A/N: Beta'd by 13cellardoors and vindictive87 over at lj.
New Town, New School
I have never in my life been somewhere so gray. It's like when you adjust the colour from "vivid" to "movie" on the TV, and all of a sudden the colour just goes off somewhere to die, leaving behind some faded grayish mockery of a colour in its place. It's depressing. I've been in Forks for less than twenty minutes and I already feel depressed.
"What was that?"
"What?" I ask, without turning away from the window.
"You made a noise. I thought maybe you wanted to say something."
"I didn't make a noise," I respond, and cringe at how argumentative it comes out. Long-distance travel puts me in a bad mood, makes me restless. I haven't travelled here since I was fourteen, and I haven't seen my dad since the week he came to Phoenix when I was fifteen. I really don't want his first impression of seventeen-year-old Bella to be that I'm a petulant sulker. Although I wouldn't say those words never apply to me, I'd like to, but I'd be lying.
"Yeah, you made kind of a grunt noise."
Yeah, that's not embarrassing at all. "I was just thinking... is it always this gray?"
That just kind of popped out. Obviously I know it is, but I think my brain is hoping I'm remembering it wrong.
He turns and gives me a look that clearly says you know you've been here before, right?
I smile awkwardly in response, and give a half shrug.
"Sometimes we get some sun. Not often, but sometimes," He says in a reassuring tone. I think he's worried that I'm going to change my mind about living here. For a second I think of reminding him that I didn't actually chose to come here, that I didn't really have a choice, but I don't think that would make him feel better.
"Is that even healthy?"
"It's fine," he says with a brief glance at me. "You'll have to take vitamin D supplements, but you'll never have to wear sun block," he quips awkwardly. He looks over at me again, and I give him a smile I hope conveys amusement. It wasn't really funny, but I appreciate the effort. Judging by the huge smile that breaks out across his face before he turns back to the road, I'm a better actress then I thought. Maybe I should join the drama club, get involved in some extracurricular activities. Yeah, that's gonna happen.
After that we settle back into silence, but it's not awkward like it was before. It's more comfortable. Maybe, like me, he feels that brief little moment amounts to some proof that we can agreeably co-exist, maybe even get along while we live together, or maybe I'm the only one that feels the difference. Either way it makes the world outside the passenger-side window seem a little less dreary, a very little bit.
Wandering the halls of my new school for the first time seems to be doing a lot to really drive home my wish that Jacob went here. It'd be nice to have someone I know around. Even if I only spent time with him one month a year until I was fourteen, he's still familiar.
The last time I started at a new school, it was the beginning of the year, and my first year in high school. Everybody my age was new to it, still adjusting to the building, classes, teachers, and just as nervous as me. This time? School started two months ago, and I'm guessing most of the people have been here since grade nine. They probably all went to elementary school together too.
From what I've seen of the building so far, I'd hazard a guess that there's been at least three additions added, haphazardly at that. There are all these weird dead end hallways, and the different additions seem to have seriously messed up the numbering of the doors. I just passed two doors right next to each other numbered 103 and 122. The next door was 110. The fact that my new school doesn't seem to understand the order of numbers isn't particularly encouraging, although I might actually do well in math here, I can come up with random numbers too.
What's X if y=23? 50. Why the hell not?
I stop in the middle of some kind of outdoor hallway in an attempt to get my bearings. On the wall there's a sign that says cafeteria that points to the left, and another one that says Auditorium which points to the right, but nothing to indicate where the administration offices might be. That's some lovely planning they've done there.
They should have maps. Of course if they had maps they'd probably be kept in the office, so that wouldn't really help me much.
I decide to just start walking forward and see if that'll take me anywhere. A few steps later someone sidles up beside me.
"You must be Isabella," he states, giving me a smile that's a little too excited for a Monday morning, if you ask me.
"Bella," I correct with a smile I'm sure comes out as more of a grimace as I pull one of my ear buds out. I hate it when people call me that.
"I'm Eric." He stares at me expectantly, like his name is supposed to have preceded him all the way to Arizona. Eric the way-too-happy-for-a-Monday.
I stare at him blankly for a couple moments, before he starts looking a little unsure.
"Didn't they tell you I was going to show you around?"
"The people at the office?"
"I haven't gotten there yet," I mutter, a little embarrassed. I got here half an hour early per their request, and I've spent ten of those minutes ambling around trying to find this damned office. I hate asking people for directions. My mom was right; I would have made a good boy.
"Oh..." he says with a thoughtful pause, and then hides a smile by looking down at the floor. When he looks up again the smile is gone, but there's still a glint of amusement lurking in his eyes. "You're going the wrong way."
Either that's what's funny, or the smile came with his decision to mess with me. I look back the way I came dubiously, hoping to see some kind of sign either way. The last thing I need is to be known as gullible. I don't have the gags-and- tricks kind of sense of humour.
"The door to the office is over by the parking lot... you probably passed it on your way in."
"Huh," I mutter noncommittally. This is not a good start.
Turns out it wasn't a trick. I had actually passed the administration offices on my way into the school. Clearly I'm a genius. Eric was good about it though. He walked me to the office, and waited to show me to my class. When I left History he was standing across the hall to take me to English. Clearly this guy takes his responsibilities very seriously.
At lunch he basically cornered me into sitting at his table, and his friends seemed equally excited to have me there. What the hell is wrong with these people?
Okay maybe that's a little harsh, but my old school was not like this. I mean people were nice enough, but I never really made much of an effort, and they mostly just left me alone. I really didn't have a problem with that, preferred it most of the time, but it seems to have left me completely unprepared to deal with overtly friendly people. I don't know how to respond to this kind of attention. Seriously I feel like they're expecting something from me that I'm not sure I have, namely well developed social skills.
His friend Mike walked with us to Bio since he has the same class, and he invited me to go with them to a movie in Port Angeles this weekend. I said I'd think about it.
As I'm walking into Biology, the teacher standing at the front points out where I'm supposed to sit. It's the bench table in the back corner on the wall side of the room. There's a boy already sitting on the stool next to the wall, but he's so far into the shadows I can't make anything out. Taking the aisle seat I notice the small amount of muted natural light coming through the windows peters out about four feet from me, like it wasn't strong enough to make it just a couple more feet.
Pulling my stuff out of my bag, I glance at him sideways. He's pale, really pale, but cute. He doesn't really acknowledge my presence, but I'm not exactly falling over myself to say hi, so I'm not really in a position to be offended.
Stifling another yawn against my hand, I look up at the clock above the door hopefully. Still half an hour left. My hand is starting to hurt from copying down so many overheads, and the dark, stuffy room is making me wish I was at home, back in the bedroom that's some kind of museum of the summers of my childhood.
I look down at my notes, trying to figure out where I left off writing so I can catch up before he changes the overhead again, when the room gets brighter. I look out the window to see the sun edging its way out from behind the clouds. The sunlight makes its way rapidly across the room, and I can just barely feel a brush of warmth on my cheek as it touches my face.
Suddenly the chair next to me scrapes across the linoleum, clattering to the floor, and the guy who was sitting next to me jostles my shoulder as he rushes out of the room. I watch him leave in surprise, and then turn to look at the stool lying on the floor. His binder's still on the table, open to the page he's been filling with his scrawling handwriting, and his backpack's slumped against the underside of the table.
I figure the guy must've had to go to the bathroom pretty badly to make such a scene out of it, and try to catch up on my notes while the teacher tries to get back the attention of the class after the interruption.
It isn't until the bell rings that I realize that guy didn't come back to class, but nobody seems particularly surprised, so maybe that's just the kinda guy he is. I don't like him already.
When I pull into the driveway, I notice Jacob sitting on the porch steps. Getting out of my car, I give him a tired smile, and hitch my bag over my shoulder.
"So how was your first day?" He asks as I walk towards him.
"Long." I flop down on the narrow steps next to him, our arms brushing as I drop my bag on the walk in front of me.
"Well, it was a Monday, that is one of the longer days of the week. And of course just before class ends on Friday is the longest hour," he says with a smirk.
I laugh lightly, resting my head against the wooden railing. "See, that's normal. I seem to have been socially adopted by a bunch of... happy people."
"Now that's a tragedy."
"It is! I'm not sure how long I can put up with that much happy. I mean they're aggressively friendly."
"And that's on a Monday."
"Oh crap... what are they going to be like on Friday?"
"Downright chipper, I would think."
"You're making fun of me," I say with a fake pout.
He laughs loudly at that, waiting until it dies down to a chuckle to answer, "Of course I am."
"Jerk," I mutter under my breath, just loud enough so he can hear.
He laughs again, quietly this time, and says, "I'm glad you met some people, though."
I fight the urge to roll my eyes as I have flashbacks of the various it's hard to meet people at a new school pep talks I'd received from my mom leading up to my first day. Full of stuff like, you have to seem approachable if you want to be approached and maybe you should leave your iPod at home the first couple days, so people know it's okay to talk to you.
Now I can tell her I met people, and I won't have to hear that stuff anymore.
"Worried about me, were you?" I ask playfully. He gets kind of fidgety, and I look down at the ground quickly. He was worried about me. Exactly how infamous is my antisocial behaviour? I inwardly groan at the thought of my mom talking about it with my dad, and then my dad talking about it with Jacob. Is he waiting here because he doesn't think I can make friends on my own?
"Bella?" Jacob asks timidly.
"Everything alright?" He seems hesitant and embarrassed.
"Yeah, just... had a long day. What are you doing here anyway?"
"Your Dad invited us over for dinner."
"Oh, good," I reply absentmindedly.
"Yeah," I answer with a nod. It'll be nice to not eat in complete silence like we did last night. The relationship with my dad isn't super-awkward, but it's definitely got a long way to go.
The screen door behind us creaks open, and I turn to find my Dad looking out.
"I thought I heard you pull up."
"So how was your first day of school?"
"Good," I reply with a shrug. Overall it was a good day. Aside from that one weird guy who knocked against me in Bio, everyone seemed nice. I actually met people, normal people who seem to like me. I guess I should at least try to make something of that. Maybe this town will be different. Maybe I can be different.