A/N: I have my best ideas late at night when I should be sleeping, and then I email them to myself so I remember them the next day (and so they'll bugger off and let me sleep). A few weeks ago, I opened up my email to find this:
What if Bella was a boy?
And that's how this story was born. It is Twilight, but there is no Bella. Renée and Charlie had a baby boy and named him William Matthew Swan. He is not just a boy version of Bella, though, because being a male, certain aspects of his upbringing and personality are just different. So forgive me if I've made him less clumsy (he's less self-conscious) or less descriptive (he notices actions more). He does share some important Bella traits though, namely, her shield-like ability, and the same resistance to the scary vamp vibe.
Just a warning... I really want to write this story, and I have every intention of finishing it, BUT updates will not be weekly, or even fortnightly. I write when I can and I'll do my best to update regularly, but they may take a little while. If that sort of thing bothers you, maybe wait until it's complete, okay?
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I'm simply playing with her world.
Charlie pulled into the driveway of his small two-bedroom, two storey house and killed the cruiser's engine. The house looked the same as the last time I saw it—three years ago. The only difference was an old Chevy parked in the driveway.
Charlie and I hadn't talked much at all during the drive from Port Angeles, which was fine by me. Agreeable silences were one of the main reasons I'd decided to move to Forks. I'd take my father and his quiet over Renée and Phil's newly-wedded bliss any day.
Just as I was about to undo my seat-belt and get out, Charlie cleared his throat. "I got you a truck," he said, barely indicating the rusty, red Chevy with his hand. He looked a little uncomfortable, almost embarrassed by the admission.
"Really?" I asked, my voice skeptical, not ready to make the jump to believing him without some more prompting. He nodded and I was floored by the unexpected gift. I hadn't let myself dwell on the thought of being dropped off at school each day in the cruiser, but it had still been lurking, filling me with subconscious dread. I eyed the huge chunk o' metal, noting it's faded paint, deciding I preferred it to the too shiny finish of new cars. It was large and old and would probably be a bitch to drive, but that truck was my freedom.
"Thanks, Ch—Dad. That's awesome."
He opened his car door and got out and I followed him over to the giant heap of steel. It had character, I decided, and it wasn't at all like the tiny import Renée would surely have gotten me.
"I love it," I said with real enthusiasm, causing Charlie to laugh. I met his eyes and for the first time, I imagined living in Forks might actually be all right.
I drove myself to school the next day.
Everywhere you looked around Forks, you saw green. The skyline was punctuated by trees, not buildings, and the lack of city lights gave everything an old fashioned quality. When I arrived at school, that impression was cemented in my mind. People wore a lot more clothes in Forks due to the weather, and the parking lot was full of old cars. There was very little distinguishing it from what I imagined the place looked like forty years ago.
The office was pretty easy to find and I walked straight in, just wanting to get it all over and done with. It looked old as well, with its folding chairs and haphazard collection of awards. It even smelled old, musty, like it never really had a chance to dry out. And then there was the old lady with red hair who was sitting behind the desk. She looked up at my arrival and squinted at me over her glasses.
"Oh my." She stood up and walked closer to me, her mouth spreading into a smile. "You look just like a young Charlie Swan."
I grimaced and broke eye contact, because . . . what else could I do? She had to realize that shit was embarrassing for me. And truthfully, I didn't think I looked that much like my dad. I had his brown hair and eyes, his pale skin, but I had my mom's features. People here wouldn't remember that, though.
"Sorry, dear," she said, using the word the way only old ladies could. "I guess you're eager to just get settled in." I nodded and she smiled in understanding and it felt nice to be looked at like that.
She returned to her desk and rummaged through a stack of papers until she found what she was looking for. "Here you go. I have your schedule here and a map of the school. You'll need to get one of these slips signed by each teacher you see." She gave me more instructions and I tried to look grateful, even though I wasn't paying much attention to her.
When she was finished she smiled. "I hope you like it here, William."
"Thanks," I muttered, not bothering to correct her. "Me, too."
I had English first and kept my head down as I navigated my way to building three. It was easy to spot—a large painted "3" making it especially clear. I fell into line behind a couple of other students and copied them as they shed their raincoats and hung them up. It turned out they were both girls and when they spied me, they behaved like girls—whispering and smiling coyly, recognition clear on their faces. Their reaction stirred my nerves properly for the first time that day. It wasn't just the old lady in the office who was going to think of me as Chief Swan's son.
I sniffed and blew the thought off. Two years was all I had to endure and then I could head off to college. With my mind in a better place and my attitude in check, I opened the door and met a room full of eyes before heading to the teacher.
"I'm Liam Swan," I said quietly to the teacher's solemn expectancy. "The lady in the office said I needed to get you to sign one of these for my first day."
Of course they wouldn't be expecting me with that name. While Renée indulged my preference, Charlie never had.
"It's probably William on the role," I explained.
The teacher nodded and indicated an empty chair at the rear of the class. "Have a seat." I sat down quickly, grateful I didn't have to feel eyes boring into the back of my head. The teacher, Mr. Mason, approached and handed me the reading list. It was typical: Bronte, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner. No sci-fi in sight.
A bell rang and I made my way to my next class—trigonometry. The teacher made me introduce myself and I did so in my very best monotone. There was absolutely no reason for me to have to do it; judging by everyone's knowing stares, they already knew who I was. I decided then and there that Mr. Varner and I would not be friends.
At the end of class a small girl with long curly hair approached me.
"Hi, William. I'm Jessica." I winced a little at the use of my full name. It was gonna take a bit of effort to shake it here.
"It's Liam," I corrected her.
She smiled too brightly and hovered while I gathered my things. "How long have you been in Forks?" she asked.
"I got in yesterday," I answered mechanically. She was being nice, but there was something about her that was creeping me out. She was too cheerful, too eager. My tone didn't deter her though and she followed me as I went to retrieve my jacket.
She had relatives in SoCal, I discovered, and she loved the heat there. We would have two classes together and she invited me to sit with her at lunch—all this in the five minutes it took to get to our next class. I wondered if maybe she was the annoying nerd stereotype and if now that I'd talked to her, everyone else would steer clear of me. It didn't really look likely though. She was definitely one of the prettier girls at this school, and people smiled and talked to her. She actually seemed kind of . . . popular, and so strategically, I figured it couldn't hurt to just sit with her at lunch.
When the time lunch finally rolled around, I was starving. In Phoenix we had snack machines, and I was able to grab something in between classes whenever I was hungry. But this place didn't seem to have any, or if they did, I hadn't found them yet.
We joined the queue and I loaded up a tray with food before following Jessica to a table where a few other vaguely familiar faces were sitting. She introduced me as "Liam" to everyone at the table, and I nodded and said a general "Hi" to them all. They seemed nice enough, and no one was being openly hostile, but I wasn't used to being around such friendly people and it was all just a bit weird.
They chatted and asked me questions and continued to smile way too much. After only a few minutes, I found myself glancing around, thinking maybe there were some emo kids who'd be less exhausting to sit with.
That's when I first saw them.
In the back corner of the cafeteria was a table of students who couldn't look more out of place if they tried. There were three guys, all tall and well-dressed in the type of clothes the very rich kids in Phoenix wore. The two girls were also dressed immaculately, and there was something about the way they all carried themselves that screamed wealth and superiority. One of the girls—the smaller one—stood up and carried her full tray to the trash and dumped the contents in it; definitely an eating disorder there.
I glanced back at the others and couldn't help but feel a little dislike for them. They didn't even interact with each other, just sat there posing and doing nothing else, clearly too good to mix with the rest of the student population.
"That's the Cullens," Jessica said beside me when she noticed my staring.
One of the boys, a lanky looking guy with reddish hair, turned his head and looked straight at her before glancing quickly at me and then back at the wall. It was sudden and unnerving, like he'd heard her say the name, and I was thrown by the coincidence.
"That's Edward and Emmett Cullen, and Rosalie and Jasper Hale. The one who left was Alice Cullen; they all live together with Dr. Cullen and his wife." She said this quietly, almost as though she was worried he'd heard her, too.
The one who'd looked at us was fiddling now, tearing at a bagel and moving his lips as though speaking quickly to the others. None of them were looking at him, though, so it could have just been muttering.
Some of them were siblings but none of them looked alike; the only quality they seemed to share was looks. "Are they related by blood?" I asked, curious about their relationships despite not wanting to be. The corner of the mutterer's mouth quirked up as though he was amused.
"Oh, they're not. Dr. Cullen is really young, in his twenties or early thirties. They're all adopted. The Hales are brother and sister, twins—the blondes—and they're foster children."
"But the others aren't related?"
She shook her head, and then leaned in closer to me. "They're couples, though."
I waited for her to elaborate, not sure if I understood her correctly.
"Like, the big guy and Rosalie, they're a couple. And Jasper and the small girl who left—Alice—they're a couple, too." She sat back and waited for her revelation to kick in.
All I could think was how it must be nice and convenient for them to have their girlfriends under the same roof. It wasn't nearly as shocking to me as Jessica seemed to hope. Truth is, Renée would probably let me get away with something like that if the opportunity had ever presented itself. She'd made it embarrassingly clear she was very okay with me having a girlfriend stay the night. The only reason I hadn't taken advantage of her offer was because there'd never been a girlfriend.
I glanced back at the table a few more times in between stuffing my face. Only the big guy and the blonde girl seemed to interact. The other twin looked immensely pissed off by something, and the lanky guy—the one who'd looked at us—he was seriously staring at that wall, like he was concentrating on it really hard. The whole lot of them just didn't fit in with the rest of this old-fashioned, too-cheerful town.
"Have they always lived in Forks?" I asked.
Jessica sat up straighter at the chance to talk again. "No, they just moved down two years ago from somewhere in Alaska."
Funny, I was expecting New York or maybe L.A. The lanky guy turned and looked straight at me again, although this time he held my eyes, almost like he was waiting for something. Curious. Out of habit, I lifted my chin and met the stare as though it were a challenge, and was pleased when he looked away first.
"What's the lanky guy's name?"
"That's Edward," she answered, and I could practically hear the swoon in her voice. Of course, he was the only single one, and he was attractive. She was just behaving like a girl.
His mouth pulled up as though he were scoffing. At what, I had no idea. So, his name was Edward. They way he'd been blatantly looking at me made me wonder if he was a bit of an asshole. I'd put up with enough of those in Phoenix, so I wasn't worried. The trick was never to show weakness, even if that's what you were feeling.
My attention returned to my stomach and while I ate, I tried to listen to the conversation going on around me. It was difficult. Everything was an in-joke, and they referred to people like I already knew who they were talking about, which quickly became tedious. They never had a lull in conversation, a point at which I could ask them anything; not that I was particularly interested in starting up yet another conversation I had no chance of contributing to. I glanced back over at the quiet table of students in the corner and couldn't help but compare the two groups. If I was sitting with them, at least I could eat my lunch in peace.
After a few more minutes, some of the other students began standing up and emptying their trays. My eyes were drawn to Edward's table as they all stood and disposed of their uneaten lunches, which was pretentious and wasteful. Why even get the food if you have no intention of eating it?
I waited around for Jessica and her friends, but then she informed me that Biology—the class I had next—was one we didn't share.
"Hey, you're in with us," said a blond guy with a giant, if not wary, smile. Next to him was a beautiful girl with long, dark hair and glasses. Her smile was more genuine.
We walked to class together and I patiently answered all of Mike's—he'd reminded me of his name—questions, even though he insisted on calling me Will. Charlie called me Will. I hated it.
When we arrived and entered the classroom, my companions both made their way to empty seats at lab tables, while I approached the teacher to get my slip signed. As I walked up the aisle, I recognized a tall back and reddish hair and realized Edward was in our class. He seemed to stiffen suddenly, visibly going rigid in his seat, and his face snapped around to glare at me. I passed him by, nodding internally at my earlier assessment. Asshole it is.
The teacher, Mr. Banner, signed my slip and handed me a text, then indicated that I should sit in the only empty seat in the room. The one next to him. Just my luck.
He was still glaring at me—all fury and malice. Even though I tried to shrug it off, something about it chilled me to the bone. I started to wonder if maybe he was a sociopath. A quick glance at his eyes and I thought I was probably on the money; they seemed too dark, black under the fluorescent lights. Even his posture was kind of menacing...
Rationality soon set in, though, and I reasoned he was probably just trying to freak me out. I was taking half his desk away, forcing him to interact with normal people, and he was just being a prick because of it. So I met his eyes again, and I quirked up the side of my mouth, all swarm. Fuck him.
He fumed, so it was with amusement that I took over half his table and ignored his asshole behavior for the rest of class. And when the bell rang, he sprung out of his seat and fled the room, and I chuckled at having not given in to my earlier fears. He was just a pretty boy who didn't get his way and was likely going off to sulk about it.
As I packed away my text and notebook with a smirk on my face, Mike made his way over to me.
"Hey, Will, what's your next class?" I sighed because he was likely going to make it his thing to call me that. So long as it was only him...
I unfolded my timetable and groaned. "Gym."
"I'm headed there, too," he said, a slight trace of disappointment in his voice. I wondered if maybe he was the golden boy of sports here. Then I remembered the size of the big Cullen and reconsidered.
"I suck at gym," I admitted. "P.E. was an elective for our last two years back in Phoenix. I'd been looking forward to not having to take it."
He laughed. "How can you not like gym?" he asked, honestly looking confused.
"I don't know..." I trailed off. How could you like it? I wasn't particularly coordinated, but that wasn't the problem. Really, I just didn't enjoy sports. It was a constant source of disappointment for Charlie—that we never just sat around and watched "the game" together. Plus, playing it was... boring. And then there were the locker rooms. Why anyone wanted to get naked in front of all their friends was beyond me. And it always seemed like as soon as guys dropped trough, they dropped IQ points, too. "It's not really my thing," I finished.
He nodded and looked a little brighter for a bit, but then out of the blue, he asked, "So, did you stab Edward Cullen with a pencil or what? I've never seen him act like that."
I glanced at Mike, looking for any trace of sarcasm and finding none. If Mike had never seen Edward act like that, chances were he wasn't just a regular asshole. If that was the case, what the hell had I done to set him off? I decided to play dumb.
"Was that the guy I sat next to in Biology?"
"Yeah." Mike shook his head slightly, as though getting his thoughts in order. "He looked like he was in pain or something."
Pain? I could have snorted. Pissed off, annoyed, slightly psychotic—yes, but not in pain; I didn't see any wincing. Then again, I had spent the hour determinedly not looking at him. Quite successfully.
"I wouldn't know," I responded. "I never spoke to him."
Mike nodded slightly and led the way through the gym doors. "He's a weird guy," he added before heading off to what I assumed were the dressing rooms.
The gym teacher, Coach Clapp, found me a uniform and expected me to change for—ugh—volleyball. I undressed in a stall, hoping that doing it from word go would just make it some weird Phoenix trait. Then, grudgingly, I made my way out onto the court and tried to look like I was participating more than I was. I did get the ball once, a sheer fluke, and sent it flying onto one of the other courts. The others did their best to keep it away from me after that.
We were allowed to finish up a few minutes early so we could change; it took me a lot longer. First, I had to find all my stuff, then get undressed, then get dressed again, then put on shoes. The locker room had cleared out by the time I was finished, and I wondered how the others did it so fast.
Just as I was feeling relieved about it being the end of the day, I remembered the stupid slips I had to drop off. So I trudged through the misty rain back to the office to deal with the receptionist once more.
"How was your day, dear?" she asked as soon as she saw who'd entered.
I smiled, because she was kind of nice in a Grandma way. "It wasn't bad," I admitted. The only real downside had been the minor run in with Edward, but I felt like I'd handled that pretty well.
"That's good to hear. We'll see you tomorrow." Again she gave me a warm smile, her eyes peering over the tops of her glasses.
"Thanks," I said, hauling my bag over my shoulder and walking out the door.
Being almost twenty minutes after school was let out, the parking lot was empty when I finally walked through it to my truck. As soon as I'd climbed in, I had the key in the ignition and the engine started, because it was effing cold and I needed that heat. After I'd warmed up a bit, I pumped the gas and scoffed at the thunderous noise that seemed to reverberate all around.
It was still better than the cruiser.
A/N: Thanks to revrag for the beta and mopstyle for Liam :)