Monday, 03, December
Shit, Klaus thought, running his hand over his face and groaning in distress. He definitely should have stayed at home. In his bed. To sleep off his hangover.
Klaus was here, at school yet again where his dreaded day job as a high school teacher awaited. He was more or less ready to face the day that lay ahead of him, but god if he didn't wish he could be asleep right now.
He looked out of his car window to see the tall building that screamed prison more than school, and his head sunk onto the steering wheel in anticipation of what was waiting for him. It had definitely been a bad decision to come here. Like, a really bad one. The worst, to be honest.
However, not going to school today would have had downsides. For some sick, inhumane reason - in Klaus’ mind, at least. Seriously, were they trying to kill him? - he would have had to make a trip to the doctor to get a sick certificate. The control freaks in management, as Klaus used to think, required them. Couldn’t you stay at home for just one day and nurse your hangover headache without calling the office guiltily to tell them you were ‘ill’?
Apparently not. The principal insisted on the doctor’s note from the first day of sickness, but then Ms. Handler always has been a stickler.
The other issue was that he was the class teacher of the grade 9B who, much to his chagrin, had to do their art exam about the symbols of Vanitas today. If Klaus had decided to stay at home they would have had to postpone the exam and, since Klaus always hated that as a student himself, he wanted to spare them that particular evil.
And that brought Klaus to here: completely exhausted and painfully hung over, with the headache of his life and a lingering smell of alcohol on his breath that didn’t fade even after brushing his teeth three times.
Why on earth did he think going outside and partying on a Sunday evening was a good idea? How could he be so stupid? This was not the first time he's had to fashion a gnarly hangover fixer-upper at short notice, but surely by now he should have learned from his mistakes.
Admittedly, the party had been amazing - loud music and a lot of booze had been just right to forget the stress of the last few weeks and when a tall, muscular guy had started dancing with him, Klaus’ mood had improved instantly. He always enjoyed the moments in which he didn’t have to hide who he was or who he loved. He savoured the time with these strangers, kissing him and touching him and flirting with him shamelessly right there on the dance floor until the night was over.
Klaus sighed one last time before getting out of his car, an old red Volkswagen that he loved from the bottom of his heart. He had got it when he was fresh out of college and it had stayed with him throughout his whole teacher training course - despite temporarily giving up on him a few times, but that's beside the point. He took a deep breath, the cold winter air almost soothing the headache at the back of his skull, and made his way forward.
He shivered, goosebumps rising on his skin: the short journey to the entrance seemed like an especially humiliating walk of shame since he had only had time to grab the first things he saw from his closet this morning. So hangovers and morning routines don’t mix, what’s new?
As always, Klaus’ clothes didn’t exactly suit the weather. The leather pants might look deceptively thick but they did nothing to keep the cold away, and he wished he’d had the foresight to keep a pair of fluffy leg warmers in his desk. Whatever, he’d start that from today. The white button-down shirt and grey sports jacket also weren’t made to keep him warm.
All the same, Klaus had always lived by the knowledge that beauty knew no pain, so he suffered through his endless list of pains and discomforts in utter, miserable silence.
As he entered the building, warm, cloying air engulfed him and his headache grew ten times worse almost immediately. Klaus only hoped he could get to the staff-room without disturbance, to drink a very hot, very strong coffee before hurrying to teach a class in English Literature. By all rights this should have been possible, but clearly Klaus wasn’t very lucky today.
In fact the universe clearly hated him, because when he finally managed to stumble into the staff-room, either hungover or still a little drunk, the only other occupant was Diego.
The thing with Diego, Klaus has always figured, was that he was a cool teacher. He let the kids call him Diego instead of Mr Ramírez, he played Metallica during his classes so loud that Klaus could hear it all the way in the staff-room and, most annoyingly, he always he was really fucking hot. Dressed in tight black jeans and a leather jacket that barely met the school’s required uniform, with short black hair that always stuck up everywhere in the morning and a mysterious yet alluring scar tracing just above his ear, he exuded sex in a way that drew everyone towards him like a magnet. It was no wonder, really, that almost every senior made heart eyes at him whenever he walked past in the hall.
It was also no wonder that Klaus had a little albeit very unhealthy crush on him. He had met Diego on his first day here, when he was only twenty four and Diego couldn’t have been more than two years older than him, and he’d been gone since day one. It had started as more of a joke than anything, something to daydream about when he was bored and Diego had just finished teaching a PE class, returning to grab a glass of water all sweat and swagger and tensed muscles. Unfortunately for Klaus, his tiny crush had evolved into not only memorising Diego’s entire schedule but also the way he liked his coffee and his hatred for BMW-drivers.
Another thing that had Klaus sighing into his coffee every morning was that Diego was straight as an arrow.
Another thing was that he was a complete and utter fucking asshole. A brown-eyed, soft-haired, ripped fucking hot asshole, but an asshole nonetheless. Whenever Klaus felt like shit, Diego knew exactly how to put the cherry on top and decorate everything with a dash of (heterosexual) glitter. Klaus had come across Straight Guys (™) before, naturally, because you don’t become a fashion icon in college like Klaus had without attracting some negative attention, but Diego really took the biscuit. Forget the biscuit, he took the entire cake. He set the bakery on fire and watched as it burnt to the ground.
And the worst part was he’s not even that bad. He was a legend with the kids, even Klaus could see that; he had them eating out of his hand, turning their homework in on time and actually trying for once. He was popular amongst other teachers for the results he got in class, the donuts he always brought in on Friday and the way he wore white t-shirts that clearly show off his nipple ring. He was a clear example of ‘the women want to date him, the bros want to be him’. And Klaus?
Diego seemed to really hate Klaus. He always had a sarcastic line in store to darken Klaus’ coffee adventure, a witty quip or judgement of his latest outfit. Klaus had no idea if he’d ever done something to annoy Diego, but if he had he really thought the other man should have gotten over it by now.
Klaus shut his eyes and hoped, like a little child playing hide and seek, that Diego wouldn't notice him. Unfortunately, his impeccable logic of ‘I don't see him he doesn't see me’ brought him no such luck. With a very loud, very obnoxious yell he greeted Klaus, obviously very aware of the state he was in.
“Hey Klaus, amigo!” Diego shouted, slapping his hand down onto Klaus’ shoulder. At the painful throb this elicited from his head, Klaus winced.
“Hey,” Klaus croaked as an answer and hoped imploringly that Diego would simply leave him alone. Usually he would take every opportunity to talk to him, asking him about his classes and the students and even inane everyday life questions that Diego would roll his eyes and sometimes even ignore. Even then he had Klaus hanging on his every word.
“Why, Klaus, you look like you’ve been hit by a truck.” Diego smirked, self satisfied, not lowering his voice in the slightest. “You have one too many last night?”
“Of course not,” Klaus answered a little too hastily. “Because I am a professional, my friend.” He tried not to breath in Diego’s direction, because he probably still smelled like a brewery and that would give away just how professional he was in seconds. “I just… didn’t sleep well. That’s all.”
“Uh huh,” Diego raises a doubtful eyebrow at Klaus and snickered very unkindly. “Well, buena suerte with trying to convince the Handler of it, Klaus.” Klaus had the distinct feeling that more than a dozen energizer bunnies were throwing a wild party in his head right now, one that he had not been invited to. Klaus just wanted some peace and quiet, goddamnit. For once.
Not that he usually had many conversations with his colleagues at all. Some of them thought he was strange, others were just assholes, but arguably the most important reason for Klaus’ antisocial behaviour towards his coworkers was his shyness. He could be outgoing, sarcastic and a little too eccentric from time to time when he was with the few friends he had and who he trusted with his life. But when it came to his colleagues, whom he wouldn’t trust as far as he could throw them, he tended to be a little less out there.
None of them knew he was gay, and he didn’t plan on changing that fact any time soon.
“I don’t exactly plan to meet the Handler today.” He answered as politely as he could manage with a killer headache and an impulsive desire to defend himself. “If I’m being honest, I could never see her again and it would still be too soon.”
“Why are you still working here then?” Diego replies sharply, and though it’s phrased as a joke Klaus couldn’t help but notice the cruel undertone that slipped into the words. He sighed inwardly. The last thing he needed today were Diego’s petty jabs. Sometimes Klaus wished he had honestly never met Diego, just so he wouldn’t have to deal with having a crush on such an asshole.
“The fabulous conversation with my colleagues, of course.” Klaus sighed - could never be too hungover to think up witty comebacks - and hoped that if he answered in monosyllables only Diego might just shut up for once.
“You’re not gonna be able to avoid her forever, muchacho!” Diego answered, sounding inordinately happy about that.
Diego stopped any response Klaus might have given just then by turning his back on him and heading straight to the coffee machine. Klaus stumbled to a table and fell into a particularly uncomfortable chair with a heavy groan. The headmistress really did nothing for either the students or the teachers except terrify them both into submission with her daily walks around the grounds. The interior was old and dilapidated, modern technology nearly non-existent, and above all the majority of the rules were hardly first for the twenty first century.
Sometimes, Klaus really thought about quitting. He thought about all the other great schools he could find a job in where the other teachers were actually friendly and respectful, but then he thought of the students he had grown to care about, and he wanted to stay at least to see them graduate. Some of his colleagues weren’t that bad, either.
Take Ben, for example. Ben was an amazing colleague, and maybe even something close to a friend for Klaus. They often sat together during their lunch break or enjoyed a coffee together in silence. He didn’t talk much and maybe that was a reason Klaus liked him so much - he never felt pressured into a conversation or the need to justify himself in anything - but in addition to that Ben was just… a nice person. With Ben it was easy to sit and enjoy the silence or talk about Shakespeare without being called a literature nerd.
Sometimes Klaus wished he had crush on Ben instead of Diego. It would have been so much easier to deal with: Ben was nice, good looking and maybe not even as straight as Diego was - not that he was eager to test that theory, of course. Since they didn’t talk much about their private lives Klaus couldn’t say for sure, and it was irrelevant, anyway, because Klaus couldn’t stop liking Diego anymore than he could create feelings for Ben.
No, it obviously had to be Diego he fancied. Sarcastic, gorgeous, nipple-pierced Diego with a preference for tall, headstrong, equally gorgeous women.
Klaus really hated his life.
But then Diego sat down next to him and shoved a mug under his nose, the smell of coffee overpowering and doing wonders for his head. “Here.” Diego rolled his eyes. “Drink this, idiot, and stop wallowing in self-pity. Your bad mood is rubbing off on me, it’ll be awful for the kids.”
Despite his harsh words, Klaus could have hugged him. Coffee always tended to make his days at school more durable, and Diego caring about the children so much so that he’d be willing to put aside his intolerance for Klaus and make him coffee? Not at all heart warming. Not at all.
“Oh, well, thank you, Diego.” Klaus marveled and wrapped his hands around the cup, enjoying the warmth spreading through him. He tried to smile at Diego, but thanks to his headache and his overall miserable condition it came out as more of a strange grimace.
“Yeah, whatever.” Diego grumbled dryly. “Don’t get used to it.”
Klaus was just about to open his mouth, yet another witty comeback ready on the tip of his tongue, when the door was opened so violently that it bashed against the wall. Klaus jumped in his seat, coffee spilling over his fingers, in time to see Allison - the tall, headstrong, equally gorgeous PE teacher - strut in. She brushed her fingers through her hair and groaned gratefully when she smelled coffee.
“Oh, Diego, you’re a lifesaver.” She brushed past them on her way to the machine, filling up a spare mug and greeting Klaus as an afterthought. “Oh, hey Klaus. Rough night?”
“Baby wouldn’t stop screaming.” Klaus smiled at her for all of half a second. Okay, maybe it wasn’t fair of him to get annoyed when Allison ignored him when he was usually a bitch to her, but he really couldn’t help himself sometimes. It was obvious from the way Diego’s eyes followed her around the room, from the way he laughed at all of her - annoyingly funny - jokes, he was into her.
He was into her, and not Klaus, and Klaus really hated his life sometimes.
“Right,” she said, confused, and turned back to her coffee.
“Well, I must be off.” Klaus stood from the table and, still gripping his coffee, made a move to go. “The art exam waits for no man.”
“You’re in the art block?” Diego asked suddenly, turning his attention from Allison to Klaus so fast Klaus was surprised he didn’t give himself whiplash. “Me too. Covering a lesson, don’t look so surprised loser. I’ll walk with you.”
“Oh,” Klaus blinked, confused as to what just happened. “Um. Okay?”
Diego just rolled his eyes and held the door open for him this time. As much as Klaus wanted to believe it was out of the goodness of his heart - or, rather, a sudden overwhelming love for him - he knew it was more likely that Diego just wanted to impress Allison.
“Let’s go.” Diego said, waving goodbye to Allison. Klaus shrugged, sighed and left.