Rabi's office was in one of the gallery spaces -- in one of the art buildings nestled back and out of the way, a place with high ceilings that echoed hollowly when people walked through. After hours, the effect was spooky, intimidating, perhaps intentionally.. Usually it was also quiet, perhaps with the occasional faraway echo of someone's pandora running while they worked.Today, instead, as Tucker approached, there was the quiet sound of a whispered conversation in the distance.
It had taken a fair amount of talking himself into going to see Mahar after hours to discuss...everything. it wasn't just being embarrassed in the middle of class, it wasn't just the critism, and it wasn't just the grading. It was a combination of all of it, with the marked down grade on his last project being the breaking point. He was indignant, he was frustrated, and he was angry, and that had gotten him into the building and through the majority of it before Tuck even noticed how fucking eerie the place was when no one else was there.But he was already there and if he backed down now he might as well just resign himself to enduring the unfair treatment the rest of the semester.Reminding himself of ask the reasons he was there the young man pushed forward, deeper until the back of the building towards his teacher's office and the sound of voices.Oh great, an audience...
Maybe not exactly what he expected, because it seemed that in reality Tucker was the audience. As he got closer, he'd be able to take in the terse tone of the discussion coming from the direction of Rabi's office: the voices were low but sharp, and he could hear bits and pieces of someone who was definitely not his teacher rising above the other:"...what I say..."Mumbles and murmurs and sharp returns were swallowed by the distance, the door only cracked. "...take it away...."
Tucker slowed as he got closer, heard snippets of the conversation, and knew immediately that it wasn't anything that he should be privvy to. It sounded like the sort of conversation that'd load him in a heap of shit if he were discovered easedropoing on it. The logical, cautious side of him suggested he get the fuck out of there. The still angry, wreckless side was very curious and the indecision kepr him frozen in place just shy of the door. Whose voice is that? It wasn't Mahar's. Tucker didn't know who it was.
He sounded -- well, like someone in charge, who was used to people listening to him. Arrogant and pissed off, and his voice raising based on whatever Rabi was saying in response. It made it a bit clearer to make out:"...belong to me, and I don't see why you always have to push back so fucking hard." Maybe not that in charge, considering how waspish and sharp he sounded. There was a beat of silence, a breath of air out, and then he sounded calmer, if still sharp."Just do it. I don't care how." As he said this, the door cracked a bit more, his voice carrying down the hall.
Even with the longer fragments of conversation Tucker still want sure what they were talking about, or who was going the talking. The only thing he could really parse from what he could hear was that the louder in was pissed. That they wanted something and want getting it. Then the door moved and Tucker swallowed a startled noise as he took a few very hasty steps back. Retreating as far as he could manage before the opening of the door stopped him. He didn't want to look like what was actually happening, and instead started forward again, like he'd only just arrived.And if his eyes were a little too wide hopefully they would assume he'd just been startled by the door opening.
The good news was twice over: first, that the man who stepped out into the hall was not Rabi. Instead he was tall and fair with swept back hair and eyes that were very pale behind fine metal glasses. He looked a bit like a GQ model, unfairly attractive, in a clean-cut kind of way. In an indistinctive way. The second was that he barely spared Tucker a look as he continued down the hall, frowning flatly with a tense muscle in his jaw, sucking on the side of his thumb like he'd cut himself.The bad news was that Rabi had been behind him -- shoulders hunched, looking a bit small, with his own jaw set -- and his eyes locked immediately on Tucker. For once, though, for just the moment, he was silent.
Pale eyes watched the stenager as he passed, but when he didn't so much as look at the student Tucker turned his attention to his teacher instead who most certainly was. And all at once Tucker realised he should have gotten the hell out of there before anyone had seen him. That confronting his teacher after a heated discussion was a ridiculously stupid idea.It made him hesitate at the open door, looking back at the older man warily. "Sorry, I wanted to see if you had a moment to talk, but if it's a bad time..." And he licked his thumb over his shoulder as much as to say I can get the fuck out of here.
"Mr. Williams." His voice was still thick; he had to swallow to get it back to its indifference, rolling his shoulders and working to school his expression ."I only have about twenty minutes left in my office hours."
He didn't sound like his usual self, and that kept Tucker livering in the doorway, chewing thoughtfully at the inside of one cheek before he took a step inside.Now or never. Just say it.what he'd come there intending to say had been angry, even a little self righteous. Demanding to know what exactly The teacher had against him. What came out instead lacked most of that angry heat, but still managed to retain the frustration "Did I do something, or say something, in the first few days of the semester paint a target on my back, sir?" He didn't wait for an answer, plowing through to get it all out. "The critism, the grades, the comments, and this last incident with the phone...it all feels very personal."
There was more silence as he took a step back into the space -- and Rabi's office really was more than an office. He had his own work going here, a massive mixed media project of his own, set up in one corner. He was working with tissue paper, oils and a palette knife, and the result was a three-dimensional field of flowers that felt...surreal. On fire, maybe.He sat beside it, slowly, stripping out of his jacket and down to that worn-thin t-shirt, almost thin enough to see through. "My cell phone policy has been clear since day one."
He kept waiting for something snide, something biting and cruel and the lack of it was unsettling. He flicked a look up at the project, taking just a second or two to appreciate the effect the older man was able to obtain, a moment to think about his response."It is, but I wasnt using it. I didn't even have it sitting on the table. I didn't realize I'd forgotten to turn notifications off, and I just wanted to silence it so it wouldn't disrupt things further. It's the first time you've had to speak with me about it at all, and honestly it felt like you were much harder on me than other people in class that you've caught texting or worse." Dark brows creased, a heavy breath escaping through his nose.
There wasn't an audience here: maybe that was the difference. Or maybe the argument had taken it out of him. But Rabi was watching Tucker in a thoughtful sort of way, leaning back with his arms crossed over his chest."Are you used to people giving you an easier time due to your status in soccer?"
Tucker blinked, taken aback Mahar's question and shook his head. "No sir, and I don't expect special treatment. Only fair treatment." And what Mahar had been putting him through, in his opinion and his experience, was not fair.
"You think my grades are unfair?" He stretched his legs out, slowly, relaxing into the chair -- and watching Tucker in an intense kind of way. Calculating. His color looked better.
Mahar was answering comments with leading questions, avoiding what Tucker was saying to steer the conversation. Tucker frowned as he watched him stretch his legs out, feeling out of place and uncomfortable."I don't know, you always give me the same grade. It's not bad grade, but it's always the same. Regardless of effort, or time, or any other factor I can think to apply." The anger he'd walked in with had all but disipated, talked under a sudden weary wave of exhaustion.
Rabi leaned back a bit more, rolling his shoulders and watching Tucker with narrowed eyes. "I don't think you put a particularly large amount of yourself into your work."
The frown deepened, almost puzzled now. It was clear the older man was recovering from the discussion he'd been having previously, but he was still being...mellow. In a sense. It was weird. "Why?" It wasn't the first time Mahar had said something similar, and Tucker had tried adjusting things, changing methods, stepping outside the comfort zone of pencil on paper.
"Because there's more to art than technical proficiency." He looked up at his own work as he said it -- frowning just a little bit, with a prickle around his shoulders.
The longer they talked the less Tucker felt they were getting anywhere. He want quite sure what he'd been expecting in the first place, only that he'd reached the point where he'd needed to say something. Now he just felt tired and drained and like coming here had been a huge mistake.If he'd had a target on his neck before, what would it be like going forward?He was quiet for a moment, gaze skirting around the room as he tried to figure out what to do or say. Finally he took in a deep breath and let it out, looking back to the older man. "Fine." They weren't getting anywhere.
"Do you want extra credit?" His eyes snapped back onto Tucker immediately, and he smiled -- which was an intimidating smile, a little too flat. Dangerous, maybe.
That caught him off guard, and he couldn't keep the surprise off his face. "Ah.." Did he? He didn't strictly need it. As much as the unchanging grades bothered him they're weren't bad. He was passing. Still. If it would help things..."Yes?"
Rabi brushed at his lower lip, attention sliding back up onto the painting, and finally there was that spark back into his expression. "Help me pull a prank on my partner."
He blinked, eyes widening a touch. "Partner?" The tall, upset guy? Maybe. As it sank in the young man frowned, not entirely sure he'd heard right. "You want to prank your partner...what kind of prank?"
He blinked back into focus on Tucker and tried not to look too thrilled by the idea. "He carries this stupid vintage hairpin around with him. Sometimes he leaves it in his desk."
"Y-yeah?" He want sure he looked where this was leading. "This isn't going to get me in trouble, is it? I don't want to chance a suspension or expulsion just for s little extra credit."
"If you get in trouble you can just say it was my idea." He shrugged a little, arms shifting across his chest.
"You're going to give it back later, right?" He didn't want to hello with anything malicious. "It's just all in fun?”
"I live in the house too. You can come over for..." He hesitated, musing on that. "Come over and I'll show you more of my work. And bring your last project and we can discuss adding passion."
Probably not a business partner, then...He took a moment to chew that over, what Mahar wanted, weighing out if it was worth it or not. In the entire time he'd been in the other man's class this was problem the least snide conversation they'd had. If doing this one small thing could maybe fix things, make the rest of the semester more tolerable, that's be worth it. He thought.And is he had second thoughts, that was fine, he'd just go home. "When?"
Hi flicked a look sideways, calculating -- attention turned over his work again -- before they flicked back onto Tucker and he smiled again. "Saturday? Lunchtime."
The smile was unnerving in how unaggressive it was."Okay." He still sounded a little unsure, but he didn't seem to be backing out. "What's he address?" He assumed Mahar would tell him which room, what the pin looked like, and anything else he'd need the day of.
He rolled up to stand, fishing around behind his desk for a sheet of paper -- and wrote down the address for Tucker in his slanting handwriting.
Tuck waited, resisting the urge to shuffle his feet, and when he was offered the paper he stepped back towards the still open door. "Thanks. Okay, I'm gunna go. I think it's been over twenty minutes anyways."
"Turn your phone off in class." He was definitely -- it was definitely different, now, at least. For bettor or worse.
The paper was folded and tucked into his pocket. "Yes sir." As he excused himself he was left feeling unsettled, a bit confused, and anxious. And he couldn't help thinking back to the snippets of conversation he heard when he'd arrived.