A/N Anything Twilightish belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
Sometimes, I close my eyes when I run.
None of that walking into traffic without looking crap, just when I'm plodding along a sidewalk minding my own business.
When I can't see the street signs or the subtle changes from one over-manicured lawn to the next, there is nothing to mark my pace. Timeless, effortless running leaves me feeling…strangely powerful, or super-charged, like I am moving faster than the human eye could see. At that speed, I can outrun anything. Everything. All the things that startle me awake at dawn's first light with my heart pounding and my hairline damp. The circumstances my mind races over until I finally remember that they are immovable and permanent; impervious to the solutions my sleep-fogged brain can devise. All those waking terrors – I leave them all at the starting line.
Running isn't just my own personal escape portal, though. It sounds melodramatic to call it my salvation, because I know better than to pin all my hopes on something as fickle as my body – and besides, what I'd like to be saved from has already happened.
Okay, so not my salvation. But, still. I figure, I'm almost eighteen. Teens all around me are ripping their pictures off the walls, taking one last look at the childhood home that nurtured and protected them, and heading resolutely in the opposite direction. I want that too. Plus, let's be honest, my Dad's house stopped giving me the warm and fuzzies years ago. Three and a half years ago, if we're gonna get technical.
I always made sure my report card read a nice, monotonous AAAAAA, because Mom had always said I should, and now attending her alma mater seemed like the proper homage. I knew that just impressing my teachers wasn't enough, though. The other seniors I was up against to get into such a prestigious school were annoyingly well-rounded over-achievers. Each of them was probably halfway to owning their own startup company by now. I could never claim to be anywhere near that successful… but I could run.
In reality, I only run a 6:42 mile, and the tethered dogs in the yards near Forks High have made it quite cacophonously clear that I don't pass their lawns nearly fast enough. Every damn day.
Maybe I should carry biscuits in my pocket or something.
Regardless, I knew my mile time was abysmal, but it didn't matter. I was a sprinter, a dasher. Anything under five hundred meters and I was golden. No one kicked up dirt like me.
As the Forks High flagpole came into view, I neared my least favorite part of being on track. If running was a reprieve from my own personal demons, then slowing to a halt was like holding out my knuckles, knowing they were about to be smacked with a ruler. The anticipation alone was painful.
I ran up the service road towards the gym, where we met after long runs, half-blinded by thoughts of life off the track.
There was so much to consider, and so much to get done. I heaved a sigh as I ran through the open doors of the Forks High Gym, allowing the pounding of my feet to gradually slow until I reached a stop in the center of the basketball court. My future, both in the short- and long-term sense, was something I worried about a great deal. Now that my feet were no longer moving I could practically feel the anxiety nestling in the crevices of my brain to be brought to the surface with any passing thought. I tried to push it aside, though, and looked towards the high-arched entrance to the men's locker room.
There he was. I took another deep breath and the air felt cleaner, more rejuvenating. The sight of the boy (or man, almost) standing there instantly soothed the tension beginning to clench my shoulders. Tall and confident, he was leaning in the doorway like a cowboy in an old time shoot-em-up movie leans against the saloon entrance: one leg bent against the door jamb and a hand sweeping through his sweaty, tangled hair.
I grinned, despite myself. If I couldn't run forever, at least I could come back to this. To him. To Jasper Cullen.
I trotted towards him and called, "Hey Jas. Waiting long?"
He rolled his eyes, but grinned back. As an endurance runner, he had undoubtedly finished several minutes before I had even gotten a returning glimpse of the high school. His breathing wasn't even labored anymore.
"I grabbed our drinks." He tossed me one of the Powerades we'd stashed in our lockers before training.
I nodded, twisted it open and let it run thankfully down my throat. We headed to the showers in silence. Once there, I sat on a bench in the row of lockers that held mine, letting myself cool down a bit more before stripping and entering the communal showers.
Tyler was already rinsing out his hair and Jasper was just starting his shower, testing the water temperature with an outstretched hand. I kept my eyes above shoulder level to avoid any awkwardness. It's not like I wanted to look down but there was always that curiosity.
His? Mine? Comparisons? You know.
We tended not to talk in the showers, so when I finished my shower first I headed back to my locker. I pulled out a pair of dark denim jeans and the light grey t-shirt I had worn to school that morning. Sitting on the bench, I finished lacing up my shoes and zipped up my bag. Without any mindless tasks at hand, I simply stayed on the bench, waiting for Jasper to finish up as well. Of course, as I waited, my mind wandered.
Thoughts bubbled up before me, unnoticed until they were demanding my attention, as if rising up from a murky swamp. The pressure of college apps. The questionable tenacity of my familial bond to my father. The desire to desert this dreary town where I had tried and failed to be happy, and the guilt of leaving Ali behind.
A hand clasped my shoulder from behind and I jumped under it, startled.
"Hey, man. Relax."
Jasper stepped over the bench, still wrapped in a towel from the waist down, but left his hand on my shoulder. He pushed me back casually to study my face. I'm not sure what he saw there – probably the typical me, tight-lipped and furrow-browed. Whatever he saw, his eyes softened and he gave me a reassuring smile.
And then, he said the one sentence that had started this beautiful friendship in the first place, more than three years ago.
"You know, Edward, you don't have to go home if you don't want to."
Alright, there's the beginning. I'm new to writing fics, so let me know what you guys think.