Fanfic My Fanfic Contest
Name of Fic: Tropic of Virgo
Word Count: 4794
Full Summary: When Bella Swan moved to Forks, Washington, she turned jaded musician Edward Cullen's world upside down. But he wasn't the only one affected by her presence.
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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original plot, scenes, etc. are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended regarding either the original Twilight Saga or Tropic of Virgo.
Skeleton in my Closet
The first time I noticed her, she was dashing through the rain with a backpack over one shoulder and a laptop case over the other. She ran awkwardly, as if she was afraid of falling. It wasn't an unreasonable fear, given the rain-slicked pavement of the parking lot and sidewalks between the buildings of the high school. I held the door as she came in, staring at her shoes. She wore Chucks. And she wasn't wearing a jacket over her black and gray baseball tee. She skipped a trip to her locker and headed straight to her English class.
I looked back in the direction she came from and there he was. Clutching an umbrella and staring after her as if … I wasn't sure what. But it was intense, the look on his face.
His face tightened when he realized I was watching him. I looked away first, just as the bell rang.
Damn. Late to first period again.
Mrs. Goff raised her eyebrows at me as I slunk in and made my way to the back of the room. I just shrugged. This was becoming a bad habit—being late to first period—but there was nothing I could do about it now. I slid into my seat and pulled out my Spanish book, hoping she wouldn't call on me.
The rest of the morning passed in a blur. My classes were relatively easy this year, and it was just the mind-numbing escape I needed from home. I was probably the only person on the entire campus who looked forward to coming to this shithole just because it wasn't home. I had actually gotten an after-school job a few weeks before just so I could delay going home even longer.
When the bell rang, I followed the crowd heading for the cafeteria after making a quick stop at my locker to stash my books. They had the usual crap for lunch, and I selected a piece of pizza and a carton of milk before heading to my usual table in the corner, away from most of the crowd.
While I ate, I watched. The antics of the underclassmen were usually entertaining enough to keep me from total boredom. And today there was the shiny new toy of the school. Isabella Swan, daughter of the Chief of Police.
I wasn't the only one watching her.
From my vantage point, I could see that half the cafeteria had their eyes on her. At one point Tyler Crowley made an ass of himself by dropping his books and yelling, "BROWN!" like an idiot. She blushed about five shades of red while everyone at the table exploded into very loud giggles.
I had to smile. How could she wear a shirt that said What color are my eyes? across the boobs and still blush? I had seen similar shirts online and almost bought one, but tees weren't my public style, and a shirt like that was meant to be worn in public.
When the table of juniors finally quit laughing like maniacs, I followed Isabella's gaze across the cafeteria. To him.
Edward was watching her again, but this time he looked away when she noticed.
The bell rang, and I picked up my tray to dump my mostly uneaten pile of slop into the trash. Isabella pointedly ignored him as she crossed his path to get to the door and her next class, but he followed several steps behind her. Like he didn't want her to know he was following her. But anyone watching could see the way he stalked her. His next conquest.
Honestly, I wasn't sure what he even saw in her. She didn't seem like his usual type. But wait… did he actually have a usual type? Edward had been with nearly every girl in school—nerdy chicks, Goth bitches, cheer sluts, even some of the heftier girls. He'd even had me. But she was… different, somehow. There was something… untouched about her. Maybe that was the appeal.
It wouldn't surprise me if that was it. I didn't know if he'd ever actually been with a virgin before. The way girls threw themselves at him made it seem unlikely. But if that's all it was—the novelty of something new—then he'd have her and move on so fast it would make her head spin. And I almost felt sorry for her. Almost.
But she would have to learn just like all the rest of us.
Nobody was special enough to keep Edward's attention for long. Most lasted less than a month. I knew many girls envied me and considered me lucky to have been with him for about a month. I guess it had been nice while it lasted. But then it wasn't.
I mentally slapped myself. This had to stop. I had to stop thinking about it. About him. It was over. And that was a good thing. Wasn't it?
I was almost glad when school was over even though it meant that I had to go home. Maybe my mother would still be at work and I could have a little bit of time to myself before I had to deal with her.
I sighed as I threw my books in my locker. No homework tonight. I didn't have work, so I would be stuck at home with her. And I couldn't even lock myself in my room with the excuse that I had to study. Or could I?
I grabbed my literature book and shoved the metal door shut. Clicking the lock in place, I turned to go out to my car.
On the way, I passed Victoria and her ugly boyfriend, James. She called to me, but I just waved. I wasn't feeling particularly social today, and James kind of gave me the creeps. I still couldn't figure out what she saw in him. She could do so much better than him. She was so pretty with her red hair, porcelain skin, and full, rosy lips. Anybody would be attracted to Victoria…
I hitched my purse a little higher on my shoulder and pushed my way out the door. It had finally stopped raining, but I had to hold my skirt down around my thighs so the wind wouldn't show my ass to the whole student body in the parking lot.
I had almost reached my car when I heard a scream across the lot. I turned to look just as Crowley's van smashed headfirst into a beat-up red Chevy truck. It was like there was an instant of silence as the crowd held its collective breath. And then they all ran.
I wasn't able to see through the crowd that pushed and shoved around the two vehicles, but then I heard a deep voice shout, "EVERYBODY MOVE OUT!" and the crowd immediately began to disperse. I hung back, not wanting to get involved but secretly glad for the reason to delay going home. Sirens screamed in the distance and soon an ambulance arrived. The EMTs poured out of the back with two gurneys and a whole pack of emergency equipment.
Someone helped Crowley out of the van. I shuddered at the blood covering his face. They got him strapped to one of the gurneys, and I wondered who the other one was for. I didn't have to wonder for very long because Edward was suddenly visible, laying Isabella gently on the stretcher. Alice set her backpack on her lap as she tried to sit up.
Edward's head was close to hers, his lips moving quickly, speaking too softly for anyone but her to hear. She answered back and then he smiled. Her hand moved to touch his, and they both jerked back as if shocked.
"Chief Swan, I'm Alice," Edward's twin chirped as Isabella's father arrived on the scene. "She seems to be okay. It looks like she just fainted from the shock of it all. But Edward got her out of the way before the van crashed into her truck. I think Tyler's going to need stitches—"
She kept chattering at him, but I tuned her out and watched as Edward stepped back to let him get to Isabella. His hands jerked at his sides as if he wanted to touch her—probably to hug her and make sure she was really okay—but he held back. I saw her lips move but couldn't hear what she said.
"You're going, Bella," he answered firmly, just loud enough that I could hear him. "I want you to get checked out." He nodded at the EMTs, and they encouraged her to lie down so they could load her into the back of the ambulance where Crowley already waited.
When the emergency crew had pulled out of the parking lot, Chief Swan turned and asked, "Are you Edward?"
He answered and handed something to the chief who just stared at whatever was now in his hands. Then he looked at the vehicles, panic flashing across his face before it was replaced by a calm mask. This time when he spoke, his voice was soft, but it looked like he said, "Thank you."
Edward nodded, and Chief Swan got back in his cruiser to follow the ambulance to the hospital. Even though both vehicles had disappeared around the corner, Edward stood staring after them until Alice pulled him by the arm in the direction of his silver Volvo. When he finally moved, it was as if he had to uproot himself from the spot. He took one last glance at the van and truck still smashed together and shuddered.
I turned away then, not wanting to see the look on his face. He had never looked at me that way.
When I got home, my mother's car was nowhere in sight. At least I had that going for me today. Then I remembered that she had to work a long shift at the service station and wouldn't be home until after five. I changed into a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt before getting myself a Diet Coke and taking it to the living room to watch some TV. Too bad there's nothing worth watching during the after school hours. And by the time the good shows came on, I would be holed up my room… I hoped. I kept one eye on the television and the other on the clock so I could fix something for dinner but still escape before she actually got home.
Dealing with my mother was… difficult, at best. Actually, it was more like pure torture. She had very distinctive ideas of what a daughter of hers should be like. And I was not it—not by a long shot. I tried to keep up a charade—at least in public—that would fool her into thinking I was following in the footsteps she had laid out for me. Part of the charade was the fact that she didn't know Edward had broken it off with me at the end of the previous school year. To keep up this deception, I spent most of my work-free weekends out of the house, wandering around the forest surrounding Forks. And when I wasn't there, I was shopping or hanging out at the movie theater in Port Angeles.
Anything to be away from her. And still have her believe I was what she wanted me to be.
Half an hour before I expected her home, I went into the kitchen and poured a can of beef stew into a saucepan. It only took a few minutes to heat it up, and I filled a bowl for myself before turning the burner down to low and hiding out in my room. With the door locked.
I was nearly finished with my dinner when I heard her key turn in the doorknob, and she coughed her way into the house.
"I'm home, Tee," she called. As if I was expecting someone else.
"In my room," I called back before she could come looking for me. "I've got a lot of homework," I lied and added, "there's stew on the stove."
"Thanks, baby," she said, her voice fading as she made her way into the kitchen to eat.
Neither of us cooked, so dinner usually involved something out of a can or a box.
A few minutes later, I heard her wheezing down the hallway before she knocked on my door. "You coming out tonight, Tee, or d'you have a man in there with you?"
"Yeah, Mom," I answered, "Geoffrey Chaucer." We had just finished The Canterbury Tales in my British Lit class that afternoon. I was supposed to be studying for a quiz tomorrow, but I knew the story well enough to pass without pouring over my books and notes all night. I would skim through my notebook during lunch and be fine.
"Hey, when is Edward gonna come over, Tee? I'm starting to think you made him up," she said with a wet cough. I could smell the smoke from her cigarette seeping under my door.
"I don't know," I hedged. "He's really busy with school and his band and stuff," I added, knowing that it was probably true. And from what I'd seen that day at school and after, it looked like he would be busy with the Chief of Police's daughter in the very near future.
She chuckled and coughed again. "Well, you tell him I want to meet him, honey."
"Sure, Mom," I said just to placate her. "I need to study now. I have a test tomorrow."
"Alright, honey. I'll be in the living room," she said, as if I didn't know that's where she sat every night until she fell asleep watching some late-night show.
The rest of the evening passed slowly, and I finally gave up and went to bed early.
Wednesday morning, my mother woke me up before she left for her shift to tell me she'd be home late again tonight. I smiled briefly and said, "Ok."
I showered and dressed quickly, making it to school before most of the rest of the students. I waited in my car until it was almost time for the bell to ring. When I got out of the car, I saw a familiar silver Volvo whip into its usual parking space beside Emmett's monster Jeep. I couldn't stop myself from watching for Edward to step out of the driver's side. What I didn't expect was for Chief Swan's daughter to jump out of the front passenger seat, spitting like a hellcat.
Isabella was magnificent as she snapped across the roof of the car, "Jesus, Edward! Do you fuck like you drive?"
He stared at her with that same look I'd seen yesterday and replied, "I don't know. How do I drive?"
"Hard and smooth, but too fast to enjoy the ride," she hissed, the slashed sleeves of her royal blue shirt quivering with her rage.
My jaw dropped and so did Edward's as she spun around and stomped into the school building, Emmett's laughter following her across the lot. I just stood watching as the whole Cullen/Hale clan went off to first period.
So he hadn't fucked her. Yet. But he'd given her a ride to school. What the hell was that about? Edward Cullen never gave any girl a ride to school. God knows every one of us had tried to wrangle ourselves a ride in that silver Volvo.
The excuse had always been that there were five of them—which left no room for anyone else. So what made Isabella so different?
The bell rang, and I trudged off to Spanish—late again—shaking my head over that mystery.
I only had to wait until lunch to find out the answer.
I walked into the cafeteria just in time to see Alice Cullen grab Isabella's belt loop and tug her over to the Forks High Holy of Holies. Alice sat between Isabella and Jasper on one side of the elite table, and Edward sat across from her with Rosalie and Emmett across from the other couple.
The new girl looked uncomfortable at first, but Alice soon engaged her in conversation. It looked like the youngest Cullen had decided that the police chief's daughter was her new best friend. The ride this morning had probably been for Alice's benefit. I knew Edward would bend over backward or saw off his own arm if his twin asked him to.
Isabella joined in with them, surreptitiously glancing at Edward from time to time. He, on the other hand, remained silent through the entire lunch period although he couldn't seem to look away from her.
I had already gathered up my things to leave when the bell rang. From the corner of my eye, I saw Edward stand, but he didn't leave immediately. I turned to watch—feeling like a stalker or a rubber-necker on the highway—as he picked up Isabella's tray and his own. He waited for her to pick up her books and then matched his stride to hers so he could walk with her to class.
Okay, maybe it wasn't for Alice after all. What the hell?
The end of the week came quicker than I wanted it to, but at the same time, I was almost grateful for the upcoming weekend. School had become alternately a place of refuge and a torture chamber. The refuge was my classes. The torture chamber was the halls and the cafeteria—even the parking lot. There I had to see them every day, and as much as I wanted to, I couldn't seem to stop watching them.
It wasn't even that I wanted him back. I didn't. When he broke it off on the last day of school, there was a part of me that was glad. Relieved even. I no longer had to keep up the charade with him. I knew I was different. Every other girl in school who had gotten with Edward had been left satisfied, although many wanted more. Why did I have to be the only one who wasn't—satisfied, that is?
And I was angry. At him, at me, at my mother. At life.
That Friday I sat with Victoria and James, hoping that they could distract me from my stalking of the Cullen/Hale/Swan table. Yes, she had become a permanent fixture there it seemed. Maybe it would end in a month, but for now she sat with them.
I got to the lunchroom after most of them, but Isabella hadn't made it through the line yet when I took my seat. I tried not to look their way, not to watch Edward wait for her to come sit in the empty seat across from him. But I couldn't ignore it when she said that.
She slammed her lunch tray on the table and exploded, "What the hell? This is out of control! Did someone put a sign on my back that says 'I do anal'?"
Helplessly, I turned to stare as streams of Coke spewed out of Emmett's nose. Jasper's shoulders were shaking as he tried not to laugh out loud. Alice, exuberant as ever, giggled wildly. Even Rosalie cracked a smile. And Edward… he blushed like a virgin in a whorehouse. He just stared at her—as we all did. He looked like he wanted to say something but couldn't figure out what. And then he leaped out of his seat and fled the cafeteria leaving his tray and books on the table.
"And what the hell is his problem, anyway!" Isabella snapped, causing her tablemates to explode into even more laughter.
You, I wanted to say. You are his problem. You're turning him inside out with your bizarre blend of innocence and raunchiness. You are unlike anyone he has ever known. And I'll bet you still haven't slept with him.
On Tuesday, I realized that Edward had shown up at Bella's classroom for the last four days between second and third period even though he had no classes along that hall. Two of those four he had slammed into her, knocking her books to the floor and nearly sending her sprawling. Luckily for Isabella, this time he had gotten there too late, and she was halfway down the hall by the time he showed up. I watched from my locker, taking in the disappointment on his face and in the slump of his shoulders. He played it off by leaning up against one of the lockers across the hall from her second period class as he watched her.
I looked from him back to her and contemplated the odd situation. I still couldn't figure out what made her so special, so different. It was clear that Edward was thoroughly intrigued by this girl. I didn't think it was just because he hadn't gotten in her pants yet. Granted, he had never had to work for it before her. He'd had his pick of any girl, any time since long before high school. She wasn't throwing herself at him, but it seemed that she would be available if he could figure out how to catch her. But did he know how?
I glanced down the wall of lockers as I pushed mine shut. He was still there. I started to walk toward him, but then Alice appeared out of nowhere to talk his ear off.
How does it feel to want something you can't have? I wanted to ask him, but they had already blended into the throng of students in the main hallway. And I was going to be late to another class if I didn't hurry.
The rest of the week, I tried not to pay attention to them.
I threw myself into my classes and volunteered for extra shifts at the restaurant in Port Angeles. I made sure I was working on Saturday evening so I wouldn't be sitting home in a personal time-out, avoiding my mother and wishing I could be over at the Cullens' house.
Breaking Dawn was having one of its monthly jam sessions, and I would've given anything to be able to be there. There was kind of an open invitation, but I knew that it wouldn't extend to me. As far as they were concerned, I could burn in the deepest, darkest reaches of hell. And it all went back to the day Edward decided he'd had enough of me.
It was the last day of school, sophomore year, and everyone was happily escaping the walls of Forks High for another summer. Edward and I walked down the hall together, not touching but still together as we had been for the past few weeks.
When we got to the front doors, Emmett called for him to hurry up because he wanted to leave.
"I'll be right there," he yelled back. He put his hand on the small of my back and led me a little way along the side of the school. From where we stood, I could see the busses which were filling up with the students too young or poor to drive themselves to school.
He backed me up against the brick wall, and I thought he was going to kiss me. Instead he ran a hand through his already disheveled hair and roughly blew out his breath.
It was obvious that he had something to say. Maybe he had to break our plans to go out tonight. Some family thing had come up, perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time that had happened. I waited to hear what he had to say.
"Tanya," he began and then stopped.
"What is it, Edward?" I said softly. "You can't make it tonight?"
"Yeah. No. I mean…" He ran his hand through his hair again. "Tanya, I think we should stop seeing each other."
That was not what I had been expecting.
"What do you mean?" I asked stupidly as the busses began to pull out of the parking lot.
He looked over at his family who were waiting for him by his car then back at me.
"I mean I don't think we should try to drag this out any longer. School's over for the summer, and we probably won't see much of each other anyway, so…"
So he was breaking up with me. And I would be stuck at home for the entire summer. No escaping from my mother by going out with Edward. Even though we never actually went on a date. We usually just ended up somewhere secluded, making out in the backseat of the Volvo his parents had given him for his birthday last summer. Although sex with Edward Cullen wasn't as spectacular as it was rumored to be, at least it got me out of the house. But worst of all, no more getting to hear his music first whenever they came out with something new.
I stared at him as all those thoughts ran through my head. He was taking all of my escapes away from me. And he hadn't even given me the same as he gave everyone else. Or maybe it was me. Maybe it wasn't him at all.
"So… can I have my laptop back?" he asked.
He had loaned me his laptop for an end-of-year project, and I still had it. In fact, it was in my backpack along with his little green flash drive where I had saved my project.
Something inside of me snapped when he said that so casually—as if the stupid computer was more important than I was. And I suppose that to him, it was.
"You want your damned laptop?" I screamed, not even recognizing my own voice.
I ripped my backpack open and yanked the slender laptop out of it. Throwing my school bag to the ground, I brandished the computer with both hands. He took a step backward.
"Here's your precious laptop!"
As he reached for it, I hurled it as hard as I could.
The crash it made as it hit the pavement wasn't nearly as satisfying as the quiet crunch I heard when the tires of the special ed bus rolled over it. Or as the look on Edward's face as the bus left and he stared at the smashed remains of his laptop. Several pieces had flown to the sides of the bus as first the front wheel and then the back wheel did their damage.
How does it feel to lose something important to you? I wanted to ask.
But the look on his face said it all.
The tracks he and his siblings had recorded were all stored on that laptop. I had listened to them several times while I had the computer, enjoying the way his voice and his piano blended with the rest of the band. I doubted he had been able to retrieve them from the mess of hardware the bus had left in its wake that day three months ago. And I knew that he—all of them—thought the entire collection of songs had been lost forever.
I was also pretty sure that he didn't realize I still had that little green flash drive with the initials EAC etched into the neon plastic casing. I had discovered it one day during the summer when I cleaned out my backpack to fill it with clothes for a sleepover at Victoria's. When I took it to the public library and plugged it into one of the public computers, I had found a password-protected file that appeared to be the tracks of the lost album. It didn't take much to figure out that the password was the name of the band. Predictable, but stupid.
All the files were still safe and sound. As much as I hated that he didn't make me feel as good as he should have, I couldn't destroy his album. But I didn't want to give it back either. It wasn't that I particularly wanted the music. I hadn't even listened to it since I had found the files.
I held onto it because it was something I had of him that no one else in the school had. Not even her.
And maybe I would give it back someday. But when I did, it would be with a price. And it would cost him something that was more important to him than the music. Something that would make him hurt as much as he'd hurt me.
For now, I would keep watching—keep stalking them both—until the time was right. Having seen the ways he had changed—for her—over these last couple of weeks, I knew it was only a matter of time.
A/N: Special thanks to my two betas—who shall remain nameless for the time being. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for the super-fast service. You are both awesome!