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Clef had been in this house fifteen years, had known the Ryuuzaki family vaguely since they moved in five years ago - very friendly couple and the teenage daughter he knew enough to class as ‘argumentative’ just from a couple of parties they invited the neighbourhood to each year. He and Umi had exchanged brief greetings before she vanished with the other children to somewhere far rowdier and he - well. Mostly he continued his argument with Mrs Hobson next door about whether the hydrangea growing up over his house was going to pull the walls down on him one day. (No, it wasn’t, but she enjoyed arguing too much to let it go, and he wasn’t going to fight too hard - who knew what she’d pick on as a replacement topic.)

He’d known Umi started attending the University on the other side of town, rather than the one he taught at - she’d declared him a rival, laughing, at the summer party last year, (or was it the year before?) handing over his drink from her new post at the bar. But he hadn’t known Umi until she’d startled him into almost falling off his own roof three months ago, calling out ‘you’re going to fall off, and then I’m going to have to call paramedics and deal with things. I don’t want to do that.’

Protests that he’d been perfectly steady (until she said something) weren’t accepted, and how that led to her in his kitchen drinking tea he still didn’t know. But she’d looked about at the chaos his place had descended into during the flurry of marking and fielding calls from desperate students about to sit exams that this time of year also brought, and declared she was going to start dropping in to make sure he hadn’t expired under a pile of books after growing weak enough from forgetting to eat that he stumbled and tipped a pile down on himself. More, at his continued arguments, she’d silenced him by asking what food he had in the house - approximately none - and then burst out laughing and insisted he took them out to grab lunch so she could make sure he ate it.

Dropping by twice a week had turned into daily visits, often bringing along food for both of them which she talked him into paying her for, and she’d dragged him out of the house to something ‘more social, or at least more entertaining,’ at least once a week. Even if it was just dinner at a nice restaurant. And she was sharp, and funny, and delighted in arguing for hours over the most ridiculous things.

None of that explained why she was kissing him. In his own living room in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, mouth tasting like the tea he’d made automatically when her car pulled into his drive instead of going down the road to her parents.

He made a startled noise, and he could feel Umi’s smile against his lips. The kiss was scalding, overwhelming, and he fell back into the sofa for support as much as he was pushed. Umi followed, settling herself across his legs, licking at his mouth, teasing little flicks of her tongue until he let her in.

It took several minutes of growing increasingly dishevelled (and increasingly uncomfortable in his trousers) before the long string of exclamation marks in his head gained enough momentum to get him moving. “I-” he stammered, leaning away and staring up at her - trying to look at her eyes and not her lips, oh gods. “What- are you- is this a seduction?”

Umi grinned down at him and wriggled her hips in a way which should be banned for the things it did to his blood-pressure. His hands flexed where he was clinging on to her waist, and she did it again. “I’ve been working on seducing you for at least three months,” she told him, cheerfully. “You’re a bit slow to notice these things, apparently, so I decided to stop being subtle and just get on with it.”

“You- we- what?” Clef bit his lip hard, trying desperately to kickstart some measure of cognitive ability. Then she rocked against him, and he whimpered. “Umi- Umi! I can’t - I’m more than twice your age!”

“My mother was twice my father’s age at one point,” Umi informed him, and kissed away his protest that having been twice your future partner’s age when you were both too young to attend school was somewhat different.

He kept himself from sliding his hands up under the oversized sweater she wore , or down over the exposed length of thigh between knee-high boots and almost-indecent shorts. But he couldn’t let go, and he was kissing her back with all the foolish, fervent desperation of someone realising what they want at the precise moment they also realise they shouldn’t have it.

The next time he summoned the will to break away he dropped his head against Umi’s shoulder and screwed his eyes shut, gasping for air. “We can’t, Umi. You’re too young.”

“Nope,” she told him, and she sounded cheerful about it, even as she dragged her fingers through his hair and held him close. “I’m twenty, that’s an adult everywhere that matters - here and back home.” He pulled away to blink at her some more, and she petted his head some more. “You came to my months-delayed birthday party and refused to buy me twenty presents even if I was only going to turn twenty once. I’m plenty old enough.”

“I’m older than your parents!” he burst out, trying to feel the wrongness he was sure he should feel, somewhere, at this young woman - ridiculously sharp, astoundingly beautiful, and determined as a bull - pushing him down and starting to undo the buttons of his shirt. “What would your mother say?” he asked, desperately appealing for the spirit of some external sense to impress itself on the situation, as he apparently had none to find.

Umi pulled a face at him. “Based on recent experience? ‘He’s a nice man, but you might want to tell him you’re dating, I’m not certain he’s noticed’.”


“At which point Papa came downstairs and said ‘oh, is this your professor boyfriend? Do you think he’d be willing to come give a talk to my club? We need an extra speaker next month’.”

“…We’re dating?” Clef asked, voice weak, and his own memory was betraying him now; going back and reassessing the past few months since Umi had barged in and befriended him ‘for his own good’ and they’d been out to eat, to the cinema, to a lecture he was interested in and a concert her friend was playing in… “Oh.” He was starting to panic, the feeling brimming up in his chest. “Umi, I didn’t mean, I didn’t realise-”

“Ssh, it’s fine.” She pressed a kiss to his forehead, then his mouth again, gently lingering. “I didn’t want you to realise. You’d have run a mile panicking before I could get hold of you.”

“…Is that why you’re pinning me down?” He asked, and instantly flushed.

Umi snorted a laugh, entirely inelegant, and his heart leapt at the sound.

Oh… oh dear.

“Partially. But you seem to be enjoying it?” She wriggled against him again, and his hips bucked up involuntarily, a strangled noise escaping his throat.

“What do you even want from me?” he asked, aware he sounded bewildered but unable to edit that truth out of his voice. He had no idea why she was interested in a crotchety old professor with a house of books he kept misplacing, hair already more grey than anything else. Umi could have anything, anyone, she wanted.

For her to choose him was so much of a deviation from normality that he couldn’t trust it was real. But he desperately, achingly, wanted to.

Umi kissed him yet again, still gently but with meaning, until he was trembling against her. “I want decent sex for once,” she told him, lips just barely touching his. “I’m fed up with teaching boys my age how things work. The girls are generally better, but I have this irritating preference for guys. I want someone who’ll make sure I get what I want, not just sort himself out. I want somewhere I can come and crash, with someone I like, when my jet-setting career takes off and my parents have moved away again.” She got her hands under his shirt and started to push it off his shoulders. “I want your clothes off.”

Clef had no idea when she’d managed to get it undone all the way.

“I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to buy me presents,” Umi continued, with a smirk, before she leaned in to bite the exposed line of his neck.

“I’m - I’m a professor,” he protested, “not a millionaire.” His hands had made it all the way under her top, pressed to bare skin and the lace of her bra.

“You made me help sort out all your banking stuff trying to find your tax return from last year, I know perfectly well you could buy me something nice if you wanted to. But the sex is definitely more important; I’m thoroughly tired of a solo career in the bedroom.”

Really.” He scratched blunt nails down her spine and watched her arch into the touch, her breath catching. “What’s in this for me?”

“Hot trophy girlfriend to parade about at boring university functions to scandalise the Dean?” She pulled the sweater off, and she was wearing nothing but her bra below it. He pulled her close and mouthed at her nipple through the lace; she shuddered against him. “And someone to argue with, and remind you to eat, and - and -”

“And?” he asked, licking up over her collarbone.

“And when you’re old and need looking after I promise I’ll seduce all your doctors and nurses and care workers so you get the absolute best care.”

“All of them?” he asked, amused, and her fingers were digging into his shoulders.

All of them.” She rocked against him more urgently. “Not necessarily- ah! - all at once.”

“Perhaps-” Clef began, but then Umi shifted into a flurry of motion which ended with him flat on his back; shirt gone, trousers undone, Umi’s hand hovering over his boxers.

“Yes or no, Clef?” she asked, her other hand on his shoulder, keeping her upright and him pinned down.

He couldn’t lie to her. “Yes,” he whispered, and reached to pull her down.

It took a while - they knocked over the mugs of cold tea and ended up curled on the rug before they were done - but Clef did his best to fulfil the ‘satisfying sex’ part of the deal.

Umi certainly didn’t seem to have any complaints.


Three days later Ferio turned up a little early to drop off some books his sister had borrowed, and was in the kitchen when Umi came through to grab her lunch from the fridge, hair still wet from the shower, pausing only to kiss Clef and wave at Ferio before she left en-route to her first lecture of the day.

Ferio stared after her, then at Clef, who tried to hide his face behind his toast.

“That - isn’t that the girl from down the street? Clef? How long has this been going on?”

“About three months, apparently,” he muttered. “…Oh, don’t pull that face. It’s been three days, Ferio, she’s not been hiding behind the bookshelves whenever you drop by.”

Ferio leaned to see out of the window as Umi reversed off the drive. “…She’s a student?”

“Not one of mine?”


“Don’t say anything,” Clef warned him, seeing the corners of Ferio’s mouth starting to twitch up. “No ‘well I never’, no ‘dirty old man’, no-” his imagination failed him, and he dropped his toast to hold his head in his hands. “…I have no idea what’s happening.”

Patting him on the shoulder, Ferio stole the other slice of toast from his plate. “Well, she certainly seems to have a plan. Guess you’ll just have to try to keep up.”