Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot 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.
Author's Note: This story takes places about four years after Breaking Dawn. What you need to know is that some of Alice's vision in BD2 happened, details to come, and that leads Jasper to a place where he finds Angela (because I love Jasper and Angela almost as much as Jasper and Alice, and she's really hard to write… so I write Angela). Jasper and the Cullens are vampires and Angela is a human. I bet you want to see what happens, don't you?
The Kindness of Strangers
I checked my email before I left for work. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do.
Angela, thank you for the email you sent us. We're so relieved that you're doing well. We worry about you so much living by yourself in Colville. We wish you would come home.
Have you found the baby's father? Please tell me that you're looking for him. He needs to know his child, and the two of you need to be a family for your child. Unless, of course, you've decided to give the baby up for adoption; if you have, your father knows a childless couple in Tacoma that would happily and lovingly adopt the baby.
Let us know what you decide.
We do love you, Angela.
What my mother really said in her email, in a nutshell, was this: come home engaged and/or married or don't come home with baby. To her and my minister father, I was a disappointment and an embarrassment because, at twenty-one, I wound up pregnant and I didn't know the father's name. I was basically forbidden from coming back to Forks until I came back with a husband and a baby or all by myself. Sometimes I wondered what they were telling people about where I was, why I'd only come home for six weeks after I graduated from UW and then disappeared again. Most times, I was pretty sure I didn't want to know the answer.
I replied to her email, though, with the only thing I had to say to her.
I can send some books to Isaac and Joshua, right? And still talk to them? I miss them.
I clicked on 'send' before I could second guess myself and write a longer, more pleading email. Then, with fifteen minutes still to spare before I needed to leave for work, I scanned through the rest of my email inbox. I ignored Jessica's email, knowing it would be full of things meant well but really so trivial in my new outlook on life, and looked to see what else there was. The local grocery store sent me coupons and I had an offer for penis enlargement pills, but that was it. Not even a Nigerian prince offering to wipe away all my worries if only I'll accept thousands of dollars from him.
I rubbed my hand over the gentle swelling of my stomach and checked one final website. What To Expect When You're Expecting informed me helpfully that, as I was seventeen weeks pregnant, my baby was now the size of my palm, weighed about five ounces, and had started sucking and swallowing.
No couple in Tacoma was going to raise my baby. I may not have meant to get pregnant when I got drunk at the Alpha Delta Pi graduation party Jessica dragged me to, but I did. Some people might see it as a mistake, might even think I was punishing myself for the 'mistake' by keeping the baby and alienating myself from my family, but I don't see it that way. I see it as fate and it's my life philosophy to accept fate in whatever form it comes.
Dropping some flakes of fish food into the round glass bowl and telling OJ the goldfish to behave himself, I grabbed my jacket and set off for work.
The walk to the restaurant slash antique shop took only ten minutes. I could have driven, but it was good exercise on a warm, overcast mid-September day. The restaurant was tiny, so I was surprised to see three staff people already there; Nate in the kitchen, Bev behind the register, and Christa already waiting tables.
"It's Wednesday," I said to Christa as I held a tray for her, "why's everybody here? Are we expecting a tour bus of elderly people for lunch?"
She gave the red-headed logger at the table her most seductive smile as she handed him his soup and turned to me, taking the tray back. "You'd think, but no. Bev's only here because she's training somebody new to work mostly with the antiques." She walked beside me into the back room where I hung up my jacket and put my apron on. "Maybe she's getting ready for your maternity leave already. Cute bump today, by the way."
"I fixed it up just for you," I said dryly.
She laughed and gave me a half hug. "We'll have to get you a bigger apron when your get a real baby bump," she teased. "Seriously, though, when's your next appointment? I said I'll come with you and I am, so don't give me an out."
"Two weeks from today. I might get to find out if it's a girl or a boy," I said, thankful I'd accidentally moved into an apartment next door to the bubbly but incredibly sweet Christa Lawson.
She squealed excitedly and gave me a real hug. "I'm so excited! I'll make sure I don't have to work," she vowed, suddenly solemn before she smiled again. "For now, though, we do have to work. It sucks."
"It's not so bad," I said, following her back into the restaurant. "You get to flirt with sexy loggers and you don't have a baby bump to scare them away with."
"Excellent point, my dear." She winked and headed back to the red-headed logger.
I shook my head and grabbed my order pad, heading for a table of little old ladies who came in every Wednesday afternoon for a very long lunch. They noticed the bulge in my apron, of course, and asked me a thousand and one questions about morning sickness, if it was a girl or a boy, and when the baby was due – late February was getting closer every day. They'd asked me the same questions for the last few weeks but I didn't mind answering. It was nice that someone cared, even strangers.
"We hope you don't mind," one of the woman said, "but we want to makes some blankets and things for you and for the baby. Could we?"
My emotions getting the best of me, I sniffled, trying desperately not to cry as I stood there. "You don't have to do that," I forced myself to say, no doubt sounding as stupid to them as I did to myself.
"We know we don't have to, Angela," she said, "but we want to. So unless you've got all the blankets and things you need, may we work on things for you?"
I gave up on trying not to cry and let the tears slide down my cheeks as I nodded. "Yes, of course. Thank you."
The two women sitting on the outside of the booth rubbed my arms and smiled. "Don't thank us until you see if you like it," the oldest of the four told me. "And make sure you let us know if you find out if it's a girl or a boy so we can make things just for the right baby."
I smiled and wiped the back of my hand across my eyes. "I will. I'll probably be able to find out at my next appointment."
"You let us know if you need anything, Angela," she continued. "Anything at all. We know you're all on your own here in Colville; we don't have much family or much to do so we're here if you need us."
I thanked them again and went to give their orders to Nate.
Christa's eagle eyes found my wet ones easily and she nodded toward the backroom, silently telling me she'd cover while I gathered my emotions and got hold of myself. Having read my mother's email and having had four strangers wanting to take care of me, it took me a long time to look like a normal, not overly emotional waitress again. But I did it.
I didn't pay any attention to the antique part of the store until Bev called me over when there was a lull in the already sparse lunch crowd. "I want you to meet the new guy," she whispered in my ear, for reasons I didn't yet understand, "because I don't want him to quit because he thinks only Christa works here. You know what I mean?"
I did. For how lovely she was, Christa took some getting used to. I nodded and followed my boss to the storage area where she'd left the new guy.
I wasn't exactly sure why the manager of the store/restaurant stashed me in a storage room while she went to get the waitress I hadn't met, but humans are strange creatures so I didn't ask or think much of it. I simply examined a cluttered shelf of piggy banks instead.
"Jasper?" the manager, Bev, said as she stepped back into the room. "This is my other waitress, Angela. Angela, this is Jasper, my new hire."
I should have done my homework better. I should have been able to find out that someone from Forks, someone who knew me, had ended up in an only slightly larger small town on the other side of Washington. But I didn't. And that's how I ended up standing face to face with Angela Weber, and given the look of shock on her face, definitely remembered me.
"How are you?" I asked to save her from the awkward silence.
"You two know each other?" Bev asked before Angela could answer.
But she answered that question. "Remember I said I'm from Forks? Jasper was in high school with me there."
"Oh, fantastic," Bev said. "It's fate, then. Anyway, Jasper, Angela is my go-to girl on things antique so I'll let her finish showing you around and explaining what she's trying to do with the website while I go take over her tables. Have fun catching up, you two."
Of all the humans who'd attended Forks High School, it was Angela Weber that I'd talked to the most but it probably wasn't enough to warrant us 'catching up.' On the other hand, of all the humans who'd attended Forks High School, I was relieved that it was her I found a few years later. I liked what I'd seen and experienced of Colville so far and I didn't want to leave. The chances of me having to leave because she poked her nose around and asked a lot of questions were, to be honest, extremely slim. This could work.
"I'm kind of crappy," Angela said when we were alone, answering my first question. "How are you?"
"Kind of crappy works," I agreed. "So you're making a website?"
"Trying to make a website," she corrected me, giving a weary sigh. "Bev's decided that she doesn't sell enough in the store so she wants to have an online business connected to the website for the restaurant. Kind of a tourist trap thing, but online, I suppose. I don't know that much about making websites and I know nothing about online business, so I've been taking a lot of pictures of what she has and researching what she should ask for them."
"I can help with the website and business side of things, and research. I told Bev that too. Show me what you have so far?"
She seemed relieved to be asked to get on with things, and led me to a computer.
We spent the next few hours looking over things. Angela didn't know who'd created the original website for Bev and that was a big part of the reason she couldn't do more with it. The site needed work and I was happy to realize that I'd be able to spend a good bit of time, at least at first, working on that rather than serving food to humans.
The dinner rush came, though, and I had to help. It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be, in part because the noxious smell of human food cooking so close covered up the appeal of the blood that flowed through everyone but me. Thankfully, I mostly just followed Angela and Christa around, carrying the trays while they served the customers and made small talk. As people finished their meals, I was handed a tray and asked to start clearing the tables.
"How was your first day?" Bev asked when only two customers remained and it was clear they knew the owner and might be staying awhile. "Not quitting already on me, are you?"
I glanced at Angela, trying to gauge how she felt about my presence, and sensed only a tiny bit of curiosity in her emotions, buried beneath a lot of worry and stress. "No, not quitting," I assured Bev. "I'll be back tomorrow. Eleven, right?"
"Yep, eleven," she said. "There's no real uniform or anything specific thing you have to wear as long as you wear one of the maroon aprons. You have my cell phone number if you need anything."
I walked to the parking lot with Angela and Christa, and they told me that they were neighbors in an apartment building on Oak Street and walked to work in good weather. Given that it was raining, I offered them a ride in my car, telling them that I lived twenty minutes outside the town and had to drive every day. They accepted, and Angela and I listened to Christa talk about the boring town she'd lived in all her life until I dropped them off.
I wasn't surprised to find Emmett at the house I was renting close to the edges of Colville National Forest when I got home.
"You got a job at a restaurant?" he said as a greeting, having made himself at home on my couch.
"Oh look, Emmett can read the text messages I send him," I gasped, dropping my jacket on a chair. "Since you're here, want to hunt?"
He got to his feet and grinned. "Sure, I'm game for some game. What's on the menu around here?"
He wrinkled his nose. "I can have deer, elk, and moose at home, jackass. Also, no need to play up your intelligence around me, I know Cervidae is the Latin name for the family."
I shrugged and darted out the back door, leading the way into the woods. "They've had problems with bears being trapped here, Em," I explained as we ran, "so you can't kill any. Besides, they're fat and lazy before hibernation, not your type at all."
"Fair enough," he agreed. "Don't you want to know why I showed up all of a sudden?"
"You're checking up on me," I explained for him. "I kicked Rosalie out over the weekend so she sent you this time. Not rocket science, Emmett. Edward and Bella aren't coming next, are they?"
"No idea. And Rose didn't 'send' me," he protested weakly. "I asked if she thought you were doing alright by yourself and she said she didn't know, because you haven't answered her calls since she left, but that if I really wanted to know, I should come find out for myself. So I did. You doing alright?"
"It's strange," I admitted, "because I haven't been alone in so long, but it's okay. I feel like I can breathe a little better, you know?"
Emmett shrugged as we slowed to a walk. "Hey, I'm surprised that you stayed as long as you did. Not that I don't think you think you're part of the family," he said, holding up his hands as I almost said just that, "but that you lost your mate and your 'parents' died trying to save her, I don't know if I could have stayed around."
"You would have, just like I did," I said. "I wasn't going to leave while all of you were still in danger. That's why I haven't gone further now. You're my family and I'll protect you however I can."
"Good enough, man." He leaned against the trunk of a dead tree and sighed. "We miss you, of course. Me and Rose, especially, but we're proud of you for being strong and doing this."
I nodded once and exhaled. "You done with the sappiness? It's creeping me out."
He laughed hard and took off after a small herd of deer.
We didn't talk again until we finished hunting, and then he stayed away from the sappy stuff. "So what's working in a restaurant like? The human food must be worse than high school cafeterias."
"There's an antique shop attached to the restaurant, I'm going to try and stay there. But yeah, the food is bad. Covers the scent of blood, though, so there's that." I waited until he grunted in agreement before I brought up the most perplexing part of my new job. "Do you remember the guy who married Edward and Bella? And his daughter, Angela?"
He nodded and waited expectedly for me to elaborate.
"She works at the same place I got a job."
Emmett, to his credit, didn't panic like someone else might have and I was glad I'd told him first. "She recognized you?"
"Mm-hmm. She told the boss that we went to high school together. I was alone with her for a while and she didn't ask any questions. She never really struck me as that type of person, but I gave her every opportunity I could."
"Yeah, she was the one that was friends with Alice after that whole Italy thing, right?" He nodded thoughtfully and looked at me intently. "I liked her. But do you want to stay? Do you think she'll cause problems? Or are you just worried that she will ask about Alice?"
"I want to stay, I don't think she'll cause problems, but I am worried about the Alice issue." It felt good to blurt it out to him.
"Tell her what we told people in Forks, that they died in a car accident in Alaska. If she talks to her parents, that's what she'll know anyway. She might already know, remember?"
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Good point. I hadn't thought of that."
"It's what I'm here for," he said lazily. "Anyway, sounds like you're staying?"
I nodded. "I want to."
"Then do it. I'll be here in the blink of an eye if you need me. All you gotta do is ask."
He offered me his hand, but I gave him a hug. "I know, Em, thanks. And tell Rosalie I'm sorry and that I'll never, ever, ever ignore her calls again?"
He held up his hands and backed away. "Uh-uh, no way. You set that bridge on fire, you put it out."
I sighed in defeat and turned in the direction of Forks. "Fine, I'll come home tonight, beg forgiveness, and be back for work in the morning."
Forks was still home, but Colville was where I needed to be.
Well, did you like it? I hope so. If you did like it, please do leave a review! If you didn't like it, thanks for trying and happy hunting for your next favorite fic.
I don't have, nor have I ever, had kids so I'm relying on my trusty, lovely beta Emma Lee Rose to keep me honest on the pregnancy stuff. After all, I'm only as good as what I read online otherwise. Props to TheLyricalCutie for being my pre-reader/cheerleader/fic writing buddy. And extra special thanks to TwistedInMasen for taking my bland, vague description of this story and creating an amazing banner (which is on my blog, linked on my profile) and cover for the story (look at the top of this page!).