Hey guys! So welcome to my very first Twilight fic! I'm excited and terrified, and I really hope you guys enjoy this. I'll be updating weekly, and I'm not sure how long this will be yet but please read and review!
"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain... and an athlete... and a basket case... a princess... and a criminal... Does that ans-"
"Emmett, I swear to god..."
"Sincerely yours, The Breakf- OUCH!" Emmett sat looking at me, rubbing his head with an expression on his face that would have convinced anyone that I had just stabbed him without reason instead of just throwing a book at his head for annoying the shit out of me. "What the fuck, Edward?"
"I warned you," I shrugged. He really did have ample warning. He had been ignoring my threats for ten whole minutes of reciting that goddamn movie before I threw the book at him.
"You couldn't just let me finish?" he asked, looking personally offended that he hadn't gotten to utter the last one-and-a-half words of the film. "Dick," he muttered, low enough that he probably thought I didn't hear him. Jasper sniggered from the floor below me, his hat disrupting my view of his face. Emmett reached over and tossed his hat across the room, interpreting his snigger as a declaration of his loyalty towards me. "Laugh now, Jazz, when you have to look me in the face," Emmett sneered, though his eyes were playful.
"Emmett just go fetch my fedora hat and nobody has to get hurt," he drawled, looking bored with the entire exchange.
"Fine," Emmett muttered, throwing the fedora at Jasper's face. He caught it skilfully and placed it back on his head.
I was just about to alert Jasper to the fact that he must, in fact, be gay if he knew that his hat was called a fedora – his relationship with my sister Alice wasn't fooling anyone – when my father walked in. He hadn't been due home for several hours yet, meaning he'd forgotten the lunch mom made for him – again.
"Boys, are you just going to lie there all day?" he gently chided. "Jasper. I take it you'll be here for dinner once again?" he asked, a small smile playing on his lips. For some reason, he was always nicer to Jasper than he was to Emmett and I – his own sons.
"Yeah, thanks Dr. Cullen," Jasper replied. Carlisle beamed at him and a felt that all-too-familiar pang of jealousy towards my best friend.
"Get out of the house. We are surrounded by all this forestry and you boys just stay inside all day. I don't care how much you work," he said, holding a hand up to silence Emmett's protests. "I work five times as much as you do and I would love the opportunity to explore. Edward," he began, turning the full force of his paternal disappointment on me. "You don't work at all. I know you don't know what direction you're taking yet, but maybe if you get out there you might be inspired," he suggested. It made no fucking sense to me how 'exploring nature' could possibly inspire a career choice and I personally thought that Carlisle should just be happy that at least one of his children was going to college after the summer break, but I would argue with him about it many times in the future and now just wasn't the time to start shit – not when I knew he had to walk out the door in about thirty seconds.
"Maybe we'll pack some sandwiches and have a picnic," I responded instead, hoping my voice wasn't too thick with sarcasm. No luck. Carlisle sighed, plucked his lunch from the kitchen bench and headed out the door. I threw a cushion at Jasper and continued popping gummi bears into my mouth.
The rest of the afternoon went by as normal. The three of us guys just bummed around the house, doing whatever we damn well pleased, and generally just not giving a fuck because the women and Carlisle weren't around to nag us.
Rosalie, Emmett's girlfriend and Jasper's twin sister, was busy working to get the bar she was opening with Emmett off the ground. She and Emmett has an agreement that she would be the brains of the project – taking care of accounting, design and all the general business-minded stuff – and Emmett would be in charge of running the bar once it was open.
Alice was at the office with our mother Esme. The two of them ran an event management business which had really taken off during the year while Alice had still been at school and helping out only on weekends. All three of us Cullen kids had graduated together, and I was the only one who didn't have a job to go to or any idea where a job might come from any time in the future. I didn't really care for trying to think about it at present, either. I just wanted to enjoy my summer – my freedom.
Out of nowhere there was a high-pitched wailing noise that made all of us perk up and turn our attention to the window. It sounded like nails on a chalkboard, metal scratching metal, branches on a window, babies crying and intense agony. Without realising it, we were flying out the door and into the forest that surrounded our house with an enthusiasm that bordered on psychosis.
"What...?" Jasper's question was caught in his throat as we ran, the trees whipping past us, our feet not even touching the ground. We were flying, and we had no idea what we were flying to but we couldn't stop. There was no way of knowing exactly where the noise had come from but there was something magnetic pulling us towards the heart of the forest – the very centre of the thick greenery that I had often stared into but never really been interested in.
We came to a halt at exactly the same time. We had reached a spot where the sound that had pulled us towards it still resonated in the air. A spot that seemed to glow, though it looked no different than any other part of the forest. No different except for the small heap of limbs covered in leaves right in front of us.
"Fuck..." I wasn't sure who had spoken – it may well have been me – but the word summed up the scene perfectly.
About three feet from us was a person, both beautiful and terrifying to behold. She was completely naked, but covered in blood and foliage. She was writhing on the damp, soft ground – a soft whimpering sound coming from the mouth none of us could see for her wild hair was covering her face.
"Are you okay?" Emmett asked in a voice that seemed to boom in the quiet of the forest. Three heads snapped towards him, and two snapped back to the young woman at our feet. She scrambled, rolling over, sitting up and drawing her knees to her chest. At least now I wouldn't be distracted by her nudity – the worst of it was covered. Her eyes were as wild as her hair and her eyes matched the terror that was swelling in my stomach.
"She's afraid, just take it easy Em," Jasper whispered, crouching down to try and meet the girl's eyes, which were darting around and between us. "Hi there," he smiled when he caught her gaze. "I'm Jasper. Do you know where you are?" The girl slid backwards and let her hair fall into her face once more. She remained unresponsive as we spoke to each other wordlessly, wondering what to do next and how to help her – she was clearly disturbed and it looked as though she'd been attacked very recently.
I stole glances at her as we decided who would go for help and who would stay with her – I could see her bright brown eyes peeking through her hair. My stomach rumbled, and I felt around my pockets for something to eat, finding the gummi bears I often kept on my person. With a triumphant smile, I popped two orange ones into my mouth and hummed in satisfaction. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the girl peering curiously, and I decided that if she was going to be responsive at all it was going to be now.
"Want one?" I asked, trying to seem casual though my traitorous voice shook a little in my anxiety. I crouched down and shuffled towards her, holding out an offering of four gummi bears. Red ones. Everyone likes the red ones...
She straightened up a little and pushed her hair out of her face. I could practically hear the boys behind me vibrating with anticipation of her spilling her story to us, but she didn't make a sound. Those big brown eyes darted viciously between my own eyes and the gummi bears in my palm and it was in that moment that I realised she had no idea what I was offering her. What kind of person has no fucking clue what a gummi bear is?
To make matters easier, I pinched two between my fingers and placed them on my tongue. I sighed contentedly as I chewed and swallowed, exaggerating a little. "See? They're good," I assured her, having noticed how carefully she had been watching me eat – no doubt waiting for me to keel over from the poisonous gummi bears. I patted my stomach and smacked my lips, exaggerating again. She frowned a little, looking confused, but hesitantly reached forward and mimicked exactly what I had done with my two gummi bears – she even hummed softly. I heard Jasper chuckle softly behind me, and felt Emmett's intense gaze boring into the back of my head. I turned to flash them both a grin, but was startled when I felt something touching me. The girl had lurched forward and was searching my hand for more food. I watched her in shock, my jaw almost hitting the earth under my feet. What the fuck is she doing?
"She's primal," Jasper breathed, answering my question. "Where did she come from?" he asked, his thoughts mirroring my own as they often did. I would have joined in the speculating that followed but I still had a jungle girl searching my hand for food – I was a little distracted to say the very least.
"Hang on, hang on," I gently chided, not moving the hand she was searching but reaching into my pocket with the other. I retrieved the gummi bears and held them in front of her. Immediately, the frantic girl was still. I couldn't help but think that this may be the calm before the storm – was she going to try and fight me for them? My question was answered when – faster than lightning – she swiped the packet from my hand and scrambled backwards, cramming gummi bears into her mouth as though they were the last morsel of food on earth. Emmett roared with laughter at the sight, startling the girl and sending her flying even further backwards and back into her foetal position, eyes once again panicked and peering out from the curtain of hair spilling over her knees. His laughter ceased the very second Jasper's fist connected with his shoulder and he cursed as he rubbed the sore spot.
Jasper joined me on the ground – I hadn't moved throughout the entire ordeal – and just kept smiling softly at the girl. "Dude, you're probably creeping her out."
"I don't see you doing anything to help."
"I just fed her!"
"Yeah and now you're not doing anything so I'm gonna try to reassure her-"
"By looking like a paedophile?"
"Shut up, both of you!" Emmett hissed. "That's no way to speak in front of Leeloo!"
We both turned at stared in utter bewilderment. Did he know this girl?
"Do you know this girl, Emmett?" Jasper asked, once again speaking my thoughts. Emmett shook his head.
"No, but isn't it obvious? She's the fifth element," he said, his voice full of reverie. He approached the frightened jungle girl and held his hands palm up in surrender. "I'm not gonna hurt you, Leeloo. Okay? I'm gonna get you t-" Emmett was interrupted as 'Leeloo' whimpered and hid once more, shaking her head in protest.
"Emmett, I don't think she likes you," I warned, trying to pull him back.
"You're pretty big, dude, she's terrified of you," Jasper said at the same time. "And stop calling her Leeloo," he mumbled. "You should go get help."
"No," Emmett argued firmly. "I am not handing her over to any authority. What if I'm right? We're gonna hand her over to police and they discover what she is and the FBI takes over, then the CIA, then she's in a pod somewhere being poked and prodded. We found her! We have a responsibility to take care of her! I don't wanna leave her here all bloodied and confused and scared and I'm definitely not going to hand her over to the police!"
"Let me get this straight," I began after a moment's stunned silence at Emmett's outburst. "You think that she's the fifth element?"
"Isn't the fifth element love?"
"Leeloo was the embodiment of it," Emmett replied, catching on to what I was getting at. I mean, really the entire thing was ridiculous. "Look I know it sounds crazy but we don't know where she's come from and look at her!" he gestured towards the girl and the three of us finally just took a moment to appreciate her.
'Leeloo' was small and thin, her skin not quite creamy white and not quite warm brown. She had wide eyes the colour of chestnuts and dark hair cascading down her back in waves and curls. Her cheekbones were high and angular, her small nose a perfect straight line down to her full red lips. She was, in short, perfect.
"I mean okay she's not pure perfection," Emmett continued, and I raised an eyebrow at him – what he said couldn't have been further from the truth. "But she clearly has no idea about anything. She's pure and innocent and... She's wild and primal and..." he trailed off, knowing he didn't need to continue. It was pretty obvious that we were dealing with something way beyond our means.
"Okay this is what we do," Jasper began, assuming the leader role once again – he always took charge in these kinds of situations. Not that we'd been in a situation anything like this before. "We take her home. We try to clean her up the best we can. When Carlisle gets home I will talk to him and explain the situation. We don't call anyone else unless we're in danger. We tell no one – Rose, Alice and Esme excepted."
"I'm not sure we should even tell the girls," I argued, not even liking the idea of taking her home. I kept my eyes on her and she kept hers on me as the boys listed all the reasons why their girlfriends should be involved in this mess. I tried to figure her out from my position six feet away. Was she going to be a danger to us? Where did she come from? Why was she here? Why did we have to respond to that stupid noise? What the fuck was that noise anyway? Why wasn't she talking to us? Why didn't she know anything? No, I definitely didn't want to take her home with us. I just wanted to call emergency services and have her off our hands. But from the planning I could hear going on beside me I was outnumbered so we were going to take her home regardless. "Can we at least give her a better name?" I asked, grimacing every time they called her Leeloo. "She's not a fucking movie character."
"What do you wanna call her then?"
"Why don't we ask her?" Jasper suggested, sinking fully to the ground and sliding forward until he was just inches from the girl. She moved quickly to the side, uncomfortable with Jasper's proximity. "What's your name, huh?" he asked in a tone that I'd heard him use only once before – in front of a baby. "You got a name, beautiful girl? What do they call you, honey?"
"He's gone back into paedophile mode," Emmett snickered. I frowned and moved forwards to sit Indian-style next to Jasper, suddenly inspired.
"Her name is Bella," I told them matter-of-factly.
"Why Bella?" Emmett asked, clearly as perplexed as he was thick. Wasn't it obvious?
"Because it suits her that's why," I answered. He seemed offended by my harsh tone, but I didn't care. I kept moving forwards until we locked eyes like when she took my offering. "Do you like that name?" I asked her, fully aware of Jasper's revered stare and Emmett's shock. "Do you like your name, Bella?" I repeated, afraid to breathe other than speaking. She calmed down again, straightening up like last time and pushing her hair completely out of her face. "Bella..." I tested her name out on her, trying to get a reaction – an approval – anything. She didn't respond; she only kept gazing right into my very core. "Let's go home," I tried, moving closer once more and holding my arms out to her – I wasn't sure if she was well enough to walk and I sure as hell wasn't going to have Emmett or Jazz carrying a naked chick into a house that may well contain their girlfriends by now. Besides, if Carlisle was home, I wasn't going to let either of them get the glory of being the hero in his eyes. "Come on, my Bella," I coaxed, holding my arms out wider. She eyed me sceptically, as though she thought I was offering her something more than just my arms – something she couldn't see and didn't trust.
"Shut up. Look." I barely heard the exchange between the other two, because Bella was moving closer. She moved into the space between my arms, allowing me to scoop her up. I huffed a little as I stood; deciding then and there that I needed to work out more if lifting an eighty-pound girl elicited any kind of noise from me.
The walk home was silent, Emmett walking ahead and clearing the path of any obstructions as Jasper examined Bella from a short distance, practicing for his budding career in medicine or whatever the fuck it was he was going to do that was making my dad so proud. Bella simply buried her head into my shoulder and stayed perfectly still aside from her tiny fingers weaving in and out of the hairs on the nape of my neck. "Almost there," I whispered to myself, tightening my hold on her as she began to shiver – the return was a hell of a lot longer than the initial journey had seemed, even taking into account the decrease in our speed. Finally the house was in view, the lights still on inside signifying that there was no one home – both of our parents were energy-saving Nazis and would have turned off any lights, probably muttering something about the purpose of the house being made almost entirely of glass for a reason. This didn't do anything to lift my spirits. The sooner they were home, the sooner they could convince the two idiots panting ahead of me that Bella needed to be handed over.
When we reached the bathroom, I sat Bella down on the toilet and Jasper draped a robe over her shoulders. She was back to being the wild woman, her head reeling around and her eyes jumping about the place as she tried to take her surroundings in. She tried to draw her knees up, but lost balance on the toilet lid. As Emmett and Jasper both tried to steady her, she slid backwards, making her first real noise - Bella screamed in sheer terror sending me flying forwards to catch her and calm her as she toppled off the toilet. "It's okay, it's okay!" I chanted, holding her head against my shoulder the way it had been as I walked with her. She tensed at first, then relaxed into me as Jasper and Emmett padded backwards towards the door. "We can't keep her," I told them, Bella whimpering into my shoulder. This was going to prove to be far too complicated at dangerous.
"I don't think she'll feel safe anywhere else," Jasper argued, and I was thankful that he didn't want to keep her for the same reasons that Emmett seemed to want to keep her. Emmett seemed to want to keep her on a hunch that she was some kind of supernatural being.
"She doesn't even feel safe with us," I retorted, placing her back on the toilet seat and reaching for the wet cloth Emmett had intended to clean her with.
"She seems fine with you," Emmett reminded me, and I silently wiped her face down. I didn't want her to feel safe with me. I wanted her to be safe in a hospital or with police or with people who could find out where she came from, because it was obvious to everyone in the room that this girl wasn't quite... well, despite my distaste for Emmett's reasoning, she didn't seem quite human. There was nothing normal about this girl, who sprang up from nowhere, knowing nothing but pure instinct.
As if she could feel my hesitation, my unrelenting desire to have someone else take her off my hands, she reached up and halted my movements with the wet cloth. I looked at her, a silent question in my eyes, and then she smiled and pressed the cloth more firmly onto her skin. "She likes it," Emmett grinned, his voice thick with amazement. Jasper laughed softly and leaned against the bathtub, just watching. Even I couldn't resist smiling back at her. Yeah, you're pretty adorable when you're not freaking out...
"That nice?" I asked, pressing harder as I wiped more blood off her forehead. She kept smiling and for a moment I was pulled into her eyes the way I was pulled into the forest – I couldn't look away and I didn't even notice when Carlisle walked in and started asking questions.
"Who is she?" Carlisle demanded, having been ignored for quite some time as I just stared into those two big chestnut eyes and the guys just stared at my head.
"This is my Bella," I replied. "I found her."
So there we are, the first chapter is complete! Let me know what you think and please please please show Stripped by punkfarie some love and vote for her in the Indie Twific awards! Reviews are as sexy as Rob carrying you through the forest ;)