A/N: hi everyone, here's another oneshot. It takes place mid-Twilight - in the middle of chapter 11, Complications. Plot-wise, it's after Bella realizes what Edward is and before the meadow scene. It takes place on the day where he asked her lots of questions, among other things, about "books - endlessly books". Here's my version of it. Reviews are love, happy reading!
Disclaimer: they're not mine. I wish Edward was though *sigh*
I sat in class, forcing myself to hold my head up and concentrate. I was taking notes on an autopilot. Looking down at my textbook was risky, since I was so close to nodding off to sleep, and crashing in Government was all too tempting. And yet, I was far too much of a coward to even attempt it, no matter how little sleep I had gotten the previous night, so I just forced my eyes open and did everything I possibly could to keep up.
Truth to be told, I was kind of relieved Edward didn't wait outside of English to walk me to my next class. Not that I minded his attention. I was weirded out by it, yes, bothered by everyone's shameless stares as we walked into school together, definitely yes, but it wasn't his company I minded. I was just beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable with his questions, always so intent, as if he didn't mean to leave any bit of my life uncovered. Not that it wasn't flattering, because in a way it was, but a small part of me kept wondering… why would he bother?
I didn't know his schedule, but I figured he had a class in some other building. Not that distance or speed were a problem… I shuddered involuntarily when a flash of a memory from that day at the parking lot shot through me. Everything always seemed to lead me back to that afternoon, and as blurry as things were for me that day, this memory was sharper than any other.
A note landed on my desk just then, cutting my reverie short. I stole a glance over my shoulder. Kammy, a redhead I had barely spoken to, winked at me. I turned back to my desk and straightened the note, trying not to be conspicuous about it. As my eyes scanned the hastily-written message, my sense of relief grew impossibly stronger. Trig being cancelled was always good news, as far as I was concerned.
I reveled at the idea of having some time for myself. Of course, I had it at home, but it was different with Charlie always being there, even if he wasn't hovering. And in spite of my initial fears, I was never alone at school; there were always Mike, Angela, Jessica, and recently Edward. My cheeks flushed from just thinking his name now. Great.
I considered my options. The rain resumed, so sitting outside was not an option. And there was this essay we had just been assigned in English, which I was anxious to get over with. Yeah, the library definitely seemed like the perfect hiding place. Jessica, who sat by me in Trig, would never come to look for me there.
Luckily, the library was in the building across from the one I was already at, so I snuck in there right after class, drawing as little attention to myself as possible. I really did need some alone time. After a whole morning of intent interrogations, the silence that surrounded me was piercing, and almost wrong.
I took out my copy of The Canterbury Tales with a weary sigh. I was never a fan of Chaucer's. I knew I'd better start on the essay regardless, as long as the topic was still clear in my mind. But when I reached for my bag again to get my notebook, my hand made contact with something else… and I remembered my frustration when I couldn't bring myself to finish the first part of The Age of Innocence the other night. I just fell asleep in the middle of the chapter, like a loser. Well, a few more pages wouldn't hurt, right? It wasn't as if I had to write the essay just now. Feeling reassured but still quite guilty at the same time, I snatched the other book out of my bag, pushing Chaucer away.
I was a few lines away from the ending of Book I when a shadow fell on my book, startling me. "Ditching, Bella?" Soft, musical, irresistible. The sound of his voice was enough to make my knees buckle. I was relieved to be sitting down, knowing it would help in not making a complete idiot out of myself.
"I could ask you the same thing," I replied, all too aware of the tremor in my voice, when I finally dared to look up at him.
"Oh, I am," he replied, taking a seat across from me. "But you really shouldn't. Trig is not something you'd want to study over and over again for the rest of your life."
I wanted to ask if he was speaking from experience, but his expression provided me with the answer I had already guessed. "Our class was cancelled," I said anyway, although I knew I didn't need an excuse. I wasn't the one ditching class. And then something occurred to me. "But you already knew that, didn't you?" I eyed him for a moment, now certain that he did. "Did you follow me here?" I hoped it didn't sound too much of an accusation.
"Merely, I simply guessed you'd be here," he replied, unabashed, and I couldn't help but wonder if that really was the case.
I was about to say something about it when his eyes fell on the desk, where my book now laid abandoned. His forehead cringed in what seemed like confusion. "Wharton?" he asked, picking it up. He scanned the cover for a moment, then raised his eyes back to mine. "Hmm."
"What?" I couldn't understand his expression, but I couldn't bear to look away.
"Nothing, I just didn't take you to be a fan of American literature, that's all."
"I'm not," I replied, but it sounded sort of harsh and ridiculously defensive. A soft laughter escaped my lips before I managed to hold it back. "I mean, Wharton is an exception. And Alcott," I added as an afterthought.
"Little Women?" he guessed correctly. I nodded, feeling the blood rush to my face. He seemed to notice, but said nothing. "Who else?" he asked then, so quietly I had to lean over across the desk to hear him. I could feel our heads touching slightly, glamorous bronze with boring mahogany.
"Who else what?" I asked, momentarily dizzy.
"Your favorite authors. I'm curious to see if my guess was right."
More guessing. "Why don't you tell me your guess first?" I asked, buying time. The truth was that I was too lost in the gold of his eyes to even remember who my favorite authors were.
"Well, my initial guess was that you're into classics," he replied confidentially.
That I was an open book I already knew, but I wondered what turned me in on this one. As far as I knew, he had never seen me read anything.
His fingertips brushed mine briefly, sending me to the edge of my seat as if his whole hand was covering mine. "So which one will it be?" he asked softly, taking my silence as admittance.
"Austen and Bronte," I replied, blushing again. If I was so predictable so far, I bet this answer would be the most predictable of all.
"Ah, a Bronte girl," he said, but I couldn't quite place his tone. Amused again, or superior? "If you had to choose one novel as your favorite, which one will it be?"
His eyes were challenging, as if he was expecting me to falter. But it wasn't a challenge, not really. "Wuthering Heights." If there was something I was still sure of, it was my irrational love to that novel.
"Hmm," he said again, his expression a riddle again. "Yes, I guess it is quite like you to like it, isn't it?"
I wasn't sure if he was really addressing me with this question, or what exactly he meant, but something else was clear from his tone. "So that wasn't your guess?"
"No, I must admit I put my bets on Sense and Sensibility."
"Close second, right after Wuthering Heights," I laughed nervously, praying he wouldn't inquire why I was so fond of it. I still remembered that day not too long ago, when I couldn't bring myself to read it because the hero had a similar name to his own. "Can I have a guess too?"
"Your favorite author." I wouldn't go for a specific book. I knew I'd mess it up. There was something about him that implied he was a more avid reader than I was. And surely when you had eternity…
"Go ahead," he replied, leaning back in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest. I nearly protested against his sudden distance.
I stalled in a pathetic attempt to be dramatic. He seemed to have realized that and flashed me a crooked smile that sent my heart flying. "Dickens," I decided. He was definitely one for depressing stories about human nature.
"You're actually quite right," he replied, looking impressed. "Dickens and Hardy are probably at the top of my list."
I frowned. I forgot about Hardy, the other expert in tortured humanity.
"Don't you like Hardy?" he asked, obviously noticing my recoil.
"Not really. Too depressing."
He laughed once. "I guess you're right. I find his novels fascinating." He shook his head then, as if he remembered this wasn't about him. "So do you want to take a shot at my favorite novel?"
"Good one, Bella." He actually laughed. "Not that I haven't heard that one before, though."
"Yeah, I figured I couldn't be that original," I said, still somewhat relieved by his reaction. I wasn't sure if he'd get the sarcasm, or if he'd be offended. I should have known better. "So which is your favorite?"
"To be honest, it changes. That's easy when you have forever." His voice dropped to a whisper again as he uttered my previous thought. Our heads were touching. I tried to remember when he leaned towards me again. "Do you like poetry?"
"A little. I like Tennyson and Blake. I know just the basics, really. I prefer prose though."
"I have some beautiful pieces you might like. I'll read them to you sometime."
I liked the sound of it. Promising. "Which is your favorite Shakespeare?" I asked, mostly to distract myself, forgetting it was his turn at questioning today.
He smiled irresistibly. "You just take it for granted I enjoy Shakespeare?"
"Well, yes. You can't not like Shakespeare." I was aware of his eyes on me again. He looked astounded. Suddenly, I was nervous. Did I say something I wasn't supposed to? Was I assuming too much again? "Why are you staring at me?" I asked slowly, hesitantly, not even sure I wanted to know the answer.
"Sometimes I'm having a hard time remembering you were born in this century, that's all."
"Because of my old-fashioned taste?"
"Well, yes. Not a lot of teenagers today appreciate Shakespeare. Or know enough about Hardy to loath him as you seem to, for that matter."
"My mother always says I was born a grownup."
"Your mother was right," he agreed, smiling. Then he looked at me again, into me, with intensity that made my thoughts incoherent for just a second. "So which one is your favorite Shakespeare?"
"Much Ado about Nothing." Again, there was no hesitation.
He laughed. "I should have known. My guess wasn't that far off though." I wanted to ask which one was his guess, but then he spoke again. "Do you want to take a shot on mine?"
I thought I got him well enough to respond to the challenge, no matter the mystery he still was to me. "Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello."
"Always with the bad guys," he replied darkly. There was a moment of silence, but then his expression brightened again, obviously trying to stray me away from the darkness. "What else? From the non-classics?"
So we sat there, throwing random names of books and authors we liked. The Princess Bride, Margaret Atwood, Truman Capote, Narnia, The Fountainhead, Toni Morrison, The Lord of the Rings; the list seemed endless, on his side more than on mine. A lot of titles he brought up were already on my "to read" list, and it made me feel irrationally satisfied that we had similar interests. Then he asked me about books I read in my childhood, books I used to read more than once, my favorite childhood story, my favorite fairytale. Unlike this morning, I didn't feel uncomfortable with his unrelenting questions. Probably because this wasn't entirely about me. This time he seemed to enjoy comparing our tastes, which were similar for the most part. Of course, he had much more time to read than I did, more time than I would ever have. I tried to keep my mind away from that fact, at least for the time being.
He was just beginning to tell me about a fantasy book he had recently read when the loud shrill of the bell tore into the soft buzzing noise of the library, startling me. I couldn't believe we were actually talking all this time. I looked down at my deserted notebook, feeling the previous guilt surface. But I didn't care. I didn't even care I didn't get my alone time, either. I was actually enjoying myself.
I wasn't even aware of people's stares when he walked me to my next class, although I knew they were there. I was too absorbed with him, with his scent, with his voice, with his eyes locked with mine. Before I knew it we were standing in front of the class, and I knew I had to let him go. It was almost physically painful to even attempt it. I felt foolish.
"Well, I guess I'll see you later, then."
"I'll save you a seat at lunch," he said. Two girls stopped and stared at me disbelievingly as they happened to overhear him. My eyes followed theirs and then resettled on his face again. He looked amused. "What was your term to it? Dazzling?"
To be honest, I felt quite dazzled myself at the moment. I didn't get a chance to reply. Another bell sounded. Ugh. "I'd better get in. I'll see you later." It was half a statement, half a question, because honestly, I couldn't figure out how he wasn't bored with me yet.
And surprisingly enough, he wasn't. "At lunch," he reminded me.
I don't remember how I made it to my seat, but somehow I was there, ignoring the giggles behind me. I pulled Wharton out of my bag again, trying to lose myself in it, half-hoping to finish what I had started before he found me at the library, but all I could think of was our conversation. I thought of how easy it was to read him. Well, when it came to books, I could read almost anyone. But he wasn't anyone, not in the very least. And for once, he wasn't such a riddle to me. It felt strange, like I had a sort of power over him. It was silly to revel in it, but I felt kind of satisfied that for once, he was as obvious to me as I was to him.
Class started, but I was only listening half-heartedly, my mind busy with conducting dozens of other questions I suddenly wanted to ask him. I forced my thoughts away from his image, leaning towards me, the glimmer in his golden eyes, his expression, amused and fascinated all at the same time, but I was unable to. I'll read them to you sometime. The promise still echoed in my ears, distracting as if he was there, speaking the words to me. I wondered what time was 'sometime', and if he possibly meant it. It was easy to doubt it, but I pushed it away. He obviously enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed his, or he wouldn't have bothered to ditch whichever class he had just to find me at the library. And that realization suddenly made me see things in a different light. He did ditch class so he could spend more time with me.
An involuntary grin curled on my lips. Silly, but my new observation made me ridiculously happy. I didn't care how unworthy I was for his company, when he was so gorgeous and I was so… well, me. I didn't even care why he would bother to try and prove otherwise. Suddenly, I just couldn't wait until I see him again.