Hey all! New story time! This is something that just popped into my brain while I was writing something completely different, so here it is. Also, I want to inform my readers that I will be starting classes as a freshman in college on Monday and will be trying to update things when downtime is available. Not sure how hectic my schedule is going to be just yet. Just giving you guys a heads up.
I own nothing but the plot line and a few OCs. The Almighty Larson owns the rest.
"Okay, I know all of you are a bit more . . . laid back than you usually are because spring break is drawing near, but I still expect your essays to be turned inon the correct due date," Thomas Collins told his class. "I'm sure you can focus for three more days. And for those of you who are thinking you can't, I have one question for you: how the hell did you get into college?" A few of his students chuckled, others smiled. Collins glanced at his watch. "Well, I won't keep you any longer than necessary. Class dismissed and please make an effort to get those essays to me. I don't want to have to fail anybody."
Collins walked back to his desk and sat down as his students began packing their things and filing out of the room. He closed the book that was open on his desk and sighed. The desk was a mess. Papers here, note cards there. He began looking through the papers, placing them in neat piles and blocking the world around him out in an attempt to organize his cluttered desk. He was starting to make progress when he heard someone clear their throat. Looking up from some papers, he nearly screamed. One of his students, a very thin and very pale boy, was standing right in front of his desk with a messenger bag on one shoulder.
"Professor," he said. His voice didn't have much bass in it, almost as if he hadn't gone through puberty yet. The sweater he was wearing made him look even thinner than he was.
"How can I help you, Connor?" Collins asked. Connor said nothing and opened his bag. He shifted through its contents before pulling a stapled document out of it. He slowly held it out to Collins, who took it just as slowly. "What is this?"
"It's my essay. I actually wrote it longhand while eating lunch on the day you assigned it and then typed it later. I was going to turn it in earlier, but I kept nitpicking at it, changing little things. I wanted it to be completely perfect for you." Collins raised an eyebrow. Connor scratched his arm and waited for his Professor to respond.
"You wrote this entire paper longhand?" Collins asked in shock.
"Calligraphy actually. I took a course on it last summer because I wanted to handwrite my Christmas cards to make them more personal." Collins was at a loss for words. He knew Connor was a bit of an overachiever, but this was still taking him by surprise.
"Well . . . thank you for honoring my deadline."
"You're welcome, Professor." Connor smiled at Collins and left the room. Collins sat still for a moment before continuing to organize his desk.
"I swear if you guys even think about moving the tables, I will have you thrown out!" These were the words spoken by the bohemians' favorite employee as they made their way into the Life Café. They ignored him, of course, and pushed three small tables together so they could all sit together.
"So, are you glad we talked you out of planning your lesson for tomorrow yet?" Maureen asked her best friend once they were all seated.
"No, Mo, I'm not glad," Collins replied. "This only means I'm gonna be up half the night."
"God, Collins, you work too much."
"Well, I have to make money to support me and my girl." Collins gave Angel a peck on the cheek and she smiled. Maureen rolled her eyes as Mark ordered seven glasses of wine for him and his friends.
"Honey, am I gonna have a boyfriend over spring break?" Angel asked. Collins furrowed his brow.
"What do you mean?"
"I know you assigned an essay to your classes to be due the day spring break begins. Are you gonna be reading and grading essays for those two weeks or are we gonna get to spend some time alone together?"
"Baby, I'm way ahead of you on that. I'm also giving a test that day, so while my students are taking that test, I'll be grading their essays. Of course, I'll go back over them once spring break nears its end, but I'll have the majority of the grading done. In other words, I'm all yours, baby girl." Angel smiled and kissed Collins' lips.
When their drinks were brought to the table, they were soon laughing and arguing about which item on the menu was the best. Joanne noticed a scrawny boy staring in their direction. The boy was soon speaking with the employee that had threatened to have the bohemians thrown out.
"Hey, anybody know that kid over there?" she asked everyone. "He was looking over here." Angel, Collins, and Mark turned in their chairs to see who Joanne was talking about. Collins quickly recognized the boy as Connor. The employee then made his way over to them.
"You're going to have to put the tables back," he said sternly. "Others need places to sit."
"But we need these tables," Maureen replied.
"I don't care. I told you not to move them in the first place."
"Look, just have him come over here," Collins told the employee. "It's cool. I know him."
"I'm not going to do that."
"We need these tables so we can sit together and he needs a place to sit. We've got an extra place. All he has to do is take it." Collins waved at his student. "Connor! Come on over!" Connor looked to Collins and pointed at himself, unsure if Collins was talking to him. He slowly walked toward the bohemians' table after Collins nodded. The employee stormed away from them. Mark found an unused chair and put it next to Collins as Connor approached the table.
"Are you sure it's okay for me to sit with you and your friends, Professor?" Connor asked. "I don't want to impose or anything."
"No, no, it's completely fine," Collins replied. "Right guys?" Everyone answered positively and Connor sat down as a waiter came to the table.
"Your meals will be ready shortly," he said. He then noticed Connor. "Did you just get here?"
"Yes he did," Angel answered.
"Well, I'll go get you a menu."
"That's not necessary," Connor assured the waiter. "I memorized the menu the last time I was here." The bohemians and the waiter stared at Connor.
"Okay . . . what would you like?"
"I'll have a veggie burger with a side of fries and a lemonade, please." The waiter nodded and walked away. It was quiet for a moment.
"So, you're one of Collins' students," Joanne commented. Connor nodded as he took his jacket off. "Freshman?"
"Grad student," Connor corrected. Joanne's eyes widened and everyone, save Collins, stared at Connor in disbelief. "Did I say something wrong?"
"It's just . . . you look way too young to be a grad student," Mark said.
"As far as statistics go, I am a bit young to be a grad student. I'm eighteen."
"No, you're not!" Maureen exclaimed. "You can't be! I don't believe it!"
"Believe it, Mo," Collins told her. "Connor here graduated high school when he was twelve and college at sixteen."
"I'm in the process of gaining PhDs in psychology, sociology, and philosophy," Connor added.
"You're just so . . . young," Joanne said.
"I know. That usually proves to be my downfall. Most of the students aren't too thrilled to have someone with my knowledge at my age in their class."
"Are you smarter than Collins?" Mimi asked. "What's your IQ?"
"One hundred eight-six." Everyone, save Connor, looked at Collins expectantly.
"Mine's one seventy-two," he said. His friends' mouths dropped open. "Don't look at me like that."
"We've never met anybody who was smarter than you," Mark pointed out.
"I may have a higher IQ than Professor Collins, but there's no way I'm smarter than him," Connor stated. "He has more life experience than I do and there have been times where he's been two steps ahead of me whenever I had a question in his class. He's easily the smartest person I've ever met. And his theories are just . . . brilliant."
"More like boring," Roger commented.
"You've heard some of my theories?" Collins asked, ignoring the rocker.
"Yes. Your theory on actual reality is so well worded and thought out. I heard you telling people about it in a subway station one day and was completely engrossed by your words. I felt like a child hearing a new bedtime story."
"Well, that theory got me kicked out of MIT."
"They just didn't understand your genius."
"Somebody, please stop the nerds!" Mimi shouted dramatically, covering her ears. Roger laughed as Mimi reached for her drink.
"Are you twenty-one?" Connor asked her. "You don't look twenty-one."
"Then why are you drinking alcohol?" He turned to Collins. "She shouldn't be drinking alcohol, should she?"
"It's fine, Connor," Collins told him.
"It's not fine. She's breaking the law and you're letting her. How do you associate yourself with these people?" Everyone looked at the eighteen-year-old. His eyes were wide and he appeared to be in a trance. "Laws are made to protect us. Without them, there's nothing but complete chaos. You have to follow the law. If you break the law, you will be punished. If you help someone break the law, you will be punished. If you witness someone break the law and keep quiet about it, you will be punished."
"What's wrong with him?" Angel asked Collins. He shrugged as Connor started trembling.
"I'm sorry . . ." he whispered to no one in particular. "I didn't mean to . . . I won't disobey you anymore. I promise I'll be good . . . but only if you say you love me . . . say it . . ."
"Connor?" Collins said. He touched the boy's shoulder, causing him to jump. He quickly looked around and noticed he was receiving odd looks from everyone at the table. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Connor answered. He looked down at his hands to avoid making eye contact with anyone. "Will you all excuse me for a moment?" He got up from the table and quickly made his way to the restrooms.
"What the hell was that about?" Mimi asked.
"I have no idea," Collins replied. He stared in the direction Connor went in for a while. He then stood up and walked to the men's restroom where he found Connor sitting on the floor with his knees pulled up to his chest.
"Professor . . . please don't ask," he said. Collins walked to Connor and sat next to him.
"I won't," he promised. "But know that if you ever need someone to talk to, I'll be there to listen. Whatever you say in confidence to me will be between us." Connor looked to Collins, who offered a warm smile. The boy smiled back at him.
"Thank you, Professor."