Summary: Random moments between Bella and Edward. Alice foresees Bella in Edward's life, Edward tries to stay away. But, what prompts him to go to her more than a year before she is supposed to move to Forks? And, what happens when she decides to stay in Phoenix? AU, a 'what if' canon type story, star-crossed lovers or meant to be?
Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, the rest of this is my original work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter One: HELLO
The fog is so thick that I have difficulty seeing clearly. It is one of those days where it has its own personality, its own life force, its own arms cradling you as you attempt to walk or drive through it. Except instead of cradling, the arms creep out in thin wisps, extending endlessly, and wrapping around your neck silently.
I thought I was in the heat of the Arizona desert, but the swaying and rhythmic clicking of the train soldiering on the tracks have lulled me to sleep. Lulled me into feeling safe. Instead, my dreams are invaded by the cold grayness and intense vibrant green of my childhood home, where my dad still lives.
The fog simmers and congeals until it condenses to a foam-like substance. Ironically it mirrors the shaving cream I used this morning to ensure bathing suit readiness for my California vacation with my dad. Just as I reach out to smear it across a steam-filled mirror, it disappears.
The cool eeriness of my dream invades my other senses. I smell moss and evergreens and the dampness of the dirt that surrounds the woods near Charlie's house. Firewood burning amongst the sea air. The sea stacks at First Beach and Rialto act as sentries, dark textured shadows against the thickened atmosphere.
And then…there is a stillness, and a sudden quieting of the train wheels and my rapidly beating heart. There is only cold, cold coldness draping and cinching around me, holding me close. The icy arms encircle my body, my life, my heart, and then I am dead.
I flip through the pages of my book, glancing at my watch one last time, then at the train schedule. We are running on time, and I will arrive in LA just before ten in the morning, just as scheduled. Just in time for my dad to pick me up after getting his rental car from the airport.
The heat from the desert is still strong; I can feel it seeping through the double paned windows, despite the fact that the air conditioning is on. The summer sun has just started its slow descent and its warmth will last several hours after it disappears.
My train car is empty. I purposely walked through several cars after getting on in Phoenix until I found one with the least amount of people in it.
Two guys board at the next station and though they look nothing alike, they look like brothers to me. I sneak peeks at them while pretending to be engrossed in my book. The older one has short curly, dark hair and he's on to my game. He peers over towards the back of the train car and smiles at me knowingly, one dimple on each cheek completing the look. His brother, or friend, looks everywhere except at me and leads them towards the other end of the car. His hair is lighter, a sort of brown, almost red, not quite auburn color and stands on end without the stiff look of too much gel or mousse.
I like that they are sitting ahead of me so that I can…observe. They seem to be sitting silently, though once in a while the…bronze-haired (Is that a color?) one looks up from the book he's reading to say something to the bigger one. It is out of the blue, as if he's answering an unspoken question.
That question might be 'Where are our bags?' because he scowls at his older brother and, I notice, they have no bags with them. The younger one has a paperback book that he doesn't seem to be actually reading, just staring at the pages, and the older one drums his fingers on his jeans almost absent-mindedly. Once in a while he checks his phone for text messages but doesn't appear to text back.
Like my bronze-haired neighbor—it seems wrong to call him a ginger because his strands aren't really red per se—I am reading or not reading the same paragraph over and over again.
Less than an hour after they board, the older one turns almost gracefully out of his seat and heads determinedly in my direction. I quickly shift my eyes down to my book but can still see him from my periphery. When he shakes his head in a knowing look at me, I give up and wiggle my fingers in a wave. He's clearly coming over to talk to me anyway.
"I'm head to the chow car," he says. "Care for anything?"
I shake my head and manage to squeak "No, thank you," my voice an embarrassingly high tone from disuse.
"Aw. Come on—it's midnight. Time for a snack." He glances back at his brother as he says this with a sort of mischievous smile. "Emmett Cullen, by the way."
"Yes. Bella," he pauses as if he's almost…familiar with me. Then he tilts his head back towards where he was sitting. "That's my brother, Edward, over there."
Edward. Edward Cullen. His name seems to fit him. He turns his head and nods at me quickly as his brother sort of introduces him, then returns his attention quickly back to the book I know he isn't reading.
"He's a little shy," Emmett says, dimples showing, then makes his way to the train door behind me. "I'll get you a hot chocolate," he adds decisively, leaving me alone with my book again. And Edward.
Shy or standoffish? Hard to tell. I wouldn't have started talking to other passengers either.
Eventually I give up staring at the back of Edward's head, and I get up and stretch before walking towards his end of the train. Emmett is taking a long time at the dining car, and I can't help but wonder if the other passengers had the same idea for a midnight snack.
"What are you not reading?" I ask Edward as I slide into the chair opposite him. He and his brother are sitting in the section of seats that face each other, two and two surrounding a makeshift table.
"Pardon?" He raises his light brown, almost ocher-colored eyes to me and seems to be focusing on something.
I shrug and hold up my book, "I'm not reading The House on Mango Street."
"I've read that."
"So have I. But not a word tonight," I smile.
His lips twitch up in a semi-smile in return. In understanding. "I'm not reading John Steinbeck. Not a word since getting on the train. Or, the same fifty-seven words over and over again, to be precise."
"I've read that."
"So have I." We copy each other's words and smile.
"So, where are you and your brother headed?" I ask, wanting to prolong the conversation.
He doesn't answer right away. Instead, he almost seems to frown then look around as if he's searching for Emmett. After an awkward amount of time passes, he mutters, "Nowhere in particular."
"You just happen to be riding this train?"
"We're visiting colleges," Emmett clarifies as he rejoins us. His arms are filled with several packages of chips, a drink carrier, and aluminum covered hot dogs. "For me. Edward's just keeping me company…he'd rather not go to college in such a sunny area." He lines up the food in front of us, handing me my hot chocolate. "The grill was closed but I convinced them to make us some dogs."
"Thanks," I say, gathering the food gratefully. "How much do I owe you?" I ask as Edward mutters his own gratitude, though he sounds a bit off.
"Nothing," they both answer simultaneously.
I tear back the aluminum off one of the hot dogs and grin at what I find. "The works? How did you know?"
Emmett grins back at me and opens up his own package after he watches me hesitate to take a bite. He stares pointedly at Edward who makes a face at the food in front of us and then opens up a bottle of orange juice instead.
A few minutes pass and I realize that Emmett has finished his food and is tossing chips into the drink holder in front of him. Amazingly he doesn't miss a single shot. Edward, on the other hand, puts down his juice after finishing it all in one swig. Emmett tosses him a hot dog, but he sets it down decisively. "I'm not hungry," he says, sounding slightly annoyed.
I stare at him a moment, slightly embarrassed that I'm eating so much. I hadn't realized how hungry I was. "Actually, you're looking kind of pale," I say to Edward. And, he does. The fluorescent lights of the train, even in their 'dim' mode for nighttime don't flatter anyone, even someone as handsome as Edward. But he looks wrong somehow.
Emmett pauses his chip-basketball game at my statement and turns to get a better look at his brother. "You do look pale, bro. Feeling sick?"
Edward seems to glare at him for some reason, then stands up suddenly and walks quickly to the train's bathroom. "Must be motion sickness," Emmett shrugs, not too concerned.
After Edward returns from the train's bathroom looking still pale but better, Emmett saunters over to the back of the car and returns with my bag in tow. "You're staying up here, right?"
I nod slowly. After dropping off my bag, instead of sitting back down at the table with us, he backtracks several rows and then stretches somewhat across the two seats. "Well, I'm going to take a nap," he announces. I notice Edward give him a strange look, but he shrugs and closes his eyes.
"Um, maybe I should nap too?" I stand up to sit in the row behind us and, inexplicably Edward follows me.
"Are you actually tired?" he asks.
I look down at my watch and see that it's close to one in the morning. "Not really."
"We could not read together." He smoothly settles into the seat next to me.
"Are you sure? Are you…um, feeling better?"
"Yes, the orange juice wasn't sitting well, but I'm fine now."
We both pretend to read our books until I give in and start doodling on my notebook instead as we chat. Before long we are in the middle of a game of hangman.
"Ascot," he says decisively with a small laugh. "Why would you choose that?"
"You said to start alphabetically," I answer as I fill in the remaining letters. I only managed to stump him long enough to fill in the stickman's head and body along the noose. "Why? Do you need me to tell you what it is?"
"I know what it is, Bella."
"Okay then. Your turn."
He dashes in nine lines and fills in the first letter as "B". "It's a 'gimme'," he shrugs.
I only get as far as "E" for the second letter before I hesitate. I already know the answer. "A little obvious, don't you think?"
"What?" he asks in mock confusion. His forehead scrunches up, making lines, just barely marring the perfection of his face.
"It's my name," I say, and I hate it because I blush.
"Actually it's the meaning of your name. Beautiful." He lifts his leg closest to me and tucks it into the seat underneath his other one so he can turn to face me, letting the notebook we're using slip down a bit.
"Whatever," I mumble.
"You are, you know," he says quietly.
I shrug. I've heard it before, although no one has ever made me want to believe it more than him.
We continue through the letter "M" before I start yawning again, chatting in between clues. An hour or so has passed since Emmett fell asleep and I figure I should probably sleep as well.
"I'm getting tired," I say.
"You just don't want to pick another word," Edward teases.
"Maleficent is a valid word."
"It's a proper name. Doesn't count."
"We're not playing Scrabble."
I interrupt him with a wide yawn.
"Okay, you're tired," he changes tactics. "Why don't you nap?" He opens up his book to read and I decide to close my eyes for a little while. I don't really want to waste any of the precious time we have together since we arrive in L.A. early in the morning and then I will part ways with the Cullen brothers.
"Insomnia?" I mumble-ask as my eyes drift.
"Something like that," he murmurs.
The smooth rocking of the train gets the better of me and I feel myself drift slowly, slowly, slowly to my right as my head falls gently on Edward's shoulder and my eyes flutter closed.
It could be minutes later, it could be hours later, but the next thing I know is Edward's arms are around me and I am jolted forward and gasping for air as my eyes adjust rapidly to a state of awakeness. The scent of metal burning is in the air and there is a high-pitched shrieking noise with a final loud boom and a cacophony of screams, including my own.
The train has crashed. More quickly than I would have thought possible, Edward is lifting me up in his arms and weaving through the wreckage as he mutters something, instructions perhaps, to his brother who is all of a sudden right next to us.
There are bright orange and blue flames starting around us, but all I can focus on is Edward's face as he carries me out of the maze of train seats. I can feel that I haven't been injured in the wreck; my state of consciousness is still low, but I feel no pain. I would be more awake if there was pain, wouldn't I?
"Sleep, my love," Edward murmurs. I am more concerned about making sure that he is uninjured as well. In his eyes, I can see the reflection of the orange flames as they dance and leap around us and he finds a way out.
"I've got you, Bella," he reassures me. His eyes show a different kind of pain, not physical. He is not hurt. I breathe a sigh of relief, surprisingly more so for him than for me.
But, I'm not the one who is unbreakable. He is.
A/N: I started writing this in February, but wanted to have it more complete before posting. You may have seen part of the first few chapters as teasers on ADF. There's an awesome banner by time_lights that I'm hoping to post on my profile page.
This first chapter was inspired partly by a dream, partly by the film, Unbreakable, and a lot by Twilight (of course). What inspires you to create?