A/N: Hey guys, this is the re-written version of Fahrenheit for anyone who has read further before! I hope you can all take the time to review and let me know what you think so far as it would mean a lot to me, considering you, the readers, are the motivation for me to keep writing this. I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight Saga, or any of its original characters.
1. Hope and Normality
I remember everyone had been given bright pink party hats, and that I hated the color pink. I remember the cake crumbs that kept sticking to my fingers because of the obscene amount of sunblock plastered on my skin. And then I remember drowning in the Peachtree Corners community pool.
That was my seventh birthday party. It had both started and ended with my mom screaming down the phone to my grandma - tears and curse words galore on both occasions. The first time had been because Gram had met a new fancy man and couldn't make it to my "special day", and the other was from a hospital waiting room while my parents waited and waited and waited, expecting to hear the worst.
Just to make it clear, though, the doctors were able to resuscitate me. Obviously.
I had always thought that it was the most terrified I would ever feel – the dull weight of chlorinated water pushing down on my lungs before everything went black – until one evening back in February when my parents broke the news to me over dinner that they had decided to get divorced, like it was any other easygoing topic of conversation, and all of a sudden I felt like I was drowning all over again. The problem was that this time no one seemed to realize what was happening to me – no one except Gram and the fancy man that became her fourth husband, that is.
In fact, it was my step-grandfather, a Native American guy called Hudson who smoked way too much pot and spent way too much time fishing, who had arranged for me to stay with them for the summer so that I could clear my head and try to come to terms with my parents' decision to part ways.
It was only in hindsight that I wished he'd also taken the initiative to arrange my transport from Sea-Tac International Airport to the isolated reservation where he and Gram were living out their retirement. After almost an hour of waiting by the baggage claim and trying hopelessly to find an inexpensive taxi company that would take me all the way to La Push, I was on the verge of a panic attack. It was moments like these that I hated myself for not having passed my driving test.
So far I had called their home number seventeen times to no avail, and I was beginning to run out of witty threats to leave on their answer machine.
"E.T.'s calling home here," I sighed into the receiver of my cell phone. "It would be great if you could send the mother-ship to pick me up before I have to probe someone!"
It was a useless feat, though. They were likely either not in ear-shot of the phone or not even home at all.
By the time it was getting dark and the airport was starting to clear out, I made a last ditch attempt and began to follow the directions outside to the bus station when my cell phone began buzzing like crazy in the pocket of my denim jacket.
"Oh, thank God," I answered instantly instead of simply saying "hello" like a normal person.
"Who is this and why the hell are you going to probe someone?"
I couldn't help but frown as I realized the male voice was unfamiliar to me, as I probably was to them.
"It's Allie, is Hudson or Ruth there?"
There was a long pause and then he said, "They're out at the moment. You're their granddaughter, right?"
"Yeah, the one currently stranded in Seattle, to be exact,"
"Shit, um, hold on a second - Brady, come take the phone," he said, and a muffled conversation followed that I couldn't quite make out. A moment later he'd handed the phone over to who I could only assume was Brady, Hudson's great nephew, who told me he'd come to get me as soon as possible.
With a deep sigh, I headed out of the rain and back inside the airport, wondering just how much longer I'd be waiting here. Eventually I retired to one of the benches where a variety of people were waiting for arrivals and tried to keep myself occupied by re-reading my worn copy of The Hobbit.
I was finding it hard to keep my eyes open, let alone focus on the book in front of me, when I finally saw a haphazardly made sign with my name sprawled on it in bright green Sharpie. It was held up by a guy who was so tall and muscular he could probably be in the NBA, while he searched every face that passed him in an almost predatory manner as he presumably tried to find one that looked like mine.
"I assume you're the welcoming party," I began conversationally as I approached him.
The guy turned to me with a grin so broad that I thought his jaw was going to dislocate at any second and I found myself smiling back politely, hoping secretly that he was in fact Brady and not a murderer.
"You must be Allison," he gestured to the bright green writing. "I'm Brady. Sorry it took so long for me to get here,"
"Just Allie, not Allison. In fact, please never call me Allison,"
His grin got wider, if that was even possible. Damn.
"Well, Allie," Brady said with emphasis, "let's get you back to the rez before it gets even later."
I conceded and Brady took my suitcases from me, not even straining with the weight, which made me instantly jealous as I had struggled with just one of them. We made our way towards the outdoor parking lot where my horse drawn carriage, AKA a rust-gathering Volvo that was so old it really belonged in a Swedish museum, awaited.
"I'm sorry you couldn't get a hold of anyone sooner," Brady offered sheepishly after all the polite small talk had seemed to run dry. "Hudson had an emergency meeting with the rest of the Elders and Gram went with him. I'd literally just gotten home when Seth pointed out that we had fourteen messages on the answering machine,"
"Was that who called me back?"
"Yeah, he's a close friend. Pretty much the definition of a doormat. That alien thing kinda freaked him out," he laughed.
"I'm glad it did," I sighed, looking out the passenger window as we passed through the city limits. "At least it got you out here."
"Would you be annoyed if I told you I sorta forgot you were coming today?"
"Honestly? I'm too tired to care right now. How long's the journey, anyway?"
Brady considered this. "Four hours if we stick to the speed limit, three hours if we don't. It depends if you want me to be a responsible driver or not?"
"Well, let's try to make it two," I said, earning another grin in response.
"Fine but if I get a ticket it's coming out of your pocket,"
"I wouldn't have it any other way," I laughed.
"So you've been to La Push before, right?"
"Yeah," I told him as I tried to find a radio station to my liking. "I used to visit every now and again when Gram first moved, but the travel was expensive and my dad couldn't always get the vacation hours so we stopped coming."
"That sucks," he said, and I nodded in agreement. "I moved in with them just after I turned thirteen. We probably would've met sooner if you'd kept visiting,"
We probably would have, which was a shame as Brady seemed brotherly in a way that made me look forward to the summer ahead. I was an only child and I had no cousins that lived close enough to Georgia to get to know properly, so the idea of having someone in that respect was kind of nice.
I eventually settled on a local station that was playing an old Oasis song, and for the first time in months I was finally starting to feel myself relax with the prospect of spending my vacation in a place where I wasn't perpetually on the verge of tears.
Gram, Hudson and Brady and their home in La Push held the promise of hope and normality – the two things I had been craving for what seemed like forever - and I held on to that thought as I drifted to sleep somewhere on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
"Hey, wake up," a voice said way too close to my ear before I felt Brady not-so-gently nudge me in the ribs. "We're here."
I opened my eyes to find that we were parked in front of a small two-story house that I vaguely recognized in the dark. The front yard was an overgrown blur of flowers and a broad figure at the edge of the wrap-around porch, most likely waiting for us to get out of the car so that they could greet us.
"Is that Hudson?" I asked sleepily.
"Yeah, chain-smoking like an idiot as usual,"
"His hair's all grey," I said with a frown as I opened my door and gracelessly climbed out into the drizzle. Had I really not seen him in that long?
"Probably the same color as his lungs," Brady laughed, shaking his head.
I waited until Brady had effortlessly gotten my suitcases out of the trunk before following him to the front door. Hudson appraised us as we approached before pulling me into a big, smokey hug.
"You guys were quick," he noted, giving his great-nephew a suspicious smile. "Seth said you only left around half-five."
"Found a new shortcut," Brady offered up quickly.
"Like hell you did," Hudson laughed. "Get caught this time?"
Brady pretended to look hurt for a second. "You act as though I'm regular law offender, Pops!"
"Maybe my apathy to your juvenile behavior is just an indication of how much I love you,"
"Or perhaps it just shows how apathetic you are to my very existence,"
Hudson threw his cigarette butt into a small metal bucket by the door. "Don't be so hard on yourself, especially in front of Allie! I don't want her thinking I'm not a family man."
"I would never think that," I said as he gave my arm a squeeze.
"And that's why you're my favorite," he laughed, shooting Brady a quick wink. "Now let's get you two inside and out of the rain. Your grandma's waiting for us in the kitchen."
Hudson led us inside the house and I was immediately met with the smell of lavender and Gram's hazy perfume as we headed down the hall and into the kitchen. My grandma was sitting at a cluttered breakfast table, her silver hair in a myriad of curlers and a cup of steaming tea in her hands.
She looked up as I walked through the door way and her leathery face broke into a smile.
"Sweetpea, your aura is all over the place! You best get over here and hug me quick," Gram demanded.
I did as she said and I was swept into the folds of her paisley dress within seconds.
"How was your flight?" Gram asked as we finally parted.
"It was fine," I told her. "Absolutely fine."
"Sorry about the transport problems," Hudson offered as he poured himself a cup of dark coffee. "Anyone else want some?"
I shook my head at him, instead taking a seat next to Gram at the table.
"No, thanks," Brady replied, heading towards the refrigerator. "But, just as a warning, I am going to eat all of the food,"
"Don't touch the stuff on the top shelf," Gram tutted. "That food is for Allie's welcoming barbecue tomorrow."
I must have paled quite a bit at this because all of a sudden Gram was explaining herself.
"Don't worry, I've only invited a few people over," she assured me quickly. "The weather's meant to clear up and I thought it would be lovely for us all to sit in the garden now that my roses are budding!"
"Did you invite the guys?" Brady asked cautiously, glancing over his shoulder to exchange a look with Hudson. I pretended not to notice as Gram absently waved off his concern.
"Only a few of them. Jesus. Do you think I want to completely overwhelm Allie on her first day?"
"Who are the guys?" I asked with a yawn.
"Friends of mine," Brady answered. "We help out with a lot council stuff. I'm pretty sure Gram's charmed all of them to mush on more than one occasion,"
Gram scoffed. "I can't help it if I'm the sweetest old lady in miles, can I now?"
"It might also be the fact that you stuff them all with cookies whenever they stop by," Hudson said redundantly.
"I also can't help it if I'm the only old lady that knows how to make shortbread," she said, then turned to me. "Now let's get your stuff upstairs and get you settled in, sweetpea. You look like you're practically about to pass out!"
"That sounds great," I answered. "I just wanted to thank y'all for letting me stay again."
"It's our pleasure, really," Gram answered seriously, giving my arm a quick squeeze before I was ushered out of the room.
Hudson took my suitcases up to the guest bedroom that I'd stayed in a couple of times before. An assortment of crystals that Gram believed held healing properties lined the windowsill above a narrow divan, and a bookcase that was practically overflowing with the work of contemporary poets sat between an oak dresser and the door.
I still loved it as much as I had as a kid.
Once he left the room I turned my gaze to the window, taking in the view of the forest that lined the backyard. The trees continued all the way to the horizon and probably further into the night, as though the Olympic Peninsula was simply a never-ending mass of green, and for a moment I tried to imagine what I would be doing right now if I had stayed in Atlanta instead.
I knew the answer though. I'd be out shopping for college supplies with my over-excited mother while she avoided all of my questions about the divorce, discussing the imminence of adulthood with my school friends and all the while wishing I had some form of escape.
But I did, and I had escaped - even if it was only temporary.