High heels clicked and echoed through the empty corridor, like the ticking of a grandfather clock. Her shoes were red. Blood red. Not the blood red of crime scenes and suicides, but like blood splashed on the pages of comic books. But the thought of blood made her light headed, so she liked to think of the color as that classic shade of lipstick starlets wore in the 40's.
She had long, slender legs; lean, but strong. Gymnast's legs. And in fact those legs had helped secure her a scholarship to this very university. She still worked out and practiced a few times a week, helping to maintain her thin waist, upper body strength and overall sylphlike physique.
A black skirt clung tight to her bottom. The material followed the curve of her flesh and ended a few scant inches below where it met with the back of her leg. A crisp white button up shirt, carefully chosen one size too small, fell to the top of her skirt. Several of its top buttons remained unfastened. A brassiere, red as well, peeked lace through the opening. A silver chain was fastened around her neck, a small locket set with tiny rubies hanging from it. The charm fell just above of the swell of her breasts, small but supple.
Blonde hair, one shade off of natural, brushed against her shoulders. Most days she kept it tied back in a pony tail, but now it hung loose, framing her face. Dark glasses outlined icy feline eyes. Without thinking she readjusted them, wrinkling her nose a couple times.
As she walked through the hallway, she pulled a compact from her purse and checked herself in the small mirror. Blessed with delicate features and porcelain skin, she was stunning just with her face clean. But with a touch of natural looking makeup, she was exquisite.
Pushing a door open with her hip, she stuffed the compact back into its pocket and rounded the corner to the teacher's offices. The Psychology department shared a building with Sociology, rooms and offices spaced arbitrarily through out, adding a bit of chaos to the structure.
The door she stopped at stood slightly ajar. At about eye level, a small green plaque read 'Professor Jonathan Darby' in clean white indented letters. Smiling before raising her fist, she flipped her hair over her shoulder with a crack of her neck and knocked on the frame. "Come in," a voice called from within.
"Professor Darby? I emailed you about a little meeting?" She nudged the door open a foot and stuck her head inside. "I wanted to talk to you about my paper?"
"Oh yes! Of course." The man sitting behind the desk waved her in. Papers were scattered in front of him. Hurriedly he shuffled them into a pile, opening and closing drawers. "Please, come in."
She slipped in and closed the door behind her. "Thank you so much for seeing me this soon. I only have a few questions, so hopefully I won't be taking up to much time." She flashed him an apologetic smile.
"Don't worry about it. This sort of thing is all part of the job. Come, sit down." He gestured the chair across from him.
Her teacher wasn't the stereotypical university professor. He didn't wear a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows, no small lense glasses were clipped to the end of his nose, and his hair wasn't salt and peppery and receding. He was relatively young, in his late thirties, and handsome enough that a few girls, and a couple guys, took his introductory classes just as an excuse to stare at him. He wore a shirt and tie, but it hung loose around his neck and the cuffs of his shirt were unbuttoned and rolled above his elbows.
"Well really, I'm just wondering about my grade." She sat down, crossing her ankles. She pulled a manila folder out of her purse before setting the bag beside her on the floor. "I mean," she said, holding it out to him, "I think I did a little bit better than a B-."
Darby reached over the desk and took it from her. Settling back into his chair, he flipped the folder open and scanned the first few pages of the paper. Sighing, he tossed the open folder onto his desk, leaning his chair back with a soft creak. He steepled his fingers and pressed them to his top lip, thinking silently for a moment or two, staring at nothing.
He looked up at her. "Maybe you could do me a favor first." Straightening in his seat, he rested his elbows on the edge of his desk and crossing his arms. "Why don't you tell me why exactly you're interested in psychology, especially criminal psychology. You were offered a gymnastic scholarship, if I'm not mistaken. One of the best, if not the best, on this school's team. And, if what I've heard is true, with a little specialized training, you could have easily had a spot in the Olympics. I mean, with your athletic ability," he continued, running an unconscious eye down the line of her body, "it was almost a guarantee. I've seen a couple of your meets. You have an exquisite talent."
She removed her glasses, letting them dangle between her middle and forefinger. A smirk threatened to surface on her lips. She knew where he was going.
The professor sat back in his chair again, slouching a bit. Planting an elbow on the arm and rested his cheek on a closed fist. "So why, Miss Quinzel, would you give up all that to study something as mundane as criminal psychology? Watching a few too many police dramas, maybe?"
Harleen reached into her purse and took out her eyeglass case. "It would have been nice, Professor, no doubt about that." Folding her glasses carefully, she placed them inside. "But apparently you know nothing about that world." The case snapped closed and was returned to her purse. "I go and train for a few year, losing a good deal of my teenage years and friends to eight hour training days and home schooling, which is really the only way to get an education around that schedule. There are no sleep overs, no dates, no proms. Who would I take anyway, my coach?"
She got up from her seat and walked past Darby's desk to the window, her back to him. She felt his eyes following her. She leaned against the frame and crossed her arms just below her breasts. "Let's say I do get into the Olympics. Years of training and alienation from my peers for a few weeks of execution. And so what if I win. What comes after that? Four years later I'd already be replaced for the next set of games. By someone younger, more talented. Then what? Coaching is really my only option. Then I'd spend the rest of my life doing to some poor girl what was done to me."
She turned around, a sad half smile turning up the one corner of her mouth. With an easy push of her legs, Harleen raised herself into a sitting position on the sill. Again she crossed her ankles, her knees falling apart a few inches.
"So I guess I wanted a career a little more structured. A little more people friendly. I'm sure you can understand that, Professor." She ran a hand through her hair and leaned back against the glass, pressing cold through her thin top.
Darby had swivelled his chair around, still looking at her. He cocked an eyebrow, seemingly unimpressed by her speech. "Yes, I can buy that. But there are careers easier than this. Even in the field of psychology."
"I guess it's just a personal fascination. Ever since I was little I'd see criminals everywhere in the media. Not only on the news, with people like Joker, or Mad Hatter, or Catwoman. Movies and tv romanticized them. Thieves, murderers, kidnappers, rapists, serial killers. There are dozens of documentaries out there that will make people sympathize with them. But what about the people who do it just do it? Not everyone was coddled and smothered by their mothers, or beaten by alcoholic fathers. What makes them want to do what they do? What about the people who just feel they're above our rules? That's," Harleen said, wrapping her hands around the edge of the sill and leaning forward, "what I'd like to delve into."
"And you think you can cure these people?" Darby leaned over and grabbed his coffee mug.
"'Cure them'?" Harleen chuckled. "Professor, I'm sure I'm not going to be that good at this for a while, if I ever am. No, I just want to help them. Help them figure out why they want to steal and kill. What would be really fascinating would be working at Arkham." She smiled at him. "I don't know, maybe I could figure out warning signs, see which criminals could wind up worse with wear; I'm pretty good at reading people. Maybe I could even rehabilitate a few of those people. Maybe I could -"
"Get your own talk show?" Darby cut in.
Harleen's mouth hung open for only a second before she closed it. Scoffing, she sat back against the window again and crossed her arms and her knees, her foot jiggling. For a moment she was a little kid caught in the principal's office, looking everywhere but his face. "No," she said, examining one of the diplomas tacked on the wall.
"Come now, Miss Quinzel, I'm not a complete idiot. You and I both know that if a good looking girl such as yourself even had just an advice column in a newspaper, she'd could easily get a talk show."
"I'm not a girl, Professor. Haven't been for a few years."
"Young lady, then."
"I believe the word you're looking for is woman. 'Beautiful woman' is probably the best term, don't you think?" She winked.
Darby shifted in his chair. "Anyway," he went on, turning away from her, "I'm not saying it's a bad thing to want to be a celebrity. I'm sure the majority of the country wants the same thing. But let's be honest. You want to be famous; you don't want to really help anyone. I must say that I'm glad that at least you'd rather gain fame for giving advice than simply being beautiful."
"It doesn't really matter." Harleen hopped off the sill and stood next to him. "Because I need a better grade than this. Sports scholarships aren't just about athletic ability anymore, they need you to maintain a certain grade point average. If I don't, there goes my scholarship. There goes school. Unless... you cut me just a liiittle slack. Just this once." She leaned against the edge of his desk. She folded her hands and tucked them under her chin. Please? she mouthed, pouting her lips.
Darby picked the open folder up off his desk. The title page was blank, save for a title - "In a Fit of Passion: Why Lovers Commit Crimes" - and her name, Harleen F. Quinzel. "I would be willing to let you rewrite this, give you a little bit more time do some deeper research. But compared to your other papers, it's like you barely even bothered writing it. I've seen your potential. I've seen in the majority of your work. So I'm not going to let you slide just because you didn't feel like working on this."
Her eyes welled up. "That's completely unfair! I worked on this paper for ages." Tears escaped her lashes, dragging mascara down her cheeks. "I can't loose my scholarship. There's no way I can pay for college on my own." Her voice cracked. Covering her face with her hands, Harleen wept quietly. After a few minutes, during which Darby had awkwardly looked everywhere but at her, shuffling papers on his desk and clearing his throat, she regained some of her composure. Wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand, she sheepishly looked at him. "I'm sorry. Can I please borrow a tissue or something?"
Glad to have something to do, he stood and walked to the corner of his office, where his coat hung on a hook on the wall. He fished a handkerchief out of the inside pocket and walked back, handing it to Harleen. "Here you go. You can keep it, I have tons of them at home."
"Thank you," she said softly, accepting the hankey. The professor stood in front of her, hands in his pockets, as she wiped the smudges from her face. Her eyes were cast down, staring at some spot on the floor.
Darby sighed, jingling the keys in his pocket. "Miss Quinzel, if you're serious about this class, about this profession, then I'm sure we can work something out. Something you can do for extra credit."
Harleen wiped her nose and looked up at him with wet eyes. "Like banging erasers?"
He half smiled at her. "That's not exactly what I had in mind."
She smiled coyly back at him. "Oh, so you want me to do the extra credit assignment I did before?" She dropped the handkerchief on the desk next to her and wrapped her long legs around his hips, pulling him closer to her.
"Miss Quinzel." Darby took Harleen's calves and attempted to untwine himself, glancing nervously at the closed door. "What I mean is something like being my teacher's assistant for my intro classes. I don't want to do this again."
"You sounded exactly the same last time," she said, locking her ankles. "And you didn't mind then. And if I'm not mistaken, you're not minding too much now, either." She grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him down with her as she lay back.
Both his hands found the desk next to her shoulders, pushing him back. He shook his head. "No. We can't do this anymore."
"But it's so much fun." A practiced hand slipped her shirt buttons out of their holes. She reached down between them to his pants. One of his hands grabbed her wrist, twisting it back up and banging it down on the desk next to her head.
"I told you no, Harleen."
Her face softened. The grip her legs were keeping on him loosened. Her free hand lightly traced the curve of his ear, his jaw line, his lips. "You're the only one Jon," she whispered. "I don't do this with anyone else. Not one other man." She looked up with sad, pleading eyes.
He inhaled a shaky breath, eyes sliding over her body. Her skirt bunched around her waist, panties the same red lace as her bra peeking from between her legs. Breasts, easy handfuls, rising and falling steadily, with stiffening nipples pressing against the lace. Smooth stomach, long legs, soft hands, perfect lips. All of this, just for him.
"Only you," she whispered again, gently rolling her hips.
A low groan purred in the back of his throat. Darby grabbed a fistful of the hair on the back of her neck and pulled her into a greedy kiss. Harleen responded immediately. Her legs again wrapped about his waist, and this time he leaned into her. Her teeth lightly tugged on his lip. She wrapped an arm around his neck, using the other to pull herself up into a sitting position and sliding back on the desk. Kissing his way down to the nape of her neck, he climbed on after her. A pile of books and papers fell off the desk onto a wastebasket, knocking it over with a dull metal thud.
His mouth never left her skin. She quickly undid the buttons of his shirt, letting her hands roam his chest and stomach. He was fit, but soft around the edges. She dragged her nails down the sides of his rib cage and he hissed.
Harleen smiled at the ceiling as rushed hands worked at unfastening his belt and zipper. Of course the paper was B range work. Of course she could have done better. Worked harder. Researched more.
Her hands easily reached behind her back and unclasped the hook of her bra. She peeled it off and his eager hands enveloped her breasts. His tongue traced their curves. She hitched her breath and rolled her eyes. Men either worked breasts like vials of dangerous chemicals or like the tuning dials of a crappy boom box. She could be acing papers and tests. Not top of the class, no. But one of the best students, no doubt.
Darby soon worked his pants and boxers off, and they fell in a pile on the floor. Without sparing a second, he pulled at Harleen's panties with a soft ripping sound. She lifted her hips off the desk to give him easier access, letting out a sigh of frustration in her head. She couldn't afford to buy new underwear right now. Scholarships don't give much in the pocket money department.
With a soft grunt he pushed himself inside her. She let her body fall into the act, but her mind wandered. Good grades are, for lack of a better term at the moment, good. They're helpful. How else are you supposed to succeed without them? You can't fail classes and stay in school.
Harleen arched her back and readjusted her shoulders into a more comfortable position. But an A is nothing without a little insurance policy.