My sincere gratitude goes to a bunch of wonderful gals who helped me whip this fic into shape - V, MarchHare5, luvrofink, prassacut & chrissy1201. You rock!
I don't own Twilight, but I do intend to do with my characters whatever I want to. While this bunch won't be as OOC as some of my other characters, you should take those 3 little letters seriously.
If you have any problems reading a story containing slash and threesomes, and people who are not in a relationship having sex with others, then please, don't read this story. Same goes for use of moderately strong language and mild substance abuse. If age gap stories are not your thing, and you don't trust me not to make you cringe, then please turn away now.
Why no categories and character tags? I didn't find any category fitting - the sex is mostly lust and curiosity driven, but not by love; there won't be gut-wrenching angst or drama; Just see for yourself! With three main characters I felt like choosing any two of them would be highly limiting.
The story will be in Bella's POV exclusively, and right now I'm not planning on any outtakes etc. in other POVs.
"What is it that makes people do things? Extreme things, ordinary things – what exactly motivates them? Is it random? Do they react to patterns they have learned from those close to them and their environment? Is it something inherently imprinted that is part of all of us?"
Good questions. The only one relevant to me was, 'Why the hell am I sitting here, for no extra credit, on Wednesday night, listening to Professor Watch My Blond Mane Shine drone on about motivation and the human psyche?'. I knew I should have opted for Criminal Psychology for an elective instead of going with Psychology of Group Dynamics. That at least would have been gripping and gory, but no, I had to go for the sensible choice that sounded more useful for my main curriculum. Now I was stuck with the swooning masses, almost entirely made up of girls, who avidly gobbled up the crap the esteemed Carlisle Cullen was spoon-feeding them.
Normally, I wasn't so critical of my professors, even less so in the first week, but I was still pissed that I didn't get into Prof. Addler's course. I'd wanted to take it since I'd started, and something always went wrong; it was like a curse. This semester I had even bulked up on other classes because I had hoped that with my set schedule they'd favor me, extra effort and all that – but no. Of course, Cullen's seminar was just as overbooked; maybe I'd find someone to switch with me.
Listening to him go on about peer pressure and how the human mind was working differently in the context of competitiveness, I pulled out my phone and logged into the general psychology forum, trying to be as stealthy as I could about typing my quick request for someone to get me out of this hole. I was so immersed in it that I didn't even notice when the room fell completely silent around me.
"Take, for instance, your own reactions to the blatant disregard your fellow student is showing at the moment. What fascinating endeavor can possibly be more engaging than the pursuit of knowledge? Ten bucks that it's connected to a social media site, thus bringing us back to the aspect that we're all thriving to be part of a living, breathing community, even in the times of cyberspace."
I didn't need to look up to know that everyone was staring at me. They had to, seeing as Cullen was still standing right in front of my seat, even though I was four rows into the room. I've never been one to avoid confrontation, though, so I raised my head once I hit 'send', catching the gaze of his blue eyes steadily.
"Then you owe me ten bucks. It was the university forum, not Facebook or Twitter."
He blinked, and I was sure that he found my response irritating, although he didn't show it outright.
"And you wouldn't describe a forum of whatever fashion as social?"
"Social, yes, but the term 'social media site' implies something completely different. I didn't check up on the latest gossip, nor did I play a round of 'Words with Friends' or something similar."
"What did you do then that couldn't wait until the class was over?"
The way he kept regarding me was making me vaguely uncomfortable, and not just because he had caught me. There was something inherently impolite in his refusal to look away.
"I was actually trying to find someone to switch classes with me."
Probably not the smartest thing to tell him that to his face, but I didn't believe in lying just to avoid a little conflict. Plus, maybe he'd be less obnoxious if he realized that not every woman was fawning over him.
"And that couldn't wait until later?"
"Well, it could have, but considering it's your class I want out of I figured I might as well not waste my precious free time later."
His mouth twisted into a thin line, but it was amusement that lit up his eyes, not anger.
"What's your major, if I may ask so boldly? You don't strike me as the typical psychology student."
"Political Science. I only took your course as an elective."
"And now you rue that decision, ten minutes into the start of the class already? I don't think quitters get ahead much on the minefields of diplomacy of this world."
That made me gnash my teeth, but there wasn't much I could say to that without sounding whiny or childish.
"It's better to quit early, though, than drag something with you just because you think you have to stick with it, when already you can tell that it won't be of any use to you."
"What makes you think my course won't be of any use to you? Being able to better judge people's reactions in different social environments is a skill anyone who has to deal with groups on a regular basis will need."
Now it was my turn to be amused.
"Is that really what you're teaching here? Because to me it was looking as if you were just basking in your own glory in front of your adoring fans."
That caused a murmur to run through the class, and I couldn't help but feel a little stupid for saying that out loud. Cullen kept looking at me, and I bet he got off on watching me squirm.
"Either that, or you just helped me prove my first point!" He turned from me then to address the assembled class. "Your colleague here has every right to call me out, seeing as I've done nothing but hold a ten minute monologue, when the really interesting thing would have been to ask for and include all of your opinions. Yet you're all so used to having knowledge told to you, presented in well suited little bits and pieces, that you didn't even question my methods. But you should. The world has too many people acting like sheep already; you should make a point not to belong to them."
I had to admit, I was a little impressed by his ability to just take my criticism and turn the other cheek like that, but not impressed enough to actually want to stay. I was just about to gather my things when his voice held me back.
"Of course, you're free to leave any time, Miss, but maybe you want to give me a real chance first? I might still surprise you."
His blue eyes were once again fixed on me when I looked at him, and after a moment's hesitation I gave a curt nod and relaxed into my seat again.
"Maybe I should."
Cullen resumed talking to the class then, albeit asking for more opinions now, and people started warming up to him reluctantly, yet steadily. I couldn't help but feel like I was somehow trying to sabotage him with my contributions, but he didn't seem to mind in the least. Or so I thought, until the class was over and I tried to leave, but found my exit blocked by him.
"May I ask your name? Even if you decide to drop my class I'd like to know who my adversaries are."
He said it with a smile, and I accepted the sting of his words with as much patience as I could. If I were him, I would probably have kicked out my sorry ass by then.
"Isabella Swan," I replied, then held out my hand to him belatedly. He didn't hesitate to take it, his handshake firm.
"And have you decided whether you will continue to grace my class with your presence?"
I shrugged, feeling myself blush slightly when I realized that I had underestimated him, and my mind wasn't made up yet.
He raised his light brows at that.
"I thought a woman with such a sharp tongue would have a more eloquent answer for me than a lame 'maybe'. You disappoint me, Ms. Swan."
"Why should I care about that? Because I'm a woman, and women don't take criticism well after they've handed it out with a ladle themselves?"
"So defensive. Are you sure that you're not trying to deflect something with that reply? We should discuss that in more detail over coffee."
My ire rose at his words, and I had to swallow hard not to storm out right away.
"I don't think that would be appropriate, whether I keep attending your class or not."
He grinned, as if what I had said was funny. Maybe to him it even was.
"I think you misunderstood my offer. While you were so busy trying to get out of my class, I mentioned that I'm holding a discussion group each week after the seminar, for those interested in a more hands-on play-by-play, and some further in depth information. At the coffee shop down from the lecture hall."
"Oh," was pretty much all I could say to that.
"Why, what did you think I was implying?" he asked, his cocky grin destroying any respect I'd started to have for him.
"Nothing," I huffed in return, but then decided that if I backed down like that now, I could just as well quit completely. "So, is this discussion group tonight already, or starting next week?"
"We're starting in twenty minutes from now, if you're interested. I, for once, would love to hear your candid opinion when we're on a more equal basis, and you don't feel the need to prove that you're the best student any professor could ever have."
"That wasn't my intention," I tried to defend myself, but he just shrugged and turned away, effectively dismissing me. Somehow, that was even worse than being called an eager beaver. It also left me with the distinct need to show him that I wasn't just ambitious, but really had a point with my objections. I already hated how easy it was for him to get me to jump exactly how high he wanted me to, but I had to admit, I was impressed about that nonetheless.
"Wow, I feel like this class is going to give me whiplash from all the ping pong argument to and fro," murmured an unfamiliar voice behind me.
I turned, slowly, finding myself face to face with a tall guy with reddish-brown hair that stood on end, even more so when he scratched his head. He looked vaguely familiar, and when my gaze skimmed over him some more, I finally realized why.
"Hey, you're the guy who moved into the room across the hall from mine, right? With the "I lost my faith in Nihilism" slogan on your messenger bag?"
He wasn't wearing it now, just carried his spiral notepad in his hand, but I could see by his smile that I was right.
"And you're the girl with the weird roommate. 'Hi, I'm Tanya, if I hang my bra on the door knob that means I'm having sex with someone, but feel free to join anytime?', right?"
I snorted, shaking my head at Tanya's antics, but then nodded when the look on his face turned quizzical.
"Yup, that's her. A real keeper."
A moment of awkwardness followed, as was often the case when I had to admit that I was living with a slut hell bent on corrupting my morals. As usual, I did my best to smile and make fun of my living arrangements.
"I'm Bella, by the way."
"Edward," he offered, and after a couple of seconds a slight lopsided smile appeared on his face. "I sadly don't have anything interesting to say about my roommate, because he seems like a total and utter bore. Not that I mind. It's great when I don't get woken up at three in the morning by the drunken moaning of him and some girl he's banging, but that's really the only thing I can say about him after three days."
"Sounds like fun. If you ever feel the need to, you can always share Tanya's hilariousness with me. In a strictly non-sexual, make fun of your roomie kind of way, I mean."
And now I was blushing, and he seemed to find that cute, judging from the way he was grinning at my reddening cheeks, which only made my ire rise in return. I really didn't know what it was about me, the things I said, and men finding them funny for no apparent reason.
"I might get back to you on that if things stay the way they are now."
"You do that."
Silence fell again, and this time it was Edward clearing his throat that broke it.
"So, are you going to that discussion group? You really should, you were the one redeeming thing about his class."
"You think? Why are you even here? You don't quite fit the demographics."
"Why, because I'm a guy?"
"Well, yeah, and because you don't want to come after me with torches and pitchforks."
"I'm sure that can be rectified somehow. Maybe if we call a flash mob on Facebook? It would fit into the theme of the class, too. Mind sacrificing yourself for some extra credit?"
"Not quite yet, but I might get back to you if the class turns out as boring as I thought in the first place."
Cullen took that moment to sweep by us, gifting me with a toothpaste commercial worthy smile, and a strangely lingering look at Edward next to me.
"You guys coming, or does your courage to discuss things reach only as far as you can slander me to my face?"
There wasn't really anything I could say about that, so I shut my mouth and trudged after him like the good little pupil I was.
Two hours, three tall lattes, and a lot of arguing later, I had to admit that my first impression of Carlisle Cullen had been wrong. He'd definitely played us in his first lesson, and if I hadn't been the one to speak up as I did, he would have found someone else to 'foil' his plan, but as it was, I was glad it was me. Outside of having to stick to his curriculum, he was happy to let discussions run wild, and having Edward along, whose major turned out to be philosophy, added quite a different spin to some of our arguments. Besides us, only three others from class had come, and they were mostly mute as they watched us hurl arguments and insults at each other. It was fun and the most prolific discussion I had had since I went to college. I was sure that if the coffee shop hadn't closed at midnight, we would have stayed there until much later, and as it was, I was already uncustomarily late as I walked up the stairs to my dorm room, Edward following behind me.
"So, are you going to stick with this?" he asked once we stopped in the hall between our corresponding rooms.
"I guess so. It was more fun than I expected."
He seemed to agree with me, and we parted ways there.
Unsurprisingly, Tanya was nowhere to be found, but at least that meant I could get some studying in before sleep carried me away.
That was the first time I dreamed of Carlisle Cullen and Edward Masen. We were sitting around a small table, a pizza box between us, and were arguing about whether you could apply the 'glass half full' theorem to food as well. Somehow, that dream made me twice as happy as usual that I hadn't picked psychology as a major.
I hope you've enjoyed the start of my new multi-chapter fic!
I intend to update on Tuesdays, maybe switch to Tue / Fri updates again if I find enough time to write. I'm on a very tight schedule right now between university, work, and trying to keep a semblance of a social life. I love your reviews, and I appreciate your comments so much, but I'm afraid I won't be able to reply to them regularly. If there are questions, I will try to answer them, maybe even on my blog.
See you soon!