“It’ll be two-hundred.” Manicured nails clicked on the wooden surface of the bar; echoed in the café like rifle fire, far-off and faded.
The kid let out a breath between thin lips, and she quickly met his gaze, spinning around on her stool and raising her brow markings. “Listen, I don’t run a charity; pay up or get out. I gotta get to class.”
He took a step back, physically withering, but dug around in his pocket, pulling out a well-worn chit. Slender purple fingers partially clothed in black leather snatched it from him and swiped it against a second one; violet eyes watched for the flash of the lights that signaled payment. She handed it back and twirled her finger around in the air; a witch stirring her brew.
He complied, spinning and facing the opposite wall. He knew she was good for it. Aria T’Loak didn’t hustle you.
As long as you didn’t fuck with her.
She unzipped his backpack and shoved a small packet through the opening before kicking him in the ass with the toe of her boot, sending him flying towards the door. He grumbled something in response and made for the hallway, arm bent behind him grasping for the zipper pull.
She spun back around on her stool and grabbed her cooling espresso, downing it in one go and fingering the corners of her mouth with precision, wiping foam and coffee; grabbed her jacket from the bar and shrugged it over her shoulders, the white leather practically glowing in the dim of the campus bar. As she headed out the door she slammed her open palm onto the wall next to the back room: a dull thud followed by a sharp crack and a torrent of foul-language.
“Motherfu- Jesus, Aria,” a lanky woman covered in tattoos appeared in the doorway, rubbing the back of her shaved head and checking her palm for blood.
“I’ve got Galactic Politics in five minutes, so if anyone comes squirreling around you’ll have to serve them.”
The asari rolled her eyes and dug around in the back pockets of her pants, fishing out a few small baggies. “There. Don’t let that fucking little tweaker who doesn’t even go here buy from you this week; he owes me.” Fire danced behind her smile despite the whiteness of her teeth. Owes me was not a good state to be in. It was only September but even the freshmen knew that.
She stepped into the hallway and the milling ceased; they parted like water – pressed into walls and clung to the bulletin boards like jetsam. Scurried away like insects with every swing her hips made, careful to look down until she had passed, when their eyes raised back to take in the view she left behind.
The chatter stalled with every slight, evocative, lightning-charged twitch of her hands or nod of her head; reverence or fear they couldn’t identify it even to themselves.
She was already a goddess, gliding and untouchable. A queen, her subjects the focus of her love and wrath at once; devotion and despair in equal measure.
Look-don’t touch-white hot to match her white leather. Silk and poison and eyes following wherever she went; couldn’t help it - no one could help it. Like a deadly plant, bright colours screaming danger, screaming desire: come closer, aren’t I pretty? Don’t touch me, I’ll bite. Carnivorous in her beauty.
Desirable but untouchable.
Unattainable except by one.
“Her name’s Aria T’Loak.” Thea tossed the folder onto the cluttered desk, where papers fluttered to the floor. Her coworker – nameplate reading Professor Van der Mer – grabbed a few strays and began to read as she sunk into the adjacent chair.
“She seems like trouble.” He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he flipped through the sparse pile of graded papers and other work submitted by student #663427-A.
Student #663427-A, older than the usual suspect. No books or bags or data pads.
Student #663427-A, who lounged askew, with her boots on the row in front of her, ankles crossed and arms draped over the side of the chair.
Student #663427-A, who turned in one in every four assignments and refused to be a part of group discussions or lecture critiques.
Student #663427-A, who had never once spoken a word to her, but who’s piercing eyes met her own every time she looked to that place at the back of the lecture hall.
Who’s gaze seemed to coincide with stumbled-bitten lips-stammering over policies and legal letters.
Student #663427-A, deep purple and cheekbones and-
“You may be correct,” Tevos mumbled as she rubbed her temple, trying to will away the headache she felt brewing. It was too early in the semester for this level of stress; for this amount of pure laziness displayed by a student, she thought, face screwing into a tight ball. It was sloppy. It was disrespectful. It was… distasteful. Salacious.
She licked her lips and shook her head, “I don’t think she’s worth the effort, Jon.” She’s trouble.
“Thea, they’re all worth the effort,” he pushed the papers back at her and pulled up his Omni-tool, flicking through a digital calendar, “at least at first.” He pinged an invite to her own and she glanced down to her wrist. “We’ll check in in two weeks from now, see if she needs more guidance.”
“She’s just wasting time and more than likely her parents money, but I’ll have a few meetings with her. I am making it clear right now that I am not going to waste my time on someone who’s not interested in being here, Jon, not when I have so many others who want to excel.” He sipped his coffee and nodded, chuckling softly. She glared and stood and accepted the meeting with a click. “I am serious.”
“I’m sure you are, Thea. That’s why we all love you around here. Just do this for me, okay? Then when we have to kick her to the curb we can say we did everything we could. I’ll send over the standard academic plan and probation papers, in case it comes to that.”
“Nothing will come of it,” she replied shortly as she turned to leave. “Ms. T’Loak won’t be a permanent fixture in my calendar, I assure you.”
How wrong she was.