2 things Suzaku hadn’t expected. The first: that she would pick him of all people. Though considering the luncheon, he shouldn’t be that surprised. Just mildly; she had still chosen him out of the class of 120, luncheon or no luncheon. The second: her apartment, which in all honesty seemed more like a loft than an apartment. He hadn’t really known that teaching could allow one to live in the Upper East Side, no matter how prestigious a school that teaching post came from, but as she unlocked the door, he stood corrected quite literally.
“So, um… What exactly do you need help with?” All she had told him was that she had needed help moving something. She hadn’t even told him the thing in question, or that it was in her private home. He had assumed that it was in her car, which was why she had led him to the parking lot. But here he was in a well-decorated, brightly lit corridor as he hovered over his professor. He tried his best not to be conspicuous, but as he glanced at her, he couldn’t help but briefly wonder if maybe that dream he had had a couple nights ago was coming true in some fashion.
The thought made him flush with shame and shiver with anticipation all at the same time.
Much to his relief, she apparently had no such intention because she – after instructing him to remove his shoes by the door – pointed to the tawny rug in the living room and asked him to help carry it to the cleaner’s. He watched as she tied her hair up before bending over to pick up her fallen hair-tie. Nervously, Suzaku averted his gaze and focused on what he assumed was a coffee stain. What was wrong with him?
“Do you think you can manage?”
“I don’t think it’ll be too hard.”
She nodded, and he rolled up his sleeves. Kneeling, he rolled the rug up before heaving it up onto his shoulder. Better positioning it, he wondered if she was impressed.
Evidently she was not because she was already holding the door open for him. Slipping on his shoes, Suzaku squeezed his way out of the tight doorframe, careful to avoid so much as a brush against her. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her lock the door behind them, and yet started when she ducked under and grazed his side.
As he followed her to the elevator, Suzaku bore the heavy weight piously. He desperately needed some disciplining; anything would do at this point.
Even the weight of his shame.
. . .
“Unfortunately I can’t reward you since some people may take it the wrong way.”
“That’s okay. I’m happy to help.”
Shouldering her purse, she neatly tucked the paper ticket inside of her coat as she said, “But if you ask me to go to lunch with you, I can do that and pick up your tab after you’ve forgotten your wallet at home.”
When she noticed his stricken expression, she cocked a brow.
“Unless you’d rather not, in which case, thank you for-”
“Professor, are you free this afternoon?”
A shadow of a smile passed over her face, and the corner of her scarlet lips twitched in amusement.
“I was wondering if we could discuss the, uh…the October March. I had a couple questions on the impact it had on the French Revolution.”
“I was about to go to lunch.”
He scratched his head. “Oh” was obviously not what she had wanted him to say, but he wasn’t quite sure what it was that she wanted to hear from him, so he chose to stand there awkwardly instead.
“Would you like to come with me? We can discuss it over some pizza if you’d like.”
He nodded but asked if he could eat a salad instead. Coach had put him on a strict diet since she’d caught him eating some pudding. She shrugged.
“Do what you want. I’m getting pizza.”
And so he did what he wanted. Regarding lunch anyway.