"...and that is how the first colony was financed." He reached for his vest pocket, fished out an old, round watch on a gold chain, checked the time and put it back. "Well, it appears we have a good ten minutes left of class - any questions?"
The only sound in the auditorium was from the ventilation systems and the holoprojector.
The wizened, sharp-gazed man cleared his throat, rubbed the white fuzz on his chin. "Well, then." He caught sight of one raised hand near the back of the class, but experience kept him from getting his hopes up. "Yes, Mr. Perry? Do you have a question?"
"Professor, can we go now?"
The man sighed, took a firm grip of the sides of the small podium. He muttered a string of words on how today's youth had no interest for learning. That they also escaped into the microphone was very much calculated. Young Perry visibly shrunk in his seat.
"Come on, Professor Carlyle - it's our last class on Friday afternoon - cut us some slack."
Professor Carlyle honed in on the offending voice. Nobody spoke without permission in his class. Nobody. Not even- "Mr. Maxwell..." the professor began, "of all the students in this room, I would at least have expected you to know the world doesn't take it easy on you just because you ask nicely. The hours we share together were intended to be exploited in full. So, do you have a question?"
"Only what Perry asked - can we go now? Nobody has any questions. Your lecture was, as always, crystal clear."
Professor Carlyle's frown deflected off of Duo's impish grin. As long as Duo remained fairly civil, there was little he could do but despise this particular student as much as some of the other slackers in class. Unfortunately, Duo's work for his class had so far been rather good. Professor Carlyle did - despite his dislike for this cocky, somewhat disrespectful sort of student - value those who showed they actually learned something in his classes.
Of course, that didn't mean he'd lose a battle for his class like this. A long tradition of academic dictatorships depended on it, lest anarchy take over. He sighed. "Very well, you may go-" Immediately, the auditorium broke out in a hustle of noise, but the professor's words changed that. "But before you go," he raised his voice, catching their attention, "I have a small assignment for you."
The momentary shared silence became a large, unified groan.
Over it all, Carlyle's voice boomed. "Three pages, single-spaced, due Tuesday," he exclaimed, "explaining why they undertook the massive colony construction project, and on how financial backing for it was gathered. The main lines will do, but you must fill the three pages with something other than hot air. Do I make myself clear?"
No real sound of acknowledgement came. The somewhat resentful glances the seasoned teacher paid no heed. Then again, there was... "Oh, come on, Professor - give us a break. That deadline means we'll have to work over the weekend."
Gleeful smile. "Indeed, Mr. Maxwell. And I fully intend to see five neatly written pages with your name it on my desk at the beginning of Tuesday's class."
"Fiv- That's totally unfair!"
Carlyle rubbed his chin again, thinking that over. Gravely, he nodded his agreement. "Why, you're right, Mr. Maxwell. That is unfair - I really should make everyone write five-"
It was clear enough what the professor was planning, and Duo shirked under the mix of glares and pleas his classmates sent his way. "I'll write five," he cut in, mustered a fake grin. "And only me. I like to impress, so five it is."
Professor Carlyle gave a slight snort. "And it had better be good work, Mr. Maxwell."
If it was not bound to get him expelled, Duo would have rushed up to the podium and decked the man. "It will be."
With that, the professor was satisfied. His absolute authority had been restored by crushing both the insurrection and the rebel leader. "Class dismissed," he announced before packing up his notes.
Duo was nowhere near a good mood when he left the auditorium. Many of the other students had given him looks of gratitude and relief for playing the fall guy. Some showed support as well, others pity. Duo brushed it all off with weak smiles, not letting his frustration shine through the mask until he was nearly alone.
If this had been the only incident that day, he might have brushed it off. Unfortunately, Duo had developed a knack for ruffling feathers, particularly with his teachers. A few ignored it, some reflected his prods good-naturedly. Others did as Professor Carlyle - and therefore, Duo had accumulated quite a few short papers to write up over the weekend.
College life was not turning out quite as he had imagined it - or as he had been pictured it. Not for the first time, he regretted going for a higher education. If it hadn't been for Heero, he might not have. Heero had been very persuasive, and had offered plenty of convincing arguments for why they should get formal degrees. After all, 'teenage terrorist' doesn't sound too good on a resume.
Special scholarships, combined with secret stashes of money Heero had siphoned off large bank accounts during the war financed their education. It also allowed them to rent a small flat close to campus, rather than apply for housing.
They had separate rooms, separate beds.
They alternated which they slept in.
All in all, life was good - short of trifles and bad days such as this. Mumbling a string of not too delicate expletives in Professor Carlyle's honor, Duo shuffled back towards their flat, occasionally kicking at pebbles crossing his path.
To his credit, he didn't slam the door. He did dump rather than gently drop his bag by his desk, though. After a quick pit stop the fridge, returning with a glass of orange juice, he came back to his bag, sat down at the desk and reluctantly picked up a notebook, trying to come up with ideas to impress Carlyle.
Somewhere behind him, a door creaked open. He didn't turn to look, finally having thought of a good starting line. He was just pressing on to the next when a pair of arms wrapped around his shoulders and chest, a chin to his shoulder, damp hair brushing his cheek and temple as Heero tilted his head to kiss the corner of Duo's mouth. "Welcome home..."
Brief smile, sigh. "Hi, Heero." He caught a glance of white terrycloth and a bare clavicle. The faint scent of aftershave and shampoo tickled his nostrils much like Heero's bangs did his temple. "Just out of the shower?"
"Yeah..." Heero kissed Duo's cheek again, then stood up, put his hands on Duo's shoulders and rubbed them slowly. "What are you working on?"
"Some stupid assignment Professor Carlyle dumped on me. I swear, that guy has it in for me."
Quiet chuckle. "I'd say it has more to do with you challenging his authority. Just keep your mouth shut during his lectures, and you'll probably save yourself a lot of trouble."
Snort, lopsided grin. "Now, where's the fun in that?"
Heero leaned in again to look over Duo's shoulder, draping one arm across his chest, fingers untucking Duo's shirt, softly caressing the strip of exposed skin. "If you want, I can help you..." He trailed his fingertips out along Duo's left arm, entwined his fingers with Duo's, guiding the hand back, putting it against his thigh. "If you help me first..."
Duo sighed, made a pitiful effort at releasing Heero's grip on his wrist. "Heero, now is not a good time, okay?"
Lick of ear crest, warm breath against eardrum, slow deep whisper. "But it is, Duo..." Hands sliding under the terrycloth, going up. "My problem... is immediate..."
Contact. Duo gave a tired grin, closed his fingers around, hearing Heero hiss at the touch. "It's a hard one, alright..."
"I think," breath, forward thrust, "you have," pant, "what it takes," gulp, "to solve it..."
Duo had to agree, and immediately set about the task of solving Heero's problem.
Of course, once wasn't enough, he had to triple-check his solution, and every time they came to the same conclusion.
Duo's clothes and Heero's bathrobe were strewn along the path from Duo's desk to Heero's bed. The young men themselves were entangled in each other and Heero's bedsheets, too worn out to move much more than the occasional caressing fingertip.
With considerable effort, Duo rolled over to lie halfway on top of Heero. He touched his lips to Heero's chest, relishing in the last warm shivers of afterglow, a distant part of his mind reasoning they really should get up and take a shower soon, and that they would definitely be sleeping in his bed tonight. They'd have to visit the Laundromat tomorrow. Again. "Heero...?"
Heero's fingertips, dug into the top of Duo's mostly undone braid, paused momentarily. "Yeah?"
"Just... where the fuck did you learn to do... that thing you did with...? I mean, that was new..."
Heero tilted his neck, barely managing to establish eye contact. "You didn't like?"
Soft chuckle. "Did I act like it? Did it sound like I didn't like?"
Duo painted circles around Heero's nipple with his index finger, grinning as he heard his lover hiss. Undoubtedly, they'd have to go over Heero's problem again. The only question was if they'd make it to the shower before then. "So... Where? Haven't been cheating on me, have you?"
Snort. "Of course not." He shifted under Duo, put his arms behind his head and settled down again. "That was something I picked up at the library."
Duo's finger paused, and he glanced up.
Heero grinned. "Well, one floor up, anyway - at the men's room. There was a very informative doodle inside the toilet dispenser, third stall from the right."
"Hey, the roll ran empty. Had to change it, busted open the box when I did - looks like the janitors missed that piece of graffiti." Smirk. "Of course... I had to adapt it a bit to fit us, but..."
Duo slowly nodded, grinding his cheek against Heero's chest. "You did a damn fine job at it, too."
"Thanks... Couldn't have done it without you."
"Amazing what you can pick up at a college library, isn't it?"
Slight pause. "There were two doodles, actually."
Heero smirked. "I can teach you later, if you want..."
"Sounds good... Glad to know we're getting something in return for the time we spend here..." Duo yawned, touched his lips to Heero's chest and closed his eyes. A quick nap before that shower sounded like a good plan.