"Coffee." Diaval announced, pushing off from the door he had been leaning on.
"So there really is a delivery service?" Mal grinned, taking the coffee. "Thank you."
"Only for friends in need. And I knew you'd got your lecture now."
"I don't even know how I've made it this far."
"Your first two coffees?"
"Three. But thank you for the fourth."
"You won't be sleeping."
"I'm not sleeping anyway."
"Look, go and lecture the ears off those kids. Then when the day is finished we can go to yours and I'll cook for you. How's that sound."
"I think that sounds wonderful."
"Fantastic. I'll buy some ingredients and meet you there."
"Thanks." Mal raised the coffee in a salute and marched in to the room. The students were all sitting in the lecture hall, chatting. Mal was glad to not see the three amigos sitting in the room and smiled. Then she saw Aurora sitting in the front row with her friends. She was staring at Mal, her lips slightly parted in a smile, and none of that pity in her eyes. She seemed to be searching for something in Mal's face.
Mal set up her papers and took a steadying sip of coffee.
The hall became quiet, and Mal began her lecture. She avoided Aurora's eyes throughout, not sure whether she was afraid of the return of her pitying eyes, or whether she was scared of remembering the dream. Oh the dream. The terrible longing that followed in the waking hours.
"Erm... Professor Moore?"
Mal snapped out of her thoughts and concentrated on the boy in front of her.
"I was asking if I could change my appointment time? For my dissertation meeting?"
The noise of the other students leaving the hall echoed off the walls and Mal frowned, rubbing her temples.
"When was it supposed to be?"
"Tomorrow at three."
"Email me to remind me and I'll give you another time. I have to get going."
Mal grabbed her bag and headed for the door, ignoring the few students that were left in the room.
Aurora's voice, loud and clear. Mal flinched and began to stride purposefully towards the doors at the end of the corridor. If she could make it back to her room...
"Mal..." Aurora whispered, appearing at her side. "Slow down."
"I'm very busy Miss Rose. Unless it's urgent please email me with any questions or comments."
She didn't look at her. She couldn't. The dream was still floating lazily around her subconsciousness, stroking her conscious whenever she thought about Aurora Rose.
"I think we should talk."
Mal had reached her door. She could slip inside; just a few more moments...
"Another time perhaps."
The door was open and she was inside, and the door was shut. She sighed in relief. She would go in to her office and... the door opened.
"Now Mal." The door closed again. Mal turned and met Aurora's bright blue eyes, shining in confusion and concern.
"This... this is very rude Miss Rose." Mal took a step backwards.
"Rude?" Aurora glared fiercely, which almost made Mal want her more. "What's rude is you ignoring me. Not telling me how you are after those... Those foul, loathsome idiots hurt you."
Mal scoffed automatically; defensive about her moment of weakness.
"I assure you Miss Rose I am perfectly fine. Perhaps you should go to whatever seminar you are missing?"
"Free period and don't change the subject." Aurora replied through gritted teeth and Mal was impressed in spite of her mood. "You were hurt. I know you were so don't try and deny it. Di wouldn't let me see you but I could tell."
Mal turned away and crossed her arms. She was torn between wanting Aurora to get out, to yell at her to get out and leave her alone, and wanting to confess to everything.
"They told me I can't be your assistant until this stupid investigation has stopped." Aurora said quietly, closer than Mal thought she had been. Aurora appeared, gently walking until she was in front of Mal again. "What kind of idiots would think that little toe rag Smith should be taken seriously?"
"Aurora I need you to leave."
Aurora faltered, and looked hurt.
"Because I am not a nice person and I don't want to hurt you."
"Why do you keep insisting that you're not nice?"
"Because it's true. Because I would have hurt those boys if Diaval hadn't appeared. Because I would have done it without regret. Because I am not good, no matter what you believe." Mal snarled.
"You are." Aurora insisted.
"You don't know me." Mal retorted.
"I know that you're wrong about yourself. I know you're good and kind and you put on this mask in case people get close to you but you know what? It doesn't work on me." She said furiously.
Mal snarled and grabbed her by the shoulders, pushing her back in to the wall.
"Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!" She cried.
Aurora let out a yelp but she didn't fight. She stared at Mal until the older woman couldn't bear to look at those eyes any more. Those beautiful understanding eyes.
"Fuck." She murmured, and let go. "Leave... please." She turned away and hurried in to her office, closing the door behind her.
Aurora didn't follow.