing it in the library, and then Adam was coming, inside him, moaning into Kris's mouth as his cock jerked.
"We, uh," Kris said afterwards, still clinging on, feeling wild and stretched around the eyes. "That."
"Mmm," Adam said, and eased Kris back down, sliding out of him. Kris tipped back against the shelves, trembling. Adam kissed him again, and slid down to his knees.
"Oh," Kris said, and stuffed his fist into his mouth to keep quiet while Adam licked him clean.
He wasn't less wobbly after. Adam mostly towed him along to the bathroom to ditch the condom and grab handfuls of toilet paper to clean up with. "I am such a bad professor," Kris said, trying to feel repentant. It wasn't working. He felt tender and sore and dizzily, helplessly happy under Adam's hands, Adam's mouth nibbling at him with kisses. "You're my TA," he added plaintively, a last-ditch attempt. "I'm supposed to be mentoring you."
"You're a fantastic professor, and I feel extremely motivated to do amazing work with you," Adam said, licking at his neck. "Also, I am really going to have to fuck you again any minute now."
Kris gulped. "My apartment's on Richmond."
"Other side of campus?" Adam said, a whine. "We could go to your office. The door locks, right?"
"We are not having sex in my office," Kris said.
They got about five blocks into the walk across campus before Kris acknowledged that maybe he was wrong about that.
= End =
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