Disclaimer: I don't own twilight. I just like to do my own thing with S. Meyer's characters.
Warning: This story is rated M for a reason, if you're not old enough to read that, don't rub my nose in it! Thank you!
The usual hail goes to L and C, for being there whenever I need someone to be excited with me! This one's for you, sorry I've been so fail otherwise!
Also, a huge thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday!
Popular is my newest pet project, my guilty pleasure, if you will. Inspired by the likes of 'Gossip Girl' and '10 things I hate about you' (the movie, not the TV show), and about as grave as those plots ever got. So if the tags I put on my fics make you twitchy – this story won't be one of those to be concerned about, promise!
If I may ask one thing of you, dear reader (and this is mostly for your own enjoyment): For this story, make a little room in your imagination. If you like to imagine the actors of the movies for the characters, go ahead, but try not to make any assumptions about a character or their actions based on name and description alone. I love to take liberties!
Without further ado I wish you as much fun reading as I had thinking this up! A short what-to-expect FAQ section is attached at the bottom.
"Edward, you're an utter disgrace."
Carlisle's eyes narrowed as he bit out the words, then after what he probably thought of as a meaningful pause he went on. I toned out his words - they were familiar enough by now that I could have had this conversation with myself. Disgrace to the family, blah blah, ruining my life, blah, nothing but an ignorant little shit, as if I still cared. I didn't even bother to add the mandatory 'oh look at how devastated I am at my own dastardliness' affirmative sounds as he continued to rattle off the list of my supposed - and, in most cases, actual - deviances. Last but not least he tried to appeal to my vanity -
"Look at your sisters, both of them have immaculate track records in both grades and extracurricular activities!" -
while my mother did her motherly best to look struck with grief at what her offspring had become. They should have both known by then that I didn't give a damn about it, but I had long since realized that Carlisle's tantrums were mostly for his benefit, not mine.
Once he had come to an end, or simply run out of anger to vent, he launched into what he called his 'new set of house rules.' This bothered me somewhat, as being exiled to Bumfuck Of Nowhere should have been punishment enough, but this time he seemed to be serious about hitting me where it hurt. Curfew at eight, mandatory; no car, no parties, any and all extracurriculars at school had to be approved by him or mom, no social life to speak of, my allowance cut to the bare minimum of what I'd need for school. As if anyone in this shithole would have noticed if I went to class wearing a burlap sack.
"And no girls-only study groups that end up as an orgy on our living room sitting group!"
That last one made me smirk even though I had sworn to myself not to show any emotions at all. I wondered for a moment if I should interject whether he would have preferred walking in on me screwing round with two guys instead, but swallowed the impulse when the lines around mom's mouth became evident. I knew that she didn't approve of my behavior, but on her own would have been more lenient; yet any actions she perceived as me 'not respecting women' she took as personal offense, and I wasn't ready to antagonize her in earnest, now that my life was reduced to depending on her good will. It was easy to ignore Carlisle's disapproving looks on the few occasions he wasn't at work, but my mother's constant reproach still got to me. What can I say, deep down I was a softy at heart.
Carlisle took my silence as acceptance, and dismissed me with a final, curt nod. By the time I'd left his upstairs study and made my way down to the kitchen to grab a Red Bull from the fridge what little impact his speech had had on me was all but forgotten. I was too broody because of the ordeal ahead of me to dwell on it.
Downstairs, Alice and Rose were about to leave, now that the spectacle of the week was over. Their gloating twin grins instantly morphed into bright smiles as my father followed me, and I was only too glad to escape the, 'Oh, daddy, can we have a couple hundred bucks to spend on stupid stuff we don't really need!' fawning. Not that either of them needed another skirt that was short enough to give any sexual harassment suit lawyer a good defense for the unlucky guy who couldn't resist the ass on a cookie platter.
Popping the can I took a deep draft from it, before I rejoined the estrogen commotion in the hallway. Just in time to get a last warning look from my father, and an emphatic, "Don't screw this up!", before he and my sisters left. More for my own than their benefit I requited their exit with a loud snort, and instantly felt childish when I heard my mother's sigh behind me.
"Edward, really," was all she said, and the look she gave me left a much deeper impression. Still, I was feeling too grown-up to actually show the guilt I felt at making her feel miserable about me, so I did my best to hide the tiny bit of remorse inside me behind a cocky grin. Being my mother, she of course saw right through it, but left me what dignity I still had by ignoring it.
"Grab your things, I'll wait in the car for you."
The only thing more mortifying than having your mother drive you to school on your first day when you're ten is when she does it almost a decade later again. That she drove a flaming red Lexus with light beige leather seats didn't help, nor the fact that, an hour before official start of the school day, no one was there to observe my walk of shame. And being left rotting outside the councilor's office while mom did her Harvard Law School trained best to keep my jail sentence in the unpleasant yet still bearable range didn't sit much better with me, either.
Things started to look up a little when a tall, leggy blonde walked down the hall towards me. Doing my best to turn up the trademark Edward Cullen charm I leaned back in the uncomfortable chair and gave her my most dazzling smile. That she didn't immolate instantly was pure luck, as she would have burned bright in the synthetic pseudo chic clothes she had sparingly wrapped her assets in. I had to admit, she didn't look half bad, if a little too artificial for my taste. Still, great ass and tits. Considering she was probably the most bangable I'd find in Forks, I worked hard not to let my thoughts show while I kept grinning at her.
"Hey there, beautiful, are you my welcome committee, or a nymph straight out of the woods?"
Her derisive snort in reply was the first - and probably only - interesting thing about her. She stopped in front of me, one hand at her small waist, the other clutching her knock-off designer purse.
"Is this what fallen from grace little Upper Eastside shits think flies around here? Can't say I'm impressed."
That one definitely went to her, and I accepted my loss with a curt nod. She graciously accepted, and extended her right hand towards me.
"Jessica Stanley, student body president, and your most promising chance at not ending in juvie."
I looked at her offered hand just long enough to give her a chance to start fidgeting - she didn't, just kept on watching be coolly - then took and turned it over so I could press the barest of kisses against her knuckles. At least she had a decent pedicure.
"Edward Cullen, as you obviously know. So glad to make your acquaintance."
She held my gaze evenly until I released her hand.
"If you want to, you can continue to make fun of me all day long, but I would advise against it. You really don't want me as your enemy, when it's mutually beneficial for us to be friends."
"Is that so?"
Her smile widened, and I had to admit that it was a pretty good imitation of a predatory grin.
"It is. And you should think again about putting away that belligerent grimace you probably think of as charming. I'm not here to play silly games, and I don't make empty threats. I'm here to make a proposition."
The sleazebag in me couldn't keep from giving her the obvious once-over, but I wiped the stupid grin off my face and settled more comfortably into the chair.
"Then let's hear your proposition, Miss Stanley."
"Before I get to that, let me lay out the facts for you, Mister Cullen. You're here not because your parents suddenly found Nature's Call irresistible, but because whatever elite private school you've previously attended kicked you out. As prodigal son it's impossible to have such a blemish on your academic record, so daddy dearest paid off whoever was willing to take the bribe and made it go away, but couldn't keep everything under wraps completely. Now you are here, your last chance to make it through high school without bankrupting your parents. You just need to tough it out one more year and you're off to whatever Ivy League college needs a new wing funded - but for that to happen you need to fly under the radar. Your parents believe that here in Forks it will be virtually impossible for you to get into real trouble, so they hope that this uncomfortable stunt will be a brief one for everyone included. Here, parents still give a fuck about what their kids are up to, and chances are good you won't end up again with the headmaster walking in on you, drunk and stoned, fucking his daughter on his office desk."
I grudgingly tipped my proverbial hat to her sleuth skills.
"Probably not, seeing as the principal has a son, from what I've heard, and I'm not out to expand my horizons in that direction."
"But his wife is a true MILF, and has a big heart for little scoundrels, or so they say," she deflected my comment. We kept looking at each other for several seconds, both trying not to be the first to give in, and she eventually resumed talking when she realized that we were at an impasse. "Anyway, the last thing you need is me, Miss Sweet and Innocent claiming that you seduced me, got me drunk, made me smoke weed and then took advantage of my state."
"That's low," I shot back, tbefore offering her a fake grin that was so wide it made my cheeks hurt. "No one would believe you'd actually say no to me."
She huffed with equally artificial annoyance, but her gaze remained calm.
"Don't underestimate what people will believe. My father's the mayor and next year is election year, you wouldn't believe what some people are ready to use to get votes. But," here she added a dramatic pause, "how about we never find out? I'm sure you're more interested in spending your time here lazily banging your way through junior and senior class instead of antagonizing me. I can be your best friend, and good things happen to my friends."
"I can set you up with pretty much everything you need - a date, the answers to your next math test, drugs, make minor mishaps go away, you name it. I throw the best parties, get invited to the rest, and can ensure that you won't bore yourself out of your freaking mind. And all you need to do for me is a small favor in return. It even comes with a little challenge to pique your interest."
I didn't exactly believe her threats - although I was sure that she did - but considering that the next months would be an endless ordeal of continuous boredom for me anyway, listening to her proposition was the least I could do.
"Okay, you have me there. Shoot."
Her triumphant smile made her look almost pretty, probably because it was the only real thing I'd seen of her so far.
"I want you to get rid of Bella Swan, and I want the bitch to suffer until her last breath." Another dramatic pause, then a smile. "As she leaves for college early, or joins her good-for-nothing mother, or whatever, I don't care. I just want her gone, and I'm sure that you'll get the job done easily."
"And in return I get you screw you, or what?"
My laugh didn't sit well with her, judging from the single irritated blink, but she did her best not to show that I had ruffled her feathers.
"No, you douchebag, I'm not re-imagining classic novels nor the insipid movie versions. If you wanna fuck me, all you have to do is ask. Nicely." She smiled coquettishly at that, but got back to business immediately. "What I offer you in return is your flawless transition from weird new kid to the top tier of Fork's social pyramid. No one will mess with you, you can do pretty much whatever and whoever you want to, and I'll make sure that your stay here will be a pleasant one. And, as if that wasn't incentive enough, you get to take down a snotty bitch who believes herself better than the rest of us. Trust me, five minutes in a room with her and you'll do it, no questions asked."
I considered my options for a while, but mostly took my time to make her sweat. She waited with infinite patience, and I grudgingly admitted to myself that - just maybe - I had met someone in Jessica who was as manipulative and shrewd as most of the girls I'd been hanging out with back in New York.
"Do you need my answer now?"
"Either you're in, or you're out. I don't believe in second chances."
"Are you going to ask my sisters something similar?"
The question seemed to surprise her, but she didn't hesitate to reply.
"To join my inner circle? Yes. But as they weren't moronic enough to give any girl in a backwater town like Forks ammunition against them I'll leave it at that. I'm getting the sense here we'll get along well."
I silently agreed with that, and eventually to Jessica's offer, as well.
"Okay, I'll do it. Under one condition."
"You don't get to set the rules," she bit back, but motioned for me to go on when I just raised my brows.
"If she's really such a cunt as you describe her, I'm not going to fuck her."
In reply, she pursed her lips, then shook her head laughing.
"I don't give a shit if you fuck her or not, as long as you get her out of my way. Can't say I don't understand not wanting to bang Plain Jane."
As if perfectly orchestrated the door beside me opened just then, effectively ending our talk. The councillor, who looked like she should have given first hand demonstrations instead of verbal advice to horny teenagers, motioned me inside, and offered Jessica a bright smile.
"Oh, I see you've already met our newest student?"
"Yes, Ms. Zimmerman, the principal asked me to welcome him to Forks High and make sure to show him where everything is. I'll catch up with you before homeroom, Edward."
I left it at a nod - anything else might have made my mom suspicious, who was already eyeing Jessica with way too much interest - and let the councillor usher me into the remaining free seat in front of her desk. My mother disapprovingly clearing her throat kept me from staring down Ms. Zimmerman's blouse as she took her seat - or at least let me do it more stealthily - and we were back to well-trod territory.
What I should do. What I shouldn't. Mainly nothing that involved having any fun at all. Because I had been failing several of my subjects - deliberately, but I didn't interrupt when talk came to that - my parents had deemed it preferable for me to be stuck in those subjects for another round, to 'give me a chance to get better grades.' Only when my mother interjected that maybe a tutoring program might be beneficial I had to speak up.
"Mom, seriously? I'm not going to hang out with some lame geek who just drones on about the exact same thing that's in the books! I can easily learn that by myself."
She simply raised one eyebrow, silently challenging me to prove it, but changed course as she turned to the councillor again.
"Is it possible to maybe seat him next to someone who might be a good influence? At least in the critical subjects."
"Well, yes, I'm sure we'll find a solution there."
She commenced by pulling out a list of what I was sure were the resident lame geeks I had just spoken against wanting to associate with, and started scribbling notes next to my list of classes. The last name made me listen up, though.
"You probably won't need any help in biology as it's the only AP class you're taking, but having you next to Bella Swan might be a good idea. She's been a great help with science fair projects for the last years, she'll lend you a hand if you have trouble keeping up."
I probably hesitated a moment too long to offer my token protest, judging from the frown appearing on my mother's forehead, but they thankfully left it at that. Sooner than expected I had a real excuse to check out this girl who seemed to polarize the social hierarchy of this quaint little high school. I had to admit, I was starting to be moderately intrigued.
Before releasing me into the wild of the hallways Ms. Zimmerman held me back, her open face set to what she probably thought of as supporting or comforting.
"After long contemplation we've decided that it's probably for the best if you come see me, say, once a week? Friday afternoon? Just until you've settled in. Of course, you can always come see me if you need to talk about anything."
I shot a long look in my mother's direction, then agreed to see the shrink - for now. While not exactly comfortable with this, I was ready to make some concessions - and who knew how this might play out? After all, she was barely ten years older than me, and while Carlisle had been very vocal about me not keeping female company, he had specified restrictions to my fellow students, not necessarily women in general.
Outside of her office I made as if to turn away and leave it at a hurried good-bye to my mom, but she interrupted my fast escape.
"Edward, a word, if you please."
Her tone was slightly teasing, but her face all business, and I dropped the coy smile I had already donned in preparation of hitting the female students of Forks High with.
"Sure, what's up?"
"You know exactly what this is about, so don't even think about playing stupid. We both know that while you might have inherited your father's looks, that bright mind of yours comes from my side of the family. The will and ability to twist someone around your little finger, as well. Just because you could have Little Miss PhD in there believe any sob story you could come up with doesn't mean you actually need to go there."
More to humor her razor-sharp assessment of my abilities I gave her innocent, wide eyes, but then had the decency to look away when she just kept on frowning.
"I'll keep it to what she'll want to hear to keep her off my back, then."
"You know that's not what I mean."
I did, and because I got the sense that she was dead serious I held my tongue. Unlike Carlisle, who's tantrums had long lost any credibility with me, her Stern Voice seldom failed to reign me in. Today wasn't any different. Seeing her point proven, she sighed.
"I don't expect you to miraculously turn into a saint, Edward, but I'm serious when I tell you to get your shit together. This is a great chance, and you should use it."
"What's in it for me?" If nothing else, I'd learned from her to always negotiate the hell out of every ultimatum.
"A decent education should be enough," she griped, allowing herself a small smile. At my pained look she crossed her arms over her chest. "It's not like we let you starve and live in poverty, you know?"
"But you made sure that there's absolutely no fun left in my life!" I whined, hoping that for once the wounded animal spiel would work with her. Surprisingly, it did, at least as far as softening her features.
"It's not that bad-"
"But it is! I don't even get to drive your car, or Alice's! You've set me up to become a total social pariah!"
"I'm sure that little skank who's been rubbing herself all over your leg twenty minutes ago will keep you from such a terrible fate. Speaking of which, you'd do good to stay away from girls like her. All you complain about now is in place because of women like her."
I couldn't help grinning at her assessment of Jessica, but didn't let her water down my argument.
"Yeah, like she'd even talk to me if she knew just how limited my personal freedom is."
"Maybe we should keep it at exactly that then, don't you think?"
Touché. What do you do when your mom just served you good? Tuck your tail between your legs and admit defeat.
"Point taken. Still, I can't even drive myself to practice. If I pick up any sport, which you and dad both heavily supported, as you remember. Or if there's some emergency-"
She cut me off with a decisive gesture, then sighed.
"I'll cut you a deal. That's what you want, after all, isn't it? You really should consider a career in mediation, son." I gave her my sweetest smile, getting an eyeroll in return. "Get your grades up, and I mean top third of the class, nothing less. And I don't want to get any late-night calls from anyone, I only want to see the principal in the grocery store aisle, and the only size-zero thongs in the laundry belong to your sister. Then, and only then, will I consider easing your sentence."
"Two months, no longer."
"Steady until Christmas, and that's my last word."
"I want my car privileges back then."
"We can talk about that when we get there. If you get there."
The idea of being stuck in restriction hell for months still didn't sit well with me, but it was the best offer I could get, and I would have been a fool if I hadn't taken it.
She grabbed my offered hand and shook it, very business style. "Deal."
Thus reassured she let me trod off, and because she could be evil like that, waved after me when I looked back over my shoulder. As no one was in the near vicinity yet I gifted her with a boyish smile that hopefully reminded her that I could still be her little angel, even if I preferred to don the devil horns nowadays, which might just get me my car keys back sooner.
I hadn't yet found my way through the maze of halls to my locker when I ran into Jessica again, this time with what I guessed was her full entourage. She waved me over with a brilliant white smile, which quickly got mirrored by the three girls surrounding her.
"There you are. Edward, may I introduce my girls, Lauren, Angela, and Victoria."
"Ladies," I nodded at them, reserving a wink for the dark haired one I figured was Angela, provided Jessica had called their names in order. She seemed the most likely to blush at being singled out. No surprise, it worked, and I got a girlish giggle back from her. The cute, slightly shy ones always were the easiest.
Jessica clearing her throat got my attention back on her, and while her smile had dimmed a little during my silent flirting with her cohorts, it now took on an expectant quality.
"Back to what we have been talking about before - are you still in? Or did Mommy Dearest tell you to keep away from us girls?"
"As a matter of fact, she did."
"Of course I'm in."
"Perfect," she practically purred, and the only thing lacking of her display of villainous glee was her tenting her fingers in front of her face.
"So, where is this Bella chick?" I asked, looking around, as if by just seeing her I'd know who Jessica had been referring to.
"Just look for the outlet clothes," Lauren snickered, and the other two flunkettes joined her instantly. Jessica offered them a gracious smile that looked awfully close to a pat on the head, then nodded down the hallway.
"See that brown-haired girl next to the tall, blond guy? That's her."
At her direction, it wasn't hard to make out who she was talking about. The guy was easily a head taller than the average student, and while not exactly standing-out-in-a-crowd beautiful, the chick definitely was a looker. Medium height, she had the whole casual thing going for her - hip-hugging jeans and a grey tank top that showed off her perky tits perfectly. I didn't much care for the dark hoodie she donned moments later, stashing her assets away, but such garments could just as easily be removed if the need arose. And a certain need definitely did arise downstairs, watching her stretch, which made both the hoodie and top ride up and reveal a sliver of lightly bronzed skin, before she tugged them down again. I only got a brief glimpse of her profile, which didn't look half bad across the distance, but then I didn't have to look her in the face when I bent her over the next hard surface and fucked her from behind.
None of that showed on my face as I shrugged and replied with the most bored tone I could muster.
"Doesn't look like much. Are you sure you're not just making fun of me with your little proposition?"
Jessica pressed her lips together.
"Trust me, she's more than meets the eye."
"Guess i'll find out in," I checked my time table briefly, "last period before PE. The councillor set me up as her bio lab partner."
"My condolences," the girl most likely called Victoria offered.
First bell saved me from any further insincere pity, and I let Jessica lead me down the hallway towards my class, right by the mismatched couple we had been foul-mouthing. Just as we passed them, the brown-haired girl turned around and our eyes met. From up close she looked better, even though a little more make-up would have done wonders for her. The look in her eyes spoke volumes, but lacking the cipher I didn't understand a thing. Then, as if she had just flipped down the blinders, a nearly insipidly nice smile replaced what had hinted at a bright mind, and she even raised one hand to wave at us.
"Hi Jess, how are you doing?"
Jessica practically swept by her, not even deigning to look at her, and as her entourage did the same, I let my gaze sweep toward the hallway in front of us, too. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the tall guy shake his head and murmur something to the girl, but it was way too noisy to understand a word. Just before entering the adjacent classroom I looked back, and saw the girl still smiling brightly.
Maybe I had only imagined the look she'd given me before the mask had fallen in place. Either way, there was more to this girl than met the eye - Jessica's objective alone verified that, even if I'd mistaken sleep-deprived vacancy for depth of character. And with nothing else to do, seeing as my parents had cut me off from all other forms of entertainment, I was happy to accept the challenge of finding out what the matter was with Bella Swan.
I hope you enjoyed this quick'n'dirty first chapter!
Now, you might be wondering about a couple of things:
So is this going to be all EPOV? - Nope, there will be several chapters from Bella's POV further in.
You tagged this as romance / angst … - Romance because it's a love story, angst because they are teenagers and their might be some befitting teenage angst. That's it.
Will there be a HEA? - I never answer that question, and this story is no exception.
So this is E/B all the way? - They are the central couple, so to say, and it is their story, but that doesn't mean it has to be 'love at first sight, I'll never even let my eyes stray to another (wo)man.' If that's a problem for you, you might want to wait with reading until the story is complete and someone you trust can tell you if it's for you, or not.
Your Edwards tend to be kind of assholes … - I try to write what I think is a realistic-ish portrayal of a guy in his late teens, I don't think those are known for being well-mannered, soft-spoken, or capable of behaving like a sane human being. If you want nice and gentle Edwards, the world of fanfic is full of them, I won't be cross with you for not sticking with me if you don't like him (only if you blame me for writing him that way).
Does the twi fanfic-verse really need another highschool fic? - Yes, I think it does, and I'm trying hard to give it a nice twist.
Do you have a posting schedule? - No, but I'll try to provide consistent updates. Life is too crazy right now and I'm using this to de-stress, and trying to adhere to a fixed schedule would ruin that effect somewhat.
Will there be a lot of these ass-long boring A/Ns? - Everyone who's ever read any of my fics in progress knows I love my soapbox, but I'm trying very hard to keep it to a minimum. That's what this note is for.
Do you want reviews? Do you reply? - I looooove reviews, even short, generic ones. They are the currency of fanfic, and I deeply appreciate readers taking the time for a quick thank you note. If questions arise I will try to reply quickly. Whenever I have the time, I will reply to all reviews I get.
Do you allow translations? - No, not by people I don't know and not in languages I don't know myself so I can check whether what I wanted to say translated well.
Thank you so much for your time and patience! Feel free to hunt me down on facebook and twitter!