A/N: Hello, my dear readers. I'm back! I've been working on this story for a few years now. The majority of it is pre-written. Not sure how many chapters there will be but definitely over 50. I'll try to update as frequently as I can.
Thank you to my dear friend Fran for reading this for me. I don't know how she does it, but she somehow tolerates my annoying self. :)
And I want to thank the lovely SunflowerFran for jumping in around chapter 16 or so to beta this story for me. She does such amazing work with her magical beta wand. I never knew how awful I was with commas lol.
I'm really proud of this little fic, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
Thank you for all of your love, support, and words of encouragement over the years. It means absolutely everything to me.
SM owns Twilight. I own this storyline.
TO THE LIGHT
I stare out the window at nothing in particular, the scenery a blur of colors and shapes so familiar yet so monotonous. I've looked out this window twice a day, five days a week, for two years now, and that depresses me. I hear a sneeze behind me, someone off to my left is singing loudly, and the man in front of me starts laughing. But I continue to stare out the window.
The bus soon approaches the one stop that is of interest to me. Taking in a deep breath, I tug my knit cap down until it touches my eyebrows and press my head against the window as I try to get a better look.
And there he is.
The man in the funny hat.
The bus slows to a stop. Adjusting his backpack, he glances up in my direction before climbing the steps. I hunker down in my seat and twist my gloves in my lap determined not to look at him. I'm acutely aware of his presence, tall yet unassuming, as he moves down the aisle. Unable to resist the temptation, I sneak a glance. He smiles, a small smile, but a friendly sort of smile and this is the tenth smile he's given me, not that I'm keeping count. I consider the fact that smiles are free so I give him a small one in return and quickly stare back out the window again.
He moves past and sits somewhere behind me, but I don't dare look back because I lack the courage. The doors close and the bus lumbers along, spilling a puff of black smoke into the air. After completing its routine stops, the brakes squeak loudly and we grind to a halt. Grabbing my bag, I stand and see him from my peripheral but I don't look his way. Instead, I scurry down the aisle and exit the bus. I go right, and without looking, I know he goes left. Because I've noticed.
My eight hours of humdrum go by slowly. I cash checks, count money, and take deposits. I clock out for the day and head for the bus stop. My feet slow when I see him already standing there, his stature and peculiar hat making him stand out in the crowd. With an open book in his hands, his eyes are trained in my direction, neck craned, searching the crowd for someone. Nervously, I duck for cover, hiding my small frame behind a newspaper stand, hoping he didn't see me. I don't know why I'm cowering because I know he's not looking for me, but I find myself doing it anyway.
Trying to summon some bravery, I stand on my tip toes and take a peek. His eyes are still searching the throng of people and I blow out a small breath when I realize I've not been discovered. I watch him for several more moments before I see the bus approaching. Leaving my hiding place, I quickly hurry towards the group that has gathered, keeping my eyes trained on the ground.
The passengers begin to move. I glance up and our eyes meet and he gifts me with smile number eleven. This smile, while still friendly in nature, seems bigger than this morning's, and the smile that creeps up on my face closely resembles his. Being timid, however, I quickly drop my gaze once again to the cracks in the sidewalk and merge with the crowd.
His scuffed boots are two people ahead of me and I curiously watch those boots as they step to the side. The passengers in front of me get on the bus and when I step up next, my eyes meet his once more. Still smiling, he nods at me and my lips curve before I quickly scamper up the steps. There are no seats available so I mumble, "Excuse me, excuse me," and make my way towards the back. I squeeze my small body in between two people and hang onto the closest available pole. I try to not look towards the front, but every now and then, I get a glimpse of his funny hat.
The bus starts to thin out as it makes its stops and I find a seat. He continues to stand near the front and I stare intently out the window, purposely avoiding him. His stop arrives and it feels safe so I look up and watch the back of his gray wool coat as he moves towards the exit. He pauses and turns his head, his eyes finding mine. He smiles, a softer smile this time, before he nods and departs the bus. I stare at my fidgeting hands and the bus roars to life but I don't dare look out the window again.
I'm the last stop and winter's darkness has fallen. A blast of icy wind hits me head-on, causing me to stumble a bit. Wrapping my scarf around my face, I shove my gloved hands in my pockets and push my slight body against the wind. I have to fight it and even though I only have one block to walk, I'm exhausted by the time I get home.
Once inside the warmth of my apartment, I grin when Oliver greets me, meowing and rubbing his furry body between my legs. After quickly removing my gloves, I lean down and scratch his calico ears, so thankful for his companionship. I toss my hat and scarf on the table by the door and hang up my coat before I head to the kitchen to open him a can of cat food.
I heat myself up some soup and eat quietly while I think about the man in the funny hat. I think about his smiles, all twelve of them, or is it thirteen now? I don't know how to count the ones outside the bus but I try to find meaning behind all of them, to quantify them somehow, but do smiles even have meaning? Of course, they have meaning. They're a form of communication, albeit a silent form. His all seemed cordial, like a greeting perhaps. Like a thoughtful person showing kindness to a stranger so I come to the conclusion that the man in the funny hat is simply a nice person with a nice smile trying to brighten someone's day. And he did brighten mine.
I spend the rest of the evening in my comfy chair wrapped in a blanket, reading a book with Oliver purring beside me. I have to read one passage three times because I lack focus. I am distracted by warm smiles and funny hats.
Later, I fluff my pillows and make my bed on the couch as usual. Sleep normally evades me and when it does come, it brings terrors from the darkest depths. But when I close my eyes, I see him there and for the first time in the longest while, I fall asleep with a smile of my own.
The nightmares stay away for once and I dream of a tall man with a gentle smile, standing at the bus stop...
Wearing a funny hat.