AN: As it says in the introduction-thing, this is a fanfic that takes place roughly 3 years after the Cullens leave in New Moon. Bella finds her life takes a different path without them, but will she ultimately find the same happy ending?
Eh, I might be a little bit rusty. Not written in a while, explaining why this might be bad... oops.
Chapter 1: What Ever Happened To Bella Swan?
Charlie Swan sat before the TV screen on a ripped, dirty sofa. The room around him was cluttered and unkempt; the half-empty pizza boxes gathering flies, the Chinese takeaway boxes gathering, and subsequently releasing a disgusting stench. His shirt was stained, and he had been due a wash for at least a week. It wasn't that he couldn't do these simple tasks, such as cleaning the room, cooking his own food or even showering, it was just that these menial tasks gave him time to think, something he'd been avoiding for a long time. Life was easier to bear when sitting mindlessly before a glossy, irrelevant screen, or face down in paperwork.
He had been like this for some time, almost three years now. That isn't to say he hadn't washed or tidied since then, just that he had begun avoiding thinking - if he could help it - three years ago. The doorbell rang, a short, sharp signal for Charlie to move. Unsteadily, he rose to his feet, and watched as they disappeared from his sight underneath his growing stomach. Attention diverted from the TV, dark, remorseful thoughts crept to mind. He wondered how his sweet, hardworking Bella would see him now, what she would say. Naturally, that led to worrying where she was, hoping she'd found her way, and desperately wishing for some contact, something, after all these years.
He reached the door, and opened it without shame in his appearance. The short, squat pizza boy wrinkled his nose as the unpleasant smell hit him. "Ah… Mr Swan. Your pizza… Seven dollars." He said, clearly reluctant to stick around. Charlie handed over the money, and their exchange was over, the door closed between them. Walking back to his well-worn seat, Charlie thought, as he always did, about Bella. She would have been disgusted with his many pizza orders. She would insist on cleaning it all up, before making him something healthy yet delicious. He hoped she was doing the same for herself right now, hoped she had enough to eat. He had been wiring money into her account ever since she left, but he had no idea if she was using it. Of course, he'd tried to find out, tried to find her, but she was had been 18 when she left, and would be coming 21 now, unless she was reported missing, there was nothing anyone could do, not even a chief of police. Though nobody really knew where she was, she wasn't technically missing, after all, she'd left a note explaining she was leaving, and taken a lot of belongings, most notable of all her car. That note. Charlie didn't like thinking about it. When he first found it, he didn't know whether to burn it or hang it up, so he just hid it in a drawer and tried not to think too much.
She'd never blamed Charlie, but neither had her mother. They had both left him, he wasn't stupid. Too much thinking. He focused on the TV once more. Some reality show was on, he changed channel, taking a bite out of the oily pizza. He was looking for a sports game, or maybe a film, something to watch and forget the world for a few hours. Billy had told him, Jacob had told him, they'd all said that if he would just turn the damn TV off for a few minutes, and talk, or at least think about how he feels, this depression would never have lasted so long. But he'd never listened, it was much easier to block off his mind. Maybe now he understood why Bella had done the same for all those months, years ago when they left her. She hadn't blamed them either for making her leave. Charlie just hoped she hadn't left in search of them, that wasn't the life she deserved. Even if she didn't blame them, he always had, even before she left. Stop thinking. For some reason, tonight, out of all nights, he couldn't stop thinking about Bella. Maybe it was just coincidence. He changed the channel again and again, flicking until he found a talk show, discussing a popular new movie release. It would have to do.
I watched my reflection in the mirror, turning my head this way and that way. Various makeup artists fluttered around me, tousling my hair, adjusting my necklace. They didn't really need to do much; physically, I was perfect. It may sound like vanity or arrogance, but it's just fact. Besides, I never normally wore makeup, so why start now? A tall, no nonsense woman – with far too much makeup on herself – began slathering thick pink powder on a wide brush. With a light feather touch, I waved her advancing hand away and stood, ready to go.
"Honey, you look far too pale!" She crooned, still holding the brush out to me. "Remember, the cameras will make you look pale as it is, you've got to exaggerate a little."
I smiled at her, and sat back down. "Alright. But none of that," I took the brush out of her hand and set it down on the table. "A little foundation. Not too dark, though." She was more than happy to oblige, and began coating my face in a shade of makeup darker than I'd like. Then again, that was showbiz.
"Okay sweetie, that's you done. Is this your first interview?"
"TV interview, yes." I smiled. "I'm going to need to change my contact lenses…"
"Oh! Well, you'll be fine, the movie looks great anyway… I can't wait to see it! I was meant to be getting premiere tickets but, well… That didn't happen." She shrugged regretfully, and I sensed she wanted me to ask about it, but I didn't. Instead, I stood to get my bag, and a fresh pair of contact lenses. Almost as soon as I stood, a pair of hands rested on my shoulders, and a slight force attempted to push me down. Automatically, I sat down. Silently, another of the makeup artists disappeared to get lenses for me. I hoped it wouldn't take too long to get used to this sort of assistance. It had been the same on the movie set, I couldn't get over it. She quickly returned, and I stood, making excuses about the lighting in the room, and made my way to the bathroom, lenses case in hand. I couldn't risk them seeing my eyes. I stood in front of the small bathroom mirror, and peered into my own eyes. The old brown lenses had begun dissolving, leaving my irises a deep maroon colour, almost red. I didn't even need to remove them, they would be gone in a few minutes. Instead, I just popped the new brown ones in and blinked them into place. They didn't look exactly like my old, natural eye colour, but at least they looked human, and that was all that mattered, really. A buzzer rang in my dressing room, a sign that I was due on air any minute. I smiled into the mirror and left, ready for my debut.
"So, Isobel, I think everyone here is wondering just where you came from! I mean, it seems you've gone from, quite frankly, a nobody, to this international superstar almost overnight! I guess it must be pretty shocking, just how does it feel… how has your life changed?" The host asked. I'd forgotten his name, but it wasn't like I needed to remember it. Like he said, I was an international superstar, any little faux-pas was easily forgiven.
"Oh, the change has definitely been drastic. I'm not ashamed to say, my beginning was difficult. I moved away from home with practically nothing, and um… that's how life stayed for a long time. It wasn't easy, but I've got to tell you, if you stick with it, it'll eventually happen." I said, selling glossy smiles and hope. Of course I couldn't say exactly how difficult life was before getting my 'big break', at least, not without revealing some unpleasant truths about the world.
"I see. So what you're saying is, persistence pays off?"
"Exactly!" I said. This wasn't exactly true, at least, not for me. I thought back to my acting beginnings, vaguely wondering if I would soon wake up in that trashy old hostel, and that all this would be a dream.
Three years ago, when the haze of my depression finally began to lift, I realised it was ridiculous to stay like that, to stay in the same town. I needed a change, an extreme change, to shake me out of my old ways, sweep out the bad memories. And I needed to stop being such a burden on Charlie. He'd never admit it, but I was. Even if I went back to work, started contributing again, I was still an emotional burden. He'd worried about my happiness long enough. I had to get out there, show him I was changing my life myself. But he'd never let me go if I said to him. So it had to be done quickly and quietly. The day that I got up and re-joined the real world was the same day I upped and left.
I didn't have a lot of money, but once I finally got to Los Angeles, I sold the car and managed to rent a tiny apartment. Of course, nowhere was hiring. Things went downhill quickly, and despite Charlie's generous payments to my account, and the small job I got at a failing independent theatre, I couldn't keep up my comfortable lifestyle. After a while, as I was destined to, I joined a bad crowd. Alcohol and drugs became a big part of my life, and I was obviously falling down a metaphorical drain. Any plans I'd ever had disappeared, replaced by the basic dream of staying alive and staying independent. I'd often considered going home, but decided against it – I'd made a conscientious decision to try make it on my own, and if that was what it meant, I'd have to stick to it. That said, I regularly thought of all I'd left behind. I wondered how Charlie was doing without me, if anyone in Forks other than him missed me at all. I wondered if anyone, not just my family, missed me. But I didn't like to think about those people, the people who I cared about that didn't feel the same. I'm not going to lie, I did think about them a lot, still more than was healthy; I wondered where they were, if the family were still all together, whether he had someone new, someone less expendable.
But that was the past. At that time, I had to think about the present, how I'd survive day to day.
I never got involved in anything sexual, and the theatre was exactly what I said it was; nothing seedy, just not very good, and not very popular. Despite everything that was going on, I kept my job there, and eventually made it on the stage, to an audience of 20. This was the biggest audience of my career there. But in that audience sat my lucky ticket. And every night after that, it was guaranteed there would be one customer in particular watching me fumble through Shakespeare. Not long after my third performance, he introduced himself. It wasn't necessary, I already recognised him. Not who he was, but what. The vampire, who asked to only be known as Don, became my benefactor of sorts. It was Don that started my rise to fame, and also my rise to immortality. He treated me like his doll, and while he never gave me money, material gifts or any luxury, he gave me that boost to get out of the rut myself.
We never mentioned the big bloodsucking V word. We only talked about and did what he wanted, and in the end, it served me well. Soon, other acting companies were searching for me in particular, and the money they were willing to pay me was getting competitive. Turns out I had a knack for acting. Or maybe I didn't, I still don't know what Don's influences on these people were, but it was obvious he was pulling the strings, in one way or another. I have no idea what he stood to gain from my success, but he was definitely determined to get me there. And it was happening. I got an apartment of my own once again, and, as part of a promise to Don, stopped seeing the unhelpful friends I'd made. I was moving up again. But I hit another block. It quickly became clear that though I was popular on stage, and becoming an experienced and recommended actress, I wasn't special. There were others before me who rose and fell in the same short span, and I wasn't any different to the other theatre actors out there. Don noticed this before I did. I was too busy sitting on the small cloud of fame I'd found, marvelling that sometimes, strangers recognised me.
I had long ago given up on the dream of living forever with the man of my dreams, especially since the man of my dreams was neither in my life nor in my dreams – rather, in my desperate nightmares – but that same taste of immortality was dangled before me again, and those nostalgic hopes once again bubbled in my heart. Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't hoping to become a vampire and fall back into that old life where the Cullens would find me again and we'd all live happily ever after. No, I did it to further my career, and because I had nothing to lose, really. And so it happened. I found I had no particular power, other than a strong resistance to the thirst. It didn't take long before I could bear to be in the city, in and around humanity. I did have difficulty making myself appear human, I was often too quick, too strong, too graceful, but I got used to that with time. And just as well, as it wasn't long before Hollywood found me. I was cast with my first movie role, and subsequently, Don disappeared from my life.
And that was it, leading up to my life, days before my first big screen movie premiere. Of course, I could say none of this to the talk show host, or anyone else for that matter. The host had just put on the trailer for my movie, before spending some long winded time talking about it to the audience, giving me time to think and consider my past. I blinked, scolding myself for not remembering to do so earlier. It had probably been a while since I had blinked, or even moved. It had also been a while since I had fed. I could smell the man's blood, though he was sitting on the sofa opposite me. It smelt hot and sweet, with a lingering scent of alcohol and nicotine. I decided he'd probably taste fantastic. At least, to my acquired tastes.
"And that's all we have time for just now, join us after the break and we'll be talking to Rebecca Stone on her upcoming album! You can see Isobel in her debut blockbuster Night Blood, out June 23rd! Isobel, I hear from my crew you've got something special to say before we cut to commercial?"
I had regretted this as soon as I requested it, but I couldn't backtrack now, it had to be done. "Yes, thank you, I-uh, I'd like to make an appeal for a Mr Charlie Swan to get in touch. I hope you're watching but please, please, contact the show, thank you."
P.S. "Isobel" is a stage name, but she's still Bella. Didn't really know how to address that...