“Every Resistance supporter gets a free beer!” Luke announced, standing drunk and wobbly on the chair behind the bar.
You had never seen so much craziness going on in the bar about a game. There was a lot of work for you to do and a lot of calculating as well. While the First Order went home defeated with long faces throwing hate comments on the Resistance, the others didn’t pay attention. They were too busy drinking their free beer.
Your headache was slowly turning into a migraine. The smell of alcohol, the sound of beer glasses clinking against each other, and the loud conversations of various people made it impossible for you to continue working. You became tired and exhausted. Not to mention that it was already late, and you would have the first two hours of psychology tomorrow morning only gave you more headaches.
Mr. Hux stood next to a stand table with a grumpy face and spoke to Ms. Phasma. Professor Ren was nowhere to be seen.
“Are you daydreaming about your lover?” Luke hinted, wrapping his left arm around your shoulder.
His mouth was so close to your face, you could smell the alcohol all over him. His t-shirt had a big wet spot from all the drinks he took, and the foam of beer was visible on his beard.
The word lover made you think about Vicrul. At some point, Luke was right. Vicrul was going to be your lover, but only on stage. A relationship with him in real life would presumably be…
“No, I was actually dreaming about my shift being over,” you protested, shoving away the thought.
He looked with his deep-set eyes at you like he knew you were lying. You felt guilty of not having fun with him and the others.
You observed Luke struggling to speak through a hiccup as he stroked his beard.
“Sure, you were, Granny.”
You washed your hands and neglected his comment. Drunk Luke could sometimes be really annoying.
“Alright, I’m going to take the bus and drive home.”
“Oh no, I don’t want you to drive home alone,” Luke exclaimed. “What about your mom, can’t she come and pick you up?”
“No, she’s already sleeping. I don’t want to wake her up, and my phone battery is dead.” You wrinkled your tired eyes as you remembered you had mascara on and puffed. “Luke, it’s no big deal, I can take —“
“Then we’re going to find you a free driver,” he suspended and walked straight toward Ms. Phasma and Mr. Hux.
One time when you saw Ms. Phasma for the first time out-of-school training The Stormtroopers in the sports hall, you immediately told Luke about it. “We live in a small world,” Luke had replied to that.
You knew she was a tough woman at school, but you didn’t imagine her being a basketball coach for the First Order as her hobby. Although because of her height, you could imagine that many people suggested to her playing basketball.
Luke was definitely drunk and not in his right state of mind because he didn’t enjoy talking to people who supported the First Order. Thought you would have no problem with Ms. Phasma driving you home.
Your scores in sports were above average, although basketball was not your thing. Ms. Phasma treated every student the same way. Giving compliments to the students wasn’t her thing, and now that you thought about it, she reminded you of Professor Ren. Both being tall, strict, and mysterious. What a perfect combination.
You watched Luke, who tried to stand up straight with his head held high at Ms. Phasma, who had bent her head down to hear Luke better. Next to her, he looked like a small garden gnome.
Mr. Hux looked at Luke like every person does when they see drunk people on the street. He waved his hand in front of his nose to escape the strong alcohol from Luke. His gaze fell on Mrs. Phasma, and his lips moved as he added something to the conversation.
You looked at the clock that hung on the wall and bit your inner lip. Somehow you were nervous about getting rejected, because if you would, you were about to miss your bus. After all, it was 10:20pm on a Sunday. The last bus would drive away in six minutes.
Finally, Luke returned to the bar. “All done, kid.” He gulped and twisted his lips into a wry smile. “You can go with this… I forgot her name.”
You loved how Luke would do everything to keep you safe. Despite his potent smell of alcohol and cigarettes, you thanked him and gave him a hug. You would have to explain to your mother later why your clothes smelled like this. Your mother hoped that by spending more time with him, your connection with him would improve, and you wouldn’t repeat the same mistake as she once did.
Luke was like a grandfather to you. He never talked about his family, so you just hoped someone cared about him as he did about you. In the end, friends are one of the most important members of your life. They are the ones who support you when you say goodbye to your first family, and in the end, they become the people you call your new home.
You took your bag and your hat and went up the stairs together behind Ms. Phasma and Mr. Hux. You turned around one more time and observed the people around the bar. Somehow you hoped to find the person you were searching for, but you had to accept he was long gone.
The entrance door opened, and the strong wind blew so hard that your hat almost flew away. It was quite dark and cold outside for September, and the streetlights were off. You put your hands in your pocket to keep them warm and approached Ms. Phasma, who was waiting for something on the sidewalk while Mr. Hux smoked a cigarette.
“Thank you for giving me a ride, Ms. Phasma,” you smiled and glanced up at her. “I really appreciate that.”
“I am not the driver,” Ms. Phasma pointed out in her honeyed British accent. “I’m a passenger, just like you.”
“Oh…, so it’s Mr. Hux.”
You turned around and saw how Mr. Hux threw his cigarette on the ground, stepping on it with his black boot. He straightened his long black coat and walked up towards you. He looked down at the street with his hands crossed behind his back. Wasn’t it a bit too warm for a coat?
“Thank you, Mr. Hux, for driving me home. I don’t live far away,” you affirmed with a smile. You wanted to let him know that even if he knew you didn’t like him and his subject, you still acknowledged his kindness for driving you home.
“What are you talking about, Miss.[Y/Surname],” he responded and gave you the same look when you told him you support the Resistance.
You licked your lips and stared into the far distance. You thought you misunderstood something and wondered if they ordered a taxi or an Uber to drive you all home.
From the darkness, you viewed how a big car pulled up at the sidewalk near you. The flashing lights made you slightly go blind for a second and were nearly on the same level as your head.
It was a beautiful, dynamic black Range Rover that looked expensive as hell. The big, tinted windows made it impossible for you to see who the driver was. It scared you to touch the car. You imagined what it would cost you if you scratched it accidentally with your nails. For the next forty years, you would try paying for the repair, and it would still not be enough.
You reached with your hand for the handle to open the door at the front seat when you touched Mr. Hux’s cold, pale hand. The two of you shared a competitive glance at each other, both holding onto the handle. None of you moved your hand away, his gaze fixed on you like a snake before it attacks. An eye battle between a teacher and a student. Who gets to sit next to the mysterious driver?
“Ladies first,” you reminded Mr. Hux in a sneaky tone, letting him know that this was his chance to reveal what of a gentleman he really was if he would let you sit in the front seat.
“So much to thank you, Mr. Hux,” he commented and took his hand away from the handle.
He straightened his collar of his coat and gave you a serious look as he opened the backseat door to get into the car.
You looked back at the building, where Luke and Lando were still inside, celebrating the joy of the Resistance. You opened the passenger door and sat down on the black leather seat. The car smelled like a mixture of leather and embers.
You turned your head with a big smile to greet the driver, who was waiting for you to look at him. Your smile fainted away, and you swallowed thickly.
There he was, the man you wanted to see so badly after the game.
His dark eyes were full of questions. He did not expect to see you inside his car, and neither did you.
“What is she doing here?” Professor Ren demanded and turned his body to the back with his arm leaning on the headset to look at Mr. Hux at the left and Ms. Phasma on the right.
“The bartender asked us to drive her home, so she wouldn’t have to take the bus,” Ms. Phasma answered. “Since he couldn’t do it because he was too drunk, I thought since she’s a student at our school, we could give her a ride.”
“You probably forgot to mention that I am the one who has to drive you all home. Including her,” Professor Ren declared unpleasantly.
You have never felt more uncomfortable in your life than sitting inside a car full of teachers who cheered for the First Order. Slowly, you took off your hat and placed it on your lap. Only if Luke and Lando knew.
It was a friendly gesture of Ms. Phasma having empathy for you and taking you with her. If you knew the driver would be Professor Ren, you would rather drive with a drunk Luke and get into an accident.
“It’s okay, I — I guess I just take the bus,” you said and reached to unclip the seatbelt.
You glanced at Professor Ren, who looked like your existence was a burden. You turned your head around and saw Mr. Hux sitting behind you with his elbow propped on the armrest, rubbing his eyelids with his fingers.
“Please do that.”
“Ren!” Mr. Hux huffed. He straightened up and exchanged looks between you and Professor Ren. “For god’s sake, she’s a naïve student of ours who doesn’t live far away.” He pointed with his hand at you.
“Hey! I am not—“
“She can easily get kidnapped,” he continued, ignoring you. “Do you really want her to take the bus alone?”
“If you care about her safety so much, you are free to join her.”
There is no way Professor Ren wanted to keep your DNA on his leather seat.
“It’s too late,” you remarked and looked down at the modern GPS screen of the car. “The bus drove away.”
Professor Ren looked at Ms. Phasma, who had closed her eyes and leaned her head back, disregarding this unnecessary drama. He glanced at you with his hazel-brown eyes and tried to read your thoughts through your eyes to make sure you were telling the truth. He rolled his eyes, turned around, putting his enormous hands on the steering wheel. He took a deep breath, twisted the ignition key, and drove off without saying a word.
If Ms. Phasma had joined this conversation, everyone would be quiet by now. She just wanted to rest after finding out that the team she had trained so hard for the last few years only lost by two points for the first time against a club she didn’t expect to win.
You watched out of the window and felt relief knowing you won’t get kicked out of the car. It was weird that Professor Ren would drive you home. If you would tell your friends about how Mr. Hux protected you from Professor Ren, they would never believe you.
Thinking back at the conversation you had with Professor Ren at the bar told you something in your gut it would be better to just be quiet now and let him drive you home.
Everything would be fine, and no worry needed. Right?
Nobody talked during the ride and the radio was off.
Mr. Hux stared out the window with a mischievous look. And Ms. Phasma had been casually asleep. It was a defeat for them that the First Order had lost, and their upsetting energy affected you.
You loved the darkness. It was quiet, mysterious, and somehow peaceful. You stared out the window and saw large trees coming towards you.
The only thing you heard was Professor Ren’s breath, but you didn’t dare to look at him out of fear that he would throw you out of the car if you just glanced at him. He was not happy to see you spreading your bacteria in his fancy car. You imagined what it would be like to get to know him differently. If there was a reason, he was like that.
Maybe his great love broke his heart, or one of his family members died, and he couldn’t handle the death. Perhaps he was just a sadist who enjoyed hurting people. Maybe he didn’t know how to communicate with other people, but then you asked yourself why he became a professor. Something told you they dragged him coming to the game tonight.
You hadn’t noticed how the car stopped, and you arrived at a big, grey house. You turned around, wondering if Mr. Hux or Ms. Phasma would climb out.
Ms. Phasma gazed at you with her beautiful heaven blue eyes and gave you a little smile as she climbed out of the car and said goodbye. She didn’t show her anger or disappointment. She wouldn’t let it out when other people were around.
She took out her keys and got into the house. And just like that, the ride went on.
From behind, you heard how Mr. Hux slid in the middle of the seats with his arms on his legs, so he could see you and Professor Ren at the same time.
You remembered the long street as you passed the small, rich houses. Usually, old, retired seniors lived here who woke up way too early and started cleaning their garden because they had nothing else to do. You put your head back and closed your eyes.
“What do you think? Are monsters good at math?” Mr. Hux demanded out of nowhere, crashing you out of your dreams.
You frowned and slowly opened your eyes. The pain in your head was drilling into you and made it impossible for you to concentrate on an answer. Professor Ren didn’t bother to answer, either.
“Not unless you count, Dracula,” Mr. Hux laughed and slapped his hand on his knee.
Either your competence in mathematics was so bad that you didn’t understand the joke, or the joke was so bad that even Professor Ren didn’t laugh. Like through telepathy, you and he turned your heads to the side and exchanged looks as if you both would share the same opinion. Who would have thought that?
“Wait, I have a better one,” Mr. Hux tried hopefully to bring the mood to a funnier level. “Why are obtuse angles so depressed?”
And once again, you and Professor Ren did not reply. You had a reason not to answer because it was too late for your brain to understand what an obtuse angle was. However, Professor Ren knew the answer, but had fun letting Mr. Hux down.
You felt sorry for Mr. Hux because he really tried to improve the mood, but in the side mirror, you noticed how his smile dropped, and his sad eyes sank to the floor as he leaned back on the seat.
“It’s because — they are never right,” Mr. Hux muttered to himself.
He had lost his pleasure in telling the joke and sank back to the hole where you and Professor Ren already made yourself comfortable.
The car stopped in front of a small, black, elegant house. The house resembled a closed laboratory that was very private, with white curtains on the windows. And in the beautifully decorated front garden stood a male sculpture. By the metallic door rested a sweet ginger cat with a similar color to Mr. Hux’s hair.
Mr. Hux opened the door, ready to leave without a goodbye.
“My offer still stands if you want a psychological evaluation from me,” Professor Ren recalled in a slightly self-important tone and his eyes fixed on the rearview mirror. “And please be so kind and greet Millicent from me.”
Mr. Hux nodded with a false grin and stepped out of the car.
You struggled to imagine that a significant-other was on Mr. Hux’s side, so you assumed that Professor Ren meant the fluffy milk lover.
It made sense why he was so mean to you. Like Ms. Phasma, Professor Ren treated everyone the same way. He was rude to his students and to his co-worker. However, you liked Ms. Phasma and Mr. Hux now much more than your psychology professor.
Professor Ren still looked through the window at Mr. Hux when he entered the house. It did not petrify you from sitting alone in a car with your favorite professor. At least this was what you had told yourself before he turned out to be your driver, who was now alone in a car with you. At night.
You turned your face to Professor Ren and wondered what his next step would be. Would he throw you out of the car, and you would walk home, or would he kill you right now and bury you in the forest behind Mr. Hux’s house? It would be a great opportunity, but for sure a dirty one.
He turned his face to you and watched how you tried not to look him into his eyes.
“It’s just us now,” he disclosed, as if you haven’t noticed yet.
You folded your hands on your hat and pressed your brows together. His tensed autumn eyes made you shiver and brought goosebumps to your arms.
How could a human you dislike so much make you feel a certain way by only looking at you?
Your headache slowly disappeared, and your brain created false images of how he would cut your body in pieces, as Hannibal did. You probably were already so tired that you hallucinated, but it seemed to you like he looked down at your lips as he opened his mouth.
“Give me your address,” he demanded in a smoky tone. “Unless you want to walk from here.”
You relaxed, took a deep breath, and gave him your address. He typed it into his GPS and drove off. The woman’s voice from the GPS said that you lived only five minutes away from Mr. Hux, which surprised you because you had never seen him walking around the neighborhood.
During the drive, Professor Ren was quiet, with his eyes fixated on the road. You had to admit he was a skillful driver who followed the traffic rules well. At every red light, he stopped and always adapted to the permitted speed.
Your mind was full of questions that you really wanted to ask him.
Where have you been? Why did you leave school, although I saw you in the morning? Are you still my professor? Why are you so rude to me? Why do I have a weird feeling when you’re around me?
“Why did you do it?” you asked him directly.
“Woah, woah, woah, slow down,” he objected loudly. “What are you accusing me of?”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“I do?” He sounded surprised, like he didn’t hear the news. His eyes almost popped out when he glanced at you. “I didn’t know I could read minds.”
“There was a minor accident at school,” you said thickly. “Someone destroyed the elevator the same day when you suddenly disappeared.”
“And you assume it was me.” He pointed it straight to the point. He knew full well with the hints what you had in mind.
“What happened? Where did you go?” you continued questioning.
“It’s absolutely none of your business.”
You wanted to say something, but you reminded yourself not to speak without thinking first. You didn’t know what you should say to that, or if you had to say something at all. Professor Ren was a psychologist, so he knew how to reply to a question without looking and sounding suspicious.
Suddenly the car stopped, and you noticed you had arrived home. The drive went by fast, and you were glad to get some fresh air again because the smell of leather was unbearable.
You put on your hat, took your bag, and looked at your professor one last time. Before you opened the door, you hoped he would tell you something, even if it was an insult.
“Well, thank you for the ride.”
“Aren’t you going to apologize?”
You raised your eyebrows and extended your eyes in disbelief at what he just said.
“Even if I had a reason to apologize, I would never do it. Not to you.”
That was a promise.
Was he serious? If he really expected an apology from you after all the things he said to you, then he was the most ignorant person you’ve ever met. You did and said nothing wrong. You were always defending yourself. He was the one who had to apologize.
You told yourself that you would respect him as a professor, and you felt ashamed for treating him in class the way you did, but it was he who continued the war. You never wanted whatever that was what happened that day in the classroom, but your pride and stubbornness didn’t allow you to surrender if he wasn’t the one to do it first.
With his eyes locked on the windshield and hands tightly wrapped around the steering wheel, he exhaled from his nose.
You got a feeling that he was imagining the steering wheel was your neck. You quickly climbed out of the car and smashed the door, maybe a bit too hard. It was so cold that you played with the thought of coming to school tomorrow with your winter coat as you walked around the car.
While you tried to find your house keys, you heard the sound from behind that the car did when the window went down. You turned around and saw how Professor Ren stared at you with dark eyes, as if he wanted to warn you.
“I will get you to apologize to me,” he declared coolly.
It sounded like a goal he wanted to achieve in his life, and it frightened you because you did not know how he planned on doing it. If he wanted an apology from you so badly, he should be the one to apologize first.
“We’ll see,” you spat back his own words at him, turning around and angrily closing the front door behind you.