Title: Tempest Rising
Summary: Only when a mild demeanor is paired with a hot temper does Valentine's Day become an impending disaster. Angela and Paul's antagonism for each other increases through a war of letters, but how can either resist the call of fate? (Angela x Paul) (two-shot)
A/N: Drabble fic. This takes place in the middle of New Moon, after Bella begins to develop a friendship with Jacob. Only, I am rewinding Jacob's transformation into a werewolf several weeks back, when Bella is confused by his sudden disappearance. The story, however, centers on Angela and Paul. I wrote this with the intention of posting it on Valentine's Day (hence why I have moved Jacob's transformation to early February), but obviously have passed the deadline. No matter. I am aware that the pairing is highly unusual, but consider the potential of a story centering on two polar opposites declaring war…on the day of love, no less.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight Series.
The vast numbers of red, white, and pink streamers framing every doorway to each building were an unwelcome sight to the tall girl striding toward her first class. Angela eyed the repulsive decorations grimly as they swayed in the slight breeze, seeming to wave at her in a taunting manner. The colorful paper hearts taped to the sides of the halls greeted her cheerily as she stepped inside the science building, adding to her swiftly declining mood.
If there was one holiday she had a strong aversion to, it was this one. In the past she had paid little attention to it, and even last year she had enjoyed the sweet tokens of affection from her boyfriend. However, this year her feelings had ricocheted in the opposite direction, to say the least.
Her relationship with Ben Cheney had disintegrated several weeks back, due to irreconcilable differences concerning post graduation plans. Neither one had been willing to alter their aspirations for their lives after high school, so both had known the inevitability of their breakup. The split had affected her significantly at first, but she had managed to find a measure of peace after a while.
Although…the obnoxious red and pink graffiti embellishing the walls in celebration of this dreadful day were quickly putting an end to her struggling tranquility. The rose petals littering the hallway floor were no help, either.
She made her way inside her class, gracefully dodging a member of the student council who came at her with a carnation. This, and the succeeding thirteen days, would undoubtedly be enough to drive her insane.
But much to her relief, she found that she wasn't the only one who was unappreciative of this certain theme. Bella Swan was sitting at her desk looking irritated beyond compare. There was a long stem snapped in half on the floor next to her backpack, surrounded by a pile of torn pink petals. Apparently, she also didn't share the Valentine's enthusiasm with the other girls in school and had taken her frustrations out on her poor carnation. She was absently rolling a crumpled petal between her thumb and index finger as she glared the clock, seemingly willing class to start.
Angela took her seat next to her and smiled. "I'm guessing it's not your favorite flower?"
Bella flicked the petal away and turned to her with a softer expression, remaining silent. Angela could discern the disguised sorrow in her face, and she felt the familiar sense of pity creeping up to overpower her other emotions as she gazed at the epitome of pure melancholy. Bella had just snapped out of her "zombie phase," which had resulted from Edward Cullen's untimely departure from Forks several months ago. She had been almost happy again lately, a phenomenon attributed to an unknown source (to Angela, anyway), but just as quickly reverted back to her forlorn state.
Deciding that it was best not to pressure Bella for words, Angela simply placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder in a friendly gesture before turning to dig in her backpack for her class materials.
"Angela," the uncertain voice suddenly piped up.
She snapped her head back to Bella, whose eyes were downcast as she struggled for words.
"Have you ever felt so close to someone, but they suddenly locked you out for no reason?"
Angela frowned, recognizing where this was going. "Bella, if you're talking about Edward–"
"No," the other girl interrupted, raising her eyes with a new intensity and shaking her head firmly as the emotion slightly brought her back to life. "I'm not talking about him." In response to Angela's puzzled look, she said, "Say there was a person who picked up your tattered pieces when you thought your life wasn't worth living anymore, and you came to depend on them in order to heal. If they just decided one day to drop you right back down, would that make any sense to you?"
Angela continued to appear bewildered as she had no idea what the other was talking about. "I can't say it would," she replied hesitantly.
Bella glanced back down at the mutilated carnation lying dismally on the floor. "Will you do something for me?"
Angela followed her gaze to the dead flower, its appearance a metaphor of the current condition of both her and Bella's hearts. For the first time, she realized that her compassion for Bella originated not only from the fact that they were friends, but also from the reality of their similar situations in the cruel game of love.
"What is it?"
Angela's elegant script decorated the piece of paper in straight, consistent lines. She tapped her pen against the sheet thoughtfully, reading the message over for the third time to see if there was anything further she could add. Her eyes scanning to the end, she decided that it was quite adequate and efficiently to the point. She folded the letter neatly in thirds and slipped it into an envelope that bore the address to Jacob Black's house. Sighing, she then stood from her seat to walk down the pathway to the mailbox, placing the envelope inside and flipping the small red flag up.
She had been playing the devil's advocate for almost a week now. She had learned that Bella and Jacob had established a friendship following the disappearance of Edward Cullen, but Jacob had recently taken to avoiding Bella, which was the cause of her return to despondence. As he hadn't answered any of Bella's calls or messages, and as Charlie Swan and Billy Black refrained from any involvement in the matter, Angela found herself recruited to act as a medium between them. She hadn't been briefed thoroughly on the specifics; she only knew that Jacob was not communicating with Bella, so she had been instructed to send him letters persuading him to inform them of whatever situation he was in.
No reply had been sent back as of yet. It saddened her to watch Bella sitting at the front porch every afternoon, anticipating the arrival of the mail in hopes of receiving an answer from Jacob. Each time, however, she was to be disappointed. The sympathy Angela felt for her friend's gloomy face compelled her to persevere in her efforts to reconnect the two. And so she willingly allowed herself to be drawn into this tangled intricacy of complex emotions.
She made her way back toward the porch of Bella's house just in time for the front door to open. Bella stepped out, flashing her a grateful yet tired smile.
"Thank you for doing this," she said, her doe eyes void of their usual spark and faint worry lines creasing her brow.
Angela sometimes worried that this separation from Jacob would completely drive Bella back into the lifeless state she'd been in for the majority of the previous semester. She could not bear the idea.
Grinning brightly in an attempt to at least lift Bella's spirits a little, Angela said, "It's no problem at all."
The other girl's eyes flickered to the mailbox, seeming to will a letter from Jacob to appear inside. The expectation reflected in those brown orbs was so futile, yet Angela hadn't the heart to voice the thought to her.
"Anything?" Bella asked, her gaze still locked on the mailbox.
Angela hesitated before slowly shaking her head. She did not enjoy disappointing her by any means, but day after day she was forced to do so because of the other party's failure to reply. It was beginning to prove to be a tedious duty.
Bella sighed in both exasperation and concern. She turned back toward the house and invited her friend inside. Angela followed her, frowning as she mentally added another unsuccessful day to their endeavors.
Angela could hardly believe the sight of the envelope that her hand had produced from the mailbox, messy masculine handwriting scribbled in black ink on the front. She raised her astonished gaze toward Bella, who had continued to cling to the hope that their efforts would not be ignored forever. Apparently, her determination had finally paid off.
She stared back at Angela from the porch, reading the look on her friend's face and immediately springing to action. Leaping forward, she shot toward the envelope, her hands outstretched to reach it. Angela allowed her to swipe it away and jumped back, laughing in an emotion akin to relief as Bella all but tore it apart to get to the contents. It was certainly about time that they received an answer. Perhaps now Bella and Jacob could resolve whatever had set a rift between them in the first place, and everyone would be happier.
Unfortunately, such simple happenings only occurred in unrealistic fiction.
Angela's relief was quickly replaced with dread as she witnessed Bella's expression change from excitement to displeasure.
"What is it? What did he say?" Angela asked her anxiously.
Bella held out the letter, a hard look settling in her eyes. "It's actually for you."
Bemused, Angela took the paper and began to read.
As Bella has apparently had to resort to getting help from other people for matters that don't concern them, Jacob has seen fit to do the same. My name is Paul, and I'm answering on behalf of Jacob. To get to the point, what goes on between Bella and Jacob is really none of your business, and in your last few letters you sound like you don't even know all that's going on. He's been avoiding her for a reason that I will not disclose, and it has nothing to do with you. My advice to you is, stay out of it. Also, tell Bella to stop trying to get into contact with the Blacks. If they wanted to speak to her again, they would have already.
Angela's eyebrows drew together as she finished reading it. She glanced up at Bella, feeling a bit affronted. "He's very rude."
Bella nodded in agreement as she glared at the letter. "Paul…the name sounds familiar. I'm willing to bet he's one of Sam's lackeys…"
"Just one of the boys at the Reservation," Bella said dismissively. She shook her head in incredulity, the setting sun casting reddish glints in her hair. "I can't believe this. Jacob's as intent on avoiding me as I am on trying to communicate with him."
Angela remained silent as she grimly looked over the untidy scribble again. She was usually a rather tolerant and accepting person, but the way the message had been conveyed severely tested her. She was not accustomed to receiving such impoliteness compliantly, and every instinct in her body urged her to return his impertinence. On a relative plane, she viewed it as a challenge.
Bella was already leading the way to the house. Angela trailed along behind her, forming the forthcoming reply in her head. It simply would not do for her to allow this to end all correspondence between Bella and Jacob, as she steadfastly refused to see Bella wallow in depression once again.
Once inside, the two girls headed straight for the kitchen. Angela took her usual seat at the table while Bella began preparations for dinner. This routine had been established as a normal daily occurrence ever since Angela had become involved in the affairs between Bella and the Quileute Reservation in La Push. Only this time, they did not discuss what content to add to the next letter.
"Bella," Angela started as she watched her stiffly chop up an onion, "I can write him back, you know."
"It's okay," the other returned instantly, her chopping increasing in speed. "He made me realize that it was wrong of me to bring you into this. I'm sorry you had to put up with it for this long."
The apology was earnest. Angela was able to recognize the true remorse in her voice, and she came to grasp that Paul's words had had a strong effect on Bella.
"I honestly don't mind," Angela insisted, intent for her friend to understand her need to reply. "Look, you can't just drag me into this and then tell me not to worry about it after receiving one insolent note."
Bella was shaking her head again as she hacked away at the defenseless onion. "I'd feel better if we just dropped it completely. Tomorrow I'll drive to La Push myself to see what's up." She sent Angela a meaningful smile, closing the subject with the gesture.
However, unbeknownst to her, the girl sitting at the table considered this far from over.
I am no longer speaking for Bella, but I am not through dealing with this. Her welfare definitely is my business, even if there are certain aspects I am unaware of. Jacob's ignoring her is putting a strain on her emotional health and I will not allow her to regress back into her depressed condition over another idiot boy who drops her without legitimate reason. If you would be so kind as to relay that to Jacob, I would certainly appreciate it.
She signed her name in a graceful, angry scrawl and leaned back in her chair. The dim candlelight on her desk flickered and danced ever so slightly as her tired exhale brushed against the single flame. Glancing at the digital clock on her nightstand, she realized that it was well past midnight.
The only noises in the quiet house was the distant snoring of her father several rooms away and the occasional unconscious peep from one of her brothers. She had been secluded in her room for a good four hours, working on the letter and debating whether or not she would really go against Bella's wishes. In all honesty, she was justified in her interference. She was simply looking out for her friend, even if that friend specifically told her to withdraw from the situation entirely.
After deliberating for several more minutes, she reached for the box of envelopes sitting precariously next to the candle.
That afternoon, Angela was striding into her house after returning home from a long day of school. The primary reason that particular day had been taxing was that she had, under inconvenient circumstances, been seated next to Ben during lunch. How unfortunate that the only open seat next to Bella had also been next to him. Initially, they'd been able to discuss mundane topics and the like, but after running out of things to say, they endured an agonizingly long twenty minutes of silence and tension as everyone else at the table chattered away.
Not only that, but it seemed that the student council had sensed her lack of passion for the approaching holiday and had targeted her specifically for the month. She was finding it more and more difficult to refuse and/or escape their determination to persuade her to succumb to the upcoming celebration of Valentine's Day. Just today she had received fifty boxes of Sweethearts candy in her homeroom, courtesy of the student council president. It was horrible.
All she really wanted to do now was unwind by curling up with one of the books she had borrowed from the library, but her mother's call from the kitchen stopped her as she attempted to maneuver by stealthily.
"Angela! There's a letter from someone named Paul addressed to you."
Her muscles tensed reflexively. Even though she had sent the last one from her own address this time, Bella had gone to La Push today straight from school, and she would no doubt find that Angela had denied her request to stop writing any further letters. Fighting a wave of apprehension, Angela grabbed the envelope with familiar messy handwriting from the counter and continued on her way to her room.
"Angela, is that a new boyfriend of yours?" her mother called, a note of disapproval lacing her voice.
"No, Mom," she called back in exasperation. Without further explanation, she entered her room and shut the door behind her.
Tossing her backpack onto the floor with a loud thud, she noted that Paul had sent the letter from his own address as well instead of Jacob's before ripping open the envelope to read the message.
You just don't get it, do you? What part of "stay out of it" don't you understand? And now you're telling me that you're "no longer speaking for Bella"? What's that mean? Now you're just bothering us on your own? I'm not going to tell you again. Mind. Your. Own. Goddamn. Business.
Angela frowned deeply, but managed to remain calm. Was he really so desperate to keep whatever secret he and Jacob were hiding that he did not care what effect this was having on Bella? Completely unacceptable…
Grabbing a pen and paper, Angela leaned over her desk and began to scribble away furiously.
A/N: Formerly called Lupercalia Rising, I saw fit to change the title because of the ambiguous history and meaning behind Lupercalia. I settled on the title Tempest Rising because of the relation to the approaching storm of the story. Anyway, the last part will be up soon. In the mean time, please review and tell me your thoughts.