AN: I wrote an entry for the JBNP's Naughty or Nice... Christmas One Shot Contest 2011, but got carried away with my idea and forgot to read the fine print. No wolf boy equals no contest entry. But on the bright side, that means I can post it here for you.
On the negative side, ff doesn't have photos so if you want to see the great shots of Benjamin Bratt (I borrowed his body) and the sunrise, you'll have to read it on JBNP. But sadly, it shut down in July 2013. So Google is your friend.
Disclaimer: the characters and all recognisable situations belong to Stephenie Meyer - this is a work of fan fiction, except for the legends and histories of the Quileute and that, of course, belong to them. I pay my respects to their gods.
Paring: Bella and a guy she met in a bar
I'll be home for Christmas.
"You did WHAT?" Bella screamed at her fiancé.
"I would want to have known," he argued. But because he could not read her mind, he never did know what she was thinking.
"What did you say? And I know you can remember exactly."
"I said: I'm breaking the rules by sending you this. She was afraid of hurting you, and she didn't want to make you feel obligated in any way. But I know that, if things had gone the other way, I would have wanted the choice. I promise I will take care of her, Jacob. Thank you – for her – for everything," he recited.
She just stood there and looked at him while she tried to marshal her thoughts.
"You sent my human best friend who just happens to be in love with me and a werewolf and your mortal enemy… an invitation to our wedding?"
"Yes." Stupidly, he sounded supremely confident of his actions.
"And you really think he wants to stand there and watch you win the battle for my heart? Knowing that it will result in my death?"
"No you'll be turned-"
She glared at him hard enough for him to stop that line of argument.
"Dead is dead, Edward," she spat at him.
"Well I suppose… when you put it like that…"
She was furious with Edward for sending him the wedding invitation. It was spiteful and unnecessary. As unnecessary as the invitation itself. The layers of petal printed pages with matching vellum overlays. So formal; so not her.
"It was my job to tell him; not yours. How else could he interpret that, than as one upmanship? It was cruel, Edward. He lost me and you're reminding him of that. Did you enclose an extra message? Nahnah na nahnah? Was that what it said?"
"Isabella, please. Don't be childish."
"Really? And what did you just do? Rub salt in his wounds?"
Edward looked momentarily confused. As if his Victorian rules of behaviour had failed him here. Miss Manners for century old men didn't apply in the year 2000.
"It's my choice to marry you. To be with you, not him and I should have told him that," she tried to explain. "He's my friend and I-"
She stopped suddenly. Her choice…
She had a realisation. She hadn't made any choices, other than Edward.
"It's my wedding. Have I chosen a single thing?" she asked rhetorically.
Edward didn't answer her. But she knew the answer already.
Not one single thing.
"My dress. The guest list. Where the ceremony will be held. Who the caterer is. The honeymoon location. Nothing"
Edward looked blank.
"Did we even discuss any of it? Did the words 'what would you like, love?' cross your lips? Rather than 'don't worry, it's all arranged'." Her eyes narrowed at him. "How many other decisions have you made for me Edward?"
"My college. My car. Why can't I get to make my own decisions? Choose the colour of my car. Those are stupid little things. But this? This is my farewell to my humanity. That is what I am giving up for you. My family, my friends, my parents. My future children. All gone for you. That's the price I am willing to pay."
Still no response.
"But don't I get to say how that happens? Or who gets to come? Or what colour I wear when I do it?"
"Isabella, you know Alice loves organising these things," he blustered. He always used her full name when he was irked by her. Her and her too human emotions.
"Alice can get married again, any time she wants. She can fuss with whatever designer she likes this week. That stuff isn't me! The vellum invitations weren't even me."
Alice slunk in looking apologetic. She could probably hear them.
"She can organise Rosalie's or Esme's weddings again. Or her own. But this is my one and only." She paused. "And it mattered to me."
She heard that.
The past tense.
The vampires stood with that utter stillness they had. They didn't move or breathe or even blink. They were after all… dead.
Alice moaned. Edward's eyes flicked to her. He looked wounded suddenly.
"Oh, no," he said.
Wow. She must have changed her future. There was no other explanation for the devastated looks on both their faces.
She blinked again. Nobody else moved.
She saw a glimpse of Jasper's curly hair in the background.
"And so help me, if Jasper even tries to make me happy, I'll be gone," she hissed.
"You're already gone," Alice uttered sadly.
"Yes," she stated. "Yes, I am."
She pulled the plug on the wedding juggernaut and she ran. Jake wasn't back from his lupine hissy fit so she didn't say goodbye to him either. She explained it to Billy. Embry was at the house and she spoke to him and asked him to 'show' Jake her decision.
She chose neither.
She chose herself.
Five years later.
Bella Swan was twenty three now. She'd left Forks, but had moved back nearby recently. Now after living in a dozen places, she was in Seattle. Close but not too close. Charlie didn't know where she was.
Her life had become a meaningless cycle of temporary jobs and temporary men. They became faceless in her increasingly vague memories. She worked in bars and diners. Never stayed anywhere too long. Casual jobs, with no job security and no extra benefits.
She wasn't a virgin any more. That was the first thing she got rid of. Edward had bribed her into marriage with the promise of the loss of her virginity, so it had to go.
So she got a little drunk and went home with some poor guy who woke to find blood on his sheets and the bed empty. It was okay. He was attentive enough. But it was done. He was young and not that skilled, but he got the job done. Since then she had found others who did better in the sack, but it was still quick and unemotional; the way she liked it.
Charlie tracked her down periodically. She had taken to phoning him before he found her now. He didn't comprehend the need for secrecy and probably never would. How could she explain the Volturi to a cop? They could probably crack the IRS easily enough, so maybe her moving around was unnecessary. She didn't care any more. It worked for her too. She liked leaving before things got too complicated. And emotions were complications.
She discovered that she liked older men. They usually knew what they were doing in bed and as an added bonus, they usually weren't hung up on having a 'relationship' and that suited her just fine.
She didn't want complications either.
Older men. She almost laughed at the thought that her first love was an older man. 106… no he'd be 111 now. She sighed. Choices. She had chosen herself and some days she had regrets. Days when she felt older. When she felt alone.
And it was Christmas and that was always hard for people who were alone. The perfect families in all the commercials grated at her. They were always smiling in their perfectly decorated houses with their perfect nuclear family of one boy and one girl and an adorable dog. Something cute and fluffy like a Maltese Terrier. Their Christmas trees were always colour co-ordinated; all the hanging decorations were the same shade of blue or silver. It made her feel nauseous. Reminded her too much of the Cullens and their enormous Christmas tree; intricately decorated and brushing at the ceiling.
And every year the decorations seemed to appear earlier in the malls.
It was a Saturday and Christmas Eve. She was working at a bar in Seattle. They had strung a few dusty decorations around and set up a lopsided tree on the end of the bar. It was almost pathetic.
She looked beyond the tree and saw a group of people in a booth. One guy caught her eye. He noticed her notice him. He was clearly Native American and that was the reason he had caught her eye initially. He reminded her of the Quileute boys; the same skin colour and the same distinctive facial features. She kept glancing back at him as she served others. He definitely noticed that and he smiled at her.
He was sitting with a bunch of people who were all chatting animatedly but he didn't seem to be 'with' anyone.
He wore his long hair loose and un-braided. It was longer than hers. And probably in better condition, too. He wore a white linen shirt. It seemed chosen specifically to display his skin colour. It was that kind of semi transparent weave and his russet skin showed through beneath. He was immaculate. If she wore white in a bar, she would have splashed something on herself or dipped the sleeve in a drink within the first hour.
She snorted. Looking after herself was not high on her list of things to do. The next time he wanted a drink, he came to the bar to order it. He palmed her his phone number. Definitely a pro. He also ordered an orange juice in a mixed drink glass, so she had him pegged as an ex-alcoholic. Looked like he was drinking, but wasn't. She had no idea how old he was.
"What time do you get off?" he asked.
"Call me, I'll walk you home," he offered.
She smiled. "If your place is close enough to walk to, maybe we should go there. I'll meet you when I get off. Out front."
He just nodded. "1 am."
She nodded back.
He went back to his group.
She surreptitiously watched him leave. Then she realised she didn't know his name. She glanced at the coaster he given her. Josh, he'd written. But he didn't know her name. He must have realised that at the same time she did, he spun on his heel just inside the door and looked back at her; his arms full of scarf, hat, and overcoat.
Izzy, she mouthed at him. He nodded. With one final smoulder from those dark eyes he left.
She felt good; her night was looking up. And hopefully she wouldn't get a lot of sleep. He didn't drink, didn't smoke and seemed to be experienced with women. It was all good.
She counted off the till, ran the last few glasses through the washer and tidied up; wiping down the bar and the counters. The manager tossed out the persistent drunks and said he see her on Tuesday night. She had a couple of days off while the bar was closed. She stepped outside into the freezing night air and he was there. He was dressed in his winter coat; a knitted hat covered his head. His hands buried in the pockets.
He smiled at her. She found herself smiling back. He held out his hand and oddly for her, she took it. They walked, holding gloved hands, the couple of blocks down the wet Seattle streets. She wasn't sure why she felt so comfortable with him. Was he as close to Jake as she had been for years? An almost Jake? She shut that thought down. Jake was the past.
He stopped in front of an older block and unlocked the foyer door, holding it open for her. She stepped inside. No going back now. Stairs up to the third floor. He didn't call the lift and she wondered if that was just habit; that he always used the stairs and didn't think of it now.
They peeled their coats off; it was warm and the air was dry in the apartment. He hung everything on a rack inside the door.
The apartment had tall windows overlooking the street. No view of the harbour. Too expensive, she thought. It was a large room with a kitchen on the side and older French doors that seemed to lead to the bedroom. she caught a glimpse of bed through the open door.
"Did you want a drink or a shower?" he asked.
She looked puzzled.
"I hate the smell of cigarette smoke in my hair," he explained with a shrug. "I thought you might, too."
So he probably didn't want her hair to smell of it either. "Yeah… if you don't mind. It's the stickiness on the legs that drives me nuts. Shoes just dissolve after a while from the spillage."
He ushered her down the hall to a bathroom. "Did you want something to eat?"
She was a little puzzled. He didn't just want to get down to it. He must have picked up on her confusion. "Are you doing anything tomorrow?" he asked.
She just shook her head. It was Christmas day. She had no plans.
"Then we've got all day don't we?" he checked.
She couldn't have said what made her say it, but she just blurted out, "I don't usually stay."
He smiled again. "Maybe just this once." It was a statement not a question.
"How do you know we'll get on?" she blurted out again.
He gave her a look. Then he chuckled. "The way you look at me… we'll be fine."
"Oh." She was that obvious. Oops. "Sorry," she said in a small voice.
He reached out those long slim fingers and brushed her cheek. "Don't be sorry," he whispered at her. And then he leaned in and he kissed her. It was just a light brushing of lips but she felt it everywhere. "You're staying," he stated.
He spun her around and gave her a gentle push towards the bathroom. "I'll cook. You go have a shower, Izzy. Is an omelette okay?"
"Yes, please." She stopped in the doorway and looked back at him. He was standing there watching her. "Thanks, Josh."
He smiled at her again.
She showered and washed her hair. There was a terry cloth robe on the back of the door so she put that on and wrapped a towel around her hair. She could smell coffee as she came out of the bathroom. She felt so much better after the shower. She stopped in the doorway with her clothes clutched in front of her and her shoes in her hand.
Josh glanced at her. "The laundry is out the back door. Just throw them near the door and we can wash them later."
She nodded and did as he suggested. He passed her a mug when she came back. "Milk's in the fridge if you want it."
She leaned against the counter and watched him cook. She did like a man who could look after themselves; she had seen so few of them in her life. He slid what was clearly her omelette onto a plate and passed her a fork. He started cooking the next one and she wandered off with the plate in her hand.
There were a few photos around the apartment. Some looked very professional. She stopped in front of one. It was of a young man in a denim shirt with a necklace sitting on his clavicles. His dark eyes focused intently on the photographer.
"Oh my god," she said with a mouthful. "Is this you?"
He glanced up to see where she was standing. "The sepia?" he checked.
"Yes, that's me."
"You wishing you met me twenty years ago?" he joked.
"Hardly," she replied. She would have been too young; she didn't say.
"Looks aren't everything," he said, oddly serious for a second.
She wandered around and looked at some other things. He had a jumble of books, pieces of artwork and sculptures. Lot of Native American themes. He walked out of the kitchen with his own omelette and sat on the sofa. He'd brought her coffee with him.
She sat near him.
"You would not have liked me twenty years ago," he stated.
She shrugged. "So let me guess… you drank, then?"
"Yes and at that age," he jogged his head towards the picture, "I was a whole lotta trouble. Women, drugs, alcohol… you name it."
"Trouble found me… until I ran away far enough."
"I ran away too," she confessed. She had no idea why she had admitted that to him.
"Yeah?" he checked. "Anyone looking for you?" he asked.
She shook her head. "I let my dad know where I am. There's no one else." Renee was a waste of space. She ate some more of her very late dinner. "It was the wedding thing."
"Runaway bride?" He chuckled.
"Oh yes. The invitations had gone out and everything." God, those hideous invitations.
"You seem too young. How old were you?"
"Ouch. Too young to get married," he agreed. And then he added, "Funny, I was eighteen too. And married. That's how I know it was too young."
"When you ran?"
"Yes. But no-one is looking for me either. They are better off without me."
She heard the 'they', but she didn't want to ask about children; they were sharing too many secrets anyway. And her secrets were the kind of things that nobody believed in any case. Even if she did tell them.
They sat companionably in silence, just eating and sipping their coffees. When he finished eating, he placed the plate on the coffee table. He toed off his shoes and put his feet up. He held an arm out to her. She disposed of her own plate and snuggled under his arm. He was maybe just over six feet; not tall compared to Jake but still way taller than her.
"So how did you get yourself together?" she asked.
"I got approached in a bar; asked to do some photo shots. Modelling he said. I thought it was probably going to be something x rated, but he meant it. I agreed anyway. The sepia is a pro shot from my early days. Sometimes they let me keep the clothes. Still do."
No wonder he looked so good; he was still a model.
"There's a small market for Native models. Some bit parts in movies or mini series."
"And no one recognised you? You know… from your past?"
"Guess that wasn't where they were looking. Not in the gutter after all."
"I hide," she admitted. "So they can't find me. I keep moving."
He looked at her. He slid his hand under her chin and pulled her face over to his. "I'd notice you," he whispered. He kissed her; and hauled her over onto his lap. She straddled him eagerly. She wanted to see his skin. She slid her hand inside his shirt. But she wanted more. She undid all the buttons and spread the shirt open over his hairless chest.
He was thin and wiry. Not an ounce of fat on him. He shrugged out of the shirt and tossed it aside. And he was such a gorgeous colour. His jeans hung low on his hips; very low. His hipbones protruded above the waist band.
"God… look at you," she almost moaned.
"I want to see you too," he said in a low voice. His hands fumbled at the tie on her borrowed robe and then he pushed it off her shoulders, sliding it down her arms. She shrugged out of it too; letting it fall behind her.
He cupped her breasts in his hands. She put her palms on either side of his face and kissed him, sliding her tongue into his mouth. He tasted like coffee.
He hoisted her up and stood, carrying her easily. He was stronger than he looked and plus she was still no more than 110 lbs wringing wet. He carried her to the bedroom and laid her on the bed.
He was that beautiful colour all over.
She lay there watching the sun come up. He was sound asleep. He had earned it. She almost giggled at the thought. Well she guessed they had both earned it. She just found herself restless and unable to go back to sleep. She had woken up from a weird dream.
It had been a long time since she had weird dreams. When she first moved to Forks, she had a lot of dreams. They had always seemed portentous and full of significant images; images she usually didn't understand. But her dreams had helped her to guess that Jake was a werewolf. And just like then, her dreams tonight were of the forest. The forest and the wolves and the smell of the sea. And then she had found herself on the beach. She recognised it instantly. She was dreaming of La Push. Maybe it was him. Being Native American and all. Her mind had skipped from him to her old friends and old locations?
His arm flopped over, reaching for her. His eyes opened and blinked, taking a second to focus on her. He frowned. "Why are you awake?" he asked.
He pulled her closer and she snuggled into him. "Dreams of what?" he asked.
"The sea and the forest." She left out the wolves.
"The sea," he repeated. "At the beach?"
"It's the place between things. Conscious and unconscious merge there. Were you standing on the beach, looking out towards the sea?"
"Change," he added. "Lost?"
"In the forest?"
"You are searching for yourself. You want to understand yourself better."
"You should do that for real."
"I've done a lot of things." He rubbed her back with his fingers. "Anything else?"
"Wolves," she admitted.
"Ah." He paused. "Family, pack… you miss them."
"Okay, now you are freaking me out."
He chuckled. "Go back to sleep Izzy."
She closed her eyes, but she swore just before she fell asleep, she heard him say, "I dream of wolves too."
They woke up and had sex again. He made breakfast; pancakes, even though it was closer to lunchtime. She threw her clothes in the washer. They laughed and chatted and cooked and read books; lying around in the warm apartment and watching the dreary Seattle rain. It didn't usually snow much in Seattle; too wet. The television stayed off by unspoken agreement.
Her clothes moved to the dryer.
It was the best Christmas day she had had in years. Night time approached and she was still with him. They cooked dinner and washed up together. Neither of them seemed eager to be alone. They ended up back on the sofas.
He sat up at one stage; he looked excited. "Road trip," he announced.
"We'll drive… we'll get in the car and just drive."
"Drive? To where?"
"To this beach… you'll love it."
"I have no clothes…" she protested.
"They're dry now, aren't they?" he looked so eager. "Or you could borrow some fitness gear from me… come on… it'll be fun." He hauled her in against him. He kissed her on the neck. "I'll drive, you can doze off."
He held her face in his hands and looked into her eyes. "We'll get there and we can watch the sunrise together."
He was so eager and so excited. It had been years since she had been spontaneous. "Sure," she agreed. "Let's do that." She really liked Josh. She'd think about how to deal with that later. Right now; they were having fun.
They raided his cupboards and packed some food and drinks for themselves. And lots of blankets. They showered and then fell into bed for a quickie before they left. She bundled up and he locked up and they left his apartment. They had taken much longer to pack than they expected; they kept distracting each other.
They piled their stuff into the elevator and rode down to the parking garage. He had a four wheel drive in the garage. He drove through the Seattle traffic.
"How long will it take?" she asked.
"Not sure… especially today of all days. Maybe four hours." He glanced at her. "A little more with traffic. And the weather, of course."
She curled her feet up underneath her and read a book. The road was dark and she wasn't taking much notice of it. She fed him and they stopped at a service station to use the facilities and buy a hot drink and then they were back on the road.
Eventually she fell asleep. He reached over and pulled the book out of her hand. He smiled at her and brushed her face with the back of his fingers.
He drove unerringly to his destination. It had been a long time, but he knew where he was going. He pulled up at the beach and parked the car. He looked out the windscreen at the beach.
He jumped out and got a blanket from the back seat. He wrapped it around his shoulders and went to wake her up. "Izzy?" He kissed her awake. Her eyes opened slowly and she focused on him. She smiled at him.
"We're here." He pulled at her to get out of the car. "Come sit and watch the sunrise over the forest."
Her eyes slid away from his face. It was still dark.
"You've got the blankets?"
"I'll keep you warm," he promised. She put her shoes back on.
They unpacked their impromptu picnic and carried it away from the car. They stumbled over rocks in the dark; laughing as they went.
"Oh my god. It's so cold," she complained.
He sat her in front of him and wrapped them both in the blankets. She snuggled in against him. They drank hot coffee from the thermos and ate their snacks.
"Happy Christmas," he whispered in her ear.
"Yes, you too," she replied. "A day late," she quipped. She clutched at his hand.
She watched the light play across the landscape. She knew this place. It was karma. Some kind of twisted karma. He had brought her to Second Beach of all places. She looked at that oh so familiar island. She couldn't believe it.
"Isn't it beautiful?" he asked her.
"Yes. Yes it is." She was surprised by how steady her voice sounded. Five years. She assumed all the pack would still be around. Dear god, what if she ran into any of them? What if she saw Jacob?
He rocked her gently, pressing his cheek on the top of her head. She shuffled down and stupidly tried to hide. She clutched at him.
It was beautiful.
She didn't regret her choice. She was alive. If she had stayed around here, she'd be dead. Even if she had stayed human, she just seemed to attract trouble here. She had never been to hospital as much in her life as she had been in her two short years here.
"You're Quileute," she stated.
"Yes." He sounded surprised. "How did you…?"
"I lived in Forks for a while." She shrugged.
"I didn't know."
There was silence as they watched the colours blossom in the landscape.
"Your dream?" he asked quietly.
"It was here…" she admitted.
"Wow," he finally said. "Look at me, Izzy."
She shifted around and straddled him. He held her face. "Are you okay?"
She just nodded. She felt like crying and she didn't know why.
Over his shoulder she could see a figure jogging along the road. Bella had a bad feeling about this. It was obviously a male and he was not wearing a shirt. He jogged closer.
It was Sam Uley. Karma was really kicking her butt today.
He jogged over and looked down at them. His face was his usual impassive mask.
"What are you doing here?" he growled at them through gritted teeth.
"Sam?" she blustered. "We just came to watch the sunrise."
Sam glared at her. "I wasn't talking to you, Bella." His eyes shifted back to Josh. "What are you doing here… Dad?"
FF_2154210_ - 8/12/2011 02:37:00 PM