A/N: I really didn't think I'd add anything to this one, but Liam wanted a say…

There is little more terrifying than a student with a crush.

I rubbed my face with the palm of my hand, shuddering slightly as the last giggle floated down the hall. I always felt a little awkward dealing with these girls, not least because I knew what a kick Gav got out of the whole thing. Not that I had to tell him about it, when you came down to it. Sometimes I thought that I did half the things in my life just to hear him laugh. I supposed it was better than having him go into a fit of jealousy. It was certainly better for keeping my ego relatively deflated.

I checked my watch, and felt almost giddy relief when I realised that I didn't have another class for almost two hours. My job was one of the most important things in my life, but every so often it had days when I felt like I'd snap in two during a lecture, jump up on the desk, strip down to my underwear, and start prophesising the return of the Aztec emperor Montezuma.

The stripping down to my underwear part was probably Gav's bad influence. Really. Pervert.

I escaped to the staffroom, which was surprisingly empty considering it was a Monday and that the weather was doing a good impersonation of Noah's Ark. Maybe I was the only person who preferred to stay dry and comfortable. Maybe normal people braved the rain. I wouldn't know, since normal didn't really play a large part in my life. Not lately, anyway. Before, I'd been the definition of normal. There had been few people as normal as me. It was just my luck that I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on a certain Valentine's Day. Well, okay. Maybe it hadn't been quite the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe I really had followed him from three stores, telling myself all the way that turning into an obsessive stalker was not a good way to liven up my life.

Heh. I now knew better than to listen to myself.

Savouring every movement with particular relish, I made myself a cup of coffee at the temperamental machine in the corner of the staffroom, and carried it back to my desk. I arranged my chair just so, placing a pile of term papers in front of me as a pointed and most probably useless reminder not to linger too long. Then I picked up the newspaper I hadn't even had time to glance at that morning, and opened it to the third page.

Two minutes later, I was spraying coffee all over some poor student's paper on the development of the Cold War. I coughed loud enough to get the attention of the only other occupant of the room, a perpetually disapproving professor of Physics, and probably loud enough to get the attention of the entire floor, too. Shooting the woman a weak smile, I grabbed a handkerchief from the breast pocket of my suit jacket to mop up the mess, and almost didn't care when I realised I was using the whole coat.

Once I was as composed as I was going to get, I carefully picked up the paper and re-read the parts I'd already scanned, just to make sure I hadn't become delusional. Then, with equal deliberation, I read the rest of the column, my mind absently noting a particular sort of phrasing that was a trademark of the author and a sore point between the two of us, and finished it without further incidents. I was almost scaring myself with the depth of my calm when I picked up the phone, and briskly entered a familiar number.

It only rang once. He was obviously on the computer in the study.

"Yeah?" a voice asked cheerfully.

Playing games, not doing research, I finished silently.

"Hello, Gavin," I said serenely, and patiently waited out the long pause. I almost never called him by his full name.

"Ah, hey Liam! How's my sexy professor today?"

Nuh-uh. Far too little, far too late. And I expected better from him, anytime.

"I read the column."

There was another pause.

"Ah. Yes."

"Ah, yes, indeed."


"Oh, I don't know," I drawled into the receiver, putting my feet up onto my desk and ignoring another scowl from the harpy across the room. "Do you want my reaction, blow by blow, as it were?"

Another silence. Boy, I was really hitting the right buttons today. He was never this quiet.

"No, that's... Um. Did you want to go out tonight?"

"Don't try to change the subject, Gavin," I said firmly, pretending that I was talking to one of my nephews. Though I sincerely hoped this would never be a topic of discussion when I was talking to one of my nephews. "Why don't we return to the previous topic of discussion, which was, if you'll recall, my problem with having my sex life splashed across the page of a state-wide newspaper."

I heard the woman gasp, and turned my head to hide a flush. Oops.

"Liam?" he asked tentatively.

"Yes, dumpling?" I returned sweetly, and almost felt him wince.

"I'm really, really sorry."

"Is that so?"

"Yes! See, I'm a journalist. I sell myself. It's my job."

"I see no problem with you selling yourself for a living." I'd decided that as long as I had the rapt attention of my audience, I might as well go for gold. Sneaking a glance at the touchy professor, I saw that her face was almost as red as mine had been earlier, and hid a smirk. "But this time you sold me, too."

He made something that came very close to a whimper, a sound I was pretty sure I'd never heard from him outside of bed.

"Please don't be mad. I had such a horrible time with last week's column, remember that? The annual budget? God, Lorraine almost killed me with that one. I just needed something to give me a lift this week, something I wanted to write about, and… Liam? Are you still listening to me?"

I was, and I had a feeling that the 'something I wanted to write about' would have been enough to melt my annoyance even if I'd actually harboured any. From Gavin, it was on a par with a declaration of love. Not, of course, that I didn't make him give me a more conventional one when I was feeling insecure.

"That depends. What are you wearing?" I asked, deadpan, and had the pleasure of another silence. An outraged one, this time.    

"You jerk! You aren't even mad! Here I was, thinking I was going to spend the next three weeks on the couch, and you… Bastard!"

"Language, Gavin, language," I tutted, grinning from ear to ear. "You may still end up on the couch if you keep calling me names."

"Can't do that," he said sullenly. "It's my house."

I laughed, jolted by an unexpected surge of affection that flooded my veins and twined around my heart. It always happened that way. "Oh, what you don't know about relationships could fill a textbook. I did have one problem with the column, though."

"What?" He was still sounding like a sulky toddler.

"I didn't think it was quite… creative enough," I purred into the receiver, and hung up on his outraged squawk. Standing up, I put on my coat and picked up my umbrella. I stopped next to the woman's desk on the way out, pretending not to see the way she averted her gaze.

"I'm sorry if I disturbed you with my phone call," I said cheerfully, and waited until her mouth was already open before continuing. "I'd stay and chat, but I have to buy some sex toys to use on my boyfriend. You know how it is."

Her reaction was probably priceless, but I didn't wait to see it, already on my way out the door, and into the rain.

Just like a normal person.