A/N: New Moon AU — because I have no self-respect. Instead of sinking into near comatose depression and mourning for the loss of her sparkly boyfriend, Bella Swan spends four months slowly nursing herself back to a normal, Edward-free life. Title and lyrics from "Anything Could Happen" by Ellie Goulding.
I'll give you everything you need / but I don't think I need you
Ellie Goulding, "Anything Could Happen"
That's Just What Humans Do
Change is an arduous process. It doesn't happen with the flick of a switch. It doesn't just knock on your door. It isn't simply a decision or a resolution. Sometimes days, weeks, months pass, and your feet firmly stand on the same spot; nothing has changed.
And yet your mind works like a clockwork, in a constant pursuit of solace.
"Okay, this is important." Jessica's voice demands attention, and all Bella can do is offer what is left of it in her. Heaving a resigned sigh, she nods, absent-mindedly gazing at the garments being waved in front of her. "Don't give me that look. All right. Which one?"
Bella considers the two dresses. "Depends. Do you want to go for secretary or stripper?" Jessica arches a perfectly shaped eyebrow. "The latter was a compliment, by the way," she hastily adds, offering a small smile.
Jessica relaxes and drops the clothes onto her bed. Slumping beside them, she stretches her long legs before her, rests her elbows on the mattress, and assumes a stern expression that reminds Bella of Charlie. "I didn't expect you to call me," she says after a beat.
"I should have hang up the phone the moment I heard your voice, you know."
"I mean, it's been, what? Two weeks? Two weeks without a word from you." A pause. "It isn't like I missed the sound of your voice." Ouch. "But damn, Bella."
She nods. "I know."
Jessica rolls her eyes. "Really? Are you here to talk or mumble the same thing over and over?"
The words sting, because they're true.
"I kno— I'm sorry."
"All right, enough. Now tell me what the fuck happened."
Bella sighs, plops into the bed, beside Jessica (who winces as her second favorite dress crumbles beneath Bella's ass), and lets out another dramatic, prolonged sigh. "Okay. Here we go."
She omits the vampire stuff; the story makes significally less sense.
"And then he legit called me cheesecake. I mean, who even does that? I swear I'm never dating younger boys again."
"Older men aren't that much better," Bella blurts out, in a burst of rashness.
Jessica smiles wryly. "Oh. Oh." Eyes intent on Bella, she adds, "Deets. Now."
Bella shrugs, the lie already poised at the tip of her tongue. "My mom once dated an older guy. Fifty." Her finger trailing along the edge of her tray, she says, "He acted like her father. It was gross."
Jessica's face falls. "Oh," she murmur, her voice is practiaclly driping disappointment.
"We missed your voice," another voice chimes in. Mike.
Bella turns her head and offers him something that resembles a smile. "Really? I wouldn't have."
"So, wanna go out some time?" he asks, casting reluctant glances at Jessica. "You know, all of us. Together. Watch a movie."
"Are there any good movies out?" Angela queries, somehow sensing the discomfort that has started to build up in Bella.
"Uh. . . There's this zombie flick."
"Zombie?" Jessica scrunches up her nose. "Are zombies the new thing now?"
"Yeah. It's called. . . I can't remember. But apparently it's huge."
"What's the premise?" Bella asks, taking a bite of pizza.
"Um, a zombie falls in love with a human? I don't know, something like that."
"Oh, God. Really? This is what people are into?"
The voices meddle in Bella's head, and suddenly it as though she is underwater — the cafeteria is tinted blue. Bella blinks. "Okay then. Friday night, eight thirty?"
Jessica, Mike, and Angela simply stare.
"Do you want to do something today, Bells?"
Bella looks away from the window — she's been distracted by leaves swaying gently in the breeze — and munches on a mouthful of pancake. "Hmm?"
Charlie sighs and repeats the question.
She looks for an excuse to avoid it, initially. I'm tired. I've got a paper due. I went out yesterday, what else do you want from me? I'd rather crawl into my bed and die. Happy? "Well, it's Saturday, so . . . why not?"
She knows she's startled him. He hesitates for a moment, and she can tell he hadn't made any plans. "Oh. All right, then. How about Sol Duc? Have you been there?"
"When I was twelve, I think." Disappointment flashes in her father's eyes, but only for an instant. "And I really liked it, so, yeah. Sol Duc. Sounds good."
Later, as they hike along a frothy stream, he gives her the bear hug of all bear hugs.
Mike casually mentions that she doesn't look like a zombie anymore. He hastily apologizes; Bella grins at him.
She tries the dating thing. Not with Mike, of course. It would be too awkward, and she doesn't see him that way. She's been trying to maintain this fragile balance between them, these faint boundaries that could not be transcended.
His name is Jace. She bumps into him at the cafeteria. It's kind of strange, how he seems like a complete and utter stranger. But, then again, she's never paid much attention. He seems to know her, though. He calls her Bella, and offers a bright smile that reveals a perfect set of teeth. His eyes are grey — Edward's eyes had never been grey.
She chances upon him later, too. At the parking lot. He grins at her again, wickedly. Bella tells herself it isn't butterflies, that painfully familiar feeling in her stomach.
They go out: dinner and a movie. It's so mundane, so human, she feels as though she'll spontaneously combust any time now.
She is the one who kisses him, after he gently squeezes her shoulder at her doorstep.
She breaks up with him two weeks later, after he tries to slip a hand in her panties.
It isn't like she was encroached or anything — she might not have that much . . . experience, but she is reasonably cognizant of what teenage boys want. And it's not as though she plans to remain a virgin for the rest of her life.
She just doesn't like sloppy kisses and hurried half-attempts. She's not exactly romantic, but she'd honestly rather someone with a little experience — and tact — under his belt.
It's funny, because, between her and Edward, it was Bella that had more experience when it came to sex.
She — of all people — gives Lauren Mallory — of all people — dating advice.
If Jessica had been somewhat of a friend in the past, Lauren was a foe — in all her teen movie "villainess" glory. It only took one compliment on a bad day; and, really, it wasn't intentional or anything. A sly move to get in her good graces. But it "worked".
It might be 2:00 in the morning, it doesn't matter. Her cell phone buzzes and rattles against her nightstand, and she whips up at once, surveying her surroundings with her weary eyes.
It's only a text message.
Yawning, she picks up the phone and smiles at the screen. The light that emanates from it momentarily blinds her. She blinks a few times and reads:
we made eye contact. well, sort of. *I* made eye contact. he became well-acquainted with my tits
Why am I not surprised?
well, I *do* have nice tits
On another occasion, it's this:
he said I shouldn't grow my hair out. he's just messing with me, I know it
If I had your face, I'd cut my hair too
Stuff like that.
The nightmares haven't stopped.
She spends night after night after night, wide awake, staring at the shadows in her bedroom. Thinking of Edward's perfect form lurking there, unbeknownst to her.
She used to tell herself it was because he loved her. He broke the rules, because she was everything to him.
He broke her in the process.
Charlie invites Billy and Jacob over for dinner on Christmas Eve. Or, at least, she is pretty sure it's Jacob that's walking through the threshold and not, you know, some proffesional wrestler on steroids.
They talk about their lives, and she finds that being around him is easy, natural, exhilerating. Like breathing. Not in a way that it becomes a necessity for her survival. No, not like that. It's different, and it's healthy.
She's not sure how she feels yet.
They spend the rest of the night talking about essentially everything: school, his friends, her friends, the girls he likes (he blushes and stammers out that there's this one girl), her ex (she blushes and tells him it's complicated), their hopes and ambitions.
Charlie suggests she drives to the rez. She happily complies.
When he kisses her on the final second before New Year's — really, it is more of an innocuous, impalpable passing of his lips over hers — she responds by trailing, momentarily, her tongue along his bottom lip. And when he recedes, his eyes betray nothing.
A wolf howls in her dreams that night.
She drives past two ancient-looking bikes. The Tetanus Express, table for two. She halts the Chevy, inspects them. A smile playing on her lips, she accelerates, the Quileute reservation closer with each rattle of her truck.
She can't remember the last time she woke up screaming.
The thought occurs to her one rosy afternoon — blotches of lilac and peach paint the darkening blue of the sky. She stands by her bedroom window, sipping tea, admiring the view, and all those months of waking up from the sound of her own screaming seem so distant, so foreign. A different lifetime altogether.
Edward had told her something along the lines of this: Once a vampire falls in love, it never goes away.
But Bella isn't a vampire.
And that's just what humans do; they move on.
Side Note: I just realized this is the first Twilight fic I've written in a long time. (Progress on Living/Breathing has beenslow as fuck. Sorry 'bout that, five people who were interested. It's coming together, I promise.) But, honestly, who's writing Twific anymore, now that Hot Mess of A Movie Pt. 2 has come out? Sorry, folks, but my Doctor Who feels are demanding my full attention at the moment.