Author: Tristyn Des Fleurs PM
What would happen if Bella faced herself? What would happen if the Cullens had more to their histories than a vague sense of compassion and an impossible biology? Twilight re-write: expanded, humanised, and filled with dreams. AU. Non-AH. Full summary inside.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 11 - Words: 34,093 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 75 - Updated: 04-27-13 - Published: 08-30-11 - id: 7338929
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice. Either way, I still won't be making money off this. The world isn't so nice.
Chapter Three: The White Road
but not too bold."
English Fairy Tales,"Mr. Fox"
There were voices, both hushed and raised. I could hear them, but my focus slipped whenever I tried to hear the words. There was a warm palm on my forehead; the heady, perfumed scent replaced by something softer, the smell of coffee and make-up. I was on a cold surface; each small movement was met with the crackle of thin paper. Even without my wits about me, the sound and texture informed me I was in the Nurse's office, on an examining... bed? board? I struggled to think of the correct word, and it was enough to drag me back from the depths.
Table. It was "table", an examining table. The more I thought of the word "table", the less it seemed like a real word.
I opened my eyes, and the headache, eye ache, limb ache, everything ache hit with full force. "Ughhhh... ow."
"Isabella?" The school nurse felt my forehead again; concern lined her face.
"Yeah, it's fine, uh, ma'am." I blinked several times. "What's going on?"
She clicked her tongue. "Allergic to Edward Cullen's cologne, it seems. You fainted dead in the walkway between classes! I must say, it was quite a sight to see that little Alice carry you in here; did you know she did gymnastics? Those kids really are something." Seeing her patient unharmed, she spoke cheerfully. She helped me off the table and told me to try walking around the room.
After the head-rush passed, I found my balance, though my legs still wobbled a bit. "Am I free to go?"
She pursed her lips. "Well, maybe it would be better if you waited for a bit before you tried driving home. Edward carried in your books, and it had your schedule on it; I hope you don't mind I excused you from gym."
I nodded calmly, mentally shouting and crying praises to the beautiful merciful goddess that was the school nurse.
There was a soft rapping at the door; I jolted slightly upon noticing the pixie girl's face on the other side of the glass.
"Yes, yes, come in dear." The nurse opened the door. "I don't know why I let you convince me to excuse you though, Miss." She smiled amicably, in a maternal sort of way.
"It was myidiot brother who decided to take a bath in perfume stink. The least I could do was wait to see if she needed a ride home." Alice skipped over to me and took my hand. "My name is Alice Cullen! Sorry about him. It's so nice to meet you, Bella! You look a lot better now. I will drive you home if you want. I can pick you up in the morning too, if you're worried about your car. Oh! My family said you introduced yourself at lunch! Jasper said, 'Oh, Bella's very funny. Sweet girl. You'd like her." I wish I'd been there to meet you, too! It would be great if we could become friends!" She was bouncing from her excitement, speaking so quickly that I could only stare at her dumbly. How on earth can this woman breathe?
"Oh! Is she okay to go yet? Maybe we should sit outside. It's a bit warmer out now and the fresh air should do her good. If that's okay with you, Bella? Oh! You're from Phoenix though, yes? It might feel too cold—"
The nurse interrupted her. "Yes, yes, it's fine. No need for both of you to stay in this little room anyway," she opened the door and ushered us out into the hallway. "If it's too cold, Bella, feel free to wait in the office instead." The nurse had adopted my nickname; perhaps it was because of Alice.
Alice, who had now taken me by one arm and my books by the other, fairly dragged me out the door in her excitement. I could smell that same, light smell from earlier; it was pleasant, but quickly drowned out by the scent of rain. I looked toward the clouds. It was certainly darker outside now, but Alice had been right about it being warmer. We sat, silently now, on a wooden bench several paces outside the school offices, listening to the patter of raindrops on the overhang above. I was mesmerised by the wall of fog that swept forward between the trees beyond the student car lot.
"I'm really glad we moved here, you know," Alice said softy, her attention also focused on the forest. "You just wait until winter. It's a fairy-land. It makes me miss Alaska, though."
I was surprised by the turn of conversation. "You're from Alaska, then?" She nodded with a distant smile.
"Yes, two years ago. We lived there for about five years; before that we lived in Chicago. Alaska was Jasper's favourite. I never understood why; we didn't live close to any cities." She smiled sheepishly. "I like to shop."
I smiled at an image of Alice skipping through a shopping center. I could visualise the scene perfectly. "You'll have to tell me about the city, someday. Maybe we can compare Chicago to the shops up near Seattle," I said carefully. She said she wanted to be friends, but...
Her head snapped back toward me in surprise, but her eyes glittered in excitement. "Yes! Absolutely!" She was the very image of joy; one would think I had announced world peace! Her smile was contagious, though; I was happy too.
"So how did Alaska grow on you? You said you didn't understand it?"
Alice nodded toward the forest. "When you're in a city long enough, it's hard not to appreciate a bit of wildlife." It was a simple reason, and one I understood. We sat in comfortable silence for several minutes, watching the rain start to fall more heavily. Sometimes a breeze would go by, sweeping waves of mist and raindrops back in curtains.
I was the first to break the silence. "I can't believe I fainted just because a boy wore cologne. How embarrassing."
Alice laughed. "It's okay, he's way more embarrassed than you, trust me."
"I... don't think he likes me very much. I talked to your family a bit in lunch, but when we got to class... I mean, I'm sorry if it sounds rude, he just seemed pretty angry until the end, but suddenly he was all polite, and—"
"Yes, yes, Edward's a weirdo. My family can back you up on that." She laughed and stood from her seat. "He's awesome though, he's only weird and angsty around people he doesn't know well; you'll probably be in his poem-diary tonight. Seriously though, he's my best friend. You should get to know him a little more. Once he calms down, I think you'd like him." I wondered what it was about this family; it was hard to be uncomfortable around them, except Edward, perhaps. Why don't they have more friends?
"Anyway, school's letting out soon; Jasper is riding with the others today, he already texted me. Let's get going." I blinked in confusion for a moment, then blushed furiously once I caught her meaning.
"You were serious about that? It's okay, I'm fine, I can drive myself."
"No, no, I know," she waved her hand, as though to brush away the thought. "I just wanted an excuse to talk to you more." She grinned; once more, I couldn't help but smile back.
I stood up as well, about to ask where she had parked, when I saw her smile had frozen in place. I followed her eyes toward the school, seeing nothing. "Alice, what's—" I began to say, before I saw Edward stride around one of the buildings. I couldn't see his expression.
Alice took my arm and started dragging me again. "He can drive his own car, don't worry about him. Rose and Em will go with him, Jazz too. You're hungry, I'm sure you want to get home to eat," she said distractedly.
My stomach chose that moment to growl. "Well, yes. How—"
We arrived at the car. "If you talked with my family at lunch, you probably didn't have much time to eat?" Alice sat in the driver's seat. "Take the passenger side. By the way, what kind— Oh." I had just shut myself in; I looked reflexively toward her. My hand froze on the door handle. Alice rolled down her window, looking somewhat miffed. "Hello, Edward."
"Hello, Alice." He learned forward to eye level, his eyes falling on me with a soft, curious expression. "...Isabella." My breath caught in my throat. He straightened, speaking to Alice with a winning smile. "I was thinking, you know. Her being ill was entirely my fault, wasn't it? Why don't I drive her home?" His voice was smooth, compelling. "The smell was only on my jacket, after all. I'm sure it would be fine now. We could keep the windows open." He appealed to me, then. "What do you say, Isabella?"
"Bella," I said, my lips moving before my mind.
"Bella," he amended blithely.
"Bella?" Alice asked. "What about—"
"Now now, Alice, you can't monopolise the new girl. Regardless, it's her choice." I couldn't see her face, but her shoulders stiffened.
"You're right. It would be a shame if you couldn't trust someone to make their own choice," she said. The conversation seemed stilted; I knew there must have been some subtext, but it was lost on me.
He stared at her intently; I wished furtively that I were better at reading facial expressions. That's what I get for being a book nerd, I suppose. Must continue speaking with real people more often. I looked at the two beautiful siblings again. Though, they seem like they should be fictional.
"You can trust me." I snapped out of my reverie. His gaze was turned to me, now. Had he been looking at me before, when he said that?
Self-absorbed, I criticised myself; my face coloured in contrition.
"See?" he smiled victoriously.
"Uh," I said eloquently. "Okay." Once more, my mouth moved on auto-pilot. For some ridiculous reason, I did want to go with him; I wanted to know why he seemed angry at me, and why his demeanour had changed so drastically. On the other hand, the much much heavier hand, it was awful to ditch Alice. "Actually, can't we all go together? Or something?"
"Oh, Alice and I both ride different cars."
My mind scrambled. "Uh, you're both welcome to hang out at my house for a while?"
"One of us has to drive the others home." His smile widened.
"I'll just drive myself and see you tomorrow in school?" I was feeling more anti-social with each second; being put on the spot for decision-making did not help.
"As someone who caused you to faint I must ask that you please accept a ride."
Alice broke out of her silence. "Edward, stop being so contrary. She'll ride with me and we can meet at the house, if Bella would like to visit our home instead?" She didn't seem very happy about it. I am so confused.
My brain collected itself long enough for me to form a coherent sentence. "Are you sure I won't be an imposition?"
"Nonsense. Didn't you hear us fighting over the pleasure of your company?" It was Edward who spoke this time. To my surprise, he actually seemed a bit put-out. Was he disappointed over my not driving with him, or because of my question? "Though the offer stands, if you'd like to ride in my car instead."
I am so so confused. It is the first day of school. I talked to strangers. I talked to really very beautiful strangers. A boy hated me and then took my arm and we walked and I fainted like a lady in a movie. Now I have a new friend, and she and her brother are fighting over my custody. What is my life. What is Forks. What are these people?
My vivacious New Girl, New Town Courage© drained out of me. In the past ten minutes I had reverted back into being a girl who sits alone at lunch and feels nervous when ordering from fast-food menus. Perhaps if I still had my Umbrella of True Justice, I could find my strength.
Just then, there was a tapping at my window. Speak of the devil. Jasper stood outside my door with one hand in is pocket; he was twirling my umbrella. I stepped out to meet him, accepting it gratefully.
"I'll need to get one of those," he said with a smile. "Felt like Gene Kelly, dancing along in the rain."
"He was, it was awful." The lovely blonde girl from earlier appeared then, holding hands with... Emmett, his name was.
She turned to face Edward. "We need to stop by the college. Drive with Alice, I'm borrowing your car."
"Yes ma'am," he agreed instantly, holding out his keys. The girl— Rosalie— stared at him suspiciously.
Alice thwacked the steering wheel. "Oh, hell with it. Edward, get in the car."
SOMEWHERE IN WASHINGTON
The walls were cracked and peeling. Strips of old wallpaper moulded with blotches of pitch black and threaded white. Some of the ceiling had long since started to cave in; the floor of a closet in the corner inches thick with putrid sludge that had once been rainwater and melted flakes of clean snow.
The carpet was coated with grime and varying in colour, as though painted by a mad artist who chose to work only with droppings and decayed unknowables. Something that must have undoubtedly been a mattress sat in the room, taking up nearly half the space. It was partially covered with a sheet, which was riddle with holes and stains of dubious origin.
Sitting on the mattress was a well-dressed man and a corpse. The man's face was smeared with blood, as was the corpses neck.
The corpse twitched and its mouth jerked open in a spasm; it gave a shuddering moan.
"Shh," the man hushed, pushing a lock of the corpse's hair behind its ear.
A/N: Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain" belongs to whatever company owns it. Go look the song up on youtube, it's awesome.