Summary: When a gifted Bella Swan starts her new school she starts to let her shield down, just when she might need it most... AH, AU.
AN: Thanks to sic et non, my wonderful beta who helped me get a summary that was just right after many, many tries. Hope you enjoy!
I sat and fidgeted in my favourite chair by the fire, watching the sports game Charlie – Dad – had left on the screen. He was too antsy to stay in one place and was rummaging round the house, finding little jobs to do, whilst we waited for our 'visitor'.
I wasn't exactly keen on this meeting; in fact I was equally confused and terrified about it, so Charlie was leaving me to myself for once, instead of insisting that I participate in some form of interaction. It wasn't that I was anti-social or wanted to be alone; it was just easier that way.
Ever since I was little I've always been more mature than the other children and more aware of those around me. It was only subtle little things at first that alerted my parents to the fact that I was different. I lived with my mom, Renee, until about a year ago when she said she couldn't take it anymore and dumped me on my dad's doorstep. I hadn't spent longer than a week vacationing with him my entire life so to say it was a bit of an adaption for us was an understatement.
But Charlie, unlike mom, hadn't given up on me. And if I was being totally honest was probably the reason mom had lasted so long in the first place anyways; his constant phone calls and research into ways that could help me were a lifeline for her, for both of us.
I was different from others around me and this made me keep to myself. Charlie tried to get me to open up as much as he could, but he wasn't exactly comfortable with talks about feelings and meanings himself so that didn't go down so well. He encouraged me to see counsellors and talk to other people my own age but this always led to disaster. I didn't like it when people got too close to me, or too much on my case, and that's when things got interesting.
I didn't understand what I did, or how I could do it, but I knew that I managed to do things when I felt like people were getting too close for comfort. I had no control over what happened, just the knowledge that somehow I was making it happen. My dad had nicknamed me his 'little shield' once, when I was young, after I defended him in a fight with mom and that seemed a pretty good way of summing up what I could do; if people got too close I deflected them away, just like a shield.
It happened in all sorts of ways, they suddenly remembered they had to be someplace else or they forgot what they were talking about. Once I even managed to push someone away physically without even using my arms or legs; Mike had been constantly crowding my personal space and I remember just wishing that he'd stop and then suddenly he was flat on the floor five feet away looking dazed and confused.
I had tried to control it, by keeping my emotions in check and rigidly controlling my thoughts, but it always seemed to bother me and I just couldn't stop my natural reactions. So I took the coward's way out and instead just starting avoiding people, not in the rude way, I still wanted friends, just in the non-committal way, where I didn't have to see them outside of common grounds we happened to share.
Charlie breezed into the living room then and replaced my cold mug of coffee with a steaming hot one, giving me a reassuring smile as he did. I tried to smile back, but my nerves seemed to be affecting my facial features.
"It'll be okay Bells," He said softly. "From everything I can tell this Dr. Cullen guy is a good man. And remember, this is just a talk, we don't have to do anything more than this."
I nodded and this time just managed to form a smile, although no words escaped my mouth. Charlie seemed pleased with this though and bustled out of the room again.
I loved my dad very much, although we didn't really know each other that well, but what he was doing for me never ceased to amaze me. He had a pretty tiring job as the police chief of a small town here in Washington and still he found time to do his research.
As soon as my parents had figured out that there might be more to me than meets the eye they had looked for anything that could help me. I thought at first that it was a joint effort, but after the first few medical tests and meetings with psychiatrists, I realised that Mom had given up and it was Charlie doing all the background work. It wasn't that my Mom didn't love me or want the best for me, it just wasn't in her personality to do this kind of thing, and her maternal instincts were a little dry; I'd pretty much looked after myself and her since I could walk and talk. We were best friends who occasionally remembered they were mother-daughter and did something along those lines.
Charlie hadn't given up though and poured every bit of his spare time into finding someone who could help me. He didn't think there was anything wrong with me, in fact he was quite excited I could do things others couldn't. He just didn't like that it made me withdraw into myself, because I couldn't control it. Charlie wanted to find somebody to teach me about what I could do so that I could have this ability and still lead a happy, normal life.
Although I'd probably die of embarrassment before I could manage to tell him, this meant more to me than anything else that had ever happened in my life.
And Charlie's search led us to today, with me waiting nervously on the sofa whilst he bustled around our little house trying to get rid of his extra energy.
He'd found a private school that said they taught extraordinarily gifted young adults and reading through all the information available had surmised that this school was for other people like me, who could do things normal peoples couldn't. After sending a carefully worded email to the school, saying he thought his daughter applied to their catchment focus, Charlie got a phone call in reply. He'd then gone to a meeting with this Dr. Cullen where they talked everything through; Cullen about the school and its aims, Charlie about me and what I could do. After another meeting Charlie had asked me if I would meet with this guy, just to talk, he stressed, and see if I was interested in what he offered.
I'd agreed and now was about to meet Dr. Cullen for myself.
The doorbell's sharp ring startled me out of my reverie and I took a deep breath, willing myself to stay calm and collected.
"Carlisle, it's good to see you again. Come in, come in. I'm glad you found the place alright." Charlie greeted in a babble as he welcomed our guest in.
"You too Charlie. I hope I find you well?" He was very well-spoken and had a kindly voice; somehow I knew I was going to end up liking this man, whether or not I went to his school.
"Yes thanks. Is there anything I can get you? Tea, coffee, perhaps?"
"A coffee would be lovely thank you. Black with no sugar."
"Right. Well if you go on through to the lounge I'll introduce you to Bella and get right on that."
I sucked in another deep breath and tried to get my legs out from underneath me so I could stand but they wouldn't respond so I just sat, almost paralysed, in my chair as Charlie brought Dr. Cullen into the room.
"Bella, this is Dr, Carlisle Cullen," Charlie said gently as he came into the living room, stepping backwards to reveal a youngish looking man with light hazel eyes and matching hair. "Carlisle, this is my daughter Isabella."
"Bella." I said automatically. And seeing the small smile as Charlie went to get Dr. Cullen's coffee I knew he'd only said my full name to get me to speak.
"It's nice to meet you Bella." He said politely. "Please call me Carlisle."
He was very young looking, with long limbs as he folded himself down into the sofa opposite of me, but his eyes were something else. They had a timeless wisdom in them, which spoke of old age and long life, although his body opposed that. He smiled comfortably at me and then I knew he was waiting for me to make the first move, letting me chose how I wanted to play this.
I wasn't sure what to do though so I just sat there and stared at him whilst he smiled and stared making small talk about our living room; nothing big or too invasive, just small talk as I adjusted to the situation.
Charlie came back in then and set down two mugs, one in front of Carlisle and one next to mine, where he promptly sat, edging forwards in the seat slightly so he could look between Carlisle and me.
"So what shall we start about?" He asked and I could tell he was finally letting his nerves get to him.
"Is there anything the two of you would like to talk about?" Carlisle asked gently.
"Bella?" Charlie turned towards me.
I cleared my throat and thought of the list of questions I'd complied and the one I most wanted to ask but I chickened out as I opened my mouth and asked a nice easy one – well for me – instead. "What's the school like?"
Carlisle smiled proudly then, although the slight twinkle in his eye made me think he knew I was deflecting.
"It's based in an old mansion, although we have state of the art teaching and living facilities. The school is in the main house building but the top two floors are living arrangements for first year and new students. Each student has their own room and shares bathroom and kitchen areas. Older students live in one of two outbuildings that were remodelled into living areas. The mansion is on private property, with over five hundred acres of land, including a forest and lake. We have working stables, a gym, swimming pool and helicopter pad. We also have the latest technology in our medical facilities, along with our training and isolation rooms.
The aim of our school is to give you an ordinary education in an ordinary environment whilst teaching you to understand and control your abilities. We have students with every type of ability possible, ranging from the physical to the psychic, with varying degrees of power and control. Each student is treated to individual and group sessions about their powers whilst following the national curriculum in year group classes."
"So there are other people like me?" I blurted before I could stop myself.
"Depends on what you mean," Carlisle replied softly, looking me straight in the eye. "There are others like you in the sense that they are different from normal people, can do things normal people can't. But if you mean have a power like yours then I'm afraid not, although that doesn't mean there isn't somebody else out there who is like you. Every person I've come across with abilities handles it differently, and it is my theory that this causes variation between powers, even if two students have an extremely similar power."
"What did you mean by the joint classes then?" I asked, my voice losing some of its sudden confidence.
"We group all our students into three categories to help with their ability training, each category then has many different sub-categories and levels. The three focus categories are physical, elemental and psychic. From what your father has told me about your abilities I'm guessing you will be part of the psychic category but we will need to perform a few tests to confirm that."
"Tests?" I asked sharply, stiffening unconsciously. I'd been the subject of many tests in my life, some very unpleasant.
Carlisle smiled reassuringly. "Just the basic health ones and an ECG. We have equipment that allows us to pinpoint signs of abilities that normal doctors would miss. It's nothing evasive and every test will be explained thoroughly before it is conducted, if you are uncomfortable with any of them you can refuse to sit it. Everything is your choice at the Academy."
"I was thinking," Charlie started hesitantly. "That if you liked what Carlisle said we could go visit the school, let you get a feel for it and maybe see about these tests. Carlisle says he'd be willing to see you on a sort-of outpatient basis if you didn't want to attend. And that way you'd still get some knowledge and understanding of your ability. But it's all totally up to you Bells. It's just an idea and it doesn't have to happen anytime soon, you just say what you're comfortable with and we'll go from there."
I nodded slowly and turned my gaze back to Carlisle. He smiled gently at me and I realised as I sat there that I trusted this man, that he was being honest and open with me. With that in mind I took a deep breath and asked a question I was dying to know, even if it could be considered a little rude.
"Is there anybody in your family with abilities?" I asked slowly, once again chickening out of actually asking him outright.
He chuckled gently and his eyes twinkled as he replied. "Yes, two of us; my son and I."
I couldn't help but gasp at that. "What can you do?"
"It's not really something that I can do, as in a physical sense," He explained. "But I know things about people's health. I know that you've broken five bones in your body and could probably point out exactly where those breaks happened. If you had broken a bone in front of me I would have known exactly what happened and how to treat it. I just know these things. It helped a lot in my job as a doctor when I just treated people without having to know details."
"You just know them?" I asked hesitantly.
"It's a form of telepathy, although I can't read people's actual thoughts. I just know what has threatened their health; its subconscious."
"I know it's very difficult to understand but I find it easier to say that then use proper terminology." Carlisle grinned at me and I couldn't help but grin back.
"So everybody's different then?" I pressed, having no idea why this meant so much to me.
"I believe we currently have a total of five students with 'the same' ability as you would probably call them. But as I said before they all control it differently and therefore it manifests itself in different ways."
I nodded at that and turned to see Charlie staring at me thoughtfully.
"What do you think kiddo?" He asked gently.
"I think I'd like to check this place out." I replied quietly, something deep inside of me telling me this was the start of a whole new part of my life.
"Excellent," Carlisle said grinning. "It is my pleasure then Miss Swan, to invite you to an open day at the 'Volterra Academy for the Extraordinarily Gifted'."
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