**This fic was written after New Moon was published, so take that into account when you read. There are some plot points, etc. that are no longer relevant after the publication of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. I have no desire to go through and change them all, so try to read it as somewhat of an AU fic. Thanks, and enjoy!**
-inksmudged (August 3, 2009)
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Set after New Moon, a new girl moves to Forks. This is my first Twilight fic. I hope you like it a lot! Please review - I will love you forever!
It was Saturday night, and I was at home, hiding in my room, reading. Mom called me down to the living room. She looked agitated as I sat on the couch across from Dad's old chair. She was curled in his chair, clutching an old sweater of his around her shoulders.
She took a deep breath, not meeting my eyes. "Cat, we're moving."
I looked at her, not really understanding. Mom was fond of metaphors and symbolism – she was a writer after all – so I often didn't catch the meaning of her lectures until she was a few minutes in. Moving? How? Try as I might, I couldn't see any double meaning to the word.
"We're leaving this house. We're leaving Seattle."
I realized she was speaking literally. "Leaving?" I echoed hollowly, still somehow not understanding.
"This house is a mausoleum! I can't live here anymore – you can't live here anymore!"
Anger pushed through my confusion, and I understood instantly. She thought that I was miserable just because Dad died. Like she could just fix me by leaving it all behind. My hands clenched into angry fists, and I resisted the urge to scream.
"No," I answered rigidly.
"Honey, we have to leave. This isn't healthy."
"Seattle is my home," I answered mechanically. "I don't want to leave."
Mom shook her head. "There's nothing here for you. You don't have any family here. You don't have any friends…" she trailed off guiltily. We'd come to an unspoken understanding that she didn't acknowledge that I'd slowly severed all my friendships over the past two years and turned into a teenage recluse. In return, I pretended not to notice that she wore all Dad's old clothes instead of her own and refused to throw any of his stuff away. She broke the fragile grip we both had on the illusion of normalcy with a single sentence. Rage burned up in me, more potent than anything I'd ever felt before.
"At least I don't wear a dead man's clothes every day!" I screamed.
Mom paled, but she didn't scream back – even though it's widely accepted that I got my temper from her. Instead, she spoke calmly, quietly. Her voice was almost feeble. "That's exactly what I mean. This house is a cemetery. We need to leave it behind." Despite her diminutive tone, there was a conviction in her voice that wouldn't be fought. I new it was no use arguing when her mind was made up.
Filled with an impotent rage, I could only glower. Suffusing my voice with as much rage and contempt as I could, I demanded, "So where are we going, then?"
Mom smiled. "We're moving to Forks."
- - - - -
Mom was a writer, so she could work anywhere, and she longed for the small town life again. She'd grown up in the country, raised on the Oneida reservation in northern Wisconsin, and moved to Seattle after she met Dad in college. Forks was a welcome change for her. For me, it was still a bit of a toss-up. Despite my antagonism towards the move, I was sort of looking forward to the opportunity for a fresh start.
Mom and I spent the first week in Forks cleaning the new house. It was last lived in fourty years ago – and was in desperate need of a vacuum and disinfectant spray. After a week of backbreaking labor, the house finally looked livable. The wallpaper was outdated, the kitchen linoleum badly in need of replacement, and the woodwork was slightly warped by the moist environment. But it was home. It was a fresh start.
After a thorough cleaning, the new house seemed bright and open, even though the Forks sky was perpetually gray and the house was actually smaller than our last one. Whatever the difference, it felt better. We arranged the furniture completely different from the last house, and mom sorted through Dad's stuff. She kept only the important sentimental things and put them in a trunk that she kept in the basement.
I started school on the Monday after that first week of cleaning. Driving up to the school, all sense of hopefulness evaporated. It was raining, nothing too surprising, but the dark atmosphere weighed heavily on my mood. I surveyed the disconnected buildings that made up the school with some trepidation. It was a small school, no doubt – but how would I find my way around with multiple buildings to navigate?
I found the main office easily enough. A plump, older woman sat at the front desk, leafing through papers. The open door allowed a gust of wind to whistle in, rustling the papers. She looked up immediately, smiling fondly.
"You must be Catherine Schwartz," she said warmly. I smiled dutifully.
"Yes. I was told to get my class schedule here?"
She nodded, and pulled a folder from a drawer in her desk. "Here you go, sweetie."
- - - - -
Class wasn't so bad. I faked being cheery and friendly, so I got on pretty easily with everyone. I was invited to lunch by a girl named Tess. I regarded her flaming red hair and bright green eyes jealously. I was a quarter Oneida, but three-quarters German-Dutch. The only thing exotic about me was the way I tanned easily. Otherwise, I was just a dark-haired, dark-eyed girl. My mother was half Oneida, and she got all the desirable features – dark, smooth skin, long, silky black hair, high and high cheekbones from her Oneida mother, and then large, round eyes and a narrow nose from her Dutch father.
Lunch with Tess was actually kind of fun. Her friends, a rambunctious group of three other girls and five boys, were fascinated by me. They asked me about Seattle, commiserating over Forks' pitiful size and inaccessibility compared to Seattle. The boys seemed particularly interested, but I didn't flatter myself to think it was over my stunning beauty. Judging by the way teachers and students alike seemed to know me right away assured me that newcomers in Forks were infrequent.
While the day went better than I'd anticipated, I couldn't wait to get out of school and go home. When school was finally over, I dove gratefully into my rusty old celica. I felt my mood lifting as I drove home, reflecting on my first day. Things hadn't gone bad at all. Maybe I could become good friends with Tess and her group. The idea of having friends again made me nervous, but excited.
When I walked in the front door, Mom was on the phone chatting happily. She was like a new person in Forks. She was wearing her own clothes – all newly bought on a shopping spree during our last day in Seattle – and she was smiling.
"Yeah, of course. Great – see you tonight." She hung up the phone, and looked at me. "How was your first day, Cat?"
"Okay," I answered noncommittally.
"Did you meet a lot of nice kids?"
"Good!" she enthused.
"Who were you talking to?" I asked, shrugging my backpack onto the kitchen table.
"Oh! I went for a drive today, to see the area, and I drove up through the reservation. I had to stop for directions, and I met a few people – they're very nice. We've been invited to dinner with Sue Clearwater and her family."
"She said there'll be a couple other families – with kids your age," Mom hinted hopefully.
- - - - -
Sue Clearwater's house was small. There were at least ten other cars parked in the yard, making me wonder how everyone was supposed to fit inside.
"Sue's husband just died a few months ago, so don't ask about it, okay?"
"Why would I ask about her dead husband?" I snapped. Mom looked away from me sharply, and I wished I could swallow my words. We were doing so well in our new house, in this new town. We were moving on. But I am always the one who ruins it. "I won't say anything," I said softly, getting out of the car.
Inside, the house was packed full of people. As soon as we got in the door a woman turned and wrapped my mom in a hug.
"Theresa! I'm so glad you made it!"
"Thanks, Sue," Mom answered happily. "This is my daughter, Catherine."
I smiled politely. "Call me Cat."
Sue hugged me as well. "The other kids are in the backyard," she said, pointing over her shoulder.
I hesitated. I really hate having to talk to people I don't know. My plan for the evening was to stay close to my mom, and field the usual questions from adults, like how I liked the school and how old I was and so on. I didn't want to look like a weirdo, though, so I said, "Okay, thanks," and made my way out back.
There was a fire pit in the back yard, host to a massive bonfire. About five kids stood around the fire, laughing and horsing around. I stood at the doorway, a few yards away, watching nervously. I didn't know how to approach them. Before I could settle on a plan of action, somebody noticed me standing there.
"Hey – who's there? Food ready?"
I strode forward self-consciously. "Uh, no. Sue told me to come back here." As I got closer to the fire, I realized there were all boys standing around – not a single girl. I swallowed convulsively.
"Who're you?" one boy asked.
"My name's Catherine – Cat." As I got even closer, I realized the boys were all incredibly tall. I was rather tall for a girl at five-foot-ten, but I had nothing on these guys. The shortest of them was six feet, at the very least.
"Yeah, Catherine Schwartz?" asked one. "Sue told us about your mom."
"Oh." I reached the fire, and stood self-consciously between two of the boys. The tallest of two held out his hand. I shook it tentatively.
"I'm Jacob," he said. His enormous hand completely enveloped mine.
The others followed suit, introducing themselves.
"Nice to meet you all," I said politely.
"Sue said you're Native?" Jared asked pleasantly. All five of them were suddenly reserved and sedate, even though seconds before they were being rambunctious and loud. It was probably because I was a girl and they thought they had to be on good behavior.
"Yeah, I'm a quarter Oneida. My mom's half."
They nodded politely. I nodded. Nobody said anything. God, this was awkward.
"How old are you?" Embry asked suddenly.
"Seventeen – I'm a junior in high school."
"Us too," Jacob said. I blinked. They all looked like they were twenty.
"You guys look a lot older," I said.
They grinned. "You like older men?" Paul quipped, leaning towards me with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows. I giggled as Jared socked him on the arm. Paul didn't take it as well. He rounded on Jared, brows furrowed angrily. The other four boys suddenly looked tense. Quil and Embry glanced at me.
"Chill out, Paul," Jacob said calmly, but I could see his posture was rigid. Paul was furious – shaking with suppressed rage. I stepped back cautiously, backing into Jacob. Was this boy completely unhinged? Jared didn't even hit him that hard.
"Let's go," Jared said, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him away from the fire. Paul shook his head, but he let Jared lead him away until they disappeared into the shadows of the forest.
"What's going on?" I asked, confused. Jacob and Quil glanced at each other.
"Paul's on medication," Jacob said easily. I knew it was a lie.
"What kind of medication makes –"
"Hey, dinner's ready!" Embry shouted, cutting me off. He led the charge back into the house. Quil and Jacob raced after him, but I went more slowly. When Jacob saw I wasn't running with them, he fell back.
"Aren't you hungry?"
"Yeah, I am," I said. "Is Paul going to be okay?"
"Yeah, he'll be fine," Jacob snapped. He pursed his lips and closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. After a moment, he asked, "How do you like Forks?" The question seemed random – even though everyone I met had asked me the same thing. From him it seemed calculated, like a distraction. I couldn't shake the suspicion that something was really wrong with Paul.
"Forks is fine," I said. "Kind of small."
Jacob laughed. "Yeah, but good things come in small packages, right?"
I looked over his tall, muscular frame. "Then you must be the root of all evil."
I noticed Jacob stuck out his chest a little, walking even taller than before. "I'm not so bad. It's Embry you have to look out for," he joked.
By now we'd caught up to the other two at the door. Embry grinned wickedly upon hearing his name. "What's that?" he asked, his voice mischievous.
"Oh, Jacob's just telling me what a monster you are," I said breezily. The smile dropped from Embry's face, and suddenly the atmosphere seemed heavy, charged with tension. I looked nervously at the boys. What was it with these guys and overreacting? "I was just kidding," I said quickly. "You seem very nice," I assured him.
Embry glanced at Jacob, giving him an accusatory look. Jacob rolled his eyes. Back in the house, we were forced to weave through people like eels. We got to the kitchen, filled our plates, and went back outside. It was cool outside, but better than the smothering press of people inside. Jacob and I got out first, sitting at the beat-up, old picnic table and chatting.
Despite the rough start earlier, Jacob was remarkably easy to talk to. He was funny and sweet, enthusiastic about mechanics, and more than willing to share embarrassing stories about his friends.
Quil and Embry joined us at the table and Jacob cut off a story about Embry and a girl who didn't return his ardor.
Embry smiled, but his face was hard. "Saying more than you should, Jake?"
"I can say what I want to," Jacob snapped.
"No," Embry corrected him tersely. "You can't. Don't get into trouble again."
Jacob didn't say anything. The atmosphere had gone from light to dark in an instant. I quickly shoveled the rest of my food down my throat and excused myself back into the house. I didn't know what secret they were keeping, but it made me nervous. After the way Paul freaked out – and I still hadn't returned – I wasn't sure I wanted to be alone with them in the dark.
Back in the house I found my mom talking to a man who was clearly not from the reservation. His curly brown hair was mostly hidden beneath a beaten baseball cap, and his tanned face was still not as dark as the Quileute skin. His eyes crinkled as he smiled at something my mother said. I paused in the kitchen, watching them. Sue Clearwater came up beside me, bringing a stack of empty plates to the kitchen.
"Hey, who's that?" I asked her, pointing to the stranger.
She followed the line of my finger with her eyes, then nodded approvingly. "That's Charlie Swan, Forks Chief of Police." She smiled softly, looking distant. "He was Harry's best friend – went fishing every weekend." I glanced uneasily at her. Harry must have been her husband's name. I didn't know whether to feign ignorance, or offer my condolences.
"Oh?" I said vaguely.
Sue continued, "He's a nice man. He was married once – a flighty woman, she left him. He has a daughter about your age, Isabella."
She smiled pensively, then brushed past me, dumping the plates into the sink. I went to my mother.
"Ah, Cat, there you are. Having a good time?"
"Sweetheart, this is Charlie – excuse me – Chief Swan."
Charlie waved his hand dismissively. "Charlie," he said softly, almost shyly.
"Nice to meet you," I replied automatically.
"Well, I guess we'd better going," Mom sighed. "It was really nice to meet you, Charlie," she said sweetly. There was more than politeness in her tone, and I felt myself bristling. This man had no right to walk into our life just days after we've started it over.
"Yes, let's go," I said, hustling her towards the door. "Bye Charlie." I waved smartly, and we were out the door.
"Easy, Cat, what's the rush?"
"I'm tired," I lied. "And I have school tomorrow."
As we walked to the car, I glanced back at the house. Around the back, I could see Paul and Jared reemerging from the woods. Neither of them had shirts on – only pants. They saw me staring, and froze. Even from this distance, I could sense their hostility. I turned sharply and rushed into the car.
"Let's go," I pleaded with my mom as I locked the doors.
I really hope you enjoyed this chapter, even though it was mostly set-up for what's to come. Next chapter will involve a run-in with Jacob's pack, and VAMPIRES! Ooooh! Please review and let me know what you think!