Alex twisted her fingers nervously and took a deep breath. Her first lecture of the year. She'd seen the students going in and had held back. She was nervous, she knew no one. But she was wearing a white shirt and black pinstripe trousers with a matching waistcoat so she knew she looked smart. She wouldn't show her nerves. She'd grown used to hiding what was under the surface. Alex squared her shoulders, took another deep breath and marched in to the lecture hall.
She pretended not to notice that most of the students immediately began speculating who she was, talking about what she looked like etc. She went straight to the computer and signed in, setting up her slide show before sliding her hands in to her pockets and staring out in to the crowd of chattering students. As they continued to talk she raised one eyebrow and pursed her lips. In her old university, the students had learned to be quiet before that particular look. These would learn. It was interesting, from an educational perspective, how long it took some to learn that despite this not being school, there were still rules.
Slowly, too slowly for her liking, a hush settled over the students. She could still see a few muttering to the friends with attempts at secrecy, but despite being third years they didn't seem to have mastered it.
"That took far too long. I expect you to be silent as soon as the power point is ready to go. Our time is valuable, we shouldn't be wasting it." She returned to the computer. "My name is Dr. Alex Waters and I am here to teach you the gender module on this course. Before we get started are there any people in the wrong room, or any questions?" She gave them a split second. "No? Excellent. Then I shall begin."
As she began her power point on gender, sex and sexuality terminology, and the representations of masculinity in literature and film, Alex scanned the room. She liked to know which students were the most interested, and which ones had joined just for the heck of it and would probably change course. They tended to be the ones typing on their phones almost as soon as the lecture had begun. She saw a couple of them now and raised her voice slightly. The ones who looked up she gave a look to, the ones that didn't she knew genuinely didn't care.
As the lecture drew to a close Alex felt a sigh building. It was a contented sigh, for being back where she enjoyed being, but also a sad sigh. She missed the days when she could sit and deem whether or not to listen. When she didn't have responsibilities. When everything had been easier and less painful.
The power point had almost finished and without waiting for the end of the lecture they started packing their bags up. Alex coughed and glared. Those that noticed stopped, looking guilty. Those that didn't only noticed when a dull hush filled the lecture hall.
"I expect you to have respect, since I will be doing to same for you. Do not begin to pack away until I have finished; it can be very distracting and you could miss something important." She dived right back in to her presentation, only telling them they were allowed to go when she had finished. She hoped it wouldn't take them long to learn her rules.
Alex grabbed her bag, putting her presentation back inside, logged off and headed out amongst the cluster of students. She heard different conversations echoing around her, most of which dispersed as soon as she stepped out of the hall. There most students were disappearing off. She had meetings with her dissertation students, some of which might have been in that group now.
She realised she'd stopped still very suddenly when someone collided with her back, making her wince and grit her teeth as pain flared across the small of her back. She almost dropped her bag in the process but caught it just before it hit the floor.
"Oh, I'm so sorry... You stopped so quickly I-"
"-That's alright. My fault." Alex replied to the student who had been apologising at her side. She spoke through gritted teeth, trying to ignore the pain that was beginning to dull across her back.
Alex looked at the student properly as a hand stuck itself in her vision. The girl had dark hair pulled back in to a messy bun with a pen sticking through it, and she was wearing mostly black; black ankle wedge boots, black skinny jeans, black tank top and black leather jacket. The only real colour in her outfit was the green scarf she wore artistically round her neck. Admittedly it was a chilly September, but there was no need for all the black, Alex thought. She reached her hand out and shook the girl's hand.
"I know. I was in your lecture." The girl grinned, a little cockily, and shoved her hand in her jacket pocket to mirror her other. "So, want me to walk you to your office?"
"I think I can manage that mammoth task without assistance thank you." Alex said with a little sarcasm.
"I was thinking more, I have a meeting with you anyway so it'd probably be awkward if I just trailed behind. I'm not really in to the whole puppy dog look." She grinned, a little self satisfied.
Alex frowned inwardly. This girl was cool and collected, sure of herself and cocky, not at all the sort of person she'd expect to apologise so haltingly for knocking in to her.
"Alright then. This way." She set off without waiting for the girl to reply. Well, if this girl was one of her dissertation students she might find it a little more testing than she had thought.