I hated Twilight. Seriously. Just on principle. I thought it was stupid and ridiculous and I just decided that I hated it. (Bad idea…I should really never do that…) And then one day I decided to watch Breaking Dawn Part 1 just as a joke with my roommate….and I laughed all the way through it. Seriously it was ridiculous to someone with no prior knowledge of the series… (EJ? Renesmee? Really? Come on, that's still silly) but I was interested in spite of myself, and my roommate (a guy I am so grateful towards for so much more than just this) was like, the books are better.
So I checked out the first book on my Kindle….and told myself that I could like it ironically. And then I decided to read the second one ironically…and watch the rest of the movies that we had…as I was devouring the last book I finally admitted that I wasn't doing anything ironically. Even though they are sort of silly, I love what these books say about love and fate and family…and even though the movies aren't all that great, I love them too, because they are just as fun to watch.
So only about three months after decided to watch the fourth movie as a joke (Still haven't seen BD part 2….I've heard it's good though) I decided to try writing fanficiton about it, since it's something I had fun with for Skip Beat and LOTR…and I just want to take a minute to thank everyone for your kind responses. Seriously. One of the most rewarding parts about being a writer is feedback, and getting that instantly with fancfiction is really cool and something I appreciate so much.
So I hope you enjoy the third installment of something I planned on being a oneshot.
People Will Talk
"Lonely?" I jumped, and then turned to glare petulantly at my blonde brother. Chuckling, the unrepentant vampire belatedly rapped his knuckles against the doorframe. Rolling my eyes, I turned back to my book, recrossing my ankles in the air as I lay on the bed. Despite living with them for months now, I was still unused to their ability to enter my room so quietly. Not willing to be ignored, Jasper just laughed and entered the room, perching on the bed and reading over my shoulder, ignoring my glare. "Jane Eyre?" He guessed. I sighed and nodded. His smile faltered and he focused back on me, using his strange ability to read emotions to try and figure out what was wrong, obviously picking up on my anxiety quickly. "Don't worry, Bella." A cold hand rested on my back, fingers splayed toward my neck. Hesitating for a moment, he leaned forward and looked at me, his perfect features arranged into a worried frown and I remembered a time when I'd been too intimidated to interact with Alice's brooding movie start mate. "You don't have to go back tomorrow if you don't want to." He reminded me softly.
I'd insisted though…the school was reopening the next day, and since Carlisle had been able to find nothing unusual in my blood work, he had no real reason to keep me from going…no one was particularly happy about it though. Carlisle and Esme, along with Edward, had all offered to stay home with me if I wished to take a little more time off, even though my shoulder was, for the most part, healing fine, and I had no other injuries. Of course, they were more worried about my emotional state, but I wasn't about to let that keep me from school…not that I enjoyed school overly much…I just wanted to get all the uncomfortable stares and rumors out of the way….I wanted things to go back to normal, or as normal as they ever got for me.
"Edward would stay with you…any of us would. No one would mind." Carlisle, Esme, and Edward weren't the only ones anxious to have me back at school, and I had to admit, I was nervous as well. The thought of walking back into the school where…I flinched and shifted my weight off of my arm, the ache in my shoulder reminding me better than words ever could. "You okay?" I sat up, giving up on lying on my stomach, and curled my arm to my chest, trying not to move it. A glass of water that had previously been on the nightstand materialized in front of me, and a little white pill was held out. "You're supposed to take them when it starts to hurt." He chided me gently, and I mumbled an embarrassed 'thank you.'
Although everyone except Emmett had hunted about a week ago, Edward and Jasper had apparently spent more time goofing off and playing than feeding. Besides, they all wanted to hunt again before going back to a school full of humans…apparently it made it easier. Jasper had hunted with Alice a few days ago, but Edward, Emmett, and Rosalie had decided to wait until that night to go…mostly just putting off leaving me here without everyone. Esme and Carlisle were going on Wednesday while the rest of us were at school, not wanting to be unavailable on my first day back. I sighed again, swallowing the pill with most of the water and placing the glass back on the nightstand, feeling immensely annoyed with myself. 'What is my problem. Everything is fine….everyone will be in school with me tomorrow. I only have two classes without them! Gym and calculus…surely I'll be fine. I'm going to have to go back some time.' Despite the mental pep-talk, I was still worried, a fact that frustrated me.
"I'm sorry…I'm bothering you." Jasper said quietly, standing, but I reached out and grabbed his wrist, the action stopping him.
"No…sorry Jasper. It's not you…" I wasn't irritated with Jasper…he had been right. I was lonely without Edward around…otherwise I wouldn't have left my door open.
"Then what is it?"
"I'm being an idiot." I said ruefully, making him frown as he sat on the bed next to me once again. "I shouldn't be worried…it's just school." I mumbled, clutching my hands in my lap. Taking one of mind, he held it between both of his.
"It's completely normal to be worried, Bella. But we'll be with you. I promise. One of us will be nearby all day…all you have to do is call for us or text us, and we'll come get you…we'll bring you home if you want. Okay?" I nodded hesitantly, offering him a grateful smile. "You're brave…going back right away. Most people couldn't." Glowing a little from the soft-spoken praise, I wished him goodnight as he squeezed my hand one last time, then left my room, shutting the door behind him. Turning out the bedside lamp, I crawled into the covers, dropping the book on the floor beside my bed, and closed my eyes, slipping into sleep and praying that there were no more nightmares.
It was the same nightmare every night…or a variation of it. Jackson. The school. A gun. The first night it had been me…the pain from the bullet so real that I could almost feel it in full the next day. Then it had been Emmett…once I had dreamed that little Alice had crumped in front of me, Jasper's accusing eyes watching me with hatred as I sobbed over her. One night it had been Edward…
I'd watched helplessly as Edward stepped between the gun and me...something so easy to imagine, his face furious as he took a threatening step toward the man that threatened me…and then he had fallen, his face agonized as he lay on the tile floor. I'd rushed to his side, but in the strange way of dreams it seemed to take hours as I screamed, forcing my sluggish body forward. Over and over I screamed his name, dropping beside him, shaking him as hard as I could, calling for Emmett or Jasper or Carlisle….anyone to help me. I couldn't lose him….the thought of going home to his family…to telling them that it was my fault they'd lost Edward, made my chest feel tight and painful in an oddly familiar way, and I remembered my mother's hand slapping me and lying on the floor, unable to breathe as she left, and I couldn't scream anymore….
A cold hand on my face, not slapping me, but gently holding my head still, finally woke me, and the calm tried to flood my system, tried to ease my pain, but I couldn't stop screaming and crying as I fought Jasper, desperate to find Edward but unable to make myself call his name. Finally he'd taken me from Jasper and pulled me into his arms, looking desperately into my eyes as he held me as close to him as he could, his eyes pained. "I'm here, Bella. It's okay. No one is going to hurt you." He'd whispered, rocking us back and forth as he kissed my forehead. Unable to explain to him how little I cared about that I had thrown my arms around him and held on for dear life, crying painfully into his neck while Jasper tried vainly to get me back to sleep.
"Is it not reaching her?" Carlisle's worried voice had been just loud enough for me to hear, and Jasper had sighed, giving up.
"She's hysterical…she's too afraid to sleep." He'd said sadly. "I'd rather not force her again…she'll probably just have more nightmares." Carlisle had sat beside me on the bed then, keeping a hand on my back while mumbling a conversation with Edward and Jasper that I didn't care to hear. It wasn't until several hours later that I had relaxed my hold, and then only because it was killing my shoulder, but I didn't move away…I was determined to bear the pain, a small price to pay for the assurance that Edward wasn't dead. His cold hand had covered my shoulder, trying to offer me some relief, but I was tense for the rest of the day, refusing to let my eyes close for too long, not matter how tired I was, and unable to keep any kind of food down. It wasn't until I had seen how truly terrified my behavior was making everyone that I had made a concentrated effort to calm down…but even then I'd needed Jasper's help.
I woke briefly when someone climbed into bed with me, knowing immediately that it was Edward whose arms I was pulled into. One thing about living with the Cullens…I never needed to worry about intruders. I shuddered to think of the untimely end any would-be murderer or thief would meet should they decide to choose the Cullen home as a target…especially with Jasper around. Rolling over, I curled up against him, resting my head on his shoulder and breathing deeply. "Did you have fun?" I mumbled, clutching his shirt in my hand.
He chuckled softly, the almost silent sound the only noise I could hear. "I suppose…I missed you though."
"Missed you too." I mumbled, reaching up to kiss his cheek, and then was asleep again, barely registering his cold lips against my forehead.
The next time I woke was to his hand on my face, the cold contact waking me abruptly. "Sorry." He smiled, pulling away and sitting on the bed. "We have to leave soon…you overslept." I frowned, jumping out of bed and throwing the closet open, rummaging through and grabbing the first pair of jeans and the first shirt I could find.
"Why didn't you wake me earlier?" I wondered, hurrying into the attached bathroom and shutting the door.
"You looked like you needed the rest." He said mildly, raising his voice a little so that I could hear through the door. Sighing, I pulled the jeans on then started to pull the shirt off, freezing when my shoulder pulled sharply. Biting my lip, I let my arm hang down, closing my eyes. "Bella?" His voice was worried and I took a deep breath.
"I'm fine…" I assured him, my voice too weak for my liking, and I took another breath as the pain faded. "I moved it too quickly…it's fine."
"Are you sure you're okay? Can I come in?" I saw the doorknob turn, the fact that he didn't enter proof that he respected my privacy just a little more than his own panic.
"Give me a sec…" Pulling the nightshirt over my head in a quick motion, and then slipping into the new one, I grabbed a brush in my right hand. "Okay." Immediately the door was open and he was beside me, his cool hand gently resting over the aching wound in my shoulder. Taking the brush from my hand, he carefully ran it through my hair.
"Bella…" His sad voice was coaxing and I shook my head immediately.
"No. Edward I'm not waiting. I'm going back today."
"No one expects you to be ready just yet…you're still in pain. It's only been a little over a week…and that's just since the shooting. Not to mention everything with Charlie and…" He cut himself off when I winced, sighing and kissing me on the cheek. No one had brought up Renee since she'd left on Wednesday, catching a last minute flight back to Florida…after I'd cried myself to sleep in Carlisle's arms, something I was still embarrassed about. I wasn't a four year old, for heaven's sake…I shouldn't act like one. But I couldn't deny how nice it felt to wake up in his arms, his patient, gentle eyes never leaving me. "You don't have to do this." He said instead, but his voice was bleak…obviously he knew he wasn't going to win this argument.
Hearing this in his voice, I strengthened my resolve. I wouldn't show him how afraid I was…because why should I be afraid? "I'm just going to school." I told him with a soft laugh that I hoped didn't sound to forced. "We're all going back…" Crushing the urge to ask what could possibly go wrong, because I was sure he had a few answers ready for that one, I pulled the brush from his hand and kissed him, wrapping an arm around his neck. "Come on…we don't want to be late."
Edward and I sat in the front of his car, my hand held tightly in his. The others were all in Emmett's jeep, speeding behind us so closely that I felt a brief twinge of nerves. Forcing that to the back of my mind (their driving was flawless…that was a silly thing to worry about) I turned my attention back to the scenery that flew by until we reached the familiar parking lot. As usual, the day was overcast, and a light drizzle fell from the looming clouds. Edward parked in his usual spot and I climbed out of his car slowly, smiling a little when Emmett pulled into the space beside me, everyone jumping easily from the giant jeep. Throwing his arm around my shoulders, Emmett led me towards the school, laughing easily when Edward grabbed my hand and pulled me back over toward him.
"Now now…Edward what did we say about sharing?" Rosalie and Alice laughed as they stepped up to their mates, each taking their hands and walking at their side as we all walked toward the school, and I remembered my first time seeing the Cullens…and then wondered if I too now looked like a character from an idealized movie scene about popular teenagers. Edward chuckled softly at his brother's words, but only held me closer to his side.
It didn't take me long to realize that people were staring as we made our way up the front stairs of the main school building where we all had class for first period. Edward's face was carefully calm, but I had to wonder if that was Jasper's doing. I had no idea if anyone knew what had actually happened…no one was staring at my vampire family with any more (or less) awe and/or fear than normal, so I hoped not. Still, I was getting a few strange looks…ignoring those, I let Edward lead me through the halls, waving briefly when Emmett and Rosalie broke off to go to their own classes.
My first class was English with Edward and Alice, who kissed Jasper quickly and followed Edward and me into the room. The teacher glanced up at me, his eyes wary as he stood. "Miss Swan? A word?" For a moment, Edward's hand tightened around mine, and Alice paused beside me, touching my back subtly for a second. Nodding, and forcing an easy smile, I slipped away from Edward and Alice who took their usual seats, and followed the older man into the hallway where, much to my surprise, Emmett leaned against the lockers looking like the definition of ease, even though I was sure I'd seen him disappear around a corner with Rosalie a few seconds ago…
"Mr. Cullen?" The teacher seemed surprised as well, but Emmett was only looking at me, his eyes concerned. "Don't you have class right now?" I could tell Emmett was biting back a sarcastic remark, but I gave him a sharp warning look, to which he only grinned and pushed off the lockers.
"Yea. See you, Bella." He nodded to the teacher and headed down the hallway once again at a leisurely pace, but the teacher seemed more resigned than annoyed.
"Miss Swan, Dr. Cullen informed the school of your condition…and of your decision to come back. You know, none of the other students involved in the shooting are coming back just yet. We would be happy to excuse you if you feel…"
"Emmett's back." I told him a bit sharply. "And all the people from my Calculus class…where the window was smashed in. All of Patrick's friends are back." Patrick of course, was not, due to his prolonged stay in the hospital.
"Of course…I meant many of the friends of the students we lost have not returned today…many have gone to counselors or…"
"Did Dr. Cullen say that I should go to a counselor?" I resented this man, who'd never spoken more than necessary to me, trying to pretend to care about me now. I'd met enough resistance from my new family…something I only found tolerable because they so obviously loved me.
"No. He did not." The man's eyes hardened a little, and he gestured toward the classroom door after a moment. "I think you'd better get back to class, Miss Swan. We should get started." Shrugging off the flash of anger, I stepped back into the classroom, my eyes on the floor, and then sat down at my desk between a worried Alice and Edward. Things didn't seem to be off to a great start.
When the rest of the class was seated, our teacher stood at the front and cleared his throat nervously, but before he could say whatever speech he'd thought up, the PA system crackled to life. Resting my chin in my hand, I listened as the principal came on and began speaking about tragedy and the lives lost, glossing over Jackson's motivations and painting the dead jocks as saints who would be much missed. Patrick, another popular target for the football players at our school, was also a brave hero, apparently struggling for his life, even though Carlisle had informed us that our peer would probably be released in a day or so. "Also, the administration would like to commemorate the heroism of Emmett Cullen, who bravely rescued another student during the shooting." As she droned on about Emmett's bravery, I rested my forehead against my clasped hands, praying that no one knew who that 'other student' was, but judging by the whispers and the sidelong glances I was getting, I was pretty sure the whole school knew.
"Oh lovely." I mumbled irritably. Alice gave me a sympathetic little smile, obviously knowing how I hated the spotlight.
"This afternoon during our last period, we will be having a mandatory assembly in the gym. Please go to your fifth period class and after attendance, your teacher will walk you to the assembly."
'Oh great…an assembly on violence.' The thought irritated me. It would most certainly be about gun violence, and have nothing to do with the bullying Jackson had faced…not that anyone in my family had any sympathy for the boy…well, except maybe for Carlisle and Esme. But I'd seen his face that day. And it wasn't like I didn't know what bullying felt like…how it felt to have people whisper nasty things about you behind your back.
Looking up at the teacher who had apparently been talking, I realized that he was standing next to a TV cart. "I thought we'd start the week off with Romeo and Juliet." I was glad. I'd long since memorized the movie, and I wasn't sure I was up for learning anything new. The light was switched off and instantly Edward took my hand, squeezing gently and pulling as though he wanted me closer. I didn't blame him. I wondered if this movie would ever stop reminding me of the time he'd left.
"I love you." The words were whispered so softly by my ear that I was sure that no one but Alice could hear. Smiling softly, I turned and placed my mouth beside his icy ear, my smile turning into a silent laugh when he shuddered.
"You are my life now." I whispered, quoting him with a grin only he could see. Turning his face, he kissed me quickly, then turned back to the screen when the colors from the TV lit up the room, and the prologue came to an end.
"…a pair of star crossed lovers take their lives."
History was our second class, and while Alice and Rosalie took some kind of art elective, and Emmett suffered through a little over an hour of throwing badminton games and leisurely walking around a track, Edward, Jasper and I all sat in the stuffy classroom in the basement while a 25 year old grad student taught us about the Civil War. I had been confused at Jasper's long-suffering look when we'd begun the ridiculously long unit covering the war between the states, but the note written in Jasper's meticulous handwriting detailing everything that had actually happened in the battle covered in the first lecture slipped onto my desk when the teacher's back was turned quickly cleared it up.
Any kind of history classed seemed to be desperately boring for the Cullens, especially Jasper and Edward who'd been more involved in politics and war in their human years, and paid more attention to the outside world since their change. Carlisle bore their complaints with amused exasperation, reminding them of all the 'history' classes he'd had to put up with during his many college experiences. Carlisle was my favorite person to go to for real history lessons…I could spend all day sitting in his office and listening to him talk about his life in Europe…but Jasper's lessons were almost as interesting. It was obvious that they enjoyed having someone new to tell all of their stories to, so I was especially glad to listen.
But Mr. Mark (the guy's attempts to get on our good side only got more pathetic from there) had a particular talent for boring me, and it was only the occasional nudge from either Jasper or Edward that kept me awake. After a quick speech about the bravery of the boys who'd been gunned down (I spent most of it doodling in my notebook and trying not to scream at the idiocy of it all) Mr. Mark continued plowing through the Civil War.
As the lecture began to wind down, I felt my heart rate start to increase, and I was fully aware that I had Calculus next. My foot began to bounce of its own accord and I stopped listening to the lecture, deciding to get Jasper to give me a recap later. At the moment I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I was going to be without anyone from my family next period, and then being annoyed with myself for caring. 'Nothing is going to happen.' I told myself sternly. 'You are being stupid. There's no reason to panic. They're all here…they'll be in the same building! What am I afraid of?" Not wanting Jasper to pick up on my panic, but knowing he probably was anyway, I forced myself to take deep, even breaths, not letting myself think about the next hour I would be alone.
A cold hand reached out and grasped mine, squeezing tightly, though not enough to hurt. Edward's thumb rubbed circles into the back of my hand and I felt myself relax a little while Mark (why did he even bother with the Mr.? Seriously? What was that accomplishing?) assigned us the reading that I was almost certain no one would do. Finally the bell chimed and I shoved my notebook back in my backpack, throwing it over my shoulder and clutching Edward's hand as we headed out the door behind everyone else. Jasper stood a second after we did, following on our heels as we began to mount the stairs, his hand resting on my back as he moved to walk beside me.
Taking a deep breath, I walked between them, not letting myself pause on the stairs as the chatter from the other students seemed to press against me. "Bella?" Edward's quiet voice was closer than I had expected and I nearly tripped over a step when I turned to answer him.
"Hm?" I managed, catching myself and pausing in the hallway at the base of the stairs that would lead to the calculus classroom…the stairs I'd barely managed to stop myself from falling down when the bullet had slammed into me, taking my breath away when the pain had forced everything else from my mind…the stairs Emmett had carried me down as I'd blacked out in his arms.
"Bella? Are you okay?" His cold hand on my face jolted me back to awareness and I forced a small smile.
"Yea…sorry. I just zoned out…" Glancing over at Jasper who waited a few feet away, I hoped he hadn't paid too close attention to my emotions.
"Are you sure?" His quiet voice was intense. "Because no one will think any less of you if you don't want to do this. You can spend a few more days at home…I'll stay with you. The others can bring us homework…Carlisle and Esme can teach you if you want…I'll teach you if you want…" I forced myself not to think about that wonderful picture…I couldn't just hide away for the rest of the year. I wasn't a coward.
Leaning closer, I kissed him briefly, then pulled away, ruthlessly shoving the fear and pain out of my mind. "I'm going to be late." I told him simply, then turned and made my way up the stairs, not letting myself hesitate for even a millisecond as I passed the spot where I'd fallen…where Emmett had cradled me in his lap as I'd bled on the concrete floor.
The calculus classroom door had been replaced, the only tell the new little window whose size didn't quite match the other doors'. Most of the students were already seated at their desks, but our teacher hadn't arrived yet. Jessica, who didn't have the number to the Cullen's rarely used house phone or my cell phone number, seemed anxious to speak to me, and grabbed my arm as soon as I sat down beside her, leaning in.
"Bella! Oh my god, is it true that Emmett Cullen dragged you out of the building after Jackson shot you?" I sighed and rolled my eyes at Jessica, trying to show my reluctance without seeming too rude.
"Where did you hear that?" I tried for casual, but my voice was strained.
"It's all anyone is talking about, duh! Is it true?!" I hesitated for a movement, and she must have taken my deliberation as a yes, because she went on with an eager look of morbid fascination on her face. "Aaron Matthews said that Emmett ran out of his class to save you!" Her eyes seemed to glaze over and I realized with some amusement that Jessica was mooning over her new hero. "You're so lucky." She nearly moaned. I flinched, but made my tone light.
"Jessica…you're kidding right? Emmett Cullen?"
"Oh come on! He's hot! I mean…yea, some people would say that Edward was better looking, but Emmett…I'll bet he's built like…."
"Jessica!" I hissed, my cheeks flooding with blood, the knowledge that Emmett was close enough that he could probably hear us if he wanted making my humiliation worse...he would never let this go. "Stop! Please!"
"What? You don't like him, do you?" She asked suspiciously.
"He's like my brother!" I cried as softly as I could, glancing up to make sure our teacher wasn't listening. "And I'm with Edward. Not to mention, Emmett is dating Rosalie."
"Ugh…creepy. She's his sister, for god's sake."
"Foster sister." I corrected with some irritation.
"Whatever! Still creepy. Like Jasper Hale and Alice…ugh. Weirdos!" Biting down hard on my lip, I fought the urge to snap at her. "Well, weirdos or not, I wouldn't mind being rescued by Jasper either…" She paused for a moment, giving me a strange look. "Isn't living with them awkward though?"
"What?" Honestly surprised by her sudden change in subjects, my irritation was momentarily forgotten.
"You know…they're so…handsome! I could never even speak to Edward, much less his brothers! Does their dad practice plastic surgery on them!?"
"Of course not!" I shook my head in exasperation, amused despite my irritation with her. "Jessica, they're a pretty normal family." Well…normal was relative. But they all cared about each other, and I didn't want her spreading rumors about them.
"How do you even talk to them? Isn't it hard being around them? Like…what do you even talk to his brothers about?" She leaned in closer, her eyes full of anticipation like I was about to tell her about some amazing secret life they all led...well to be fair, they kind of did lead a secret life. But what could I tell her about that? What did we talk about?
Memories of Emmett or Jasper holding me, comforting me, flashed into my mind. I could see Emmett laughing while he tried to make breakfast or Jasper's grin as he went through a Calculus chapter with me…I saw Alice throwing new clothes at me and Rosalie leading me though the mall as we snuck out of the store while Alice continued searching for the perfect outfit for me…grinning I shook my head. "I don't know Jessica. We talk about all kinds of stuff...what do you talk to your family about?"
Before she could come up with an answer, or react to my calling them my family, a tall man I instantly recognized as the principal stepped into the room and a hush fell over the class. "Everyone, your regular teacher will be absent for another week or so…and so we've had to call in a last minute substitute." He seemed a bit irritated, and I wonder when he'd been informed of this. Not particularly interested in this new development, I flipped my book to the new chapter, pulling my notebook from my backpack and turning it to the page where Emmett and I had left off going over the new unit. Hopefully this new teacher would actually cover a lesson so I wouldn't have to dodge Jessica's questions all period.
"Oh god." I glanced over at Jessica. "How many Cullens can this school hold?" She mumbled sarcastically. Confusion turned to surprise, as I looked up into the light honey brown eyes of a very familiar face.
Thank you everyone for reading.