He hadn’t really expected for alcohol to be at the luncheon – it was after all an occasion for selected freshmen to get to know a professors of theirs on a more personal level beyond that of the lecture hall – and seeing as how the circumstances were academic in nature and half of the attendees were underage (no matter what they may actually do during the weekends), it was no surprise to hear how Suzaku had had to pause for a moment to realize that the blood-red drink in his professor’s hand was none other than a flute of sangria. But in all honesty, what had surprised him even more was how often she asked for a refill. He hadn’t exactly taken her for a heavy drinker, but here they were at 3PM at the tail end of the luncheon, and her with her head in her hands.
Suzaku wondered if he should say anything – but what could he possibly say? – when she handed him a slip of paper. Reaching across the table, he took it as he carefully watched her. She had been incredibly quit during the last few minutes, and with her hair covering her face, it had been quite disconcerting to sit across from someone who had been so vocal for the past hour and a half.
Taking out his phone, Suzaku dialed the number without even really knowing who he was calling or why or even finding out who because before he could raise the phone to his ear, she reached for his phone and left her seat. Suzaku watched from their table as she stood outside in the late autumn afternoon. Most of the others had left by now, but there were a few stragglers like themselves, all of whom were at various stages of drunkenness. In fact, it almost seemed as if he were the only sober one under the marquis, which was…not exactly the first time something like this had happened, but it was all the more stranger because within the tipsy group were professors, most of whom were remarkable characters within their field of expertise. It was just kind of weird to see that they weren’t squares, he supposed.
But all this introspection stopped immediately when he glanced back to where his professor had been standing because she was no longer there. Hurriedly standing up, he reached for her coat and purse before running out, only to collide into none other than the truant herself.
“Shit, I’m so sorry.”
She sat on the ground as she tucked her hair behind her ear to better glare at him imperiously.
“I can hold my alcohol, thank you very much. I used to go to college too, you know. In fact, I still do.”
He was shocked to hear her giggle.
“Aren’t I just the funniest, Suzaku? Honestly. I ought to quit and become a stand-up comedian.”
She reached for her things. Draping her coat over her arm and her bag on her arm, she sniffled before taking a deep breath. Breathing out slowly, she closed her eyes and stood still before snapping them open and saying in a voice more similar to her usual tone, “I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Uh, wait!” He felt uneasy just letting her go to who-knew-where by herself. Even if it was still bright outside, if someone was going to take advantage, they’d do it no matter the time of day. “I’ll, uh, get a taxi for you.”
“It’s fine, I don’t need a taxi.”
“Please. I want to make sure you get home safely.”
She gave an exasperated sigh but only rolled her eyes. Suzaku flushed. It wasn’t that he was trying to be annoying or anything, he just kind of felt that it was his fault she had drunk so much. Maybe that was the only way he would have made an interesting partner for the luncheon; by drinking yourself silly.
Suzaku carefully kept an eye on her as they neared the edge of the campus. Beyond the archway he could see the city and so quickened his pace. Maybe if he hailed a cab before she could take her car keys out – or head down the street or whatever her intent was – when he heard a squeal.
“Oh, it’s you!”
Suzaku saw his cold, stringent professor rush to tightly hug someone before reaching out to hold his face in both her hands and coo at him.
“I’m so glad to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you too. But you really shouldn’t have drunk so much, C.C.,” the man replied. She reached up to whisper something into his ear, but he only shook his head. “Not tonight.”
Suzaku wondered if he should leave – the two obviously knew each other and it looked as if the… Uh… Wasn’t he a student?
“Are you Suzaku Kururugi?”
“Thank you for sending her to me. I’ll make sure she gets home safely.”
He gave a wave as his professor was helped into the car. She smiled at him with a radiance that made him flush. Rooted to the spot, he stood with his hands in his pocket as the car pulled away until it turned the corner.
Huh. Maybe they had gotten somewhat closer, thanks to the sangria.
. . .
She drowsily smiled as she clapped her hands at the tray that sat before her.
“We’re having breakfast for dinner today?”
“Yes we are. We have eggs benedict with smoked salmon, asparagus, sliced apples, some grilled tomatoes, and a glass of apple juice.”
She giggled. “The way you say tomato is funny.”
He smiled. “The way you say tomato is funny. Now eat. We have to get something in you, or else you’ll have a terrible time of it tomorrow morning.”
“Because tomorrow morning we’re going to the park,” she sang.
“That’s right,” he said softly. “We’re going to the park tomorrow so that we can have a picnic.”
She nodded, and he wiped her lips gently. They sat quietly for some time as she made short work of the big plate. He helped her along from time to time when she’d suddenly remember something and get so excited, she’d forget about her food, but otherwise they would sit in companionable silence. It wasn’t until she was finishing off the glass of jus de pomme when he spoke on his own for the first time.
He had gotten up to take the tray and the empty plates to the kitchen when she had suddenly taken hold of his sleeve.
“…I don’t want you to leave.”
“I’ll be right back. I just need to rinse these off.”
“No, on Monday. I don’t want you to leave.”
She looked up at him with wide eyes as if to implore him to stay. Setting the tray down, he reclaimed his seat and took her hands.
“I’ll be back in a week.”
“I don’t care. I hate when you leave.”
He smoothed her hair and kissed her lightly on her forehead.
“I promise it’ll end sooner than you think it will.”
“Do you really think so?”
He nodded. “I promise.”
Biting her lip, she closed her eyes as he wrapped his arms around her.
“Okay. But promise to keep your promise.”
“Of course. I promise to keep my promise.”
And so she smiled, reassured by his promise to keep his promise.