Disclaimer: The Twilight Saga and its inclusive materials are copyright to Stephenie Meyer.
Warning: There will be cursing. Lots of it. Yet, I'm sure the marine corp recruit training has way, way more cursing going on in there than what you'll see here.
Chapter 1: She's Late
United States Marine Corps Recruit Training – San Diego, California
Tuesday, the 29th of September
Basic Training: 1200 - 1730
"Ooh man..." Eric whined, his feeble arms trembling as he tried to resist his weight. Failing miserably, he fell in the mud, squeaked a girlish sound and didn't even attempt to get up. Our green blotched uniforms were dripping wet from the intense rain. I kept counting push-ups and ignored him. I'd gotten enough of yelling at yesterday; even an atomic bomb next to my ear wouldn't have made me flinch any more. We were blessed with a weather that was absolutely awful. And by awful, I mean fantastic.
For the Drill Instructor, naturally.
"I do not need flabby girlies around here, did you hear me?" he stood in front of Eric who couldn't take a hint. My clothes were so wet that I wouldn't have felt the difference even if I'd gone swimming with them.
"DID. YOU. HEAR. ME?" he bellowed through torrent of rain.
"SIR, YES, SIR," we bawled together, trying to stay under the radar as much as possible. It was definitely not wise to be remembered by the DI. Being remembered meant "special attention." Trust me, that is certainly not a good thing.
"And you, what are you waiting for? An extra hundred push-ups just 'cause you're afraid of a little insignificant muscle pain!"
Eric breathed in to his words.
"STAND UP when I'm talking to you!"
Eric stood up and had to run for a half an hour before having to do the push-ups anyway. What a girl.
I enjoyed the feel of burn in my muscles. We'd arrived last week, and were immediately divided into training battalions, three of which formed a regiment. The process of getting here consisted of unbelievable amount of paperwork, training, and constantly hurrying somewhere only to end up waiting. The first week had passed in a whirling blur, a time when I'd lost my hair, civilian clothes, passed health examinations, filled even more paperwork and attempted to get used to this mind-fuck I'd willingly agreed to. After a few days, I understood that I was no longer Edward Masen - the half-Englishman with American citizenship - but a Social Security Number.
I would remain 537 - 09 - 3141.
I'd written the number for so many times that it had almost carved itself into a mantra in my head. It was an odd yet efficient way to make all of us feel insignificant and anonymous, though that was probably an advantageous side-effect of the real idea of SSN. The battalion I was in consisted of about 450 people, but I hadn't rubbed elbows with the few girls in it. I couldn't have been happier; for both their sake and mine, it was best if I didn't have to. I didn't think they'd carry through with this tough experience - they should leave army for men, for those who could actually do something in here.
The DI kept victimising those who were either too weak to continue or did something wrong. I was lucky today, he didn't single me out for some inconsequential reason like an untied shoe lace or forbidden belongings falling out of my pocket. The thing was, every single belonging was forbidden, nothing was personal in a boot camp.
We obeyed, about half of us had just gotten used to complying, the other half was simply terrified with what they'd agreed with when they came here. Too bad. They should've actually read something about marine boot camps before coming here.
"Twenty laps around the camp, GO!"
Running in the front with Emmett and Jasper, we were finally far enough from the DI to utter a few words to each other without getting yelled at.
"So... did you see her?" Emmett grinned and straightened his wet clothes before looking at us.
"Who?" both Jasper and I questioned, dodging a mud puddle as we jogged. Jasper and I had been actively doing sports in university. Twenty laps was easy. We'd already probably gained weight while being here, but since I'd always had problems with being slightly underweight, I had no problems with it.
"Her," Emmett pointed towards another battalion where a blonde woman was doing sit-ups with the other recruits.
"Is that... Rosalie?" I failed to hide my grimace. "That vain girl you kept chasing after in the second year of uni? Drooling in your classes, hoping to see her in parties, lingering–"
"Point made!" Emmett snarled, but I could tell he wasn't really angry at me. "I think I might have a chance with her now though."
I let out a sudden breath not to burst into laughter. "You're not serious, are you?"
"Why not?" Emmett raised an eyebrow.
"Need I remind you there are hundreds of men around here who are not blind? Even though I reckon Rosalie is vain and unnecessarily orgillous, there's no way to deny you're going to have one hell of a competition."
"Orgillous? I don't even know what that means."
"Haughty, proud, self-centred, egoistic–"
"All right, all right, enough of that," he waved with his hands so that I would stop. "I can't wait until you get a crush, I'm going to bug you about her for an eternity."
"Not going to happen."
"One day, I swear."
We got closer to the entrance of our building, where a hoary maroon car was placed, three figures talking next to it. The doors of the house opened and we immediately stopped our jog, frozen in our place. A man in dark green uniform stepped out and what we did next was so automatic that I don't even remember raising my hand to the cap.
We immediately rendered honour to him.
What was the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps doing here? Mr. Charles J. Swan was the incumbent Sergeant Major, but he wasn't supposed to deal with something as second-rate as a boot camp.
He saluted modestly to our honouring and continued his pace towards the three people. All the recruited had stopped their current doings just to honour him, frozen at the place they were in.
"Sergeant Major Swan," an angelic girl voice uttered nervously, but her voice didn't waver. It was the first time for me to turn my attention toward the people that were standing there. My eyes found a small fragile girl, her mahogany wet hair clinging on to her face and her small frame was... beautiful, there was no other word for it. She must've been a visitor.
"Bella," he reciprocated, not showing any emotion in his face. "There's a rule about personal belongings in this camp, I'm sure you of all people should know that."
The girl just nodded and hugged her friends, whispering something to the brown haired girl she had with her. They drove off with the same car, rudely not saying a single word to the Sergeant Major.
"You're a week too late."
The girl had fire in her dark eyes as she stepped one footstep closer to the man. "And who's fault do you think that is?"
There was an awkward moment between them before Sergeant Major stuttered. "You... you shouldn't have came here."
"I do not agree," the girl whispered, almost too silently for us to hear. Jasper fidgeted in his place oddly, and even though I couldn't understand much about their conversation, it was clear that the girl and Sergeant Major knew each other. It was also clear that their relationship with each other wasn't the warmest.
"I made everything I could to avoid seeing you, do you understand that?"
"Of course, I wouldn't expect you to treat me any differently," she answered calmly, but bitterness was clear in her voice. "It will be like I'm not even here, and you don't care anyway, so why should I?"
Sergeant Major was unresponsive for a brief moment, which made the girl nod her head and start walking towards the building. "And don't even think of telling me you can't accept me because I'm one day too late, because that will lead to questions of why I was late, and you don't want that to happen, do you?"
He was frozen in his place. "Did you finally do it?"
"No, we will finish it next Sunday," she uttered quietly, but her eyes showed the same 'why do you care' emotion.
The girl rolled her eyes, but started shivering from cold. "Yes, and don't tell me you haven't noticed. He breezed through ASVAB just as successfully as I did, so you can't throw him out without a cause."
They stared at each other before both of their eyes turned towards us. We'd been stiff in a saluting position the whole time, showing no emotion on our faces. Jasper, however, ignored the unwritten rule always to honour people with that much higher rank. Hell, we didn't even have a rank yet!
"Jasper," Emmett hissed under his breath, "what the hell are you doing?"
He neglected our silent pleas and walked over to a frowning Sergeant Major. "Sergeant," Jasper gave him the slightest nod.
"Jasper," he retorted with a mild smile of recognition. "I see you're following your father's footsteps?"
Jasper knew the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps?
"Good for you," he answered, eyeing the petite girl absent-mindedly.
Sergeant excused himself and entered the building again. The whole forecourt got a life back into itself, people starting to run again and doing sit-ups or whatever it was they'd been doing before Sergeant Major Swan made an appearance. We were supposed to start jogging again, but the encounter with the girl and Jasper was so sudden that neither Emmett nor I started running again. Jasper was boring holes into Bella's head before the girl fell into his arms.
"I thought you were dead!" Jasper told her, voice completely serious.
"No, no... just had to get out of my father's place after... you know."
"I'm so glad you're fine."
"Me too." They broke apart, Bella stumbling for words. "I mean, I'm so glad you are fine."
"I realised." Jasper chuckled. He noticed that Emmett and I hadn't moved, and motioned for us to walk over to them, checking if the DI was out of our hearing range before introducing us.
"Bella, this is Emmett," they shook hands as Emmett's eyes glazed over her approvingly. "Emmett is my friend from university, Bella was my best friend in high school."
"Hey, what do you mean 'was'? Was there a test I didn't pass or what?" Bella snickered and my eyes grew wide in wonder. This girl must've been a real hit in high school with a smile like that.
Jasper shifted himself uncomfortably, but Bella just laughed heartily. "Just kidding, Jazz, it doesn't matter."
He smiled in relief. "And this," he waved in my direction, "is Edward, my brother."
Jasper had never told me he had a friend that... enticing. We'd been to different high schools in different cities - hell, different countries even - but it still amazed me he'd failed to tell me his best friend was a girl, a beautiful girl with short hair and wide eyes. The stream of rain only made her full lips more pronounced.
"I've heard so much about you," Bella chimed with a smile. "I'm so happy to finally meet you."
And I've never even heard of you... I gave Jasper a curious glance before shaking Bella's hand. "Nice to meet you, too," I replied calmly, struggling to keep composure when an odd feeling ran through our hands. Bella didn't seem to feel it, she was still smiling comfortably and I couldn't figure out whether that was a good or a bad thing.
"So... what're you doing here?" Jasper asked, smiling curiously.
"Oh, shit, shit, shit," the girl cursed, eyes wide as she ignored the question. "Go before he recognizes you!"
Searching the forecourt with our eyes, we saw the DI jogging towards us, holding on to his hat so it wouldn't fall off with the rain. Without further thought, our feet moved faster than we thought was possible. Talking with a visitor was surely some of the forbidden rules around here and we were not in any need of punishment.
1730 – 1800: Evening chow
Training with the DI had passed without him knowing who we were and we couldn't have been any luckier. I didn't see Bella after the incident and I was quite sure it was the first and last time for me to get the sight of her. For some unknown reason, it made me feel uneasy.
"Eddie," Emmett waved his hand in front of my face, "earth to Eddie-kins... why are you murdering the food? What has it ever done to you?" He laughed and kept chewing his potato. It was a miracle they hadn't put him on a diet yet.
"For the last time, please, do not call me Eddie. You'll receive a far worse nick-name if you continue like this."
"Such as...?" he smirked, thinking I'd been bluffing.
"Your middle name."
He stopped chewing abruptly. "Point taken."
I huffed a laugh and continued eating slowly. It wasn't that the food was bad or I wasn't hungry, I just didn't feel too good.
"Seriously, Edward, you're begging for questions here, nothing takes your appetite away, ever." Jasper added in, but kept eating hungrily.
"How is it that you never told me about your best friend?" I let out, my eyes pleading for them not to understand me wrongly.
Emmett smiled knowingly, a glint in his eyes telling me he'd never let it go.
"I dunno," Jasper frowned, "it never came up and it's not my place to gossip about my friends."
"But why did she tell me 'I've heard so much about you'? What is it exactly that you told her?"
Emmett laughed heartily. "Ed's gotta cruuush... finally! I was starting to think you're heading the wrong direction, if you get what I mean."
"Em, I've known her for barely half a day..."
"That wasn't a denial? You mean you are heading towards the Y chromosome? Ew," he shifted his chair dramatically and grimaced. "I'm never going to share a room with you again."
I snorted a laugh and rolled my eyes. "Yeah, I'm a closet gay."
He arched an eyebrow. "You are?"
Emmett let out a sigh and wiped his forehead. "You scared me there."
"What can I say, I'm an intimidating person," I uttered, biting some bread. "Jazz, an answer to my question?"
"Shit, I hoped you'd forgotten about it... I guess you did come up in a conversation a few times, but it wasn't like I shared the most embarrassing childhood memories with her..." he scratched his head, "or maybe I did, but that's beside the point. I don't think she remembers them though," he ended quickly, dodging away from my hand, ready to smack the back of his head.
"Who's she visiting here anyway?" I swallowed juice down, trying to convince myself that I didn't care what the answer was.
"Visiting? She's not visiting anyone as much as I know."
"What's she doing here then? It's the second week, she can't possibly be recruited…" I trailed off, my thoughts filled with the petite fragile girl with a perfect smile. She seemed too… lady-like to be recruited here.
"Bingo. I think that's exactly why she's here."
"But where are they going to place her? All the rooms are filled."
"Except for one." Jasper smiled. "Ours still has one vacant spot."
A/N: Did you see Usain Bolt's 100 metre world record he ran only hours ago? That was unbelievably wicked! Talk about the fastest human on Earth... 09.58! I'm still amazed.