When your Dad's the president of the United States of American you can basically get anything you want, the final dress in your size in Chanel, the latest Volvo, a trip to Paris - whatever. Unfortunately for me, none of these things held my interest. You see, I wasn't the typical politician's daughter. While Chelsea Clinton and Barbra and Jenna Bush might have been perfectly content to attend press conferences and fashion shows I would much rather spend my time curled up in the White House library reading one of my sci-fi novels.
I was a complete fan girl when it came to far off planets, aliens and futuristic societies. Heck, Dad had even gotten special permission for me to stick glow in the dark star stickers to the ceiling of my bedroom. At night I would lie in bed and trace the outlines of the various constellations with my finger, dreaming of life in other far off galaxies.
I liked a good conspiracy theory as good as any other self-respecting alien geek and ever since I was young I had been fascinated by Area 51. Area 51, even the name of the facility caused me to shudder in delight and intrigue. Who knew what lay behind the locked doors of the mysterious outhouses in the middle of nowhere? Not me that's for sure but I wasn't going to let that stop me from finding out.
I knew that I had a better chance than most of gaining admittance to the hallowed halls, but my Dad refused to even admit that the place actually existed and on the rare occasion that he did he shrugged it off claiming that it was just another military base. The only way I was getting into the base was if I forced him to reveal its location at gun point but how the hell was I going to do that with the secret service hanging around?
I made every excuse to get myself alone in his office but he was always careful to hide away private documents and lock drawers but one day I found a file on the desk. It looked like most of the other files that were in his office and filing cabinet but this one lacked a label. Odd, considering my Dad was a total label devotee. Seriously – mom and I got him a new label machine like every other Christmas. He liked things to be ordered and straightforward, a trait that had done him well when he was on the campaign trail. People liked his honest and open attitude and felt that they could trust him.
Opening the file, I stifled a gasp when I saw the words written across the top.
Extra terrestrial corpse found in Mojave desert. N 34° 6' 58.05". W 116° 9' 40.87"
Destroy when read.
Blood pounded in my head like a drum beat and I felt myself stagger slightly as I quickly replaced the file on my Dad's desk. Sinking into his chair I leaned my hand against my forehead and attempted to calm my breathing. An alien! An actual alien had been found in the United States! It was unbelievable. Incomprehensible!
Reaching for the file again I opened it and tried to focus on the words in front of me.
Footsteps outside the door caused me to jump up and I quickly jammed the folder behind my back. The door to the oval office opened and I begin to panic. What would the secret service do to me if they found that I had read this classified document? Would they lock me up? Would I be tried for treason and hung drawn and quartered? Was that even a thing anymore?
"Bella," my Dad said as he walked in his expression neutral. "What are you doing in here?" I laughed shakily and tried to distance myself from the desk, and all circumstantial evidence, ever so casually.
"Oh, nothing Dad," I answered feigning nonchalance, "just looking for you. I wanted to see if you needed," I broke off stuck for what to say, "If you wanted to go to Mc Donalds? I've been craving something from the D's all day." My Dad raised an eyebrow, easily able to see through my bullshit and then his eyes flickered down to his desk before snapping back up to my eyes and taking in the hand, oh so carefully positioned behind my back.
"Bella?" he said questioningly a frown forming on his brow.
"Yes Dad?" I said in what I hoped was an innocent and trustworthy voice but instead came out slightly squeaky. Dad inhaled deeply and sank down on one of the couches. He beckoned me over to him.
"Bring the file with you Bella," he said and I gulped. Now I was going to get it. Big time. Blushing furiously, I pulled the file out from behind my back and offered it to him. He took it placed it in a nearby waste paper basket. From his pocket he pulled his silver cigarette lighter, engraved with his initials. I was puzzled. My Dad hadn't smoked in twenty – five years. He only kept the lighter around now because it had been my great-grandfathers. Realisation dawned as Dad lit a piece of scrap paper on fire and dropped it in on top of the file.
"What you read in that file was confidential," my Dad said and I gulped already preparing to apologise, or at least attempt to claim that I never read it but Dad held up a hand. "But this is my fault. I should have destroyed the document straight away." I watched the flames eat the file slowly and didn't say a word.
"Bella, you have to know that you can't tell anyone about what you read." I nodded vigorously hoping that he would realise that I meant it. "I'll have to notify the army that you know. They need to know who has what information so that if anything ever gets out they have a database of people who they can trace it back to."
"Are you going to get in trouble for this, Dad?" I asked worry rising in my throat as I realised that I could be ruining everything that my father had worked so diligently for. "You know, I could tell them that I held you at knife point till you told me what was in that file. They'd probably believe it too." My Dad guffawed loudly then and I tried not to be insulted. Here I was practically surrendering myself to a life time behind bars and he was laughing at me. Jeez, thanks Dad.
"Bella, that's not necessary. They won't be angry. They just need to know. As someone who knows about-" He broke off and cleared his throat before continuing. "Someone who knows about things you are entitled to a trip to Area 51 after which you will sign a contract swearing that you will never reveal what you know or what you have seen. That way, you will only be punished if you breach your contract." My eyes grew wide when I realised what he meant and I reached over and grabbed his arm.
"Do you mean that I'm going to get to go to Area 51? You know how badly I wanted to find out about this stuff and you've never even admitted that it's real!" My Dad smiled at me sheepishly.
"Bella, this is all top secret information. No one is allowed to disclose any information. At least not intentionally." Then he winked at me and stood up brushing some creases out of his suit.
"How about we go get that Mc Donalds? I'm feeling pretty hungry after all and you and I have a lot to talk about."
This is how three weeks later I found myself bouncing around in the back of a Humvee in the middle of the desert. I sat alone in the back while ahead of me two armed men talked quietly amongst themselves as one drove us towards a large warehouse in the middle of the desert.
Sweat beaded on the back of my neck from the intense desert head and I was glad that I'd chosen to wear a navy t-shirt instead of my usual hoodie. The car pulled in beside the warehouse and a quick call from one of the guards succeeded in opening a door on the side. Quickly we were ushered in and escorted to a small room, empty except for an uncomfortable looking wooden chair and a rickety desk. Nowhere near as hi-tech as I would've imagined.
An older man in a stiff, formal army uniform entered the room and after exchanging a brief nod with my escorts he dismissed them leaving the two of us alone in the room together.
"So Bella Swan," he said sinking into a seat at one side of the table and gesturing for me to take the other.
"My name is General Mc Carthy, but you can call me Emmett. I'm an old friend of your fathers. We served together for many years." I nodded my head. I'd heard Dad talk about his friend Emmet before but I had never met him, at least that I could remember.
"I know," I said and gave him what I hoped was my best agreeable smile, "How's your wife? Rose isn't it?" Emmet nodded and smiled contentedly.
"She's great. A bit tired lately now that the twins are walking." This affable banter continued for a while only to be interrupted by a sharp knock causing Emmet sit up straighter in his chair.
"Come in," he said gruffly.
The door opened to reveal a tall young man dressed in a black suit and tie with a crisp white shirt.
"You asked for me, sir," the man said and I allowed myself to stare openly at him.
Wow. Wow. Wow.
I felt a blush rise to my cheeks as I took in his rusty hair, his smooth pale skin, his broad shoulders and square jaw.
"Yes I did, Cullen," Emmett said. "I need you to give a tour to this young lady here." Cullen turned to look at me and for a moment I felt like I was being sucked into a black hole. His green eyes seemed to bore into my very soul and I felt my mouth drop slightly. I snapped it closed quickly when his eyes narrowed and he glared in my direction.
"Her?" he asked turning back to Emmett. "Do you know who this is, sir?" Emmett crossed his arms across his broad chest and said nothing. "That is Bella. Swan." Edward said punctuating my name with a stab of his forefinger in my direction. "She's the President's daughter!" Emmet rolled his eyes and stood up.
"You would do well to remember who your superiors are Cullen," Emmett said and while his voice wasn't cold it wasn't exactly friendly. "Give Miss Swan the full tour and ensure that all her confidentiality forms are filled in correctly." Emmett handed Cullen a folder that I hadn't realised he had been holding. Cullen held it gingerly between his thumb and fore finger as if it was on fire. Did he think I had cooties of something? God, mom was right. Boys really were idiots.
"Good evening Miss Swan," Emmett said as he opened the door. I stood up. "Send my regards to your father and mother. Tell them that they must come out and visit us here in Nevada. We can visit the casinos. Lord knows it would do your father some good to cut loose." I laughed, picturing my prim father and mother sitting at a blackjack table while slot machines whirled behind them. The opposition would love it! I'm sure US Weekly would think up a great headline for that photo…
"I sure will. Thank you Emmett." Emmet smiled and winked at me before he left. Cullen sighed loudly and I turned to find him sitting at the table all my paper work splayed out before him.
"I can't see anything that would stop you from getting in here Miss Swan," he said his tone bored. "You were very thorough with all the paperwork." I blushed at the compliment and then cursed myself. He was looking at me with a raised eyebrow which signalled that that wasn't praise. That was mockery. Cullen sighed loudly again before brushing all the sheets of paper together and putting them into the folder. Standing up he brushed some invisible creases from his perfectly pressed suit.
"Are you ready to go?" I nodded, slightly uneasily. This wasn't what I had been expecting. I had pictured my tour of the base to be perfect. I would have an enthusiastic and preferably loose lipped tour guide who would be all too eager to disclose confidential information to me. Instead I was stuck with this surly man who probably wasn't too much older than me.
"What age are you?" I blurted out before I could stop myself. Edward paused for a moment closing and locking the door behind us with a little key card attached to a lanyard around his neck.
"Why do you think that would be any of your business?" he asked and I rolled my eyes.
"Sorry," I said, trying my best not to sound like the insolent teenager I felt, "if we're going to spend the day together I'd like to get to know you a little."
"That isn't what you're here for," Cullen said and then took a deep breath. "I'm twenty-two." Huh. Twenty-two. That meant he was only five years older than me.
"And what's your name?" I asked. Cullen's eyebrows rose up under his messy, slightly too long hair. I couldn't help but notice that his unruly, red hair was the only unkempt thing about him. I liked it. Maybe a little too much.
"It's Edward," he said and sounded a little embarrassed. He coloured slightly and then adapted a snappy, sarcastic tone much like the one he had used with Emmett earlier. "Is there anything else that you'd like to know?" he asked. "I'm a Gemini. I was born in Washington State and my favourite colour is brown. On my days off I like to eat copious amounts of Mc Donald's fries. Does that satisfy your curiosity?" I kept my head held high so that he wouldn't think that his caustic tone had affected me.
"For now," I said trying to sound haughty but that was difficult as I struggled to catch my breath. Edward was walking very fast down a long corridor. "I'm from Washington State too. Originally. I mean, I grew up there. In a town called Forks. Oh, and my favourite food is also Mc Donald's fries."
"I knew that already," Edward said and I looked at him, puzzled.
"That I like their fries?" Edward rolled his eyes and stopped so suddenly that I barely missed crashing into his back.
"No that you were from Forks. I'm from there too." He didn't elaborate and I didn't press him though I desperately wanted to know did he remember me. He would've been fourteen when I turned nine and moved to DC with my parents.
"Okay," he said pulling out his key card once again and holding it up to a black sensor beside the door. "You're going to have to come here and place your eye in front of this scanner. It won't open unless you are registered to visit the room. Emmett gave me a page with the rooms we are scheduled to visit today." Edward placed his eye in front of the scanner and I waited for the tell-tale laser flash that you always saw on television when someone's retina was being scanned but it never came. Instead there was a faint beep. I copied Edward and soon a faint click came from the door. Edward pushed it open slightly and then paused.
"Just to remind you again Miss Swan that what you see here today is strictly confidential and you can't just go around telling all your little friends about it or any of those trashy magazines you are always featured in." I bristled at his implications about my characters and resisted the urge to prod him in the chest with my finger.
"You know nothing about me Cullen," I said, "now move out of my way so that I can see what's inside here." Edward muttered something that may or may not have been 'bitch' and entered the room. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves before following him. After all, I was about to see iron-clad proof that life forms lived on other planets.
I followed Edward into a pitch black room and held my breath. Slowly, fluorescent lights flickered to life and I gasped. In front of me sat a small pod, about the size of a small car and made of sheet metal with no discernible connection points. This thing, this SPACESHIP I reminded myself, looked like it was made out of liquid silk.
"Can I touch it?" I asked Edward, too enthralled to be bothered with the shake in my voice.
"Go ahead," he said, "knock yourself out." I reached a hand forward tentatively and then placed it on the cold metal. I closed my eyes and ran my hand over the metal. This had come from another planet. Maybe even from another galaxy. It had been made by something that wasn't human! Something that didn't even exist in this planet.
"Are you okay?" a voice asked and I turned to see Cullen looking at me with a concerned expression. "Your crying." I hadn't realised that I had begun to cry. Laughing I rubbed the tears from my cheeks.
"I'm fine," I said. "This is just amazing. Unbelievable, even." Edward nodded and I saw a flicker of something in his eye. Nostalgia?
"I know how you feel," he said. "I cried like a baby the first time I saw one of them too."
"It's just too much. It's like the culmination of everything I've been waiting for years. Forever really." Edward smile softly in my direction.
"Maybe I was wrong about you Swan," he said, "maybe you are genuinely interested in this sort of thing." I scoffed loudly.
"Well why else would I be here?" I asked standing up so that I could walk around the pod and examine it from all sides. Edward shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know. Boredom? Just because you can? Why did you come here?"
"I've always loved this stuff. Ever since I was small and dad taught me all the names of the stars. He was really into it when I was younger. We had a telescope and everything. He doesn't really have time anymore. Even then I continued to watch the sky," I explained. "I guess I figured that eventually Dad would come back to it and be impressed that I had learned so much. But he didn't and it stopped mattering to me. I had fallen in love with it all: the planets, the stars, the stories and theories."
"But how did you get admitted here?" Edward asked. "Did your Dad pull some strings so you could get an early birthday present?" I narrowed my eyes and prepared to launch into a tirade but Edward held his hands up in front of him defensively. "I'm just messing with you! Area 51 is above any one person. Even the President."
"I stumbled across some important documents which revealed some classified information. Dad went through the appropriate channels to report the breach. Part of the package is that if you have certain security clearances you are entitled to a once in a life time tour." Edward nodded thoughtfully.
"We need to leave," he said. "There's plenty more to see so we better get going." He noticed the wistful smile I shot the pod.
"Don't worry, this is a weak specimen in comparison to some of the things you are going to see today," Edward said as he closed the door behind us.
"I just wish I was allowed to bring a camera with me," I confessed. "I want to remember this day forever." Edward smiled again, a beautiful, crooked sort of smile.
"This isn't the sort of the day you are going to forget anytime soon."
Edward was right. The morning passed in a whirlwind of new sights and experiences. I saw alien weapons, UFO's ranging in size from the size of my palm to those as big as a small bungalow. It was amazing. The one thing I had yet to see was an actual extra-terrestrial.
"So," I said as Edward and I emerged from the dining hall. "Am I going to get to see any aliens today?" Edward laughed.
"I wish! They won't even let me see them," he confessed.
"But they're here! Oh my god, I'm within a mile radius of another life form," I sighed contentedly. "Wow."
"Wow is right," Edward said and smiled. "Want to hear some alien radio messages?" I nodded eagerly and pushed my disappointment away. No point getting worked up over not getting to see an actual alien. I had seen things this morning that most sci-fi fans would trade their first born for.
"Edward," I asked as we walked, "how did you get here? I mean, how you got this job. You weren't in the army obviously. I mean you're too young to have worked up the seniority for a position like this."
"I graduated top of my class, three years before everyone else my age. Then I got accepted to MIT," Edward said and I whistled low. His cheeks flushed for the second time today. It made him look even more attractive if such a thing was possible.
"Impressive," I commented.
"Thanks, but not really. Most of the kids there skipped a couple of grades. I double majored in Physics and Engineering. I continued studying and became a doctor of physics." I resisted the urge to offer my services as his naughty nurse if he was ever in need.
"The people here head hunted me and here I am."
"You make it sound so simple," I said. "Did you even want to come here?" Edward nodded enthusiastically.
"Of course! It was always a dream of mine but I thought that that was all it was, a dream. A fantasy. You can't really put down in your high school yearbook that your dream job is a researcher at Area 51." I laughed and elbowed him.
"That is what I am fully planning on writing in mine," I said. Edward laughed with me. Suddenly a loud siren blared over the intercom system.
"Code black," came a voice. "We've got a code black people." Edward froze and grabbed my arm. His face was pale, its entire earlier colour having drained the minute the alarm sounded.
"What does that mean?" I asked, my voice rising. "What's a code black Edward?" Edward swallowed thickly.
"A code black Bella means that one of the test subjects have escaped."
"You mean there's an alien running loose around the facility?" My throat dried up.
"That is exactly what I mean Bella," Edward said. I gulped.
"Well," I said, "we need to get out of here then, don't we? Where is the parking bay? What is the evacuation plan?"
"There isn't an evacuation plan," Edward said running a hand through his already tousled hair. "All the species that are brought here are already dead. We couldn't take the risk that something like this would happen."
"Well clearly it did happen!" I said gesticulating wildly around us. For all my talk about wanting to see and alien I wasn't so sure that I wanted to see a rogue, escapee. "What are we going to do?"
"We've got two options," Edward explained. "We either lay low or hide as best we can and hope that someone manages to take the alien down. Or-" he broke off and looked at the floor. "Or else we track it and take care of it ourselves."
"What!" I screamed. Was that really all of our options? Edward shushed me loudly and looked around us, checking to see if anyone, or anything I guess, had heard my outburst. Edward's hand moved to his hip and he removed a black handgun from the holster there. I gulped.
"I guess I know which plan you're in favour of," I said.
"Yeah," he answered sounding slightly guilty. "I have to go. It's part of my job. You, on the other hand, owe this facility nothing. I can find you somewhere safe to hide out and then I'll come get you when everything has blown over." Neither of us said what would happen if this thing didn't end.
I didn't want to hide out though. I didn't want to run. Edward wanted to defend this facility from a potential attacker from another world. If this thing got away our whole country would be in danger. Maybe the whole world.
"Well, I owe my country something. We can't just let this thing go. I'm coming with you," I said and Edward raised an eyebrow. He opened his mouth, probably to protest, but I shut him up with one of my most fearsome glares.
"Okay," he said. "You're going to need to stick close to me and listen. We need to know what we're walking into." I nodded vigorously and moved to stand beside him. I hadn't stood this close to him all day and I realised that he was taller than me. Much taller. He seemed to notice this too and looked down to where my head barely sat above his shoulder.
"You're pretty small," he said. "I hadn't noticed." I rolled my eyes suddenly embarrassed at his attentions.
"Thanks for the observation Captain Obvious but I think we have more pressing matters to hand then my stature." Edward shrugged and flashed me one of those breath taking crooked grins.
Edward had a pretty good estimate as to where the break out might have occurred so we headed in that direction, neither of us making a sound as we crept along the corridors.
"Edward," I hissed after about ten minutes of silence. We had just come to a corner so I guessed this was as good a place to stop as any. "Why can't we hear anyone else around?" Edward stayed walking but responded.
"Many of the men here are scientists. They're not trained to fight. They're probably in the lock up. The army officials are probably manning their stations. They'll be following procedure."
"And we aren't?" He shook his head.
"No." So he was a bad boy… I liked that. Suddenly Edward stopped short causing me to crash into his back.
"Can you hear that?" he asked turning to me. I strained my ears and sure enough in the distance I could hear something. Something strange and unfamiliar, like sandpaper on wood maybe.
"I think we've found it Bella," he said and he raised his gun. I grabbed his arm and he looked down at where it rested against the fabric of his well pressed, black suit.
"You should stay here," he said his eyes serious. I shook my head.
"I'm coming with you and you know it," I said. Edward seemed to reach an unspoken conclusion in his mind and before I knew what was happening his lips had crashed into mine. Supressing a moan I relaxed into his grasp as he pushed me towards the wall. His lips were warm on mine and I shivered at the sensation of his hands running over my bare arms. I reached my hands up so that I could grasp onto his hair but before I could run my hands through his silky hair he pulled back.
"We've got stuff to do," he reminded me and I could see that he no longer looked frightened. He had a spark in his green eyes and I attempted to compose myself.
"Okay," I said. "Let's do this."
Edward jerked around the corner of the wall, his gun already raised. I watched his chest rise and his jaw clench. What was he seeing? Banishing my inner chicken, I moved out to stand beside him, but unlike Edward I didn't keep my cool. I gasped and felt my legs shake.
"It's okay," Edward said his voice soft, but firm. His gaze never wavering from the creature in front of us. This alien.
I had been wrong to think of aliens as small, comical things with long, pointy fingers. This creature before us had a misshapen, blocky head that reminded me of one of those melons the Japanese were growing in glass jars. The corners weren't sharpened, more rounded – almost softer. Its skin was a shade of pale lavender, like old bed sheets you found lingering at the back of the laundry cupboard. It was tall and skinny, not burly and muscular like I always imagined. It didn't look like something capable of violence. It looked… refined? Could a non-human life form be refined? Aristocratic?
I looked at us, its dark eyes shining and deep. The sort of eyes that makes you thinks of strange, confusing concepts like forever and eternity. It seemed to be taking us in and absorbing what we were doing.
"I don't think that it's going to hurt us," I breathed softly to Edward. He shook his head, his shoulder rigid.
"It wants you to think that, Bella," he quickly, "it wants you to relax. That's when it will get you". The creature was no longer looking at Edward. It was looking at me and I could see its soul there, right in front of me. It didn't want to die. It just wanted to be free.
The humanity behind this emotion startled me, especially coming from such a strange inhuman creature. Edward raised his gun and squinted towards the creature.
"Stop," I said to him. "Just let it go." I reached forward and lay my hand on his arm. He kept the gun raised but turned his head to look at me. The creature moved around the corner, surprisingly slowly, its large feet dragging against the ground creating a weird, dragging noise
"What were you thinking Bella?" Edward asked. "We can't just let it go. People are depending on us." I shook my head.
"I don't know," I confessed, "I just don't think that we should kill it. We should at least give it a chance." Edward snorted with something that sounded like derision, but he lowered his gun.
"Come on," he said, "we're following it." We ran towards the spot the creature had been standing and rounded the corner, our feet skating over the smooth surface of the floor. We skidded to a stop.
The creature was gone and in its place stood a teenage girl with pale blonde hair and even paler skins. Edward and I both started. What the hell was going on? Where was the alien? Edward moved forward and I could tell that he was going to put her behind us, to tell her that everything was going to be okay. We'd protect her but I stopped him. This was no ordinary teenager.
"Edward, don't," I instructed. He paused for a second, confused. "That's not a little girl," I said. The 'girl' smiled at us. It wasn't a cruel smile. It was a happy one, filled with purity and wisdom. A strange combination that wasn't unpleasant. Edward gaped at me.
"You can't mean…" he said trailing off, evidently lost for words.
"Just let it go," I said. "I think it just wants to be happy." Edward contemplated this for a moment and I could see that he was torn, his brow creased and his jaw set but after a moment he nodded his agreement. The girl seemed to realise that we had come to decision and with a wave and a smile she was gone. We watched in silence for a moment.
"She's going to burn to a crisp outside there in the desert," Edward said and I shrugged.
"At least she'll have a chance."
"I can't believe that just happened," Edward said running his hand through his hair and closing his eyes. I pulled his hand down from his head; if he kept running it through his hair he'd be bald before he was thirty. I liked his hair too much to let that happen.
"Well you better believe it because no one else will and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need someone to talk about this with," I said. Edward looked at our hands for a moment and then intertwined our fingers together. I hid a smile.
"Is that your way of asking me out Swan?" he asked. I shook my head and then shrugged my shoulders.
"I don't know. Do you want it to be?" he laughed and leaned down to press his lips to mine. I reached my free hand out and grabbed the lapel of his suit. He pulled back a fraction of an inch and looked down into eyes.
"Definitely." He grinned and then raised an eyebrow. "Wait. Am I going to have to pick you up at the White House?" I didn't answer. Instead I just pulled him back down to me and pressed my lips against his and allowed myself to relax into his embrace.
Somewhere in the distance I could hear noise, shouting, feet running but it didn't matter. None of it did. All that mattered was this man here who made me feel like I was floating among the stars.
Well it certainly is different to anything I've ever written before but I hope that you guys like it. Let me know what you think in a review. Is sci-fi and Twilight a match made in fanfic heaven or just plain weird?