A/N: This story was my gift for septentrion in the Twilight Gift Exchange. I wish there was room for me to fit the full title here, but alas, there are character restrictions on titles, apparently. The full title is below. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I encourage anyone reading this to participate in the next gift exchange, whenever it occurs. Also, this is probably the only time you will ever see me write an Edward/Bella story, especially one that is AU and AH. :P
Disclaimer: All characters and whatsits you recognize from the Twilight saga belong to Stephenie Meyer and no copyright infringement is intended. The Melvins, Kay Yardley, and Adam Getz are mine, but I don't give a crap if someone rips them off from me, so long as they're not making billions of dollars out of it.
The Outlandish, Imponderable, and Altogether Unorthodox Courtship of Isabella Swan
as witnessed, explained, paraphrased, and dramatized by innocent bystanders
* * *
It may have crossed his mind once or twice to ask how this scruffy-looking boy of all people had dared to descend upon the police chief's daughter (vulture-like, no doubt) without an ounce of cautionary discretion. But if he had poked his nose into his daughter's business, gathering witness statements like the police are fond of doing, what he would have found may very well have baffled him, confounded him, and made his moustache twitch with surprise.
These are the testimonials never gathered by Charlie Swan—for indeed, who would have been foolish enough to tell him anything?—which reveal, piece by piece, the outlandish, imponderable, and altogether unorthodox courtship of Bella Swan.
* * *
I. Rich Melvin
Dorothy was something like my fifth great aunt twelve times removed, so I was more intrigued by the mysterious couple rather than annoyed by their presence. Honestly, I had only elected to come to this small little town for the funeral because it meant missing half a day of school, and it was the boring half, so I thought I was making out pretty well. I didn't even think anything of the two of them until one of Dorothy's old neighbors pulled my father aside and actually pointed them out.
Chronic funeral crasher, he called the dude. Some tall kid with crazy bronze hair. Only this time, the neighbor told us, he'd brought a date.
"That's plain wrong," my father spoke his disapproval.
But what the hell did I care? Maybe the girl, who looked uncomfortable in her own two shoes, had known my third great aunt sixteen times removed and the dude had decided to accompany her in these trying times or something. Or maybe they were just two sick fucks out to leech joy from other people's misery. It was anybody's guess.
I remember watching as they picked the pew right behind my family's, but I had to turn away before they thought I was some major creeper. There was silence behind me for a long time, minus a few throat clearings, and I was starting to think that I would have to find some other random funeral-goers to entertain me when they started to talk.
"This is sad," the girl said.
"No it's not. It's a celebration of life," the boy said.
"That's so clichéd," the girl said.
"You didn't have to come," the boy said.
They didn't cause any kind of trouble throughout the service, and in fact, the only time either one of them spoke at all was right before a couple people stood up to recall memories about my seventh great aunt ten times removed. "This is my favorite part," the boy whispered. And that was it.
I had almost completely forgotten about them until the gathering afterwards, where everyone crowded in the church's dining hall to eat pie and talk about Dorothy's life gone by. When my dad wasn't looking, I snuck outside for a smoke break, only to find that the quiet couple had beat me outside.
I don't think they saw me, since they were standing a way's away, but I was still close enough that I caught some of their words.
"…done something like this before," the girl was saying. I noticed that she was turned away from the dude, who was smoking a cigarette.
"Well, Swan, there's a first time for everything."
"I don't know if this is something I could get used to. It's…strange. I feel like an intruder."
"I told you, it's not intruding. You're learning about another human being, another life. It's amazing. It's beautiful. It's—"
"Weird. It's just weird."
"So you didn't enjoy yourself?"
"I never said that."
But that's when the guy noticed me, so I just gave them a friendly wave and busied myself with my lighter.
Funeral crashers. I didn't think such people existed, but there you have it.
"Can we please go?" the girl asked.
The boy just chuckled. "We took your truck. You could have left whenever you wanted."
So they left. Just like that. When I told my father about seeing them, he repeated his earlier statement about it being wrong and sick and completely disrespectful to the dead and their families. But I don't know about that. I saw them each leave a fresh red apple on the floor by all the bouquets of flowers surrounding Dorothy's casket, and I don't know what it means, but that's respectful, right? Unless there were worms inside. But I doubt there were worms.
* * *
II. Jessica Stanley
Well of course there were rumors. That should go without saying.
After all, when you live in a town with a population of about 6.2, even the tiniest shift in the delicate social system is analyzed, dissected, speculated upon, and basically blown out of proportion until the next boring piece of gossip hits the streets and the process starts all over again. And it's not that I like to brag, but I've got the ears for this stuff, if you know what I mean. Few people in Forks High are better analyzers, dissectors, or speculators than me. I don't just know all the gossip—I create it.
Please. I don't subscribe to the same kind of shit as In Touch or Star, which thrive on pseudo-facts and sensationalism. I like my gossip with a touch of The Wall Street Journal mommy-blogger style: all of the real facts amidst a cocktail of amateur opinions. I find the facts, release what I know to be true, and then I sit back and watch it all happen. I don't look at is as a sin, nor is it some kind of crime, so let's get that on the table right now.
Anyway, the point is, before Bella Swan ever stepped foot in Forks High School, there were rumors. If you ask me, our growing obsession with the soon-to-be freshly minted Spartan had more to do with utter boredom than actual interest. After all, the town could only talk about Mrs. Carroway's new hip replacement for so long before it was time to latch on to the next piece of whatever to keep us small talking with our cashiers and hairdressers.
I gladly shared what I knew, which wasn't much. New Girl Swan was from Phoenix, Arizona, where she lived with her mom. She was coming to live with Chief Swan after her mom got hitched to a minor league ballplayer on some no-name team. She had actually lived in Forks until sometime after her sixth birthday, when her parents divorced, and was apparently close with a family from La Push, the Blacks. There were some uncertainties in the equation: she may or may not play the piano, she might be involved in ballet. I didn't pass that shit on, because it was most likely that—shit.
The initial rumors aren't much to speak of. They were dull, obvious, the product of too much time shirking off work in study hall:
Bella was kicked out of her old high school in Phoenix for getting pregnant. No, she was driven out by bullies who disapproved of her practicing Buddhism. Wrong again: she was pregnant and she had the kid. Or she had an abortion. Or maybe she was actually a surrogate for a politician's barren wife. Well, her mom was totally a cougar. Yeah, and her new stepdad was abusive. Chief Swan had won her back in a court hearing.
What the fuck ever.
I'm pretty sure I was the only person in school who didn't need to wait for her to show up on her first day to entirely write the rumors off.
And before someone starts jumbling the truth, I never set out to hate the new girl. And to be honest, hate is a pretty strong word for it, anyway. I don't like her, but it's not like she deigned to step on the welcome mat after we rolled it out to her, so what the fuck do I care? The only person in this town she gives a damn about is Edward Cullen, but I am getting way, way ahead of myself.
It didn't take long for us to figure out that she was a loner. There's really no other way of putting it.
Sure, the guys were a little overeager and puppy-like in their determination to help her around school, and sure, I may have tried to pass myself off as the Queen of the Fucking Universe when everyone knows that Forks High has no royalty, but we're all bound to do stupid things when something actually interesting happens in this corner of the country, right? Obviously. Anyway, we were all attempting to be her friend, but she wasn't having any of it. I can't say if this makes her a sociopath, a hermit, a snob, or whatever, because like I've said a million times, I don't make assumptions based on fragments of the truth.
But chew on this fragment, if you will:
It was Friday of Bella's first week at school, and after she had generally kept to herself for most of the week, we were all beginning to understand that maybe she would just rather stick to her books and a small corner of the cafeteria than talk to us. She didn't like to sit with anybody at lunch, even though Mike continued to make an ass of himself by attempting to sit with her at her corner table while she tackled her latest literary endeavor, and even he was beginning to write her off as just another big piece of loner nothingness until we witnessed the exchange between Bella and Edward Cullen in the halls after school.
True facts, here. Edward was at his locker, digging through his hoodie pockets when Bella sidled up to him and began rummaging around inside her book bag. The halls were mostly empty at this point, but I was not the only witness to this event. After discussing this later with my friends, we all agreed that we had thought Bella was going to whip out a pack of cigarettes to offer him one, because no way could she have missed his constant smoke breaks. And as much as the thought of quiet little Bella Swan smoking underage surprised us, the actual truth threw us off even more.
A bunch of grapes. Green ones.
Bella Swan reached into her bookbag and pulled out a bunch of green grapes, which she proffered to Edward Cullen.
He stared at the grapes for a long time before finally digging his hands out of the front pocket of his hoodie and taking them from her. He said something in his soft, even voice ("Touché, Swan," seems to be the general consensus), then gestured towards the nearest exit, which is when I noticed the cigarette and navy blue lighter he held in his free hand.
But Bella just shook her head. "That's all I wanted," she said, then turned and left.
Later, I tried to catch up to her and ask her about it, but she had nothing helpful to say.
"He's no more a talker than I am, Jessica," she told me, and that appeared to be the end of the matter.
Like I said, I don't create the rumors, but if I were the type who did, I don't even know what I'd say about this.
Grapes. I mean, really. Grapes. For Edward Cullen.
What the hell?
* * *
III. Jasper Hale
Of course there isn't anything wrong with him.
The people at school, they'll tell you all sorts of things that aren't true. Edward talks all the time at home, or at least a lot more than he does at school. Yes, I'm getting defensive, but I just wish people would lay off—can't they see that my foster brother's just jaded by high school? Jaded. That's it. He hasn't gone all emo over his mother's losing fight with cancer, which, by the way, was years ago, and he doesn't have daddy issues, for the love of God, Carlisle is more of a father than any of us could ever ask for, and—
Well. Yes, he is my brother in a way, so of course I've noticed "oddities," but it's all going to sound like a case of the pot calling the kettle black, as you understand this is coming from the guy who collects Civil War artifacts and figurines. But Edward likes…well, he likes going to funerals.
Hear me out on this one.
I'm not saying that I fully understand it, but if nothing else, I get it. See, I'm good at that—getting people. I'm just observant is all, taking in ticks of the face and hands, reading the eyes, stuff like that. So even though I'm not really the type to crash random funerals, I know Edward, and I can see why he is. Some call it weird, but it's really not. Not for Edward, at least. Yes, if my sister Rosalie started going to strangers' funerals like Edward does, that would be weird, because it just doesn't fit with who she is. But Edward…it just fits.
Look, the only reason this is important anyway is because it has to do with her.
Bella Swan: independent, smart, neurotic, and just as jaded as my brother.
The two people who are the school's resident enigmas. It makes sense in a backwards sort of way. But even I have to admit that it didn't make sense at first, mostly because I'm certain that Edward has a hint of crazy mixed in with all his intelligence.
"You can't be serious," I said—stated, really, because I was convinced of the truth in my words—as I watched Edward snake a hideous gold and black tie around his neck.
"Totally serious, Jazz," was his swift reply. His reflection in the mirror cast me the smallest of smirks, the kind that probably would have melted hearts across America if he ever unleashed it upon the general public.
I could only shake my head in amazement. "That is not how you go about wooing the ladies. Also, that tie is ridiculous."
"Shut your damn mouth about my tie. I am not interested in wooing Isabella Swan; just in getting to know her better."
"You've never wanted to get to know anyone better before."
"What makes you think that?"
"Don't press me, Jasper," he told me with a sigh as he turned around. I could easily tell that he was frustrated with my prying, just as I could see how bright and awake he seemed, like he had stop breathing regular old tainted air and was filling his lungs with pure, clean oxygen. As he sidestepped me to get out of the room, he said with a tinge of sarcasm, "Now if you don't mind, I'm off to accompany Swan to"—he consulted the wrinkled newspaper clipping from a pocket of his black dress pants—"Dorothy Melvin's funeral."
You see, Edward likes funerals because he likes real-life stories. He reads long-winded biographies and obituaries and watches features on TV. I get people because I'm so attuned to their emotions, but Edward…Edward understands them, almost like he's reading their minds. He could observe people all day long. People watching is his favorite spectator sport. And I think it was two years ago that he discovered that attending strangers' funerals (always respectfully, of course) was one of the best ways to learn the stories accumulated in a lifetime. It's always from others' points-of-view, these funereal stories, but Edward says the detached, disjointed recollections weave a story in ways that the dearly departed never could have. Personal narratives are too biased, he claims, too close to the truth to really capture anything at all. Not seeing the forest for the trees and all that.
Whatever floats his boat, I suppose.
But inviting a girl to go to some random old lady's funeral? I'd be lying if I didn't say that seemed a little bit out there.
But then again, what do I know of Bella Swan? A funeral might be her idea of the ideal first date.
* * *
IV. Lauren Mallory
First things first. I only paid attention, because, like, Tyler paid attention. For reasons unbeknownst even to myself, that idiot Crowley has somehow like, managed to give me (oh God) butterflies on occasion. So I guess you could say that it's in my best interests to catalogue his likes and dislikes. And unfortunately, Bella Swan seems to top his list of likes.
Whatever. This is all entirely beside the point.
I mean, if you ask me, there's, like, no chemistry between the two of them. Bella and Edward, I mean, not Bella and Crowley, though I can guarantee that any relationship between the two of them would be like just as boring.
Yes, I know the grapes story. Who the fuck doesn't know that old, tired story by now? But, like, as intrigued as everyone else has been, I've tried my best to ignore them. Until, of course, Crowley started absolutely angsting about the whole thing like the little bitch he is.
I remember it specifically. One day at lunch he was all, "Look at them, whine whine whine, bitch bitch bitch," and honestly, I had more of an urge to punch, like, myself in the face for liking such a fucking asshole.
Anyway, I totally managed to work up a good eye roll as I was like, "What about them?"
Crowley: "They're…texting or something."
Me: "Are you like fucking retarded, Crowley? People text, dumbass. It's what they do."
Crowley: "But they're on two opposite sides of the room, texting back and forth, like they couldn't just get up and sit next to each other. It's so stupid."
Me: "Please, Edward's got to be out on his hourly smoke break by now, why would he be sitting here texting Bella?"
Crowley: "Look, Lauren."
Me: "What the fuck?"
Crowley: "Told you. Their reactions line up and everything. Did you see that? She put her phone down and two seconds later he started laughing. Laughing. Why isn't she ever funny around me?"
Me: "Green really isn't your color, hun."
Jessica: "Nor is it yours, Lauren."
Me: "I don't know what you're talking about."
Crowley: "I don't get it. Why don't they just go talk to each other?"
Me: "Fuck. I think I do get it. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go, like…I don't even know. Get the hell away from you and your whiny ass, Crowley."
It's not as though I'm entirely blind as to why everyone is like, so obsessed with Bella, all right? She's new, which makes her some sort of sensation, freak show style. But, like, what Jessica will never admit is that Bella is actually kind of pretty. I'm woman enough to acknowledge competition when I see it, and as much as it makes me, like, want to stab my eyes out with darts to even think it, Bella is competition. And boring as she seems, she thwarts me time and time again by keeping up her, like…aloof and oh-so-mysterious appearance.
And the thing is, it's not like she ever set out to be this spectacle. She does what she does because that's like, who she is. Why the fuck she would want to be an antisocial loser is beyond me, but whatever, to each her own. And since Edward is just as blah and weird as she is, I can sort of get why they would be the type of people to chat through texting even though they could just as easily sit together.
Oh, who the fuck am I kidding? They have more chemistry than—
No. Lauren Mallory doesn't do puns. My point is made.
* * *
V. Kay Yardley
Anything strange going on? Unexpected visitors? Wild parties? Drug dealers? Straight up debauchery? No, no, no, none of that.
Except…well, except for that one time. Yes, I remember now. Kids and their loud music. No, no, only the one. Well, two if you count the chief's daughter. Wouldn't have even known she'd moved in next door with Charles if he hadn't said anything to me. It's true my head can't keep in knowledge like it used to; memories leaking out my ears and nose and bellybutton all the time. S'not the worst of my leaky pipes, my brain, but, well, no one wants to hear about an old lady's plumbing problems.
I've forgotten myself already. The loud music. Yes.
It was so strange. Not like any of the fifty cents stuff, not even hip hop. Do the kids today still listen to hip hop? My son liked all of that kind of music, all beat and no soul if you ask me, or even if you didn't ask me, as my son discovered on several occasions. But Dr. Cullen's son—the moody one with hair like a penny, not the pretty blond one or the big one (such a nice boy)—doesn't seem to like hip hop. He likes, well…I don't know what it was. But it sounded old, tame, tinny almost, like a dated recording. And loud. It was very loud.
I remember that I was lying in bed, listening to the ball game on the radio before drifting off, such a nice January night, warmer than it had been all winter, and suddenly there it was: the music.
Well, I crawled out of bed, put my slippers on, wrapped my robe around me, and walked over to the window, which I slowly unlocked and opened just a crack, because it was still chilly, of course. And that music, let me tell you, it hit me full blast.
No, I don't know what it was saying. I caught a few words here and there, enough to know that it wasn't the devil incarnate (it was all so very fast, though), but most of the words sounded foreign.
Bromine. I remember the man singing something about bromine. And potassium, of course potassium, because my doctor is always warning me to make sure I'm not taking in too much, don't want hyper-whatsit, and what do you know, here is a song about potassium. Or something like that.
But anyway, I looked to see where all the music was coming from, and there was that Cullen boy, standing in Chief Swan's driveway in front of a shiny car, holding a boombox over his head. And I tell you, I was two seconds from telling him to please shush, because I could hardly hear Dave Johnson over all his pointless racket, but then I saw the chief's daughter with her head sticking out of her window despite the fact that I could see her breath all frosty-like in the air.
And the girl was just laughing. Laughing and laughing and laughing, and Cullen had cracked a smile which, bless his soul, rivaled the glow of the moon, I mean it, no hyperbole on my part. The song ended and it started again with jaunty piano chords, and I still didn't get it the second time around, but I'll tell you what I did get. For whatever reason, this song made the two kids happy. The Swan girl, whom Charlie had said was having a hard time making friends at school, and the Cullen boy, someone who had never been the most social or outgoing or anything, really.
I tell you, I couldn't help but smile as I closed my window and headed back to bed. I could still hear the music as I pulled the covers back over my body, and I had to admit that it was a silly way to court a girl, but what does an old woman like me know? I could have been annoyed, and I could have called Chief Swan even though I knew he was on duty somewhere at the time, working the late shift as he tends to do, the poor man. But I couldn't get the sight of the two ridiculous kids laughing out of my head. Oh, what did it matter? I wasn't going to tattle. The Wizards were losing anyway.
* * *
VI. Angela Weber
Ask anyone and they'll tell you that it all started with grapes. What they don't know is that, in actuality, it all started with a pineapple. I would know; I was there. Sort of.
It was Bella Swan's third day at school—Wednesday. I had been able to tell from the start that she simply didn't want to be bothered by anyone here in Forks. She wanted to go to class, do her work, and go home in peace. She was content to be by herself, and I respected that. She had sat at our lunch table the first day when Jessica mostly chewed her ear off about this and that. I had asked her a few polite questions, pointed her in the right direction for her next class, and that was it. And that's why it was so baffling that it was me of all people that she approached with the pineapple.
"What am I supposed to make of this?" she asked, her normally pale skin flushed around the apples of her cheeks.
"What? Um…a pineapple?" I held my car key poised in front of the lock, both distracted and startled. I could see Bella's truck, sweet potato orange, several rows over in the parking lot. I added awkwardly, "Hi, Bella."
"Hi, Angela," she returned, just as awkwardly. "Yes, a pineapple. Is that some sort of secret code? Some sort of initiation ritual?"
I cleared my throat. "Uh, I'm sorry, I really have no idea what you're talking about…"
"So pineapples aren't significant of anything?" she demanded, sounding frustrated. I'd never seen the new girl this worked up about anything before. She always seemed to breeze through the halls so calmly, dodging the running mouths of Mike and Eric, walking into class with a quiet certainty that said, new town or not, she had everything under control. But here she was, hair wind-whipped, brown eyes wide with confusion, holding a pineapple between us, shaking her head for loss of words.
Folding my hand over my keys and leaning my hip against the car door, I could only shrug. "Not that I know of. Where did you, um, find that?"
"I didn't find it," she explained, shifting weight from one foot to the other. "Someone gave it to me."
"Well, see, that's the thing. I don't really know."
"What did they look like?"
I could hardly believe my ears as she described the boy who had so casually handed her the fruit on her way out of the building. Sloppy copper red hair, sharp and intelligent green eyes, pointy nose, nondescript gray hoodie and jeans. "That," I said, "must have been Edward Cullen."
Bella's lips curved into a small frown. "And who's he?"
So I explained.
"And…does he often make a habit of giving girls pineapples?"
I shook my head. "No, Bella," I told her. "He doesn't make a habit of giving anything to anybody. He rarely even talks with anyone outside of his foster family. And even then…well, you have to have noticed that he doesn't even sit with them at lunch. He sits alone, like…um, like you."
She let her breath out through her nostrils in a huff, clasped the yellow fruit in both hands, and then looked at me. And for the first time her face was an open book, confused and frightened and a little excited. Then we both laughed and she said the words I'd been thinking all along: "This makes absolutely no fucking sense."
* * *
VII. Emmet Cullen
It absolutely was a stupid idea. Why else do you think I jumped on board so eagerly?
"I thought of it just today," Edward told me as he rummaged around all the junk in the garage. "Tom Lehrer," he explained, "is an absolute genius. Where the hell did Carlisle put that old stereo?"
I rolled my eyes while grinning from ear to ear. "And I'm sure Tom Lehrer was fending off the women with sticks constantly." I leaned against the drywall of the garage and watched Edward with my arms crossed over my chest.
"Ah, but you're forgetting," Edward warned as he clambered up on the workbench to better reach a high shelf stacked with cardboard boxes. "I don't want to have to fend off women with sticks—"
"You want to screw them with yours!"
"—I just want to intrigue one with my antics. And could you please not say stuff like that? It makes you sound like a stereotypical perverted meathead, which, despite your best efforts, you are not."
A huge grin split across my face as I walked over to take the box Edward had selected from his hands, and set it down on the wooden workbench. "All part of my charm," I quipped.
"No, seriously Emmett," he carried on. "You're the smartest guy in school, everyone knows it. The ladies are all in awe of your sheer brain power, the teachers are jealous, I'm jealous—"
So maybe that last part didn't happen. But c'mon, we all know he was thinking it.
Anyway, I then asked, dubious, "And you think that playing 'The Elements' á la John Cusack is going to make her fall head over heels for you?" It wasn't that I wanted to crush his dreams or anything like that, but receiving a bunch of grapes from a girl was not necessarily a sign of returned interest. Or maybe, as I would discover later, it was. It's kind of hard to tell with these two.
He sighed. "In short, yes." He opened the dust-laden box and pulled out a beat up black stereo. "Perfect," he breathed.
"Tom Lehrer still isn't Peter Gabriel," I mimicked in the same awed voice.
"I'm not trying to be John Cusack," he told me, hefting the old piece of equipment on his shoulder and checking in his pocket for the tape with the music, probably. "I'm just trying to be Edward Cullen."
I watched him stride out the open garage door and into the night. "Edward!" I yelled after him. "What if Chief Swan's home?"
"What if?" he called back as he climbed into his car.
I laughed loudly. "Dude, you are so getting shot!"
I fucking love my idiot brother.
* * *
VIII. Adam Getz
The kids were strange. Or maybe a better word is "different." The kids were different.
I've known Cullen for a few years now. I swear I'm a decent law-abiding man, but young Edward has one of the finest fake IDs I've ever seen, and a man's gotta be able to afford food for his family, so I've been known to sell the kid cigarettes on occasion. 'Sides, I prefer that he gets them from me, and not just because I'm a greedy bastard, but also because you never know where else kids these days might turn for a smoke, right? There's a whole underground world out there, and I'd hate to see Cullen, who seems like a good kid, get wrapped up in some kind of drug ring. So I give him the cigarettes and he keeps out of trouble. Or so I like to think. Let's not ruin an old man's ability to sleep at night, shall we?
As for the chief's daughter, the first time I saw her, she came into my store to buy a bundle of grapes. I didn't question, of course, because trust me, I've seen weirder buys. I could tell you my top five most bizarre purchase combos, but that would probably violate some kind of sacred vendor/customer confidentiality clause, and like I said, I'm a decent law-abiding man, so that's gonna stay all hush-hush. But anyway, I sold the chief's daughter her grapes and didn't see her for another few weeks, which is when she came in with the youngest Cullen boy.
Cullen bought one orange. Swan bought one orange, as well.
"No grapes or apples this time?" I joked as I rang them up.
"Don't be silly, Getz," Cullen told me. "Apples are for offering condolences."
Swan giggled. "And grapes are for stepping up to challenges."
Like I said: different. But if there's one thing I've learned from all my years in the business, it's how to play along with the customers, no matter the game. I joked, "Yeah? And what are pineapples for?"
They both looked at each other, and for a moment I felt as though I was trespassing upon something deeply personal between them by simply standing behind the counter. "Pineapples," Swan answered, still looking at Cullen, "are for throwing down the gauntlet, of course."
I coughed. "And, uh, these oranges? They're for…"
They both picked up their purchases and traded fruits right before my eyes. "Oranges are a mutual promise—" Cullen started, but Swan interrupted him.
Cullen tried again. "Oranges are for getting to know people better, no weird antics included."
"Some weird antics," Swan corrected.
Cullen amended, "Some weird antics." He looked at me again, and I probably looked incredibly confused, because he laughed a little as he said, "See you later, Getz."
I remember a time where smiles from Edward Cullen had to be earned. But around the chief's daughter, he seemed to be doling out smiles at little to no price.
Anyway, they were just about to leave when Cullen stopped right in front of the door and held Swan's face in his free hand. I had to look away at this point, because who the hell wants to watch some teenagers get their mack daddy on in his place of business? But unfortunately, I wasn't entirely able to tune them out.
"Ah-ah, Cullen," the girl said. "I told you, smoke breath is revolting."
"But then how do I kiss you?"
"I guess you don't. Not until you quit. It's a gross habit that—umf! Hey! I said—"
"What? No, that was…well, it tasted disgusting, that's what. You haven't quit."
"I have too."
"Five seconds ago."
"Doesn't cou—oh! Mmm…"
I almost had to pelt some grapefruits (for warding off hormones) at the damn kids.
* * *
IX. Coach Clapp
Oh-ho-ho, you are asking the wrong person. I make a point to stay out of the students' drama, because frankly, I just don't wanna know, you know? What they do outside of the gym is of absolutely no concern to me, I can tell you that.
In fact, the only time I talked to any one of those two outside of class was a little while back, right after Lindy Goff returned from her Hawaii vacation. I only remember this because she must've brought back an entire goddamn pineapple farm with her, because she was passing them out in the teachers' lounge as her "gifts" to everyone. Me, I would have been happy with a dancing hula girl for my dashboard, but there you have it.
So anyway, I was carrying a stupid pineapple and walking through the halls on mandatory monitoring duty, which is total bullshit if you ask me, just saying, and that's when I ran into Cullen. He showed me his pass from someone for something or another, and I decided to dump the pineapple on the kid.
"Uh, thanks Coach," he told me, "but I really don't need…"
Well hell, neither did I. I mumbled this and that, clapped the kid on the shoulders, then hurried on my way. Even as the distance between us grew larger, I heard him grumble, "What the fuck am I going to do with a pineapple?"
Now, I don't know what went down after that, I don't know anything at all, as is my preference, but just the other day he actually approached me in the halls and shook my hand quite vigorously.
"Thank you, Coach Clapp," he told me, his eyes bright. "Thank you so much."
Naturally, I was stumped. "For what?" I asked him.
He just laughed. "The pineapple, of course!"
I'm telling you now, I've never seen the kid so damn happy in my life. And over what, exactly? A stupid unwanted fruit?
He must have made one hell of a pineapple upside down cake.