Only Human

(partial chapter)

Yes, I'm late, I know, but life, as usual, is stingy about giving me uninterrupted free time. Plus I spent most of the time I did have today, I spent just staring at this document, trying to figure out how to cram the rest of Elisa's story into a summary chapter until I finally had to admit that I can't fit it all into just one. Did I mention this story was wildly over-ambitious? If I were to write it all out properly, we're talking another 100k minimum. Oh and uh...this was supposed to be a trilogy too. o.O So yeah, the summary of the rest of it is going to take a couple of chapters, especially with all the random scenes I have written here and there.

So, I'm starting out by posting the bits of what would have been the next chapter in the story; we're hanging out primarily with Elisa and her human buds for this one, hence the title. It's not much more than some random, unedited and unrevised scenes and my commentary to put it all together. It's been fun for me to revisit Elisa, Tandy, and Jimmy and all their teen drama, and I hope it is for you too.

I strongly suggest that if you have not re-read Evening Falls recently and do not wish to do so, to read the chapter before this one, titled 'The Story So Far' before you tackle this. It will make a lot more sense if you do. A very brief recap to set the scenes here: Elisa recently discovered that her BFF/crush Jimmy, who had seemed to return her romantic feelings, is in fact gay and dating the school asshole Jock Boy in secret. Jimmy's best friend Tandy is the one who set her up to find out in a pretty harsh way, and Elisa's still reeling from it. Plus she's recovering from a severe 'migraine' episode, code for 'Elisa's got some strange shit going on' (see chapter 26: Reunited, for full details).

And here we go again!

I was in a very, very bad mood.

Of course, Carlisle had told me that he'd planned on taking me to his clinic for a checkup, but like many unpleasant things in my life, I ignored this ominous event until he woke me up at the crack of dawn to escort me to his clinic. When I quite strenuously objected, he smiled, voiced a few vague reassurances, and patted my head. At that point, the mind numbing terror that had always come over me my whole life whenever I was confronted with nurses, medical machinery, and above all, needles, surfaced and I submitted to a horribly embarrassing panic attack, complete with tears.

Rather than being thrown by this, Carlisle had calmly summoned Jasper, and next thing I knew, not only was I submitting without complaint to the most intense battery of medical tests known to man, but I was smiling like a compliant, programmed Stepford Wife all the through it.

Now that my Jasper induced calm was long gone, I was super pissed. I mean, I knew Carlisle meant well but vampires were the absolute frigging worst at respecting any type of human boundaries. No means no, not 'oh, let me summon my vampire empath son to hit you with a mega dose of forced compliance!" And to top it all off, Rosalie and Emmett seemed to think my unconcealed rage over all this was funny.

On top of it all, it turned out that the whole thing was a pointless waste of time, as well as a gross violation of my personal rights. I'd been x-rayed, MRI'd, scanned, poked, prodded, and drained, and it turned out that the only thing wrong with me was a serious Vitamin D deficiency from the lack of damn sunlight in this grim town. Carlisle gave me a bottle of vitamins and dropped me off at school just in time for the lunch hour. I could tell his failure to determine the cause of my 'migraines' was bothering him, and I would have felt bad about that if I hadn't spent the whole morning being his unwitting science experiment. At some point, I was going to have a serious talk with my vampire family about how the fact that they could pretty much anything they wanted to us measly humans didn't mean they actually should.

I was still internally raging about it all as I opened my locker to get my binder. When I slammed it shut, the first person I saw did absolutely nothing for my mood.

Jock Boy didn't look any happier to see me then I did him. As he neared me, his lip curled. I saw his eyes dance to the left and the right, looking for witnesses. Maybe I should have been scared - I was definitely his enemy #1 now that I was the only person, besides Jimmy, who knew his secret, but just looking at him made me too angry to care. Let him try something...he'd probably squash me like a bug but I was in the mood to go down fighting. Besides, Emmett would kill him slowly if he so much touched a hair on my head. That thought was almost nice enough to make me smile. Almost.

Jock Boy slowed down as he neared me, looking like he was itching for a confrontation almost as much as I was. I scowled at him and he glared down at me, his eyes narrowing. "Stupid bitch."

"Die in pieces." I suggested brightly in return.

He started to say something else but just then Mr. Thornton walked out of his classroom and squeezed in between us on his way down the hallway, a move that was clearly deliberate from the long look he gave Jock Boy as he passed. His unspoken message wasn't lost on either of us. Jock Boy gave me one more cold glare, which I returned in spades, before he turned and caveman'd his way down the hall. I watched him go, shuddering. Whatever Jimmy saw in him, I really didn't get it. At all.

The bell rang then, making me jump. Crap. Lunch was over, and now I was going to be late for class. I started to rush around the corner and smacked flat into a person hurrying from the other side. My blurted apology died on my lips when I saw who it was. Tandy.

"Elisa," she didn't look as hostile as she usually did, which really didn't matter to me at this point, because I was feeling plenty hostile enough for the both of us. She started to say something else but I spoke over her.

"Did you seriously think it was going to be that easy? That finding out Jimmy is gay would scare me off?" I spit the words at her.

"Honestly?" she reached down to pick up the books she dropped when we'd collided, and straightened back up, meeting my furious gaze without flinching. "Yeah, I did."

I gripped my own books more tightly, mostly to stop myself from hurling them at her. "How could you do that to someone who is supposed to be your best friend?"

Tandy blinked several times at that. "I didn't - Elisa, can you just give me a chance to explain? Elisa!"

She was speaking to my back now; I was halfway down the hallway when I heard her call my name again. I didn't stop.

(Later that afternoon, Elisa and Tandy run into each other again. This time, more than words are thrown - the two of them end up in a full on fight, which is broken up by a chagrined Ms. Hardwicke, the English teacher. She brings them into her classroom and lets them have it.)

Mrs. Hardwicke was glaring ferociously at us. "I can guess what this is about. James Rafferty, am I right?"

Neither Tandy or I answered; we just remained slumped in our seats, glaring at each other over her head.

Ms. Hardwicke shook her head. "Unbelievable. Two of the brightest students in this school, and you're tearing each other's hair out over a boy that could not possibly want either one of you."

I looked at Ms. Hardwicke in shock and she smiled grimly. "What, do you think everyone over 30 is deaf, dumb, and blind? We adults know a lot more than you think we do." Her expression darkened again. "I cannot even express how disgusted and disappointed I am with you both. You two had better come up with a way to work this out, because if I ever catch you two fighting again, you'll both be in the principal's office before your heads can spin." 's glacial glare landed on me. "I don't care how much money your family has, or how many donations they make to this school. You are not exempt from our rules and you will not be exempt from the consequences of your actions." I withered under her contemptuous tone as she turned away from me to look at Tandy. "As for you, Tandy, "Ms. Hardwicke turned to her. "You might want to consider what this would do to your mother."

Tandy gasped, and her face crumpled. I thought she was getting off easy compared to the verbal reaming I'd just gotten, but to my astonishment, tears began rolling down her cheeks and with a strangled sob, Tandy picked up her book bag and ran from the room.

(Elisa leaves Ms. Hardwicke's room still fuming, but relieved that she didn't get in worse trouble. She makes her way out to the parking lot where Rosalie and Emmett are waiting to pick her up, promising herself that nobody will ever know about what just transpired, until she sees who's beaten her outside.)

When I reached the parking lot, I realized I wasn't going to have a chance to forget about Tandy any time soon because she was standing right next to the Mustang. And I'll be damned if she and Rosalie, who had never even once heard me speak Tandy's name, were deep in what looked like an intense conversation. Just when I thought it couldn't get any weirder, Rosalie opened the car door and – why the hell was Tandy getting into the backseat?!

"Elisa!" Rosalie had caught sight of me standing there, and she was waving me over impatiently. By the set of her jaw, I suddenly had a pretty good idea what she and Tandy had been speaking about. God, just when I thought that Marilyn Manson wannabe couldn't sink any lower…

Reluctantly, I trudged forward. As soon as I was within speaking range, Rosalie was glowering down at me. "You got in a fight?"

Damn Tandy Newmeier for the rotten, loudmouth, rat fink she was.

"Not exactly – " I sputtered as Rosalie glared at me.

"Don't bother pretending," Rosalie snapped. "Tandy told us everything. Get in the car."

I stayed put, crossing my arms over my chest. "No! Not while she's in there!"

"Elisa,' It was Emmett that was sticking his head out of the passenger side door. "C'mon, don't be like that. Tandy came to us because she wants to work this out. Give her a chance."

He had to be absolutely freaking kidding me. I sputtered furiously, but before I could actually formulate words, Rosalie snapped her fingers at me impatiently.

"We're taking the two of you somewhere where you can sit down and talk." Rosalie's eyes were still angry. "So don't make me tell you again – get in the car."

When I continued to stand stubbornly where I was, Rosalie put her hands on her hips. "Fine then. Don't talk to her. We can have a nice long conversation with Esme and Carlisle instead; how about that?"

Now that was hitting below the belt. I wanted to stand my ground, but just picturing Esme and Carlisle's disappointed expressions had me yanking over the car door and climbing in.

Rosalie and Emmett drive Tandy and a deeply reluctant Elisa to a nearby cafe and give them space to talk.

I slumped into the booth next to Tandy and spent the next minute staring moodily at the raisin tea biscuit in front of me without taking a bite. Tandy had ordered a blueberry scone, and she ate half of it before she finally looked up at me. "It's not like I want to be here with you either, you know."

"Then why are we here?" I snapped.

"Because I don't have time for a stupid girlfight, that's why." Tandy dropped her fork and it clanked noisily against her plate. "I screwed up, OK? I was mad and I guess my feelings were hurt and I did something shitty. I'm sorry, OK?"

I narrowed my eyes. "What's up with your mom?"

"What?" Tandy looked up, startled. "What are you talking about?"

I smiled grimly. "You don't give a damn about apologizing to me. This is about Ms. Hardwicke threatening to go to your mother. So what's the deal?"

Tandy glared at me, about to speak, and I smiled smugly. "Don't even try telling me it's none of my business. If you want me to accept your half-ass apology, I at least should have a good reason."

I could almost hear Tandy's teeth grinding together before she spoke again."I just can't do this to her. I'm all my mom has now. Dad's been gone since I was three, and my brother Trent's all meth'd out who the hell knows where. We haven't heard from him in months. Me doing well in school and having a good life is all she lives for. I can't start getting in trouble, especially not over you."

I considered this for a long moment. I still wasn't feeling particularly forgiving, especially every time I had to relive just how bad it felt to open that classroom door and see Jimmy and Jock Boy together. But fighting with Tandy was just more drama then I needed either.

"At least tell me why," I was methodically tearing my biscuit to shreds, leaving a big heap of raisins and crumbs on my paper plate. "Why did you do it?"

Tandy shrugged. "I was afraid you were going to hurt Jimmy."

"Me, hurt Jimmy?" I stared at Tandy in stunned amazement. "Excuse me, but YOU were the one who set up your alleged best friend to be outed. If anyone is out to hurt Jimmy, it's you!"

Tandy looked genuinely shaken by this. "It wasn't like that!"

"Yeah, it was." I shoved my plate away from me. "Tell yourself whatever you want, but we both know you're jealous."

"Are you really as stupid as you look? Of course I'm jealous, you lackwit!"

My mouth popped open, more because she'd admitted it than because of anything she'd called me. She saw my expression and spoke again before I could.

"It's not like what you're thinking. I've never liked Jimmy like..that," she actually shuddered at the thought. "We've been best friends since we were little. He's like family to me. And I've always had his back, when he was fighting with his family, when he came out...hell, I knew he was gay before he did. Plus, I've had to endure this whole disgusting Brett scenario for months before you ever even knew either of them existed," she shuddered again and this time I shuddered with her, the two of us finally in perfect sync.

"But then you do come along, and he falls head over heels for you. I mean, in a way. All the sudden it's Elisa this and Elisa that, twenty-four seven. He talks about you like you're the best thing that I ever happened to him. I felt like I didn't matter anymore," she blinked, and there was a sudden sheen to her eyes. "So yeah, I've been jealous. But it's more than that. I didn't trust you. It was so obvious how into him you were," she snorted at that and I flushed, the sympathy I'd felt a second ago threatening to disappear. "I thought all you wanted was a boyfriend. He was scared of telling you the truth because he thought you wouldn't be his friend anymore. I guess I thought that too. I wanted to get it over with."

"Well, you were wrong," I snapped.

"Yeah," she agreed quietly. "I guess I was."

We fell into silence for a minute, before Tandy leaned towards me, propping her chin in her hand. "What?" I bit out when I couldn't stand her winged eyeliner stare anymore.

She continued to watch me until I sighed. "Fine. You're right. I had feelings for him," I exhaled again. "Have," I admitted. "And it sucks that he's never going to like me the same way. But he's my best friend now too," I straightened up, staring her down. "I get why you're jealous. But I'm not going away. Jimmy's important to me. He's all -" Unexpectedly, my throat tightened and tears pricked my eyes. " all...I -" I couldn't finish.

"Shit," Tandy grabbed a few napkins out of the dispenser, handing them across the table to me. "Don't cry, Elisa."

"I'm not!" My attempt at defensiveness was lost in a watery sniffle. Mortified, I stared down at the tabletop until the threat of more tears dissipated. When I looked up, Tandy was watching me. If she'd looked mocking, or exasperated, it would have been easier to bear than the frank sympathy in her eyes.

"All you have? Is that what you were going to say? What about them? The rest of your family?" Tandy gestured to the unseen outside, where Rosalie and Emmett were waiting for us.

"That's not what I meant. They're the best," I hoped if Emmett and Rosalie were eavesdropping, as usual, that they heard my sincerity. "But they're all so much...better than me. Like...perfect. And I'm so not. When I'm around Jimmy, I don't feel like I have to be."

Tandy nodded slowly. "I get that." She took another bite of her scone. When she was finished, she looked back up at me. "So...we share him them."

"Yeah," I agreed. "Without fighting. Even if we hate each other."

"Good," Tandy picked up my plate of crumbs and stacked it on top of hers. "You know, I don't actually hate you," she said, quietly enough that for a moment I thought I misheard her.

She smirked slightly at my reaction. "I mean...you're so annoying. You never stop talking, and you wear too much pink. But you can be really funny sometimes. And...maybe I think you're kind of smart."

I was both immediately flattered and offended at the same time. "Well, excuse me for declining to don the wardrobe of the malcontent," I eyed her black leather jacket and ankh necklace. "Some of us happen to look good in pastels."

Tandy rolled her eyes.

"I think you're smart too," I admitted in a rush. "And I'll deny I ever said it if you repeat it, but the whole punk chic thing actually looks good on you. Especially since you're not some pasty white Marilyn Manson wanna be," I looked at her russet complexion enviously.

Tandy laughed a little, shaking her head. "I never thought of not being white as a fashion accessory, but whatever."

I turned purple immediately "I didn't mean like that -"

Tandy stood up, smirking widely now. "Oh, Elisa. You are so easy to screw with."

I scowled at her and her grin widened. "No fighting, remember?"

I frowned. "No fist fighting," I amended as I got to my feet as well. "I think the no fighting thing is going to be a statistical impossibility when it comes to us."

Tandy lifted her shoulders. "Probably," she agreed.

We both stood there for a long, awkward moment. "Well…' I said finally. "I guess I'll see you around."

"Sure," Tandy looked as suddenly uncomfortable as I did. "Uh...yeah. See ya."

And with that, our peace summit came to an uncomfortable close, leaving me relieved that the worst seemed to be behind us, but not at all sure that the our uneasy alliance was going to last once we got back to school and Jimmy was in the middle of us all over again.

(Elisa goes home with Rosalie and Emmett and this part of the chapter was pretty unplotted per my notes. I probably meant to write some Bella guilt induced moping over being a new vampire who, given the chance, would happily eat a restaurant full of people if she didn't have that pesky conscience. And there would probably have been an alluded to Bella/Edward sex scene. Let's just not and say we did.

Also, at some point, the following scene happens, which I do not remember the context for but found it amusing enough to share anyway.)

I turned sideways, examining my profile in the mirror and frowning. "Rosalie, do

you think I'm – "

"If you say fat, I'll beat you with your copy of Teen Vogue," Rosalie snapped before I could finish the sentence. "Don't be ridiculous. You haven't even regained all that weight you lost yet."

"Maybe I shouldn't- " I stopped again abruptly at the look on her face. "Should get right on that, I mean. Do we have any brownie mix?"

Rosalie smiled coolly. "That's better." She straightened up. "Is this all about this boy?"

I hesitated one more moment. "No."

She gave me a frankly disbelieving look. "It better not be. You've moped enough. Move on."

I rolled my eyes as she left the room. "Vampires. So bossy." I muttered, grimacing after her.

"I heard that!" Rosalie called back, sounding like she was already halfway down the staircase.

I scowled. "Bossy, eavesdropping vampires, " I amended in a whisper so low it was barely more than a breath, as I crossed the room, sitting down at my desk and pulling out my homework.

"I heard that too!" Rosalie's voice floated from downstairs, a definite smirk in her tone.

I groaned softly and banged my forehead against the desk

"And that!"

I gritted my teeth and settled for screaming silently in my head.

A second later Edward filled my open doorway. "I heard – " He began, grinning.

"Oh, shut up!" I snapped back.

(Back at school, Elisa confronts Jimmy about Jock Boy while they're helping out together in the main office. This wasn't very written out, but here's what I had)

"OK, you know I have to ask. Why Jock Boy? I mean...not only is he just...him, which is bad enough, but you were fighting him on the first day of school! How is it possible to go from that to secret macking in the science lab? Is violence your secret kink or something?"

"God, Elisa, no! See, we started hanging the last month of summer break, after my parents made me come home from California. It wasn't something I expected to happen but one thing kinda led to another," Jimmy sighed heavily, pushing his hair back off his face. "I know you don't understand. But he's so different when it's just the two of us. He's actually smart, and funny. He likes to read my stories," Jimmy smiled bashfully at that, and it would have been almost cute if his attempt to sell me on Jock Boy wasn't making me throw up in my mouth a little. "When school started again though, he freaked. Maybe he thought I was gonna tell. I dunno. But what you saw...he's not always like that."

I shook my head. "Jimmy, it doesn't matter that he's not always like that. The point is that he's like that at all."

Jimmy sighed, shifting in his chair and fiddling with the pen on the reception desk. "You sound like Tandy."

I smiled reluctantly at that. At least I knew that the Goth Queen of Sullivan High and I agreed on at least one thing.

(later that afternoon, still at school, end of the day)

As soon as it was mostly clear of students, Jimmy and I sat down on the top steps like we did every day when it wasn't raining, and starting pulling papers out of our back packs.

"Ok, let's divvy this up," Jimmy nodded to the stack in my hand. "What do you have?"

"Hmm..." I sorted through them quickly. "Ugh. Life Science extra credit. I have to raise my grade. Boring. What do you want for it?"

"You do my book report," he offered.

"Why? You're the writer, and we're both in Advanced English. You could bang it out in thirty minutes."

"Because I hate that book and I don't want to spend ten pages dissecting it. It would just be IT SUCKS written ten thousand times in a row."

"Fine, it's a deal." I handed him my papers. "Due on Friday?"

He nodded. "Me too," I said. "OK, what else?"

We were abruptly interrupted by the sound of a backpack hitting the stone step next to me. I looked up to see Tandy standing over us. Almost immediately, she dropped a stapled stack of papers in my lap. "Here you go, advanced English. My lit essay. I need it edited. Also, it's like 500 words short."

My surprise passed quickly. I grabbed my math assignment off the top of the stack and threw it at her. She caught it and sat down next to me.

"This is sad, Elisa," she announced after she looked it over. "I mean, I was doing this work two years ago. You really are the epitome of remedial, aren't you?"

I scoffed back as my eyes glanced over her essay. "You're one to talk. Only one of us actually knows how to spell epitome."

"Bite me, Barbie Girl," she shot back.

"You'd like that too much, Morticia," I grinned. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that she was smiling too.

"Uh.." I looked up to see Jimmy's bewildered face. "Did I miss something here?"

Tandy and I exchanged a brief conspiratorial glance before we both assumed innocent expression.

"Don't know what you're talking about. This is homework exchange, Jimmy, keep up," I snapped my fingers in front of his face. "And your ride's here," I indicated the grey car at the curb.

"Oh," Jimmy jumped up, still looking confused. "Do you want a ride, Tandy?"

"Sure," she picked up her backpack and started after him. Just as they reached the car, she turned back. "Don't make plans for Friday, Elisa. Jimmy and I always have movie night. We're watching 80's stuff this week. Bring something good."

I caught a glimpse of Jimmy's stunned face before she nudged him into the car. I had to admit, I was a little stunned myself. Out of all the madness of my life, I'd somehow started assuming that being around other humans would be the easy part. That I had them all figured out. But neither Jimmy or Tandy turned out to be exactly what I thought they'd be and somehow, that had turned out ok. Better than ok, even.

And maybe that was me too. I thought I'd known who I was, what I was going to be, but everything changed in the blink of an eye. Maybe it was time for me to stop holding on to all that, stuck between trying to be my old self, Elisa Jensen from San Diego, that girl it was becoming harder and harder to remember, or trying to be the Cullens' perfect human child, someone worthy of them. Maybe it was time to stop being so scared of who I was becoming, and just let it happen. See where it took me.

I had a feeling I was in for one crazy ride.

And that's it for now, y'all. If you're interested, stay tuned - the next chapter, which will probably be more summarizing and less written scenes than this one, gets back to the Cullens and covers both an unexpected arrival and Elisa's birthday trip to New York, where she has quite the interesting encounter. I'm thinking this will be all wrapped up in about two to three more chapters, and we'll close the book on this never-ending tale. Thank you to all of you who have stuck it out long enough to see how it all ends.