Ignis Scientia shuts his laptop and drums his fingers across his desk as he glances at the clock on the wall. It’s nearing eight am, and he knows he should head to his classroom, but instead he finds himself stalling, an all-consuming dread keeping him anchored in his chair. He wishes he were financially stable enough to drop his two History of Lucis 101 sections, but the money for teaching the courses was too good to pass up.
Surveying the flickering light overhead—Didn’t I put in that maintenance request days ago?—Ignis thinks back to his meeting with the department director several months prior when he had been asked if he would teach the entry level class again and had initially declined.
“But you got such rave reviews in your class evaluations! Why would you want to drop the sections?”
He remembers cringing at the department head’s question, crossing one leg over the other as the older gentleman frowned at him in confusion.
Ignis, not one prone to fidgeting, had found himself running a thumb over the back of his folded hands as he tried to compose his answer. “Ah, well, you see, sir…I’m not sure how to say this, but I believe it has little to do with my teaching ability and more to do with my…”
“…Charming good looks?” The man had finished with a chuckle, then gotten up to pat him on the shoulder sympathetically.
“Don’t worry, son. Students will always talk. It is just up to us to ignore them and do our jobs.”
And that had been that.
Ignis had decided not to tell his superior that he had stumbled upon a website called “Rate my Professor” where he had received rave reviews of an entirely different nature.
5 Stars – I would let him bend me over his desk any day
5 Stars – Best ass at Insomnia University
5 Stars – I’d suck his dick even if it meant I wouldn’t get an A
5 Stars – Holy hellfire this professor is HOT
And so on, and so forth. He’d stopped reading after the first page, more for his sanity’s sake than his lack of curiosity.
He had thought that maybe dressing more conservatively would help make him appear more professional and aloof, perhaps discourage some of the gawking he got from the freshmen in his classes—but judging from his last semester’s students (one of whom had actually had the nerve to ask him on a proper date) the change in wardrobe had made things worse, not better.
Now, Ignis was at a loss at what to do, mentally steeling himself for another awful semester of girls giggling behind their hands whenever he turned away and boys eyeing him up and down unashamedly, whether he was looking at them or not.
Sighing heavily, the professor finished off the last bit of coffee in his Ebony can before rising to his feet and gathering his lesson plans. It is a short walk from the small office to the lecture hall, and he enters without hesitation, noting how the room falls quiet as he makes his appearance. Heads are turning to watch him approach the podium in the center of the room, but he avoids the stares, plastering a practiced smile on his face.
It is up to us to ignore them and do our jobs, he reminds himself of the department head’s words of wisdom.
Organizing his papers, the silence grows heavy as Ignis reviews his notes, and he takes the extra time to compose himself, breathing in slow.
Then, he picks his head up, scanning the room idly. “Good morning class. My name is Ignis Scientia, and I will be your instructor this term.” Everyone in the first row avoids his gaze, eyes shooting down to blank pieces of paper or fidgeting with pens and pencils. The middle of the room has mixed reactions—some smile, others glance away nervously—but nothing too out of the ordinary. The back of the room is completely oblivious (as he expected) with the exception of one student sitting closest to the door.
Ignis blinks slow when the boy meets his stare head-on, blue eyes wide and as brilliant as a cloudless summer sky. The student has a soft—innocent—face, freckled and pale, which only complements his mussed golden hair, and a slightly dazed expression that may just be the result of too little sleep (it is an eight am class, after all). Ignis has the strange sensation that he has seen him somewhere before and makes a mental note to review his roster a little more carefully after class for any names that might seem familiar.
“Shall we begin?” Ignis finally asks, and the student he is watching ducks his head to scoop a pen off the floor. There is a soft murmur as others begin to open their notebooks, and Ignis gently clears his throat, momentarily forgetting what he was about to say.
Where was I? Ah, yes.
“I hope you all had time to look over the syllabus,” he starts to say. (Of course, most probably didn’t.) “In case you did not, there will be a quiz at the start of next class. Please give careful consideration to the portion regarding proper communication and academic integrity…”
As Ignis drones on, already losing interest from some, he can’t help but look up at the blond in the back. His head is down so he misses Ignis’s curious gaze. Probably for the best. Although the professor cannot explain it, he is unable to shake the feeling that this semester will be an interesting one indeed.
He finds out that his name is Prompto Argentum—Mr. I come to class one minute before the bell and sit in the back despite the fact I consistently turn in solid B work. Ignis can’t quite wrap his head around it. Sometimes the disheveled blond has a tumbler full of coffee, but typically he only carries a notebook and pen. It is shocking to Ignis that, with a wardrobe that primarily consists of a hoodie and sweatpants, Prompto, unlike the rest of his back-row peers, furiously writes notes for the duration of the lecture. And unlike his front-row peers, he hardly ever looks directly at Ignis, which makes it all the more memorable when he does.
The first time Ignis catches Prompto staring, he can just barely make out the student’s blush from his position at the front of the the classroom, and the professor figures the bodily reaction must be quite severe for him to have noticed it at all. Ignis ends up stopping mid-sentence when the blond slumps down in his chair and puts his hood up in apparent embarrassment. Prompto doesn’t look up from his writing for the remainder of the period, and Ignis is left to wonder if he said something offensive.
He scours his lecture notes in his office afterwards, trying to piece together what could have elicited such a strong response. Yes, the Founder King wasn’t the nicest of individuals, and some found his dealings with the line of Oracles to be suspect, but it was hardly something to blush about. It nags at him into the evening as he is preparing dinner—the look of mortified horror on Prompto’s face. Those rounded eyes, the slightly open mouth—the smattering of freckles, like a constellation of stars…
Ignis somehow ends up burning his dinner and reluctantly orders take out, and he has to forcibly stop himself from thinking about Mr. Back Row over a glass of bourbon and a viewing of Our Eos.
From then on, he conducts his own private experiment—what happens when I hold eye contact with students?
The girls in the front row bat their eyelashes, lips curving up at the edges, and pink tinges their cheeks in a way that might be attractive if Ignis didn’t have zero interest in them. The middle rows are a mixed bag, with some female students glancing away shyly, or tucking loose strands of hair behind their ears, and even some stuttering over their words. Male students might frown or fold their arms—while still others grin and tilt their heads at him invitingly. Ignis makes mental notes to avoid those individuals. The back row is usually the most predictable: blank, uninterested, dead-eyed expressions. But then, there’s Prompto, who can only be described as an absolute disaster.
At first, Ignis thinks it is merely a coincidence. But after the third time of catching Prompto’s gaze and seeing that flash of crimson across the blond’s face, he knows in his heart that it isn’t. It turns into a game from then on. The professor will subtly glance up from his notes, trying to time it just right so that they sync up, but after the fourth or fifth time of locking eyes with Ignis, Prompto is the picture of a studious college kid. He arrives just before the bell, keeps his head down, and leaves as soon as class is dismissed.
All the while, Ignis argues with the voice in the back of his head that says he has seen Prompto somewhere before. But where? The boy hasn’t taken any of his other classes, and he thinks he would remember a face like that if they had been properly introduced in the past.
It’s pure happenstance—or maybe fate—that provides him with the answer, approximately halfway through the semester, and it occurs over a cup of coffee.
He’s sitting in Common Grounds, a café not far from campus that he spends more money at than he cares to admit, working on grading papers. True, the due date for the assignment isn’t until tomorrow, but a handful of students have already turned their work in early, so he is attempting to get a jump on them.
Thus Ignis has his head propped in one hand, a red pen hanging from his mouth and a half full mug of coffee sitting in front of him (already his third of the morning). The professor may not fidget, but he does find himself chewing on pens when he’s deep in thought, and he blames his intense concentration on why he does not immediately notice the person looming in his peripheral vision.
“Hey Sexy Specs,” a deep bass greets. A body slides into the booth next to him, and Ignis immediately stiffens, green eyes cutting over from to the intruder from behind his glasses.
The pen has disappeared from Ignis’s mouth by the time Gladiolus Amicitia’s grin comes into full view, and he has to stop and recalibrate, even as Gladio chuckles and asks: “Is that a knife in my side, or are you just happy to see me?”
Slowly, Ignis forces his muscles to relax, and he places the writing utensil that he had been wielding like a weapon on the table in front of him. “Gladiolus,” he greets thinly, not sure if he would have been apologetic after stabbing the student or not.
“What’s got you so wound up, Iggy?” Gladio wonders, peering over the stack of essays while simultaneously invading Ignis’s space. The professor coughs, indicative of the social faux pas, but Gladio ignores the cue entirely.
Putting a firm hand on the larger boy’s shoulder, Ignis pushes Gladio subtly away, scooting back in the booth to create space between them. “To what do I owe this surprise visit?”
Gladio’s smile is like sunshine on a cloudy day, but Ignis’s face suggests that they are in the midst of a blizzard. Get on with it or leave me the fuck alone, it says. Again, Gladio doesn’t take the hint.
“Oh, nothing, just saw you in here as I was passing by and realized I hadn’t seen you in…” Gladio tilts his head back, obviously thinking, but Ignis isn’t patient enough to allow his brain to connect the dots.
“Since your freshman year when you took my class and got everyone to call me that Astrals forsaken nickname. Yes, I remember.” Ignis’s smile isn’t meant to be kind, but like usual, Gladio is unfazed.
“Right! Anyway, just thought I’d pop in, see how Insomnia U’s hottest professor is doing.” The senior is leaning back, arms folding to suggest he isn’t about to leave anytime soon, and it makes Ignis sigh in defeat.
“Fine, thank you. Now, if I could get back to my work—”
“Are you seeing anyone? Because you know what the say, all work and no play—” Gladio is laughing, and Ignis can feel the irritation bubbling beneath his skin, quickly reaching a boiling point.
“Are you seeing anyone?” Ignis cuts in, lips pressing into a line and then quickly becoming a smirk when Gladio stops abruptly. “Or are you continuing your pathetic charade, cycling through woman after woman and hosting your wild parties to conceal the fact that you are hopelessly, helplessly—”
Ignis’s sticking point is muffled by the large hand that is thrown across his mouth as Gladio closes the short distance between them to shove the professor into the corner. The frat boy is hissing in warning, eyes wild with panic, and although Ignis’s brows furrow in annoyance at being forcibly silenced, he knows that he has struck a chord.
“Listen, if I want to throw a party on a random Thursday night, that’s my business. And if I want to get absolutely wasted and have a little fun with some attractive ladies—what’s it to you?” Gladio carefully removes his palm from where it is pressed to Ignis’s lips, and the few onlookers who had been watching curiously now return to their work.
Straightening, Ignis smooths his shirt, making a noise of disdain. “Yes, your ‘Final Hurrah’ is a thing of legend around—aha!” The professor snaps as the realization dawns on him, causing Gladio to jump in surprise.
“What—what is it?” the student asks, nervous now that the professor has him on the defensive.
“Prompto Argentum! He was in one of your pictures from last semester. I remember because His Highness was in it,” Ignis recalls.
“Wait—you saw those? How do you know Prompto? And since when are we friends on Insomniagram?” Gladio demands, even more panicked now. Ignis shoots him a condescending look. “Oh. Right. High school,” he recalls weakly. Luckily, Ignis leaves that alone—for now.
“Who is he to you?” the professor asks bluntly. Gladio’s look of confusion is priceless, and he scans Ignis just to make sure he is serious.
“Blondie? He’s a childhood friend of Noct’s. Why?” Unknowingly, Ignis slips his pen back into the corner of his mouth, chewing the edge thoughtfully. Hm. “What, you interested?” Still lost in the ruminations of his own mind, Ignis doesn’t pick up on the suggestive undertone to Gladio’s words. “He’d be a good match for you I think—one disaster to another.”
“Hm?” Ignis catches the end of the sentence and blinks. …One disaster to another?
Sliding out of the booth to get to his feet, Gladio rolls his eyes dramatically. “You know Specs, you’re the smartest guy I know, but you can be really oblivious sometimes.” The student gives a mini salute as Ignis reaches for his cup of coffee, which has now gone cold. He drinks it anyway, avoiding Gladio’s appraising look. “See ya around, Iggy.”
Ignis waits until Gladio has left the café to take out his phone and open his Insomniagram app.
It’s rather late when Ignis gets crawls into bed that night, and he checks to see who hasn’t submitted their assignments while nestled comfortably between his sheets, scrolling through his class roster. That girl in the back row who hasn’t shown up for the last week hasn’t, and probably won’t—but he figured that was coming—along with a handful of others who spend most of their time on their phones when they think Ignis isn’t looking. (He is, he just doesn’t care.) But, to his surprise, he notices that Prompto’s submission is also missing.
Thinking he might have overlooked it somehow, Ignis scours his inbox, but to no avail. A pity, because it is a rather large part of their final grade, and Prompto was doing so well. Ignis spends a few more minutes reading through his messages before setting his phone on his nightstand and shutting off the light, his mind winding down as he eventually drifts off to sleep.
Six am comes quicker than expected, but it always does on a Friday morning. Ignis makes his way blearily into the kitchen, turning on lights as he goes, and comes to stand in front of his coffee maker, the light already on to indicate it is working. Yawning, Ignis reaches for the mug he had already set aside as the carafe fills, opening his laptop that he left on the counter to scan his most recent notifications.
A news site he follows is the first thing to pop up when he opens his browser—some headline about Niflheim being on the move again, but what else is new? As he navigates to his university mailbox, he notices there is a string of new emails from students (of course), which he can only assume are begging for extensions on their papers.
“If you had read the syllabus, Jessica, you would know that I don’t accept late work,” Ignis grumbles as he leans forward, perusing the first email with disinterest. My grandmother died and I’ve been sick all week—blah, blah, blah, lie, lie, lie. Do they think I am a complete idiot, or are they really this daft?
Ignis is dressed only in his underwear as he doesn’t like to risk spilling anything on his work clothes, and he opens the second email as he grabs the freshly brewed coffee from off the warmer, the steam that curls up from it making him shiver unexpectedly.
There’s no subject in the header, which he finds strange, but the address he recognizes—firstname.lastname@example.org. Ah, so even Prompto is not below begging for an…
Ignis squints, thinking he must have misread. He’s not wearing his glasses and its early after all—plus, he hasn’t had his coffee—but no matter which way he looks at it, the name of the document appears the same: I wish my HIST prof would succ my cock.docx. He’s so shocked that his hand, stuck mid pour, doesn’t register at first that his coffee mug is overflowing. That is, until the hot liquid splashes onto the floor and he literally jumps, cursing as it burns him, then quickly overcorrects to keep from dropping the rest of the carafe.
It takes him twice as long to find out where he put his newly purchased paper towels, and even longer to assemble his scattered thoughts. Like puzzle pieces tossed haphazordously on the floor, he is only able to grasp a little bit at a time, with the larger picture escaping him. He’s on hands and knees, in the midst of wiping up the last of the coffee when it hits him—his student, Prompto Argentum, is attracted to him, Ignis Scientia. Then again, it could just be a joke. A dare, maybe—could Gladiolus have put him up to this?
Either way, he shouldn’t be all that surprised considering his on-record and off-record student-teacher evaluations, but it’s less the blatant, obviously drunkenly written train wreck of a document title that has him shocked and more his own feelings, or more accurately, lack therefore. Where there should be disappointment or anger is a sort of giddy amusement, bordering on pleased. Ignis presses the back of one hand to his forehead, thinking he must be coming down with something, but his skin isn’t any hotter or sweatier than usual.
Ignis sits back on his heels and lets his mind slowly get back to work. This needs to be addressed immediately. He glances at the clock, knowing he is going to be late now that his routine has been disrupted, but he is already i the process of rising to his feet to grab his computer and heads to his living room to sink into the couch.
Once settled, he tentatively clicks on the document that is attached to Prompto’s submission, half-expecting it to be empty or some jumbled, incomprehensible jargon, but once again he is proven wrong.
There are many who might say that the kings of the past have had the most impact on Lucis, for better or for worse, and while they aren’t necessarily wrong, they are missing what’s right in front of them. King Regis Lucis Caelum is the best thing that has happened to Lucis in the last century, starting with his bold stance on peace, and the hope that he instills in others…
Ignis’s eyebrows raise as he becomes engrossed in the narrative, and although it falls below the minimum page count and has a few key grammatical errors, it’s well thought out for a—he checks the time stamp on the email—paper hastily written at five in the morning. Not to mention, it correctly cites Noctis Lucis Caelum as a primary source, impressive on all accounts, even if Prompto is the prince’s friend, as Gladio claims.
“Hmm.” Ignis taps a finger to his lip as he begins to type out a reply.
Dear Prompto Argentum
He stops, thinking to himself: too personal, and deletes the line to start again.
Dear Mr. Argentum
Better, but not quite…
Mr. Argentum, he begins to type, settling on the simplest and most formal of greetings. He pauses once more, fingers hovering over the keyboard as he considers how to be stern, and at the same time understanding. He did turn the paper in on time, after all. A couple drafts later, he has a straightforward email that he feels comfortable sending.
Please refer to our syllabus for proper assignment formatting. This pertains to all aspects of the submission, including appropriate document title.
Then, against his better judgement, he adds a postscript, smiling to himself as he writes it.
If you resubmit by noon, you will receive full credit.