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Odd, distorted visions of being bound and suffocating haunted her fragile mind constantly, fueled on by unfamiliar faces swirling through the murk of her subconscious. She was jerked abruptly into the world of the living at the sound of the door opening, only to find herself sweating bullets and her throat dried to the consistency of sandpaper, one of the few states that could unnerve the otherwise steel-nerved young woman.

Her own discomfort was quickly forgotten at the sight of the intruder, giving way to something akin to surprise and recognition, quickly followed by distaste. He was tall, that was sure enough, looming over her cushioned seat at an easy six feet. A crisp, navy blue suit fitted his almost graceful form, lean and thin while still obviously well-built. His glossy black hair was tucked under a matching bowler hat and a shining cane was grasped in a gloved hand. And then it all clicked. It was that he-devil, back to torment her again.

Scarlett’s eyes narrowed dangerously, nostrils flaring.

“Why are you here, Professor? Don’t tell me you’re throwing another party? I'm sure I gave you that disclaimer in writing.”

He looked up to meet her gaze and chuckled, though the brief sight had Scarlett raising an eyebrow suspiciously. His eyes still had that boldness about them, that brash, wild something, but it was...broken. A slight softness, the kind only brought by pain, was what she suddenly saw before it flashed away and was replaced by a cool aloofness.  She shook the thought away and penned it all down to his sobriety, quickly convincing herself that a brat like that had no reason to be facing depression. That was her thing.

“I’m not, I’m afraid,” he started, his voice somewhat quiet (how unnatural), “I came to offer you a proposition.”

Scarlett popped a cigarette from her pocket and put it in her teeth, reaching into the armchair to see where her lighter had flown off to.

“You got a light?” she muttered at the professor, huffing in annoyance when he didn’t reply.

She continued her search, feeling her skin itch for the calming effect of tobacco. A glint from under her seat caught her eye and, bending down, instantly had the cool metal against her palm. Scarlett let out a noise of triumph and clicked the canister open, eager for a smoke.

“That stuff is bad for you.”

Scarlett looked up at the professor with a skeptical look and lit it anyways, taking a few relaxing breaths and plopping back onto the chair.

“Like it makes a difference,” she mused, leaning back, “I feel like crap anyways.”

The professor looked startled a moment, but resumed his earlier expressionless state. Scarlett sighed and let her elbows sit on her knees, settling down to get comfortable.

“Why were you here again?”

The End

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