Summary: Based on the movie Four Christmases. Bella and Edward face the arduous task of visiting all their family members for the holidays. [All Human]
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, Four Christmases or any of the characters except OCs.
1: Making Plans
Bella sat at her desk staring mindlessly at the small clock in front of her. 4:13. She looked back to her computer screen at the thrice-proof-read work she'd finished weeks ago and had been stuck tweaking here and there since. She stared back at the clock. She stared at the photograph of her and Edward on the beach in Corfu in the purple frame he'd gotten her for their one month anniversary. She spun around lazily in her chair. She played with the clicky-top on her pen, noticing how it really irritated Frances, her co-worker sat two desks down, and continued doing it. She opened and closed every drawer to check if there was anything interesting in them and then checked again mere minutes later, just in case. She rummaged through her purse, finding her phone, her wallet, her keys, half a dozen old receipts, a biro, some papers she needed for work, her Kindle and buried right at the bottom was an old stick of gum. She unwrapped it, gave it a quick sniff, then tossed it in her mouth. She checked her drawers again. She picked up the phone and put the receiver to her ear, checking for the monotonous ringing to see if it was still working. It was. She put it down. She started popping her gum, earning another glare from Frances. She smiled at her cheerfully.
"Happy holidays, Fran," she called to her.
Frances just sneered at returned to her screen. Unlike some people, she hadn't been keeping up with her workload and now had plenty to do. Unlike some people.
Bella flopped down into a bored slouch. She wished she had one of those weird ball thingies that just keep going back and forth and back and forth. She could watch those all day.
She woke up the computer from sleep mode and click the internet icon. First she checked her emails, there were a couple from old college friends inviting her to Christmas parties to which she couldn't make it, one from her school friend Angela wishing her and Edward a Merry Christmas from everyone at the Weber household (she and her wife Michaela adopted two beautiful twin daughters last spring; she sent pictures of each family holiday, it was so cute). There was then the usual junk: laser eye surgery, quick loans, find your soul mate on our cheesy, overpriced website.
She moved on through Twitter and Facebook - Mike Newton added you as a friend on Facebook - confirm? Deny - some guys just couldn't take the hint, checked her favourite online stores, did some internet banking, guiltily read a quick fanfic based on her favourite show, and ended up on Youtube watching videos of cats wearing bowties.
"Swan, you still here?" Danny, a senior sales advisor from another department, walked past. They'd gone on a couple of dates back when Bella was first starting out at the company but soon accepted they were better as just friends. It was actually because of Danny, technically, that she'd ever met Edward. His cousin dated Edward's roommate for a while and it was at a big July 4th party that the two met.
"Yeah," she drawled. "The boss is working me like a dog."
"He might as well do if he's gonna keep you locked up in here over Christmas with nothing to do."
"At least he's made the place look all festive and pretty," she said, indicating to the one tiny foe pine tree sat in the furthest corner of the room decorated with three baubles and a scrap of tinsel. Yeah, he was a grinch.
"Well, a bunch of us are going out for drinks later at Bennie's, you should come with. Eggnog, Santa hats, drunken Christmas carolling," he smiled.
"That sounds like just what I needed," she smiled back.
"Great, see ya. Bye Frances!" he called cheerily as he walked away.
Bella laughed to herself. She looked back at the clock. 4:28. Just as she was about to muster up the courage to go ask her boss to let her leave - and maybe even start her Christmas break - early, since she'd been working ever so hard, the phone rang.
"Bella Swan," she answered.
"Bella!" the sound of her mother's voice rang happily down the phone.
"Mom, I gave you my office number for emergencies. Seriously, stop calling here. I have a cell."
"You didn't answer," - there were no missed calls - "So, sweetie, I wanted to arrange our plans for this year."
"Yes, dummy! For Christmas!" her giant grin was audible.
This is awkward… "Um… Mom, it's Charlie's year."
"Well, yes, I know that," she replied in her classic 'don't talk to me like I'm an idiot' tone (it was classic because she had to use it a lot). "But I have a really special surprise this year and I want to share it with you."
"Can wait till next year. I won't see you again now till my birthday!"
"Yeah, which is in February. Mom, I really can't…"
"He's hardly going to mind. It's not as if he isn't used to being alone."
Bella was slightly taken aback. "Mom, that's a horrible thing to say."
"Whatever. You need to spend Christmas with me and Phil this year. Oh! And bring Edward, too."
"Because he's practically family now! You two have been together so long I can almost hear the wedding bells!" and the smile was back.
I can't… "Ok, I'll rearrange with Charlie that I'll go see him for New Years or something. And I'll ask Edward but I'm not making any promises! He spends always Christmas with his family."
Renée squealed. "Yay! I can't wait for you both to get here! And don't worry, I've already talked to Phil, he's gonna book the flights of you, he'll call you later with the details, all you have to do is show up bright and early on Christmas morning. I can't wait!"
With that the line went dead.
Well… Bella thought. That was… awful.
She put down the phone and tried to collect her thoughts. She felt terrible for agreeing to cancel on Charlie. It was true he was used to being alone, which was precisely why she didn't want to abandon him. Plus, New Year was the holiday she got to spend with Edward. She'd always get a hot new cocktail dress in the Boxing Day sales with some matching heels and they'd go to town. It was the one night of the year left - and age twenty-seven - since her college days where she didn't call it a night by two in the morning. And if she were being brutally honest, she wasn't prepared to waste that night with her father.
She picked up the receiver again and dialled the number. She tried to rehearse in her head how to break it to him but all she could think was please don't be home, please don't be home, please don't be home…
"Hello?" a gruff voice answered.
"Hi, daddy," she chimed brightly.
"Bella? Oh, it's so good to hear your voice."
"Yeah… you too. Listen, I…"
"If you calling about Christmas dinner, don't worry, I'm not cooking it this year. My friend Harry's wife, Sue is sorting out the turkey for me, all I have to do is peel the potatoes and open the jar of cranberry sauce," she could hear his smile growing.
"That sounds great. But, actually, what I called to say was…"
"Oh, and all the decorations are up. I know how you're boss never makes the effort. And there's real snow outside, obviously. And I even got those ridiculous Santa and reindeer lights that go on the roof, the house looks like a real Santa's workshop. You're gonna love it."
"And you're gifts are all wrapped and ready under the tree."
"Where else would they be?"
"And I managed to fish out your old stocking you used to love from when you were a kid out of the attic. The one Grandma knitted for you. It's above the fireplace."
Bella just went silent, her mind drawing a total blank on what to say.
"Bella? You wanted to tell me something?"
"I'll be there with bells on."
"Fantastic," she could hear him grinning like a fool.
"Yeah, I just wanted to call and wish you a happy Christmas. Just spreading the festive cheer."
"Aw, that's so sweet. I remember when you were little; you used to go through the entire phone book wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, even the dry cleaners! Hey, remember that time…"
"Dad, I really gotta go. You know, work. Busy, busy."
"Oh right, of course. Ok well I'll see you in a few days then, sweetheart."
"Ok, see you then… bye."
Bella put the phone down and groaned. What am I gonna do now?
Racking her brain she couldn't come up with a decent solution. The best she could come up with was to juggle seeing both of them on the same day. It shouldn't be too hard, Forks wasn't that far from Portland. The only issue now was convincing Edward to ditch his family to come with her. She felt bad at the idea of asking him for that but the thought of spending Christmas with him made her smile, they'd never in all their five years of being together spent the holidays with each other. It would be nice, and would really take the sting off being stuck with her parents.
Looking up she noticed Frances sat facing her with a wicked smirk and realised she'd been unceremoniously listening in on her conversations.
"Blow it out your ass, Fran."
Edward locked the door of his Mercedes and walked through the parking lot in the basement of the building. He made his way towards the elevator, which would take him up to the twelve floor where he shared a wonderful apartment with the most beautiful woman in Sacramento, Bella Swan.
He touched his fingers lightly to the small box in his pocket. It contained a trinket he'd just seen in a store window and bought on a whim. It was a beautiful silver and white gold pendant with amethyst and black sapphire stones. It had looked so strange and outplace sitting with the other generic necklaces that it reminded him of Bella, so he bought it. It was only $450.
He did this every year. In fact, he did this all the time. He was forever showering her with little gifts from jewellery to ornaments to CDs of bands he knew she liked to books to a car. Yeah, she was a little overwhelmed at that one. She'd practically screamed at him that it was too much and she couldn't accept it and begged him to take it back. It has taken days for her to calm down. Eventually she agreed to keep it on the grounds that he vowed never to buy her another gift as long as they lived. He'd had his fingers crossed.
He didn't really know why he bought all these things. It wasn't that he or Bella were materialist, neither believed showing affection was about flowers and chocolates nor did they at all associate love with money, but he still liked to spoil her. And at Christmas he went all out. The trinket was nothing, just one of many little presents he gave her during the run-up to Christmas; on the day he brought out the big guns. Last year it was two first class tickets to Rome, the year before that it was a private concert he'd arranged with her favourite singer (he was lucky she had a thing for under-the-radar acts, booking one of the huge stars would've been impossible), and before that it was a diamond and pearl necklace, earrings and bracelet set in a handcrafted jewellery box he'd had custom made to play a song written just for her. It was a breathtaking piano melody that sounded like a perfect lullaby which he'd tried at first to get away with claiming he'd written himself but the truth came out soon enough. He couldn't play piano for shit.
And every single gift made her blush, made her feel awkward and uneasy. She didn't come from the same kind of background as him, she'd had a very humble upbringing and wasn't used, even after five years, to being pampered. He, on the other hand, thought she was worth every penny and more. And this year, he had the best surprise yet…
His cell phone started ringing in his pocket. The ID on the screen read Mom and Dad and he answered straight away.
"Edward, where on Earth have you been? I've been trying to reach you all day," Esme's voice chimed down the phone.
"I was in the office, Mom."
"Well your sister has already phoned last week to finalise our arrangements for her visit and from you I've not heard a word."
"I know, I'm sorry. I should've called earlier. But, hey, there was something I did want to discuss with you. Would it be alright with you and Dad if I brought Bella with me this year?"
"Bella? Well, of course, we'd love to have her but doesn't she normally spend Christmas with her family?"
"Yeah, but I'm kinda hoping to talk her out of it. She never seems to enjoy herself when she goes to visit her parents - do not tell her I told you that - and I wanted to show her what Christmas is like at the Cullen house."
"Oh, that's sweet. Of course Bella can join us. I'll just tell Pietro they'll be one more mouth at the table."
"Why? There's always way too much food anyway."
"Not the point. I'll call you later, darling, to arrange the details, Helena needs me for something right now. I'll see you both very soon."
By the time the conversation was over he'd reached 12. Stepping out of the elevator, he turned right. When he reached the door numbered 42b he got out his keys and let himself in.
The apartment was just as he'd left it, only there was now a note from Bella, who left the house later than him, that hadn't been there this morning.
Hey, sweetie. Guess what? I love you :) B xx
He smiled and slipped the note into his breast pocket. He walked over into the kitchen to start cooking dinner. Checking the cupboards and freezer for everything he needed, he set to work on making baked paella and defrosting a banoffee pie for desert, her favourite.
As he worked he checked the answering machine and saw that a little red 2 was flashing on the screen. He pressed play while continuing to slice the chicken breast.
"You have two new messages," the mechanic voice informed him.
"Hi, Edward!" his sister, Alice's voice chirped noisily through the machine. "It's me, Alice. I was just calling to say a big Merry Christmas to you and Bella! Only five sleeps left! It's gonna be the most amazing - Damon, put that down! No! Leave your sister alone! So anyhoo, I also wanted to remind you, dearest brother, that since you spent Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad this year you promised you'd come over to our this year and spend Christmas with us."
Edward froze. Oh crap…
"Not that you needed reminding, of course. William, stop it! It's just that Jasper and I haven't heard anything from you yet about when we can expect you to arrive. I said no! Put the ice cream back in the freezer! So just get back to me as soon as you can with your arrangements, we've already sorted out the guest bedroom for you and put a lock on the door just in case our little angels decide to try and terrorize you in the middle of the night - Damon, I'm only going to tell you one more time! Don't make me send you to the naughty corner! Ok, so I'll speak to you later and I'll see you at Christmas! Eee!"
Edward was still stood stuck in place as the bleeps signalled the end of the message. He'd completely forgotten promising Alice he'd spend Christmas at theirs! Now he was going to have to call and cancel and face her brutal pixie wrath. Either that or cancel with his mother, who next year would take revenge by forcing him to wear one of those horrid knitted Christmas sweaters all day. They were so damn itchy!
I could visit both, he thought. They're not that far apart. Just a plane to Seattle like I planned and then a drive outside the city to see Alice. I'll have to forgot asking Bella to come with me, though… I can't ask her to spend half the day travelling. I'll just have to go see them on my own.
Yes, that would work out fine.
Then the machine played the second message: "Oh, and bring Bella."