Bella tucked herself into the backseat of Rose's BMW, slipping her earbuds in as Jasper and Alice joined her in the back seat. She thumbed quickly through her playlists until she settled on one of her more relaxing mixes of classical music. She hated starting at a new school, though she recognized the need for it. The younger they pretended to be, the longer they could stay in one place.
Which was why Bella and her adopted brothers and sisters were on their way to Forks High for the first day of the second half of the year. Still, however many times they did it didn't relieve Bella's anxiety; she hated being the center of attention for whatever reason, and she knew from experience that her family would draw attention.
Alice, all five foot her of her dressed in designer jeans and a cashmere sweater, dark hair spiked trendily, was practically vibrating as she slipped in next to her husband Jasper. Bella knew she'd seen something, but didn't want to ask, pulling into herself a bit. She caught Jasper's sideways glance and small nod. Apparently, everyone was feeling a bit loudly, and Bella's withdrawal had removed her anxiety from the mix of what the six-foot, dirty blonde male vampire was being exposed to by everyone else. She raised an eyebrow silently asking if she should expand her bubble instead of contract it and Jasper shook his head with a smile, tucking Alice against him, and the effect was instantly calming on the bouncy pixie.
"What's got you going already, Alice?" Emmet drawled, sliding into the front seat next to his wife, Rosalie. His large frame dwarfed the passenger seat, but as intimidating as he looked at something close to six-eight and well muscled, Emmett was a big teddy bear to those he loved, and was the best 'big' brother Bella could have asked for. Rosalie, gorgeous, statuesque, sex on runway model legs (as Bella'd once heard her described) grinned as she glanced at Bella in the mirror, then turned her attention back to the car.
"Nothin'" Alice said with a grin, cuddling up to and tucking herself under Jasper's arm. She'd said several times before how well their bodies fit together, with his over six foot frame and her under five, and most of the time, Bella didn't want to hear any details.
Alice and Emmet were passing as siblings for the duration of their stay in Forks. Their similar coloring let them pass for relations who had taken Carlisle's last name when they'd been adopted by the young doctor and his wife, Esme. Jasper and Rose were once again selling themselves as twins, both blonde and golden eyed, having taken Rosalie's family name this time around. Bella stood alone again, retaking her family name of Swan for the first time in half a century, being the lone child that the Cullens had adopted. It suited her, being the only unmated member of the family. Though she was happy to no longer be alone, to have a family, Bella was still pretty quiet and reserved compared to the rest of the family. She recalled being shy as a human, and that trait hadn't really faded even after a century, she supposed, and probably was part of where her unique gift came from - she could quite literally disappear from others of her kind, and had been working to control it better to protect her family. With her ability to shield came the sense of perception of other vampires that rivaled Alice's visions, and through between the two, they managed to avoid detection several times before.
Bella turned out her siblings chatter and focused on her music as Rosalie drove them to the high school.
With three PhDs (British Literature, American literature, and Sociology) and a slew of other degrees, Bella was loathing another round of high school. At least they'd agreed to let her start as a junior instead of a freshman as the last time. She could have one off on her own for awhile, she supposed, but she'd miss the family too much to stay gone for long, and loved them too much to risk questions if she came back too soon. She watched out the window as Rosalie sped towards then through the small town of Forks. They rode together for the most part because it was easier and asked less questions than if all five of them showed up in different vehicles since they did itry/i to fit in. And Bella's motorcycle would draw attention, especially riding in the perpetually drizzly weather of the Upper Peninsula.
It was another gray day, which suited Bella. After all, she mused, it wasn't like she could go out in the sunlight, and as much as she dreaded the 'first day of school' she'd rather not be cooped up in the house or wandering alone in the woods that surrounded the house. She knew she was spending far too much time alone lately, but she was finding it harder and harder to not feel lonely even when surrounded by her family. She loved them, but being in the company of three couples could get to be too much. Still, she was thankful she couldn't sense their emotions as clearly as Jasper. Bella watched the landscape whip by her window. She'd missed watching the sunrise that morning, one of her favorite activities was to put on quiet music and sit on her East facing balcony and watch the sun peak over the horizon and the turn of colors in the sky. But that morning she'd been helping Esme with a project while Carlisle had been at the hospital and everyone else was occupied. Not that Bella minded, really; there was an eternity of sunrises in front of her, and Esme would only be redecorating Bella's lounge once.
She had a hard time explaining why daybreak was her favorite time of day, especially as a vampire. For her, the rising sun represented a new chance, the coming of a new day and the opportunity for new things. It was odd, she knew, but her whole family was seen as something of an enigma by the rest of the vampire world. They abstained from human blood, spent time interacting with humans, and generally tried to live quiet lives. Having a strange appreciation for the coming of a new day was just one part of Bella's odd life that had started around a century ago.
Bella'd also loved living in Alaska, where it was night for much of the year. She sat for hours at a time watching the Aurora Borealis play across the sky. Though she knew all the science behind it, it didn't make it any less beautiful to watch.
The car slowed and Bella pulled herself out of her musings to take in the parking lot of Forks High. The parking lot was mostly empty but they were early, needing to register. Rosalie pulled into a spot in the student lot and the piled out, Bella thumbing down the volume of her music, but not removing the ear buds. Rosalie took Emmett's hand and walked close with him, while Jasper let Alice tug him along, occasionally lifting his arm so she could dance/twirl under his arm. Bella trailed along, already feeling like her persona for this round was set as the moody outcast sibling, which she didn't want, and so switched to a different playlist hoping to at least pretend to lift her spirits. She caught Jasper's backwards glance and shook her head. She didn't really want to talk about it.
"You must be the Cullen/Hale/Swans," Bella heard as she stepped into the office. An older woman was behind the desk. "I have your schedules here, dears." She called them each out by name, handing over a half-sheet of paper and a manila envelope. "Please get your schedules initialed by each of your teachers and return them here at the end of the day." With that, they were dismissed.
Bella fell in as they compared schedules. She had only two classes with anyone in her family, History, with Jasper which would be interesting, and gym last period with Alice. While they waited for first period to start, they stood in a small clump and watching the stream of arriving students. Bella watched students reuniting from their winter break, seeing the cliques breakdown into groups after a moment as the students milled around. There were a few odd students not belonging to any group. A tall, copper haired boy with glasses nodded at a few people as he passed, but didn't join any group and he disappeared into the music building. A tall dark haired girl lingered on the outskirts of a group, looking up every so often, but not appearing to chat much with the four or five other people in her group.
Even after a century, people watching never really got old. But eventually the warning bell rang and Bella split from her brothers and sisters to find her way to her English class, which she knew was going to bore her to the end of her patience.
English went about as well as she expected. The teacher was at least someone fairly young with a new spin on teaching literature, so it wouldn't be quite as tedious as Bella thought it might. She met the dark haired girl she'd observed outside, Angela, as well as two of the small group she circulated with, Lauren and Jessica. She tagged along with Jessica to trig where she was introduced to Eric and Tyler, whom she also followed to History, going to sit by Jasper at the back of the room.
"Doing okay?" she asked her brother quietly.
Jasper nodded tightly. He and Alice had found Carlisle in the mid 1950s, and Jasper still struggled daily to adapt to the Cullen lifestyle. He'd been an enforcer for a coven for years, and though he didn't talk about it, much, Bella knew that it haunted him, and he had to struggle more against his nature than the rest of the family, and it made Bella smile to know that he did it for Alice. But they'd been out of school for awhile, and this was the largest group that Jasper had been around and he'd lost a bit of his immunity.
So Bella chatted with him quietly throughout the lecture. The teacher couldn't hear them from their place in the back, and so she did her best to distract her brother by helping him poke holes in the lesson. Jasper had 'lived' through the Civil War, and he always had interesting stories that contradicted the so called experts.
Soon enough, that hour passed as well, and Jasper led her out of the room like a gentleman, ruffling her long dark hard in a very Emmett-like fashion before they split – her to Spanish, Jasper to calculus.
Spanish also dragged on, and Bella made a note to see if she could switch her fourth period to a study hall or other elective. She was already fluent in all the languages the school offered, not that she could make that argument, but she'd take whatever placement test they'd ask to show her proficiency (not perfection, just pass), in order to get out of another half year of learning to conjugate verbs and adapt to a different grammatical structure than English.
She turned at the voice, finding a smile for Angela. "Hey Angela," she returned the greeting, pausing and waiting for the other girl to catch up.
"Join us for lunch today? There's a few more people you should meet." Angela fidgeted a bit, and Bella read her body language enough to see she was nervous and uncomfortable around her. Humans usually were; it was the innate predator within that the humans sensed, even if they couldn't really identify what their body was telling them.
"I'd love to," Bella said smoothly, "but I've already promised to sit with my family." Jasper was probably ready for some peace, and she was ready to be able to put her guard down for a few minutes. "Maybe tomorrow?" She smiled, careful not to show too much teeth.
"Oh. Sure!" Bella wondered if Angela was aware of how relieved she looked. "I'll catch you tomorrow, then." She headed off with a wave.
Bella filed into the cafeteria with the rest of the students, making her way to the lunch line for a sandwich and bottle of juice, neither of which she would actually consume, and carried her tray over to join her family. She slid into a seat between Jasper and Rosalie and toyed with the bottle, watching the students around her. There were glances toward their table, and Bella smirked occasionally as one of their names broke through the hum of voices in the room. They certainly were the subject of the day as most of the students' conversations centered around the mysterious Cullens, Hales, and the Swan girl.
"I still think it's weird that they're all hooked up like that,"Bella heard someone say. "I know they're not all blood related, but still, it's creepy. All living in the same house?"She laughed softly. What would they say if they knew that Alice and Jasper had 'officially' married years ago, and that Emmett and Rosalie went through the ceremony whenever it served their purpose for them to live apart from the rest of the family?
"They're all so pretty. But that one with the long brown hair, she's just plain. Wonder why she doesn't fit in with them?" Another voice put in. Bella ducked her hair a bit, letting said hair curtain her face, but she felt Jasper's arm around her shoulders in a half hug and she leaned into him a bit, thankful for the contact.
"You know they're just jealous, right?" Jasper asked her quietly.
Bella nodded. The words weren't anything new. She knew her long dark hair was unremarkable, and her eyes glowed a soft butterscotch when she was well fed, and she was pale and not much to look at, not compared to Rosalie's model good looks or Alice's cute pixie hair and body that carried off just about any look she wanted. But she also knew that teenagers were cruel (after all the time she'd spent in high school, she sometimes wondered if she was really just in hell), and that's how they expressed their emotions. "I know."
Rosalie slid off Emmett's lap. "Gonna go give them a piece of my mind…"
Emmett grabbed her wrist and tugged her back down. "Can't do that babe. We shouldn't have heard that," he reminded her, nuzzling her gently, which instantly calmed her down. "What do you care what they think anyway, Bells?" Emmett turned to her.
"I don't," Bella said with a shrug. "Thanks, Rose, but save it for when someone tries to get Em into the janitor's closet," she teased, causing them to laugh, remembering when a cheerleader had tricked him into the closet. He'd spent a week begging Rose's forgiveness that time.
The warning bell rang then, and students began packing up.
"Have fun in biology!" Alice trilled at Bella, linking her arm with Jasper as they strode off.
Bella rolled her eyes and gathered her messenger bag and tray, tossed her uneaten lunch and joined the mass of humanity pressing back out into the halls, locating her building and trailing after the students, making sure to remember to travel at a human pace and suppressing another sigh.
"Mr. Banner?" Bella approached an older man, beginning to bald slightly at the temples, with grey begging to appear in flecks in his brown hair. He looked like a typical teacher in khaki trousers and a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up. "I'm new."
"Ah, yes, Miss Swan?" Mr. Banner took her schedule and initialed it. "Here's a text book," he said, handing her a tome. "And here you are," he said with a small smile, handing back her schedule. "Please take that empty spot there by Mr. Masen." He waved to the back of the room, where a young man sat alone at a bench.
Bella nodded and took a step when the air in the room shifted. She hesitated a beat, barely noticeable to the rowdy human teenagers around her as her mouth filled with venom and the sudden urge to pounce on one of the children in the room over took her. She repressed the foreign desire, continuing at a human pace to the back of the room where the scent that triggered the blood lust grew stronger, and she was able to identify it belonging to the boy she'd been told to sit by. He was dressed simply in dark jeans, a dark green shirt under a black sweater. Her hands clenched as she swallowed back another mouthful of venom at the scent, both sweet and spicy, cinnamon and vanilla and something imale/i coming from the copper haired boy sitting alone. She slid into her seat, allowing her long brown hair to fall around her face, curtaining her from the boy and slightly masking his scent with her own, but she'd already gotten a good look at him.
He was physically gorgeous, adding to the draw that was pulling Bella in, all but begging for her to pull him close and find out if he tasted as good as he smelled. Her manicured fingernails bit into her palms as she fought another wave of desire to devour him. She stopped breathing immediately, and found the fervor dim slightly. She caught the curious look in his green eyes from behind black plastic rimmed glasses. His face was pale, his eyes slightly red around his lids and dark circles beginning to appear under his eyes as if he'd not been sleeping and Bella found herself instantly wanting to know why. He leaned heavily on his table, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger before dropping his chin to rest in his palm with a quiet sigh. Bella heard the quiet catch in his breath that he probably didn't even feel yet and she found herself wondering if he had asthma or some other breathing condition.
He turned toward her and she fought once again against her nature, to take this innocent boy and drain him dry, something she'd never experienced before and it was tearing at her inside.
"Hi. I'm Edward." His voice was like smooth velvet despite the undertone of tiredness that ran through his voice. "You're Bella, right?"
She nodded, unsure if she should risk breathing to answer, and then decided that not answering would be rude and inexcusable. "Yes. Nice to meet you." Her throat burned again as her senses were again assaulted with his scent, and she couldn't figure out why he hadn't pulled away from her already. No one ever sat in this close of proximity for this long, even when they weren't drawing her in against their will. She'd automatically pulled her shield in around her at school, but normally humans weren't sensitive enough to notice. Either this boy was extraordinarily perceptive, or something else was going on.
Thankfully further conversation was cut off as the lecture started. Bella once again stopped breathing to let the fire in her fizzle out as she tried to push away the images of how she could take out the class and then savor the boy. She tried to block out the memory of his scent, fighting the urge again to bury her nose in his neck and lick. She wouldn't be the reason they had to move again so soon, not because she'd slaughtered a room full of innocent children just to satisfy her lust and curiosity about this wonderful smelling boy. Edward she reminded herself, trying to remember that he was a person with a family (she assumed) and not just another herd animal for her to hunt to satisfy her thirst. She wouldn't do that to Carlisle after they'd just gotten settled. The desire began to cool slightly as she rationalized with herself why she couldn't give in, how her family would react to having to pack back up and leave again so suddenly.
Not once did it enter her mind that she'd be sick as a dog for days if she gave in. She was focused on only not betraying or disappointing her family. She made herself focus on the details of Esme's face as she was so happy to decorate the new house, of Alice and Rose's joy at being so close to Seattle for shopping, of Emmet's whoop of joy at the off-roading opportunities the area presented to them. She pushed away the images her mind presented to her of Edward broken and moving under her, the smell of fresh spilt blood, swallowing venom again as she imagined the way he tasted.
Finally the bell rang, breaking into her thoughts and freeing her from the torture she'd wandered into. She bolted, trying to remember to go slow, to look human as she gathered her books swiftly and made for the door, only to get too caught up in her escape and tripping over her own feet, only to crash into Emmett.
"Whoa, li'l sis. Where's the fire?" Emmett teased lightly as he righted her.
"Need out," she hissed so only he could hear. She could feel eyes on her back.
Emmett stepped back, letting her go, a puzzled expression on his face. Bella knew she was the last one anyone in the family expected to have struggles against being surrounded by humans, giving her aversion to their blood (and since Jasper was still so new to their way of life). She made her escape, but she could clearly hear the voices behind her.
"Hey, Masen," she heard Emmett greet Edward. Apparently they'd already met.
"Is she okay?" Bella heard Edward ask.
"Yeah, just girl stuff, y'know?" Emmett teased, and Bella groaned, knowing she'd be grilled about it later, as she escaped to the fresh air outside. She took a large breath, her mind clearing of the haze as his scent was washed away by the damp crisp air, though still internally shaken by the whole experience. She thought about reaching for her iPod and heading home to hide and figure out what the hell was going on, but she had gym with Alice, and it wouldn't do to ditch on their first day. As her head cleared, she felt guilty for what she'd even considered doing, though she tried to let it go, because she'd long ago come to terms with the creature she was, and she'd heard from others of her kind that there were those humans who called more loudly than others. But that didn't make her feel any better for knowing she'd nearly put her whole family at risk for that boy. iEdward/i.
Alice danced up to her and took her arm, leading her to the locker room. They wouldn't have to dress out, which Bella was thankful for. "So...?" Alice asked with a leading smile.
"'So' what?" I'm guessing you saw?" Bella asked, her mood lifting a bit in the presence of her hyperactive sister.
"Just him. You've been so distant lately," Alice said, a note of sadness in her voice.
Bella nodded. She'd been feeling a bit more isolated and lonely lately and that was usually reflected in her withdrawal from the family and interaction with them.
"So?" Alice asked again, bouncing lightly on her toes, her smile firmly back in place.
"It's bad, Alice," Bella said softly. "I wanted him," she admitted quietly.
Alice stopped dancing at her side outside the doors to the gym. They entered quietly, found the coach and got signed in before settling on the bleacher's before they spoke again.
"Really?" Alice asked after a few moments watching the teams run around. "But, you, and..."
Bella ducked her head, letting her hair fall over her face again in a comforting curtain. "I know."
"That is bad," Alice said quietly.
Bella shrugged. "I'll manage. I'm not going to be the reason we have to move again so soon. Everyone seems to like it here so far." They'd only been (back) in Forks for a couple weeks, since before Christmas, and the weather meant they didn't have to stay inside all the time. Carlisle was settled into the hospital, and it couldn't be good for his career to get ripped out of a position as suddenly as sometimes happened.
Alice gave her a one armed hug. "One of these days, I'm going to make you see that you have needs worth being considered too," she said quietly in Bella's ear before settling back. "He's cute, though," she teased, back to her bouncy self.
Bella laughed softly. "Yes, he is. And apparently already befriended Emmett, too. Though something's odd about him," Bella mused. "He didn't shy away from me. I had shielded, but usually humans don't notice. He must be really perceptive or really stupid, or something else is going on. He's not one of us, but there could be something else..." Bella was just thinking out loud by that point.
Bella looked over at Alice, seeing her eyes glaze over slightly as she searched for a vision. "He's perceptive," she said quietly. "He knows things about people. He's not like Jasper, something else. He anticipates, knowing what people are going to say, or mean to say." Alice shook her head slightly, coming out of the vision. "I think we'll need to watch ourselves around him. You should be fine, but I'll make sure I talk to Emmett and Jasper. Rosalie doesn't have any classes with him."
Bella nodded, tucking her hair back behind her ear and out of her face. Alice's visions were fairly reliable, and Bella trusted them enough to not bet against Alice. There may be more that Alice wasn't telling her, but if that was so, then it wasn't anything Bella needed to know right away. The rest of the hour passed quickly enough, Bella having dug out her iPod and Alice her sketch book, until the bell rang and they trooped out to meet their siblings for the ride home.