Corner of truth and love

AN: New moon, AU, book world so Angela dates Ben (not Eric, like in the movie) but I let her keep her photography hobby from the movie.

Prompt 39 from the anon twi fic contest of 2012. The prompts are now stored here

sparklyredpen ?gallery=ficspiration

The picture prompt was of two street signs, marked 'Truth Avenue' and 'Love Avenue'. The background was clearly a cemetery with gravestones. I thought about who could have died and then I remembered Jake being terrified that Bella would die on her honeymoon. If that had happened, then what would her old, human friends think?

Warning: themes of death (obviously)

Disclaimer: the characters and all recognisable situations belong to Stephenie Meyer - this is a work of fan fiction, except for the legends and histories of the Quileute that, of course, belong to them. I pay my respects to their gods.

Thanks to BanSidhe [ruadh sidhe] and Feebes86 for betaing and pre-reading.

The Forks High School ten year reunion had reached the maudlin stage. The old crowd had all gravitated together. Their spouses and partners had given up hours ago and gone to bed or left them to their memories. If they had attended at all. School reunions tended to be one of those things that partners didn't feel the same intensity about, or that people wanted to attend on their own.

Lauren Mallory the queen bee didn't attend. In her usual manner, she held herself above everyone else and had sent her regrets along with a note to say that she was too busy. She didn't say doing what.

Angela Weber was still tall but had grown into her gawky height and looked beautiful. She stood tall and confidently. Her height was not an issue for her now.

Ben Cheney baulked at hugging Angela. They had a bad breakup after only three months at the University of Washington. University had a way of exposing someone to too much, too quickly and their High School love didn't survive. Angela hugged him anyway and they ended up maintaining a respectful distance.

Tyler Crowley was famous so they didn't expect him to attend. He was a pro basketball player and couldn't get away to be there. He sent a case of champagne. They all followed his career and he was a popular conversation topic for a while.

Jessica Stanley's family had moved to Forks when she was still a small child, and Jessica had always thought of herself as being less provincial than the locals, so she had moved to the East Coast to attend college.

Eric Yorkie had taken his love of movies to the next level. He studied journalism and went on to start a movie appreciation blog. He sounded completely nerdy when he told them all about how he had just got a job doing movie reviews at a major newspaper in LA.

Jessica laughed. "I remember you crying when we had to watch Romeo and Juliet in English."

"I always love that version." He laughed. "I cry every time."

"Ugh, the Baz Luhrman version makes me sob like a baby," Jessica confessed.

"I've forgotten our English teacher's name," Eric said.

"Mr Berty," supplied Mike.

Mike Newton still worked at his parents store and had never escaped Forks like the others. He saw his whole life on a straight line to his death. No random blips for him.

It had started as a recollection; a remembrance of people who weren't there with them at the Forks High School ten year reunion. 'Hey, what ever happened to…?' they asked.

They all remembered Bella Swan. None of them really thought of her as Bella Cullen. She would always be Charlie's kid, not Edward's wife to them. She was the girl that all the guys were in love with; the girl who could have been the Dux of the school if she had put the effort in, but she had been rather distracted by the Cullens.

They all remembered that extravagant wedding held at the immaculate Cullen house set in the forest. The guests who were all so beautiful and exquisitely well dressed. Some of them in very old style clothes, but even those were of such a high quality. It was obvious.

"Lauren was always so jealous of her," Jessica said.

"She was? But she was still popular. Bella didn't upset that," Eric said.

"She thought so. What did Bella call her?" Jessica asked.

Eric laughed. "I remember - she called her 'the heart of the dark side of the lunch table.'"

"That was pretty witty," Ben said.

"She always was clever," Eric added.

"Yeah," Mike agreed.

A pause.

Mike glanced at Jessica. "So what did happen to Lauren?"

"I kept in touch for a little while," Jessica admitted. "She didn't come because she's not popular, or famous or rich or anything she wanted to be. She got knocked up at college and dropped out. Her mother was furious after she cost them so much on that fake modelling thing. She's got three kids and lives in a trailer in Vegas."

"Huh," said Mike. "We wouldn't have cared."

"Oh, my God, that summer. I had forgotten that," said Ben. "Fifteen grand? Wow."

"I know right?" Jessica did her signature hair toss. "And she always thought she was so clever. Burnt badly on that scam."

Nobody knew who had suggested it, but somehow they ended up drunkenly staggering to the cemetery. Mike knew where she was. Angela suspected that he had been to visit her before, but she didn't say anything in front of the others. Just as well he knew; they would never have found it otherwise.

"Corner of Truth and Love Avenues and then look for the weeping angel statue," Mike said.

The grave of Bella Cullen was guarded by an enormous statue of an angel. It was obviously hand carved marble and very expensive. Weathering stains had left tear tracks down its face.

"Good God, that thing is huge," Jessica said.

"And male," added Eric. "Check out its feet."

Jessica shook herself. "Hey, Bella?" she chirped, just as she would if she was standing in front of her. "We just had our ten year reunion and we all thought of you."

"And what a difference you made to our lives," added Mike.

"You made the Cullens be more social," Eric said.

"Yeah!" Ben laughed. "They held parties at that amazing house, and we had never even been invited there, before."

"I'm sorry I thought you were an idiot for trying to attract Edward," Jessica apologised. "You got him. He had just never taken any notice of any other girl before you."

"So tragic," said Angela. "It burnt out so fast."

"Like a candle in the wind," said Eric theatrically.

They were all sobering up fast with the trip outside and the chill in the fresh air.

"He killed her," muttered Mike.

"It was a tragic accident, Mike. You know that," Angela argued.

"She died on their honeymoon, away from her home and her family and in a third world country," Mike added. "Just being there killed her."

"On an isolated, private island," added Eric. "Who owns private islands?"

"The poor thing," Angela said, looking at her grave. "I heard she was dead before help arrived."

"She died happy; I'm sure she did," argued Jessica, "Married to the guy she adored."

They were all silent.

"What was it about her?" asked Mike.

"I don't know," said Ben. "She was so pale and skinny and you guys just all fawned over her from day one."

"We did not!" argued Eric.

"Did too. You all invited her to the dance and Tyler was worse," Ben said. He had been in love with Angela and impervious to Bella Swan's charms.

"That's right! He showed up on prom night to pick her up and got slashed by Edward for even trying." Jessica laughed.

"There was just something about her," Mike said.

"Edward Cullen noticed her, too," said Jessica.

"What happened to Jacob Black," Angela asked. "He was in love with her, as well, as I recall. Made Edward jealous."

"Him?" Mike snorted. He had never forgotten that awful night at the movies with Jacob and Bella. But his voice softened. "Poor Jacob. He went nuts. Accused the Cullens of all kinds of crazy things. He insisted it was their fault that she was dead."

"They had a fight at the wedding as well. I remember he showed up late, had a dance with her and then had to be dragged away by his friends," Jessica said. "Just before they left."

"I heard," Eric added, "that he broke into the funeral home with those friends."

"Charlie didn't charge him," Mike said. "He argued that he just wanted to see her face, and Charlie let him go."

"But she was dead," Ben said. "Torn apart by a wild animal. Who needs to see that?"

"He never got over it," Mike told Angela.

"And poor Charlie," Angela said.

"He went a little crazy, too. Resigned his job and moved out to the rez with the Blacks. He lives with Sue Clearwater now."

"How did we not know all of this at the time?" Angela asked.

"They rushed the funeral. Kept it low key. None of the wedding guests came back for it. And I thought that was odd, you know? They all came to the wedding, but not to her funeral weeks later?" Mike looked upset. "It was just weird. You guys were all off at college by then-"

"I only heard about it because Mom rang me," Jessica interrupted. Everyone knew her mother was the source of all town gossip. "But I couldn't afford to travel back for it, so soon after term started."

"None of us even knew," Angela said. "They didn't ask my father to do the ceremony."

"That was weird," Eric said, as if he had only just thought about it now.

"Mom said the haste was unseemly," Jessica added. "Who attended?" she asked Mike.

"Me, Charlie, her mom and her husband; the ball player. The Cullens came for a little while but only Edward and Alice stayed. The others said they were packing the house." He shrugged. "Seemed like a pathetic excuse to me. And they didn't even cry." Mike made an angry gesture. "And another thing that didn't make sense, was that they did the autopsy overseas. I mean, Dr Cullen is a doctor, you know?"

"Yeah," said Jessica. "We all watch those CSI programs. How much evidence was lost doing that somewhere else that may not have scientific advances and high tech equipment like we have here?"

"The local police were investigating it," Eric protested.

They all gave him an exasperated look.

"Right," he said, as he understood what they meant. Nobody investigated it.

"The Cullens could have paid someone to do it," said Mike. "Those tests are really expensive, but it wouldn't have mattered to them."

"Why did Charlie blame himself?" Angela asked.

"He wanted her buried with her family but her husband's wishes took precedence. That annoyed him."

"Who is she buried with? Not Edward's family, either. Why couldn't he let Charlie put her with his parents?" Angela asked.

"He said he couldn't protect anyone if he couldn't protect his own daughter," Mike said.

"What did he mean by that?" Ben asked. "She was in South America somewhere… not exactly in Charlie's Chief of Police jurisdiction."

Angela spoke, "He liked Jacob; he and Billy had been friends for ever. Maybe he meant that she should have chosen Jacob?"

"Yeah, maybe," Mike shrugged. "I don't know."

Angela was studying the statue of the weeping angel. "Do you think it looks a bit like Edward?"

"It does, too," Jessica agreed.

"He was always pale and white; like marble," Angela said.

Ben shuddered. "Too pale. And those eyes? Nobody has eyes like that."

"Except his whole family, idiot," snarked Jessica.

"They were all adopted, Jess. They aren't real siblings, therefore they shouldn't all have had the same eyes… idiot," he added.

"Wow," she said. "Good point! And they all dated each other." Her face screwed up. "And Dr Cullen had the same eyes, too. Eww… you don't think-"

"What happened to the rest of the Cullens' kids?" Angela asked.

Mike frowned. "I don't know. They buried Bella and moved out."

"But they were all so smart; A grade students, the teachers hated them for it," Jessica said. "They should all be famous and successful."

"And they've got money," added Ben. "They own islands. So they could start a business, no problems at all."

"Alice should be a legendary fashion designer," Eric pointed out.

They were all silent as they thought about it.

"That's weird, too," said Eric finally.

"You know what I always thought," Jessica asked no one in particular. "I always thought that they had done high school before… does that make sense? It always seemed as if they knew stuff before we did it. Like Bella did when she came from that other school."

"And they skipped so many classes," Mike said.

"Every single sunny day," Angela said. "How did they even pass? Skipping that much school?"

They all exchanged looks.

"Why didn't we think of this, back then?" asked Eric.

"Because we were young; and we saw what we wanted to see," Angela said.

"Looking back, it's easier to see issues," said Jessica.

"Yeah." Ben laughed nervously. "We didn't see because we just wanted to be them."

"Poor Bella." Eric sighed.

Mike said, "I heard some of what Jacob was upset about. Around town. How does a wild animal swim out to an island that takes an hour to reach by fast speed boat?"

"Shit," said Ben. "Man! That is a good point."

"And an island like that would be too small to have a food chain that could support a large predator," Jessica said, reminding them all that she was the dux for a reason. "And what was the animal? Animal attacks are distinctive by species. Was it a jaguar?"

"What animal could do that? Attack a human like that?" Angela asked.

"Where was Edward, when she was attacked?" Mike asked. "Was he on the island?"

They all looked at him.

"They never accused him of anything because it was an animal attack," he said. "She was so torn apart; they said nothing human could have done it."

"But Jake accused him," Angela pointed out. "And he saw the body."

"And he got ignored," Mike said.

"Money," said Eric. "It can hush things up in third world countries." His face changed as he thought of something. "Do you think that's what Charlie meant?"

"That the Cullens hushed it up?" Mike said. "Maybe. Her body came back pretty quickly, really, for a death in foreign country. I always understood that that stuff took ages to organise."

"Are we accusing Edward of killing her?" Ben asked quietly. "He loved her. And here." He waved at Bella's grave. "This isn't the place to discuss this."

"Sorry," Mike muttered. "It just… it never sat right with me. And look at this … thing." He pointed at the statue. "That's not her."

"That angel is kind of over the top," Jessica agreed.

"Too much for Forks," Mike said.

"Too much for Bella," Eric said. "She hated that kind of flashy stuff. You remember her ancient old truck. That's what she liked."

"So why did she marry him?" Angela asked. "They were the epitome of flashy, with the cars and the designer clothes." Her mouth snapped shut. "I'm sorry, it must be the drink. I am not normally rude."

Ben patted her arm and she smiled at him.

"She chose the money and it killed her," said Jessica.

"She should have picked Jacob," said Angela.

"Guys… calm down," said Eric, looking nervous.

"We're sorry, Bella," said Mike. "Sorry you missed the reunion… sorry you're dead."

They all murmured apologies as well.

"We all wish you could have been with us tonight," said Jessica. "We missed you."

They moved and started to wander away. As each left they patted Bella's grave stone; a small human contact with her. The group of old friends made their way back to the exit and left Bella alone with her weeping stone angel.

AN: a few people have asked for clarification... no, Bella is not a vampire in this AU; she's really dead. Something went terribly wrong. Something that venom couldn't fix, just as Jake feared.