Written on account of this tumblr post ("no but i'm dissapointed bc where's the sexy prof! artemis au fic when you need it") by leftfootfowl on tumblr. And I was planning on being such a productive adult tonight.
A Distraction in Linguistics
His eyes habitually land on her from the very first day of the semester, as cold and unaffected as always but laced with a spark of curiosity. She figures it's due to the fact that she's one of the only students that is actively engaged in his linguistics class. The fact that she's not afraid to ask questions and challenge his knowledge probably doesn't hurt either. She interrupts lectures almost every class to spark a debate. To this day she hasn't won a single argument, but she always goes down fighting and never as easily as his other opponents. It's not often she gets to have such lively, heated discussions without any sort of repercussion.
"You're not just kissing his arse," the jock who makes a point to sit behind her every day comments snidely. "You're straight-up licking the crack."
His name is Trouble and he lives up to his name, getting a bloody nose in the middle of the quad for that particular comment. He leaves her alone after that; they all do. No petite girl learns how to take a man twice her size down with a single punch without having gone through some serious shit.
Halfway through the semester, after struggling to write and rewrite her midterm paper she gives up and visits him during office hours. He seems mildly surprised when she knocks on his door frame and less composed than he usually is, his eyes bloodshot and hair tousled in a way that suits him far more than his normal swept-back style.
"Miss Short," he says. "Do come in."
She does so, slouching in one of his chairs and eyeing him critically. "You look like shit, if you don't mind me saying," she comments.
His lips flicker at the corners, as much of a smile as he ever gives. "So critical," he replies.
"Well, you're normally the most collected motherfucker on the planet," she says, rubbing at the bags under her own eyes. "It's weird to see you out of a suit jacket."
"I suppose you're right," he says. "Though, for the record, I prefer not to go to bed with mothers."
She snorts. "It's Holly, also," she says. "Not Miss Short. Makes me feel like an elderly old maid."
He cocks his head ever so slightly to the side. "You are rather old for a freshman," he says.
"So I hear. You're rather young for a professor."
He grins this time, flashing his incisors, and her eyebrows raise; this, she thinks, is a glimpse at the man behind the cool exterior.
"So I hear," he quips.
"I looked you up after the first class, Mr. Fowl," she says, propping her combat boots up on his desk without asking; his nose wrinkles. "You know, most uni professors aren't one of the Forbes 500."
"I am not most university professors. And if you're going to insist that I call you Holly, I request that you call me Artemis."
"Fair's fair. This isn't just a social call, just to be clear."
"I assumed as much," he says, leaning back in his oxblood leather chair. It's her turn to let her nose wrinkle, and he cocks an eyebrow in return. "You're here about the midterm."
"Unfortunately. English is not my best subject."
"Linguistics, however, is another matter."
Her lips thin. "I've moved around a lot," she says evasively.
"You are quite gifted." He holds one pale, long-fingered hand out and she passes over the folder containing all three drafts of her essay, chewing on her nails as he scans the latest one with increasing, poorly-disguised disdain.
"Like I said," she says, feeling a need to defend herself when he finishes. "Not my best subject."
"Agreed," he replies, reading over the introduction. He frowns as he does it, absently taking the cufflinks from his sleeves and folding them up to his elbows, revealing slender, striated forearms that don't look like they've ever seen the sun. She swallows, cursing herself as he slides on a pair of tortoiseshell reading glasses and glances up at her through his eyelashes.
"I get the feeling we'll be here a while," he says by means of explanation. She glances at the clock on the wall. He follows her gaze, waving away the fact that his office hours end in fifteen minutes. "I'll make time for you," he says breezily as he snatches up a red fountain pen and begins scribbling. "I have nothing important to do this evening."
Her jaw clenches, her fingers closing into fists. Yes, he's highly intelligent and looks damn good in a suit, but he's also her professor and two years younger than her. Never mind the fact that he's a multi-billionaire and she's a —
"How did you end up working for the tuers d'hommes?" he asks suddenly, looking up from her paper.
She stands so fast that her boots sweep his desk lamp onto the floor; it shatters, sending his office into a warm half-light from the lantern in the corner. He blinks as she snatches her work from him and stuffs the folder into her satchel, making for door. "Wait!" he cries, rising as well.
She's not sure what it is, but something in his voice stops her cold and she turns around, facing him with a set jaw and metal in her bones.
"How do you know about that?" she spits.
"You think you're the only one who does their research?" he asks, coming around his desk. "I am not judging you. My record is hardly spotless."
"Thousands of results pop up on Google when your name is searched," she snarls. "It's hardly the case for Holly Short."
"But not so for 'Poppy,'" he says quietly. She's silenced. "Did you know," he says, "that the man you worked for had my father and his bodyguard killed when I was ten years old?"
"No," she responds stiffly. "I'm very sorry. But I would have been twelve then. I wasn't working for him yet."
"No, you weren't were you? You were working for an international drug smuggling ring at the time. You wouldn't start assassinating people until you were fourteen." At her silence he crosses the room and closes the door. She instinctually crouches defensively; he raises a hand exasperatedly.
"Like I could best you in a fight," he scoffs. "I simply don't want custodial ears to overhear this conversation."
"Desperate times," she snaps. "I didn't have any other choice."
"They killed your parents, didn't they?" he says softly. "The people who took you." Her stony silence tells him all he needs to know. He sits on the edge of his desk. "I thought there was something interesting about you from the very start. I didn't realize it would be so..."
"Melodramatic?" she prompts dryly.
"Your list of kills is rather impressive."
"No need to tell me that, thanks. I lived it."
"Why are you here?" he asks suddenly. "Trinity College is hardly a popular destination for retired assassins."
"Witness protection," she says, jutting her chin out. "I turned in some names, got some people with a lot of power in trouble, and have a gigantic bounty on my head because of it."
"I imagine you're not difficult to find," he comments, gesturing to her complexion. "A dark-skinned ginger. Not too common a sight."
"Like I said," she replies. "I moved around a lot."
"Not to be big-headed," he says, rolling his eyes when she snorts, "but I'm very smart. A genius, in fact, of all trades. I could place you under better protection than any government."
"And if I don't want to be?"
"Well," he shrugs. "I imagine that with such a 'gigantic bounty' on your head, you've got some highly skilled people looking for you."
"I don't need your pity," she snarls.
"And I don't wish to give it to you," he replies, carding a hand through his hair and mussing it further. "You intrigue me, Holly. Our discussions in class alleviate the absolute tedium that comes with working at this university. If you'd like, I'd be rather keen to make our status as acquaintances more friendly than formal."
"I may be a murderer and a criminal," she says stiffly, "but I'm not a whore."
His brow furrows. "That's not what I meant," he says, his composure cracking.
"Not that I wouldn't sleep with you," she says. "Lord knows why, but I like well-dressed nerds that don't go outside much. But I'm not paying for your services in sex."
"I didn't mean it like —" he stutters, flustered, a blush spilling over his cheekbones. "Miss Short — Holly." He clears his throat. "I only extend an offer of friendship that simply happens to come with benefits. No sexual favors needed."
She sighs, chewing on the inside of her cheek and tapping her foot on the wood. "I'm a different person now," she says quietly. "I'm pre-law."
"Yes, I know."
"I want my life back."
"It was taken rather cruelly from you, wasn't it?" he says, surprisingly gentle. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but –"
"It was a dream to think I could."
"I could take you away," he suggests. "Go on wild, globe-trotting adventures. I get the feeling that's more of what you're used to, anyway. And I promise you that it's much more interesting than becoming a lawyer."
She laughs, though nothing is funny. "You can't just leave your job mid-semester," she says.
He shrugs nonchalantly. "Sure I can," he says. "It's just a vain attempt to alleviate the boredom while I wait for the Nobel committee to get back to me."
"While you —" She cuts off, shaking her head. "You're something else, Artemis."
"Yes, I know."
He grins, once more showing his teeth. She lets one corner of her lips rise and fall.
"And just think," he says. "If we go adventuring, you won't have to write that horrid midterm paper."
"That's true." She crosses toward him. His head quirks as she draws near, his normally chilly eyes betraying his rare confusion until she wraps her hand into his tie and yanks downward, forcing his head to her height. His lips part and his eyes dilate ever so slightly.
"Oh," he squeaks.
"I'll adventure with you," she says. "But first, I feel like I should do you a favor."
"I thought I made myself clear," he says, unable to keeps his eyes from flickering down to her hand as she begins to loosen his belt. "There's no need to —"
"Not for the witness protection or the extended vacation or any of that dumb shit," she says, waving it off. "No, I'm talking about payback for that terrible essay I made you read."
His eyes dart to the folder poking out of her bag. "It was rather awful," he says slowly.
"And I do have the most horrific soft spot for nerds," she tells him.
"I prefer 'genius,'" he sniffs, and she laughs.
"Shut up, Artemis," she says before kissing him forcefully, and Artemis says very few coherent words for quite some time.
Hate to say it, folks, but The Almost Ones is on hiatus and I'm not sure that it will ever come off. In other news, I'm feeling homesick but I'd be hella thrilled if you reviewed!