A/N : This is my second Baxley piece. It takes place in my Modern Archaeologist AU, where Phyllis Baxter is an archaeologist, specialising in European Roman sites (especially in England), and Joseph Molelsey (or "Joe", to his friends) is a classical languages specialist, a linguist (Indo-European languages: including Tokharian B, old Slavic, old Persian, Latin, Greek, etc.: if you are an Indo-European linguist, those are all languages that you have a good understanding of, nothing incredible, that does not make him a Gary Stu), and is interested in epigraphy, and Neo-Latin literature (non-professionally for that one).
As always, your feedback keeps me going, tells me what I do right (or not).
Soles occidere et redire possunt(1)
"Tell me I don't really have to go to the Faculty meeting, John." whined funny-looking Classical Languages and Literature Professor Joseph Molesley, as soon as his friend and colleague, Medieval Arabic Literature Professor John Bates, arrived. The man raised an amused eyebrow, chuckling at his friend's antics.
"Come on, Joe. Let's not be late. Last time, the Dean almost bit your head off"
Joe sighed, but apparently resigned to his fate, closed his office, and followed him in the corridor.
Joe would never change, thought John Bates, shaking his head fondly. The man was a whizz in languages, linguistics, even epigraphy. You could ask him to decipher, translate or interpret the most abscond textual fragment and, although it would take some time, he would always get back to you with a heavily documented answer. Not even hapaxes could resist the man! It was the same in the classroom. It had been long since the Faculty had had such an inspiring classical philologist teaching the grads and undergrads. The student positively enjoyed going to his Greek or Latin grammar class, or even to the Indo-European linguistics classes.
However, when it came to Faculty Meetings and drinks, Faculty Dinners, or the other social tasks – be it every day or required by his functions –, the man was so out of his element, that it was comical. Sitcom comical. Not that Joe was one of those socially awkward geniuses that made most of Hollywood's comic relief nowadays. Joe was a kind, socially astute, intuitive, serviceable man. Always ready to help. Well-liked, if somewhat pitiful. For her never seemed to get a break, to have any kind of luck. At least, not outside of his field. If someone happened to bump into the Dean, spilling both their drinks on each other, getting chew off, you could be sure, that it would be Joe. Someone happened to misplace their keys, and had to wait an hour and a half in their car, with rain pouring all over them, for his neighbours to arrive back home, and open his door? That was Joe. Getting drunk out of his mind at the last Faculty Dinner, dancing a curious mix of jitter and jive on 70's music, then crashing into a table and falling asleep on top of it? Joe. Only Joe. He had an uncanny ability to be clumsy and embarrass or humiliate himself in the most complicate manner in the simplest of settings, and at the least opportune moment, reflected John.
Still, he had a heart of gold, and had always be a good friend to John, supporting him even when his first marriage had gone pear-shaped, and John had fallen prey to alcoholism. It was thanks to Joe that he was out of it. He had also helped him with Anna, his current wife, when he had, at one point, been sweet on her himself. Yes, Joe was a good if awkward man.
Today, however, was the "First Faculty Meeting of the Year", school- year, that is. And Joe was already getting nervous, afraid of acting like a complete prat. It seemed that there would be one or two additions to the staff, and there would be the usual preparations for the Department Meetings to begin. John just patted his shoulder in a brotherly fashion, and pushed the man out of the library, and into the auditorium where the meeting would take place.
"Just relax, Joe, and don't overdo it on the booze. I think Charlie and old Mrs Crawley still haven't recovered from your performance last time." He said, unable to refrain from teasing him.
"Don't remind me" moaned Joe, passing a hand all over his face "I have a headache just thinking about it, and I still can't look them in the eye"
They took their seats at the back of the room, at the edge of the row, John on the inside, Joe on the outside, putting their jackets on the seat beside him. They chatted pleasantly, John giving his friend news of Anna and the children, while they waited for the Dean, Medievalist Professor Charles Carson, to arrive.
"Excuse me?" asked one of the gentlest, most charming voice that Joe had ever heard.
"H'm?" he said, his eloquence deserting him once more as he turned towards the woman who had just spoken, a gorgeous dark-haired siren.
"Is this seat taken?"
"Wha-?" he answered, then shaking off the hypnosis her appearance seemed to have put him under. "Oh! Sorry, sorry, let me just move my things." He mumbled, the tip of his ears already burning.
"Thank you" she said sitting down "I'm Phyllis Baxter, by the way."
Phyllis. Foliage. Demophon's lover. Even her name was beautiful. He thought gobsmacked. Thankfully, John kicked him in the ribs before he could make an even bigger fool of himself.
"Joseph. Molesley. But you can call me Joe."
"Then you must call me Phyllis"
(1) Quote from a latin poem by Catullus, meaning: Suns may set, and rise again