Here it is. The new story. I told myself time and time again that I would never, ever, ever do a story like this. It was cliché, annoying, and always ticked me off whenever I came across them. But then I began exploring the possibilities, and the plot line began to appeal to me. I'm sure you'll recognize the cliché just a few paragraphs in. -Curiosity
CHAPTER ONE- "Famous Last Words," by My Chemical Romance and "How You Remind Me," by Nickelback
It was dark. And not just the "turn off the lights on the way to bed" kind of dark. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face. The lack of my sight made me shudder with fear, and claustrophobia consumed me. It had the effect of being in a tight box- I was frozen in my standing position, and my vocal chords seemed disconnected from my body.
"I heard he left you." A voice, sweet as sugar, melted into the silence. I wasn't sure what I was shivering for- her voice or the sudden, but not unexpected turn that our "conversation" had taken. "Said he didn't want you, that you weren't good enough for him."
Breaking free of my statue-like position, I reflexively wrapped my arms around my waist. If I hadn't, I may have just fallen apart right there. I didn't like remembering, and I had done a good job of it the past few years. Hearing her talk about it in her pigtails-and-bubblegum voice was like ripping a scab off of a newly healed cut.
"Now, now, now," She continued. "Don't do that. I want to see all of you, to see why they went to such measures to protect such a silly human." And then again- tearing yet another scab. "He left you anyways."
A yelp jumped from my throat as I felt my arm being wrenched from my side by a cold hand. The silence was ruined by a loud "Snap!" and I felt a sharp pain in my elbow. It was, no doubt, broken. I screamed again as the motion was repeated on my other arm. The limbs laid limp in her grasp, useless. I'd never felt so helpless.
"There," She said, a satisfactory smile present in her voice. "Much better. But I still only see a stupid human girl."
I wasn't sure which hurt was worse: my broken arms, or the hole that was attempting to destroy me from the inside out. Her insults were useless. I'd repeated them to myself enough for so long. Hearing her say them didn't have the effect that she wished. I knew I wasn't worth the effort they had given to protect me. I was just a stupid human girl.
Her cold hands snaked to mine, and I felt her brushing her stone thumb against my palm. "Well, Bella? Aren't you going to say anything?"
My mouth moved in a wordless response, but my vocal chords seemed miles away.
I could feel her frowning at my silence, and I became aware of a new type of pain- the crunching of my fingers in her grip. I gasped, the feeling of needles stabbing through my hands. Tears sprang to my eyes, and my heart thudded solidly against my chest.
"Say something!" she hissed. "I want to hear your pathetic voice!"
The hole in my chest was still the most painful of all, so I blurted the first thing my mouth would say. "He left me!" I noticed faintly how strangely dull my voice had sounded compared to the soprano song of hers.
"That's right." She was content again, and she dropped my arms. I cried out when my elbows reacted to the sudden weight they supported. It was silent for a while, but I knew she had walked some distance from me, because when she spoke again, her voice was far away. "God, you reek of Wolf."
Wolves. Jacob. I thought of my fiance's happy grin and only felt more lonely. When he- I refused to say his name, even to myself- didn't return after graduation and my first year of college, I gave into Jacob's eternal pleas. I tried to put the past behind me and submitted to him, allowing myself to suppress fading memories.
It worked for a bit. His easy-going personality distracted me, made it easier for me to relax. But things still haunted my dreams. Sick, twisted, images that always wanted to torture me. I'd be running through the forest, unable to find my way out. Or sometimes I'd find my way out and he'd be there. I'd walk up to him, his face achingly beautiful, and then he'd glower at me, turning and disappearing before I could speak.
But I stayed with Jacob. It was just a bit easier that way.
"I'm sorry." I wasn't of course, but I thought so for a different reason than the normal. I didn't want to tick her off by smelling bad. I just figured she'd kill me quicker that way.
Lights were suddenly flung on, and I winced at the brightness that momentarily blinded me. When my eyes focused, my gaze landed on her, leaning against a doorway. Her fiery hair was neatly brushed around her face, so different than the way I'd first seen her that day in the meadow. She had a content smirk on her angelic face, and her charcoal eyes were almost laughing. Victoria, the subject of several of my nightmares. The reason I couldn't be alone. The vampire that wanted my blood.
But, yet, in the light, I couldn't bring myself to be afraid. Much like when I had realized that James had tricked me and I was about to die. Well, damn, that sucks. It was stupid to be afraid- that was left for people who had hope. This situation was absolutely hopeless. I had no chance.
While my thoughts were settled on James and my experience in Phoenix, I realized where I was. Another ballet studio, with a small camera settled on top of a tri-pod.
Despite myself, I snorted. "That's not very creative." My voice was shockingly level. "Trying to finish the job that James couldn't? What- do you plan on tracking down the Cullens to give them that DVD?" I was amazed at how easily I could say that name when I was so ready to die.
Her answering hiss was loud, furious. It stirred memories that I didn't bother ignoring, seeing as how the hole in my chest was gaping, ready to eat me alive. "How dare you?" I didn't see her move, just heard a sharp shattering in my shoulders as I flew to the ground. My head cracked against the wooden floor.
I didn't bother screaming or trying to run. I guess this was what I had wanted all along. For it to end, be over. The part of my mind that protested against these suicidal thoughts was silenced with guilt. You were with Jacob. Lying to him and yourself. These statements, along with others that I didn't want to repeat to myself, were what made it easy to want to die. I didn't deserve to live. I wasn't good enough for him. I wasn't good enough for Jacob. I wasn't even good enough for Mike or Tyler.
So I stared at the ceiling, ignoring her livid ranting. Her shrill voice was annoying, and I thought, am I so dumb that my last thoughts are "She's annoying?" It was almost laughable. I smiled.
It was a bad move. Victoria saw the slight raising of the corners of my lips and hissed again, lunging at me. I felt her stone knee pressing into my stomach, shoving my organs aside painfully. My vision was filled with her red hair as she leaned to my neck, ripping the thin skin with her teeth. Her tongue was cold as she lapped up the hot liquid that-
I snapped to attention, slamming my hands on my desk louder than I had meant to. It acted as an anchor, holding me to the waking world. Gasping, I allowed my gaze to rest on the fifteen-year-old in front of me. "Yes?" I asked breathlessly. "What do you need, Haley?"
The girl looked at me timidly, holding a small stack of papers out to me. "My report? You said I could bring it to you before homeroom and you'd look over it."
I nodded, taking the report and rubbing the sleep from my eyes. "Thank you, Haley. I'll see you fifth period."
She smiled hesitantly at me before turning and walking out of the classroom.
Once she was gone, I groaned to myself and dropped the report on top of a small pile of papers I needed to grade. I let my head fall into my hands, sighing deeply. The clock in the back of the room told me that it was almost time for first period to start, and I had yet to make copies of the worksheets I was going to have the class do. Shoving my dream aside, as I usually did, I stood and grabbed a folder of papers, gliding out of the room.
I don't know what it was that drew me to teaching. Of all the professions I could have chosen with my enhanced abilities- lawyer, NASA employee, scientist- I chose to teach Freshman/Sophomore biology at Herman High School. It was an idiotic move, but after my life had gone down the drain, I felt I needed to do something totally unlike me. I needed to get away from Bella Swan and create a new life. Therefor, several-hour-weeks and low pay beckoned me.
I started college anew in North Michigan, just below Lake Superior. My first job there was as an assistant teacher (I was pretending to be nineteen), and when I graduated with a degree, I took on my own classes as the youngest among my employees. As of now, I was "twenty-six." I wouldn't be able to stay for too much longer- I could only pass off my twenty-one-year-old face for so long.
While none of the students bothered greeting me, I couldn't help but notice several pairs of eyes evaluating me. It had been that way from the first time I had allowed myself in public (A disaster, it had turned out to be. I nearly killed two children), and by now, I was used to it. My eerie beauty was strange, even to me at times, and it no longer bothered me when my students gaped and stared. It was a small setback that none of the other teachers would speak to me, whether it be from jealousy or the human instinct telling them to stay away. I missed having friends to talk to.
I floated into the main office, stepping up to the copy machine with a yawn. Two balding men were already there, one collecting identical tests that the machine spat out. I leaned against the wall as I waited, toying with a string that had come loose on my form-fitting slacks.
"I swear, she was gorgeous," one of the men, Mr. Keaton, said in a low voice. "She was absolutely hot. I had a hard time remembering that she was a student."
Okay. Ew. And sometimes I didn't miss human companionship.
Both of the men started as I cleared my throat, alerting them of my presence. They must have not heard me coming, because they jumped and turned a strange shade of red. Ah. I didn't miss blushing either. They were silent after that, and Mr. Keaton collected his tests before hurrying out of the office.
Yawning again, I took his place at the copy machine, lifting the tray and lining up one of the worksheets. Of course, the weirdest thing about my changing was not the undeniable thirst or my offsetting beauty- it was the fact that I could still sleep. I distinctly remember that every other vampire I met couldn't sleep. But, then, when was anything ever normal for me? Even when I was a miserable blood-sucker?
I hummed a vaguely familiar song to myself as I waited for the copies to print, patiently twirling a lock of my smooth, chestnut-colored hair around my finger. I'd barely slept any last night, and due to my awful nap a few moments ago, I figured it wouldn't be any better tonight. My nightmares weren't nightmares, really; they were more like repressed memories trying to resurface. I never dreamed of anything that hadn't happened before.
A few moments later, the bell shrieked and I nearly jumped a mile. I bounced on my knees impatiently as the copier continued to print oh-so-slowly. Who knew what my first class was doing right now? Tearing apart the room? Writing immature things on the white board? As soon as the last worksheet was done, I snatched all of the papers from the machine, tucked them in the folder I held, and dashed out of the office.
If there was one thing I was having trouble controlling, it wasn't my thirst. It was terribly difficult for me to remember not to run too quickly or hear things that I shouldn't. While it was hilarious to hear childish gossip and call my students out on it, it was troublesome and annoying when I responded to something said outside of the class. I remembered this as I resisted running at full speed to my classroom, clutching the folder to my chest, and soon enough, I ducked inside.
It wasn't complete chaos- there were a few paper balls being thrown and a couple kissing passionately in the back of the room, but it was chaos enough for me. "Class!" I exclaimed, slamming the folder onto the overhead. "In your seats! Now!"
It's safe to say I wasn't the most popular of the teachers. But, hey, who said I needed them to like me?
Soon enough, all of the students (mostly sophomores) were sitting in their correct desks, deadly silent. It was one thing I enjoyed about their human instincts- I rarely had to deal with disruptive kids. "Now," I began, dusting an invisible hair off of my jacket. "Who can explain endocytosis to me?"
Class drew on slowly, and it only took a few minutes of reviewing for me to get impatient and hand out the newly printed worksheets. They worked quietly enough, despite the soft whispers of a gossipy group of girls in the back, and that pleased me. I usually didn't mind their talking while they worked, but because of my morning-ruining dream, every little thing seemed to be irritating me.
Why now? Why today, of all days, should I dream of the second worst day of my life? I'd gone ten years without having a nightmare about Victoria and the day I was changed, so why did it have to resurface on a Monday morning?
The pencil I'd been using to revise Haley's report snapped under my grip and I tensed, quickly dropping the broken pieces of wood onto the desk. My glare darted to my students, searching for any overly-curious eyes. When I found none, I breathed a silent sigh of relief and brushed the pencil's remains into my hand. I looked to my side, where my trashcan usually lived, but it wasn't there. Frowning, my eyes landed on the black bucket all the way across the room. With a soft growl of frustration, I stood up and glided to the back of the classroom.
My scowl deepened as I realized that the janitor hadn't opened the liner and put it in the trashcan. It sat lazily beside my foot and I had to resist kicking it. Instead, I knelt down and struggled to open the liner with one hand- the other being filled with shattered wood and lead.
I heard the door opening and closing behind me, but I was too distracted to look up. The thick plastic of the black bag was sticking to my pants, static electricity making the hair on my arms stand up. But then I heard an all-too-familiar voice whisper, "Excuse me, has the teacher stepped out?"
The broken pencil fell from my hand, as did the trashcan liner. I didn't bother picking them up- I'd deal with it later. My mind was more focused on the voice behind me and the scents that were floating towards me. Panic welled inside of me, and at the same time, an irrational sense of joy. I quickly shoved the latter emotion aside and stood up on shaky knees.
"I'm here," I whispered, turning around slowly to face the owner of the voice. Alice. She, I'd been expecting- I'd know her voice anywhere. But seeing the bronze-haired god next to her made my breath catch in my throat. His eyes were a warm, caramel color, one that I'd become accustomed to, but they were dead, lifeless. His frown seemed like it was permanent, and even his hair didn't have the same playfulness I remembered. He wasn't the one I'd tried to forget. He was just a body. An empty shell.
I tried several times to swallow the lump that had formed just above my collarbone, but to no avail. "How can I help you?" I finally said, my musical voice trembling.
The shock on their faces matched mine, and something sparked in his dead eyes. They were suddenly alive, lit with fire and confusion. "Well, Edward," I heard Alice whisper too quietly for the other students to hear. "Aren't you glad you stuck around before asking to switch classes?"
And I know I should have pulled them outside and demanded what they were doing here. And I know I should have been ecstatic to see their faces. And I know I should have moved from the spot where I'd frozen. The only thing running through my mind, though, was "How ironic." The first time he'd made the decision not to kill me, the first time he'd spoken to me, and the first time I'd been dazzled by him... They'd all happened in a biology class. And what what was I doing now? Teaching a biology class.
You see the irony, no?
Alice was the first to recover. She held up a small sheet of paper. "We're new. This is supposed to be our first period?"
I nodded numbly, commanding my feet to take a step. Somehow managing to make it to my desk, I sat down in my chair, picking up a pen and taking the paper she offered. Her eyes were wide, bright with excitement as she watched me sign my name in the first blank. "Welcome to my class, Miss Cullen."
I looked up, then, and Edward was staring at me with a look of frustration and pain. "You too, Mr. Cullen." I took his paper, making sure not to touch his skin, and signed it as well, holding both sheets out for them to take. "We're studying active transport. Do you think you can catch up?" It was surprisingly easy to keep up my little charade with the students sitting and staring. I feared for after class, though, when I would no longer have an audience.
"I think we can manage," Alice replied for the both of them. Her smile was blinding, and her hand continued to grip the strap of her purse tightly.
And then he spoke. Even though I was a vampire, and his velvet voice shouldn't affect me as much as it would if I was human, it still knocked the breath out of me. "It was all for nothing?" He asked, the silky purr edged with anger. "All those years?"
After a few moments of breathing deeply through my nose, I let my eyes flicker behind them. "There's an empty table in the back." I said, not wanting to bring up the past thirteen years in front of my biology class. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to bring it up in a private room. I wasn't sure if I wanted to speak to them at all.
Oh, please. Don't even try and fool yourself, Bella.
Alice turned immediately, bouncing towards the table in the back. Her brother, after a moment, reluctantly followed, not taking his eyes from me. I tried to look back at Haley's report and concentrate on the words in front of me, but they swam around the paper, much like the thoughts in my head.
He was there. Less than ten feet away. After thirteen years of wondering if we'd even been on the same continent, he was sitting in my classroom, ignoring the worksheets I'd had the students pass them. The hole that I'd thought would stay shut was suddenly ripped open, and I wrapped my arms around myself, leaning over and touching my forehead to the desk.
I'd go up to the office and swear I was sick. It shouldn't be too hard to convince the principal- a quick batting of the eyelashes, putting on a pitiful facade. I should be able to do it easy. But as much as I commanded my body to get up and move, to pick up the phone at my side and call the office to request a substitute, I was glued to my seat, my breath coming quick and shallow. The force of his gaze held me to my spot, even if I couldn't see him.
I could hear the frantic scribbling of several pencils on paper, and with a combination of seven years of experience and extra sensitive hearing, it was easy to tell that everyone was more focused on the new students and my reaction to them than the eating habits of an amoeba. I hoped that they didn't pay too much attention. It wouldn't be a good thing for them to notice that my health suddenly took a negative turn the moment they arrived.
They could obviously feel the sparking electricity between the Cullens and I as well. Their whispers suddenly intensified, silent enough that a normal teacher wouldn't have heard anything, but of course, I picked it up.
"Do you think Miss Swan's taught them before?"
"No, my older brother had her his freshman year, too. She couldn't have had them- she's too young."
"Well, maybe she's had one of theirolder siblings?"
"I guess that might work."
I was too busy trying to focus on breathing to silence them. It'd been ten years since I'd felt so helpless, and all because he was sitting in the same room as me. I felt more afraid than anything. He'd left me, let me get lost in the forest, let me be captured by Victoria... I didn't know why I felt afraid, but I did. What did he think of me now? Was I still not good enough for him? Was he going to make his family leave again? Just because I was teaching here?
The bell rang again after what seemed like forever, and I tried to distract myself by emailing the attendance to the front office. It didn't work very well. When the bell screamed for a second time, the class stood and shuffled out of the room at a faster pace than necessary.
I kept my eyes on the door as they all filed out. Well, all but two. Edward and Alice inconspicuously stayed behind, gathering their things at a slower pace than even a human would. The psychic danced to my desk as soon as the students were out.
"Oh, my god, Bella! What are you doing here?" She was exactly the same as I remembered, if not just a bit shorter. But, hey, that was from my doing, not hers. "You look amazing!"
Her brother stood at her side, his eyes flickering from lost to furious. His gaze never moved from my face, and I felt uncomfortable under the weight it held.
"Get to class," I finally choked out. "You don't want to be late."
Alice's face fell, but Edward's only darkened with frustration. But then, as he turned to leave, it was lightened a bit with something else- relief. His sister left more reluctantly than he did, but after a moment of watching me wordlessly, she followed.
As I watched them float out of the classroom, I frowned. Two down, three to go. Who knew when Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper would walk into my room? My hands clenched in fear.