The year begins with excitement, rush and a pinch of dread. William is now officially a teaching assistant and on the first step of the very long way to become a professor. Like a stairway to heaven. Or to tenure. For now, it's piles of essays on his desk and working to a crushing amount of deadlines. A bit like being an undergraduate, actually.
He gets to teach, sometimes.
Teaching has its downsides. Of these downsides, by far the worse is one Christopher Marlowe, three years into his MA and with apparently no intention of completing it anytime soon. Will is not sure what the guy is doing in a university in the first place, but, hey, his ludicrously high taxes go towards his paychecks, so no complaining there. Okay, maybe a little complaining. If Marlowe attends class (and it's a big if), he is insufferable. He isn't loud or distracting to the other students, he doesn’t even spend the whole lecture on facebook like so many of his classmates. It's just. He is. He is insufferable and clearly hates William specifically.
The first time they met was also the first time William actually got to teach a class, as well as running one of the seminars as usual.
Professor Jonson "call me Ben, please" was giving him some advice on teaching.
"Oh, and if you're doing the Elizabethan Drama course? Ignore mister Marlowe. No one even knows why he bothers coming back, but when he has something smart to add, it's usually at the expense of the teaching staff. Ignore him, you're more than competent and he's just a smart alec."
Christopher was wearing the most obnoxious shirt ever printed. It was black, with "Nobody cares" in bold red letters and a patch that read "about early modern drama."
Now, the development of the dramatic arts in the Elizabethan and Jacobean era had been the subject of William's dissertation. And of his research. And of his lectures.
And he really wanted to strangle Christopher.
It's 3am. It is, according to some, the hour of the devil. According to one Will Shakespeare, it is simply the time when Kit's favourite pub kicks out all drunken patrons. And for some accursed reason, Kit thinks that he best thing to do then, is drunk dialing his former seminar leader to slur poetry into his ear and ask to be picked up "please, Shakes, please, you're my only hope."
Please, no one else cares, no one else cares enough to make sure I don't die in a ditch, he doesn't say, but William hears it loud and clear underneath the bawdy puns and drunken brilliance.
Night after night, he takes Marlowe by the scruff of his neck and, grumbling all the way, gets him into a clean bed and leaves him water on the nightstand.
Kit Marlowe is an absolute terror. Kit Marlowe drinks too much and smokes too much. Kit Marlowe spends far too much on clothes, forgets to pay the bills and crashes at Will's place too often. Kit Marlowe spends his nights writing and wakes up late for class. Kit Marlowe drinks so much coffee it's a wonder he's still alive.
Still, Will is in love with Kit Marlowe.
William was looking at him with big big eyes and Kit had no idea how to react.
"You don't have to answer now. Think about it. Maybe tell me after graduation? I have. I have stuff you probably need to know before making decisions. But."
For someone usually so articulate, William was stammering a lot. For someone who was notoriously allergic to commitment, this looked a lot like he wanted Kit to move in with him.
For someone who prided himself on his independence and cynicism, Kit was very fucking close to being in love. And wasn’t this a problem.
Kit swallowed twice, uncertain how his voice would sound. "I will. Think about it. It's. Thank you."
Well, that was going to be one fine shitshow.
It's the night after the graduation ceremony and a strange sense of dread has been building inside Kit for days now. He is already tipsy from all the champagne, but it will definitely take more than that to get as drunk as he needs to be right now. Lucky for him, Will had been dragged to a dinner with the rest of the teaching staff.
Kit knows that they need to talk. He also knows, rationally, that Will would probably want to celebrate first and that they just need to have a short chat about where they are in their relationship. But Kit knows there is a lot he is not ready to tackle yet. And he also knows that he can lie too well for his own good.
When Will drags him back home, Kit barely remembers his own name anymore, let alone why he was so worried in the first place.
"Of course," he slurs over Will's shoulder, "Of course I'll move in with you. Of course," he repeats, before dissolving into giggles because apparently 'of course' is the funniest expression ever. "The course of true love... is that old, stuffy poet you like so much, isn't it? Of course!"
"Sleeping now, talking tomorrow," Will responds, tight lipped and almost disappointed. Worried. Kit can't read him so well now, and this stirs worry deep within him, like milk swirls into coffee. And like milk, he doesn't like it. He likes his coffee black, and his relationships uncomplicated.