Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight and all recognizable characters and situations contained therein. All original content contained in this story is property of the author. Story is rated M and may contain Graphic language, violent content, mild to moderate drug use, descriptions of domestic violence, and sexual situations.
**Three Days Later 4:55am PPOV**
Today is the day. The call came in at 3am. At 5am today, just about 5 minutes from now, the LAPD will serve warrants for Emmett Cullen's arrest for aggravated domestic battery, Carlisle Cullen's arrest for distribution of a controlled substance and criminal voyeurism, as well as search warrants for the whole house to see just what other fun and games the scumbags have been up to.
Bella has been doing well the last few days, but when the phone rang at 3 she started freaking out that it was Cullen, that he had figured out where she was and was coming for her. Once Jasper and I got her calmed down though she was okay, and he had gone back to sleep shortly after.
She's sitting now on the opposite side of the couch, her head resting on her knees. Getting up off the couch I go into the kitchen, and grab one of the shakes for her out of the fridge, in the last few days she had gained two pounds, progress is progress.
Going back into the living room I hand her the bottle, she scowls at me a little, "I know, I know, 'drink it all Bella'."
She opens it and I run a hand through my hair, "I'm sorry if you think I'm being annoying, Girl. I'm just…"
Bella cuts me off sadly, "trying to help. I know Paul, I'm sorry. I'm just… I just can't do this anymore! I just want to feel normal again!"
Her face is looking better, the constant ice packs have been helping both of us, and now most of her bruises are starting to dull out, not look as dark and black on her face, moving towards a more natural purple, and some of mine have even started to yellow.
She moves closer to me on the couch, and I wrap my arm around her shoulders as she finishes the bottle and sets it on the coffee table, looking up at me with sad eyes as she says, "I just want to feel normal. I'm tired of looking in the mirror and seeing an ugly monster! I just want to feel normal…"
Moving my hands slowly upward, I gently stroke the knuckles down the largely unmarred right side of her face, "You're not a monster, Girl. You survived one. And even with everything you've been through, you're still beautiful. I'm looking at you, and I'm telling you, I still see the beauty that I saw the first time I ever met you…"
**6 hours later Still PPOV**
Bella's cell phone goes off for the twentieth time in 2 minutes, and I say gently but firmly, "Bella turn the goddamn thing off! Call your dad from the landline and give him that number."
She hits the ignore button again and turns the phone off, "Okay. I can't believe that reporters got my cell phone number!"
I nod, "I'm not that surprised, LAPD is known to be on the media payroll. I'm actually surprised that the news channels weren't there covering their arrests, though the local ones down there probably were. That footage probably won't go national until this afternoon."
She calls her dad, "Yeah Dad, I'm fine. LAPD must have leaked his cell phone contacts."
Bella turns towards me, "Dad says they've been calling the house too."
She goes back to her conversation, "Yes I'm sure. Yes. I'm fine dad really. I promise. I was just about to make something up for me, Paul, and Jasper."
As if on cue, Jasper comes up the steps from the apartment, "Hey."
He flops down in the recliner, and gives me a knowing look, to which I respond, "Don't. Just don't."
He shrugs, "Okay, I hope you know what you're doing."
I nod, yeah, so do I. Oh well, best not to think about it. "My dad wants you to come down to the gym today, he wants to get a feel for your style. See if it's something he can work with."
Jasper grins, "That would be awesome. When?"
I shrug, "Right after we eat."
Bella hangs up with her dad, and goes into the kitchen, I follow behind her, and start getting things out of the cupboard. We cook quickly and silently, egg whites, and oatmeal with fruit for Jasper and me. French toast, eggs, and bacon for Bella.
Sitting down at the table the meal is a little awkward as no one speaks, the phone rings and Bella gets up, "Sorry, Dad said he might call back," she smiles at me, "I don't know which of you worries about me more."
I smile back, glad that the ice is broken, as I reply, "Probably him, I can see you right in front of me, he can't."
Bella laughs, the first genuine laugh that I've heard from her, as she crosses the room to the phone.
Jasper who's been messing with his phone the whole time all of a sudden looks up in shock, as Bella picks up the phone he jumps up, yelling "BELLA NO!", running over as she says into the line, "Hey, Dad. You really didn't have to call, Paul is taking good…"
Jasper grabs the phone and slams it down, screaming, "FUCK!"
Bella cringes into herself, and I'm up in a flash, getting between the two of them, trying not to shout myself, as I get in Jasper's face, "What the fuck is wrong with you! Look at her!"
He moves quickly and collapses into a kitchen table chair, "I'm a fucking idiot! They never would have known who she was if I didn't scream her name!"
Bella shakes herself, bringing herself out of her shock, asking, "Who, Jasper?"
He has his head in his hands, and looks at both of us with dismay, "ESPN. Apparently the steroid story just broke. The NWRBA made its announcement stripping Cullen of the title, ESPN picked it up, it's been all over the breaking news for the last hour, and that was them trying to get a telephone interview with Paul. Now most likely it was a producer calling, let's hope that it was a producer who doesn't have ties to any other news network. If they or someone they know work for any of the tabloid networks this whole thing is gonna be all over that Hilton midget's show before we know it. And then this place is gonna be a media circus."
Shaking my head, I scoff, "C'mon Jasper, it's not like we're major athletes! I mean sure, Cullen lives in LA, I'd heard rumors that his daddy had been working on some sponsorship deals, colognes and clothing and that sort of shit, but me? Come on. I get hometown press and whatever hype they do before fights, casual boxing fans don't know who I am."
Jasper scoffs, "They always told me you were humble, I didn't realize it was because you were stupid. Casual fans of the sport HAVE heard of you. You've had like 5 fights on ShoBox for Christ's sake! Shit, after the first fight you had with Cullen teenaged girls made a 'We Love Paul Dixon' fan club!"
I wave him off dismissively, "Just girls from the Res."
He rolls his eyes, shaking his head, "Uh, no."
He enters something into his phone and brings up a website, "Take a look. Cullen was pissed!"
Taking the phone, I look at what he has pulled up, there are pictures of me in my fight gear, pictures of me from the few interviews that I've done for magazines, even still shots from the weigh ins.
The girl who runs the site is from Illinois, of all places, and she has one of those blogs. She had blogged about the fights, I scan the first article, it's very flattering, but you can tell that she has no real knowledge of the sport, doesn't even know a jab from a hook.
Shaking my head, I hand the phone back to Jasper, "That's flattering, but also pretty disappointing."
Jasper shrugs, "Emmett was very jealous that the ladies decided that you were the heart throb, well, after the roids kicked in. Before the roids, he coulda given a shit about anything that wasn't boxing, or Bella. Do you believe me now though? You ARE known. And this, her being here, whatever may or may not be going on between the two of you, it's going to be a shit storm depending on who was on the other end of that line."
Shrugging, I reply, "It is what it is. You can't change what's already done, and I wouldn't if I could. We will all get through it. Right now though Jasper, you and I have to get down to the gym."
He shrugs in return, "I'll go grab my gear."
Jasper heads downstairs, leaving me alone with Bella, softly, I ask her, "Are you going to be okay?"
She nods, "I think so, yeah. Like you said, it's too late to change what's already been done. Maybe I should go home though. At least that will take some of the pressure off of you."
I nod with a shrug, "It might be easier for you, since if they think you're here they won't be camping out at your dad's place. Do you have any regrets?"
She smiles, a genuine smile, and shakes her head, "Not a single one. I'm going to call my dad, I'll have him pick me up when he's off his shift tonight. Do you mind if I hang out around here till then?"
I shake my head, "Of course not. You're always welcome."
Jasper comes back into the kitchen with his duffle bag, "I'm all set."
Nodding, I reply, "Alright, we'll take my car", I turn my attention back to Bella, "text me if you need anything."
She nods, "I will."
We linger, caught in each other's gaze, Jasper breaks the moment, "Paul, we going?"
I shake out of it, "Yeah, let's go."
**About 2 hours later PPOV**
Jasper was proving to be unbelievably good. My dad is thoroughly impressed, exclaiming loudly that it is a crime that he's unknown on the circuit. He wants to work with him, start scheduling him in bouts as early as 2 weeks from now. Jasper for his part is ecstatic.
Dad has Jasper in the ring with Jared right now, and he really is showing us the differences between someone who is sparring partner level, and someone who is pro level. Sam comes in and sits down on the stool next to me.
He claps me on the shoulder, "How's the head, Champ?"
I shrug, "I'm not the champ anymore. I'm not going to just accept it back by default. They're going to have to vacate it and put me in against someone. Maybe a few months down the line. I don't know."
He nods, "That's admirable."
Shrugging again, I reply, "That's the right thing to do. To answer your question though, my head's doing a lot better, the face and my ribs are another story, but my head at least is back to about 90 percent. Look, Sam, you know that nothing that has happened to me is Bella's fault right?"
He shrugs, "I guess. You didn't see you though man. When he let you up off the ropes and you flopped to the mat, for one horrible moment, I thought you were dead. You're my best friend Paul, you have been since we were little kids, and for that moment, my heart stopped. I'm telling you this in an entirely non gay way. I love you man. You're more than my best friend, blood or no, you're my brother."
We're both looking away from each other awkwardly, but I clap a hand on his shoulder, and my voice is thick with emotion, as I answer, "Same goes back, Bro. You know that. Look, I don't know where me and Bella are headed, I don't think I even really admitted to myself until early this morning that I really like her. Wherever we end up though, I need your support."
He nods at me, "You know you have that. Always. I know that I was wrong to blame her, even Leah said so. I hope that wherever you end up with her, it's exactly where you wanna be."
There's a thud from the ring, and we turn around sharply to see Jared on the mat. Dad is in the ring with a thing of smelling salts, and he holds it under Jared's nose waking him up, as he asks Jasper, "So you think you can go again?"
Jasper barely looks like he's had a workout, and I know who Dad is gonna put him in with next. Jasper grins, it's more of a smirk, but I know he won't be grinning so much when he's in there with Ateara.
Jared comes out of the ring, and over to Sam and I, while Dad calls across the gym, "Ateara! In the ring!"
Quil makes his way into the ring, Jasper looks slightly rattled, as Dad tells him, "This is who we had Paul training with for the last fight with Cullen. My opinion, he's better than Cullen. He's been doing our conditioning program, and you'll see how it improves your stamina once you start doing it, though from what I've seen so far you don't have much of a problem with that already."
All eyes now are on the ring, Quil and Jasper make their way to the middle, and touch gloves. Dad says loudly, "Ok, you both know what to do, remember this is a sparring session, not a fight."
He blows his whistle, and immediately Quil goes for a head shot. Jasper ducks and seizes the opening to land five body shots in quick succession. Quil moves as quickly as he can out of the line of fire and jabs Jasper hard in the side.
Jasper lets out an audible grunt, but doesn't let it slow him down as he rapidly moves away, before coming back in and landing a few quick jabs to Quil's headgear. Quil tries to go to the body, but Jasper is just too quick as he bobs and weaves, leaving Quil to basically chase him around the ring.
The way Jasper moves is amazing, his speed gives him a real advantage as he quickly tires out a larger opponent and then moves in for the kill. Within 3 to 4 rounds he would gain an almost insurmountable lead in points just on speed alone, add in the surprisingly hard and accurate hits that he's packing and he's almost unbeatable.
Dad blows the whistle, "alright, you guys can keep going if you want, I've seen all I need to see. Jasper I'd like to meet with you and whoever your representation is within the next couple of days. I want you on team Dixon."
Jasper nods, "I'd be proud to be on your team, Sir. I'll try to get in touch with my uncle today, and I'll let you know when he can be up here to talk."
Dad nods in return, "Okay, Pauly has my number, give me a ring."
He turns to me, "Son, in my office."
Dad walks away, and I follow him into his office, and sit down in the chair across from the desk, "What's up?"
He leans back, "How's the girl doin?"
I shrug, "She seemed better today. Knowing he's in jail, can't hurt her, it helps. We had a call this morning from ESPN, the steroid story broke. She answered the phone. Jasper yelled her name and hung up. She said my name into the phone. Depending on who was on the other end of that call we're potentially looking at a media circus. She's going back to her dad's tonight. No point in her being upset by reporters, if they're going to camp on my lawn it's better that she go home."
Dad nods, "That's true. Have you tried to get an idea of what the story is so far?"
He breaks off shaking his head, "Never mind, I know you better than that. So I'm assuming your plan is to just ignore it until you can't? That about the size of it?"
I shrug, "No point in making a big thing about it. The media will make of it what they want to, my response will be what it usually is, 'No comment'. Bella is probably used to a certain amount of media, Cullen's daddy was always thrusting him into the limelight."
Dad waves me off, "I know Charlie Swan, he'd have done his best to keep his daughter away from that. Regardless, it is what it is, and you're right. The media will make of it, what they want, and probably they'll make that poor girl out to be a whore, one of those girls who doesn't care which fighter they're with as long as that fighter is on the way up. You know that once Cullen and his daddy get a hold of this that's the story they'll start selling. That he beat her in a fit of rage over her infidelity, and her cell phone records will back that story from what you've told me. He'll try to fight the steroid allegations. That will come first."
Taking a deep breath, I try to keep my voice calm and even, though I know that my dad can read me like a book, "Cullen can say what he wants, the police have him dead to rights. Trust me when I tell you that if he goes near Bella again that it will be the worst mistake he's ever made."
Realization dawns on Dad's face, but he quickly covers it, "You're right, her daddy's liable to shoot him."
I laugh, "And that fucker would deserve it too."
Dad nods, "Yeah, he would. On the business front Pauly, what do you want to do about the belt? Jason Haver wants to give it back to you."
Shaking my head, I reply adamantly, "No. I don't want to be awarded something I didn't earn."
Dad cuts in, "But you did earn it Paul."
I cut him off in turn, "Yeah, but then I lost it."
Dad snaps back, "In a rigged fight!"
I shake my head, cutting him off again, "A loss is a loss. I want to EARN that belt. They'll have to do a tournament. I want it to be a fair fight."
Dad throws his hands up, answering exasperatedly, "Oh have it your own way then Paul! You deserve that belt!"
I nod, "You're right, I do, and I'll have it. When I've earned it."
He nods, "Okay, fine. Go home and rest up. I'll call you tonight."
Getting up I reply, "Okay. Call my cell, I have a feeling that my house line is going to be off the hook."
He grunts in the affirmative, "I'm sure it will."
Leaving the office I decide to go visit Grandma. I could use some fussing, hopefully she made more cookies too.
I shout out to Jasper who is sparring with Sam, "Jas, Sam will drop you off back at my place whenever you want, he has a key. I'll see you guys later, I'm going over to see my Gma."
They both nod, and I head out to my car. Getting in I start the engine, and pull my phone out, hm, a text from Bella, and two voicemails from unknown numbers. I open the text first, 'hey Paul, just wanted to say thank you for everything, Dad picked me up on his lunch hour. I'll talk to you soon. B'
Quickly, I reply, 'You don't have to thank me, I was happy to help. Keep getting better, Girl. I'll call you later tonight.'
Figuring I may as well get it over with, I hit the buttons and listen to the voicemails. The first is from Steve Caley asking for an interview. I actually will call him back, he's always been respectful and fair when he's written about me. The second is from some asshole from some tabloid rag asking me about my relationship with as he terms it, 'Emmett Cullen's estranged fiancé'.
Estranged my ass, that shit is over. Annoyed now, I delete the message, not gonna bother with a return call. It's just not worth my time, my motto has always been that people can say what they want, my family knows who I am, and they know what's garbage and what's not. I just hope Bella will be okay, it's no doubt going to be a lot harder on her than on me.