A/N: Such awesome reviews! Pats on the back keep me fired up, but your comments and questions help me tell the story better. You will get more answers about the past and the present as those two threads unfold. Hang in there. It's a slow build but pasts and presents have futures.
C-8: Twenty Questions in Class
It's after eleven a.m. when I arrive home from The Cup and Saucer. Angela has armed me with a few baked goods for the next morning, and what we think are the best possible answers to my mother's probable questions. We also ran through tomorrow's funeral arrangements, making sure I'm fully prepared for the difficult day ahead. Because of her connection to the Community Church in Forks, through both Ben and her own father, Angela has had practice with funerals over the years and she's an amazing hand-holder.
Mr. Darcy starts barking at me the minute I get in the door, letting me know that it's a nice day outside and he's ready for a walk. I leash him up and we leave the house, stopping by next door to return Mrs. Cope's bowl from the previous evening's soup.
Shelly assures me I can count on her and her husband, George, in any way I might need to tomorrow and she's glad to hear Renee and Phil will be here for at least the next two days. It's important to have family around at a time like this, she says, and I agree, although I am struck hard when I think about how little family I have anymore. No more grandparents, no siblings, and I'm down to just one parent and a step-parent who live three thousand miles away.
Fitz and I walk down to the end of the street and veer off onto the hiking trail that leads behind our neighborhood. It's still early spring, but the woods are already lush and green with ferns and the leaves coming back in on the trees. The scents of damp earth and clean pine hang heavy in the air. I let Fitz off his leash and he ventures beyond the trail, sniffing and marking random spots that must be important to him.
We're back at the house by noon and I straighten up a little before hopping in the shower.
As I dry and straighten my hair afterwards, I look at my reflection and I know my mom will say I look pale. We look alike in some ways—the shape of our bodies and faces—but I didn't get her blue eyes, light brown hair, or prone-to-tan skin. I have my father's coloring, so pale is a given. But I do have the advantage of make-up, which Charlie didn't have and which just might deflect Renee's comments.
Mom will also say I look thin but I've always been on the skinny side. I have both of my parents' skinny genes to thank for being able to fit into my skinny jeans. But skinny jeans will only draw attention to the fact that I've lost a little weight, which won't be good, at least in my mother's eyes. So I pull on my black boot-cut jeans, a green V-neck sweater, and a pair of flat, black shoes.
I'm ready and it's just after one o'clock. Renee and Phil will be landing in Port Angeles soon and once they pick up their rental and drive to Forks they should be here by two thirty. I have at least an hour to sit and twiddle my thumbs.
I look at Fitz. He looks at me. He has no suggestions. He has no thumbs to twiddle either.
"Shall we sit and read?" I ask him.
He cocks his head. He can't decide. But his eyes tell me he's up for anything and he wants me to decide. So I make the decision and grab my green notebook.
"Come on, Fitzy, let's go out to the back porch and read until they get here."
He follows me downstairs and out to the covered porch. I take a seat in the porch swing but he goes to lie down in a sunny patch of warm dirt in the backyard.
"Suit yourself," I tell him. "Just don't expect me to join you in the dirt. I'm going back to my second day of Advanced Biology with Edward Cullen." I remember myself and quickly look over to the Copes' backyard, but it's empty and I'm good. No one knows just how pathetic I really am. It's still a fairly well-kept secret.
…Edward and I just sat and talked after we finished our lab today. He now knows everything he needs to know about Phoenix. And about me. He asked so many questions! I'm sure he was going out of his way to be polite after the way he'd snubbed me in class yesterday. (Even though he had every right.)
"So, you're Chief Swan's daughter, huh?" Edward's arms are crossed and he's hunched over his pile of books on our lab table.
"That's right." I can feel him looking at me but I keep doodling in the margin of my notebook because it's not all that easy to just look at him. I get tongue-tied and blurt stupid things.
"And I heard you moved here from Phoenix?"
"Yes. Was there an article in the school newspaper about me before I got here or something?"
I hear his soft exhale—he sounds amused again but I can't look up. I know if I look up, my look will most likely turn into a stare and then my stare will probably turn into an ogle and then I might even drool and miss whatever else he says next. I'm better off doodling to avoid drooling.
"Nope, no newspaper article," he says. "Word just gets around—you're kind of a novelty, you know, showing up in the middle of the school year. Plus being Chief Swan's daughter—that's kind of newsworthy."
"Well, I'm in third period Beginning Journalism with Mr. Berty. Maybe I could suggest that I interview myself for the next edition of the Spartan Forum." I turn my head and glance at him because I hope that didn't sound rude just then, and it really would be rude not to make eye contact…with his amused and amazing green eyes…geez… Better keep doodling.
"Journalism, huh? You like writing?"
"Yes. But don't count on that interview. It wouldn't be much longer than my by-line and probably only slightly more interesting."
I hear him snort a half-a-chuckle. "An article in the Spartan Forum would probably satisfy a lot of people's curiosity." He pauses, then he asks, "So what's Phoenix like?"
"It's big…hot…dry…everything is brown." He's smirking at my answer when I look over at him again and I blush because the smirk…with the eyes…holy crap…it just kills.
"So, Phoenix is basically the Anti-Forks?" he asks, still smirking away as I get back to my doodling with a vengeance.
"No, you have it backwards. Forks is the Anti-Phoenix."
He laughs and sits back, stretching his long legs out beneath our lab table. "Why'd you move to Forks if you don't really like it here? …because it sounds like you don't."
I look over my shoulder at him. "You know, Edward, if you're going to play 'Twenty Questions,' maybe you should take notes and write the interview for the Spartan Forum."
"I'm taking notes up here." He grins and taps his temple. "And I took Journalism my sophomore year, so I could write a guest interview."
I roll my eyes and take a deep breath. And wow…he smells really good.
"I'm just joking. But back to my question…Why'd you move?" he prods, sitting forward again, his elbows on his thighs, hands clasped between his splayed legs. "It can't be that complicated."
I shake my head. "It's not. I'm sure you can keep up. I was born here. My parents divorced when I was little. My mom and I moved around for a while before ending up in Phoenix. She met a guy and married him and now they're moving to Florida. He has to travel a lot anyway, so I moved here to live with my dad so my mom can travel with her new husband. And that's my not-very-newsworthy story."
He nods his head slowly. He must be processing all that and thinking up more questions because he seems more subdued suddenly. He clears his throat to speak and when he does speak, his voice is softer and less offhand and the look of amusement is gone from his eyes. He doesn't ask a question either. He just makes an observation.
"That must be hard. After living with your mom all that time, to just suddenly leave and move here to live with your dad."
I shrug as I look back at him. "It's okay. It's not like my dad is a complete stranger—I used to come to Forks for visits in the summers when I was younger. I miss my mom but this way I can spend time with my dad and my mom can travel with her new husband."
"Do you like him—the new husband?"
"Yeah, he's really nice but he's a lot younger than she is."
Edward nods. "What does he do, that he travels so much?"
"He plays minor league baseball. He's a pitcher for the Jacksonville Suns."
Edward looks surprised but he doesn't get the chance to ask any more questions. Mr. Banner is calling the class back to order to wrap up the lab before the period ends.
At the end of the period Mr. Banner gave Edward and me the Golden Onion Award since we finished the lab first and got all the answers correct. It was a real onion! Spray painted gold! Edward offered it to me but I told him the award…stunk. He laughed but he probably thinks I'm an idiot for the things I say. Seriously, though, who wants their locker to smell like an onion? I wasn't taking that thing with me to sixth period Spanish, either, so he kept it. He said it might well be the only trophy he'd win this year.
That's when class ended and Edward just sort of…left. He seemed all mopey again. I'm beginning to think he has issues with mood swings.
One thing is for certain: Tomorrow it's MY turn to ask questions!
Wednesday, February 6, 1991
In Biology today we had to complete a worksheet while we watched a video. The worksheet was easy and Edward looked as bored as I felt, so after a few minutes I opened my notebook, wrote him a note, slid it over to him, and he replied! We passed that notebook back and forth all period long while we watched the video and did our work and I got TONS of questions answered today!
I kept the page so I could remember what he wrote and then I just decided to tape it in here.
So here it is:
This video is kind of boring.
Kind of? Zzzzzz…..
Can I ask you questions today since you asked me so many yesterday?
Is this '20 questions' or an interview for the Spartan Forum?
Fire away. You already asked 1. 19 to go.
2. Have you always lived in Forks?
I was born in Chicago and moved to Rochester (New York), Juneau (Alaska), and then Forks.
3. Alaska?! Why Alaska?!
That's 2 questions. 3.) Yes, Alaska. 4.) Why not Alaska? People live there. And my dad thought it would be an adventure.
5. What does your dad do?
He's a general surgeon at the Forks Medical Center.
6. And your mom?
She's a wife and mother and does both jobs quite well.
7. Do you get along with your parents?
8. Do you have brothers or sisters?
Nope. I'm it.
9. Have you ever lived anywhere else? Like Seattle?
2 questions again? 9.) No. 10.) Never. (That was an off-the-wall question. Why would you ask that?)
Just wondered. And keep in mind I'm asking the questions today. You had your turn yesterday. So…back to me…
11. Yesterday you said you did the same lab last year. Why are you in Bio again?
I missed the last five weeks of school last year. I'm making up the labs I missed but I had to re-enroll for the whole semester.
12. Why did you miss so much school?
I was out sick with Mono. It wouldn't go away and I had some complications from it.
13. Are you okay now?
Yes. I'm fine, thanks.
14. Did you finish your other classes?
Yes. I did what I could while I was sick and I came in during the summer to make up tests and finals in Principal Greene's office.
15. What a terrible summer! So, you're all caught up, except for this class?
I actually already have a C+ in this class but I took an 'Incomplete' so I can do the labs and get an A.
16. Why do you have to get an A?
You obviously don't know my dad.
17. He wants you to have an A in the class?
He wants me to have an A in every class. And graduate at the top of my class.
18. But you don't really want to be in this class?
It screwed up my plans to play baseball. I would have been the starting pitcher again this year if I didn't have to drop 6th period Athletics to move British Lit. from 5th to 6th period so I could fit Bio in. And Mr. Banner won't allow me to attend Bio just on lab days.
19. Can't you just go to practice after 6th period is over?
I'd be missing out on five hours of practice each week. Coach Clapp won't play me if I miss that much practice. It's not fair to the rest of the team.
Make it a good one!
Where's my last question?
What's the hold-up?
20. What if you put in an equal amount of time on your own with some advice from a minor league pitcher?
Your mom's husband?! He lives in Florida! I appreciate the thought, but I don't see how that would work. And even if it did, it would still be Coach Clapp's call and he's a hard ass.
So, that was our 20 Questions note. The video ended a few minutes later and we turned in our Bio worksheets right before the bell rang. At least Edward said goodbye before he left, so he must not have been as unhappy as yesterday. I feel bad for him. There must be something he can do to still play with the team.
It's too late to call tonight, but tomorrow I'm going to call Mom and talk to Phil and see if he has any suggestions for Edward.
You never know!
Sitting on the porch swing, I close my notebook and lay it on the cushion next to me. I look out into the backyard. But I'm not really seeing the yard. Nor am I really seeing Fitz, lying in his patch of dirt in the sunshine. Instead I'm seeing Spartan Field…over two decades ago.
It's mid-May, 1991. I'm seventeen years old and I'm in the bleachers at Spartan Field with my friends, Angela, Ben, Alice and Rosalie. Angela and Ben have just started dating and Alice and Rosalie are watching their first-baseman and catcher boyfriends out on the ball field. I'm wearing a practice jersey that's far too big for me, as I watch my friend and lab partner out on the pitcher's mound. My fingers are crossed and I'm chewing my lip nervously as I hold my breath and wait for the pitch…because this could be it…it's the ninth inning, two outs, with two strikes on the batter.
Edward is all self-assured athleticism, graceful windup, and fluid, precise delivery. The ball hits Emmett's catcher's mitt with a solid whump as the umpire calls Stee-riike threeee and Spartan Field erupts into mayhem. I'm on my feet, jumping up and down and cheering my head off with everyone else, as the team rushes the pitcher's mound, hollering and flinging their caps and gloves into the air. They swarm and hug and high-five a triumphantly grinning Edward. He looks up, turning his head toward the stands as he's bumped and jostled this way and that. His eyes find mine and the brilliant smile he gives me makes my stomach flip. I have the worst crush on him. He's just so beautiful: dirty, sweaty and completely exultant.
The Spartans just clinched their first league championship in five years, playing against their rivals, the Montesano Bulldogs.
And Edward Cullen played all season long.
I make two stops on my way home from the game: the housewares aisle of the Thriftway grocery story and the paint section of Hanson's Hardware. Once I arrive home, I pull on Charlie's tattered, paint-spattered work-shirt and spread some old newspapers out on the floor of the garage. A few minutes later I'm giggling at my work of art. I bought a plastic water pitcher and metallic gold spray paint and I made Edward Cullen a Golden Pitcher Award. It looks ridiculous and I can't wait to give it to him in Bio on Monday—he'll think it's outstanding and hilarious.
But it turns out I don't have to wait until Monday.
Edward phones the house a half hour later. The whole team is going to the diner tonight to celebrate and he wants to know if I want to come. I tell him that sounds great and I ask what time I should meet him. He hesitates. Then he says he didn't mean for me to meet him—he was planning on picking me up and taking me with him.
I'm stunned because it almost sounds like a date but I try not to jump to conclusions.
Then I'm even more stunned several hours later when Edward brings me home.
And thanks me for coming with him to celebrate the team's win.
And thanks me for the Golden Pitcher Award I made for him.
And kisses me goodnight for the very first time.
A/N: Probably not what you were expecting, but I hope you found some things to like. I know you found more to ponder. I'd love to hear from you.