After one of the worst night’s sleep of your life, you wake up to an empty dorm. Immediately, you know something is wrong. You don’t want to look at your alarm clock. You don’t want to know how late you are. You know you’re late for sure, because you actually feel pretty rested, and the way you were tossing and turning all night, there’s no way you would feel this good if you’d gotten up on time.
Class starts at 8.30 am. Maybe you’ve just missed breakfast. Maybe you can still make it if you pull on your uniform and run… “FUCK!”
The scream erupts from your mouth before your brain even registers the time blinking at you:
You are screwed. Seriously. Being one minute late is grounds for being written up at the Academy. You’re going to miss the whole class. For sure.
You need a good excuse, and you need one quick. Except there are no good excuses. This place is ruthless when it comes to attendance. Even if you say you’re sick, it’s not a good reason to miss class. You have to report to the nurse. And you haven’t done that, because you’re still in bed.
Terra has grounds to tear strips off you now, and you know she wasn’t exactly happy to begin with…
“I’m fucked.” A strange calm settles over you as you realize that there’s nothing you can do to change the trouble you’re in. You lie there in bed, meditating on how much you’ve screwed up, feeling the panic abate to be replaced with resignation.
After a while of laying there, you get up and leisurely prepare yourself for the day. There’s no hurry. You’ve got another hour before your next scheduled class. At some point, a message comes. Terra wants to see you in her office. Of course she does. You pocket the message and kiss your ass goodbye before heading along.
Terra’s office is small and sparsely decorated. A sword and pistol hang on the wall. They look used. Aside from that, there’s a glass desk with an instructor’s tablet on it, and a couch against the back wall. You get the strong impression from the lack of personal touches that Terra doesn’t like to show much of herself.
She’s waiting there for you, sitting in her office chair. For a brief moment, she’s shorter than you. She motions for you to sit and you do, taking the uncomfortable plastic chair meant for visitors who shouldn’t stay long.
“Where were you in class today?” She gets straight to the point.
It’s hard to answer her. Her presence is distracting. In these close quarters, you can scent the light fragrance of the shampoo she must have used that morning before winding her dark hair atop her head.
“I am so sorry, Instructor Terra,” you say earnestly. “I don’t even have an excuse.”
“Well, at least you’re honest,” she says. “Let me do you the same favor. Before yesterday, you’ve had a more or less perfect record here. Then you failed a single assessment and since then you’ve been about as off the rails as any cadet gets.”
You doubt that’s true. There are definitely worse cadets. But you don’t interrupt her.
“Yesterday evening, I tried to snap you out of it with a spanking, and today you were completely absent. Which means that punishment didn’t work very well, did it?”
You shrug a little, unsure of what to say. You’re feeling very nervous all of a sudden. And then she says it. The thing that’s been hanging in the air since you walked into the room.
“I’m wondering if a change of instructors might be helpful fo….”
“No!” You burst out the response before you even think.
Terra quirks a brow at you. “No?”
“You’re a great instructor, uhm, Ma’am,” you say hurriedly. “I’ve just had a bad day or two, that’s all. I’m sorry. I’ll be better.”
She looks at you compassionately. “I know you don’t want to switch instructors, cadet, but…”
You can feel tears welling in your eyes. This isn’t fair. Yes, you’ve messed up a few times, but you haven’t done anything to deserve being transferred. Maybe Terra just wants to get rid of you. Maybe it got weird when you followed her last night. Fuck.
“It’s okay,” you sniff. “I understand. I’m too much trouble. You’ve got better students…”
Terra shakes her head at you. “You don’t understand at all, cadet,” she says. “It’s not about you being a bad student. It’s an ethical situation.”
Now you’re just confused.
“Last night,” she says. “When you came down the hall after me and I sent you to bed…”
You blush furiously at the memory.
“I didn’t want to send you to bed, cadet,” she says softly, her blue eyes warmer than you’ve ever seen them. She doesn’t elaborate on what she means, but you get it. It’s in her gaze and her voice, and her whole being. “Yesterday, when I said you’d been flying under my radar. That wasn’t true either. You were never off my radar,” she admits. “But you’re my student and I’m your instructor and…”
“I’m an adult,” you remind her.
“There’s a power imbalance,” she says. “It’s unethical for me to bring this up with you, cadet, but it’s relevant to our training now. I crossed a line last night. And it’s already impacted your studies. You’ve missed a class because of it. I’m going to have to sanction you again. I’m sorry, cadet, but I think you need another instructor to get you through this course.”
The tears start to flow down your cheeks. You’d rather she took her belt off and paddled you with that than say this.
“Please, ma’am,” you sniffle. “I don’t want to be with another instructor. I want to be with you.”
“We can’t be together,” she says gently, taking the double meaning of your words and making it clear. “And I care too much about your success here to let you fail because of a crush.”
You shake your head at her, your eyes filled with bitter tears. “You’re still doing it.”
“Treating me like I’m some little idiot,” you say. “I’m an adult, Terra. I know what I want. You can spank me for missing class, you can whip my butt for kicking Boris, you can cane me for all I care, but don’t tell me what my feelings are, okay?”
“Fierce little thing,” she murmurs as you growl tearfully at her. “I’m doing this for you, cadet.”
“No, you’re doing it for you,” you say angrily. “Do what you want. Transfer me if you want. I don’t have any say in this anyway.”
You turn and storm out of her office, tears running down your cheeks. If she intended on punishing you, she can go to hell. You stamp down the hall, doing your best not to cry and failing.
“Hey, what’s wrong?”
The last person in the world that you want to talk to is standing in front of you looking kind of concerned. Boris.
“Nothing,” you sniff, pushing past him.
“Hey!” He catches your arm and pulls you back. “I know we give each other shit, but we’re damn near family. What’s wrong?”
You wipe your eyes on your sleeve and try to stop crying. “It’s a bit late for the big brother act, Boris.”
“Better late than never,” he shrugs. “What happened?”
You need to tell someone, and everyone is going to know soon enough anyway. “Nothing, Instructor Terra is transferring me because I’m a huge fuck up, so go ahead and laugh.”
“Damn,” he says. “Really? You’ve got some of the best scores in our unit.”
“I guess I’m going to have the best scores in someone else’s unit,” you shrug.
He smirks at you. “That’s the cadet I know,” he says. “Keep your chin up. And don’t worry about what some dried up old instructor thinks. She doesn’t know anything.”
“Well, thank you, Boris!”
Terra’s voice interrupts your little pity party. Though you’re miserable, you could almost laugh at his stricken expression. He talks tough, but he’s the same puddle of nerves under Terra’s gaze that you are.
“You’re dismissed,” she says in icy tones. Boris scuttles away, leaving you standing there.
“What do you want?” You ask the question abruptly. Rudely, even.
“For starters, I want you to address me as Instructor Terra,” she says crisply. “Secondly, I want you to march your butt back into my office.”
“Why? I’m someone else’s problem now.”
She leans down, her face a mere inch or so from yours, her eyes narrowed sternly as she replies. “I didn’t think you’d be so upset at being transferred, cadet. I thought you might be relieved. I thought the reason you weren’t in class today is because you had decided to avoid me and in doing so, jeopardize everything you’ve worked for. I didn’t realize you were in the midst of one long temper tantrum.” She points in the direction of her office. “On the double, cadet. Now.”
“Are you going to transfer me?” You hold your ground until you get the answer you want.
“The only place I’m transferring you, is over my lap, you brat,” she says. “Office. Now.”