A/N: I always told myself I would never ever do a AH Twilight fic, but I guess 'never say never' plays a part in everyone's lives. Here's my first AU/AH fic. Since basically I resent AH fics (yes, even though I'm writing this one lol), I tried to keep the essence of the characters as close to the books as I possibly could. What I did is similar to how vampire gifts work in the saga, I guess. I took traits that are sometimes obvious in the books, sometimes just there, and intensified or parodied them. So if in the book, Bella took ballet lessons as a child, I made her a dancer. You'll see how it works for the rest. POVs alternate between Bella (odd chapters) and Edward (even chapters). Huge thankyou to Mizra who beta-ed the first two chapters – love you lots, hon!
I've never studied in Juilliard, and all I know about it comes from a brief read online. I'm twisting the facts here a bit – I know they hold local auditions in various areas in the country, but I had to change that in order to have something to work with here. As far as I know, this is not accurate, but I'm aware of that. This is fiction, and I'm playing with what I can.
And after this long introduction – happy reading! I hope you'll enjoy it, and please drop me some comments, because this AH stuff is all new to me and I'd like to know if I'm doing something wrong (or, hopefully, right).
Disclaimer: the Twilight characters and any recognizable quote from the saga are the eternal property of Stephenie Meyer. I mean them no harm – I'm only playing. The title is taken from a song under the same name by Julie Atherton.
If You Were Mine
If You Were Mine
Chapter One – Bella
The loud shrill of the phone drowned the softer sounds of the piano coming from my stereo. I huffed at the abrupt, unwelcome interruption, straightened up, and then hit 'stop'. It had been going on throughout the afternoon. In a moment, my mom would knock on my door again, telling me there was another call waiting for me. She seemed as surprised as I had been at all this unexpected attention I was receiving. I had never been the popular one at school. In fact, that was quite the understatement. I was practically invisible there. I didn't imagine half of those people even knew my name, until that afternoon. How come they somehow had my phone number, or even bothered to give me a call, was beyond me.
My mom said I was being ridiculous. Juilliard was a big deal. I told her that she was the one who was ridiculous. It was only an audition; I wasn't even in yet. She dismissed me with her know-it-all smile I'd grown to know too well. They were just being nice, that was all. I should just grin and bear it, instead of making a fuss, she said. I should learn to handle a little exposure now if I was planning to make a living out of it. And I knew she was probably right, on both accounts. There was no reason to feel self-conscious. But it was still strange, and awkward. I hardly said two words to some of the people who had called here today; I was surprised they went through all the trouble of finding my phone number.
As I expected, a knock came at the door just as I stretched my arms over my head. "For you again, Bella," my mom informed me, her voice muffled through the closed door.
"Coming," I mumbled, pushing my hair away from my sweaty forehead. I grabbed a towel on my way out.
The hallway was cooler than my room. I heard the quiet hum of the air conditioner. I didn't even realize Mom had turned it on. My room felt stuffy, and I knew it was because of my warm-ups. I groaned inwardly as I ran the towel over my forehead again. It was the last week of May, barely even summertime, and already the temperatures were climbing. It wasn't as hot as it was humid. I left my bedroom door open to let the cold air sip in.
Mom was still in the hallway, and there was this mischievous sparkle in her eyes now that had not been there the last time the phone had rung. She eyed me critically and shook her head in dismay. "Don't look so sulky. Something tells me that this time you might actually want to take the call," she said, smiling sneakily, before she left me alone.
My curiosity ignited in spite of myself. It couldn't be my dad, because I had already spoken to him half an hour ago. Charlie didn't live with us. He and my mom had split when I was a baby, and he lived in a tiny town called Forks up in the state of Washington. From reasons unknown to me, he had preferred it to sunny, warm Phoenix. I hated the cold and rain of Forks even more than I hated the humidity here. Since he and Renée were still on friendly terms, I went to visit him every summer. I smiled now when I thought of his call. He was really excited about my audition. I have never known anyone who went to Juilliard, he said when I had first told him about my plans, right before I'd sent my application a few months ago. Surely I haven't gotten it from his side of the family, he had joked.
Both Charlie and Renée were surprisingly supportive when it came to that whim of mine to become a prima ballerina. Okay, maybe that sounded more dramatic than it really was, but more than anything, I wanted to be a professional dancer, to perform on the biggest stages of Paris and Moscow. It all started years ago, when I was about eight and my mom sent me for ballet lessons because it worked best with her work schedule. I'd be nineteen in September, and I was dancing there still. But I hadn't even considered Juilliard before my ballet teacher brought it up. And then I couldn't stop thinking about it.
Madame Claudine was always like a second mother to me, or a favorite grandmother. Since I hadn't had any grandparents, this arrangement worked perfectly. For a random stranger, she appeared intimidating. I was terrified when my mom walked me into the studio that first day eleven years ago. Madame Claudine looked like an ice sculpture. There wasn't a hint of a smile on her stern face. Her posture was perfect, almost too perfect; not a single hair escaped the tight bun at the nape of her neck. The other girls who were dragged in by their mothers looked equally terrified, but soon we had all learned there was no reason to be scared. Her voice was soft, so much different than her appearance. When she smiled, it was as if the sun somehow managed to invade the dimly-lit studio. Madame Claudine had been my teacher, my mentor, my inspiration. She had helped me so much with my application, and then with putting together my routine for the audition. She was also the first to call here today to wish me luck. More than anything, I hoped I wouldn't let her down.
When Madame Claudine had first brought up the Juilliard idea, I hesitated to tell my mom, because I knew it probably meant money we didn't have. Mom's salary was just enough to provide for the two of us. Of course, my dad would send us money every now and again, but even as the chief at the Forks police station, he had barely had enough to provide for himself. Besides, I knew my mother was too proud to ask him for financial aid if she ever needed it. The money I'd earned from babysitting could hardly help with anything. I wasn't sure how she had expected of me to attend college at all – even the most insignificant ones cost a fortune.
Nonetheless, my mom was amazing about the whole thing. She didn't panic. She said she had some savings just for this purpose – my college fund, she called it – and that if Juilliard was what I wanted, she'd do everything in her power to help me get in. Slightly more cheered up, I realized I could probably get a scholarship if worse came to worse. She cried with me when we got the news about the audition in New York. She was taking three days off so I wouldn't go there alone. I told her time and again she didn't have to do that; I was most definitely able to fly to New York all by myself, but she wouldn't hear of it. And honestly, I was secretly pleased with her decision to come with me. She was my closest friend. I couldn't imagine going through this without her.
I was still smiling as I hurried downstairs, and picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Don't be mad. I know you didn't want any fanfare. I just wanted to say good luck."
"Jacob!" I half-gasped in surprise, softening in spite of myself.
As if he had sensed my sudden change of mood, he laughed softly. He had this husky, throaty laughter, one that got right under your skin, and made him sound older than his eighteen years of age. "Hi."
I landed cross-legged on the sofa. "Does your dad know you're calling here? I bet it's costing you a fortune."
"Fine. I'll hang up then."
"No!" I said, giggling. Loud clamor rose from the kitchen. My head snapped up at the sound. My forehead cringed in confusion. Was my mom eavesdropping again? I caught her in the act once; she didn't even have the courtesy to appear guilty. It wouldn't surprise me if she was attempting it again.
Jacob's raspy voice brought me back to the here and now. "So, are you excited yet?"
"More scared than excited, to be honest."
"Don't be silly. You'll do great."
"And you're not at all biased, now, are you?" I teased.
"Just a little bit," he laughed. "When are you off to New York?"
"Our flight is at ten tomorrow morning. We're leaving for the airport around seven."
"Good luck," he said again. "Or break a leg, like your people say."
The words sounded foreign and unusual, coming from him. It always made me laugh when he was using theatrical terms. It was so unlike the world he'd lived in, the tiny reservation of La Push near Forks. He made my world sound so glamorous in comparison. "Thanks."
"And… I love you."
"Me too," I replied hastily, blushing even though it was said over the phone. It always had that affect on me, when he told me that. It was silly, really. I had no reason to feel so awkward. Technically we'd been together for two years; I should really be passed the embarrassment by now.
I met Jacob three summers ago, while I was visiting Charlie. His dad Billy and Charlie had been best friends for years, but I had never truly noticed Billy's son until we were forced to spend time together that summer. It wasn't until the following summer when he'd suddenly grown taller, manlier somehow, and I suddenly realized what was between us was more than just friendship.
Charlie was thrilled about me and Jacob getting together. Thankfully, he was too much like me, and he'd never made a big deal out of it in a way that would make me feel uncomfortable, but it was easy to guess he was happy about the whole thing. Renée, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic when she found out about my summer romance. Ever since things with Jake became official, she was trying to talk sense into me, telling me how unhealthy long-distance relationships could be. I always thought it was kind of hypocritical of her to tell me this – she, who ran away from Charlie when that relationship had become too much of a burden.
I suspected this time would be no different when I hung up a few moments later, and walked into the kitchen. She was sipping iced tea from a tall glass, pretending to be reading. I rolled my eyes as I caught sight of the book's familiar cover. I knew better. "You can quite the act now, Mom."
"What are you talking about?" she asked in feigned obliviousness.
I nodded towards the book she had just laid face down on the table. "You hate Pride and Prejudice," I dryly pointed out, snatching my book from underneath her hand before I took a seat across from her.
"Bella…" she sighed, but didn't continue, as if she didn't know how.
"You haven't even met him," I said quietly, lowering my eyes to the tablecloth. I hated confrontations of any kind. The fact that this one was over my boyfriend – the thought alone made me blush furiously.
"It's not that I don't trust your judgment, honey, because I do – "
"What is it then?"
"I just… I don't like what it does to you."
I raised an eyebrow. "What it does to me?"
"For the passed two years, you've been living for his phone calls. You're grumpy and depressed when no mail arrives, and when you do get a letter from him you're all… lightened up. You can't see him throughout the year, and you don't want me to send you to live with your dad because of your ballet lessons. You need to see other people, people from your area, your school – "
"I don't want to see other people, and I'm graduating in a month."
"So what is the alternative? Spending your summer break on the beach with him? And soon you'll be off to Juilliard and – "
"I haven't even passed the auditions, Mom."
"If it's not Juilliard, it's going to be someplace else," she insisted. From her tone I figured she'd been thinking about this for a while. When she next looked at me, her eyes were earnest. "You can't go back and forth for a guy, Bella, this isn't right."
"It might not be right for you, Mom, but maybe it is for me. I love Jacob – "
"Do you? How can you even know that, considering the last time you've seen him was last Christmas?"
I didn't have an answer for that, but I didn't want to show defeat. "Why do you have to make it so difficult?"
"I just want you to be happy, honey," she said, her tone softening, as she reached across the table to take my hand. "You're off to college now, whether it's Juilliard or wherever. You shouldn't limit yourself – who knows who waits for you there." I rolled my eyes at her slip. She continued speaking, but now her tone was softer, pleading. "You can't depend on someone who lives miles away from where you are."
"Look, I need to go back to practice," I murmured, hardly meeting her eyes. I didn't want to hear this anymore, mostly because I knew she was right. Things with Jacob became serious way sooner than I had expected, but at the time, I didn't care. I was fine with it. I had fun with him. I felt whole around him. He made me smile like no one else could. With him, I could just be myself. I didn't have to pretend. I did feel a bit weird when he first told me he loved me, at the end of that first summer. It felt too hasty, too soon, but before I knew it, I said it too, without knowing whether or not I truly meant it. And ever since, whenever he was telling me he loved me, there was this pang of guilt within me because I could see he meant it with all his heart. I didn't want to hurt him, and I did love him, in a way, but I wasn't sure it was the same way he had done, the way he had expected me to.
So this was how things were. During the school year we exchanged long letters (because the Blacks didn't have a computer), and we would call each other every other weekend or so. I convinced Mom to send me to Forks over Christmas as well, and then on spring break. She didn't protest, but I could tell she wasn't pleased. I knew it wasn't because she minded I'd see Dad, but because she didn't approve of my relationship with Jacob. I kind of hoped that seeing him more often would help me figure things out, make things more definite for me, but each time on the flight home, I just felt more confused. And to make things worse, each time, Mom saw right through me, and I hated to let her know that she was right.
Things could be different now, if I let them, I thought as I closed my bedroom door behind me. The room was colder now and I shivered. I didn't know if I'd even get to see Jake this summer; I couldn't make any plans until I'd have a final answer from Juilliard. And if I wasn't going to Forks for the summer, we wouldn't see each other for a very long time. According to my mom's theories, now was the best time to wrap things up. Jacob was about to start his last year in high school. He wasn't bad-looking; it was inevitable girls would be interested in him. He shouldn't shut himself out because I was miles away. It didn't seem fair to limit him that way.
And then I realized I was sounding like my mother, only I projected what she had told me on him. But it applied to both sides, really. He shouldn't be limited, and neither should I. The wisest, most sensible thing was to just end it. If I were smart, I should just break up with him.
But let's say, for argument's sake, that I wasn't smart.
I didn't want to break up. Of course, what we had currently had wasn't much of a 'together' to begin with, but the definition still held. It was selfish and cruel, but breaking his heart that way seemed even worse. I did love him; I'd learn to love him the way he wanted me to. If I ended it now, I'd always regret it, be forever tormented by the what-if's and should-have's.
I sighed. I was being ridiculous, really. I just needed to see him. I knew that once I did, all the doubts and uncertainties would melt away. It was easier when my mom wasn't around to preach me, either, when my dad was actually encouraging this relationship instead of trying to talk me out of it. I couldn't wait to get there, whenever that would be. When my dad had asked me earlier when I planned to come over this year, I'd said I didn't know yet. At the moment, I just wanted to get this audition over with. Then afterwards finals, graduation, Jacob. And then I'd prove Renée wrong.
New York City was just as I imagined it to be – dazzling and crowded and enormous, so much bigger than Phoenix. I spent most of the night next to the window in our hotel room, just looking down at the hustling streets of the city that never slept. I was exhausted; it'd been an incredibly long day, and I had to wake up early the next morning to warm up properly before the audition. And yet, I was too giddy to even try and get some sleep. I looked at the twinkling streetlights beneath me and felt my lips curl into a small smile. I was actually there, where I'd wanted to be. This might be the place I'd spend the next four years in. It all depended on the next day.
Despite my massive lack of sleep, I was surprisingly composed the next morning. In fact, my mom looked more nervous than I did, judging by the way she was fidgeting on the sidewalk next to me. She didn't stop chattering from the moment we left our hotel room, and that made me edgy. At some point I started thinking that maybe such serenity on my side was wrong. Maybe I should panic. But there was no reason to. Every ounce of me was ready for this audition. My music was here, my routine memorized to perfection. Normally I wouldn't be as confident about my dance. Well, maybe not under-confident, but I was still very shy. I was only truly comfortable while I was onstage, where I couldn't see people's critical faces while blinded by spotlights. But I'd worked my ass off to get here, and I did. I was as ready as I'd ever be.
"Look at all these people! It's like an episode of Fame!" my mom exclaimed, nearly bumping into someone's cello. I managed to pull her out of the way just in time. "Are they all auditioning today?"
"I'm pretty sure musicians have a separate audition," I said, giving my name to a pretty girl by an improvised reception desk before I rushed to the bathroom to change. Mom had found us seats by the time I caught up with her. Waiting was the most frustrating part of this sort of auditions. I sort of wished I'd had a book with me, but I knew I was too tense to focus anyway. I looked over the room. Of course, there was no way I'd know anyone, but you never knew. No one looked overly familiar though. I was glad my mom insisted to come with me. It could have been scary to be there alone. The hallway was in chaos, a cacophony of chatter and musical instruments. Dancers were warming up all over the place. The sounds and movements were making me dizzy. Every once in a while, a severe-looking woman in a navy blue suit would come out and read this name or that, singling out someone from the crowd to follow her in.
I let my eyes wander after Sue Dawson who had just walked in for her audition, and my gaze fell on a small girl at the other side of the hall. It wasn't difficult to guess that she was a dancer. She wore a generic black dancing outfit similar to mine, and still she managed to stand out despite her tiny form. Her hair was cut short, and her eyes had a pretty almond shape that made her look elfish, like a pixie almost. She was deep in conversation with another girl in black, whose blonde hair was twisted into a sophisticated plait. She was tall, much taller than the small, dark girl. Her face was exquisite – fair complexion, high cheekbones. She looked Russian, a true ballerina. I eyed them both with apprehension, thinking of my own not so striking features. I was so plain in comparison, average in every possible way – height, hair, eyes, dancing skills…?
What the hell was I doing here?
I blinked, jolting out of my daydream. My mom stuck her elbow in my side. "Here," I said, my voice trembling slightly, as I stood up. From the corner of my eye, I saw the pixie-like girl looking curiously in my direction. I saw recognition in her eyes, although I couldn't possibly tell if I'd seen her before, or where.
"Go and dazzle them, honey," my mom whispered, and gave me a quick hug. "I'll be right here."
I couldn't reply, because suddenly I was terrified. More than anything, I wanted to go in there and stun them, to give everything into my routine and nail this audition, but now, looking at all those people around me, second thoughts hit me full force. They all looked so professional, so talented. How did I fit in? Was I able to do this?
Silently, I followed the woman into the smoky darkness of the auditorium.
There was only one way to find out.