Students took their seats, excited for the first day of school, and laying out their brand new notebooks and arranging their pencils. Alfred came a little late, but not later than the professor. He scrambled into his seat, grumbling that it was front row. A moment later the room hushed as the professor walked in.
He was a rather young looking man with bright green eyes and messy blonde hair. He was wearing a sweater vest, slacks, and a bow tie. Despite his young and pretty face, he didn't look his age.
Alfred let out a breath he didn't know he was holding.
The professor handed out the syllabus and then wrote his name on the white board. His name was Arthur Kirkland.
"Good morning, students," he said, a thick British accent lilting his voice. "My name is Arthur Kirkland, and yes I am your professor. None of this sniggering at me or asking if I'm truly old enough. I expect respect in my classroom, and if you show me it, I will give it back to you in turn. As such, I will be called Professor Kirkland or Mr. Kirkland. None of this Artie or Mr. A or whatever nonsense you can come up with. This is my classroom, and I will not tolerate disobedience."
Someone leaned over to whisper to their neighbor and chuckle. Arthur shot him a cruel glare. "Care to share with the class?"
The student looked uncomfortable, shifting in his seat as the classroom turned to look at him. "Um. Well. I just said, you're kinda strict for an English teacher."
Arthur's eyes narrowed. He strode towards a table in the front of the room, tracing his delicate fingers across the spine of a dictionary that rested on the top. "In recent years, I see the English language being under attack. Short text chat, emoticons, stupid and ridiculous slang are destroying the very foundation of this beautiful and complex language. It is a crime to let it continue. Since so many of you seem to be obsessed with Twittering and Tumblr-ing and Facebook-ing you should at least know how to write like respectable adults. That way, when you graduate, you will not be writing your cover letter in l33t."
The room was silent, and then Arthur wrote a page number on the board. Class had begun.
Alfred knocked on the office to Arthur's door. He poked his head in, smiling when he saw Arthur glance up from his book he was reading. He removed his glasses. He only wore them when he was reading, clipping them onto the front of his sweater vest.
"Ah, Mr. Jones. Please, have a seat." Arthur waved at the chair before his desk.
Alfred took it, smiling sheepishly as he glanced around the room. "So… You wanted to see me?"
"Yes," Arthur replied. He always sounded so calm, so serene. It made Alfred feel at ease. "Tell me, what is your major?"
"Um, marine biology… Sir." Alfred blushed slightly at the added title at the end.
Arthur chuckled. "I see. Don't you have to write papers for your research findings?"
"Yeah. We have to write first our hypothesis or our theory, then the procedure, and then the results, our secondary results, and any errors that probably happened. Oh, and then we have a conclusion to wrap it all up."
Arthur nodded. "No room for fluff or anything, yes?" Alfred nodded with him. "So I take it you don't read much either, do you?"
"Um…" Alfred shifted in his seat. "Is this a test?"
Arthur chuckled, but it didn't sound the same as his first one. He then picked up a sheet of paper that had been sitting on his desk. It was littered with red marks, and one quick glance at the top of the page revealed Alfred's name. The boy sunk in his seat.
"I feel that your latest homework assignment was… to put it mildly, atrocious. While you were kind enough to explain to me the very detail of the tree I asked you to write about, you did not do so with your heart." Arthur put the paper back down and removed his glasses. "Alfred, part of writing is not looking up big and fancy words that people can be easily impressed by. It's by what is in your heart. That's what makes English so great. There are so many adjectives and adverbs, nouns, and verbs, synonyms and antonyms. You don't need to pick up a Thesaurus and think that's good enough."
"Yeah but… all those big and well known novels use fancy words," Alfred tried.
"Most were also written in a different time," Arthur replied. "There was a different mindset. People actually talked that way. Here and now, not so much, but I will say there are still a few authors who are noticed for their eloquent writing. But take Harry Potter. Did J.K. Rowling garner her hoards of fans from words such as…" Arthur glanced at Alfred's paper. "…superlative?"
Alfred looked down at his lap. "No."
"It's nothing to be upset about," Arthur said with a much more gentle tone. He even offered Alfred a kind smile. "This is why you're in my class. If you were perfect, you'd have no reason to be here."
Alfred smiled back at him. "Naw, I'd find a way to see you. You're a nice guy."
"Well, thank you," Arthur said flatly. He put his glasses back on, expecting Alfred to leave soon so he could return to his reading. "Although most of your classmates would disagree with you."
Alfred shrugged. "They just don't see what a cute guy you are."
Arthur shot Alfred a sharp stare, his mouth open slightly. Alfred's eyes widened, his face blossoming into a red blush. "I mean! Ya know! You're just! You act cute! I mean! You don't look it, but! You know! I mean!"
"You don't even know my sexuality. I will dismiss this flirting if you leave, right now," Arthur hissed, closing his book.
Alfred all but ran from the room. Arthur shook his head, but looked up when he heard the trash can outside fall over. He closed his eyes, placing a hand to his face, and was surprised to find that not only was he blushing, but he was smiling.
There was a knock on Arthur's door. He looked up from grading his papers. "Come in."
Alfred's head appeared. "Hello, Mr. Kirkland. May I come in?"
"Since you used the proper form of the question, yes, you may." Arthur gestured to the chair like always. "What can I help you with, Mr. Jones?"
"Um, well. There's a poetry contest coming up for the school newspaper," Alfred started quickly. Arthur noticed the paper in his hands. "I wanted to enter so it can get published. C-could you, um, maybe look it over?"
Arthur smiled slightly. "Poetry is hardly my area of expertise, but I see no harm in it."
He held out his hand, and Alfred happily handed over the paper. He waited with baited breath as Arthur read it once, twice, a third time, and then picked up his red pen. He started crossing out lines, making quick scratches here and then, and finally, he returned it to Alfred.
"Not bad, Mr. Jones," he replied. "A little shaky on your spelling and flow, but nobody's perfect."
"Aw shucks, you are," Alfred said, his mouth getting the better of him again. He saw that same startled look in Arthur's eyes and hurried to cover his tracks. "W-what I mean is you are in English! You know! You're so good! You are a Professor for a reason, right?"
"Oh, yes, of course." Arthur coughed once, settling back in his leather chair. His cheeks had a dusting of pink across them. "Well, you are improving, I will say that."
Alfred smiled at this. "So does that mean my grade is okay?"
There a cold pause that Alfred didn't like. He watched as Arthur's demeanor grew dark and he narrowed his eyes much as he had the last time Alfred was in his office. "Are you saying…your flirting with me is a way to…"
"What? No!" Alfred shot out of his chair and held his hands up. "No! I'm totally serious! I was just! I'm sorry! I'm no good at this, am I?"
"You would do well to stop butchering English in my office, Mr. Jones," Arthur growled, standing up as well.
"I can't help it when I'm around you! You make me go all crazy! Enough to write a poem even!" Alfred exclaimed. He gestured to the poem on Arthur's desk. "I wrote that for you."
Arthur was caught off guard, and he stuttered back, blinking at Alfred furiously. "What…? You. You…?"
"I'm sorry," Alfred said, quickly gathering his things. "I'm sorry I bothered you. Just…just forget it."
Alfred sat up straight in class. It was the midterms. He wanted to look as if he had slept and showered and was well prepared, when he was really dirty, unprepared, and hadn't slept in two days. But he wanted to make a good impression on Arthur.
When Arthur came in, however, he was coughing and clutching a steaming cup of tea. He handed out the papers and immediately sat at his desk. Alfred was worried. Arthur could barely sit upright in his chair and he obviously missed the duo cheating just two rows away from him. If he had been in tip top shape, he'd have noticed and failed them from his class. But today, he sat in his chair, clutching his jacket close to him, and kept his eyes closed until students began getting up to turn in their test.
Alfred lingered behind, even though he had finished long ago, and was the last to turn in his paper. He put his sheet on top and looked at Arthur with a slight frown. "Are you okay, Mr. Kirkland?"
"Fine," Arthur replied sharply. He gathered up the papers and, balancing his tea cup atop them, headed for the door. "You may leave now, Mr. Jones."
Alfred bit his lip, looking to the ground in thought. If Arthur was sick, that meant he needed more juice and protein in him to help combat his symptoms. But if he was working and correcting all of those tests, there was a good chance he wasn't getting the necessary vitamins and rest he needed. A quick stop off at his dorm, and he was back in the English wing with everything in tow.
Arthur was sleeping with his head down on his desk when Alfred knocked. His head bolted up and he coughed in surprise. He snatched a few tissues and then called for Alfred to come in. He sized him up curiously.
"I am in no mood for you today, Mr. Jones."
"Naw, I'm not here for anything other than this." Alfred put down a nice hot bowl of soup and then draped a blue blanket over Arthur's shoulders. Somehow, seeing the man so sick and tired made him look all smaller. Alfred's protective side had reared its head, and he wanted to help Arthur in any way possible. "I want you to get better. You should be at home, sleeping."
"A teacher doesn't get paid much in this country," Arthur started, eyeing the soup. "You are paid for how often you arrive at school. I cannot afford a day off."
"Oh." Alfred bit his lip again, but then he smiled. He took a seat, scooting it closer to the desk. "Why don't I help you?"
Arthur chuckled, shaking his head. "That is illegal. You could easily tell others their grade."
"I promise." Alfred tried, but Arthur was adamant. Still, he didn't force the student to leave. So Alfred stayed to keep him company. "So…why did you move to America? Isn't it better to teach English in England? That…is where you're from, right?"
Arthur sneezed. Then he shook his head. "Believe it or not, teachers here are treated better than in England. There are a lot of educational problems in my country too. Plus, I've visited America over the years and have become quite fond of it. I have no qualms with settling down here."
"You been here long?" Alfred asked. He knew then Arthur was sick because as soon as he asked the question, he knew it was grammatically incorrect, but Arthur didn't tell him to repeat himself properly.
He simply blew his nose and shook his head. "Officially I moved her three months before this semester started. Connecticut is such a lovely state."
"And you're…what… In your late twenties?"
"Twenty-six, actually," Arthur replied. "Just recently graduated from graduate school. Most students here find it hard to believe that I can be a teacher."
"Well, I wasn't lying when I said you were cute. Your young age and total enigmatic personality adds to that British mystic of you." Alfred blushed, and waited to be kicked out of the office again.
But Arthur merely smiled, eventually bursting into laughter until he started coughing. Alfred laughed too, but more out of relief. Maybe there was a way to get through to him.
Spring was in full bloom. The rainy season was still edging on the horizon, but the bright flowers and the blossoming trees fought back the dreariness. Arthur, having finally cleaned up his office since he had first started last semester, looked at his finished work with approval. He heard a knock on his door and moved to open it.
"Hiya!" Alfred chirped joyfully. "Happy late New Year!"
"Yes, same to you. What are you doing here?" Arthur asked. "You're not in any of my classes this semester."
Alfred shrugged and leaned against the door frame. "I thought I'd stop by and say hello to one of my favorite teachers."
Arthur blushed, ducking his head as if he were focusing on some invisible lint on his vest. "Surely you jest."
"Nope!" Alfred looked over Arthur's shoulder. "What'cha doing? Cleaning?"
"Yes. I just finished." Arthur stepped inside and held a hand out to it. "All clean. I have a bad habit of not organizing myself after I move in to places. My flat is a still a mess. It's quite embarrassing. You wouldn't think that of a man like me."
Alfred hummed his amusement, staring at Arthur in a way that made the man fluster about and blush again. "Yes, well, I have class soon. Shouldn't you be running along?"
"What? Oh yeah. Sorry." Alfred moved aside and walked Arthur to his class. He gave him a quick wave, and then left.
Arthur went into class. That semester, his students were spared the same scathing introduction he had given previously. That class liked him a lot more than the last.
It was late at night, and Arthur was tired. He rubbed at his sore eyes. He wanted to go home and curl up in bed with his cat, but he knew if he did, he would get distracted. He was already working past the hours a teacher should be on campus, but he couldn't help it. He wanted to get the tests done. Last year he had been sick and tired, but he had company.
And right now, he desperately wanted that company to return.
Such a silly thought that is, he thought. That boy is hardly worth thinking about. What with his childish ways and goofy grin and… gentlemanly attitude as he walks me to class and carries my books and sometimes brings me tea or cookies if he's made them. No he is certainly not someone likeable at all.
Around ten when Arthur felt at wits end, there was a knock on his door. He looked up expectantly and found a bottle of wine peeking around the corner of his door. He chuckled and called for Alfred to come in.
"How'd you know it was me?" he asked, setting down the wine and two wine glasses.
"Because you are the only one who visits me," Arthur replied. "Are you of age?"
Alfred snorted. "I'm twenty-two. It's fine." He popped the cork and filled their glasses. He held his up, waiting for Arthur to mimic him. "To the end of Midterms."
"I'll drink to that." Arthur drank his glass and smile, licking his lips. "Oh, this is a good year. Where did you get this?"
"My parents," Alfred replied as he settled himself into the familiar chair. This time he scooted it a little closer to the desk than any times before. "I went home after I finished my tests the other day. They're only thirty minutes away, but I live on campus. Saves on gas."
"So then why return?" Arthur asked, swirling his wine around as he stared at Alfred.
Alfred shrugged. "Why not?"
After a time, Alfred turned on the radio and found a good jazz station. He got up to stretch and invited Arthur to join him. "What, in a dance you mean?"
"Sure, why not? Gets the blood flowin'."
Arthur couldn't put up a protest before Alfred had him in his arms. He laughed and stumbled a bit, but he was a good dancer even when tipsy. Alfred laughed too, resting his hand on Arthur's waist. His heart pounded at having Arthur's hand in his.
"You are the strangest bloke I know," Arthur commented with a slight slur in his voice. His accent, now much thicker from the alcohol, made it a little difficult for the American to understand. "I find that an endearing quality of you."
"Yeah? You never show it much. I thought you hated me all of last semester."
"I'm only tough on you because you needed it." Arthur reached for his wine to take a sip, and then returned to dancing with Alfred. "But you made the most improvement out of everyone. I am very impressed. Are you reading too?"
"Yup! I read some good classics the other day. It was awesome!" Alfred then rambled on for a time about books he read, poems he discovered, and ideas he wanted to actually write. Arthur listened with rapt attention, but it soon wavered.
And in an instant, he leaned forward and kissed him. Alfred stopped dancing to kiss him back. His hand on Arthur's waist pulled the older man forward, crushing their bodies together. The music continued to play, even as Arthur shoved Alfred against the bookshelf and peeled his shirt off.
Not a soul was in the building that night; only the two that made love on the desk were there come sunrise.
Arthur groaned, sitting up from his spot on the ground. A jacket had been laid over him and the radio was still on, humming quietly in the background. He stared at Alfred in horror.
"Oh no. No, this is bad. This is very bad." He kicked Alfred and scurried for his clothes. "Get up you git! Oh God, I am so fired!"
"What, whoa." Alfred stopped him with a hand on his wrist. "How about a hello? A good morning?"
"There's no time for that!" Arthur looked around as if the walls had eyes. His panic made him breath to the point of hyperventilation. "If you're caught in here with me, naked, then that means! Oh God!"
"But I'm not your student anymore," Alfred started. "It doesn't matter."
"Yes it does because you are still a student, even if you're not mine." Arthur resumed dressing himself hurriedly. "Get out of here."
"Arthur, hold on."
"Don't call me Arthur!"
Alfred sighed. "But I called you it all last night."
Arthur flushed and threw Alfred's jeans at him. "You impertinent brat!"
"Hey, calm down. Listen to me." Alfred took a seat in the chair, not caring if he was still nude. "Arthur, calm down. It's Saturday. No one is coming in here. Second, the blinds are closed. No one can see us. And third, I need to ask you something."
Arthur huffed, crossing his arms and pointedly looking away from Alfred's crotch. "What?"
"Are you serious about this?"
Arthur started, looking to Alfred for his sincerity. What did he mean by such a thing? Was he serious?
"What do you mean? You know you never did ask me for my sexuality."
Alfred smirked. "The way you clawed at my back and told me to 'shag you senseless' kinda made it clear enough." Arthur turned away to look at the state of his desk. There went his nice clean office. He felt Alfred behind him. "You didn't answer my question. Are you serious about this?"
"We can't…," Arthur whispered. "It's wrong."
"I didn't ask that."
"I shouldn't… What if you… If we're caught…"
"It's only for one more year…"
Alfred's hands trailed up Arthur's arms. His fingers ghosted wherever Arthur was still bare, and he leaned forward to kiss Arthur's neck. "I've wanted to be with you since I first met you… You're the most beautiful man I've ever seen…"
Arthur released a breath he didn't know he was holding.
"I… I just… It's so dangerous."
"You still haven't answered my question…"
"…While we are far past the point of a first date… I do expect…some form of… normalcy in our… relationship."
Alfred grinned stupidly and picked Arthur up in a tight hug. He spun him around the room only to plant him back on the desk and kiss him hard on the lips. Arthur could only falter in a clumsy response; resigning himself to the fact he had a boyfriend. He leaned forward and kissed Alfred back.
Oh what the rest of the year had in store for them, he couldn't wait to find out.
Hoshiko2's cents: I had no idea what to do with this prompt. But then on tumblr, theheroandhisbrit asked if someone would do teacher!Arthur and student!Alfred starting out a small kind of fling and having it grow from there. I kind went a little bit off track with the original idea, but I think it worked out in the end. I really liked this prompt, but no, I will not be continuing it. Sorry. This is too close to my "Young" duo story.
I hope you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading!