I groan, grabbing my head and wondering what the hell I had to drink last night. It takes me a minute to sort back through my dreams enough to piece it all together, but the answer is nothing, or at least nothing after those coffee drinks we got, which were barely alcoholic, and also which happened substantially before I went to bed. Several hours substantially. And I know I got enough to eat and was hydrating – I shove my head back into my pillow and fumble around for water.

Darren’s helpfully left a few bottles on the other nightstand for me, along with a note, tucked between them, which falls somewhere out of my immediate range as soon as I move one of them and whatever, I’ll find it later. I misaim with the one I grab. It smacks me in the back. Lovely. I grab at it and manage to get the cap off, but I only take a few sips before I’m just. Not. I cap the bottle again and sigh, flopping back down. I drop my arm back over my eyes. Like, I’m probably hungry, but at the same time, fuck breakfast.

I yank my drawers open, one by one, trying to remember where the fuck I put the ibuprofen, and I’m surprised to find I can actually remember how much force to use on them so as not to fling them across the room.

It takes some doing, but I finally find it, take a pair of pills, and down the rest of the water bottle. The fact that I feel sick and not like drinking it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not dehydrated. Hydrating is a good way to get ready for the day. Plus, now all the drawers in the entire room are conveniently open, so I just summon over some underwear and more than one sock and a shirt and hope to fuck I can figure out where my pants went before I accidentally leave for work without them. It’s still a little bit of a struggle to pull everything on (minus the extra sock), and the blanket gets stuck inside my shirt twice, and I put my underwear on backwards the first time, which I guess is what I get for buying symmetric underwear. It’s times like this I wish I had the power to fly, or at least float. And I have no pants.

Oh, right. My pants are in the wash.

That was probably what the note was about.

I pull open the dryer, and they’re still damp, but wearable. Once I tug them on I shut it again, letting it rumble back to life. The pockets stick to my skin, both during and after the tugging them on part, but it doesn’t do much more than make me swear at them. I should get new pants. These ones are starting to look almost gray. I glance down to make sure I’m not wearing cargo pants instead, but, no, these are definitely mine. Just old.

I grab some juice out of the fridge and shake it as I try to decide what I want to eat. By the time I’ve finished drinking it, I still have no idea, so I give up and grab my phone and whatever paperwork I’m sure I had for a reason that I’m probably finished with now, and you know what, if I’m not I don’t even care, it’s all going to the same place in the end anyway. I pick a sweatshirt up off the chair and shrug it on. It’s worn out and probably extremely unprofessional to wear, but it’s warm, and it smells nice, and it has holes for my thumbs, and no one will even see it under my coat, anyway.

I give up on the book I’m listening to halfway through the drive. I have to keep skipping it back, and at some point I lose track of where I’m even skipping it back to, so I just put on the radio instead. It plays boring, unoriginal music at me. I don’t even register the change from it to the elevator music until I’ve already stepped out of the elevator.

A couple people say hi to me. I’m almost entirely certain I say hi back.

I shut the door. I mean, I’m not the only one who uses my office, so it’s not like nobody could come in even if I locked it, and, anyway, I’ve already told a bunch of people they’re welcome anytime, plus I pretty much have to be here if the kids show up with any problems, not that they probably will, because it’s still school hours, although I might not be accounting for short days and school holidays, or they might be sick, although if they were sick I don’t know why they’d be here, unless they were only faking. Of course, if they do have an emergency they have to skip school for, I’m probably a good bet to talk to, actually, fuck. I have no idea when Lisa’s showing up.

But the door closes and muffles the sound in the hall, and the office almost shifts colors with the sudden calm and solitude. I lean my head against the lockers for a few minutes, and decide not to change after all. If someone needs Teke, they can fucking ask for him.

I make myself a cup of coffee, instead, taking my time adding just the right amount of sugar, mixing in syrups just so. The smell permeates the room, just coffee and printer ink and the weird smell of new monitors that hasn’t gone away yet. Office smells. Work mindset. I sit down in my chair, close my eyes, and sip my coffee. It’s nice when it’s this quiet. Just the one cup, and I’ll open the door back up. As soon as I finish my coffee.

I open up my latest reports on the kids, update my notes, rework the schedules a little bit, and send off a few messages, including confirming a guest lecturer. It’s easy to get lost in the rhythm, so much of what I type up so formulaic, half of it with the headers already filled in. There are questions, here and there, from kids who are thinking about joining the program or thinking about transferring, some from my actual students, something from Gatling’s parents. Some interdepartmental stuff to deal with. Something of Lisa’s to sign off on, a short interview to send back upstairs for vetting, and the soothing clack of keys. Before I know it, my coffee’s gone.

I sigh, get up, and make myself a second cup. Just one more. Promise.

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