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The High School Years

Tanya

'Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.'

Tanya snapped the book closed. Why were they reading Poe anyhow? The teacher probably thought it was a joke. Like death is a joke. How sick is that?

She glanced around the parking lot. Where was James with that joint already? Edward and his friends were such losers, but at least James wasn't a goody-goody like Edward, Mr. White Knight.

Edward, who couldn't even be bothered to notice when the world was imploding. Why should he care? His life was perfect.

Tanya laughed to herself. Her life was perfect too, wasn't it? Just a mother cold and dead in the ground like one of Mr. Poe's little corpses. But Tanya was supposed to have gotten over it by now. Isn't that what everyone said? They could go to hell.

Tanya imagined digging her mother up, just like the guy in that Poe story who was so obsessed with his dead cousin.

What did the school think it was doing, giving them stuff like this to read?

She wouldn't be bothering with the Poe either if James would just show up. She was waiting for him in her car in the parking lot of the Thrift-N-Save. What a stupid name for a store. If James didn't show up soon, she was going to make his life a living—

"Hey Tanya." James knocked on the passenger side window.

Tanya unlocked the door. "Where have you been?" she snapped.

"I got held up." James slid into the passenger seat and shut the door.

Tanya snorted. "Have you got it?" she asked.

"Of course." James grinned.

"So hand it over."

James' grin widened. "What are you going to give me for it?"

"Excuse me?" Tanya was going to rip out his throat.

"You know. Payment."

"I've got a little money."

"I don't want money," James leered. "I think that I deserve a little something special, considering everything that I had to go through."

"Everything that you had to go through?"

"You know, I had to drive all the way up to Port Angeles."

"It's not on the other end of the country."

"I could have gotten arrested."

"Forget it."

"I thought you wanted it."

"And I thought you were my friend. I thought you were Edward's friend. You know, the guy I'm dating."

James scoffed. "Oh, I haven't forgotten about him."

"So what are you doing propositioning me?"

"I'm not propositioning you. I'm making a business transaction."

"You're a business man?" Tanya couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"I've got bills."

"You're in high school."

"I won't be forever."

Tanya huffed. Whatever. It didn't matter. If she was high, it's not like she would care. "Fine. Let's just get it over with."

James leaned towards Tanya as if going in for a kiss. She held up a hand.

"Joint first," she demanded.

He scowled, but handed the joint over.

She pulled out a lighter.

"You're not going to light up here are you?"

"It's the freakin' Thrift-N-Save. It's nine o'clock at night. We might as well be in the middle of nowhere." Tanya lit the joint.

"Crap," James cursed, peering out of the window.

"What?" Tanya lowered the joint.

"It's that new girl. The chief's daughter."

Tanya squinted, trying to see through the gloom. She saw the new girl walk up to the door of the Thrift-N-Save and lean over to read the store hours. Tanya had been so busy arguing with James that she had missed the girl pulling into the parking lot.

"Did she see us?"

"I don't know." Tanya was parked on the side of the store where there weren't any streetlights, but she wasn't going to take any chances. She and James watched the new girl walk back to her truck and drive away. The new girl hadn't glanced in their direction, but if she had a cell phone she could already be on the phone with daddy.

"We should get out of here, just in case," James warned and Tanya agreed. She waited until the new girl was out of sight before starting her car.

She didn't even make it out of the parking lot before the cruiser pulled up.

*_.*_.*_.*_.*

Tanya didn't set out to destroy the new girl. It just happened.

The first time Tanya snapped, it was because she saw the girl in the hallway walking to class like she didn't have a care in the world. Tanya couldn't help it. She was just so angry about being arrested. But she expected the girl to fight back, call her a druggie or a loser. Something. Make fun of Tanya for not having a mother's guiding influence. But the new girl just dropped her head and scuttled away.

Tanya expected the cops to show up at her door that night. They never showed.

So Tanya mocked her again the next day.

And the next day.

And the next day.

Pretty soon, Jessica and Lauren were following her example, just like sheep.

Mr. Perfect and his boyfriend, Jasperina, were oblivious. Some friends they were. Too self-involved to even realize that all of this community service that James and Tanya were suddenly doing might be just a bit suspicious. Like Tanya wanted community service hours for her college applications. She wasn't going to college. This community service was court-mandated.

James was all too happy to join in on Tanya's plan of revenge against Little Miss Police Chief's Daughter. And he got Jasper in the act after a while. It took Tanya's intervention to open Edward's eyes.

"Look at the freak," she said to Edward one day while they were sitting in the cafeteria.

"What?" he asked. Idiot.

"I said, 'Look at the freak.'" Tanya pointed.

Edward shrugged.

"Really?" Tanya asked. "You think that outfit's okay? And her hair? She hangs out with Brandon."

"She's a mess. So what?"

"So, I don't like her."

"What she ever do to you?"

"She was born."

Edward sniggered.

But Tanya kept at him. "She thinks she's so smart," Tanya argued. "She thinks that she's better than everyone else."

Unfortunately, Edward was pretty smart himself, so he wasn't likely to buy that argument. Tanya tried another one.

"She made fun of my mom."

Edward's eyes snapped to Tanya's. "You're kidding."

Tanya shook her head. "She did."

"How does she even know about your mom?"

"Everyone knows about my mom," Tanya sniffed. It was true, wasn't it? Forks High didn't exactly have much going on. Why shouldn't people still be talking about Tanya's mom?

"What did she say?" Edward asked.

"What do you think?"

Edward cursed.

"Yeah," Tanya retorted. "So that's why I hate her."

And that was how Tanya got Edward in on her plan to destroy the new girl. By the time that Tanya was through with her, Isabella Swan was going to want to kill herself.

Tanya was intimately acquainted with the subject of suicide, after all. People might not have had the guts to say it to Tanya's face, but everyone thought that Tanya's mother had killed herself. As if a mother of three would abandon her daughters like that.

It was an accident, Tanya told herself. It was an accident.

Just like it was an accident that Tanya had let James into her car that night at the Thrift-N-Save. She told the police that she didn't know that he had drugs on him, but they didn't believe her. She had drug residue on her fingers.

The owner of the Thrift-N-Save was the one who'd called the cops. He'd been in the back of his stop doing inventory. He was sick of kids lighting up in his parking lot.

But Tanya was sure that he wouldn't have even noticed that they were there if the new girl hadn't gone up to the door. Tanya was going to destroy her, if it was the last thing she did.

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Mr. Berty's (teacher) POV

Were they serious? They were going to put me on suspension for failing to catch a fake advertisement in the school newspaper?

'Desperate geek seeks flat-chested freak for some girl-on-girl action – IBS.'

It wasn't that bad. It was obvious who was meant but so what? Kids today needed to grow a thicker skin. Killing themselves and bringing guns to school just because someone picked on them. F'ing losers.

They weren't paying me enough for this. I'd had no choice but to 'volunteer' for that student newspaper gig and now they were going to take it away from me just because I didn't go over every line of it with a fine-toothed comb?!

I stood in the hallway, watching the little brats scurry to their classes. This hallway monitoring was ridiculous too. Like the sight of me standing here did anything to discourage their antics. Cullen and Denali groping in the corner, for instance. His tongue had to be halfway down her throat. I had it on good authority that Tanya Denali wasn't above sleeping with a teacher for an easy A, but I'd yet to have her in any of my classes.

There went Izzy with her hood pulled low. The 'disguise' did nothing to deter the wolf whistles and cat-calls. 'Why don't you just kill yourself?' the Stanley girl hissed.

I couldn't help smirking. They were all so juvenile—both the bullies and Swan. In fact, if Swan had any sense at all, she'd come to school in a bustier and bright red lipstick, sneak into the guys' locker-room and spread it for a couple of morons on the football team. Then she'd see how quickly that reputation for being a lesbian disappeared. Who did she think she was saving herself for anyhow? True love? Unlikely with that face.

The bell rang and they all disappeared, like roaches with the lights coming on. God, I hated my job.

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Outtake: Eric in Science class

"He put the glass to his lips and drank at one gulp," Eric read, his eyes quickly scanning the printed text. "'O God!' I screamed and 'O God!' again and again; for there before my eyes—pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands like a man restored from death—there stood Henry Jekyll!"

The bell rang and Eric dropped his book on the lab table, wondering why they didn't read more Stevenson. Jekyll and Hyde—now that was a story that Eric could identify with.

"So, as you know, we're going to be working with hydrochloric acid today," Dr. Banner started, with that sing-song way of his, "which means that we're going to review all of our safety precautions first. Yes, I know that we already went over them. I don't care. We're going to review them one more time."

Eric groaned. 'Could this be any more boring?'

Eric wanted to know why he even had to take this class. It wasn't like he was going to be a nuclear engineer. Best case scenario, the day of graduation, Eric was going to steal his brother's car and disappear. Move to the desert and start an exciting career in the forgery of government documents. Stupid career aptitude tests didn't take that one into consideration, now did they? It wasn't as if there was a large job market for the artistically inclined slacker with a high IQ and zero ambition.

Eric sighed and glanced at his lab partner. At least Tyler would just sit back and let Eric do all of the work. It could be worse—Eric could be saddled with Edward. What a jerk. Eric didn't understand why Mr. Banner wouldn't let them choose their own lab partners, like exercising some freedom in this regard would be the first step towards total anarchy. Oh, Mr. Banner would sometimes ask aloud why Tyler wasn't helping Eric out and he'd glare in Edward's direction whenever Izzy looked particularly distraught over some passing remark, but what good was that? Mr. Banner said that they had to practice getting along with people that they didn't like, because that was the "real world." BS. In the real world, Eric figured that people just picked their clique and stayed there. Like if you were a math nerd, you became an accountant. Maybe you'd end up hating the guy in the cubicle next to you, but at least your coworker wouldn't be able to make fun of you for liking math or sucking at football.

If Eric and Izzy had been allowed to work together, they could have avoided some of the harassment that they suffered every day at the hands of Edward and Tyler. Not that Eric and Izzy were friends. They'd exchanged barely two words outside of class and Eric thought that Izzy was a spaz at the very least. Though if she was supposed to be such a narc, Eric wondered, then why hadn't someone done anything to all of the people who always picked on her? You would have thought that someone as smart as Edward would have figured that one out, but no. Eric knew why she kept her mouth shut. Shame.

Mr. Banner's lecture finally droned to a close—like you really needed to be told not to throw acid at each other—and they lined up to pick their supplies. It was like being in kindergarten: Don't run with the safety scissors!

Tyler didn't even bother getting up, which was fine with Eric, who was setting up the equipment. Eric felt strangely chipper, picturing Dr. Jekyll experimenting with his phials and powders. Pouring some liquid into a test tube, Eric imagined himself speaking in the doctor's place as the latter confessed how "the temptation of a discovery so singular and profound at last overcame the suggestions of alarm."

Eric questioned whether he would ever be brave enough to carry out an experiment like Dr. Jekyll had, imbibing a concoction with the power to transform the drinker into someone else, like LSD only stronger. It might be nice to be someone else for a change though. A monster, maybe, but it wasn't as if Eric thought that Dr. Jekyll was really responsible for any of Hyde's crimes.

Eric pictured himself laboring at a workbench for days until he had, "late one accursed night…compounded the elements, watched them boil and smoke together in the glass, and when the ebullition had subsided, with a strong glow of courage, drank off the potion." Eric studied the equipment before him, wishing that something more interesting would happen than the sizzle of a state-sanctioned experiment gone right.

'That would be something, wouldn't it?' Eric thought. He looked around the classroom. He'd get his revenge then. He wouldn't actually hurt anyone, not really. Just get in a punch or two at a few of the guys. See how those cheerleaders liked being taunted for once.

Noting the progress that the other groups had made with their experiments, Eric realized that he was running behind schedule. That was hardly a shock, seeing as how he was working alone, but he was going to have to hurry up. In fact, Edward and Izzy were almost done. Izzy was just starting to carry the cylinder of acid back to the front of class when she stumbled.

"Did you splash some on your face?" Edward asked. Izzy looked back at him, horrified, completely misunderstanding his question, which, to be fair, had been phrased in a somewhat sarcastic tone. Edward stared at her for a second then rolled his eyes and went back to filling in their lab sheet.

Christ, Izzy overreacted sometimes. Not that it was really a surprise considering the way that Edward and the rest of his clique treated her, but still. Eric congratulated himself that he wasn't as far gone as she was. If Tyler had made a crack about Eric spilling acid on his face, Eric would have had a comeback at least. Not that standing up for yourself ever helped. Sometimes it was better to just disappear, like Izzy.

Maybe a potion that would let you disappear. That would be the thing.

AN: All of the credit must go to NewTwilightFan for suggesting this "read" on the acid incident.

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Eric: Party at First Beach

Eric knew it was wrong, but the temptation was just too strong. Cullen's car was just sitting there in the parking lot of the Thrift N'Save.

Edward wasn't even as bad as James—but he was bad enough.

Sitting there on his bike, Eric fiddled with the keys in his pocket, unable to stop himself from wondering how Edward would feel if he was the one being called a homo. And Edward had laughed at James' jokes often enough, hadn't he?

Eric was going to do it! He didn't care how wrong it was!

Looking around to make sure that no one would see him, Eric knelt in front of the car and started with the first letter. He was filled with a wild elation. 'This must be how Hyde felt,' he thought, remembering that story by Stevenson from English class. This was what it was like to live without rules. Pure anarchy.

After all, the rules only protected people like Edward. If Eric had been allowed to fight back—really fight back—he would have gotten his revenge by now.

Eric finished keying the "F" into the side of Edward's car and started on the "A," only to come up short when he heard Edward's voice.

"Whaddya think you're doing?" Edward snarled.

Eric leapt away from the car and threw himself onto his bike, pedaling furiously.

Casting a glance over his shoulder, Eric saw Edward bending over to read the unfinished word scratched into the side of his car. Eric told himself that he didn't care about the consequences. So what if Edward went to the cops? Eric had been very careful not to leave any fingerprints. It was Edward's word against his.

'Who am I kidding?' Eric asked himself. No one would believe him over Edward.

Miraculously, the cops hadn't shown up on Eric's doorstep…yet.

He was surprised to discover how guilty he felt. Eric really couldn't afford to pay for Edward's car to be fixed—and Edward's parents were rich so it wasn't like they couldn't fork over the money. But still.

And feeling guilty just made Eric angry. Why should he feel bad? Edward had deserved it!

But still.

And so Eric had gone back and forth, unable to stop himself from thinking about it.

Maybe he should apologize. Maybe Edward and he could finally bury the hatchet. High school was over, after all. Surely Edward realized that he deserved to have his car keyed and worse. No doubt, that was the reason that the cops hadn't shown up. Edward knew that Eric had a right to his little act of vengeance. So they were even now.

As if anything could make up for the hell that Eric had gone through.

No, Eric had to stop thinking like that.

Tonight there was going to be a bonfire at First Beach. No one had invited Eric, of course, but he'd heard about it. Everyone was going. There was no reason that Eric couldn't go—especially if Edward had decided to forget about the past.

In fact, Eric decided that if he saw Edward at the bonfire, he'd apologize. Maybe not in so many words—in case an apology could be used as evidence against him in court—but he'd say enough to make sure that Edward understood that he was letting go of the past too.

Bygones could be bygones, or whatever.

But Eric felt decidedly out of place once he got to the beach. He hung back until it started to get dark, sitting on a log on the edge of the sand, not wanting to draw any attention. Once it was dark enough that he deemed it safe to venture closer to the festivities, he grabbed a beer and tried to blend in.

It wasn't really working. He kept getting strange looks—but at least no one was actually calling him out. Eric looked around, hoping to see Edward—surprised to realize that he actually wanted to see the jerk—but Edward wasn't there.

Eric threw himself down on the sand at the edge of the light of the fire. This wasn't so bad.

"Hey, you."

Eric turned. "Me?"

"Yeah." A woman was cocking a finger at Eric, as if bidding him to follow her. Eric didn't recognize her.

"What?"

"Come 'ere," she giggled. Was she drunk?

Eric rose uncertainly to his feet as she took off for the brush at the edge of the sand. Eric considered sitting back down but she called out to him to follow, so he lumbered after her.

He paused once he caught up with her. "What do—" he started to ask but was cut off, her mouth crashing into his.

What on earth was going on? She had to be wasted. There was no other explanation. But so what? Eric knew better than to let this go too far. In the meantime, didn't he deserve some fun?

He dropped the bottle of beer and wrapped both arms around her waist.

When suddenly he felt a burning in his gut—

AN: The word that Eric was keying into the side of Edward's car? Derogatory term for a homosexual.

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Outtake: Leah at First Beach the night that Tanya was killed

Sometimes I am not myself. Sometimes I am a little girl, following her father on the beach, making footprints in the sand.

"Are we going to find it today, Leelee," he asks, and I know that we will.

He would make treasure maps for me on my birthday. He drew them on squares of paper, with clues in pirate code and magic words that only some of the older people still understood, so that I would have to ask them, like a detective solving the clues, questioning my witnesses and sounding the words out for them because the syllables were strange in my mouth—I struggled to know my own people's language—and the alphabet that my father had used to write the words out wasn't native to the words themselves.

"These are ghost stories," the old people would say. "The words are ghosts."

'I will be a cemetery caretaker,' I thought.

I watched the merry-makers down on the sand, on my sand, my father's sand. 'Who had invited them,' I wondered, but I knew. Sam, or one of his clique. He would say it was networking, drumming up business for the garage, but tonight was supposed to be about the tribe. Some things ought to be left alone. 'These are magic words. I won't say anymore.'

The magic words and my father's maps always led to some trinket or toy, and once to a beaded necklace that my father had made himself. But the treasure hunts themselves were the real present. His favorite hiding place was the cave on the beach below, a cavern in the very rock face on which I was currently perched. My cave.

I snorted. It wasn't my cave anymore.

There was supposed to be a ceremony for my dead father tonight. A remembrance. Because the old ways weren't entirely lost.

No, not lost. Just broken and thrown out. And I couldn't even blame them for that—the interlopers—when my own people were responsible for inviting them.

Sam. My hands balled into fists.

There was supposed to be a celebration along with the ceremony. So there was plenty of food and drinks. That was how my father would have wanted it—a celebration to honor him, not tear-stained faces and tight lips. But would he have wanted all of these other people here? These people who didn't even know him? Teenagers. Punks. Not that my mother cared. "We have to be welcoming," she'd say. Why? Hadn't we lost enough already?

"You really want to go back in time?" Emily would ask me. "You want to give up tv and books and movies and cars?"

I didn't see the point of living in the modern world when she was going to let Sam beat her up all of the time.

Tonight, getting ready to come to First Beach, my heart had been hurting in my chest. I missed my father.

When I got to First Beach and saw everyone else there, the pain in my chest went away. I felt a fury in all of my limbs. The magic words were supposed to be secret. Not said out loud in front of strangers.

I turned away. I would not be a part of this.

I went into my cave, the cave where my father buried so many treasures for me to find. And I stumbled over two bodies lying in the sand and in the dark.

"Ouch," they cried. "What are you doing here?"

What was I doing here? I was in my cave. I was on my people's beach for a remembrance ceremony for my father.

What were they doing there? They were in my cave. They were on my people's beach having sex in my cave.

I felt sick.

"Come on, Mike," the woman said. "Let's go."

"Jessica," he whined, as if he thought that they should stay and continue having sex after I left.

I couldn't stay, not even after they'd gone. It wasn't my cave anymore.

I went out of the cave and climbed the path up to the top of the cliff and sat down there to stare at the clouds that always covered the stars. I took out the camera that my father had given me, the last treasure he secreted away for me to find before he died, and looked through the lens down at the sand below.

"Make sure you keep track of everywhere we look," my father would say as I trailed after him. I'd have a map that he'd drawn and a pencil, to mark down the spots where we dug, and he'd have a metal detector. "We're going to find that pirate treasure," he'd say. These were the treasure hunts that we did together.

I started taking pictures. Picture after picture of the Forks crowd mixing with the La Push crowd, both of them using the sand as an ashtray and drinking beer—some of them had to be underage—and ruining it. The old people had already left. They must have said the magic words by themselves around the fire and I'd missed it.

I felt my hands shaking with anger and took more pictures. I'd show them to my mother. She and the rest of the council would have to do something then. They couldn't just let this keep happening.

I kept taking pictures until I was out of film. I dropped the camera in my lap and stared at the sky. Sometimes I wished that there were fewer clouds so that I could see the stars.

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I was visiting one of the old people. They taught the everyday words of our language in school but I was practicing so that I could be proficient. "I will teach you the magic words one day," she said.

We were interrupted. Her great-grandson came in and said that there had been a murder. The night of my father's remembrance ceremony, one of the teenagers from Forks was killed in Port Angeles.

'Ill for ill,' I thought. It had been a mistake to invite strangers to First Beach that night, and this was the result.

The police wanted to talk to everyone who had been at the party—my father's ceremony was being called a 'party' now—because everyone needed an alibi.

I wouldn't talk to anyone.

"They just want to know where everyone was," my mother argued.

"I wasn't anywhere," I told her. "No one saw me. Maybe I killed her."

"Don't say that Leah!"

"Maybe I disappeared. Maybe I was like the smoke from my father's bonfire. Maybe I turned into a smoke wolf and flew to Port Angeles and killed that girl."

"Don't you care that a girl was killed?" my mother asked.

"Why should I care about a stranger when no one cares about my father?"

"That isn't true."

"He is listening. He can hear you when you lie."

My mother slapped me. There was a red mark on my face outlining the shape of her hand. I didn't blame her for slapping me. I blamed her for not caring enough about my father or about the tribe to keep strangers out.

I gave the film to Charlie Swan. "That's my alibi," I said. "I was taking pictures."

"These will be really helpful," he said.

I went and sat on the beach where my father and I used to look for treasure. I thought, 'I am not myself. I am something else.'

I laid myself down on the sand. I wondered if I could turn into sand. Turn into tiny grains that would wash out to sea and wash back into shore. Swirl and eddy in the tide pools. Track down through the secret crevices of the earth, where the magic words came from, where I would find that buried treasure for my father.

AN: Wikipedia says that the Quileute language is undergoing a revitalization effort and is indeed being taught in the Tribal School. My interpretation of the material available on the Quileute Nation website suggests that they are using a modified English alphabet. Even if they aren't, my assumption is that Henry would have written harder words in transliterated English for his daughter when she was young.

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Tanya the day of her murder

Thomas de Quincey's disturbance over the knocking at the gate in Macbeth and its connection to the murder of Duncan is of a piece with the modern sentiment over such things. We want there to exist a vast gulf separating the peculiar from the mundane. That is, we want murder and cruelty and all that is tied up with that to be 'peculiar.' We cannot bear the notion that violence is in fact utterly ordinary. The mundane nature of such activity is perhaps the worst aspect of the business.

Tanya saw Edward's Volvo slip down the street and felt a pang. She wasn't happy about breaking up with him. As much as she had mocked Edward in the past, she knew it was really out of spite over the fact that he couldn't save her.

And why did she even need saving? It was her own fault that she'd fallen so low.

Tanya was surprised when she turned the next corner and saw Edward's car idling along the curb. Had he seen her? Did he want to talk?

Her heart in her throat, Tanya approached the car and bent over to look through the window. She squinted at the driver. From a distance it looked like Edward but—

"Get in," the driver said.

"Aren't you—"

"Edward's cousin."

Tanya's mouth fell open. "Edward doesn't have any cousins."

The woman at the wheel—Maria, wasn't her name Maria? James' girlfriend—laughed to herself. It wasn't a pleasant sound. "Family drama."

"Why do you have Edward's car?"

"He loaned it to me. I can take you to him."

Tanya thought about it. "My sisters are waiting for me."

"I can have you back in a couple of minutes."

Tanya knew it was probably a mistake, but she really did want Edward back. Or rather, she wanted Edward to fix everything that was wrong with her life. She wanted someone—anyone—to fix everything for her. Because she couldn't do it by herself.

Tanya opened the door and slid inside.

"Isn't your hair black?" Tanya asked as Maria pulled away from the curb.

"You ever hear of a wig?"

Tanya had never studied Maria very closely and the woman was fond of baseball hats that obscured her hair.

"Why'd Edward give you his car?"

"Why shouldn't he? I'm his cousin aren't I?"

Tanya shrugged.

Maria glanced at her. "Don't you think we look alike?"

Tanya supposed they did. Maria had the same color hair as Edward and a rather mannish jaw. In fact, with her hair trimmed short like this and in that bulky jacket and sunglasses, Maria could almost pass for a guy.

"Where are we going?" Tanya asked.

"The cabin."

"The cabin?" Tanya shook her head. "That's too far away. I need to get back to my sisters."

"Relax, it won't be that long. You'll be back in no time at all. Besides, don't you want to see Edward?"

Tanya took a deep breath. She did want to see Edward. "Did he say anything about me?"

Maria tapped the steering wheel. "He misses you."

"He does?"

"Sure, why not?"

Tanya wanted to believe it was true. So she settled back for the ride, refusing to think about how her sisters were waiting for her. Glancing at the speedometer, she took consolation in the fact that Maria was speeding. This might not take so long after all.

But when they got to the cabin, it didn't seem like anyone was there.

"Where's Edward?" Tanya asked.

"Inside," Maria said, climbing out of the car.

"What's he doing here?" Tanya inquired as she climbed out of the car herself.

"Just hanging out."

That didn't sound like Edward, but Tanya didn't see any point in arguing. She'd see Edward for herself soon enough. She followed Maria up to the door of the cabin.

Maria knocked.

"Why're you knocking?" Tanya asked.

Maria glanced back at her and grinned. "You don't just go barging into someone else's house."

"No one lives here."

Maria pushed the door open and gestured for Tanya to enter. "Sure they do. Hey Edward, doesn't someone live here?"

Eager to see her ex-boyfriend, Tanya rushed through the door. "Edward!" She looked around in confusion. "Where is he?"

She didn't understand. But why should we be shocked at that? There is no vast gulf separating us from the precipice. Tanya had no warning.

Or should we say that she had all the warnings in the world? That she was a fool to have gotten in that car?

Whatever the case, the sudden blow to the side of Tanya's head took her utterly by surprise.

AN: Thomas de Quincey "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth"

Totally creepy true story 2old4fanfic shared in response to the above outtake:

"I used to live at the base of a hairpin turn. Roadwork was done, which only resulted in cars going off the road and into the woods in front of my house instead of up the road. The disturbing thing, besides the frequency of the crashes, was how little noise they made, some quiet crunching, nothing like a car crash in the movies. My neighbor and I even worked out a system, she would check the car and I would call the ambulance. The first time it happened while my husband was home, I ran to the front door saying 'that was a car crashing, call the police' , and he didn't believe me, he didn't think so subtle a sound could be anything significant."

For some reason this reminds me of The Postman Always Rings Twice…

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

Esme, Charlie & Carlisle soon after Bella comes forward to clear Edward of charges the summer after Tanya's murder

The girl's father is at The Lodge having dinner with the members of The Rotary Club. He thinks they're a bunch of gasbags but it's something that he's got to do.

When he hasn't got much to say and he doesn't laugh at a single one of their jokes, they think it's because he's a tough lawman. They think it's a compliment to their own machismo that a man like him condescends to join their little tete-a-tete.

They go on like that for two hours. Two hours.

When he can't stand it anymore, he tells them that he's got to get home to his daughter and makes his farewells.

He's on his way out of The Lodge when he passes the boy's mother at the hostess' stand.

"Charlie," the boy's mother stops him.

"Esme." He pauses to greet her.

"I'm just waiting for Carlisle to join me for dinner," she says.

The girl's father nods and turns to go.

"Wait," the boy's mother stops him, a hand on his forearm.

He pauses again.

"I just wanted to say," she starts but then hesitates, her eyes darting all around.

He understands. She's grateful for what his daughter did, but at the same time she just wants to forget it all happened.

"I'm so thankful to Isabella," she says.

He nods, hoping that she'll let it go at that.

And like a fool, because she can't not say it, she says, "And after everything Edward did too."

Which takes him aback. He asks her, "What do you mean?"

Her eyes widen fearfully, which makes no sense at all unless—

Unless this boy's mother is admitting that her son is a murderer and that his daughter lied.

"After everything he did," she says.

His heart stops in his chest.

But she continues, "After what he did to Isabella."

He feels a rush of relief and is even wondering to himself how he could have ever suspected his daughter—

Wait. What?

What did Edward do to Bella?

They never dated. Charlie would have known if they had.

At least, he tells himself that he would have known.

But his daughter is such a mystery to him. A thing he doesn't know or recognize or even know how to try to understand. He likes to think that he's given her a safe place to live and food to eat and clothes to wear, as if that is enough. But he knows there's more that a parent's supposed to do. He knows there are things she hasn't told him that he ought to be concerned about. If she were some punk, he'd have no trouble questioning her. Yet this is his own daughter. He doesn't know how to pose questions that aren't laced with threats.

That is a lie. He knows how to coax young women into pressing charges against their abusive boyfriends. He knows how to convince a child to tell him who hurt them.

But he doesn't want to hear those kinds of things from his daughter. He doesn't want to even imagine that it's possible.

Even though he knows. He knows there's something.

He tells himself that he's respecting her privacy. Really, he is just afraid of the truth.

He can ask this boy's mother, though. It wouldn't be the same thing as asking his daughter. He can coax her into telling him the truth. And then he can pretend that he didn't hear it.

He treads carefully. "Bella isn't one to let a grudge stand in her way."

The boy's mother sighs. "I wish Edward would take a leaf from her book." She shakes her head. "Sometimes I don't think that I even know him. The things that he said about Isabella." She clears her throat. "Well, I just couldn't believe it." She seems to decide something, and steels herself before going on. "I want to tell you how sorry I am. I can't believe I didn't know. Carlisle and I are not letting Edward off scot-free, I can promise you. Even after everything with—with Tanya, I still believed in my son. I knew he was innocent. But this—to hear it from his own lips. I am so deeply ashamed. I had no idea. I really fell down on the job as a parent. Really."

He doesn't know what to say. He can't ask any more questions without admitting that he has no idea what she's talking about. And he can't admit that without also admitting what a horrible father he is.

"Well, I appreciate that," he says in the end.

She smiles. "You are just like your daughter. Truly, it's an injustice how people mistake kindness for weakness. It's the exact opposite. It's the bullies"—she snorts indelicately—"the stupid little boys like my son who are the weak ones. Your daughter could have stood by and watched my son go to jail but she's stronger than that. So many people would have wanted revenge. But your daughter has too much character for that."

He cocks his head to the side, thinking it over. "Thank you," he says. He had been pleased that his daughter was willing to come forward—not that he had given her much of a choice—but now he is seeing that there may have been much more to it than he'd imagined.

"Esme," a voice interrupts. The boy's father has appeared.

"Charlie," he says. "It's so good to see you."

They shake hands.

"I'm so grateful to you, well you and Isabella," the boy's father says.

The girl's father shrugs. He doesn't how else to respond.

The boy's father frowns. "And we're making sure that Edward faces repercussions for what he did to Isabella."

Good God, how bad was it?

"I don't know how my own son turned into a bully. That isn't how we raised him."

A bully?

"Do you think that it would help if Edward tried to talk to Isabella? He says that he's tried. But who knows what really happened? He could come over when you're present if you like." The boy's father looks at the girl's father expectantly.

Edward come over? To talk to Bella?

No. Bella wouldn't like that. She would hate it. Of that her father is certain.

The girl's father makes a decision. His face hardens. "I think he's done enough, don't you?"

The faces of the boy's parents fall.

"Look, I know you're doing your best," the girl's father says. "But I have to look out for my daughter's interests. And I think that it's time she just put all of this behind her. No need to open up old wounds." Best she forget everything—her mother, her stepfather, whatever they did to her (something else he hasn't asked about and never will), and everything having to do with Tanya's murder, including, apparently, this boy and whatever it is that he did to her.

The boys' parents nod sadly.

"Well, it's been good seeing you," the girl's father says.

Well wishes are exchanged and they part amicably. So civilized. The way people should behave. Not like rats trapped in a cage cannibalizing each other the way they do in American high schools.

Bella is home when Charlie arrives. He thinks of saying something to her, but she is reading a book on the sofa and he doesn't want to bother her. He clicks on the tv to watch a game and she goes upstairs. He tells himself that it's okay. She is putting it all behind her.

Besides, if there was really something wrong, she'd tell him.

Right?