A/N: On the "Ask the Squishykins" tumblr, Twinings and I are currently offering ourselves up for two full weeks of filling fic prompts for our readers, varying in length from a hundred to three thousand-plus words. The project has been dubbed the Free For All Fic For All—or FFAFFA for short. This is one of those stories—and this is the boilerplate author's note you'll see on all of 'em. The current round of FFAFFA is temporarily on hold due to IRL circumstances (hi, Hurricane Sandy!), but we'll be starting it up again in a few days, so if you want a custom fic written to any particular specifications, drop by and ask for it!
Prompt: Jonathan Crane during his teaching days, possibly during finals week.
When his coffee pot ran dry, the stack of essays in Jonathan Crane's inbox was still nearly six inches high. He didn't even notice at first. Grading with his right hand and tipping the spout into his coffee cup with the other, it took a full minute for him to realize there was no trickling sound or steam curling around his wrist.
Crane set the coffee pot aside, took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. A year or two earlier, he would have finished his work long before he finished off a whole pot of coffee, even taking into consideration the vast number of critical notes he tended to leave during the grading process. Either he was getting slower or his students were getting stupider.
A knock at his office door startled him more than it should have. Little wonder, between the lateness of the hour and the caffeine in his system.
He rose from his seat and crossed to the door to open it, instantly recognizing the young woman waiting for him there. Missed a few classes. Usually sat third row, center. Brunette. Wide, expressive blue eyes.
She was trouble, generally speaking, but sharper than most gave her credit for.
"Professor Crane," she said breathlessly. "I—"
"If this is about your grades, young lady, rest assured that I will not be changing any of them no matter what sob story you bring me." He moved to close the door but she pressed her body against it to stop him.
"Please don't slam the door in my face," she pleaded. "This isn't about my grades, I promise."
Fixing him with a determined stare, she cut him off. "I won't take no for an answer, Professor. Please."
With a heavy sigh, he opened the door and waved her inside. "Come in, then."
She smiled brightly and closed the door quietly behind her. Crane returned to his desk, sat down and motioned for her to take a seat opposite.
"I'll stand, thanks," she said, toying nervously with the belt of her raincoat.
"Suit yourself," he said blandly, returning to his paperwork. "You have five minutes to say whatever it is you want to say. I have work to do."
Clearing her throat primly, she took a deep breath and began, "Professor, I'm looking into internships for next year—"
He continued making notations in the margins of a student essay, savagely slashing through factual errors with angry red ink.
"—and I've always admired and respected you. You're my favorite above all my other teachers—"
Crane flipped to the next page of the essay and was dismayed to see a complete lack of paragraph breaks.
"—so I wanted to ask if you'd write me a letter of recommendation."
After drawing a fat red X over the entire page, Crane looked up at his student. Upon finding her standing there without her raincoat, he looked right back down again.
"Lingerie is not proper attire on school grounds," he said thickly, staring intently at his papers and trying to forget what shade of pink her garter belt was.
"Professor, I'll do anything to get this internship," she breathed.
"Of that much I am painfully aware." He dared look up at her again, staunchly refusing to look at anything other than her face. "You are a capable young woman and arguably the head of your class. You do not need to resort to such theatrics to gain my approval or a letter of recommendation."
She looked surprised. "But…my grades…"
"Are much higher than those of your peers, which should say something about both their idiocy and my high standards." Without his permission, his eyes strayed south, making it as far as the pendant resting in the hollow of her throat, heart shaped and silver, winking in the dim light of his desk lamp. He dragged them back up again. "Put your coat back on."
Biting her lip enticingly, she baited, "What if I don't want to?"
"I have already told you that I am more than willing to help you with your clothes on."
"And I already told you that I admire you…"
"Put. Your coat. Back on."
"You really mean it?"
"Coat. Now. You will have your recommendation."
Her face lit up in a way that was most unexpected. Instead of picking up the coat and donning it as instructed, she hopped up on his desk, twisted at the waist in an anatomically improbable fashion and kissed his cheek, planting a hot pink lipstick print.
"Gee, Professor Crane," she chirped. "You're really tops."
His cheeks grew blotchy and he pointedly looked anywhere but the cleavage in his face. "I would thank you to conduct yourself in a more professional manner."
"Sorry," she said sheepishly, slipping off his desk. She picked up her coat and slithered into it. "It won't happen again."
"If you would like to do extra credit work to raise your grades, you may assist me after class." He reached for a tissue and wiped the lipstick away.
"Thanks, Professor," she beamed, knotting her belt at her waist. "See you on Monday."
"I will expect you in my office at the end of the day."
She flounced toward the door, but he stopped her. "One more thing—"
"Pink is not your color." There was an air of warning in his voice. A don't do this ever again sort of warning. "Goodnight, Miss Quinzel."
A/N: Though it's ambiguous in the text, my take on this is that Harley showed up knowing he'd turn her down and pushed the envelope as far as it could go to get Crane to respond positively. Begging or coming to him with a sob story never would have worked, as he himself established, but catching him off guard this way might. Harley is one smart cookie.