I've had this idea floating in my mind for a while.
This story, is for my fellow Anti-Twilight fans. If you are a Twilight fan and you are reading this, I suggest you turn around if you don't want Bella getting AWAY from Edward and standing up for herself.
Also, this was inspired by the Spitefic community on LiveJournal, dedicated to writing spite Twilight fics. :D Thank you all out there! Especially you, Das Mervin. You are awesome.
This takes place after the events of New Moon, and some of Eclipse, but Jacob did not force himself on her. For TNBC, it takes place a few years after the movie and Oogie's Revenge.
And this was just for fun. X3 Especially with it being a crossover.
TNBC characters belong to Tim Burton
Twilight characters belong to the ever-awful hack herself Stephenie Meyer
Bella Swan would never have expected this to happen in her life.
She had been going through the forest in Forks, trying to find the location where Edward had said to meet him. She of course, loving him so much and having absolutely no reason to question him, agreed to this and was now making her way through. Why did he want her to meet him there? She didn't know, but it didn't matter, she would soon be with her one true love.
However, this was not what happened.
Bella had instead, gotten lost. The GPS provided to her by Edward had lost its power, the batteries were dead. So now, she had to rely on some kind of luck that would lead her to where she had to go. Some kind of spot in the middle of the forest, not far from the cliffside coastline.
What she found later, was a huge surprise.
There was a perfect circle of trees in the middle of this area of the forest. Despite that Forks had a genuine rain forest, despite it not being tropical, all of these trees looked dry as a bone, the bark dried and untouched. But that wasn't the only thing about these trees. They all had colourful designs upon them, which Bella soon saw were doors. Doors. One was in the shape of a heart, another a shamrock, another a colourfully decorated egg, another a bag with stars, another a jack-o-lantern, another a turkey, and finally, one in the shape of a Christmas tree, ornaments, star and all. Given their shapes, Bella immediately saw that they were doors representing the major holidays. Valentine's Day, St-Patrick's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
All of the doors even had items representing their holidays as steps in front of their respective trees just below the door itself. Bella wasn't sure what to think. Initially, she actually had the logical mind to think that this was all some kind of tradition they had in Forks, where they would have holiday parties and use these doors as a symbol of them. Or maybe for storage for special items used for the holiday celebrations within community parties.
For the heck of it, and because Halloween was the approaching holiday (it was September right now), Bella approached the Jack-o-lantern door, peering inside. Nothing but endless blackness inside. This puzzled her. It wasn't like the darkness of a closet that didn't have a light on, making it appear dark and endless...it was a chasm. Like a deep, dark hole. She didn't understand it. Why was it endless?
But the next thing Bella had known, she was falling in through the door and into the tree. Though, instead of hitting the ground beneath the roots...she went down. Down down down down...
Into an orange and black vortex of spiders, bats, pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons. Needless to say, she had been sure she was either dreaming or on drugs and didn't know it. But she screamed with terror as she fell through the vortex.
Upon awakening, she came to see that she was in a graveyard.
There had been a scarecrow, with a jack-o-lantern for a head, pointing toward the direction ahead, with a wooden sign around its neck that read HALLOWEEN TOWN.
Bella had been understandably flabbergasted. A town called Halloween Town? It was absolutely absurd. Was it a joke? And why did everything look so dismal and grey? Even more so than in Forks? Everything was...dead.
That of course, was the beginning.
It had not been long until Bella found Halloween Town beyond the graveyard. That had also been where she met a skeleton man.
He was tall, very tall, skinny as can be, and wore a dapper black and white pinstripe suit, along with a bowtie in the shape of a bat flaring its wings. He had no eyes, but very vivid and expressive eye sockets, and his skull was shaped very much unlike a regular human skull (aside from the eye and nose sockets), it was rounder. To Bella, he looked like the dead pirate captain in James And The Giant Peach, a movie she loved as a kid.
His name was Jack Skellington. Interestingly enough. Jack for carved pumpkin jack-o-lanterns, the staple and symbol of Halloween. Skellington...for the fact he was a skeleton. Absolute puns. It just sounded more classy and elegant, like a rich person.
Bella had to admit, if there was one thing she found attractive, it was his voice. Smooth, cheerful, bright, and yet suave. Not like Edward's, of course. But she liked it.
When she explained her situation to Jack, surprisingly unafraid of him, Jack immediately took to looking after her. He was...quite a gentleman. Moreso than Edward. It had even had Bella think of how Edward would never say or do half the things Jack did. He let her stay in his home, and Bella had made sure to contribute to the household chores and such.
And then Bella met Jack's wife, a rag doll woman named Sally. Unlike most of the women in the town, Sally was actually close to being considered beautiful. She had big, round expressive eyes with tiny little black pupils, along with thick eyelashes. Her lips were feminine and a bit of a blood red colour, which she later saw was not from lipstick. Her material skin was pale blue, and she had visible stitches along her face, arms, neck, and legs. Her hair was some kind of soft material made from yarn, and was a copper, rusty red, almost brown. She wore a dress, a patchwork dress made of different fabrics, black and white striped socks, and little black shoes with short heels. Her beauty was more cute, pretty, haunting, macabre even, especially in comparison to Rosalie, Esme and Alice, for sure.
She was also very tall, almost as tall as Jack was, who was REALLY tall. The fact Sally had a very long neck added to the illusion of a much higher height. Her voice was sweet, soft, and very much for a kind and sweet woman. Bella was later then told that she had been created by the town's scientist, Dr. Finkelstein, which was why she was so different.
Anyone who looked at her would consider her pretty. But Jack, the way he looked at her, you could swear he thought she was an angel, or just about the greatest thing in the world.
Over her time spent in the town, she saw their interactions. Holding hands, flirting, eyeing each other with love, and Jack was such a sweetheart and gentleman toward her. It surprised Bella. Not once did he laugh at her when she asked an innocent question, at least not cruelly. If anything, he laughed with her, and out of love, because he found her adorable, and handled explaining things to her with patience, tact, care, and understanding. Like she deserved to know and he was happy to explain it.
Bella was amazed. Jack treated Sally, the woman he loved, with so much sweetness and gentlemanly qualities, and more! And in turn, Sally not only completely reciprocated, but she just seemed to be happy around him. They seemed to be so in love.
How did that work? They were ghouls.
She asked Sally if she thought Jack was attractive, and her response was surprising.
"I do, Bella." Sally said softly with a smile. "I do find Jack attractive."
That was all she said about it.
Bella looked at Sally, and bit her lip for a moment, and decided to go another route before bringing up Edward. "Sally, I just want to know. Let's say, hypothetically, there was a dance you didn't want to go to."
"A dance? And I don't want to go? Um, all right..." Sally looked confused at this but looked at Bella attentively.
"Say Jack brings you there, and when you say you don't want to go, what would he do?" Bella asked her. She could not believe she used the spring dance as a reference to this, but she had to. It was something she vividly could remember.
In fact, memories of more unpleasant moments with Edward were beginning to surface a lot these days.
Sally frowned in thought, and then stood up. She went to Jack's study in the observatory, with Bella following her.
"Jack, can I ask you something?"
Smiling, Jack looked up from his desk and turned in his high-back chair with wheels. "Of course, Sally! What's on your mind?"
Bella felt stricken again. Jack was always so understanding and attentive when Sally asked him something, it was sweet.
"What would you have done if we were going to a dance...or some kind of rhythmic ritualistic ceremony..." Sally said, sounding uncertain. "And I said no, that I didn't want to go?"
"Basically you're bringing her there already, and you didn't tell her." Bella interjected.
Jack looked surprised at the question, but then he stood up before answering. "Why, I would take you right home, Sally! If you told me you didn't want to go somewhere, of course I would never force you to go, it wouldn't even be an issue! And I would never just bring you somewhere without discussing it with you first, or even asking you if you wanted to go!"
"You...wouldn't have gotten annoyed and thought she was being difficult?" Bella asked carefully.
"Absolutely not." Jack said with no hesitation. "Even if I did want to go a dance, if Sally didn't want to, I would never force her to go. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why! I would try to see what was wrong, and we would go from there, but ultimately, I would not bring her somewhere she didn't want to go."
Sally looked touched, smiling lovingly at Jack before giving him a hug and thanking him for it. This made the Pumpkin King chuckle and hug her back before kissing her on the forehead, letting her know there was no need to thank him, it was the truth.
Why did Jack seem to somehow prove how...better his behaviour was than Edward's?
When the girls returned downstairs to the living room, Sally faced Bella and asked her a question that led her no choice but to come clean.
"Bella...is there something you want to talk to me about? Something you need to get off your chest?"
There was nothing patronizing, annoyed, or even amused about Sally's question then. She looked at Bella with genuine kindness and concern, as well as curiosity. It was something she only ever saw in her father, Charlie. Something she always tried to ignore...but at this moment, could no longer deny.
"I have a boyfriend back home in Forks." Bella said with a sigh, looking at the rag doll wistfully. "His name is Edward Cullen."
Sally gave a nod, seeming to process the information, and then looked at Bella attentively as she waited for her to continue.
"He's also a vampire." Bella for a moment then couldn't help but think to the Vampire brothers she met here in town. They were so...not Edward. They seemed like Eastern European vampires she'd read in folklore books, stories and even movies, like the remake of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with the Transylvania accents and everything. They were nowhere near beautiful or graceful as the Cullens, or the Volturi. "Not like the vampires here."
As the minutes ticked by, Bella told Sally everything she could. How she met Edward, getting to know him, being saved from the car crash, and then the recent events of how he had been acting. Especially in his jealousy toward Jacob, and also his pressures to marry her before they did...sexual activities.
Much to Bella's surprise, Sally listened to her. She didn't interrupt nor look at all like she was bored. No, she listened to her, through and through, eyes on her the entire time.
Finally, after Bella finished what she had to say for the time being, and letting a pause settle the air around them, Sally spoke up.
"Bella, you said just now that Edward wants to marry you?"
"Yes." Bella nodded, and sighed. "And I don't want to yet."
"You don't?" Sally said softly. She didn't look surprised, or like a typical woman who would think it was blasphemous. Instead, she was merely curious and wanted to know what Bella's thoughts on the subject were. "You can tell me...if you want to."
A little smile came across Bella's lips. "Nah, I'll tell you. It's just...not that I don't want to be with him, I just don't want to get married yet. Marrying young isn't always the best idea, really. I do...want to have sex with him, yes, but he won't unless we're married. And I don't want to get married yet. I want to go to college, and kind of just, get my life the way I want it. I know it's probably stupid, but-"
This time, Sally politely interrupted. "Bella, that is not stupid. If you're not ready to get married, that's all right. While we don't age here in Halloween Town...I can see what you may be getting at. Your courtship with him is quite young still, I take it?"
"Yes. We dated when I was seventeen, and I just turned eighteen." Bella told her, sighing a bit. "Um...well, it was spring when we got together, and it's fall now. And you know, I thought...I wanted to be a vampire, but after Edward and I went to visit my Mom in Florida...and some other things too, I was thinking a lot about that."
"You want to be a vampire?" Sally's eyes went wide. "But, Bella...you have an entire human life..."
"Yeah, I know. But lately, I think I'm having second thoughts about that." Bella admitted. A few weeks ago, she would have thought that having second thoughts about becoming a vampire were blasphemous and complete nonsense. But now, she just really could see how much of a big step it really was. And it wasn't something like marriage that you could divorce yourself from and go back to being single again. It was more like sex. Once you did it once, your body has done it, whether or not your mind is in synch with it. "It's so final. I don't know if I want to do it."
"You likely made the decision in the heat of the moment." Sally surmised.
Bella thought of that for a moment. It made sense, actually. A lot of what happened with Edward seemed to be in some kind of heat of the moment. "I think you might be right, Sally. I always thought that being a vampire, which I was sure I wanted, was amazing and exciting since I never truly wanted anything else. I thought I had no purpose, nothing I could soon become. I never really fit in with anyone, or really had anything special to contribute. And being a vampire...it made me feel like I was born to become one. And I think...that's why I wanted to, since it was the first thing I was ever passionate about."
"Bella...I may not...know what it is like growing up and becoming different stages of a human," Sally said kindly. "But I think, that you shouldn't worry about that. You have your entire life to see what you want to do and want to become. I've learned, over time since I've been existing, that people do what works for them. It shouldn't matter what society expects of you. You don't have to get married the second you're out of...high school, or college, and you certainly don't have to make a definite decision of what you want to do with your life so early on. Having an idea of what you want and taking the steps toward it is well and good, you are still very young, and you have plenty of time to figure it out."
Biting her lip again, Bella wasn't sure how to respond to that. Sally was, yet again, so kind and sweet about this. Something that reminded her of how Esme would act, in a sense. There was nothing patronizing in her words or her voice, and she also didn't seem to laugh or find her to be a silly human girl who didn't know what she wanted.
Come to think of it, that's exactly what Edward, and even Alice did sometimes. Carlisle and Esme did too, though in a more subtle way. She pushed the thought aside for a moment, and could see Sally had more to say.
"You are free to make your own choices, Bella. I don't know why Edward would think you shouldn't go to this thing called college or university... I think that's ridiculous. Do you want to go to that college thing?"
"Yeah." Bella nodded. "I mean, I don't know what I want to take, but I've been thinking lately about what I wanted to do in the near-future. At first I just wanted to stay with Edward in Forks. But now, I think...maybe I'll stay with my Dad some more. I know Dad would appreciate me thinking of my education." She could not believe she was referring to Charlie as "Dad" and not his name when he wasn't present. Something she had done for so long, picked up by her mother. "I could go to the local college, take some classes about subjects I like...maybe like a cooking class to learn about more meals and stuff I could try to make, and just kind of go from there, I guess. Emmett says that he just took classes he liked, going from one to the next and just pretty much did that. I kind like that, actually. Maybe I'll find what I want to do."
It sounded like a pretty good plan, she'd thought a bit about it. But when bringing it up to Edward, he had just simply chuckled and said she was being silly, she didn't need any of that stuff.
"Then why don't you? It's your life, Bella." Sally went on to say in response. "You're allowed to do what you want."
Bella smiled. She actually felt...better. A weight had been lifted off her chest. She felt a lot better. All of the events of before, between the newborn vampires, the Volturi and the wolf packs, just kind of seemed to have more of an effect on her than she realized. She had once actually been okay with murders if innocent people. How could she have thought that? How could she even let all of this on the line just for her? What had she done?
She felt even more glad she came to Halloween Town. It was something of an escape for her. Sure, all of the monsters were strange and weird, compared to "normal" people in real life, but as she spent more time here and got to see them and even know them, they weren't that bad at all. They loved their town, and just went about their lives as they pleased. And they all looked out for each other in their own ways.
Jack, especially, was just something else. He was quite a ruler. There wasn't a trace of arrogance, superiority, or egoism. If anything, he was as laid back and humble as Bella often saw in some people. He saw himself as more of a protector and a friend to the townspeople, not a dictator. He took his work as the Pumpkin King seriously, but also wasn't a pompous jerk who thought he was better than everyone. Not once did he treat anyone in town, or Sally, like they were below him. They were always treated as his equals. Bella...actually really admired that about him. A lot.
Why couldn't Edward be like him?
"I'll try. But I don't know what I can do to get Edward and the Cullens to agree to this." She said finally.
Well, that last bit wasn't entirely true. She knew Rosalie and Emmett would have no problem with her choices. If anything, they supported anything she wanted to do. There was a time she was waiting at the Cullen house for Edward, Alice, Jasper, and Carlisle to come back home, and she had approached Emmett and asked him if he could show her some of his skills in working under a car hood. He was happy to, and took her to the garage to a car he was currently restoring. It was an old car, a 1967 Chevy Impala. Emmett had bought it, despite everyone's protests. Except Rosalie, since she, like him, was quite a grease monkey herself. The Cullens all liked modern, amazing, and even foreign cars. Yes, Rosalie also preferred buying modern cars, but she liked to modify them to her liking.
Emmett had showed her some basics of working on your car, something she didn't know too much about. As well as that, the progress he'd made in restoring it so that it did retain its old charm, but would run smoothly. They had bonded a little over that, and she'd liked how he answered all of her questions about cars, which he was quite an expert on. He even let her take a spin in another old car he had, which was a 1958 Packard he had finished restoring, and rode with her. They drove around Forks in that car, and then she parked it safely back in the garage. It had been a fun day. When she told Edward about it, all he did was sigh and tell her not to drive old cars like that, since she clearly had no idea how to handle them properly. When Bella got indignant, he silenced her and just told her to go to bed.
"You don't need their approval, Bella." Sally told her then, breaking her train of thought. "I understand you would value his opinion, but you shouldn't have to base your decisions on what he says. I mean...I certainly do value Jack's viewpoint on things, especially when my safety is concerned. But, he does understand I am a person and can make my own decisions well within my means."
Bella let that sink in, and knew she was right. If Sally ever said she was going for a walk in the Hinterlands, alone, yes, Jack got concerned and warned her to be careful, but allowed her to go. Often she went with Zero, Jack's ghost dog, which was a safer idea. And really, Bella understood because there was a reason for all of this. Sally was by far the least scariest being in the town, she had an imbalance when she walked, she wasn't exactly strong, she couldn't run very fast, and she was very beautiful and so trusting. She was quite a target if she wasn't careful.
That had brought on the topic of her creator keeping her under lock and key. Bella had actually shivered upon that, knowing Edward and the Cullens have done and would do the same thing to her. But it was explained that her creator wasn't doing it selfishly or cruelly, he had his reasons, and was admittedly very misguided in protecting her. It had led to Sally sneaking out all the time and drugging his food or drinks with a plant called Deadly Nightshade, a sleep inducer. She had to admit, that was sure plucky of the rag doll!
"I try to see their point of view." Bella sighed. "But I don't know sometimes. Edward removed the engine of my car, well, my truck actually, so I wouldn't be able to drive out to La Push...that's the Native American reservation out near Forks, by the way, along the Olympic Peninsula, where my friend Jacob Black lives."
"Why did he do that?" A bit of a frown came to Sally's face, but seemed to be directed more at herself than Bella.
"He didn't want me to see Jacob." Bella bit her lip, looking at the rag doll again as she sipped the tea in her mug.
"Because...well, he was worried for my safety, you know. He thought me being within a pack of werewolves...well, they're not werewolves, they're shapeshifters. But his tribe, the Quileutes, have a belief that that they are descended from wolves. But that's a long story, Jacob tells it better than I do. He didn't want me to see Jacob at all, really. He even asked Alice to take me to their place for the weekend. Kind of kidnapping me, and he bribed her to do it."
"Wait." Now Sally stopped her. "From what I understand, you're saying Edward removed the engine of your truck...I suppose that's what allows it to move...just so that you would not go see a friend?"
"Yeah." Bella groaned at the memory. "I didn't understand it. Jacob is a good friend. I knew he would never hurt me. And if for some reason one of his pack friends would hurt me, I know he'd protect me. I've known about this wolf thing for a year, and so far...it's been okay, I guess. I'm kind of wary, sure, but I can take care of myself. I'm not scared of him or his friends. Plus, they promised to protect me from all that trouble I was telling you about before."
Sally frowned more. "Bella...I'm sorry, but I must say this. That sounds to me like he is purposefully sabotaging your means of transportation because he is jealous."
Rosalie had said the same thing before, but Bella had brushed it off as nonsense, or simply didn't care. "...Rosalie said something along that effect, and I was kind of thinking it myself, since he really had no reason at all to protect me from them." She frowned a bit then, looking down at her shoes, clinging the hem of the patchwork dress Sally had made for her to wear, to have a different change of clothes.
"And he asked his sister to kidnap you for a weekend? I...Bella...I think, no, this is absolutely wrong of him." Sally frowned. "Being a man and protecting the woman you love is one thing, but to resort to such things? I think that's very controlling and presumptuous of him."
Even Bella couldn't help but agree. Being away from Edward so long, and being able to think about everything, she wasn't sure what to think anymore. A few weeks ago, she felt Edward and the Cullens could do no wrong. But now, she had second thoughts on the matter. Again, aside from Emmett and Rosalie, the Cullens were...messed up.
Even so, Bella didn't even make it easier on herself. She tried to protest, but any time she got a condescending "Silly human! We know what's best for you!" speech, she would clam up and go along with it. What was wrong with her?
She remembered Sally's tale about how she tried to warn Jack about the impending disaster of Christmas. Yes, while he did brush her off, he both misunderstood and was completely oblivious to what she was trying to say. Not listening, and not understanding. Of course, he never talked down to her or made her feel like an idiot, he simply didn't listen. Nowadays, he not only acknowledged his mistake, Bella noted, but he made up for it and learned from it immensely.
Bella couldn't help but think of what would've happened if Edward tried something like crazy like that, and she tried to warn him of the consequences, premonition or not. He would get irritated, tell her she was being silly, didn't understand, he had to do this...and so forth. Not very favourable.
"I think...you're right." Bella conceded, and sighed again. "Sally...what would you have said if Jack stalked you, before he even really knew you, and then even found out he snuck into your room to watch you sleep?"
This made Sally's eyes widen. And that was when Bella looked up to notice Jack coming into the room, overhearing her, given that he was staring at them with widened eye sockets.
"I would never do such a thing!" Jack immediately said, coming over to them. "Sally is a lady! She deserves her privacy, and I-I would never..." He shook his skull for a moment to gather himself. "If I wanted to see Sally, I could very well have gone to the doctor's lab and asked to see her."
Sally was blushing now, but cleared her throat. "It's all right, Jack...Bella was asking hypothetically. A-Anyway...if that were true, I'd be scared, and would not want that."
"Even if you knew then what you know now?"
Bella was shocked. Why did she not find what Edward did creepy? Why did it not creep her out at all? Back then, she was flattered. And now, having really thought about it, it was creepy. And she had even researched the matter before ending up in Halloween Town. Unless a girl was crazy, any good sane woman would have called the police if a man was stalking them and watching them sleep. And her father was the Chief of Police! Vampire or not, Edward was not above the law. If he had caught wind of it, he'd have him behind bars in an instant. Or would want to, anyway.
"I would never be that stupid." Jack reiterated, now placing his bony hand on Sally's shoulder, squeezing gently. "But, I know Sally is much stronger than that and would never put up with such behaviour. No matter how she felt toward me."
"...Edward did that to me." Bella confessed, unable to hide it from them any longer.
Sally's eyes went wide, and Jack even looked as if he were trying to look surprised, but was growing angry.
"He did that?" Jack's eye sockets narrowed. Bella felt quite a chill. He was the Master of Fright, for sure. "Unbelievable! What kind of a so-called man, vampire or not, do that to a lady? Bella, you can't possibly accept that! Why, if someone did that to my Sally, I would not let them off easily!"
Again, Bella was just wide-eyed and shocked. She was at loss for words.
Sally then looked as if a light bulb had gone on above her head. "How about when Edward left like he did?"
Now Bella looked down in shame. For the first time, ever since she met Edward and got involved with him..she realized how stupid she acted. "I was a mess, like I told you, Sally."
And then it struck her.
She was a mess. In fact, before she met Edward, she was just a mess. And when she was with him, she was still within her emotional turmoil.
Looking up again, she saw that Jack was holding his skull with one hand and trying to contain some anger she could feel rising through.
"Bella, why are you letting him get away with this?"
Unfortunately, Bella had no answer.
With a little smile, Sally stood up. "I think you two should talk about this, as well. I'll be in the kitchen."
Bella nodded stiffly, and looked up at the Pumpkin King for a moment, before sighing. "I'll tell you about Edward."
And she did. She told him what she told Sally, and all the more. In fact, as she did so, and even talked more about the less favourable things Edward had done, she realized just how much of a controlling asshole he was. She could not believe she was so blinded by love before. No, lust. Attraction. Desperation. How she had been alienating her friends, pushing away her family, and letting murder happen all around her to innocent people.
It wasn't often Bella felt she could talk to another guy like this. Not like Jacob, or Edward. But ever since she got to know Jack, she couldn't help but like him. It was surprising to her, considering how badly she treated the good-natured boys she remembered from school, Eric and Mike, and even Tyler. It was hard to say what kind of...er...not quite person he was to her. He seemed so wise beyond any man her age or a bit older. That could have come from the fact he'd been around for a very long time, longer than Edward, that much she realized.
She couldn't say a father, or cousin, maybe an uncle? That might work. A brother? Maybe that too.
As she told Jack about Edward, he listened attentively, nodded occasionally, and never once took his eye sockets away from her as she spoke, nor did she interrupt.
Finally, after she finished, Jack looked at her very seriously, but sincerely.
"Bella, I will admit I'm not an expert about love, and nor do I think you should substitute my judgement for your own. But I do want to know some things. You claimed Edward was a gentleman, right?"
"Yes." Bella nodded, now feeling unsure about that.
"He has watched you sleep without your knowledge, let alone barely even knew you."
"That's what he said."
"He took the engine out of your...truck, just so you couldn't see a friend?"
"He tells you what is best for you, takes you places you clearly don't want to go, and he's left you after courting you."
"Yes." Bella sighed, looking down.
"Bella, how about this? Does Edward make you feel special?"
Bella blinked. "How do you mean?"
"I mean," Jack said seriously, but sincerely, "Does Edward make you feel that you matter? That your voice and opinions are meant to be considered. Making you feel better when you have a bad day, complimenting your accomplishments or talents. Or even just asking how you're doing?"
This made Bella pause and think for a minute, considering Jack's question of the matter.
"How does Edward make you feel?" Came a moment later.
For once, Bella knew she had to think hard to come up with a good answer. Did Edward make her feel special? Countless times he'd made specifications about her presence being enough to make him happy. But was that even true? Or was he just an expert of telling her what she wanted to hear?
He broke into her house and spied on her while she slept, multiple times.
He led her on, let her in, and then pushed her away.
He left her, when clearly he could have either done that in the first place or simply worked out the problem.
He tore the engine out of her truck with the thinly veiled disguise of protecting her from Jacob and the wolves.
He practically forced her to go the dance with him, when she wished he would have turned the car around and go home, or to work out a good compromise.
He bribed Alice to kidnap her against her will.
He gave her gifts and a little birthday party when she clearly said no to either of those things.
He laughed or patronized her when she refused something.
That was just to name a few. Within it all, Bella could see she was to blame as well. She was acting stupidly all this time. When he and the Cullens came back to Forks, she practically forgave him and acted as if nothing happened during the time he was gone. She had been so depressed, an empty shell of who she used to be. Alienating her friends, getting into dangerous situations, and then pushing away her family.
Bella could not think of one moment where Edward did so much as simply make her laugh. Make her feel good about herself. Congratulated her. Asked her if she was okay. Asked her what was wrong. Nothing like that.
"No." She said finally, with regret. "I...I think...I was wrong about him."
It almost pained her to say that, and yet, Bella knew she had to face the truth that was slowly unveiling itself to her.
A silence befell the two, before she went on.
"I mean...when I first met him, and just saw how beautiful he was, I couldn't help but fall into it. When I first saw the Cullens, I just...wanted to be a part of them. And why? Because they were beautiful." Bella sighed then, feeling utterly stupid and could not believe she was admitting all of this. And yet, it felt...good. Very good. Strangely, it just felt like a huge relief. "You know I said Edward was always somehow confusing me, sending mixed signals?"
Jack gave a nod. "Yes, you had said that he thought you two should not be friends, but that didn't mean he didn't want to be." He frowned at this, but kept his gaze fixated on Bella as he motioned for her to continue.
"Right." Bella nodded, recalling that very well. "And I let him push me around and control me. In my eyes, he could do no wrong. Just when we were barely even into a few months, weeks, of dating...I wanted to be a vampire. Just like him and his family. I wanted to be like them. I justified that it was because it would be impossible to be with him if I was not a vampire. It's true, but... At the same time, I just wanted to be like them. Young, beautiful, graceful, powerful...all that good stuff. I was attracted to the allure of it all. And I realize now, that if I ever became a vampire, it's not just something I can turn on and off like a switch, or an outfit I can wear whenever I feel like it. ...Rosalie was telling me this all along, but I thought she was just...mean and bitter to me for no reason. Now I understand... I can't turn back from being a vampire. Being a vampire also means living strictly on blood, having to move around a lot in order to avoid rousing suspicion, and that's just to name a few. Being unable to have a normal life. ...I mean, really, come on, I used to worry and cry about being older than Edward! I'm only eighteen!"
It hit her again. Only eighteen. Sally had said right out that Bella did still have her human life ahead of her, a life able to make the choices she wanted, to bring her life to a good track. She had the time, resources, and plans to do this. All she had to do was take action and do whatever she could along the way to make it all happen, whatever she decided to do with her life. If she were a vampire, she wouldn't have that kind of freedom. What if there came a time she wanted to settle down, be married and have children, and live a fairly simple life? As a school teacher, for example? As a vampire, she wouldn't be able to do that.
"That's just it, I am eighteen." Bella went on, blinking a few times. "Being a vampire just...practically limits my choices. And my Dad..." A look of remorse came to her face. "...He's been through a lot, and I didn't help it any. I'm his only kid, and he loves me a lot. ...He's always been a good Dad to me. But I took him for granted and treated him like dirt. ...I had friends at school. They were my friends. But I treated them badly and tossed them aside like an old rag doll." Blinking, she quickly said, "No offense to Sally."
Jack gave a smile, understanding and nodding for her to go on.
"Anyway, I just...never thought there was anything wrong with all of this. But there is. Ever since I've been here in Halloween Town, and have had time to think and just get away from it all, on my own..." Bella considered her words for a minute. "...And I know what's wrong now. But...Jack...what can I do?"
For a moment, Jack didn't respond, but then as he looked at her with a kind but serious gaze, he said,
"That's not up to me to decide. Only you can decide what the right thing to do is, Bella. Of course, you have to decide what is right for you. When we first met you, I must admit..." He sighed, his gaze turning a bit stern. "I wasn't sure what to think of you, considering your attitude and behaviour. But, over these past few weeks, you've changed."
"...I have, haven't I?" Bella murmured.
"Given your stories, and how you acted since then, you have changed." Jack explained, and then smiled once more. "I think this really has opened your eyes and has given you a whole new perspective on things."
Bella couldn't help but agree. "I think you're right. It really has. Being here, and having seen and met all the people, and you and Sally... I don't even know what to think anymore."
"Believe me, I know where you're coming from." Jack assured. "Bella, if I can give you one piece of advice... Live your life as you choose, make your own choices. Don't throw it away for something you know you can't change. And don't live with regret."
A little smile came to her face. "Isn't that three pieces of advice?" She said in playful sarcasm.
This made Jack laugh. "I suppose it was!"
Bella laughed too, feeling a bit lighter inside. "Jack, you know...you and Sally...you're just...you're a really sweet couple. I hope I can have a great relationship like you two one day."
And she did. Jack and Sally were very mismatched, a skeleton and a rag doll. And yet, they were still married to each other and very much in love. It went beyond their looks. Or even Jack's status. What Sally had said the other day, was something Bella never forgot.
"Jack is the Pumpkin King, and I do admire his leadership. However, being the Pumpkin Queen is not what makes me happy. If we weren't in love, being the Queen would not mean a thing to me. While I do enjoy being there for the townsfolk, which is quite a joy, being with Jack Skellington himself is what truly matters."
It just struck Bella so much. How Sally didn't care about the fact that Jack was royalty, the Pumpkin King, the Master of Fright. She loved him, the person inside, Jack Skellington, and for who he was. Not what he was.
Bella wondered if part of why she loved...or thought she loved Edward, was because he was a vampire.
Jack's voice interrupted her thoughts. "Thank you, Bella. I think...as long as you learn to love yourself, and to be good to the people around you, and life your life well, you will surely find the right person for you. And Bella? Don't be in such a rush for that, either." He smiled kindly. "As Sally said, and she's right...you have your entire life ahead of you. You have plenty of time. Don't rush things."
It was good advice. She'd received it before, and sadly, brushed it off. But now, she truly understood it and saw it in a whole new light. It meant something more to her now.
Sally returned to the room, seating herself where she'd originally sat, now next to Jack, who held her hand. Bella for a moment, couldn't help but just marvel at them. They were undead creatures, practically immortal just like Edward and the Cullens. And yet, from the history she was learning about this town, everyone being undead...this was how they had started. They had no past humanity to compare it to. Even if they did, they would be dead. They had all the time in the world...but that didn't matter to them. They just did what they did.
It almost made Bella wish she could stay here.
No, she wasn't about to do that. But, she definitely wanted to come back here again. She actually kind of liked it. The denizens, though monsters, still had big hearts and were kind. Jack and Sally, despite being ghoulish and the scariest couple of the Holiday Worlds, were just about the sweetest people you could ever meet. Bella like them a lot. Very much.
"...Thank you, Jack and Sally." Bella smiled at them genuinely. "I think...I know exactly what I need to do now. And first off...despite everything, say some thank-yous."
Both Jack and Sally smiled at her warmly.
"I have to also thank the two of you for looking out for me since I got here. I still can't explain how this happened, but...I'm glad it did. And I'm glad to have been here, it really helped to get away from everything and be able to think about my life. I'm also glad to have met the two of you. You did all of this for me...and even if I didn't ask for your help, that's still no reason for me not to be grateful. And I am. ...I'm sorry if I ever wasn't before. But I hope you know I appreciate this, your help, hospitality and advice from the bottom of my heart." Bella went on. And she felt so...happy. Happy to thank them, and apologize like this. "I'm sorry for my behaviour before. It was absolutely unfair to you and everyone...but I have to thank you for believing in me and helping me anyway. I admit it was more than I deserved, but I will never stop being grateful to you both for that. Everyone in this town has been great as I got to know them, and I'm grateful for them, too. Even Lock, Shock and Barrel..."
Bella took a breath, and continued.
"I've come to realize a lot of things since I've been here in Halloween Town. And I'm very glad I did. I did change, and I feel so much better for it. I do still have a long way to go, but...well, I guess I'll have to start making it happen. And I...think I've been away from home long enough. ...But, could I ask you one last favour?"
"Of course." Jack said, smiling more.
"Absolutely." Sally agreed.
"Could I...just stay with you two one more night?" Bella asked, a bit nervous at this. "And...I'd love to hear more stories about you two, especially what happened that time Oogie Boogie attempted to get his revenge." She actually grinned at this.
Both Jack and Sally exchanged smiling glances before chuckling themselves.
"I don't see why not." Jack stood up, and went over to light a fire. "Sally, put the tea back on, will you please?" He smiled toward his wife.
Sally giggled and nodded. "Absolutely." She stood up, and retrieved a wool blanket from a nearby trunk, giving it to Bella. "Here, Bella. It's very cold tonight."
Smiling, Bella took the quilt and wrapped it around herself, feeling so cozy and warm. Sally really was quite motherly...it reminded her a bit of Esme. ...Maybe there was hope for her as well, since she did prove a couple of times how good of a mother she was.
When there was a warm fire going, and they all had more tea in their cups, Jack and Sally relayed stories of their past to a very eagerly listening and smiling Bella, who felt better than she ever had in years.
The very next day, Bella went back to Forks.
At first, she had no idea how to get back. But when it was clear to her how she could get back...Bella didn't want to go back. At the time, she didn't understand why. She was sure she thought that Halloween Town was weird and completely horrible. And yet, she didn't entirely hate it even then either.
Now though, she liked it. It had been perfect refuge for her. Yes, a town dedicated to the fun spirited horror of Halloween was what helped her rehabilitate herself. It made absolutely no sense at all. Then again, she found that nothing made sense in that town.
Except for Sally. She really was the only one who made sense there.
Now she was back, back in Forks. After having been away for nearly five weeks. She was ready. Ready to face the music.
She had changed, and learned so much in Halloween Town. About herself, and the people around her, and now, the old Bella Swan was gone. In her place was the growing assertive, warm, kind, polite, friendlier, and more determined Isabella Marie Swan.
And she was not going to turn back.
She had a lot of things to do today. To begin with, she headed home as quick as she could.
Charlie was naturally VERY surprised to see his daughter, who had been missing for weeks, suddenly turn up.
She had a lot of explaining to do.
Bella first greeted him with a tight hug.
"Dad...Dad, I know I have a lot of explaining to do, and I will, I promise." Bella told him after letting go. "But...I have to take care of something, first. ...If you'll let me, tonight, we'll spend it together. Just you and I, Dad."
Charlie blinked, unable to believe this at all. It was a lot to take in. Bella had been gone for weeks. He was even sure the Cullens were hiding her, despite that Carlisle and Esme both continued to deny that she was not with them and they had not seen her. Billy and the rest of the Quileutes had not seen her, either, and could not find her.
"I have to go and take care of some things, Dad. Especially with the Cullens." She looked a bit nervous as she said this. "So you can take some time to let it all sink in. Then, I'll come back, we'll put on the game or some movies, we'll order a pizza, and I'll tell you everything that happened. You...you deserve to know, Dad. And I'll do everything I can to prove it to you. But I'm home, Dad. I'm home. And there will be a lot of changes around here."
Trying to let it sink in, Charlie managed to smile. "Okay, Bells. Hurry back." That was all he could say. "But you are grounded, young lady. I hope you realize that. You are not getting off this easily. You still disappeared and didn't call, young lady."
Looking ashamed as she headed for the phone first. Bella nodded. "Okay, Daddy. I understand. I won't be too long." She called a number she knew all too well. "Jake? It's Bella."
"Bella!" Jacob exclaimed on the other line. "You're-you're all right! Where have you been? It's been weeks! We were all beginning to think you were dead, or the leeches kidnapped you for good!"
"I'm all right, Jake. Don't worry. It's a very long story, and I'll explain everything. Why don't you come over tomorrow? After tonight, I probably won't be able to leave the house unless it's for school, or to find a job." She looked at Charlie for permission. He merely nodded.
"Um, sure. I guess I could do that." Jacob sounded like he was shrugging. "Are you sure you're okay, Bella? I mean, really okay?"
"Jake...I feel better than I have in years. I really do." Bella smiled. "I have a lot of things to take care of, but I'll tell you all about it tomorrow."
"Okay. See you then, Bells." He hung up.
Grabbing her car keys, Bella turned back to her father. "I'll be back within the hour, Dad." She said before leaving through the back door.
Bella had driven straight out to the Cullen house, feeling very nervous about doing so. She didn't even know what the Cullens had been doing since she was away.
She was almost scared to face them. But, after seeing things that were quite scary (Jack's scary faces being one of them!), she was ready for anything.
After all, she knew that she was not going to get anywhere if she didn't face up to the Cullens.
Which brings us to right now.
Bella was standing in the middle of the lounge room. Close to the door in case she needed to escape, but was facing all of the Cullen clan. Including Edward.
That was who she addressed first.
"Edward, I've been away...far from here for a while now, and I've been thinking. I don't want to be with you anymore." Bella said right out. When Edward clearly was about to protest, she cut him off. "You are toxic to me, Edward. Toxic. I wish you had taken your own advice and stayed away from me in the first place. But in a sense, I'm glad this all did happen because it helped me realize a lot of things about myself."
"Bella, please, you can't-"
"No." Bella stated firmly. "I should have done this after you came back from Italy. I wish I had. But I didn't. I am not that same pathetic, whiny, doormat human girl you remember now. I've done a lot of thinking, and I was glad to have escaped from it all. And I now more than ever. You don't care about anyone. Not even about innocent people. And to think I felt that way too! But not anymore. Edward Cullen, you are despicable. You...are an asshole.."
"Bella!" It was Alice, jumping up from her seat. "No, you can't say that!"
"Save it, Alice!" Bella cut her off as well. "I have nothing to say to you. You don't care about me. All you wanted was to live your left-behind human life through me. You said it yourself!"
"...But Bella, that's not true..." Alice looked at her sadly, with pouty lips.
"Don't even try to guilt-trip me through this one." Bella snarled. "You and Edward...I cannot believe you two! You actually KIDNAP me for no good reason other than Edward being jealous! And you don't care about what I want! It's always about what YOU want!" Now she whirled toward Edward. "Remember prom night? Huh? Do you? Well, let me see. When I realized what was happening, and I clearly did NOT want to go to prom, what did you say to me?"
"...I told you not to be difficult." Edward said honestly. "And Bella, you have to understand that I-"
"Shut up." Bella cut him off. "You know, a woman I knew while I was away asked her husband what he would have done. And you know what he said? He would have turned the car around and took her straight home if she so much as resisted the idea. That, or turned around and worked on a good compromise. He also said he would never ever force his wife to do something she didn't want to do. Oh, and might I add...He would also NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER stalk and SNEAK into his beloved's bedroom and WATCH HER SLEEP!"
Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett and even Jasper all looked at Edward with surprise. Bella saw this, and turned to them.
"That's right, Edward over here snuck into my room at night on several occasions and watched me sleep! I was stupid to ever think it was flattering!" Bella went on.
Esme suddenly stood right up, walking over to her foster son. "Edward Anthony Masen Cullen...I cannot believe you. All those nights, you said you were going for a walk, or extra hunting...and you were spying on her?"
"I-I only wanted to know more about her..." Edward defended himself, but he was clearly at loss for any good justification.
"You know, there's a little something called coming up and talking to me. Getting to know me." Bella told him pointedly.
"I didn't trust myself to-" Edward began.
"Save it!" Bella cut him off again. "You have done nothing but treat me like a doormat. You controlled me and abused me. And I can't believe I was ever blind enough not to see that. Well guess what? My blindfold is removed, and I see that you are nothing but a controlling and abusive asshole. Do not EVER come near me again. I never want to see you again. And if you trespass on our property, I will have my father arrest you and I will file a restraining order!"
"Bella, please be reasonable. I-"
"Edward, you stop that." Esme cut in. "As a friend of Charlie, and as a parent, I will not allow that."
Carlisle stepped in as well, looking very stern. "Your mother is right, Edward. If Bella wishes never to see you again, a real man would respect her wishes."
Bella looked at the Cullen patriarch with wide eyes.
He looked at her then. "You were not the only one who had a lot of thinking to do, Bella. Or had changes to make."
"Bella..." Alice began, stepping toward her.
"No! Stay away from me. Like I said Alice, you don't care about me. You never did. I was a Barbie doll to you. Someone you could live your life through! You were a teenage mother trying to live through her child to have the life you never got to keep. Well, boo-hoo. I can't feel sorry for you because all you do is the wrong things to everyone around you. If it hadn't been for YOUR stupid intervention, I might have found a way to move on from Edward." Bella told her angrily.
"But-but I DO care about you Bella! I do! Please! Don't do this to me!" Alice whined.
"You don't. Anytime I said NO to sometime, you either laughed at me as if I were a silly little naive human who didn't know what she clearly wanted, or you got all pouty and guilt-tripped me. NOT going to happen, Mary."
Bella then looked at Jasper, who was by his wife's side, holding her. "...I know you're not out to hurt me, Jasper."
Jasper just gave a little nod before leading his wife back to her seat.
"I have one question." Rosalie then said, looking at Bella with a pointed gaze. "You changed your mind about being a vampire, didn't you?" This was more of a statement than a question.
Bella nodded. "I did. I don't want to be a vampire anymore. I don't even think I ever did. ...I want a chance to live my life. I can't just throw it away. What would I be throwing it away for? For nothing. I...I realized that while I was away, and before, I was an idiot for not realizing it sooner. I'm really glad neither of you turned me. Because I'm living my life as I want to. Being a vampire would not let me do that. After all...it's not something I can change if I get sick of it."
A grateful smile came to Carlisle's face, Esme smiled, Emmett gave her a thumbs up, and Rosalie...also smiled.
"Thank you." Rosalie said to her.
Feeling herself smile too, Bella continued. "And...despite everything..." She glared toward Edward and Alice at this. "...I do have to thank all of you for the kind things you did for me. I'm very sorry if it ever seemed like I was an ungrateful...well, bitch."
"...Bella, don't be sorry." Esme said. "We were certainly no angels with you, either. We were all somehow a cause of wrongdoings to your life. And we do not expect your forgiveness. All I can say, is that we are very sorry. Whatever you wish to do with your life is up to you."
"Absolutely." Agreed Carlisle. "If you don't want to be with Edward, and you never wish to see any of us ever again, we will respect that. You deserve far better than people who are toxic to you, and will only hold you back from a life you desire. As a father...I should have taught everyone better. Especially..." He looked pointedly at Alice and Edward. "You two. It is partially my fault as well. Especially in how I turned everyone, aside from Alice. I do also, second Esme's notion of apology. I too, am very sorry for everything, Bella. I do not ask you to forgive, all I ask is that you hear our apologies."
"I'm sorry, too." Rosalie then said, sighing. "Bella, your attitude and how you wanted to be a vampire really made me not like you for that. But tonight, I have to say...I have gained some respect for you. I'm glad you decided not to throw your life away. ...Don't make the same mistake I did. Live your life. Don't throw it away, or let anyone throw it away."
Bella gave her a smile of understanding. "I understand, Rose."
"And Edward," Esme stepped forward, looking at her son icily. "You are to apologize to Bella right now. She is a lady, and she deserves far better than your behaviour. Apologize. At least give her that."
Edward sighed heavily, looking at Bella sadly and pleadingly. "I'm...I'm sorry, Bella. Really. I hope you can understand. And I...I will always love you."
Bella pursed her lips and just glared at him. She knew he was trying to manipulate her into coming back to him. He was clearly saying "Look how sorry I am, look at how much I still love you, now you'll want me back", and she was not going to fall into that. "I accept your apology. But I cannot forgive you for now. Maybe some day I will forgive you. But not int he way you think I will. And Edward? It's over. We are never going to happen. This is not a temporary separation. This not a break. We are OVER. OVER. You blew it. BIG TIME. I will never take you back. There is no chance. So don't even try. And I wasn't bluffing, either. I will get a restraining order, and I will get my Dad to arrest you. Hell, I might even go and stay in La Push for a while. You won't be able to touch me there. Stay away from me."
She turned to Carlisle and Esme. "...Thank you both for your apologies. I appreciate it very much. I wish you two the best of luck. ...And thanks, for acting like real parents to them. I think they need it."
"While I can never truly atone for my mistakes in turning them," Carlisle said. "I can at least atone for my failure as a father to them. Thank you, Bella. And I wish you the best of luck in your life as well."
"Thank you, Bella. Good luck to you." Esme smiled. "You will not have to worry about a thing. Neither Edward or Alice will ever bother you again. We promise."
"Thank you." Bella said gratefully.
"I'll call your father, and let him know you're coming home." Carlisle said, heading for the phone.
"I'll drive you home." Rosalie said, getting up again.
Bella smiled. "Okay. That'd be nice."
"Good luck out there, Bella." Emmett came to her, holding his fist out.
A chuckle escaped her as she bumped fists with him. "Thanks, Emmett. And thank you for the car stereo. I love it. ...Are you sure I can keep it?"
"Yes." Emmett nodded. "It was a gift for you, and I want you to have it."
Bella smiled, and gave him a hug. "Thanks for everything."
"Hey, don't sweat it." Emmett patted her back.
Pulling back from him, Bella smiled once more and then headed toward the door with Rosalie, giving the vampire woman her car keys. She cast one last glance at Edward, who was still looking after her mournfully, clearly begging her to come back to him.
"Don't even think about it, Wardo." Bella told him. Wardo had been a derogatory nickname Emmett sometimes used. Back then, she told him never to refer to Edward that way. Now, she fully welcomed it. "And by the way, while I was away, I met a skeleton man. And he, was ten times the gentleman you made yourself out to be. Also, unlike you, he truly loves his wife, and she loves him too. He was that same man I told you about, who would...what was it again? Oh yeah, NEVER watch his wife sleep in her room and also would NEVER force her to a dance he never bothered to ask her about. Speaking of his wife," She cast a pointed glance at Alice. "She's a rag doll. And more human, more of a woman than you could ever hope to be. Oh, and I also met some real vampires. And THEY don't sparkle!"
She didn't even look back at their horrified faces as she and Rosalie headed out the door and toward her trusty Chevy truck.
When Bella got home later, and thanked Rosalie for giving her a ride, she went inside to speak with her father. She knew he would have a very hard time believing her, and she didn't blame him for it. If worse came to worse, she would go and prove it to him.
So, she told him. She told him about finding the Holiday Doors, about ending up in Halloween Town, and meeting the Pumpkin King and Queen, how they had taken her under their wing and showed her their ways. She told him about the town itself, the denizens, and her interactions with all of them, especially Jack and Sally, who she now considered to be good friends.
"I know it all sounds crazy, Dad. But I swear that's what happened. And I...I really am glad it happened, because I needed this so much. To finally get away and be on my own, and just take the time to think about everything. I had an epiphany because of it all. You were right to be concerned about Edward, and of Alice too." Bella said.
Charlie looked up at her, surprised to hear this.
"It wasn't just me, I...saw the love Jack and Sally had." Bella went on. "I know love works differently for everyone, but those two...they had such genuine and sweet love between them. And it was on true grounds. Nothing about it was like the so-called love I had with Edward. You were right. I was in a high school relationship with someone who dumped me. You...you know what it's like, more so than I ever could, what it's like to have your...supposed true love leave you." She looked at Charlie sympathetically. "...How did you do it, Dad?"
A sigh escaped Charlie as he rubbed his forehead. "It was hard. But, I moved on. Life goes on. I wasn't about to let it tear me apart. Harry and Billy were always there when I needed it, and they helped me along. I have forgiven your mother for it, as well."
"But...she just...got up and left, without giving you a chance. ...How were you able to hit a switch and make it okay?" Bella wanted to know.
"I didn't forgive her in that sense. What I meant, is that I wasn't going to let what she did control my life." Charlie explained.
Bella realized that's what she had meant when she said she might forgive Edward one day.
"...I hope I can make it like you did, Dad. It's what I should have done when Edward left. I wish I wasn't a stupid idiot." Bella lamented, sighing. "I'm so sorry about all that. I should never have put you through that Hell."
"...It's in the past, Bells." Charlie sighed. "I guess I'm just glad you realized it now. So, you went to the Cullens just now. What happened there?"
"I broke up with Edward. I told him and Alice to stay away from me. They...were toxic to me, Dad. They really were. And I wasn't going to let anything happen again with them. I said if they came near me, I would have you arrest them and I'd file a restraining order."
Charlie actually smiled a bit. "Damn right I'll arrest them if they come near you again."
"And...well, Carlisle and Esme are finally taking action and being real parents to them, especially to Edward and Alice. They...were actually really good about my decision and supported me." Bella gave a sigh of relief. "And I don't mind Rosalie or Emmett so much either, it'd be kind of nice to see them again. But I don't know right now."
"Let them handle their end of things for now, Bella." Charlie said, waving that off. "I'm just glad you're getting yourself away from Edward...I didn't like nor trust him since the beginning."
"Believe me, I should have done the same, Dad." Bella agreed. "...And Dad? I'm sorry...about everything. I'd been nothing but an ungrateful bitch to you, and you didn't deserve it at all. ...I'm sorry. You are a good Dad, and I love you very much. I...I've come to realize that so much more now, and I wanted to...let you know that, before it's too late. I'm sorry, Dad. Can you ever forgive me?"
There was silence from Charlie, before he sighed and looked pointedly at her. "Bella, you're my daughter and I love you. I forgive you. However, you are still going to be punished for this, young lady. As well as that, Jacob had also told me about some certain accidents...with those motorcycles, which you will be paying tickets for."
Bella nodded, looking dismayed, but she didn't back down. "Okay, Dad. I understand. What is my punishment?"
"You are grounded for the next six months. You are not to leave this house unless you ask for my permission and if it is important. Because you have to pay fines for your accidents, you are going to find a job in order to pay for them yourself. And you are going back to school, even if you just want to take a simple cooking class in Port Angeles. As long as you live under my roof, you will live by my rules. I made the mistake of being the laid-back Dad, but I will not do that anymore. You are eighteen, but you are still my daughter and living here. You would like to be treated like an adult? Well, it's about time you are. I will not charge you rent for the time being, since you will be in school again soon and will need the money from your job for supplies and whatnot. If you want to see Jacob, you will have him come to visit. And I will not take any of your britches any longer. If you have a problem, you can talk to me about it. I'm your father, and I'll do what I can to help. Do I make myself clear?"
A nod came from Bella as she looked at him again. "Yes, Dad. I'll...I'll take my punishment, and responsibility for my actions."
"Good." Satisfied, Charlie let out a breath as he looked at his daughter again. "Another month will be added to your punishment if you get into that kind of trouble again, Bella."
"Okay, Dad." Bella nodded again. "I understand."
"Good then. So, I'll call for that pizza. And you, are going to do more around the house. To begin with, you're going into the yard and pulling the weeds. You should have plenty of time to do that until the pizza comes." Charlie got up, heading to find the pizza menu.
A groan of dismay came from Bella. She hated yardwork. But, she nodded dutifully. "Sorry, Dad. I'll go do that."
Charlie watched her head outside, before he went to the phone to order the pizza. Yes, Bella was indeed right. A lot of changes were going to be made here. At least now, things could go the way they should.
Now this brings us to the conclusion of our tale. The big "Where Are They Now?"
Well, it's only been a few months, but let's take a look.
Bella did indeed go back to school. She went to the Community College out in Port Angeles, where she took a cooking class and also a Literary course. She still wasn't entirely sure what she wanted to do with her life, but she was enjoying her classes and was glad to have something to do. She had even considered becoming a teacher, like her mother had been. That wasn't a bad idea. She was planning to possibly apply for a scholarship once she found one that was suited for her, and would see where it all would take her. All the while, she made some new friends, who she treated very well right from the start. Which was what she should have done all along, especially when she started at Forks High School.
She stayed at home with Charlie, where their relationship was far better than before. They spent more time together, and she felt a lot more comfortable talking to him and confiding in him about problems she had.
Charlie was indeed still tough on her, at least more so than before, but as time went on, he was proud of his daughter for making a concerted effort to not only get her life back, but to make it up to the people who mattered and cared about her.
Edward meanwhile, was in huge trouble. Carlisle and Esme stopped spoiling and doting on him, and were hard parents on him. They canceled his credit cards, sold his Volvo, sold the house he had in Chicago, and cut him off access to their money. To also teach him the value of money, he had to get a job and to pay rent to them. He was not allowed to leave the house except to hunt, to which Carlisle, Esme or Emmett would go with him on to supervise him. He was never to go near Bella again, and if he was caught doing so, they would cut him off from the family completely. He did still want to be with Bella, and still held the delusion that one day, she would take him back. Little did he realize how wrong he was.
Alice too, was in big trouble. Her credit cards were canceled, and she had to settle her debts with them and the bank by herself. She had to find a job, and also even donate some of her money to charities as well, which Esme had decided they should do from now on. Most of her clothes were sold to thrift stores, taken back to the store they were bought from, or donated to charity. Her Porsche was sold, as were her shoes and jewelry. Aside from going to her job, she too was confined to the house and forbidden to shop online. She also was expected to do more chores, along with Edward, while Esme would supervise. She was also forbidden from relying on her visions for anything anymore, since really, they made no sense sometimes.
Speaking of, Esme was taking steps into being a better mother and woman to the family. She refused to sit back and play the good Stepford wife like before. She cracked down on her kids and took better control on things, especially when it came to Alice and Edward. She even got herself a job working as an accountant for the insurance offices in town to further provide for her family and also get herself actually doing something useful. She took evening shifts, in order to avoid any kind of sunlight that may break out during the day. She also donated a lot of the money they had to charities and hospitals across the country, took up some volunteer work at the homeless shelter in Port Angeles, and saw that the rest of the family donated to charities as well. Like with Alice, she and the rest of the Cullens donated a lot of their clothing and other possessions as well.
Carlisle continued to work at the hospital, and like Esme, cracked down on the "kids" of the family. He was no longer the laid-back father who let everyone do what they wanted. No, he was working to be a much better patriarch to the family. He made sure they all had jobs and/or careers, to do something with their degrees and to earn their own money, rather than going to school all this time. He and Esme were still fairly friendly with Charlie, and sometimes said hello to Bella if one of them ever saw her in town.
Emmett and Rosalie also got jobs, with Emmett now a mechanic working at the garage, while Rosalie worked in sales at a car dealership, and sometimes went to the garage with Emmett to help him out. Rosalie occasionally e-mailed Bella and so did Emmett, and they said hello to her if they ever saw her out one day.
Jasper meanwhile, went back to college on scholarship where he was planning to earn a degree in order to be able to work in pharmaceutical chemistry. He still remained with Alice, but of course made sure she stayed in line and he too, was not about to put up with any of her actions.
Everything seemed to be going a lot better than ever before.
How about Jacob Black? He and Bella did still remain friends, and he oftentimes came over to work on any tune-ups or repairs that her Chevy needed, which she would help him along with. Charlie and Bella went to visit them all in La Push very often, especially when Bella wanted to offer her condolences to the Clearwater family for the loss of Harry, especially to Billy as well. She even made friendly with Leah Clearwater, something she wished she'd done before, but was working to make up for now. She told them what had happened with the Cullens, and they promised to keep an eye out for Edward or Alice just in case.
Bella's friends from school, well, things weren't going too well. Mike, Eric, and Jessica were all very reluctant in seeing her again. But Angela was a bit more receiving to her. Bella of course didn't force her to talk to the others about letting her back, and said that whatever happened, she just wanted them to know how sorry she was, and that they would never have to put up with it again. She believed her. Eric, Mike and Jessica did as well, though they still weren't ready to let her back in. Which was fine, all that Bella wanted was for them to know she was sincerely sorry.
Oh, and what happened with Halloween Town?
Well, Bella did still go back there sometimes when she needed to get away. She still loved it there, and Jack and Sally were always there and ready to welcome her. It was thanks to their generosity and helpfulness to her that did help Bella appreciate the things people would do for her, and in turn, she gave back to them however she could. With gifts especially, and also just showing them how much she appreciated them. They still remained her friends and she loved seeing them. She planned to help out with Halloween festivities there in the future.
She took Charlie there with her, to prove that she wasn't crazy. Needless to say, he didn't know what to think. But, at least he believed her by the time it was over. She made him promise to tell no one about the place, let alone the Holiday Doors.
Isabella Marie Swan was a changed young woman, and she felt a lot better than she ever had in a long time. She felt good about taking action and control with her life, and getting things on a better track with herself, and the people around her. It felt good. Very good.
While the refuge in Halloween Town was what helped, it was Bella herself who decided to take these actions, and for that, she was ready to face the world as time went on. Fully human, on top of that.
Yes, she still had a long way to go, but for now, she was making good progress, and did have quite a bit to show for it.
You know, this started out as a silly little idea. I figured it'd take a few thousand words (like my works usually do), maybe between 2000-3000...and the next thing I knew, I went on and on and on and now I'm over 12,000.
And I'm quite proud of it. :)
So I hope you all liked this! Thank you!