A/N – Yes, yes I know. "What's this? We want updates on 'Forever and a Day'!!" I assure you – it is coming. As I've mentioned, I just went through a major move and I've just started my first year of University. Give me a break, eh? Speaking of which, I just had Easter break, which is when I found time to write this.
This came to me the other morning when I woke up. I dunno where it came from, but I just randomly thought "Hummm… I wonder how that would work?" And then, as I was reading a fanfic (I'm so sorry but I forgot what it was called or even who wrote it!) and they had Alice say something about "Vampires don't drive mini-vans." Cue major brainwave, which had me completely cackling. What was that brainwave? Well read on… if you dare!
This little diddy is set a while after Bella has been changed. Let's say… four years?
Oh, and disclaimer - I do not own Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse or any of the characters.
I bounced the keys in one hand, taunting him. I knew that it was only a matter of time before he relented to my unassailable logic… he'd already reached that telltale if-you-really-love-me stage. The taste of victory was already sweet in my mouth.
"Please Bella?" he pleaded, taking a tentative step closer to me. I carefully schooled my face into indecision. He took the bait, just like I knew he would, stepping closer again. "At least consider what it would do to my ego – we try to blend in, not look like hicks."
We were standing across from each other in the garage of our new home in a city right on the border of Minnesota and North Dakota – Grand Forks. (x a/n below) Edward was currently lingering by his beloved silver Volvo with one arm half extended, as if he were contemplating snatching away the keys which were still jumping on my palm. I found it very amusing that – seven years and four new models after he'd bought it – he was still just as infatuated with his car as ever. He had assured me on numerous occasions that it was simply the best car he'd ever owned and he didn't think that anything could ever beat it, but I had my own suspicions. It seemed very significant to me that, despite the time that had lapsed since I'd become a vampire, the particularly sweet scent of my human blood still lingered in the interior…
I tossed my keys a little higher in the air, daring him to come closer and take them. He knew, almost as well as I did, that to get that close was to admit defeat. I could see it in his eyes. I was leaning casually against my own car – an infinitely more appropriate choice for the present occasion.
"If you're worried about being conspicuous, then you know my car is the only choice…" Edward snorted and I held up a single white finger to silence him. He ignored the gesture.
"Bella," he objected vehemently, "you cannot classify that… thing… as a car."
I let my mouth fall open to an expression of outrage, turning to stroke the pastel green paint of my Volkswagen affectionately.
"Don't you listen to the mean, old Volvo driver, baby," I crooned, knowing that it would further tip Edward's slipping control to my favour. I was right; he groaned and rolled his eyes.
"Besides," I continued, looking at him with a sweet smile. "Mine is the only car that will fit us all," I reminded him. "If we go in your car, then Alice or Rosalie will have to drive too – and that wouldn't be inconspicuous for our first day of High School… now would it?"
Edward gave me a pained look. His tone was dripping with horror as he objected once more.
"But Bella… it's… a Kombi van!"
Alice chose that perfect moment to dance into the garage.
"Did I hear that I get to drive my Porsche?" she squealed, clapping her hands excitedly. "Oh, I have to tell Jasper before it's too late… the outfit he's wearing today would just look all wrong with the bright yellow…"
I grinned as she turned to waltz right back inside, watching Edward from the corner of my eye. Any second now, he was going to snap. I counted down in my head – three, two, one…
"No Alice," he sighed, his shoulders slumping in defeat. "Don't worry about it – we're taking Bella's… car."
He seemed to choke on the word, but I smiled brilliantly at him. I tossed and caught the keys one last time and pranced across the distance separating us to hug him affectionately, gazing up into his face sweetly.
"Would it make you feel better if I offered to let you drive?"
The martyred expression didn't leave Edward's face, for the entirety of the drive to Red River High School. Our siblings were loud, chattering and bantering amongst each other in the back of my van. Emmett and Jasper were psyching each other for the gross-out competition they had planned for lunch – they were going to see who could eat the most disgusting human food in the largest quantity.
"I think I might try meatloaf – even humans hate meatloaf," Emmett was stating confidently. Jasper shook his head.
"They don't like it because they think it tastes undercooked, so you'd probably enjoy it," he countered. A tendril of unexplained doubt wove through me and I realised that Jasper was using his empathetic abilities to undermine our brawny brother's confidence. "Besides, everyone says that cafeteria coleslaw is always the worst food imaginable."
The very suggestions of what I would have to watch them eat later in the day made me nauseous. It almost made me forget why I felt so nervous.
Rosalie and Alice were discussing whether or not I should be wearing the vintage grey baker-boy cap I had insisted on adding to the ensemble Alice had chosen for me today (xx). Four years under the undiluted influence of Rosalie's and Alice's fashion sensibilities had drastically changed my outlook on dressing. That and the fact that I actually liked the current 'in' style – vintage 60's had now turned into more than a new fad.
"She should be wearing the dark brown one I picked out," Alice was arguing. "It was exactly the same shade as the brown checks in her coat, and it looked so much more natural."
"No, the beige cap is what's supposed to go with the outfit – it's what the model wore on the runway," Rosalie insisted.
I didn't really see why they thought it was worth talking about – I was going to wear it no matter what they decided, fashion gurus or not. Besides, anyone could see that grey was the only choice: it matched my shoes. I kept my mouth shut regardless.
"Could you please drive a little faster?" Edward muttered bitterly from the passenger seat beside me. He was slumped low in the white leather seat, so that only his messy bronze hair would be visible through the window. Anyone watching us drive by would think I had a two-year-old sitting next to me. He was certainly acting like one.
I bit back a giggle. "I didn't realise you were so eager to get to school," I teased lightly. "I thought you told me that high school as a vampire is boring. I believe your exact words were 'the closest to purgatory a human could possibly inflict'."
Edward sighed and crossed his arms. The pout on his face was heart wrenchingly adorable and I had to struggle not to kiss every inch of him. No better way to ruin your first day of high school – as a vampire – than with a car accident.
"I just don't see why you stubbornly insist on driving so slow," he continued to gripe.
I did drive rather slowly – never more than ten miles over the speed limit if I could help it – and I understood his frustration at the fact. The slow speed even irritated me at times. But I had a point to prove, so I persisted.
We were almost at the school by this time, and I surveyed the area quickly, trying to determine where the car park might be. We were a little early, so that we could report to administration, and I couldn't rely on following the other students in.
"It's the street on the far side of the school," Edward told me, his tone petulant but less severe.
I turned down the street he'd indicated and deliberately parked in the space in the exact centre of the lot. The sooner everyone at this school associated us with my Kombi, the sooner they would get over it and Edward would get over his obsessive dislike of it.
"Attention leeches and gentle-vamps," I called softly in a mocking professional tone, "we have now arrived at Red River High, Grand Forks. Weather conditions are overcast and the inhabitants tasty. Thank-you for driving in the Cullen Kombi, and I hope you have a delectable day!"
My announcement was met with a split second of silence before Alice emitted a tiny giggle, shortly followed by Emmett's booming laugh and strained chuckles from Rosalie and Jasper.
"You're so absurd sometimes Bella," Alice tittered as Jasper swung the large rear doors open.
I cut off the engine as the rest of my siblings gracefully folded out of the back and looked around the largely empty carpark. The few students that had already arrived stared at them openly, and no doubt were trying to couple the elegant figures with my clumsy Kombi. Edward continued to stare straight ahead at the light wood dashboard.
"Come on Edward," I hinted gently, beginning to open my door. My hand was trembling slightly, but I kept my focus on my unmoving husband. I could see he would need persuading.
"The longer you sit here, the more people there will be when you finally get out," I tried again when he didn't respond. He still didn't move and I exhaled sharply.
"Edward, look at me," I commanded and he reluctantly turned his eyes to look into mine. "You're being ridiculous, and you know it. You're not the only one who'd rather just go straight back home, but at least I have a reasonable excuse. What's yours?"
Somehow, I felt my stomach plunge as I reminded myself why I was so nervous. This would be the first day that I would be in such close proximity to so many humans for so long, and I was very aware of the struggle that might shortly follow. It scared me.
My insecurity must have shown on my face – the surly expression suddenly slid from Edward's face, replaced by remorse. He reached out to run his fingers gently across my cheek.
"Bella," he sighed, leaning toward me. "I'm so sorry, I – you looked like you were handling it so well, I'd not considered… I didn't realise you were still so worried."
I closed my eyes, holding back the urge to use my gift (xxx) to show him just how scared I was. I had to be strong – everyone was depending on me. Despite my efforts, the sensation of a tear rolling down my cheek betrayed my control. Edward chuckled and his finger traced the line of the tear before I made it disappear.
"We'd better go out there," I murmured. "Before Alice comes back and embarrasses us in front of the entire population of the school."
I sighed deeply and stopped myself from inhaling again, just in case. Edward gave me a grin of encouragement and I quickly opened the door and stepped out of my Kombi. I could feel the eyes of several humans boring into my back as I locked up and I shyly met a few of them as I moved, swiftly as I was allowed, to take Edward's outstretched hand.
He pulled me very close and kissed me tenderly on the cheek. His thumb ran up and down soothingly at my waist, holding me close as we started walking toward the administration building.
"You're doing wonderfully," he murmured, his eyes darting about to look at the people around us. Committing each face and their voice to memory. "They all sound harmless enough to me, what do you think?"
I looked a few more people in the eye, and I didn't see anything unexpected. Keeping my mouth firmly closed, I simply nodded at him. I was too scared to take a breath yet.
"It will be easier to adjust if you start breathing now, rather than later," he whispered into my hair. I pressed my lips tighter together. "Just one, small breath, Bella. You can do it."
I glanced up at him and, failing to see anything but trust in his eyes, I let myself take an infinitesimal gulp of air.
The delicious scent of the humans we walked amongst was tempting. My throat suddenly burned and the venom pooled into my mouth, preparing for attack. The urge to turn and pounce was strong. I forced myself to take another measured step. And I resisted.
A small smile flashed to my lips and I glanced up at Edward. His best crooked smile buoyed me, his dazzling eyes warm. I took another small breath. Again, the urge to rip… to feed… almost irresistible. But Edward's arm wrapped securely around my waist and the trust shining from his face held me grounded. Kept me sane.
"See, it's not so bad," he encouraged.
We reached the admin building and he pulled the door open for me. I paused a moment and eyed a tall blonde girl wandering past us. Edward quirked his eyebrow at me and I sighed, allowing him to pull me through into the office.
"Perhaps not," I muttered low enough that only he could hear, "but if I see one more blasted human intending to break us up, I might not be able to help myself!"
Edward laughed and kissed the top of my head. Yes, and now I was 100 positive – it was going to be a very long day.
(x)Yes, you can laugh. I was actually aiming for Canada, but then I saw this and thought it was just TOO perfect…
(xx) Lots of notes to this story! I didn't want to dwell too much on Bella's outfit, but I really loved this picture I found. If you Google Image "brown velvet baker boy cap" there will be a picture of two girls in checked coats. Bella's outfit is inspired by the one on the left!!
(xxx) Hehehe – I'm not telling you yet, but see if you can guess what it is!! I really want to wait so I can cover it properly in 'Forever and a Day' but I keep doing all of these post-change Bella fics and I can't help mentioning it. Brownie points and a dedication in my next 'F&aD' chapter for whoever gets closest!