This story has been lying around on my hard-drive for ages, since long before Breaking Dawn was released. It's not perfect and there are obviously some glaring inconsistencies as far as canon is concerned, but I'm still quite proud of it. It's a good example of what happens when I just let myself write, without editing or worrying about reader reaction in the way that I usually do with my chapter fic 'Seducing Ms Swan'- I wrote this solely for myself in a single sitting of roughly an hour and a half.
I hope you enjoy it.
The title comes from the lyrics to 'The Scientist' by Coldplay.
Imogen Page is not beautiful.
But then, who really is, outside the airbrushed pages of magazines and away from cinema screens? She has cherry red hair straight from a bottle, piercings in her ears, grey eyes and a few too many curves. Her favourite music is loud, please, and she prefers murder mysteries to romances- if she reads at all. Her grades in High School were underwhelmingly average in everything except Government, where she excelled… before she dropped out. She fights with the parents who she hardly ever talks to and she doesn't have any extraordinary skills, unless you count speaking her mind. She can be brash, loud and over confident- obnoxiously so. She does not live her life according to other peoples' expectations and ignores the boundaries they dictate, something which earns her a bit of a 'reputation'.
In fact, by the time she's three months shy of her nineteenth birthday, she's pretty sure she knows everything there is to know about life and that nothing could ever faze her.
But then she meets him, one hot afternoon in August and has her world turned upside down.
It's about ten past five and the dusty roadside diner where she works is almost empty, save for a few weary regulars. She's locking up to go home when he comes slouching through the door, all six foot seven of him, wearing nothing but a pair of oil-stained jeans and a dejected frown. Suddenly, the afternoon becomes a whole lot more promising. Imogen doesn't make a habit of eyeing up the customers, but there's an exception to every rule. And it's hard not to look at him, with his beautiful reddish brown skin and his long, black hair that falls lightly on his shoulders in a braid, or at his subtly defined muscles that ripple so enticingly when he walks. It becomes especially hard once he takes a seat on one of the beat-up stools at the counter right in front of her and orders a soda in a husky yet deadened voice which sends shivers up her spine.
Once she's served him, she retreats to a spot behind the counter a couple of feet away and leans there, her hands resting lightly on the faux-marble top, watching him unashamedly. He doesn't seem to notice her. There's an emotion in his eyes which makes her uncomfortable, but at the same time unable to look away; it's a mixture of sorrow, anger and exhaustion. If it weren't for his unmarked skin and otherwise healthy appearance, Imogen would guess that he'd been fighting in some sort of war; what else could explain such emotion in someone so young?
Because he is young, Imogen realises. Despite the muscles and swoon-worthy rugged good looks, this guy can only be about seventeen at the very most- younger than her, anyway. Does this matter? Not really, but it is surprising. What's he doing here, sitting in a diner on a quiet Sunday afternoon in the middle of nowhere? And why, Imogen wonders to herself, does she suddenly care so much about a complete stranger?
She wanders over when he finishes his drink to take away his glass, forcing herself to keep her eyes downcast and not stare at him. All the other customers have gone, leaving just them.
"Can I get you anything else?" She asks and instantly wonders if there's a double meaning to that question. He doesn't reply, just shakes his head and absent-mindedly shakes a few strands of hair away from his eyes.
There's a long silence, during which she pretends to be washing glasses, but is really just waiting for him to say something. Just as she's decided that he's a lost cause and is wondering whether he can actually speak at all, he forms words.
"Do you have a phone?" Well, it isn't a sonnet, but it's a start.
"Uh-huh, it's over there by the door."
"Thanks," he nods his head awkwardly and crosses the room to make a call. Imogen turns around politely, trying to give him some privacy and show him that she isn't eavesdropping. Despite her efforts, however, it's hard not to catch some of the following conversation. Especially towards the end, when his voice gets louder with what sounds like building frustration.
"I'm fine. No, Quil, I don't want… and whose decision is that? No. Look, when I-" he sighs with irritation and turns again, his spare hand unconsciously picking at the peeling paint on the wall. "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry. Tell the guys and… tell her what you like. I don't care. No, really. It's done, Quil. Say sorry to... yeah. Fine, whatever. Bye." He slams the phone back on the hook and kicks the wall with angry thud. Then, as if realising what he has just done, he looks up at Imogen apologetically.
"I'm sorry, I uh-" he begins, but she just waves her hand casually as if to say it's no big deal. Like she regularly gets good-looking half-naked strangers wandering into, and then proceeding to vandalise her workplace. He nods again, slowly, putting his hands in his pockets. She winds her way around the counter, untying her apron with one hand and throwing it over her shoulder onto a stool.
Then, she goes to his side- God, he's tall- and raises her eyebrows, expectantly. "I've got to lock up now, but if you want I can stick around…" and what? She still isn't sure. He makes a noncommital noise and starts towards the door, pushing it open with such strength that the bell rings shrilly for several moments.
They get outside into the parking lot and are almost blinded by the sunlight. It's empty except for her car: an old beat-up Ford that hasn't seen a carwash for years. She starts to walk towards it, then stops, unsure. It irritates her. Imogen Page has never been indecisive. She's always had an opinion and makes her decisions instantly, for better or worse. But suddenly an angry, non-responsive, unfairly gorgeous teenage boy comes shuffling into her life, and she can't even think straight.
"So have you got a name then, or what?" She asks, her voice unjustifiably angry. For a moment, he just stares at her and she feels her temper rising. She's just wondering whether to slap some words out of him, when he replies.
"Jacob," he murmurs. She mulls it over. Jacob. Jake. Somehow, it fits.
"So what brings you here, Jacob? Far from home?"
"You could say that…" he replies and, for the first time, something resembling a smile crosses his face. The change it brings across his smooth features is remarkable; he really is beautiful. Imogen nods, fiddling distractedly with her keys.
"Running away?" She instantly wishes she hadn't said it. His face tenses and for a split second she wonders whether he's going to shout at her. She wouldn't be surprised if he did. There you go again, she thinks to herself, you and your big mouth. She waits for harsh words.
They don't come.
Instead, he takes a deep breath and looks her straight in the eye, as if sizing her up. It takes all the nerve she has not to look away; she feels as if his gaze will burn her it's so strong. She's reminded irresistibly of embers smouldering from the remains of a dying fire… then inwardly scolds herself for thinking like a cliché'd romance novel.
Finally, Jacob seems to have found whatever he was looking for because he replies with a defiant:
It rings with finality. Imogen inclines her head, realising that she's breathing unnecessarily loudly and that her legs are shaking slightly. She can't explain it, but it's as though her understanding has just shifted. Like recalcitrant pieces of a puzzle that suddenly decide to slot. It doesn't matter where he's come from, only that he's here now and it is more than clear to her that wherever he's been, he doesn't want to go back.
She doesn't ask any more questions; except for one:
"Do you need a place to stay?"
That's how it begins.
She spends the rest of her life trying to mend his broken heart.
To be continued...