During Ben's ten-thirty class, he decided that he was done. This particular group of students was the worst group that he had and he was just over them. They didn't pay attention to his lectures, the homework they turned in was abysmal at best, they filed in and out of his office complaining about everything under the sun, and he was not going to put up with this shit anymore. So he stopped his lecture and told them to read a chapter in their books, and knowing that they weren't going to do it, he sat down at his desk, grabbed his laptop, and formed a quick yet difficult quiz.
The quiz was waiting for them in their student portals when he decided that they'd had enough time to read, and when he told them to take it, there was a very large groan. He didn't care about their protestations that they hadn't been able to read that fast because if they had paid any attention to their syllabuses at all, they would have known that they should have been six chapters past that chapter in their out-of-class reading already. When he pointed that out, they all fell silent, and Ben just sat back down at his desk and waited. As the finished quizzes were submitted back to him, he glanced through them enough to know that they had all failed, and he announced that another quiz would be happening on the next day the class met about the six chapters they should have read by now, so he suggested they actually read them this time.
Then he dismissed them despite there still being a half an hour of scheduled time left. He could not handle looking at a group of students who were so unbelievably disrespectful anymore.
Since he'd done that to his first class of the day, he did it to all of the others as well, and by the time he was leaving the campus to head home, Ben was certain that only ten to fifteen people had actually passed his surprise quiz. That just made him more frustrated than ever and made him want to drink the entire bottle of whiskey sitting in his apartment. Ben knew better than to do that, but he also knew better than to even drink a glass of it that night. All that would do was make him actually drink the entire bottle, and Ben had plans for the next morning that didn't involve being hungover before teaching his Wednesday afternoon classes.
The moment he got in his car, he realized that sitting at home going through the quiz results and formulating the one for the next class was probably a very bad idea. So he did the thing that he'd been doing more frequently in the past month than he ever remembered doing before.
He went to Jakku.
The café was busy when he walked in, but there was a table at the back that was available, so he grabbed a menu and headed towards it. Poe had given him instructions the day before to just seat himself whenever he came into the café, and so he was going to do just that. He set his messenger bag in the chair next to him once he was seated, reaching into it and pulling out his laptop. It was time to go through the quizzes that his students had taken that day, and he was not looking forward to it at all.
The more they failed it, the more difficult he was going to make the next quiz. He didn't give a fuck if they all failed it. The more inept they proved to be when it came to what he was teaching, the more he was going to give them all a failing grade for the semester.
Well, except for the one or two that actually paid attention, did well on the quizzes and tests compared to the others, and whose essays weren't abysmal. Those he would give a passing grade to if they kept things up. But if they started dropping off in quality, then he'd be happy to fail them too. They were worth passing grades, but they certainly weren't worth the best grades.
He had just signed into his laptop when he heard his name, and he looked up to see Rey approaching him with coffee and water on her tray. “Hello, Rey.”
“You look terrible,” Rey said as she set the drinks down on the table. “What's happened now?”
“My students are idiots, as per usual,” Ben said, reaching for the coffee and taking a long sip. “A surprise quiz today went about as well as I expected it to. They're all going to fail the one that's next too.”
“I'm sorry you ended up with such a horrible group of students this semester,” Rey said, reaching out to tuck some of Ben's hair behind his ear. “Is it usually like this?”
“No,” Ben said, shaking his head. “There's always some that never should have signed up for my class, but it's never all of them.”
Rey gave him a soft smile and Ben thought he could live for it. “Do you want anything to eat yet? I take it the laptop is to grade the quizzes on.”
“Yeah it is, and no, I don't think I'm ready to order something yet. Maybe in an hour or so. I'm sure I'll be so angry by that point that I'll need some food to distract me.”
Rey caressed the side of Ben's face before leaning down and kissing him softly. “I'll come back when I can, okay? I feel like you need to talk this anger out instead of just sitting with it.”
Ben smiled at her. “You know me pretty well for not knowing me that well.”
Rey smiled back. “I know you more than you think. I'll be back soon.”
Ben watched her walk away before taking a deep breath. He had a question that he'd been planning to ask Rey that night when they spoke on the phone after her shift, but since he was in the café now, he might as well ask her in person. He'd arranged things with Poe already, and Poe had given Rey Wednesday morning off, but Ben was absolutely terrified of asking Rey what he wanted to ask her.
He turned his attention to the laptop in front of him and he had graded ten quizzes before the chair across from his was pulled out and Poe sat down. “Did you ask her yet?”
Ben sighed heavily. “No, I have not. I've barely spoken to her since I got here.”
“I don't know why you're so nervous about this. This has to be easier than asking her to have dinner with you,” Poe said, reaching out and closing Ben's laptop. “And you can stop working on whatever that is and start focusing on asking Rey this.”
Ben rolled his eyes. “I am allowed to work while she is working.”
“You are avoiding doing what you need to do, Solo. And I'm not going to let you do it,” Poe said firmly. “You are not retreating back into yourself now that you have gone on one date. No fucking way.”
Ben sighed again. “I am not doing that. I swear.”
“Then the next time she's here, you're fucking asking her. I gave her the morning off for this.”
“I am going to ask her while I'm here,” Ben said seriously. “I was going to ask her tonight on the phone, but then I had the day from absolute hell and decided to come here instead of sitting in my apartment and getting drunk. Asking her is something that will make my day better and I need something to make my day better.”
Poe studied him for a moment. “You're being serious.”
“Of course, I'm being fucking serious!” Ben exclaimed. “I want to spend time with her, idiot. I will do what I have to do to make that happen.”
Poe broke out into a big grin. “Hearing you say that might be the best thing in the history of the world.”
Ben shook his head. “I need you to shut up and leave me alone so I can get these fucking quizzes graded so that I have the time to actually do what I want to ask her to do with me.”
Poe sighed. “Fine. But if you don't ask her the next time that she's over here, I'm going to come slap you.”
“I do not need to be threatened with physical violence to make me ask her this,” Ben said, opening his laptop back up. “Go away.”
Poe stood up. “I am serious about slapping you.”
“I'm serious!” Poe exclaimed as he walked away.
Ben signed himself back in and resumed grading, and he'd gotten all of his ten-thirty class's quizzes done before Rey approached the table again. “Hey.”
“I am so sorry that it's taken me so long to get back over here, but we're pretty busy at the moment and Rose has the day off,” Rey said, smiling at him. “However, it is now my break and I would like to join you.”
“By all means,” Ben said, motioning to the chair across from him.
Rey sat down and drummed her fingers on the table. “How's the grading going?”
“I want to kill my students and their disrespect for me. It makes me feel bad for their other professors because if they're doing this to me, I would almost bet that they're this way with them as well. It's disgraceful.”
Rey reached across the table and tangled her fingers with his. “Well, maybe I can do something to help with that.”
“Just seeing you is helping with that,” Ben got out, surprised that he managed not to sound nervous. “Rey, I...”
“Do you want to have breakfast with me in the morning?” Rey asked suddenly. “I mean, I have the day off and you have the morning off, and I was just wondering if maybe...”
Ben broke out into a smile. “You have exactly the same idea I had, you know that? I was going to ask you if you wanted to have breakfast with me tomorrow.”
Rey laughed. “So I guess we're having breakfast tomorrow.”
“I'd really like that,” Ben said, and Rey squeezed his fingers. “Where should we go?”
“I thought maybe we could get bagels or a pastry and coffee from this coffee shop I like to go to and then go sit in the park like we did with the ice cream,” Rey said, smiling when Ben nodded. “Then come pick me up around nine? Or is that too late for you?”
“No, nine is fine,” Ben said, that smile on his face again. Rey always brought it out of him and after the day he'd had, he was happy about it. “What coffee shop is this?”
“Coruscant,” Rey said. “Is that alright?”
Ben bit back the sigh that he wanted to express. “It's fine. We just might encounter someone that thinks they're my friend again.”
“Is that going to be a problem? Because I don't mind meeting your friends, Ben.”
“Hux is not my friend,” Ben said seriously. “He just thinks he is. And I'm just telling you that we might see him and he might make a big deal out of things the way Snap did. I don't want him to scare you off.”
“Hux? Oh, I wouldn't worry about Hux. I can handle him.” Rey heard her name get called out and stood up, smiling at him. “I'll come back and work the details out later, okay? Or are you ready to order yet? I can get that while I'm here.”
“No, I'm not ready to order yet,” Ben said, reaching for his coffee. “But I will be by the next time you come back.”
“Then I'll come back soon.” Rey heard her name again and sighed. “Back to work. See you in a bit.”
Rey walked away as Ben reached for his coffee, taking a long sip. He hadn't been the one to ask, but the objective of what he was planning to ask was now happening, and that was all that mattered.
They had another date. Breakfast in the park was going to be great.
He just hoped that Hux wouldn't ruin it before they could get there.