The Teacher and His Student
Chapter 1 - First Impressions
Bella had never had a problem with tests. She had the ability to retain large amounts of information with very little effort on her part, and besides she found school interesting. She liked to learn, and would much rather stay in curled up with a good book in front of a warm fire than take to the wild clubs with her other friends. Bella was an academic, and seeing as she was a scholarship student and so really couldn't afford to be anything else, this was a good thing. Because although her friends could afford to be lackadaisical in their approach to schoolwork, assured that even if they didn't make the grades then mummy and daddy could probably buy them into an Ivy anyway, Bella didn't have that luxury. She had neither the money nor the legacy.
Not that she needed that luxury. Although she lacked the funds necessary to enable her to buy the designer clothes so many of her peers owned, and although she probably had nowhere near their alcohol tolerance levels, in some ways, the scholastic ways at least, Bella was more suited to Allen Poe High. She was headed for great things, and all she had to do was complete her final year with a near perfect GPA; something that this test couldn't possibly mess up.
While all of her friends were still frantically scribbling down answers (she heard a bang that she was almost certain represented Mike Newton slamming his head against the desk in vain) Bella sat back and relaxed. She had already covered all the material on the test, and the calculations provided her with little difficulty. Bella had finished within the first forty-five minutes, and as such was left with half the allotted time to sit and stare into space should she so wish.
Bella didn't so wish however, because it was much more interesting to stare at their new teacher, Mr E. Cullen.
He had sprung a test on them during their first lesson, an action Bella would be tempted to assume represented inexperience and a wish to try and ease himself into the job. It was after all daunting to get up and speak to twenty over privileged seniors, a test offered the perfect bypass to that, as well as giving the heads up on any problem areas.
But although he was young (if Bella had to guess she would say early twenties) there was something about the way he held himself that conveyed his complete and utter confidence. As if this was a man who knew exactly what he was doing and who was fully ready to take on any would be troublemakers. She doubted any of those troublemakers would be female. Because Mr Cullen was incredibly handsome.
His copper hair was perfectly styled into a messy I-got-out-of-bed-half-an-hour-late look, and locks of it fell over crystal clear grey eyes. His face was angular, manly, but held a certain boyish charm that was set alight by the way his eyes sparkled, all of which was complimented by the expensive, no doubt designer suit that he wore. He sat at the front of the class fully engrossed in the book he was reading, "Wuthering Heights." He made no attempt to hide this fact, perhaps silently daring anyone to challenge his apparent like of classic romance.
He was certainly an oddity. Bella's last physics teacher had thought Bronte was an insult. Classical literature and physics just didn't go together, something that had been drummed into her head by the headmaster for roughly three years now.
She did feel slightly sorry for him though. His captivation with the book meant that he was oblivious to the quite frankly blatantly obvious cheating that was occurring around her. A good proportion of the class had their phones out, and the others were making no attempt to hide looking at the papers of their neighbours. He was probably planning his lessons based on the weaknesses and strengths that his students showed during this test, and if they all copied off of each other then whatever he planned would be useless.
"Time's up," Mr Cullen told them, snapping his book closed and placing it on the desk in front of him. "Pens down and then pass your tests to the front please."
Bella turned round to take the pile of test papers from Angela, the girl sitting behind her.
"I'll see you all tomorrow." He nodded towards the class. "Except for you."
"I'll see you in my office at two sharp."
She looked up to find Mr Cullen's face, which was marred with a frown, icy eyes fixed upon her. The whispers and stares of her classmates immediately made her flush in anger. She hadn't done anything wrong, in fact she'd been the only one not to cheat in her test, and here she was being frowned at and called out in front of the whole class.
"Could I ask what for, sir."
"No," he replied simply, as the bell signalling that it was time for her English Literature lesson rang.
She stomped out of the classroom fuming, listening to her classmates' alternate lamentations about how the test was impossibly hard and didn't have any real life applications. This only angered her further, because she knew that she had done well on the test, and by the sounds of it was the sole pupil in her class.
He was probably trying to stamp his authority down. It was a pitiful tactic that all new teachers seemed to employ in an attempt to secure future good behaviour. Bella had chosen a seat at the front of the class and this is probably why he had picked on her. Better to make an example of a student who was obviously not a troublemaker, than be too ambitious and take on someone who was well versed in public confrontation with authority figures. He obviously wanted a success story.
She arrived first to her English class and picked a seat at the back, hopefully then in the event of another new teacher she would be perceived as badass enough to ensure that they would think twice before attempting to make an example of her.
"We're sitting at the back now?" Angela asked in confusion.
Bella simply sat there and seethed in response.
"Why do you think Mr Cullen asked to see you at lunch?" Angela questioned softly, taking the seat next to Bella.
"Because he's obviously an oppressive bully who feels he has to bring his superiority issues into the classroom."
Angela stayed quiet after that.
By the time two o clock rolled around Bella had spent a productive English class imagining several different scenarios of what she would do to put Mr Cullen in his place. None of which she would have the courage to do of course, because it was just starting to dawn on her. She'd been called back after class!
She wasn't the girl that got called back after class. She never even got told off. She had the perfect attendance record, and handed in every assignment punctually simply to avoid this very situation. Bella's stomach flopped with nerves. Now her first impression with her physics teacher had been well and truly ruined; and with it her references and possibly a bias against her grades.
Bella knocked on Mr Cullen's office door softly. Perhaps he wouldn't hear and she could claim that he hadn't been in when she'd called?
He had exceptionally good hearing. Although it was probably lucky that he did, as that pathetically see through excuse definitely wouldn't endear him towards her.
Bella stepped into the room, resolved to keep her head held high and to meet his gaze directly. She didn't want him to know how on edge he'd put her; that would give him the advantage. She would just apologise for whatever she had done to annoy him and be resolve everything before the end of lunch.
"Ahh Miss Swan. Have a seat." He indicated the seat across the desk from his own.
"Mr Cullen I want to apolo-"
He cut her off.
"How did you find todays test?"
She frowned at the man in front of her. He couldn't possibly have called her here to talk about her test paper. He had summoned her to his office before she had even handed it in.
"Some of the questions were… challenging," she answered diplomatically. She doubted her aim of warming this man up to her would be achieved by telling him that his test was incredibly easy and posed no challenge to her whatsoever.
It appeared that she was wrong.
Mr Cullen gave a sigh. "You've become too comfortable."
Bella frowned. "What do you mean?" she blurted out, before adding an awkward "sir."
His eyes flicked up to meet hers, annoyance evident in them.
"The test I set this morning was far above the level expected of your age group. Unsurprisingly most of your peers took it upon themselves to cheat, but you, had completed your test within half of the time given."
He was looking at her like she was the biggest disappointment to the school.
"I really don't understand what the problem is, I completed your test. Did I do badly?" Bella questioned.
Honestly, this man was completely impossible. How could he be annoyed that she had completed a test that was above her skill level? Surely a student that showed an aptitude for his or her subject was what every teacher wanted.
"That's part of the problem," Mr Cullen continued his disapproving look traded for one of exasperation. "You were perfectly content to waste half of your time daydreaming. You could have handed in your test and gotten on with something else. But your focus is entirely on your grades."
"Well of course it is." Bella jumped out of her chair. "That's what I'm at school for."
"You're at school to learn," Mr Cullen stressed. "But you're happy know only what the syllabus dictates you have to know. Despite your natural academic ability you're lazy and see learning merely as a way to get into an Ivy."
"Now you're just assuming things," Bella snapped.
She would never normally dream of talking to a teacher like this, but the accusation was incredibly offensive. Bella wasn't lazy, if he wanted lazy he should look at Jessica's pathetic attempt at the last assigned history essay. It had been ten words long.
She on the other hand stayed in her small apartment, denying every request that she join her friends at the bar, working as hard as she possibly could. He was being incredibly unfair, and talking about her as if she was another student who needed a kick up the arse as motivation.
"Am I wrong?"
Bella hesitated. Some lies were just too obvious.
Mr Cullen continued triumphantly. "The school system is set up against students like you. Curiosity and a wish to learn for learning's sake are characteristics that are seen as unnecessary and aren't picked up on. You are the result of the inherent flaw in the examination system."
Bella blushed. What girl didn't like being called a flaw by a handsome older man?
"The way you handled the test tells me far more about you than the grade could possibly do alone."
She folded her arms and looked away from him, every bit like the petulant child he probably assumed that she was. Her obvious irritated demeanour seemed to please this sadist.
"What the score did tell me however, is that you are ahead of your peers. Your laziness and complete disregard for furthering your education don't change the fact that there is absolutely no point in you staying in that class. A change of schedule is in order I think."
"You can't just do that," Bella hissed at him.
He beamed at her. "I think you will find that I can indeed do that."
And she fully believed him.
Because with a smile like that, it would be impossible for anyone to resist anything that this man wanted.
She was still gawping at him when he handed her a piece of paper.
"I'll see you tomorrow at half past six."
Her mouth snapped shut.
"Oh, so you don't usually begin your morning with first order differential equations?" Mr Cullen smirked, maliciously.
Half past six. She was a senior, she wasn't even meant to be aware that times like that existed.
"And don't think you'll be able to snooze through either. These classes are one on one."
Bella resisted the urge to bang her head on his desk.
It was going to be a long year.