Freshmeat
Chapter 7 – Drunken Disorderly

.:.

Saturday evening rolled around far too quickly. Emmett, Jasper and I were chilling in our living room when the drama started. Jasper was sucking on a reefer like it was actual sustenance. Emmett was watching some sort of wrestling crap that I couldn't give a shit about. I was trying to hammer my way through a stupid Interventional Cardiology paper. All of us were basically happy as clams in our little bubbles. Well, that was until Carmen burst through the door, guns blazing, glaring at me in that way that actually made me scared for my life, and brought us all back down to reality.

"Edward fucking Cullen!" she roared, throwing the door open and huffing angrily. "Do you never fucking listen to me? Really? Really?"

The scene following her intrusion was hilarious. Emmett literally jumped in his seat, dropping his bowl of popcorn all over the floor. Jasper – who was chilling in the recliner – dropped his burning joint onto his hand, scorching his arm, before tumbling out of the seat, eyes wide with fright and attempting to cower in a corner. The intrusion fucked with him the most. He was already high and his brain already overloaded with fucked up shit.

I watched on with amusement as Carmen looked over the two reproachfully before turning to me and raising an eyebrow. I smirked. That set her off.

"Don't smirk at me, Cullen. I've had just about enough of you! What the hell are you playing at, huh? What the hell is your angle?"

Yup. She was angry. And I had no idea what the fuck she was on about.

"Carmen, what the fuck? Chill out," I said, trying to soothe her, standing up with hands raised. "What is this all about?"

"Oh, like you don't know," she spat, raking her eyes down my body in disapproval.

"I don't," I told her.

Her eyes narrowed into slits. If she was a cartoon, steam would have been pouring out of her ears. Silently, I wished it was, and couldn't help but snicker under my breath. Emmett, however, snickered loudly, and Carmen shot him a look that said that he should have shut his trap.

"Got something to say, Emmett?" she challenged.

Emmett looked at her like a stunned mullet. "Uh...no..." he stuttered.

Carmen turned away from him in disgust, looking back at me. "What the hell are you doing with Bella? I told you to stay away from her!"

Oh shit.

I couldn't think of what to say. Whatever bullshit I made up would never withstand Carmen's grilling. I knew that. She knew me too well.

I decided to play dumb and stall myself some time.

"What are you talking about? I'm not doing anything."

Carmen almost growled at me. "Bullshit, Cullen. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Why the hell do Jessica and Tanya want to slit her throat over you? Why the hell did you walk her home? And why the hell does she think that you actually want to go through some fucking personality revamp and change?"

That time, both Emmett and Jasper buckled over in laughter. I shot them warning glares. Carmen raised an eyebrow, highlighting the way that everyone around me thought my want to change was bullshit.

Unable to muster a proper excuse, I decided to flip the bill on her and point out her shit.

"Why the hell do you even care?" I pressed. "What are you; Bella's mother? What the hell gives you the right to tell Bella and I who we can't and cannot talk to? Mind your own fucking business, Car."

That made her angry.

"Ugh! You're such a jerk, Edward! You want to know why I'm getting involved? Because I know who you are, and I don't want you causing problems for girls in my house! I'm not going to stand by and watch you play Bella like she's some sort of game you have to win! She. Doesn't. Want. You. Get over it and leave her alone. Quit springing bullshit to her about 'changing' in an attempt to fool her into trusting you!"

Ouch. That hurt. But no.

"What makes you so certain that it's bullshit, Carmen? What the hell makes you think that you are always fucking right about everyone? You're fucking proud, you are."

Yup. If she didn't hate me already, she sure did after that. It felt like seventh grade all over again.

"God, you're such an asshole! You haven't changed. You're never going to change! And now you're pulling a good girl down with you. She's innocent in this, Edward. She doesn't deserve to be treated like this. Leave her out of your life before she gets hurt! Stop playing her! Stop lying to her! Don't you see that she actually genuinely thinks you want to be a good person? She's pure like that! She doesn't deserve what you're doing to her!"

The argument was getting heated. It certainly had been a long time coming.

"You have absolutely no faith in me, do you?" I roared. "You don't know anything, Carmen, so quit acting like you do. You have no idea who I am or what I'm really like! How do you know that it's not all real? How do you know that I don't want to quit the shit and actually be a good guy for once? How the fuck would you know?"

"Because I know you!" she insisted, and although I knew she was right, I wasn't going to let on that she was. "You don't change this quickly and I've seen you do it all before! When I first talked to you about her you made it pretty damn clear that you were playing some sort of game for some damn reason. She's something you can't have, and that is pissing you off, and I can't let you do this to her! I tried to warn you nicely, but you just won't take a hint, and now she's taking shit from your other fucking conquests! You cannot muck her around like this and you cannot mess with her emotions. She's trusting you, and you're going to destroy that and make her life shit. Stop lying to her and leave her alone!"

I almost spat at her, angry at how much she was screwing it up and how deep she could dig.

"You haven't known me since seventh fucking grade, and not all the rumours you hear are true," I growled, resentment flooding me. "I'm not lying to Bella, I do want to change, and you wouldn't know what I really want if it ran up and kicked you in the butt!"

"Until yesterday, you certainly hadn't provided any evidence to prove that you give a shit about changing!" she spat. "You cannot do it that quickly!"

I wanted to hit something. In anger, I aimed it at the wall. Carmen didn't even flinch, even when I screamed at her.

"You have no fucking idea what the hell I want! Why the hell can no one bloody believe me?"

"Ed!" Emmett yelled, jumping up from his seat in an attempt to restrain me. That was when Carmen spoke.

"Just because your family completely fucked you over does not give you an excuse to treat everyone you meet like complete and utter shit!" she yelled at me. "This isn't you changing. It's you playing a different version of the same game, and it's fucked up! Quit taking out your fucked up problems on everyone else!"

Emmett froze. Even Jasper was no longer in his buzzed out daze. I, however, wasn't giving up without a fight. I felt my fist hit the wall again before Emmett's arms trapped mine to my sides like steel.

"Just because your father was a cheating, lying bastard does not give you the excuse to suspect every guy you know of being a complete asshole out to hurt everyone he meets!" I yelled in reply, testing her and pushing her boundaries, showing her what it felt like to be on the receiving end of it all. "Quit projecting your shit onto me!"

"Edward! Carmen! Quit the shit!" Jasper hissed then, standing up and getting between us.

Tears were filling Carmen's eyes. Guilt sparked in me.

"This has nothing to do with my father," she spat, biting back the tears with a stern expression. Suddenly, I was reminded of the little girl I used to be best friends with, and I felt guilty. But, I also felt rage, and that won out. It always did.

"And what I do has nothing to do with my family," I challenged.

"Bullshit!" she roared, stepping forward and throwing her hands in the air. Jasper instinctively moved in her way in caution, even though we all knew she would never throw a punch. "Your family is the whole reason you fucked up in seventh grade! Your mother dying and all that shit that went on after that is the straw that broke the camel's back! That was your breaking point. Your family fucked you up! It's all what made you become this pig-headed, arrogant, ignorant, disregarder-of-other's-feelings, manwhore!"

"Carmen, shut it!" Emmett roared. She ignored him. So did I.

"You have no fucking idea what happened," I growled, seeing red.

Carmen fell silent then. I don't know what she saw in my expression, but the next thing she said was almost a whisper.

"I know more than you think, Edward."

"Bullshit," I claimed.

"I was your best friend!" she roared then. "Don't you fucking remember that? Don't you remember what I supported you through? Don't you remember what the hell you did to me in the end?"

I froze.

I did remember. I had just made a purposeful move to forget.

Shock shook through me. I didn't know what to say. Pain and heartbreak was tearing through Carmen's features, tears needing to be shed. A thick, heavy lump formed in my throat.

"I remember."

"T-then you should understand why I don't want you n-near Bella," she said calmly, her voice breaking ever so slightly as she sucked in a deep breath.

I locked eyes with her. It made me feel exposed. The pain in her expression shook me, and a part of me wanted to walk over to her and hug it all away - it was that part of me that was still ten years old, best friends with my neighbour and completely innocent in a world so fucked up. It was the part of me that was young and good and pure but knew of all the terrible things I was to do to her in the future, and who wanted nothing more than to make it all better before they happened. It was the part of me that still loved her like a sister. It was the part of me that shook with guilt and grief and regret for what I stole from her, and for how, no matter what, through everything, she still maintained faith in me for as long as she could.

But, as always, the twenty one year old in me shook that feeling off and straightened his shoulders. I wasn't a kid anymore.

"You have no faith in me at all," I whispered; pained, because in the past, she was the only one who ever thought good of me. Now, even she was abandoning my cause. "You don't think I can change. You don't think there is a scrap of hope left in me."

I felt cold and dark. Even Emmett and Jasper had backed away. Now, it was just Carmen and I facing each other, pain and heartbreak and past demons attacking us, each laid bare for the other, looking at each other and seeing each other for what we really were; hurt kids who had cared for each other once, but got lost along the way.

She opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. It didn't matter though. I saw the regret in her expression. I saw the way her mouth started to form the words; Edward...I'm sorry...it's just...

"Yeah," I spat, not letting her reply to me. "That's what I thought."

I shook off Emmett and Jasper's hands and Carmen's calls as I ran from the house and down the road, without a clue of where to go.

.:.

It wasn't hard to get fucked up. Saturday night wasn't exactly the epiphany of a quiet night in. Within fifteen minutes of storming out of my place I was at a bar and downing shots like they were water. The barmaid tried to force some frilly ass fruit drink on me and have a bit of fun, but I shoved it away and ordered another whisky. And another. And another. After three hours I was stumbling out of the bar, fucked as hell, with a little blonde hanging off my arm. She had these weird green streaks in her hair that made me think she had spent too much time in the water and it had been stained by chlorine. Her eyelashes were all fake and her nails were painted a sickly green that matched her hair, which didn't do much for my unsettled stomach. Of course, she was cute, but I couldn't see past the green as we stumbled out onto the footpath.

"Wow. Slow down there, Captain. Take it easy," the little blonde giggled, yanking on my arm and trying to keep me up right. She failed, and we both fell to the ground in a mess of limbs. She was laughing. I felt like I was about to be sick.

The little blonde pushed herself up off my chest. A flash of green hair tempted my regurgitation reflexes, but I held it back. The little blonde wouldn't stop giggling.

"Shoot. I'm so sorry!" she apologised, giggles trickling through. I gathered myself back up, my head throbbing, as she latched back onto my arm. "That was totally funny! Are you okay?" Wow. I'm so dizzy!"

The giggling continued as she dragged me down the road, me dragging my feet as we went. She was acting drunk as fuck, swerving all over the footpath and stumbling into my chest. It was all complete bullshit. She has been drinking coke all night, and was about as close to intoxication as I was to sobriety.

We had been walking for about ten minutes when her giggling stopped and squealing began. Jumping up and down like a fucking jumping jack, she yelped and grabbed my arm, towing me over to a park bench under a fucking tree. If I had been properly conscious, I probably would have wondered what the hell was going on, but because I was completely and utterly fucked, I just went along with it, grateful for the rest.

That was until her hands fisted in my hair, almost yanking it from its roots, and her lips smashed to mine.

I don't remember much after that. I remember the caffeinated, sugary taste of coke on her lips, and I remember her slimy tongue playing tonsil hockey in my throat, but after that it's a blur. The only thing I remember properly is kneeling in the bushes, puking my brains out, as she ran away yelling bloody murder.

I didn't give a shit. I was too sick to give a shit.

It took a good ten minutes for the puking to stop. By that time, my head was spinning and I could barely see five feet in front of me. Yet, I still felt a little bit more coherent. If only I knew where I was.

I sat up from the bushes and took a look around. In the dark, everything looked completely foreign. Well, that was until a stream of light shone across the grass in front of me from a large wooden doorway.

I turned my head, squinting to try and recognize the figure emerging. When I saw them, no matter how blurry, I knew exactly who it was, cradling a stack of books in her arms and carrying a laptop bag over her shoulder. I would recognize those legs anywhere.

"Bella."

Apparently, I spoke my realisation out loud, because her head snapped towards me as soon as her name fell.

She looked frightened. I probably would be too. I looked like a fucking hobo kneeling in the bushes, no doubt reeking of substances I didn't even want to think about.

Strangely enough though, she started taking hesitant steps towards me.

What the fuck?

If she was nothing else, she was ballsy.

"Edward?" she asked, her voice hitting me like a battering ram. "Is that you?"

Sheepishly, I smiled, and I probably looked like a lunatic. Hell, I didn't have a choice what the hell I looked like. I was basically immobile. Fixing my hair and teeth and clothes was just not an option.

"Heh. Yeah. Hi, Bella."

At my answer, Bella picked up her pace.

"Edward? What the hell are you doing in the bushes?" she asked, confused.

Fuck if I know.

"Admiring the greenery."

Smooth.

Bella didn't believe me for one minute, and as soon as she was five feet from me, she smelt it.

"Oh shit, Edward, are you drunk?"

I tried to smile all jokingly at her, but it ended up all creepy and sheepish again.

"Uh...just...just a little."

Bella gave me that look that said I was an absolute idiot.

"Come here," she sighed, holding her hand out to me. I looked at it in shock, taken back by the gesture. She just nodded at it. "You've got to get up out of the dirt, Edward. There's a bench fifteen feet away. I'll help you. Come on. I won't bite."

A part of me wanted to giggle at the thought of her biting me, but I shut that up pretty quickly and took the aid.

It certainly was a struggle getting myself to the bench, and when I did, Bella stayed standing up, looking at me disapprovingly. I felt like an idiot. I was like the fucking damsel in distress being saved by the hero. It didn't feel right.

"What are you doing out here by yourself?" she asked.

Good question.

I thought about tell her that I wasn't alone to begin with, but that didn't seem like a good idea.

"Trying to get home."

"Where are Emmett and Jasper?"

"Home," I popped happily.

"Why aren't they with you?"

I raised my eyebrows at her. "Why aren't your friends with you?"

I felt smart, until she shot me down. "Because I'm not drunk, and I just spent the night in the library."

Oh.

I knew where we were then. We were in the main quad.

"That is very...diligent of you," I nodded.

She frowned at me. "I can't believe you're this drunk. It's only eleven o'clock."

"Early bird catches the worm," I exclaimed with waving arms and a stupid smile.

"Normal people aren't this hammered by eleven," she told me.

Normal people don't have to deal with mother-fucking Carmen all the time, I thought bitterly.

"I guess I'm not normal then."

She just sighed. "Have you vomited yet, Edward?"

Huh?

What the hell?

Who asks that?

I looked at her all confused. She answered my question for me.

"Because if you haven't, I have to make you, so that you don't get alcohol poisoning."

Oh...

So diligent.

"Well, in that case, yes I have," I told her, pointing to the bushes for good effect.

"Good," she said, "then drink this." She reached into her bag to pull out an almost full water bottle.

I just stared at the bottle, confused and hating myself. What Carmen had said came crashing back to me. Bella was a good person, no matter what, willing to help me even though I was an ass, and I was twisting and manipulating those qualities to suit my game.

I was such a shit head.

"Why are you even helping me?" I asked as I looked at it, stumped and hating it all. "Why should you give a shit whether I get alcohol poisoning or whatever the fuck else could happen?"

Bella didn't even stall in answering. "Because I said I would help you, and I said I could be your friend. And because I can't just leave you out here like this. It's dangerous. You need someone with you."

Oh...

It all blew me away. I couldn't even process those morals with how fucked up my head was.

"I don't need water," I growled. I couldn't even think about any of it because it hurt my head so much. I treated her like shit, yet she was still there helping me in a second. It did my fucking head in. Of course, I wanted this girl close to me, but the fact that she actually was, after everything I did, baffled me. Not to mention, I felt a little guilty.

"You're doing medicine, Edward. I would've thought that you would know that when you're intoxicated you need to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration."

I took the bottle, feeling really stupid.

"You seem to know a lot about caring for drunk people," I noted, taking a long drink, my head spinning as I watched the glugging water.

"Common knowledge," she answered quickly.

There was definitely something more in her eyes. I didn't even want to think about it.

"I happen to like being drunk. It's a good time," I laughed.

She didn't even crack a smile. That shook me. Usually, with one joke girls were sending me impious looks and dropping their panties. When I was drunk, it was even easier, because I was easier, and they knew that. But not her. Not Bella. She hated me even more when I was drunk.

"That's idiotic," she growled.

Ouch.

"Alright, Miss Perfect. Does that mean you've never been hammered?" I asked.

"Never," she promised.

Holy shit.

"Wow..." I breathed.

Bella didn't even answer. I sculled the rest of the bottle.

"Alright," she said once I was finished, "ready to go home now?"

Home. Home was where Carmen was. And Emmett. And Jasper. Well, last time I checked anyway.

I definitely didn't want to go home.

"No," I answered quickly.

It was Bella's turn to look all confused.

"Why not?"

Bullshit it up, Edward. B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T.

"I like it out here. The fresh air is good for my head."

I saw a little tickle of a smile at her lips. It worked.

"Well, alright."

She must have thought it was a good idea.

Score.

Bella started fidgeting then, pacing the pathway, as if waiting for when I would be ready to move. She looked nervous. I couldn't help but speak.

"What's wrong with you?" I asked.

Bella looked at me, startled. "Nothing," she swore.

"You seem nervous."

"And you seem drunk. Had enough of sharing our perceptions of each other?"

Touchy.

"You can come sit down, you know," I said, patting the seat next to me.

Bella glanced at it apprehensively. I patted it again.

"Come on. I won't bite."

She couldn't help but smile at my copy of her claim at the beginning of our conversation.

"Thanks," she mumbled before taking the seat next to me. As I watched her movement, my brain started throbbing mercilessly, and I had to lay my head in my hands to try and regain control. Automatically, her hands were on my back, soothing me as I winced.

"Edward, are you okay?" she asked nervously. "Do you need anything? Do you want to go to the hospital?"

Hospital? Oh, man.

"No, I'm fine," I swore. "I'm just...a bit dizzy. I'll have a killer hangover in the morning."

"Maybe you should go home and sleep it off," she volunteered.

"I don't want to go home," I answered automatically, not thinking.

That set her off.

"What? Why?"

Aw, shit.

I didn't want to tell her about Carmen. I didn't even want to think about that whole ordeal.

"Uh...Emmett and Jasper are pissing me off."

She knew I was lying.

"Tell me the truth."

"That is the truth," I swore.

Bella sighed, and her hands left me. It kind of hurt.

"You know, this whole helping you thing isn't going to work if you are going to keep secrets from me. I have to know you to be able to help you."

I understood this, but I didn't care.

"Yeah, but there are some things out there that I just need to keep to myself."

After a moment's thought, Bella nodded once. She understood.

"Okay. I get it."

Silence ensued, and I didn't want it to. It didn't matter whether talking hurt my head. I wanted to keep our conversation going. Thinking of it ending scared me.

"So...what were you doing in the library?" I asked tentatively.

For a moment, Bella raised a questioning eyebrow at me. Making small talk was weird.

"Uh...assignments," she answered.

"You're major is Law, right?" I checked.

She paused for a moment. "I guess," she shrugged, not looking at me.

"You guess?"

She shrugged again. My interest shot through the roof. There was something there that she was hiding.

"Haven't you declared it? You said last night that it was..."

Bella shrugged again. "It is. Kind of."

I didn't get it.

"What do you mean?"

Bella shrugged for what felt like the hundredth time. "I've declared...but I'm still...undecided...if you get it..."

Even in my hammered state, I knew there was some sort of meaning behind those words.

"Undecided about what?" I asked quietly

That struck a nerve, because all of a sudden her eyes shot to me, wide and brown and deep.

She only had a one word answer. For a moment, I thought I saw a tear glisten in the corner of her eye.

"Everything," she muttered.

I was stunned to silence, reality crashing through my alcohol-induced haze. Bella's eyes flittered away from me as soon as she saw that. I was shaken to the core.

"Bella –"

I went to speak, but the chiming of the clock tower interrupted me as the long, deep rings rung out. Bella looked up to it, sucking in a deep breath.

"Sunday," she noted dryly.

Sunday. The day rang a bell in my head for some reason.

Then I remembered.

"Happy Birthday," I told her.

As soon as I said it, Bella looked at me, shocked. Something in her eyes startled me.

"You remembered," she noted. "Even though you're completely smashed."

I shrugged. "I'm good at remembering dates."

Really, I wasn't.

Bella squinted at me. It put me on edge.

"What?" I asked nervously.

She kept peering at me, and a moment later spoke. "Your eyes..." she whispered, locking hers to mine, "they're green...emerald green. I never noticed that before."

That shook me. She was so close to me. I could practically feel her breathing down my neck and her heat soaking into me, the smell of strawberries and sweat and girl flooding me.

"They are," I whispered with a gulp, awe-struck.

Suddenly, Bella sighed, and in the next second she sat up. "Come on. Let's get you home."

Hesitant and edgy, I nodded. "Okay."

Bella turned around then, and with her back facing to me, I heard her whisper, "At least you won't remember this in the morning."

.:.

I woke up on Sunday with a killer headache. By the time I had been sick in the toilet, pulled myself into the kitchen and downed two painkillers it was already two in the afternoon, and I was still reeling over Carmen's visit the night before and still feeling the guilt for bringing all of those demons right back up to rear their ugly heads. By that time, Jasper arrived home from town, and I was drowning in my own guilt.

He greeted me as he waltzed into the kitchen, "Shit, Cullen, you look like death warmed up."

"Gee, thanks," I replied bitterly.

"Tough night?" he asked, as he walked to the counter to put down the grocery bags.

I nodded. "If only I could remember it."

Jasper went to the tap and got a glass of water. I plonked down on the couch, feeling like shit.

"What do you remember?" he asked. "We didn't know where you had gotten to after Carmen..."

My heart jumped in fear and guilt at the mention of her name. I tried to ignore it.

"Downing whiskey shots with a little green-haired girl. Vomiting into the bushes. And then...waking up in my bed," I answered.

Jasper laughed at my lack of knowledge. "Well, you sure missed a lot then."

"What? Why?" I demanded.

Jasper looked at me like I was some sort of misinformed child and he was a wealth of knowledge.

"Do you remember who brought you home last night?" he pressed.

"No..." I admitted.

He answered for me. "Bella. She dragged your ass in here after midnight. You were practically comatose. She had fed you water and made sure you were sick before you came back. It was quite impressive. She was like your rescuer."

"Fuck," I growled, internally slapping myself. "Why don't I remember that?"

"Eh, you were hammered. You might remember it eventually...once the hangover dies," he assured me.

"Yeah..." I mumbled, uncertain.

"She looked pretty upset when she dropped you off, too," Jasper added. "Like she had been having a tough time."

Aw, shit.

The worst thoughts popped into my head. What the fuck did I say to her? Did I ruin everything that I had been working towards with her?

"Did you ask her what was wrong?" I demanded.

Jasper looked at me like I had two heads. "I asked her if she was alright and if you had behaved, and she just said yes. I didn't pry any further if that's what you are asking."

"Fuck," was all I could say.

"What do you think is wrong?" he asked then, interested.

"I don't know," I admitted. "I just hope I didn't do something to fuck shit up. I just got her to start trusting me."

Jasper chuckled at that. "You are such a douche bag."

"Do you know where she is?" I asked, ignoring the insult.

"Out with her friends. It's her birthday. Alice and Rosalie took her somewhere special, apparently."

"Fuck!" I swore.

"Wow, calm down," Jasper cautioned. "It will be alright. She will be at the Movie Night tonight. You can see her there. There's nothing to worry about. Plus, Alice would have texted me if you had done something to hurt or piss Bella off...well, even more. It's all fine."

"I can't believe I can't remember anything..." I muttered.

Jasper laughed again. "Why does it matter?" he chuckled. "It's not like you fucked her. What other shit do you have to care about when it comes to her?"

In all honesty, I didn't know, but I couldn't shake the want to talk to her and find out what part of our interactions I missed anyway.

"I don't know," I told him.

I honestly didn't.

.:.

Author's Note: I giggled like a twelve year old girl when we hit 69 reviews and hung there for a while. Does that make me immature? We've hit 80 now anyway, which is amazing.

I'm not sure when the next update will be out because I'm moving out and going to University for the first time in a few days, and O-week will be pretty busy. I apologise. Thank you all so much for your support so far. I will get it out ASAP.

What do you think of Edward's antics and the fight with Carmen?