Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. It belongs to Stephanie Meyer.
Chapter 1 – Baby Steps
I was somewhere around a year old when it hit me that yes that was my mom calling to me encouragingly from less than a metre away in hopes that I'd amble my first steps toward her, but it wasn't the same mom I'd had before.
It was this thought that caused me to stumble over my own feet landing on my bum with a thump that shocked my newly infant body into crying, my mother quickly rushing over to pull me into her arms in sympathy, rambling soothing words in an attempt to calm me down.
What I also now realised was that it was not just the two of us in the room as I first thought, because as soon I started crying, my wails were immediately joined by another. The source of which was promptly scooped up and squished next to me in what I'm assuming was our mother's arms.
I hiccupped as I forced my tears to slow, bottom lip quivering as I pushed myself away feebly from the surprising comfort her chest provided, putting the thought aside as something that just came along with my new baby instincts. I looked to my side, taking in the other infant pressed against me, dressed in a very 80's style lilac baby dress with many frills, bow headband tied around her head where a short mop of dark hair lay.
Looking down at myself to see I was wearing something very similar, probably identical but in a pastel pink colour, I deduced it was likely that in this new life I had somehow been given, I had been born as a twin – thankfully still female as I had been before – though whether or not we were identical I wouldn't know until either I got a better look at us side by side, or until we grew older.
Well, I thought as the toddler who I assumed was my sister cries came to a stop to our mother's obvious relief. Let's see how this goes.
Phoenix, Arizona, 2005.
It was now 2005 and I'd pretty much gotten used to this new life of mine, having found I'd been named Vanessa and contrary to Bella, who as we grew older, began to use said nickname, I decided I preferred to be called by my full name rather than any of the nicknames people had tried to give me over the years. We also were decidedly not identical, though could easily be identified as sisters is not twins, with the same dark brown hair and pale skin, though my hair had more of a curl to it, Bella's having a more manageable wave, and despite having the same eye shape, I had inherited our mother's blue eyes, Bella having our father's brown.
Another thing I'd had to get used to, was the change in language, not only due to the decade but also because of having been raised in England in my previous life, which try as I might, still can't remember how it ended. Though I tried not to dwell on it, focusing more on living the life I've got now with no worries, deciding to live the life the way I wish I had in my first one, taking advantage of my unexpected fresh start.
Bella and I were now 17 years old and had just finished packing up our last bits in our carry-ons, the rest having already been shipped over to Forks, Phil loading our bags into the car, ready to take us to the airport so we could go live with our father Charlie. Something I was looking forward to, Bella…not so much.
If things turn out the same even with me here, then she'll quickly change her mind. I thought, amused as I watched her actually dig up a small cactus to bring with her to Forks. "Of all the one's you could've chose from you picked that one?" I commented as she came over to where I had been leaning in the door frame, watching her.
I eyed the cactus dubiously, it being a bit worse for wear in comparison to the many others we had in our yard. Well, I suppose it matched the pot at least, it having been made by our mother during her pottery phase and thus was predictably misshapen.
Bella looked down at it in confusion "What's wrong with it?"
"It looks like it just came out of a fight – and it didn't win."
She huffed, reluctantly amused as she answered "And that's why it deserves to come with us. Maybe it'll like the rain more than I do."
I swung an arm around her shoulder, pulling her back into the house "Not like that's hard."
She opened her mouth to retort but was cut off as our mom came over to us, holding out her mobile to us pleading dramatically "Babies! It won't work again."
I snorted, pulling my arm of Bella's shoulders, holding my hand out for the phone that she gladly relinquished. I fiddled with it for a second "You put it on hold."
Bella leaned over my shoulder, pointing to the screen as she joked "Look. You also called Mexico."
She lightly shoved her shoulder with a laugh, taking back her phone as I held it out to her with a sigh "I'll figure it out. You gotta be able to reach me and Phil on the road – I love saying that - on the road."
"Very romantic." Bella replied, just like she had the other times we'd heard mom say it.
"Very sweaty." I added cheekily, mom swinging an arm around my neck, pulling me to her, using her other hand to mess up my hair as we laughed. Pulling away to stand next to Phil as he came into where we were still loitering.
"Ladies," He greeted with a smile, popping a kiss on mom's head "Any more bags to go in the car?"
I looked to Bella who shook her head before answering "Nah, we've both just got our carry-ons," I nodded over to where we'd put them by the door "which we'll just put in the back with us."
"Right then, we're all packed up and ready to go then, if you girls are?"
At our nods - Bella's more hesitant than mine - we made our way out and over to the car, our mom coming back to link her arms through ours as we walked "Now, you girls know if you change your minds, I'll race back here from wherever the game is." Both Bella and I could see she was being genuine, despite the fact it was also obvious it'd pain her to do so.
Bella forced a smile "I won't change my mind, mom."
"Neither will I."
She shot us a fond smile "I know it's unlikely you will Vanessa." She focused her gaze on Bella "You might. You've always hated Forks."
"It's not about Forks," Bella replied, not denying her admittedly true statement "it's about Dad. I mean, I only spend two weeks a year with him, we barely know each other."
That was luckily something I didn't have to worry about as I'd argued quite stubbornly as a child that I wanted to spend time more time with dad after Bella had refused to spend any more summers in Forks, meaning we usually met up and spent two weeks with him in Florida before we headed back home. Instead, we'd come to a compromise that after he'd spent time with the both of us, I'd then fly back to Forks with him for another two weeks, before re-joining Bella and our mom.
Mom didn't look convinced at Bella's words, causing her to insist "Mom, I want to go. I'll be fine."
I doubt she believed her, but she still pulled her into an embrace, letting the matter drop, before reaching back to pull me to join them in a three-way hug, letting out a small, somewhat sad laugh as she said, "I'm going to miss you both so much."
"We'll both miss you too." I told her as we pulled away, her giving us one final squeeze each on the arm before moving to join Phil in the front of the car.
Which meant she missed seeing Bella's face fall as she struggled to keep up her façade. I let out a sigh, picking up our bags from where Paul had brought them out for us, proffering Bella's "Come on Bella, let's get going so I can sleep on the plane."
That startled a snort out of her, taking her bag as we climbed into the back seat "Is that why you're pretty much still dressed in your pyjamas?"
"Excuse you." I said looking down at my t-shirt – jogger combo "I put a bra on."
"Ah," She nodded sagely "that makes all the difference." We managed to stay straight faced until our eyes met, cracking up, mom turning back to smile at us happily as we made our way to the airport.
The rest of the ride was spent mostly quiet, Bella having pulled out her iPod to listen to, staring out the window as I snacked, having prepacked food for the journey - knowing I wasn't going to be paying the airports prices any time soon - mom and Phil up front chatting about the road trip they were soon to be taking. The time passing by quickly until we found ourselves inside the airport, saying our final goodbyes before we parted for the foreseeable future.
"Bella, Vanessa, you don't have to do this." Mom repeated.
"I want to go." Bella insisted, again.
She let out a fond sigh, clearly seeing we were determined, instead simply telling us "Tell Charlie I said 'Hi'."
"We will." Bella assured, as I nodded along in agreement.
"I'll see you both soon," She promised "you can come home whenever you want – I'll come right back as soon as you need me."
"We know you would." I told her.
"Don't worry about us, it'll be great." Bella said with forced optimism "I love you, mom."
Mom reached out to place a kiss on top of her head, eyes shining with unshed tears "I love you too, baby." She took a deep breath, pulling herself together "You both best get going before I make you late for your flight." Bella and I nodded, watching our mom as she waved us off alongside Paul, as continued through the airport to catch our plane.
It didn't take long until we were in Seattle, considering I kept to what I'd said before and slept through the flight, it could just feel like that for me. Bella dug around in her carry on, looking for the parka she'd packed, having already shrugged on the hoodie I'd tied around my waist in preparation for the cold weather I looked around, just in time to see our dad spot us, unchanged from the last time I'd saw him as he made his way over.
"Vanessa," He greeted warmly, pulling me into a one-armed hug, pulling away as he asked "Been up to any trouble recently?"
My mouth twitched as I tried to hold back a smirk "Nothing you'd want to hear about."
"Well, at least you're honest." He sighed, turning to Bella who had just finished putting on her parka "It's good to see you Bells, you haven't changed much." He commented a bit clumsily, Bella responding with an equally uncomfortable hum, both not quite sure how to act around each other yet. Which was expected, it always took them a bit of time to warm up.
"How's Renee?" He asked after a short pause.
"Mom's fine." Bella answered, more comfortable with the easy question "It's good to see you too Dad."
"She said 'Hi'." I added, hoisting my bag on my shoulder "Shall we get going?"
Dad nodded gesturing as he began walking "Car's this way." Bella shot me a grateful look behind his back, glad that I'd moved us along from their awkward reunion, only to shoot me another look upon seeing that he'd picked us up in his police cruiser as I'd expected.
"What?" I shrugged unbothered, not quite getting what she expected me to be able to do about it "It's the only car he's got."
She groaned, pace quickening as she spoke "Fine. But I get the front seat."
"Fine by me." I answered, pulling open the back door to slide myself into the seat, shutting it behind me, settling myself comfortably as I took in the grate that separated us, joking "It's nice and cosy back here."
Dad met my eyes in the rear-view mirror as he pulled off "Please don't end up in the back of a different police car."
He let out a sigh at my answer, but couldn't hide the amused twitch of his lips, flicking his eyes over at Bella as he commented "Your hair's longer."
She grasped a lock, twirling it in her fingers as she looked at it "I cut it since last time I saw you."
"Guess it grew out again." He replied, the car falling back into silence, and not a comfortable one.
I broke first "Sooo, we going to the diner tonight?"
"Of course." He answered, mood improving "They've missed you over there."
"And I've missed their cheesecake."
He let out a chuckle "Which one do you think you're going to get today?"
"Ooooh, tough decision." I tilted my head, thinking "Think I might get the one with the raspberry compote."
"Is it nice?" Bella perked up, finally looking away from the window, turning in her seat so she could see both of us.
"It's delicious." I corrected, dad letting out a hum of agreement. "And they give you a decent portion too."
"Small town, local diner. All equals big portions." Dad pointed out with a smile.
Bella let out a hum of acknowledgment. "I might get one too."
"You'll like it." I promised, settling back in my seat, happy with the new atmosphere.
"I've found a good car for you," Charlie told us, more confident speaking now "really cheap."
"What kind of car?" Bella asked cautiously.
"Well, it's a truck actually," He admitted "a chevy."
I stayed quiet as he confirmed it was the same truck from the book and movie, Bella still suspicious as she prodded "Where did you find it?"
"Do you remember Billy Black down at La Push?" Dad answered with another question.
"No." Bella replied at the same time I said "Yes."
"I know you do." He shot me a glance in the rear view "He goes fishing with us during the summer. Has done since back when you were kids." He paused for a moment as we came to stop at a crossing "He's in a wheelchair now so he can't drive anymore, and he offered to sell me his truck cheap."
Bella didn't let up "What year is it?"
"Well," He hesitated "Billy's done a lot of work on the engine – it's only a few years old really."
"When did he buy it?"
"He bought it in 1984, I think." Dad answered relieved, thinking that'd be the end of it.
He should've known better, face dropping as Bella continued her interrogation "Did he buy it new?"
"Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties – or late fifties at the earliest."
"Ch- dad," She corrected herself, reasoning "I don't really know anything about cars. I wouldn't be able to fix it if anything went wrong, and I couldn't afford a mechanic..."
"Really, Bella the thing runs great." He insisted "They don't build them like that anymore."
"How cheap is cheap?" Bella asked, coming to terms with the fact she was going to be stuck with the truck.
"Well, honey I kind of already bought it for you both." He admitted sheepishly "As a homecoming gift."
Bella turned bashful "You didn't need to do that, Dad. We were going to chip in to buy a car."
"I don't mind." He replied honestly "I want you to be happy here."
"That's… really nice Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it."
"Me too." I agreed, Bella shooting me a look for being quiet pretty much the entire conversation.
"Well, now," He fumbled a bit, pleased, but also a bit bashful at our thanks "you're welcome."
It was only a short while later that the cruiser pulled up to the old two-story house, the garage door left open to reveal Charlie's small fishing boat. Some might say it's not very secure for him to leave it like that but honestly? In a town this small who is going to have the balls to steal from the chief of police, if you thought no-one, you'd be right, it really wouldn't be worth the hassle.
Bella hopped out of the car as we parked, striding over to the truck, a true smile spreading across her face as she took it in "Wow, dad, I love it! Thanks!"
"I'm glad you like it." He stated, obviously pleased that her delight was genuine.
"Great!" I added, swinging an arm around Bella's shoulder "You can be the one who drives us to school then."
She rolled her eyes as I led her inside the house, our dad having stopped to retrieve our bags from the car "When am I not?"
I wiped my feet on the welcome mat as I entered, Bella following my lead before moving around the entry to look at the décor that honestly hadn't changed much from the last time she'd been here, the only updates being some more recent photos of us and a few knick knacks I'd added when I visited last summer.
I watched as she browsed said photos, wincing as she caught sight of the one from when we were seven and our mother had decided to enrol us in ballet, the picture showing Bella dressed in a tutu sitting stubbornly on the ground with her arms crossed, me standing behind her, dressed similarly with a grin holding up a peace sign.
"Home sweet home." I commented with a small smile as Charlie re-joined us, a case in each hand.
He set the cases down next to the couch where Bella and I had also dumped our carry-ons "I put Grandpa's old desk in your room, Bella. And I cleared some shelves in the bathroom."
"That's right." She grimaced "One bathroom."
I leaned over to whisper "Get over it." Laughing as she shoved me away.
Dad shuffled on the spot before picking our cases back up "I'll just take these up to your rooms."
"I take mine." Bella protested reaching for hers futilely as he'd already carried it to the stairs, causing her to back off awkwardly as we followed him up.
We stopped in front of a closed door, dad putting down a case to push it open revealing Bella's childhood room that had now been updated enough to home a teenager. Though all that really said was that the cot had been replaced with a bed, grandad's old desk sitting in the corner as promised, a clunky white computer sitting on top, the internet line leading to it having clearly been stapled to the floor.
"Come on." I grabbed dad's arm, deciding to be nice as I pulled him out of the room so Bella could have her breakdown without witnesses. "She needs some time to herself after that long flight."
"If you say so." He mumbled, but didn't resist as I pulled him to my room. I swung the door open, revealing it to be just as I had left it, the walls painted a deep burgundy, the bed covered with the black bedspread I'd chosen when we went shopping the last time I was here. "I haven't touched anything, just went in to make sure it wasn't too dusty for when you got home and cracked the window to air it out a bit."
"Thanks dad." I shot him a smile, walking over to where the curtains were lightly fluttering from the breeze to pull the window shut, eying the boxes that had been left in front of my closet "I see my stuff arrived as expected."
He let out a light huff, commenting with a wry smile "It did indeed. I even had to go collect the biggest one at the post office, what even is in there?"
"My clothes of course. It was cheaper to send them ahead, though," I tested out the weight of the box he referred to "I think this one might be my books."
"You-" He rubbed his head insecure "You planning on sticking around then?"
I smiled at him fondly, ah this awkward father of mine. "Yeah, thought I might even take a gap year after finishing school so you can appreciate my presence for eeeeven longer." I teased.
He let out a snort, though I could see he was pleased that I'd be staying in forks for longer than it just took for me to finish high school. Honestly with how similar they were it's a wonder Bella couldn't see how great of a father Charlie really is. "Well then, I'll leave you to unpack. We'll all head to the diner, say about 6?" at my nod he continued "I'll be downstairs watching TV if you need me."
With that said he left, he never really was one to hover, just like Bella in that aspect. Though, I thought amused, ripping the tape from one of the boxes, Our mom definitely would've. She'd probably be perched on one of our beds, chatting our ear off, 'supervising' as we unpacked.
I'd managed to get through two of the five boxes and half of my suitcase by the time 6o'clock rolled around, flicking the CD I had been blasting on my stereo off as I turned off the alarm I had set on my phone. Now feeling the hunger, I had been unconsciously ignoring, I skipped over to Bella's door tapping a cheery tune to inform her it was time to go out for dinner, her following me downstairs to our father with no fuss.
The car ride to the diner was silent, Bella choosing to sit in the back with me this time, leaning her head tiredly against my shoulder as I stroked my fingers through her hair. A past time we frequently repeated whenever she found herself too overwhelmed. The journey didn't take long, which was expected for a town of this size, the three of us quickly pulling up and piling out of the car to take a seat at one of the empty booths lining the windows inside.
Bella stared intensely at the bottle of ketchup that was pre-set on the table, turning it on the table as Cora quickly dropped off three menus for us before rushing off to see to one of the noisier families already seated. I peered over at our dad as he looked over the menu, teasing "I don't know why she bothers giving you one anymore, you always order the same thing."
"Not every time," He replied not looking up from his menu as he smirked "if I'm in a rush I sometimes get a burger instead of steak."
"I stand corrected." I set my menu down, nudging Bella lightly with my elbow "Have you decided what you're going to get?"
"Think I'll just get the cod with a salad." She mumbled, finger slowly drawing rings around said item on the menu.
"Good, good." I replied, sliding her menu underneath mine just as Cora came back over.
"So, what can I get for you today?"
"I'll have the chicken pie with fries, Bella will have the cod with salad and dad will have steak and fries- I'm sorry," I shot a look at dad as he opened his mouth "were you going to order something else?"
His mouth snapped shut with a click, sharing an amused look with Cora as he handed our menus back to her "No, I wasn't. Can I also get a sprite please Cora? And a coke for Vanessa, anything for you Bells?"
"A sprite too please." She replied quietly, shrinking into her seat a bit as Cora turned to beam at her.
"I'll get that all sorted for you." She paused for a moment looking us both over with a happy sigh "I just can't get over how grown up you both are. And so gorgeous." With that said she walked away to hand over our orders Bella shrinking even further into the booth at the comment.
I pulled a napkin out of the dispenser, tossing it at Bella, watching as she fumbled to catch it as I told her "Come on Bella, we're getting food that we don't have to make ourselves, that's a happy occasion." She shot me an obviously forced smile, it falling as she turned to the napkin in her hands, beginning to shred it on the table as I sighed turning back to dad with a shrug to say 'what can you do?' while we settled in to wait for our food.
Luckily it didn't take long before Cora was once again headed over to our table, arms loaded with plates that she quickly set down one by one in front of us, leaving once more only to quickly return with our drinks, setting mine down last "There you are, you guys let me know if you need anything else."
"Member me, honey? I was Santa one year." Waylon greeted Bella, leaning over Cora's shoulder who rolled her eyes.
Dad pointing out the obvious "Waylon, she hasn't had a Christmas here since she was four."
It didn't deter Waylon who simply grinned, shooting us a wink "Bet I made an impression, though."
"You always do." Dad sighed, though there was a glint of amusement in his eyes.
"He's known as buttcrack Santa." I loudly whispered to Bella, causing a corner of her mouth to twitch up in an almost smile.
Cora let out a small laugh, clasping a hand on Waylon's shoulder as she lightly pushed him to move on "Let the girl eat her cod, Waylon." She turned to back to Bella as he left with a wave "When you're done, I'll bring your favourite - berry cobbler. Remember? Your dad still has it. Every Thursday."
"Actually," Bella spoke up for the first time since we ordered "I think I might get the cheesecake…Vanessa's been talking it up."
"Well of course she has." Cora shot me a grin which I returned with a wink. "I assume that means you want the same sweetie?"
"You assume correctly, the raspberry one please." I agreed, before lowering my voice in a faux whisper "If you cut me a bigger slice than normal I won't tell anyone." I promised, taking a bite out of a fry with a grin as I wiggled my eyebrows.
"Uh huh," She watched me amused "That's what you say every time." I stayed silent, lips twitching as I held back a smile, miming zipping my lips. She laughed, shaking her head as she turned to dad "Are you having the same Charlie?"
"Sure, why not." He agreed with a smile, Cora nodding in acknowledgement, giving me a friendly pat on the shoulder as she left.
The table fell into silence as we all moved to eat, I watching my family members awkwardness as both dad and Bella reached for the salt at the same time, both flinching minutely back in surprise as their hands knocked against each other. Dad tried to be casual and acted like he was reaching for the ketchup instead, letting Bella have the salt which I quickly stole once she'd finished with it, sprinkling it over my fries before pushing it across the table to dad.
To my surprise it was Bella who split the silence "So... you eat here every night?"
"Easier than washing dishes." Dad replied after a moment, finishing what he was eating before answering.
"I can cook." He looked up, confused, Bella quickly beginning to explain "I do the cooking at home - in Phoenix. Mom's not great in the kitchen."
Both him and I snorted at the understatement, Bella joining us in a small laugh as he answered "I remember."
"I think," I cut in, deciding to help out "what Bella is trying to say, is that she doesn't mind cooking dinner at home sometimes so we don't have to go to the diner every day." I looked to Bella who nodded.
"Ah." He nodded in understanding as he looked between us "Well, you girls can do whatever you like, I certainly won't say no to a home cooked meal."
"Just as long as you know that whenever it's my day it's gonna be either pasta or pizza."
Bella gave a serious nod at my words, already knowing how true my statement was, having once had pasta bake almost every night for a month once when she'd broken her wrist. Dad chuckled as he replied "That's fine by me." With that said, we settled into a more amicable silence as we dug into our meals once more.
Shortly after we polished off our dinners Cora showcased her impeccable timing, arriving with our desserts, setting them down in front of us before removing our dirty dishes, striding off once again with a smile.
"It does look nice." Bella commented, spoon already in hand as she looked at her cheesecake, looking to mine to compare only to blink in confusion "…yours is bigger."
"Is it?" I asked innocently as dad began to silently crack up "I hadn't noticed."
A lot of you have probably already noticed, but I thought I'd confirm – I am following the book but have fleshed it out a bit with extra details the movie had added, so it's a bit of a mesh.
Hope you like it!
Like with pretty much all of my fics this could be updated anytime from next week to next year, it's a true mystery to us all.