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Disclaimer: All characters are 18 years of age or older while actively engaging in sexual activity. This story is a prequel/sequel (sprequel?) to my other work, Alex flames will be snickered at and deleted with extreme prejudice. Enjoy!
Please Note: There are incest themes with a secondary couple in this story. Just a forewarning.
Chapter XII — I Pity Your Superiors
1986: a university office …
The two students watched the dean fret as he paced back and forth around the floor in agitation, almost flapping his arms on occasion. Mike leaned against a bookcase, towering over the other two occupants of the room, while Karen stood patiently near the desk, her textbooks pressed to her ample chest, as was her habit. She watched the man curiously, Mike with amusement.
The dean was a short, slight man, with decidedly salt-and-pepper hair and a lemony expression he wore almost constantly. Mike thought he always looked like someone was holding something that smelled unpleasant under his nose. The dean arranged something on his desk, walked around, fretted, and then re-arranged the desk before going toward the back of the room and doing something similar. He reminded Mike of a squirrel. It made him wish he had a BB gun.
“Look, you’re a busy man,” the huge student said finally. “Perhaps we can –”
“My roses weren’t dead yesterday morning!” the dean blurted, cutting him off and pointing at the expired blossoms on the desk. Karen looked at the vase he was indicating. Indeed, there were half a dozen roses leaning or wilting inside the porcelain receptacle, and they were all decidedly dead. Karen didn’t blame them — the vase was atrocious. She almost wanted to die from looking at it.
“They might’ve just been past their prime, sir,” Mike offered, shrugging. Thanks to his mom and her horticultural habits, he was more than a little adept at the art of decorative plant care. “Your office doesn’t really have the light they would need to –”
“Don’t contradict me, DeBourne!” the dean snapped, giving him an irritated glance before fretting again. “It was sabotage, I know it! A message!”
“Is the intercom out again?” Mike asked. Karen gave him a look, but the dean ignored him this time. He placed his palms on the desk and scowled at his rose corpses. He was certain this had been intentional. But who had done it?
“I left my office yesterday morning for that seminar, and they were perfectly fine. I come back this afternoon, and they’re dead! Roses don’t just die in thirty hours!”
Mike took a breath and started to say something, but a look from Karen prompted him to stay quiet for a change. He just sighed and rolled his eyes. He still didn’t know why they were even there.
“Mister Marks, we sympathize with your plight, we do,” Karen said, equally eager to find out why they’d been summoned. “But I am as yet not sure why you even asked us to come to your office.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” the older man almost spat before gesturing broadly with his hand at the vase. “I need to know who did this, and why! You two need to figure this out for me.”
There was silence for several seconds as the two physics students looked at him. “Okay, I’ll bite,” Karen said finally. “Why us? Of course, we’re flattered that you thought of us.”
“I’m not,” Mike added, earning him another hard stare from his fellow student.
Karen returned her attention to the agitated department head. “But why would DeBourne and I be the right people to handle this caper for you?”
“Because I can count on your discretion,” the man answered, before pausing and look up at Mike, and then back at Karen. “Well, yours, anyway. Everyone knows that it’s time for the department head performance reviews, and there are lots of people who would love my job, as you well know.”
“There are, no doubt, some benefits to the position,” Karen allowed vaguely. She had no idea what the advantages and perks of being the dean might be; they all made it look so dreary. “Still, there must be people in Forensics you can count on who have actual training in this sort of sleuthsmanship.”
“I don’t think that’s a word,” Mike mentioned.
“Neither is Kapuskasing,” Karen replied dryly. “Sir, if you are determined to have us help you, do you at least have anything for us to work with, aside from dead shrubbery?”
“Like what?” he asked, still scowling at his ex-roses.
She shrugged, trying to engage his help. “Was your door locked while you were gone? If so, who has the key? Do we know yet how they’ve died?”
“No, why would I know that?” he asked, scowling again. “Do I look like a botanist to you?”
Karen didn’t say anything. She had her suspicions about the dean’s lifestyle, but left them unmentioned at this point.
Mike sighed loudly and stood up from leaning on the bookcase. One long stride took him over to the desk izmir escort bayan and he looked down at the vase. The dean stepped back, as if Mike’s overwhelming presence made him uncomfortable. The titan student picked up the vase, examined it minutely.
“You can discern something from looking at the vase?” the dean asked, trying to keep the wonder out of his voice.
“Yeah, whoever gave this to you had really chintzy taste in home décor,” Mike replied, making a wry face as he turned the vase around in his huge hands. “It’s like Fran Drescher exploded all over a Ming vase.”
The dean coloured angrily and glared at him, his body stiffening. “It was a gift from the department!” he hissed. “When I took on the job!”
Mike shrugged. “Maybe someone is out to get you, if that’s the case …” He put the vase down and pulled the dead roses out from their soil. He watched the leaves and petals, wilted and hanging limply, before drying the stalks off with the bottom of his T-shirt. He then snapped a stem open and examined it closely, his mouth pursing to one side as he did so. Karen and the dean watched him curiously.
“Yup, definitely poisoned,” concurred the huge blond man, looking at the cross-sections of the stems. “You can see it in the xylem.”
“You can?” the dean asked, looking perplexed. He had no idea how DeBourne could see anything that small to begin with. The dean would’ve needed a telescope strapped to his face in order to see anything at that level of detail.
“So, whoever poisoned them attacked the roots,” Karen suggested. She obviously didn’t have DeBourne’s expertise in these matters, but she knew the parts of a plant and what they did. “With what? It killed them in under a day and a half …”
Mike pulled one of the curling leaves off the stem and put the tip in his mouth, tasting it while making a mild sucking sound. He then picked up the vase and sniffed the brackish water within. A wry expression played over his normally cheerful visage before he put it down.
“Smell reminds me of a blackberry killer we used back home,” he mused. “As to why, well …”
“D’you think someone’s trying to kill me?” the dean asked, going pale.
“Do you eat roses on a regular basis?” Mike queried.
“Then I doubt anyone was trying to kill you,” he reasoned, shrugging. “Question is, why kill a bunch of innocent plants if it’s you the person has it in for?”
“I told you,” the man said in agitation, getting himself worked up. “Someone wants my job! They’re sending me a message that they’re coming for me!”
“By assassinating your roses,” Karen said flatly.
“It sends a message without being a direct threat!” the dean said, nodding almost frantically.
“A minute ago, you were asking Gargantua here if you thought someone was trying to kill you,” she pointed out. “Sir, clearly it’s best that you leave this to DeBourne and I, while you concentrate on getting ready for your review.”
“Yes, yes, I really should,” he almost mumbled, looking distracted. “You both go, I’ve got preparations to begin.”
He promptly forgot they were present and began shuffling around his office, flapping his arms and fretting. The students looked at one another, shrugged and exited the office. Mike closed the door behind them and they headed down the hall.
“So, I guess we’re like Freddy and Daphne now, eh?” Mike quipped as he strode alongside her.
“I have no idea who those people are,” Karen replied, shaking her head. “So it was poison?”
“Definitely,” Mike confirmed, nodding. “Food and even decorative plants are expensive to bring to northern Ontario, so y’learn to grow your own. They were slowly poisoned over a period of time, by the looks of the xylem. It wasn’t quick. Poor bastards.”
“Why, though?” Karen sighed. Large knots and crowds of students parted before the pair like the Red Sea before the Israelites. Everyone knew better than to stay in the path of Michael DeBourne or Karen Gordon — one would simply step on you without noticing, the other would probably set you on fire with her mind and then keep walking. “What possible motivation could there be in killing his plants? If someone is gunning for his job, why not just take it?”
“To throw Groucho off his game, maybe,” Mike said, shrugging. “For some people, it’s not a win unless the other competitors lose.”
“Ugh, you sound like that slimy real estate businessman who is all the rage in New York,” Karen muttered, her skin crawling at the thought of the man. “What is his name? Drumpf? As for Mister Marks, he is certainly getting himself in a twist.”
“Let’s face it, Groucho’s an easy mark,” Mike said, the wheels in his mind turning. “I mean, yeah, he’s pretty good at physics, but he’s got a prickly side to him, and clearly gets more than a little paranoid when he thinks his back is to the wall.”
“He’s not much use to the department if escort izmir he’s worried about his own hide,” she said grimly. “Let’s get this worked out, so things can go back to normal.”
But where the Hell would they begin?
The present: an office on campus …
Mike sat behind his huge desk, alternately nodding and shaking his head as he perused the papers he was grading. His students may have understood the subject matter, but their borderline illiteracy was alarming. Millennials were stunningly bad with grammar, punctuation, and even spelling. He thanked the Lord that he and his wife had drilled stellar literacy into the son, before he was lost to the tsunamis of generational ignorance and dysfunction.
Now, granted, science students were hardly required to write with the elegance of Tennyson, but there had to be a line, dammit. And millennials had Riveredanced over that line and dubstepped into the sunset.
“God save us all …” he muttered to himself as he tried to translate the English he was supposedly reading.
“Mr. DeBourne?” queried a young woman’s voice from the door to his office. While keeping it closed might have allowed him to do more work with less interruptions, he and Karen had agreed they’d have an open-door policy for their students whenever possible. These kids would need all the help they could get.
He looked up and smiled pleasantly. “Heather, its good to see you. What brings you to this neck of the woods from Business Management?”
“One of my housemates asked me to return a text book to you, since she’s a little under the weather,” the girl replied, entering the office. She held a thick physics text book in her hands, one that announced the subject of quantum singularities. “Can I just leave it here?”
“By all means,” he said gesturing to his desk. “That would be Claire, right?”
“Yessir,” replied the young woman as she entered his office and plunked the textbook on his desk. “Your office is huge, sir.”
“One of the biggest,” he replied. “I don’t do well in the more compact versions commonly available.”
“I believe it,” she giggled, looking around. “I thought this was usually the dean’s office.”
“One of the perks they tempted me with for coming and teaching,” Mike said, looking around. Unlike he’s wife’s office, done all in dark wood and plush, classic furniture, his was much more modern-feeling and sharp-lined, coloured black and chrome, sharp lines, with computers and displays placed all around. Not only did it suit his aesthetic as a professor, but it served several practical purposes …
First, it allowed students to consult and learn in real time in his office when necessary about their chosen subjects if he was tutoring. He even had connections set up to the Linguistics and History departments, in case any of those students came by for help. He was, not surprisingly, popular as a tutor.
Which was the other reason for keeping his door open and his choice in décor: yes, Mike and Karen had had intimate relations with several female students over the years, but they always did so exclusively in Karen’s office if it happened on campus. As a very large and dominant male professor, there was an optics issue with his office. So his furniture was glass, and his door always open. The only person he even made love to in here was Karen. And that was his only interest.
“What’s concerning you?” he asked, looking at Heather. The student blinked and came back to herself, having been looking wistfully around the office space. She wasn’t unattractive, with light brown hair and eyes. His son had dated her on more than a few occasions, and they weren’t a bad fit as a couple, but if the comparison was Alexa, then there was no question at all. His son and his sister-in-law were made for one another.
“Oh, I …” she faltered, shaking her head. “Nothing, I was just thinking that I like your office, that when I finish my degrees, it would be nice to have one like this some day. No concerns, just … wistful longing.”
“You’re a nice girl, Heather, but I can tell by your body language that you’re not being truthful,” Mike said, smiling. “Close the door and we’ll talk, if you like.”
The student blushed, standing still for a moment before walking slowly back to the door, seemingly struggling to decide whether to close the door or keep on walking into the hallway. In the end, she closed the door and turned around to look at him quietly.
Mike gestured to the black leather chair on the other side of his desk. She sat, seeming hesitant.
“Is this about my son and Alli?” he queried.
She blushed a little harder.
He smiled. “She told me all about what happened between you, and why it happened the way it did. Given how complicated their situation is, they understand it’s best if we know everything.”
Heather nodded somewhat absently, as if lost inside her izmir escort head in thought. “I … I’m sorry, sir, I don’t even know if there’s anything to say. I didn’t come to see you with the intention of talking about this.”
“Maybe, but clearly it’s an issue for you, so perhaps I can give you some perspective that Alex and Alli can’t,” Mike mused. “For the record, I don’t blame you for being hurt, Heather. Neither Karen nor I do.”
She looked up at him, perhaps a little surprised. “You don’t? I … I mean, Alexa told me that you approved of her and Alex, so I just thought –”
“We do approve of their relationship, wholeheartedly, now that we understand it,” he agreed, nodding. “But we are aware of its complications and the effects it has and has had on other people, yourself not least.”
She looked at her lap: “You already knew about Alex and I. But you also know about how easily I fell into bed with Alexa, too.”
He nodded. “You’d have to have a wife like mine before Alexa couldn’t charm you into bed with a wink, Heather. Trust me, nobody faults you for being seduced by or thinking you’re in love with Alli, no matter how straight you thought you were.”
“I feel like such a slut …” Heather murmured. “Here I was, pining over Alex, and I jump into the sheets with his aunt without blinking.”
“Are you mad at Alexa?” Mike asked. “I wouldn’t blame you.”
Heather almost winced: “I know I could be. Maybe I should be. Maybe I could be mad at Alex, for never telling me, and using me as a cover, but … I never told him I was committed to him. Hell, I kept friend-zoning him, telling him we were just a casual thing, even before Alexa arrived. And he’s so amazing. They … they both are. If it weren’t for my feelings, I’d totally ship them.”
He nodded: “Nobody blames you, Heather. Maybe it’s not fair, but there’s no stopping what’s happening between them, so I think you need to decide what’s best for you at this point, and for your future.”
“I … I know,” she admitted, shifting around. “But I guess I have no idea what that is, and just hope something’ll present itself. What the Hell do I know about putting my life together and on track? I mean, I’m just nineteen; a lot of people would tell me this isn’t exactly a life crisis, right?”
“You’re entitled to your feelings, Heather,” Mike replied simply. “That being said, I don’t want to see you losing your focus and your way over what’s happening with Alex and Alli. Things are likely to get loud and dramatic for a while when the legal battle for their status goes public.”
“And people know I’ve dated Alex before,” she murmured, nodding. “So I’ll get hounded.”
“Possibly,” he said, shrugging. “But it’s not your concern, either. Frankly, Karen and I wouldn’t blink if you were a casual lover of Alli, or Alex, or even both. They can make their own decisions. But I somehow doubt that if that happened, you would be truly adjusted to it.”
“Maybe not,” Heather admitted. “But I have no clue whatsoever what to do about it.”
“It may just be that time is the answer,” he reasoned. “But why don’t you articulate what you are frustrated with?”
She sighed: “I just … it’s so obvious what they are to each other, y’know? And yeah, I do feel like I got used. Yeah, she explained, and I get why she did it, but …”
“It’s reasonable, it’s logical, and it’s justifiable,” Mike offered. “But that doesn’t necessarily make it right.”
“I guess,” she considered. “But … I was thinking about it, and maybe I’d’ve been a good fit for him too, y’know? I mean, sure, I’ll never be Alexa the glam model, I’d just be Heather Mason, girl-next-door. But that’s not so bad.”
“Nothing wrong with it at all,” Mike agreed. “So you feel a little used and robbed.”
She thought about it. “Yeah. Am I wrong to?”
“Everyone’s entitled to their feelings, what counts is how we act on them,” he said. “Maybe this will help, though …”
“Lay it on me, teach,” she said heavily. “I’ll take anything at this point.”
“It’s simple, really,” the blonde giant said. “What lengths would you have gone to in order to protect your relationship with Alex?”
Seconds passed before Heather leaned back in her chair and laughed. “Okay, that’s totes valid! I like Alex, but I wouldn’t go to jail for him or ruin my life. Alexa totally would. He’s a great guy, one of the best. And Alexa’s amazing. I get it now. And I wish them the best!”
She stood out of her chair and skipped around the desk to throw her arms around him and give him a big smooch on the check. Mike raised an eyebrow.
“So …” she purred, smiling slyly at him and whispered in his ear. “Did Alex get my favourite body part of his from you?”
“I’m assuming so, since he didn’t get it from Karen,” Mike replied as she wiggled down to sit sideways in his lap and smirk at him. “And I take it you want to find out.”
“A girl’s gotta wonder,” she reasoned in a coy tone, kicking her feet back and forth. “And Alexa told me about you and your wife and the occasional student. Don’t’ worry, your secret’s safe with me.”
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