Disclaimer: I dis-claim Twilight :)

Thanks to SethIsMyWolf for the first review :) If you find any mistakes in the fanfiction, btw, don't hesitate to point it out - I'll fix it with a snap of my fingers. Thanks also to also the Favourite-ers :)


School. A fitting synonym for overwhelming joy.

Actually, I didn't feel so bad about going to school and enduring the pain of the first day. After all, I had a rookie truck that stared back at all the average transport vehicles in the neighbourhood, which meant that I wouldn't have to endure the torture of Charlie dropping me off to school in his cab. With the emergency police light whistling.

This particular high school – the only high school in the area – was no better than a crossover between haunted houses and the school that Matilda went to, in the movie of the same name. It was huge and made of bricks, just like any other building in the area. It didn't look like too big a campus, unless it was one of those schools that look small from the outside but is as big as a country once you pass through the doors. I parked my truck (which I'm planning to name by the end of this week) between two regular Ford cars and went out to brace the cold.

Have you ever noticed how a small crowd gathers out the front to look at all the kids coming into the school? I saw a group of people my age talking by the front door; a few of the guys started catcalling and whistling provocatively at two pretty girls who went in, hand in hand, equiped with miniskirts and fishnets. I shuddered, my heart full of pity for all those girls out there who had to wear short skirts and dresses in this sad, sad weather just to catch the attention of the boys in their grade. There were easier alternatives, like wearing jeans to the strip club someplace nearby. Warm clothes, check. Boys on a leash, check.

Choosing to hide behind a particularly large group of giggling girls was the first best move I made. They didn't see me at all – I'd done my best to look as nondescript as possible because I knew that if someone looked closely, they'd notice how my lips slant slightly upwards on the right and how there were still a few un-popped whiteheads on the bridge of my nose. I'm pretty sure that I could spend a little more time with make-up, but there's no point in using cosmetic products that were probably tested on cats, having killed them with their sickeningly high concentration of allergens. Oh my god, I just realized… I sound like a nerd. I've been meaning to work on that.

(A morbid complaint I stop from escaping my lips:

CROWDS SUCK. When humans live all together under one big roof, things go wrong. This is why the Parliament is so corrupt and the UN never decides on something worthwhile. This is already why the World Wars happened. This is also why a large number of American parents are divorced. And why kids run away. Crowds have a negative impact on us – or more specifically, me. Claustrophobia comes to me naturally, as does unwanted attention. I don't want to be the shiny new toy at this school. I don't even want to get involved with a crowd. But because life has a strong hobby of makin people suffer and cry, I have to deal with crowds. But that doesn't top me from hating them. I. Hate. Crowds. I once planned a tattoo that would declare this to the world, but mom was mortified when she found out.)

The front office seemed like a pretty silent place, so I went there to get my schedule and the like. The lady wore a pink cardigan that scared me; having learnt from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I know now that true evil always wears pink. The admin desk-woman didn't look too intimidating; she smiled at me a lot, but I'm pretty sure it's because of my future reputation as "the Police Offer's daughter".

A boring morning was suiting me just fine – besides the weather. When – oh no – pops up a guy with hair like skid marks on a frozen, black road.

"Isabella Swan? You're Officer Swan's daughter, right?"

Bingo.

"Call me Bella. And yeah, I am. Who are you….?"

"Hi, I'm Eric, eyes and ears of this place. Nice to finally meet you, Bella - when word went around that you were joining Forks High, we were all pretty excited."

I don't know why in the world people were excited about this. I shot a glance at a few people looking appreciatively at me and turned my head back to him.

He understood a part of my discomfort so took me over to the group I saw earlier, standing near a set of lockers. He explained to me how the school works and about what I'd be going through in general, but I tuned half of his gab out because I was busy surveying the party he was walking me to. A couple of the people turned to look at me and they smiled. It wasn't long before we were right next to the circle, and the group turned around to see the two of us.

"Hey guys, this is-"

"-Isabella Swan, right?" said a guy with cute, blonde hair and cheeky eyes. He was the first one to look at me.

"Just Bella," I corrected him, as I knew I'd have to do to everybody else. My attempts at hiding my lips were failing.

Eric, annoyed that this particular guy had taken up my attention (why do boys think their emotions are so discreet?), starting pointing out everybody in the circle. "Okay, so that's our very own Jessica-" a girl with brown hair grinned and waved, "-and that's Angela-" a sweet girl with a warm smile waved back at me, "-this is Lauren-" another blonde, but she looked a little bitchy, "-Mike-" the blonde guy from before tipped an imaginary hat for me, "- and last but not least, Tyler!" a tall, black guy nodded warmly at me, but I could sense his eyes lingering on my chest.

"Hey everybody…" Gah, my people skills were terrible. Horrible. Deplorable! I sounded so unenthusiastic.

"So Bella, heard you come from Phoenix! How's it like over there?" Jessica started asking, her eyes as wide as pennies.


Conversation has three volume levels: soft, just right, way too loud. This group embodied the "Way too loud" dial of the volume knob; half an hour into our introductions and general conversation about my hometown and the like, I was dying to protect my ears from the sound of these rogue teenagers with my hands. I was a little bit freaked out by all the attention I got from Mike, Eric and Tyler – Eric even had the audacity to throw his arm around my shoulder at one point – but I expect it's because I'm something new to look at in this neighbourhood that knows the business of everyone else.

I had a particular distaste towards Lauren, who looked very rudely at me whenever I tried to bring myself into conversation (which wasn't too hard). She sat back and stared at me silently, cringing when I laughed and leaned into Eric for support. I think she thinks I was flirting with him (even if I had the skills, I wouldn't flirt with him). Jessica seemed to be pretty chatty and nice to me, but I really liked Angela, who was careful and smart in whatever she said.

Halfway through the day, having gotten through most of my elementary classes, I realized that Mike was trying to get his hands on me. No, not in the let-me-feel-you way; rather, he was determined to show some sort of possession of me. I realized (using my looking-from-the-corner-of-my-eyes powers of deduction) that Eric and Mike were determinedly trying to make me their own. Eric tried hard to impress me with stories about his previous detentions and escapades at school, including a story about being caught with drugs on campus (that I wasn't too blown-over by). Mike, in retaliation, cracked jokes around me and talked like a wild boy, which was cute for a while, but annoying after an hour of endurance.

Jessica was pointing people out to me and introducing them to me the whole day – she made introductions seem horribly exciting. Jessica's speech, I realized, is always seasoned with gossip or news about somebody. I not only learnt everybody's names, but I also learnt everybody's backgrounds: whose parents were divorced, who was dating who, who had had an embarrassing moment last year and who was a total outcast.

I didn't feel too hungry at lunch, so I just got a small snack and settle between Jessica and Mike, the latter glaring triumphantly at Eric in a way that was meant to be secretive. Across me, Eric was talking animatedly with a guy called Ben, and Angela, beside Ben, started talking to a redheaded friend of hers about a book she read. Jessica was continuously filling me up with more dirty laundry on the people around us. It was then that I caught a glimpse of a group of kids sitting in the far corner.

I don't expect families to sit together. Usually, the kids in a family are of such different ages that it gets awkward for them to be around the other in a public setting. But these people – they all looked the same. Apart from stature, build, hair and other features, they all had the same pale skin and the same air of boredom. You could see metaphysical lines connecting each and every one of them – none of them ate or talked, yet you could tell that they were silently communicating. I could see three of the five people's faces; each of them more beautiful than the next. A muscular, boyish guy with the cheekiest smile. A blonde with superior brilliance and a smart smile. A bronze-haired guy with his eyes downcast, looking supremely handsome with a look of innocence and cleverness both in his smile.

"Who're they?" I asked Jessica, just as the bronze-haired guy raised his eyes and met mine, almost as if hearing the question leaving my lips.

Jessica, sensing the direction of my gaze and then catching the bronze-haired guy looking at us wasted no time in telling me about him, "Oh that's Edward Cullen. They're all foster kids of Carlisle Cullen, their foster dad, and his wife. But they're, like, into each other. The black haired girl, Alice, is paired with the blond guy , Jasper, and the blonde girl, Rosalie, is paired with the guy with the buzz cut, Emmett. And then, there's Edward. I heard he stopped dating a while back though."

So she thought I was into him.

I looked away from his distant eyes and focused on my food, unwilling to let him see me looking at him. I've heard that guys consider it stalkerish. It was not much sooner that I looked up again to see if he was still watching me, but I saw a sort of smile on his face and he said something to his siblings.

"….So Bella, did you ever have to wear bikinis in Phoenix? It's gotta be real hot there, right?" Mike grinned at me, searching for my opinion while settling something with Tyler.

I felt Jessica go rigid beside me.

"How much do you drink daily, Mike?" I asked him.

Fazed, he replied with a firm, "A bottle."

"Suspicions confirmed. Looks like Jack Daniels burnt off some of your brain cells. Arizona, Mike, is nowhere near the coast. And lakes are totally inappropriate for swimming."

I turned away as Eric snorted in laughter and continued the conversation from the exciting turn it had taken.

When I turned my head to look at Edward, the bronze haired guy, I found him looking at me like before – eyes locked to mine. He was frowning slightly, this time, as if trying to look past my eyes. I felt the sensation of a blush creeping up my cheeks; embarrassed, I looked away and started talking to Angela about something or the other.

I know people don't believe in divine realization but there was a moment where I stopped talking because this bolt of mild electricity shot through my heart and made it fall into the bubbling put of my stomach. Intuition, instinct. Both of them tried to send me a message, but I couldn't understand it. Haven't you ever had moments where there's a small zap or light in your brain and apprehension in the pit of your stomach because of something you've just figured out? Like the killer on CSI or Castle? I sneaked a glance towards Edward again a I got up and the intuition/instinct found its way into the part of my brain that solves the puzzles. From the distance, there was no denying that those were the same hollow cheeks and tousled bronze locks. There was no denying that he was the guy in the dreams I've been dreaming. Okay, so from the distance, it was hard to tell that this guy was the guy I saw in my dreams (because I can't possibly dream up the future, now, can I?)…I couldn't sense the temperature of his skin or the texture of his lips. But I was sure, with instinct as my attorney and witness, that this guy was the guy I was seeing in my mind at night.

With a guy as hot as him looking at me, I was meant to be concocting a secret plan of attack – what approach to take? Innocent, lost girl or head-strong, stubborn commander? – but the panicky feeling in my gut made me feel some sort of emotion that was the total opposite to attraction. Fear? No way. Apprehension? Maybe. A few seconds of self-assessment later, I realized that I was alert. Because something in my mind told me that this guy meant business. Lik.e….my-future business. And for some reason, my body didn't want this.

Mike was steering me to Biology, happy to put his arm around mine, much to the distaste of Eric on his other side. Jessica and Mike were going on and on about some mundane topic, but I was too busy trying to make sense of the lactic-acid-build-up-emotion in my abdomen. I snapped to consciousness when we entered the Bio lab because of the sharp smell of disinfectant. And because my teacher waved me over when we entered the room. And because of the pain in my arm where Mika had let go – his grip on my arm had been so tight and possessive that he'd managed to stem circulation.

Everybody melted into their seats as I surveyed the room before walking up to the teacher. It was as if everybody had automatically claimed permanent seats. I saw Mike trying to coax his pimpled desk-partner to find another desk, presumably so that he could share it with me, but his partner wasn't having it.

A flash of bronze caught my eye, as did the empty seat beside him.

I don't know what to think. Double score or game over? Was this meant to be fate's way of making me happy after making Forks horribly cloudy or its way of making me suffer for the time I pouring maple syrup into my fifth-grade frenemy Justine's shoes?

Whatever I did, I didn't expect anything to happen. Like there's a purgatory, there is also halfway point in a video game, hovering close to Game Over. No matter how many double scores you get, you always reach this midpoint. And I guess I just reached it without the comfort of a double score with the following series of events


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Please :)

Ash xx