1

"Edward! Edward Cullen, get your ass out of bed!"

Groaning, Edward turned his face into his pillow, trying to drown out the high-pitched and annoying voice trickling through his door. However, a moment later, he heard the wood splinter, causing him to look over just in time to watch as his sister — his highly annoying sister — leapt across the room and jumped on his bed.

"Get up!" she nearly screamed in his ear.

"I'm not ready," he mumbled, easily pushing her off of him.

"Don't care." His sister Alice climbed back on top of him, grabbing his arms and pinning them to the bed. If Edward wanted to, he could easily push her off of him, but he wouldn't, because then she would get hurt and cry. The last thing he needed was for his sister to cry because of him — again. "Carlisle said breakfast is ready and if you don't hurry, we're going to be late."

"Gee, and we wouldn't want to be late, now would we?" he muttered.

Alice sighed and climbed off him, sitting on the side of the bed and Edward immediately felt like a dick. Rolling onto his side, he propped himself up and leaned over to kiss the back of her head.

"Sorry, Pix. I'll be down in a few," he whispered, knowing that she'd hear him.

Nodding, Alice stood up and walked out of his room, pulling the door to Edward's room shut again. Edward threw his legs off the side and placed his elbows on his knees, trying like hell to get the motivation to actually stand up. Lately, he didn't have the energy to do much of anything, but that was his fault and he shouldn't take it out on anyone else.

With a sigh, Edward left his bed and headed into the bathroom. He took a quick shower, just long enough to wash the stink off him before climbing out, going back into his room, and trying to find something to wear. He settled on a pair of wore jeans and a simple black T-shirt that had the picture of a T-Rex trying to clap, and a thought bubble that said, "So close!" Alice had given it to him on his birthday and it always made her smile when he wore it.

Adding a pair of worn out Chucks, Edward grabbed his backpack from the bottom of his bed and headed downstairs. The smell of burned bacon and eggs infiltrated his nose, causing him to gag. Taking a deep breath, he attempted to cover up his disgust before he walked into the kitchen and found Alice and Carlisle sitting at the table. Neither of them were eating, or talking, or doing anything else for that matter. They were simply sitting there, staring at nothing.

"Sorry I'm late," Edward muttered, dropping his bag onto the floor and sliding into the chair across from Alice. She smiled, but didn't say anything.

Barely five-foot, two inches, Alice had long black hair and deep green eyes. They used to sparkle, twinkle with excitement, but much like everything in their lives lately, there wasn't anything to be excited about.

"It's okay," Carlisle replied, though he could tell he didn't mean it. Like Alice and Edward, Carlisle had green eyes, too. And like them, he had dark circles under them. "I tried to cook breakfast."

"So I see," he said, picking up the bowl of charred eggs and dumping a spoonful on his plate.

"You don't have to eat it," he responded with a sigh and ran his hand through his dark hair.

However, Edward knew that if he didn't eat them, he'd just feel worse and he couldn't have that on his conscience today. "They look good."

The lie didn't fool anyone, but nobody disagreed with him. Edward added a couple pieces of bacon to his plate and began shoveling the food into his mouth, hoping that if he swallowed it whole, it wouldn't taste like shit. It didn't work, but at least he tried.

Pushing his plate away, Edward looked from Alice to Carlisle. "Well, I guess we should get going."

"Yeah," they both echoed, but neither of them made an effort to stand up.

"Any idea when you'll be home?" Edward asked, looking at Carlisle.

His eyes shifted to Edward then to Alice, before he shrugged his shoulders. "No."

"Okay," was all Edward said. There wasn't anything else for him to add.

Standing up, he grabbed his bag from the floor and motioned for Alice to follow him, which she did, leaving Carlisle to head off to work. Alice and Edward climbed into Edward's car, a used and abused silver Volvo. Without speaking, Edward pulled away from the house and drove them through town to the local high school. He understood that he had to be there, but the last place he wanted to be right now was locked inside a school. One look at Alice, and Edward knew that she shared his feelings. Sometimes, life just sucked.

Edward parked next to a large jeep and cut the engine. Alice bolted from the car and was halfway through the parking lot before Edward could open his door. He knew she wasn't any more excited about being here then he was. She just hated being inside a car. Automatically bringing his hand up, Edward rubbed against the long, vertical scar in the middle of his chest. He didn't much care about being in the car, either, but someone had to drive and she certainly wasn't going to.

Climbing out of the car, Edward grabbed his backpack from the back seat and followed Alice inside. She was waiting for him just inside the doors, carefully eyeing those around her like she was afraid they were going to pounce. Edward placed his hand on the back of her neck and led her through the throng of people toward the office, wishing like hell they'd mind their own business. However, Edward wasn't stupid. He knew how people were when it came to new kids. They felt they had the right to stare, to judge, to condemn without ever speaking to someone.

Resisting the urge to huff, Edward opened the door to the office and ushered Alice inside. Behind the god-awful orange counter stood a woman with short, carrot-colored hair and dark, beady eyes. She was about thirty pounds overweight, and seemed to carry all of it in her boobs, making it appear that she was about to topple over at any moment. Her eyes lifted to Edward and Alice, widening at first, but then returning to normal.

"May I help you?"

"I hope so," Edward grumbled.

Alice sighed and looked up at him. "Be nice," she whispered.

Rolling his eyes, Edward looked back over at the woman. "We're new. Last name is Cullen."

"Oh, of course," she replied, her face contorting into pity and once again Edward stifled a huff. "I have your schedules right here."

"Thanks," they muttered, taking the paper from the woman.

"I'm Ms. Cope. If you need anything, just let us know," she offered.

"Okay," Edward replied.

Placing his hand on the back of Alice's neck again, he led her out of the office. The door shut behind them with a loud click, drawing more attention to him than he was wanting, but what else was new. They quickly compared schedules, only to find that they didn't have a single class together.

"It'll be okay," Edward whispered just loud enough for Alice to hear him. She nodded, but he knew she wasn't convinced. "I'll see you at lunch?"

"Yeah," Alice murmured, shifting her eyes around before heading down to her locker.

Edward stood there and watched until Alice found it, opened it, and stuffed her shit inside. She looked back at him, smiling and waving him away.

She'll be okay, he thought — he hoped.

Turning, he headed in the opposite direction, finding his locker, and shoving his bag inside. No point in carrying it around all day, not until he knew if he'd need it at least. Shoving a pen in his back pocket, Edward closed his locker and headed down to his first class: English.

There were a dozen or so kids standing outside of the classroom, all of whom stared at him as he walked past them. He didn't care. Staring was something he'd come to get used to. The teacher was standing behind his desk, shuffling through some papers, and when Edward walked in, he looked up and smiled.

"You must be Edward," he said with so much happiness, Edward had to resist the urge to puke.

"Yep," he replied with a nod.

The teacher — a large, brawny guy with a headful of dark curly hair and big blue eyes — dropped the papers on his desk and held a hand out to Edward. "I'm Mr. Swan."

"Oh, um, okay," Edward mumbled, shaking his hand.

"You can one of the seats in the back. Pretty sure they're all empty."

"Thanks." Edward moved to the far side of the room and slide into the seat in the back corner of the classroom, keeping his eyes on Mr. Swan. He was — too friendly. Teachers were supposed to be cranky and mean, right?

One by one, the rest of the class trickled into the room. Just as the bell rang, the door opened once more and Edward automatically looked over. Standing in the doorway was a small girl, not much bigger than Alice. She had long, silky brown hair and deep brown eyes. Sparing a look to Mr. Swan, she mouthed something to him before walking through the classroom and sliding into the desk in front of Edward. Unlike everyone else in the room, or hell the building, she never even looked at him.

"Well, now that everyone is here," Mr. Swan started, throwing a look to the girl sitting in front of me, "we can get started. Now, we've been discussing Shakespeare . . ."

As Mr. Swan started rambling on and on about how amazing William Shakespeare was, Edward turned and stared out the window. The skies of Forks, Washington were dull and gray. It hadn't stopped raining since they moved there three days before and from the look of thick, heavy clouds hanging above the school, the rain wasn't going to stop anytime soon.

It was nothing like in Chicago. Sure you had the wind, and it rained, but not all the time. No, Forks was green, where Chicago had been nothing more than concrete and buildings. Edward wasn't sure which he preferred. Right now, they both sucked.

A hand slipped over his, causing Edward's attention to snap toward it. He found himself staring into the brown eyes of the girl sitting in front of him. She smiled and looked down at his hand. It was then that Edward realized that he'd been tapping his nails on the desk.

"Sorry," he muttered.

She simply smiled and shrugged her shoulders, as if to say that it was okay, before turning back around and focusing her attention back on Mr. Swan's enthusiastic ramblings. Edward didn't understand why the feel of her hand over his felt right, or why he missed her touch. A few minutes later, the bell rang and the girl stood up, looked back at Edward, gave him a small wave, and walked out. Pushing himself out of his desk, he followed her out in the hallway. He couldn't help but watch her walk down the hallway, noticing that nobody really spoke to her and she didn't speak to anyone else.

Heaving a deep breath, Edward pulled out his class schedule and saw that he had history next. Checking the class number, he noted that he was heading in the same direction as the girl. Shoving the paper back into his pocket, Edward started walking down the hallway and found himself going into the same classroom as the girl. She was sitting in the back, but looked up when he walked inside, a smile playing on her lips.

"Edward Cullen, I presume?"

He looked over at the teacher, who was watching him with expectation. "Yes, sir."

"Welcome to Forks," he offered with a grin. "You can take the seat behind Miss Swan, if you'd like."

"And she would be?" Edward asked, looking around the room. The girl from his English class smiled bigger and pointed at herself. "Never mind."

Edward walked around and slid into the seat behind her, vaguely aware that everyone in class was watching him. The girl — whose first name Edward still hadn't learned — smiled once more at him before she turned and faced the front of the classroom.

History flew by, and the moment the bell rang, the girl was gone again. Edward followed her right to her next class, Spanish, which they also happened to have together. Once again, he was greeted warmly by Senora Goff, and told to take any seat that he wanted. Why Edward felt the urge to take the seat behind Swan again wasn't something he could explain. Not even to himself.

Through three classes, he never learned her name, something that was bothering him more than he should be letting it. After trig was over, Edward watched Swan head in the opposite direction of his next class. Pulling his schedule out once again, Edward sighed when he noticed that he had a free period, which he knew to be code for gym, which he couldn't take. Not that he wanted to. Gym meant changing clothes, and Edward was glad that was one experience that he wouldn't have to deal with, especially not anymore.

Stopping outside of his locker, he shoved all of his books inside before heading to the office to see what he was supposed to do with his free period. Ms. Cope looked up at him and smiled.

"Can I help you, dear?" she asked.

"Yeah, I have a free period," he muttered.

"Oh, yes, I meant to talk to you about that this morning," she rattled on. "You've been assigned to the library, as an aid."

"An aid?" he questioned.

"Yes. You know, help the librarian put the books on the shelves, or whatever she needs you to do."

"Fine. Where's the library?" Edward deadpanned.

Ms. Cope gave Edward the directions, and sent him on his way. It only took him a couple of minutes to find the library. Pausing outside, he took a deep breath before opening the door and walking inside. The first thing he noticed was that Swan was standing behind the desk with a scanner in one hand and a book in the other.

She looked up at him and smiled, which sent a shiver through him.

"Oh, hey," a voice to his left called out. When Edward looked over, he saw a tall, beautiful caramel-haired woman with dark brown eyes standing next to one of the bookshelves. "You must be Edward."

"That's me," he mumbled.

The woman smiled before looking over at Swan and then back at him. "You can put your bag next to the door. Have you ever worked in a library before?"

"No," Edward replied, tossing his bag on the floor.

"Okay, well, we're pretty relaxed here," she stated, moving back over to him and motioning for him to follow her behind the counter. He did, vaguely aware that Swan was watching his every step. He wasn't sure if it bothered him or not. "Have you met Bella?"

"Um, kind of," Edward mumbled. "We had the same classes this morning."

"Ah, I see," the woman said, nodding. "Well, it's pretty easy for the most part."

She walked around the counter. "Bella, may I?"

Bella nodded and stepped out of the way.

The librarian gestured for Edward to come stand next to her, which he did. "When someone comes in to check out a book, you type their name in here," she gestured to one of the empty boxes on the screen, "and then hit enter. Once their account comes up, you scan the book and have them sign the electronic pad. When they return the book, you scan it once again and it will tell you if it's late or not. Put the book on the returned book cart and you're done. Any questions?"

"Um, No, ma'am," Edward muttered.

"Ugh, don't call me ma'am," she exclaimed with grimace. From behind her, Edward saw Bella laughing silently. "My name is Esme Swan. I know I'm not supposed to allow you to call me Esme, but I don't feel like a Miss Swan, ya know?"

"Oh, okay, sorry," Edward mumbled, feeling his ears turn red with embarrassment.

"Don't sweat it," Esme laughed. "Ma'am just makes me feel old, and before you say it, I am not old."

Edward wasn't sure what to say.

"Wow, okay, things just got awkward," Esme said. "I'm going to go back to work now that I've made a fool of myself. If you need anything just holler."

"Oh, um, okay," Edward replied. "What should I do?"

"Hmm, for today just watch Bella. Then tomorrow, we'll get you started on stocking the shelves," Esme said, before heading back over to where she was.

Edward took a deep breath and looked over at Bella, who had her hand around her throat. "Guess, I'm just watching."

Bella nodded and stepped back up to the counter. She picked up a book, scanned it, and held it out to Edward, motioning for him to put it on the cart for her.

Edward took it and did as she motioned. "Any particular order?"

Bella shook her head and handed him another book. Sighing, he took it from her and placed it next to the other one. Over and over, they repeated the process until the bell rang, dismissing them for lunch. Bella placed the scanner on the counter, walked around the counter, picked up her bag, and waved at Esme before turning to Edward.

Smiling, she motioned with her head for him to follow her. Edward did as she told him, picking up his bag, and following her out into the hallway. Silently, they walked down to the cafeteria. Alice was waiting for Edward outside, and when she looked up and saw him walking with Bella, she started to smile, but almost immediately stopped.

Bella smiled at Alice before waving to Edward and heading inside.

"Who was that?" Alice asked and Edward noted the mix of concern and excitement in her voice. Once upon a time, Alice would have marched straight up to Bella, introduced herself, and declared them to be best friends. Of course, that was before everything changed.

Edward shrugged his shoulders. "Bella."

"Oh." Alice didn't push it any further. "You ready?"

"Guess so."

It didn't matter if Edward was ready or not, they had to go inside. Placing his hand on the back of Alice's neck, he led her inside, stifling the groan when nearly everyone looked over at them — everyone but Bella. She had gotten a tray and was sitting at a table in the back corner, completely alone. Instead of gawking at the new kids, she was reading. It was . . . both comforting and uncomfortable.

"Suddenly, I'm not very hungry," Alice whispered and Edward could feel her trembling.

Closing his eyes, he moved so that he stood between Alice and everyone. He placed his hand under her chin and tilted her head back, looking her directly in the eyes as he said, "It's just you and me, Pix. Just us."

"Yeah, keep telling yourself that," Alice murmured.

Edward placed his hand back on the back of her neck and led her over to the food line, trying to keep himself between Alice and everyone else. It was odd to him that the once outgoing and exuberant sister was now quiet, shy, and introverted. Nothing was ever going to be the same, not ever again.

Once they'd both bought turkey sandwiches and cokes, Edward led Alice to the only empty table left and they sat down. The room was eerily silent as Edward and Alice unwrapped their food and began to eat. Suddenly, a loud bang echoed through the room and everyone turned — including Edward and Alice — to where Bella once sat; once sat because she was now standing next to the table, slamming her empty tray on the table. Tossing it down, she brought her hands up in front of her and shook her head before sitting back down.

Edward wasn't sure why Bella had started to hit the table, but was grateful that nobody was staring at him and Alice anymore. Bella shifted her eyes over to him before she picked up her book and went back to her reading.

"That was weird," Alice commented, pulling Edward's attention back to her.

"Yeah," he agreed. "So, how'd the morning go?"

"Oh, you know." She waved a hand in the air. "Pretty much sucked."

"Yeah, for me, too."

"There — there is this one guy," Alice said, speaking so softly Edward wasn't sure he'd heard her correctly."

"A guy?" he asked.

Alice refused to meet his gaze, but nodded her head. "He's in gym and English with me."

"And?" Edward prodded for more information.

"And nothing. He just seemed different," Alice said, shrugging her shoulders again. Lifting her eyes to Edward's, she added, "He — he didn't look at me."

"Like at all?"

Alice shook her head.

"Oh." He wasn't sure whether to be grateful that this guy hadn't looked at his sister, or pissed that he hadn't.

"There he is," Alice hissed, tilting her head toward the food line.

Edward looked over and knew immediately who Alice had been talking to. The boy was tall — taller than him — and had shaggy blond hair that hung in his face. Adjusting the backpack hanging on his shoulder, he turned and walked toward where Bella was sitting. When he pulled the chair out, she looked up and smiled at him.

"Guess they're friends," Alice grumbled.

Edward looked over at her. "Looks like it."

Alice pushed her half-eaten sandwich away and leaned back in her seat, placing her hand on her chest. "Figures."

"Yeah," Edward agreed, unsure of what else to say. He shifted his eyes back over to Bella and the guy and felt a surge of hate toward the guy, something he knew he had no right to feel. It's not like Bella had even talked to him.