Don crept into the classroom and claimed a seat nearest the door, slouching down slightly so he would remain unseen. His eyes scanned the room briefly, taking in the eager and interested faces of each student before coming to a stop on one that stood out. The young man was frowning slightly at his notes, then up at the professor, who was presently diagramming a particularly complex equation on the board. Don figured that this student had to be the infamous 'Kyle' he had heard about.
Turning his gaze to Charlie, Don was pleased to note that the uncertainty and reserved mood that had been hanging over the young man's head was nothing more than a memory as he explained exactly what it was he had just written. There was no doubt about it; Charlie was very much in his element, and anyone watching him could tell. His love for math was clearly infectious, if the probing questions from his class were any indication.
The impromptu meeting that had been held a few days ago seemed to have worked wonders on his little brother. Charlie had returned to CalSci more self-confident than before, ready, it seemed, to take on the world. Don knew from a few sources that Charlie had finally conferred with the dean and Kyle, but he had yet to talk to his brother about the outcome. Don was hoping to rectify that as soon as Charlie finished wrapping up his lesson.
The young professor glanced at his watch, then clasped his hands together. "Looks like we're out of time for today. Continue practicing some of the problems on this page for homework, and we'll go over them next week."
Don observed the rise in chatter among the students as they collected their bags and stood. Several students stopped by Charlie's desk to ask a few questions, but didn't stay long. The last student at Charlie's desk, to Don's surprise, was none other than Kyle himself.
Charlie and Kyle spoke in low terms, but in the emptying classroom, their voices carried over to Don's seat, and he could clearly hear every word spoken.
" . . . so this number is actually a constant then?" Kyle was asking.
Charlie nodded. "That's right. You factor it in here-," he pointed at something on Kyle's book, "- and the rest of the equation works itself out."
Kyle nodded. "I see now. Thanks, Professor. Same time on Monday?"
Charlie grinned at him. "See you then."
He watched his student leave, then was about to turn his attention to his blackboard when a movement in the back of the room startled him. He looked back and was surprised to see Don rising from a chair. "Don! What are you doing here?"
"I heard some rumors around campus that there was this math professor everyone wanted to take, and I had to come see what the fuss was all about for myself," Don teased lightly. He nodded at the door. "That was him?"
Charlie nodded, ignoring his brother's comment. "That was Kyle."
"I take it your conference went well then?" Don pressed.
"Not at first," Charlie admitted, gathering several books in a pile. "I told Dean Edminton about our meeting on Wednesday, and she was there when he showed. He wasn't too happy about it; kept trying to say nothing was wrong."
"What changed it?" Don wanted to know.
Charlie shrugged. "I guess when he realized we weren't about to let him worm his way out of an explanation. He finally admitted that he felt embarrassed when I singled him out, and thought that I was doing it just for that reason. We finally straightened everything out, and now we meet three times a week for extra tutoring to help him out. He's really a bright student, but his lack of attention in class put him behind the others."
Don nodded, helping Charlie heft some of the many textbooks and walking with him into the hall. "I'm glad everything worked out for you, Buddy."
Charlie smiled beatifically, eyes fixed firmly on the hall before him. "Me too."
AUTHOR'S NOTES, CONT'D
I could just hear the flames in my head and figured I'd try and head some of them off. As I stated in the beginning, I went through an experience nearly identical to this. The person that I dealt with was nothing but kind and helpful to my face. When I figured everything was all right, I would hear reports from my coworkers about how this person was bad-mouthing me to them. It didn't make much sense to me, and it still doesn't. Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, but not before causing me several weeks of serious stress. I hope you enjoyed this story!