A/N: I'm trying to be more experimental with my writing, especially as I'm preparing something big. I swear, I did not plan for it to turn out this way. So here's an unbeta'd, all-human, out-of-character one-shot that came out of something that turned into something else. It also happens to sort of go with "They Do It Better In La Push," though it's all-human, so maybe not. By the way, I am not a stoner. I don't even leave my house. And of course, I do not own Twilight or its characters. That's SM's thing.
You don't need to see her face, or hear her laughter, or feel her tears to know that there is pain underneath the surface. Knowing too much would make things unbalanced, but surely enough, you would want to remember her face since she dons interesting, intricate features that you can't quite say you love, but you love to stare at. And you would want to remember her laughter as well, since it doesn't come along often (as far as you know now), but when it does, it's unforgettable. She has a genuine, honest laugh that seems to echo in your mind, over and over. You have yet to see her tears, but that may sound like a good thing. You're already fascinated, much to her ability and your surprise; seeing those chocolate brown eyes as wide as the moon in tears would break your sturdy (or is it really?) heart already. You feel like you know this girl more than you really do, but you don't know what you know about her yet, and in all honesty, it scares you. It makes you shiver. It makes you wince and ache and your palms start to sweat. More so, it makes you want to stay.
That she is Bella Swan. You know her—of course you know her—but you don't know her. Maybe you don't know that she, who has likely suffered through only a few winters of her life, didn't walk the spring grass lightly, though the summer grass is terribly different. Maybe you don't know that she's lived in different worlds all in one, or has given her heart to many people, or has played the villainess and left a trail of hearts after her, making their marks. Maybe you don't know her that much when you bring yourself back to reality, and maybe that's okay.
Bella's brown eyes squint as she walks into the twilight, nearly blinded by the sun's first rays. You watch her from the side, the light perfectly complementing her profile. Her gait is a lanky one, her high heels in her hands and swaying in the wind. You're unsure as to why she's carrying them instead of wearing them, and you don't plan on finding out sometime tonight, though you probably will. She's mysterious, and the mysterious girls always have the most to say. You know that already.
Her pale skin shivers as the warmth and light from the sun spread slowly across her body. She can't play the know-it-all tonight, especially now that you're seeing the truth. She's been to Forks plenty of times—she's visited every single summer since she was eight—but she really hasn't been in the rare sun. She's driven past forest after forest, but she hasn't taken the time to smell the air and realize, this isn't so bad after all. Her fingers now tremble as she looks for a hand without reaching out—not to show her yet another new world, but to color the grey one that's surrounding her now before she does the diabolical deed of taking matters into her own hands and coloring in this world herself. Things never end well when that happens.
She closes her eyes, hiding from the light the beauty that she is, and then quickly opens them before she misses something, as if there's something to miss in a little place like Forks, anyway.
She looks over her shoulder and asks you, "So are we going to go to dinner or not?" Her dark brown waves spill down to the middle of her back, and you can see the little tints of red in them in the light. Bella—this Bella, the Bella who stands in her backyard for minutes and goes on dates with boys she doesn't like to make her father happy—seems like she has a story for her hair alone. She seems to have a story for everything.
It was her idea to take a little walk in her backyard before leaving, though, but you don't say anything. A story for her reasoning would occur, and you're trying to get this date done by eight o'clock.
With your hands stuffed deep down in the pockets of your nicest jeans, you nod over to your car. "Alright," you say. "Let's go."
She shrugs like that wasn't her idea in the first place and slips back into her heels, shifting her height from five-foot-four to five-foot-nine in an instant. Her legs appear longer, stretching what seems like miles and miles past her simple forest green dress that ends just a few inches above her knees. Your eyes trace the soft curves of her body, and even though you're both the same age and fresh out of high school, you can't help but realize damn. She is a woman. She's not very good at walking like one, though, in those impossible heels, so you slow down your pace for her a bit.
"You don't have to slow down for me," she informs you. "I'm keeping up just fine. You're moving slower than a turtle."
"Isn't that the gentlemanly thing to do?" you ask.
She shrugs again. "Chivalry is overrated."
You raise your eyebrows. "Is it really?"
The two of you approach your car, a Volkswagen Rabbit you built yourself from scratch when you were fifteen, and you instinctively go to her side first to open the door. She gives you a disapproving look. "Yes, Jacob," she tells you. "It's overrated and outdated."
"Nice rhyme," you acknowledge.
"I do it all the time."
She opens her own door and gets into the car, and you can only make a short prayer for yourself as you make your way over to the driver's side. You've never gotten so worried over a date in your entire life, and you're eighteen! It also doesn't help to mention that this isn't even a real date; yours and her dad set it up. Since Bella could drive, you've been keeping up with her pickup truck, a nineteen fifty-three Chevy that looks and runs like crap, all year long just so she could drive it around all summer and never see you in La Push once. This is the first time you're seeing her since you were fourteen, so this date must have been organized under the realization that you've been her errand boy for years and that she hasn't thanked you yet. Would you have taken a card or something? Sure. But here you are, about to take her out for a burger. Tonight is the night, but then again, it's just one night. After tonight, she's never going to talk to you again (as if you really need her to since, hey, she's got her stuff going on and you've got yours). You can do this.
"So what brings you out on this date?" you ask as you start your trek from her house to a burger joint near the middle of town. You already have an idea why she's here, but you're curious as to what she's going to say.
It's only too bad that being curious with Bella isn't much of a good thing.
"My dad says I need to thank you for the truck," she replies, "so thank you. But I also think he's doing this because I need 'distance.'" In the corner of your vision, you can see her making air quotes at the last word.
"Distance from what?" you wonder, your eyes on the road.
"My boyfriend," she states, her words a bit slow and run together at the same time. "I love my boyfriend. I usually just spend my summers up here with him, but this year my dad found out we're dating, and, uh, now we need distance or something. It's really stupid."
She has a boyfriend, and not even just a regular boyfriend, but one she absolutely cannot stay away from. You called it. Okay, you didn't call it, but you should've. You weren't anticipating on wanting to date Bella Swan after this date, but the chance is definitely dead. You should've known, too. The really pretty girls always have boyfriends. The really sexy, interesting, fire-in-pants-starting ones are always fucking psycho. Everybody knows that.
"I mean, it's not like this date is really stupid," Bella adds to spare your feelings. "So far, despite your old-as-dirt attempts at chivalry in this day and age, this date's going pretty well."
"All you've done is stand in your backyard," you remind her.
"Yeah," she says as if she's thinking back a few years as opposed to a few minutes. "It was lovely."
You must like your girls insane, you decide.
So with the mindset of no, she's not going to be interested in you; no, she's not even going to look at you; no, she's just going to brush you off as the kid she's supposed to fulfill the little dreams of even though you both are the same age, you take her out. Tonight's not the night, after all. It's just one night.
In a friendly manner, she links her arm to yours and smiles like a single lady out for a night on the town with a man she hasn't seen in forever (but oh, who are you kidding, she has a BOYFRIEND). You take her to the best burger spot in town. It's so great that you have to wait almost twenty minutes for a table, sitting on a bench, squished between plenty of other people. You two are so close that her little, buttoned, black cardigan she wears over her dress is smushed up against the sleeve of your white dress shirt. Your eyes meet, and it's such a shame that she's already in a relationship and crazy. She's more than just pretty; she's gorgeous. She stares at you with those doe eyes. She looks sort of jaded and lackluster, but it makes you even more fascinated. If she were single and a little saner, you would be putting all your greatest moves out that you wouldn't get to try otherwise. No, not like that, though. Not those moves. The good ones.
Then again, her boyfriend's not here, you're not going to see her for the rest of the summer, and tonight is just one night.
The two of you finally get a table, and it's all set off from there. Bella—the Bella who used to be afraid of her own shadow, the Bella who used to be as quiet as a mouse, the Bella who was so humble—is now fearless, loud, and utterly candid. She makes the waitress wait a solid eight seconds before ordering her food because she's in the middle of telling a subplot to the initial story she's telling you, only to stop talking for a few seconds to actually order and resume the second the waitress has her and your orders down.
Any other girl would be simple about where she comes from or why she's where she is now or what she's doing, but not Bella. Definitely not this Bella.
"…So, anyway," she continues after taking a long sip of her cola, "my mom was mad at me for expressing emotions since adults are all just emotionless pieces of shit, apparently. Either that, or, um…" She falters, lost at her own words. "Or she was mad at me for being so static about everything when I wasn't crying and crying…" She paused and frowned. "I originally wasn't going to come here this summer, because not only did I not want to but also because my boyfriend's sort of a dick, but my mom insisted that because I am a Modern Adolescent Seeking a Great Perhaps—she reads too much John Green for her age—I had to fly up here from Phoenix. I guess it's not that bad 'cause my boyfriend hangs out here in the summer, too, even if I didn't really wanna see him because he's sort of a dick, but I'm sort of stuck. I don't know if I want to go back to Phoenix at the end of the summer. I mean, shit, it's not like I have any business being there, but I don't have any business being here, either. I don't belong anywhere. I've got too many skeletons in the close, anyway."
You'd think she'd be talking a million miles a minute, but she's actually sort of chill. Her eyes look past you, though, and you realize they're a bit red. She fans at her eyes for a moment with her hand, and you become alarmed. Oh, shit.
"There's no need to cry," you tell her. "I understand." You actually don't understand since you've lived in the same place since you were born, but stating that doesn't help any more than lying does.
She gives you a small smile and wipes at her right eye. "Jacob, I'm not crying," she says. "I learned not to cry over a while."
You avoid her cryptic stated and ask, "Then what's wrong? Allergies? Do you need some—?"
She laughs—loudly. "Didn't I tell you?" she says. "I smoked a little weed before you picked me up." Your jaw drops, and she lets out a single laugh and continues speaking, "I guess I'm just starting to feel it now. If my dad goes in my room and takes a whiff, he's gonna freak." Then she laughs again, harder and louder than before. She laughs and laughs until real tears fill her eyes. You think she's about to literally start rolling on the floor until it begins to die down, and she has to dab a napkin at her eyes. You wanted to say this date was going well, but whoops.
"You know," she says, staring at you from across the little table, "you're kinda cute. In fact, you're really cute."
"I'd say you're kinda high," you respond, "but in fact, you're really high."
She starts to laugh again then looks down and brings her head back up, leaning forward and staring at you like you're crazy, when things are the total opposite.
"I'd probably do you," she says, which, you admit, causes you to mentally flip out even though she's high.
"Yeah, okay," you say, denying it nevertheless.
"No, really," she replies. "You and me… it'd be kinda cool. Do you smoke weed, too?"
"No." Well, it happened only once, but she doesn't need to know that. She should be the last to know.
Her face stays the same. "You should."
This date is going horribly and you want to go home, but there's really nothing to do at home. This is the first interesting thing you're doing all summer. "I'd rather not."
"What are you doing later on?" she wonders.
"Nothing." At least it's an honest answer.
"Then hang out with me," she purrs.
"No." That's a strong move there.
"Please?" Her lower lip juts out in an attractive pout.
You must be Superman with the strength you've got tonight. "No."
"Be a gentleman."
"Chivalry is overrated and outdated," you quote.
She snorts and laughs again. "Shit," she says.
"Does you dad know you smoke weed to make excruciatingly boring dates more tolerable?" you wonder.
"He's a cop, if you don't remember."
"I swear to God you didn't even remember for a second."
You stare at her, and realize that not only is she pretty and taken, but she is also very, very nuts. You're not jealous of her boyfriend; you feel bad for him.
"Hmm," she murmurs.
"I wouldn't do you after all," she informs you, "even if you're really cute."
"And why's that?" you wonder, not because you want her to particularly "do" you at this moment (who are you kidding?), but because you couldn't sense the transition between the quick decisions.
She shrugs and laces her fingers, bringing them up to rest under her chin. "Because I love my boyfriend."
She smiles, not sensing the sarcasm. "Okay," she repeats.
Your orders arrive, and Bella doesn't tell any more stories. She just asks questions that you'd rather not answer.
Licking salt from her fingertips and picking up another French fry from her basket, she asks, "Have you ever gotten to third base?"
You swallow, nearly choking. "No," you say defensively.
"That sucks." Her tone is monotonous, unaffected by how much she surprised—and continues to surprise—you.
"Yeah," you say solemnly.
"Do you even know what third base is?" she challenges.
"I'm not twelve."
"Well, color me fucked and surprised. Jake, you're such a baby. You don't smoke weed or have sex or anything. You haven't done anything. You're like a baby to me."
"I'm two months younger than you," you remind her. "That's, like, nothing."
"It's nothing when you're eighty. When you're eighty, you're not even gonna realize it until one day you're sitting at home, watching TV or something, and realize, 'Shit, I'm eighty.'"
You sigh. You just want to go home. That's all. "Whatever you say, Bella."
"Don't get all defeated just because I'm right. You don't have to let me win this because I'm a girl."
You actually let her win this because she doesn't make sense. "Is this another chivalry slam?" you ask.
"No," she says thoughtfully. "It's a personal one. You're soft."
You're actually kind of hard, but she doesn't mean it in that way, so you shouldn't have to take it like that. "Fine," you admit. "I'm a big softie."
"Looks like I'll have to call you Puddin'," she says with a sudden southern twang.
You wouldn't mind being her Puddin', but that won't help the situation. You check your watch. "We've been here a while," you observe, even though it really hasn't been that long. Then you take notice of her empty basket. Ah, the munchies, you think. They're not a myth after all.
"Let's go, then," Bella quickly says, sliding back and out of her chair. It's like she's in a rush, and Jacob doesn't have to ask to know who she's just dying to see after this horrific date. It couldn't have been that bad, though, could it? It certainly wasn't expected for a first (and only) date, but it wasn't boring.
You don't ask what she thought of the date when you pay the bill and get back into the Rabbit. She's already taken you on a ride of confusion; she can at least spare your feelings. If the date sucked, it sucked. You don't need to know, though. You really are soft; Puddin' is such a suiting nickname.
After parking the Rabbit in Bella's empty driveway (Where's her father? The possibilities are endless), you walk her up to the front door. It's the gentlemanly thing to do, and she doesn't fight it.
"Thanks, Jake," she tells you calmly as you two stand on her porch. Ending a strange date on a traditional, wholesome note sounds so wrong. "That was really sweet."
"It's no problem," you reply. "It was nice seeing you again. Now it'll get our dads off our backs, huh?"
She smiles. She may be nuts, but she's really cute at the same time. What a deathtrap. "I hope so," she agrees, her voice slow and still intoxicated.
The words slip out before your mind can think them through. "Will I see you again sometime soon?" you wonder.
Her smile turns into a tiny smirk, and she leans in for a hug. Her hands rub against your back, squeezing at the muscles, and then slide down to your hips. You jump a little, but it's a bit typical of her, especially now that you know how she is. "Of course," she says softly in your ear. "I'll corrupt you next time I see you, so be prepared." Her hands linger down to your posterior, and you swear to God you're gonna go as insane as she is and maybe even kiss her and—
"But I love my boyfriend," she adds.
You pull out of the hug, but her hand manages to latch onto yours, your fingers laced like you're lovers instead of semi-strangers. You both sigh at the same time.
"Thanks," she says.
Your fingers slowly pull away from hers. "Uh-huh," you reply sheepishly, starting to make your way back to the Rabbit, but she calls your name.
You turn around. "Yes?"
"Are you sure you don't want to come inside for a while?"
Your bottom lip is between your teeth as you consider. You've got nothing to do, and she's got nothing to do. You can both be a couple of nothings together. You'll get stoned with and bone Bella Swan in her bedroom and live to tell the tale. It doesn't sound too bad, but tonight is just one night. Maybe all you need is just some sleep and a chance to recover from tonight.
So alas, you shake your head no. She looks disappointed at her front door as you make your way back to your car. You're soft. Soft as pudding. You're Bella Swan's little Puddin' from La Push, the Puddin' she'll never, ever, ever visit unless you're looking to get high from her stash or get off from her body, and there's no way to shake that. At the same time, though, you don't want to.
She finally goes into her house, and it is then that you comprehend that you actually know this girl more than you intended to. You don't know most of her, you hope, but you certainly know more. It's a shame she won't talk to you ever again, though tonight is just one night. Nothing more; nothing less. Anything else would be unbalanced.