Well if this is the face of a sinner
And if heaven is only for winners
Well, I don't care
Cause I won't know anybody there.
~Anybody There by The Script~
I was late. Again.
Grabbing for my slightly shabby coat and battered shoulder bag, I slammed the door to my apartment shut and made for the stairs. The elevator was, as usual, out of order. I don't think it had ever worked, or that there was even an elevator inside the shaft – there purely for decorative purposes.
I had almost made it to the bottom of the stairs when my traitorous foot slipped and I rolled down the last few steps. Pain shot through my left knee and I groaned, knowing that there would be another spectacular bruise there in a couple of hours; at least it would match the one on my ribs where I'd walked into the kitchen surface two days before. A snickering forced me to look up and I saw the guy who lived in the downstairs apartment leaning against his doorframe. Long black hair, tied back complimented his dark skin as he grinned, folding muscular arms over his chest.
"You're late, Bella."
"Tell me about it. See you later, Jacob." I waved, darting to the door. Usually I'd stop for a (mildly flirty) conversation, but not today. The book store where I worked was only four blocks away, but somehow I had still managed to be late twice this week. The sky over Seattle was grey and rain was already dotting the pavements as the rush hour traffic pushed me along the streets.
My supervisor and best friend, Jasper, gave me an amused look as I fell through the door, running to the clocking in machine. To my utmost surprise, I saw that it was still a minute before I was officially late. I slammed my card into the machine and then fell against the wall with a sigh, feeling like I'd just won a race. Jasper eyed me.
"Cutting it kind of close, aren't you, Bella?" He smirked and I glared at him as I scraped my unruly hair into a ponytail and attached my name badge to my shirt.
"My alarm clock is becoming rebellious. I swear to God, I set it last night." I said, picking up the delivery clipboard and examining the list of latest products. More of the usual, the latest bestsellers, a box of classics that sold regularly and several crates of the student necessities. The Paperback was only a little store, tucked down a side street but there was a steady flow of students from the University of Washington who usually appreciated the discounted prices and tourists who appreciated the age of the building, with its exposed beam ceiling and stone walls.
Jasper shook his head, grinning.
"Maybe you need to buy another alarm, Bells. I mean, you're lucky that I'm an easy-going guy, but if you're ever on shift with Newton, you know he's gonna make you pay for tardiness." He waggled his eyebrows and I whacked him solidly in the arm with the clipboard. Mike Newton was the other supervisor at The Paperback, and in the two years I'd been working there, he'd suggested we get a drink at least three times at week. After the first month I'd run out of excuses and in a crazy moment of desperation I'd told him that I was a lesbian. Jasper had ruined that one instantly by howling with laughter and I had red-facedly told Mike that I simply didn't date co-workers. Since then he'd continued to ask, but I had a strange feeling that if I ever did say yes, he'd probably drop dead of shock.
I wandered into the back room and used a safety knife to open the first box, pulling out copies of Sense and Sensibility and putting them on a cart. Jasper took the second box, keeping one eye on the desk, although the bell over the door would let us know if anyone came in. I'd known Jasper for three years, since I was nineteen and he was twenty-one. He towered over me (not that much of an achievement, most people did), a lanky six foot three to my five foot four, and had a mop of dark blonde hair, piercingly blue eyes and an amiable grin. He was in a perpetually good mood that seeped into everyone around him; I had always joked that half an hour in his company would turn even the most manic-depressive into a giggling wreck. I'd met him whilst working part time in a twenty-four hour diner, not that I needed to work for money especially. I had enough to live on, but I needed some kind of normality in my life and my state of mind at the time had been too haywire to even contemplate starting a degree at the University of Washington.
Jasper had come into the diner just once, to grab a cup of coffee before starting an early shift. I'd managed to spill the whole cup down myself and a firm friendship had been formed out of my inability to go one day with humiliating and or injuring myself. When a job prospect had opened up at the book store, he'd put in a good word for me with the owner, Garrett, and I'd been able to give up arguments with drunken and hung over students for… well, arguments with sober and hung over students, but this time I had a six-foot Texan behind me to back me up.
"Bells, you take this lot out front and I'll put this lot in the storage room." He said and I willingly grabbed the cart, pushing it out onto the main floor of the store. I hated the storage room; there was barely any light and way too many spiders, plus I was too short to reach most of the stock anyway. I flicked on the radio as I went, and the store was soon filled with some generic radio music as I began to shelve the books.
There weren't many customers that day. It was mid week, mid semester and raining, so it wasn't surprising. Jasper and I cleaned the whole store and then engaged in some witty repartee, before watching the tiny television screen in the back room. Garrett wouldn't have minded, we were very efficient and had finished most of our work before lunch time. The store closed at seven in the evening so Jasper and I locked up and went to find some dinner. I had no food in my apartment, and I knew that the only sustenance in Jasper's apartment was a bottle of tequila, so we made our way to a café a few blocks from the store. As we slid into a booth, Jasper stretched his long arms before grabbing the menu, something I found amusing as he always ordered the same thing anyway.
"Another day, another burger."
"You could always have a salad. You're kinda piling the pounds on, Jazz." I teased and he eyed me, fully aware that he was as skinny as ever.
"You're lucky you're cute, Bells."
"It gets me through the day." I said, plucking the menu from his hands. He leaned back in his seat, watching me idly as I ordered us each a bacon-cheese burger with the works.
"So, Bella… whatcha doing for Thanksgiving?" He asked and I glowered at him, knowing what was coming. We had the same argument every year.
"Drowning my sorrows with my three favourite guys. Jack, Ben and Jerry." I said firmly and he sighed.
"My sister is coming to town with her fiancé and some of his family."
"I haven't even asked yet!" He grinned and I slouched in my seat, shredding a napkin to pieces. A familiar panic was rising in my chest, like a trapped bird fluttering violently against iron bars. Please don't ask me, please don't ask me…
His long fingers curled over mine and my heart slowed, his calming presence ever effective as I reluctantly met his sapphire eyes. He was looking at me with a slightly worried expression.
"Bella…" He said softly, "You're my best friend and you shouldn't be alone at Thanksgiving. Hell, I only let it go the past couple of years because I couldn't actually force you to get on a plane and come down to Houston. But this year you're only going to be a dozen blocks away and there's no way I'm letting you be alone."
I met his gaze and then sighed, returning to the shredding of my napkin. He took this as a sign that he'd won, because he leaned across the booth and smacked a kiss on my forehead.
"Love you, Hells Bells."
"Love you less every time you use that nickname." I warned, reaching for the ketchup as our food arrived. As was customary, Jasper stole a couple of my fries. As was customary, I hit him, grabbed his burger and took a huge bite.
As was customary, we hit the nearest bar straight afterwards.
Jasper came back to my apartment after a solid two hours of drinking, tempted with the promise of ice-cream and a terrible movie. With an arm slung casually around my shoulders, he was in a very good mood, no doubt from having monopolised my chances of a miserable Thanksgiving, not to mention the excessive amount of whiskey he'd consumed.
"You'll like Rosalie. She's a bitch, but once you get past that she's great." He said, hiccupping slightly. I snorted, leaning into him. I was something of a lightweight, and my four JD and cokes had set my eyesight swirling. He stopped suddenly, and swung me up onto his back as we weaved towards my building. I tightened my arms around him, his stubbly chin scratching my wrists.
"Don't you want to go home for Thanksgiving?" I asked.
"Nope." He said simply, swinging around in a circle to make me laugh. I giggled and jokingly snapped my teeth at his ear before settling on his back again.
"How comes you never talk about your family, Jazzy?" I mumbled into his ear and he guffawed.
"Hell, you wouldn't either if you had my parents, darlin'. Stepmom and Pops gave up on me a long time ago." He drawled, hitching his hands under my knees. He smelt good, that familiar mixture of books, whiskey and something that was just Jazz; I loved it – it smelt like home.
"I won't give up on you." I said firmly and he laughed, squeezing my legs.
"Good thing too, who else is gonna carry ya home, sweet cheeks?"
We reached my building and I fell off Jasper's back, searching for my swipe card to get through the front door. After a moment of fumbling I realised that it was inside my apartment and Jasper fell about laughing once again; he'd been getting a lot of entertainment out of me today. I kicked him in the shin and rang Jacob's apartment. A moment later he appeared, dark eyes curious as he took in the giggling Southerner and the clearly irritated look on my face.
"Everything OK, Bella?" He asked, opening the door.
"Yeah, just forgot my card again." I looked over at Jasper, "Move it, assface, or the ice-cream is all for me."
"I'm coming." Jasper snorted and grinned at Jacob. They'd met various times over the past couple of years, usually when I'd forgotten my card. They seemed to get on well enough, although Jasper was endlessly amused by Jacob's supposed 'crush' on me.
We fell into my apartment and Jasper collapsed on the sofa whilst I dug out the Ben and Jerry's, stabbing a couple of spoons into the top of it. Kicking Jasper's legs out of the way, I fell into my usual seat but his legs stretched out again, knees in my lap as he grabbed a spoonful of ice cream.
"It's a good job that good ol' Jake was around to let us in." He winked and I scowled, squeezing his kneecap. He yelped and mussed my hair.
"Leave it alone, Jazz, Jacob's a nice guy."
"Bet he'd be even nicer if you ever invited him up."
"Stuff it up your ass, Jazz." I grinned, "Besides, there's nothing to turn a guy off a girl like her bringing home a drunken Southerner."
"Please, he knows we're not like that." Jasper grinned, pulling a face. Most people did assume that Jasper and I were more than we were. I could see how they'd come to that conclusion; we spent most of our time together, he was always hugging me and kissing my head and he spent more time at my apartment than I did. In fact, when we'd first met and after an incredibly drunken night we'd ended up at his place, kissing like the world was ending. After ten excruciatingly awkward minutes of making out and fumbling, we had looked at each other and shaken hands with the firm promise that it would never happen again. I didn't have a brother, but I imagined that if I did, I'd have the same feelings towards him that I had for Jasper.
He reached for another spoonful of ice cream, sticking it into his mouth with a thoughtful expression.
"You'll cook for Thanksgiving, right?"
"C'mon, Hells Bells. You're the best cook I know." He wheedled and I growled at him.
"You know I don't do holiday food." I said, stabbing the ice-cream savagely. He snatched the tub out of my hands, no doubt horrified by my inappropriate treatment of the frozen dessert.
"I'm not saying you have to cook a turkey. Just cook a dinner, you make a mean chilli."
"I'll think about it." I said, reaching for the ice-cream again, "How many people?"
"Well, if you're inviting Mr Tall, Dark and Handsome from downstairs-" He received a cushion to the face and laughed again, "Ok, maybe not. There'll be six of us."
"Six? I though it was just us and your sister?"
"And her fiancé."
"That's four." I said dryly. He shrugged.
"His brother and sister live in Seattle, apparently. I don't know, I've never met them. I haven't even met Rose's fiancé yet."
His tone was flat and I looked over at him. His brow was furrowed, blue eyes staring miserably at his spoon. I leaned over and tapped his cheek.
"You alright there, Jazz?"
"Yeah… just being a miserable ass. I don't see Rosie that much. I guess her getting married to someone I don't even know just confirms how out of the loop am." He was still looking morosely at his spoon and I offered him the ice cream tub. He scooped a chunk out and sighed, licking it.
"We were real close at one point, me and Rose. I guess I messed that up when I moved up here. Not that I regret it for a second, but still… I was pretty freakin' selfish.
"I'm glad you came." I said, sounding very childish. He stuck his spoon in his mouth and pulled me onto his lap, nearing his proximity to the ice cream.
"Me too, Bells. If I hadn't, I'd still be paying for my own Ben and Jerry's.
Can I crash here tonight?"
"You know you're welcome any time." I said, crawling off of him and going to the closet where I kept his pillow and blanket. He'd already stashed the ice cream back into the freezer when I got back and I jokingly tucked him in.
"What, no bedtime story?" He demanded.
"If you can't read by the time you're twenty-four and working in a bookstore, I've pretty much given up on you." I teased, heading for my own bed but Jasper swung out a leg to stop me going past. I kicked him lightly.
"What's up, Jasper?"
"How've you been sleeping? I don't want to be waking up to one of your nightmares again." He said it jokingly but I could sense the worry behind the words. I smiled and patted his head.
"I haven't dreamed in a long time, Jazz."
But as I climbed into my bed, the irrational fear that haunted me every night before I slept was present, taunting me with the possibility of dreams that I would not be able to escape from. It had been a long time, as I'd told Jasper, but the nightmares were not gone. Just sleeping, ready to wake at any minute.
It was a disturbing thought to drift off to.
A/N: Hello. My name is Katie and I am a Twilight addict.
This is my first Twilight story. I'm as scared as hell about posting it. I get scared posting stories in categories where I already have stories posted, let alone brand new ones – and especially in ones as popular as Twilight. So, um, here I am! With my story!
I'm very fond of my Jasper and Bella. Bella walked into my head, fully formed, the way she is, which is kinda messed up. Jasper is just awesomeness incarnate. Everyone needs a Jasper.
'Anybody There' – The Script are my favourite band of the moment. Check their stuff out. I chose this song to open with because it sums Bella up at this point. She's pretty much alone in the world, but she's not looking for anything more simply because she doesn't see the point.
OK, well that's all from me for now. Let me know what you think in the form of a review and you shall be thanked with a cookie in the shape of your favourite Cullen. We all know you want to secretly nibble on Carlisle/Jasper/Edward/Emmett!