This OS was written for the contest "Un râteau presque parfait" ("an almost perfect rejection") organized by the french forum Damn-Addict-Lemon.
It was greatly translated by Milk40, who I'd like to thank for her fabulous work. Thank you so much! Please, visit her page for more of her : u/2139598/Milk40
WARNING. Sensitive content.
Renée and Charles Swan
"I don't get understand. Really, I don't understand."
Renée Swan's red and misty eyes fled from the reporter's intrusive camera. Charles Swan squeezed his wife's hand, his jaw clenched and his mustache quivering.
"Did you ever notice any signs in your daughter? Is it a possible that, maybe..."
The journalist trailed off. The room was pervaded with the dreary emotion of these bereaved parents who couldn't grasp the importance of History.
"It's not like her to do such a thing. It can't be; it wasn't her. They have to be wrong," Charles Swan swore, his voice hoarse with pain. "Not my little girl."
"Mr. Swan, the videos viewed by the police don't leave any room for doubt. It was indeed Isabella who-"
"Bella," Renée corrected. "She prefers to be called Bella."
She paused for a moment, and her husband painfully rectified.
"Preferred. She preferred to be called Bella."
His last words were lost in a sob.
The reporter nodded solemnly.
"Did she have many friends?"
"Bella had tons of friends!" Renée snapped. "She was very happy at school, she had very supportive friends. She was part of the cheerleaders team, you know."
"Really? So, she was just a teenage girl like any other... How was it going when she did acrobatics on the field?"
"She didn't want us to go see her, she was embarrassed. But she practiced all the time at home. She beamed when she danced. She liked to be popular; it was all she'd ever wanted."
"Cheerleader and popular..." he mused, skeptical. "This is not the portrait drawn up by the media. I didn't expect that."
Charles Swan's glassy, angry eyes glared harshly at his awkward interlocutor.
"You feel so invincible, sitting there with your little microphone and your pathetic little notes, thinking that you can "can" all what my little girl was to write your shitty article! The story doesn't suit you? It's not trashy enough? I'll give you trashy, you dirty asshole!"
Flying off the handle, he walked furiously toward the hall stand, opened the drawer on the right, pulled out his badge and touched the bottom of the drawer…
…Hard and empty.
He closed his eyes with pain, for just a few moments.
Sometimes he forgot that his gun was no longer there; he forgot that it really happened.
"Forgive me Mr. Swan," the journalist cautiously apologized. "I know how difficult this must be, but I want to paint a true picture of your daughter; I want the public to know the truth. Bella wasn't crazy, was she? She didn't have any psychological problems, right?"
"You just want to sell your damn paper."
"I want to depict the truth, sir. I'm trying to understand how you can end up there at seventeen. I'm trying to understand how you can go to class and point a loaded gun on your classmates."
"She didn't do that," Renée sobbed. "Bella would have never done that. Not my Bella."
Rosalie Hale was avoiding the eye of the camera with a desperate persistence. Speaking about Bella Swan scared the hell out of her. The tone of the journalist was meant to be sweet, but behind its neutrality she felt an all settled opinion, a harsh assessment of the event, of her attitude and of her life.
Her self-confidence, usually so disarming, was sorely lacking. The microphone recorded all her hesitations, and the scrutinizing eye of both the man and his machine forever captured her discomfort.
"Were you friends?"
"Not really," she replied, bleak and sluggish.
The reporter nodded.
"You were in the cheerleaders team with Bella Swan, weren't you? Didn't you hang out with her?"
"She wasn't part of the team. She thought we were just a bunch of scatterbrains in miniskirts who waved pom-poms to raise the testosterone on the field."
Her eyes stared at the man for a while, then rested in his periphery again, on the door.
"To her, we were no better than whores."
The reporter looked down.
"You said you didn't know her, yet you know much more about her than her own parents."
"We chatted every now and then. My boyfriend was quite fond of her. To me, she was just one more loser, in a mass of other losers. A wannabe. I think she was psychologically affected. I think we all are."
"Your words are harsh," the reporter noted.
"They are measured."
"At your age, I don't call that lucidity. Rather a sad cynicism," he observed, acidly.
The girl's icy lips stretched, sardonic.
"She pointed her gun at my head, she threatened my friends, she killed eleven people in front of me."
She lit a cigarette, inhaled the nicotine, and exhaled thoughtfully.
"I saw Eric's skull explode. I saw his brains spill on the floor and all over me."
The icy calm of her posture contrasted harshly with the muted violence of her words, and the journalist, ill at ease, looked away from her.
She paused for a few seconds, and then went on.
"Sometimes I wake up at night, and I feel like my hands are still red with his blood. I think it gives me the right to be lucid, no offense to your second-rate hack's opinions. Don't you think?"
"Is this gonna be long?"
"That depends on you."
"I already told the police everything. I don't see what more you want from me..."
"I've got nothing to do with the police. I don't want a biased picture of Bella Swan, shaped by a criminal investigation or newspapers in need of sensationalism. I want to restore who she was. I want more than a lunatic who blew a fuse."
Edward Cullen sighed loudly. Even in death, she still managed to piss him off. She will have pissed him till the end.
"What was your relationship with Bella Swan?"
"There was none," he categorically defended himself.
The journalist twitched.
"Yet you're the one who stopped her murderous impulse."
"Not really, no."
"Her weapon was pointed at your friend, Jasper Whitlock, and it's you who dissuaded her to shoot, right?"
"Where did you get that?" Edward inquired suspiciously.
"The police have summarily conveyed the sequence of events, step by step."
The young man shook his head.
"I just told her she didn't want to do that. She told me not to worry, that my time would come."
The reporter searched his notes, pulled a few sheets. The baneful anecdote was not written anywhere. Maybe he would finally resolve this mystery?
"Do you know what her motive was? Why go after these specific people? Why spare you?"
Edward looked down.
"It all started at a party. She was not invited, but she came anyway."
"You were there?"
"I was there. With a girl," he clarified softly.
"Lauren Mallory? The third victim of the shooting?"
"Yes, I was with Lauren."
"Were you going out together?"
"More or less. We broke up a lot, and then we would get back together."
"She arrived and she saw me with Lauren. Her eyes were furious, as if I had cheated on her... But – I swear – I never promised her anything!"
"Was something happening between you and Bella Swan?"
Edward's stare got lost behind the camera.
"From time to time. It was... sporadic. That day, a little earlier, she sucked me off under the bleachers, between two classes."
"So you had a relationship with her."
"No, not really. Bella…She was just a break before going back to Lauren. She was just a girl among many others."
His words and his detachment sounded hollow. The reporter nodded and stared at Edward's face, prompting him tacitly to consider the irony of what he'd just said.
"A girl among many others...?"
Bella Swan was anything but a girl among many others.
"Bella Swan didn't mean much to Edward Cullen. In his own words, she was just a girl among many others."
Alice Brandon stopped abruptly filing the nail she had been biting, nervous to go back to this difficult moment.
"That's what he told you, huh?"
She shook her head.
"Edward Cullen is an asshole. Even in death, he still denies it."
The curiosity of the journalist was piqued by the girl's words, promptly evocative yet not really explicit.
"He still denies…?" he went on, spurring her to say more.
Alice took a deep breath, images of the shooting jostling with haste in her mind, in spite of herself.
The sound of the trigger, the blood, the screams, the panic. The constant fear. The most ridiculous hiding spot saving her life, the fear of being discovered, and sacrificed. The fear that would never leave her again.
From the corner of her eye, she looked at the cabinet to her right. She couldn't remember if the gun was stored in the drawer again, or if she had left it in her purse.
Ever since the shooting, she wasn't able to leave home. The fear of the Others and of their reactions, as senseless as inexorably unpredictable, prevented her from going out, from confronting the world and all the potential Bella Swans who might surround her.
To encourage her to get on with her life, her father had bought her a gun. She never went out without it.
The voice of the journalist helped her to cast out the gruesome images.
"Sorry. What were we saying?"
"You were about to tell me what Edward Cullen continues to deny."
The girl took a few seconds to focus.
"Oh. His feelings for Bella, of course. He denies his feelings for her," she spouted with the speed of a child who burned himself by placing his hands on the hob.
"But... He was very adamant on the matter," the journalist argued, skeptical. "For him, she was nothing."
Alice shook her head fiercely.
"If Edward was willing to stop lying to himself, maybe we could have avoided all this..."
"He's the trigger, then?" the reporter asked softly, careful not to show his joy of finally getting an answer that made sense.
"Obviously! He was the only one who could trigger anything from her. Everything else left her indifferent,. And she was the only one to stir him. Both of them together, it was like dynamite."
The reporter nodded thoughtfully.
"Dynamite. The word is sadly well chosen."
The gloomy and sullen face of the colossus contrasted with his air of natural bonhomie.
"Try to stay within the camera's field," the reporter repeated.
The young man nodded, despite the growing uneasiness shaking him. Dissecting the events, butchering Bella's identity as she had butchered her comrades made him ill at ease. Doing it in front of a camera that would forever record his thoughts gave him a strange feeling, a mixture of obligation and disgust toward his friend, and he felt he was going to throw up now, like a timer had been set.
Like Bella had restrained herself until she could no longer hold it, until she went crazy, until the pin popped into her head; Emmett felt his lunch rising back in his throat and threaten to spill on his falsifier judgment, on the obscene ideas of the journalist looking for a scoop, on the scandalous sensationalism of the press and the narrow minds of this world.
"Shall we?" he asked, uncomfortable.
"Whenever you want."
Emmett took a deep breath and began.
"What do you want to know?"
The journalist smiled briefly – a smile of encouragement – and launched the attack.
"What was your relationship with Bella Swan?"
"I don't really know," Emmett hesitated pensively. "I liked her. We weren't friends, but we came across each other often."
"In high school? You had classes together?"
"Some. But we would mostly meet outside of school. At the swimming pool. At parties." He paused. "At Edward's place, mainly."
"She was often at Edward's?"
The young man's mouth sagged into a grim smile; his eyes veered macabre.
"When he wanted to screw her, yes."
"It was... recurring?"
"You can say that, yes."
"Alice Brandon," he stated, reading his notes, "told me that Edward Cullen had feelings for Bella Swan. Your girlfriend says otherwise."
He just shrugged.
If the information hit home, he didn't show it.
"It doesn't surprise me from Rose."
"She's longed to catch Edward in her nets."
"But she's with you now?"
"Rose and Edward are very similar. She loves me with all her heart, but she loves herself even more. She needed to attract Edward, to please him. Bella took that from her."
"Bella stole Edward's attention from her?"
"So there truly was something special between them... " the reporter insisted.
"Special, yes. But nothing like love."
The journalist frowned.
"Yet, that's what I have the impression of reading between your words."
"That's what I've thought for a long time, too."
Emmett smiled without joy.
"When you really love someone, you don't try to destroy him with such obstinacy, do you?"
"Do you think Edward Cullen was in love with Bella Swan?"
The laughter of the tall blonde filled the room with all its cynical resonance.
"Edward loves himself way too much to love anyone else."
"You mean that if he didn't love you, there's no reason he could love someone else?"
Rosalie's cold eyes turned black.
"There was nothing lovable about Bella Swan."
"Nothing more than you?"
"She was a freak!" she blurted.
"Not for Edward Cullen, apparently," the reporter persisted.
"Edward would screw her anywhere and anytime!" she spat out. "He fucked her like a whore because she was a slut!"
The echo of her words got lost in the stunned silence of the journalist.
Their stares clashed briefly, one filled with a desperate and barely suppressed rage, the other bright, sparkled by the discovery of a clue.
These kids were pathological liars. Their sharpened game only collapsed under strong emotion – anger, fear, atrocity.
The reporter wondered for a moment if, perhaps, Bella Swan had seen this before him; if, perhaps, she'd wanted to drop the masks, just once, and reveal the truth of beings.
"Many testimonies are overlapping, Miss Hale. The relationship that bounded Edward Cullen and Bella Swan was very tangible, and several people certified that it wasn't only physical."
Rosalie needed a minute to regain her composure.
"If it were true, then why not leave Lauren? Why leave Swan in the closet and make her his naughty little secret?"
"You tell me," the journalist said seedily. "Why do you go out with Emmett McCarty when, obviously, you have strong feelings for Edward Cullen?"
Rosalie looked away, hurt.
"Emmett loves me," she hinted in a whisper.
"But you don't love him?" the journalist spurred.
She suppressed a grimace of disgust and wiped a tear that threatened to fall.
"The way Edward touched me, before she came into play... His fingers were pure magic."
"Edward and you?" he repeated, stunned. "No one told me about it so far."
This was a twist he didn't see coming.
Rosalie licked her bottom lip, then pinched it violently, unable to contain her tears this time around.
"No one ever knew."
"You were blackmailing Bella Swan," the journalist said, his accusatory tone barely veiled.
Angela Weber looked away from the inquisitive stare questioning her.
"I couldn't know that it would end like this..."
The reporter nodded gravely, disinclined to feel sympathy for the girl.
"But you were friends with Bella, at a certain time."
"That was before," she spat.
She watched him for a moment, thunderstruck. Her gaze hardened; her tone sharpened.
"What kind of journalist are you anyway? You knew that I made a prank on her, but you didn't know that this bitch was screwing the guy I loved? You got your degree from a box of Cracker Jack or what?"
"I prefer to focus on the testimonies I receive rather than on the dehumanizing police investigations," the journalist replied. "I'm looking for the story behind this tragedy, not the motive."
Angela Weber rolled her eyes and looked away from the camera. The reporter resumed his interrogation.
"One of your fellows told me, during an interview, that you were blackmailing Bella Swan with pictures of her."
"She knew I was in love with him!" she blurted out, desperate. "But every Thursday, between 11am and noon, she met him! A fucking bitch, that's what she was..."
The reporter frowned, surprised by the evident lack of remorse of the girl; neither remorse, nor regrets.
"How did you find out?" he asked, determined to dig up this trail.
"I wanted to smoke quietly, so I went to a secluded place. I heard voices... I got closer, inconspicuously. It was them. They were laughing, and smoking. And the way he looked at her..."
"This is when you took the pictures?"
"I went back the following week," she admitted, ashamed. "And then all the others."
"Why?" the journalist pressed.
"I don't know!" she replied defensively, both hands raised as a fender against the verbal attacks of the journalist. "I couldn't believe she would stab me in the back, and play the devoted friend afterward!"
"You feel betrayed?" he tried to understand.
The teenage girl justified herself like she could, but the emptiness of her motive alarmed the reporter.
"She spent time with him, and she hid it from me!"
"But... they were just hanging out together, right?"
"At the beginning, yes. And then he kissed her. And she kissed him too!" Angela said, revolted.
"And then what?" he asked, fond of sleazy details.
"And then I left. I returned the following week. I watched them; I couldn't detach myself from them. He was laying on her. The way he touched her... It was sensual; it haunted me. How could she do this to me?"
"Did it ever cross your mind that perhaps it had nothing to do with you?" the journalist said. "Perhaps they were just in love?"
"You don't go out with a guy when your best friend is in love with him!" Angela protested vigorously.
The reporter shook his head.
"But Edward Cullen had no feelings for you. He had feelings for Bella Swan, and she for him. Who were you to stand between them?"
"You don't go out with a guy when your best friend is in love with him," she whispered."
"Did you know all this?"
The young man's wet eyes, pleading and distraught, sank in a sea of darkness for a moment. He opened his mouth, but words escaped him.
"What did you really feel for her?" the reporter asked softly, on edge.
Edward bit his bottom lip. Hard.
"Bella and I, it was..."
It was indescribable.
Unspeakable and incredible.
Strong and wild and untamable and raw, like a bare emotion, like an intense pleasure that hurts.
He closed his eyes for a minute, then opened them.
"Bella and I," he went on, "it was something we couldn't control. We didn't want to... It wasn't supposed to happen like that," he choked on a poorly concealed sob. "It wasn't supposed to happen like that."
The journalist nodded and resumed his line of questioning.
"How did it start?"
Edward smiled slightly.
"A spare hour before lunch break. I needed to be alone, so I escaped under the stadium bleachers, always deserted. She was there too. We decided to share our loneliness."
"You were friends?"
"How would you describe your relationship, then?" the journalist went on.
"I liked her sincerity, her authenticity. She was everything I'm not. I admired that in her."
"And then?" he invited him to continue.
Edward breathed in slowly.
"And then we kissed."
The reporter waited for him to say more, but his stare was already far away, shuddering and unattainable.
"For no reason. I was just... feeling good with her. It was easy. Simple."
"Patent," the journalist completed.
"Your relationship became physical," the reporter stated.
Edward smiled more broadly this time.
"We were insatiable. It took only once to lose ourselves. I wanted to do it all the time. As soon as I came upon her, as soon as I caught sight of her... I wanted to feel her against me, I wanted to see her pleasure surge."
"And it went downhill?"
The young man darkened.
"Bella wanted more. Always more. She wanted to be with me all the time, she didn't give a fuck about the others, about what they would think. I wanted to keep it simple and easy, I didn't want us to become something else. She and I... What we had, it was pure. I didn't want it soiled by reality."
"And how was it going between the two of you?"
"Not well. We yelled at each other all the time, we no longer made love. She was violent, with her words. And I became violent, with her skin. Our arguments turned into hard and vengeful sex. We slowly destroyed each other."
"And after? What happened that day?"
He lowered his head, swallowed painfully. Responsibility overwhelmed him; grief broke his heart. He missed her more than anything.
"A few days before, we had argued yet again. Extremely violently this time. She insulted me, she was hysterical. She couldn't stand to hide anymore, and I could no longer stand her crises. I told her it was over."
The journalist raised an eyebrow.
"Is that why...? How did she react, precisely?"
"She shut up. Completely. She retreated into silence. I tried to talk to her, to reason with her, but she couldn't even look at me anymore."
"Do you think it's your breakup that precipitated her actions?"
Edward tugged nervously at his hair, hard pressed.
"The same evening, she came to see me. I had never seen her so violent. She told me crazy things, she was fidgeting. She was totally crazy."
"We fought for a few days."
"Yes. But not only. She was hanging out with dubious guys. It drove me nuts. She was provoking me, she was begging me. She tortured me."
He took a deep breath, wiped his wet eyes.
"We ended up in the bleachers, we called each other all the names under the sun. And we did it again. We couldn't get enough. We were like magnets, we couldn't come off.
"It was not a solution. I wanted to make her understand but she wouldn't listen. And that evening, there was the party."
"You went there with Lauren Mallory instead of Bella?"
"Bella shouldn't have been there. But she came and she flipped out."
"Her reaction seemed disproportioned to you?"
"I never promised her anything."
The reporter watched the young man, so different from his previous testimony.
"Do you feel guilty?"
Edward had a force, bitter laugh,
"I am guilty."
The reporter looked up for a moment and then argued.
"But you weren't the one who took a gun and killed eleven of your fellows. She did."
"She did it because of me," he cleared her.
"You didn't put the gun in her hands!"
This time, Edward was unable to hold back his tears.
"She asked me so many times... 'Go out with me. What are you so afraid of, Edward? Why don't you want me?' I told her no, twelve times."
He breathed with difficulty; oxygen was growing scarce. His eyes were blurred with the pernicious tears and his chest was flustered with a dull and ongoing ache. He could still hear each and every "no" he had uttered; some tender, during love, other stinging, during discord.
His clenched teeth barely loosened, his throat swallowed the sound of his words, which almost strangled him.
"She fired twelve bullets."
His eyes rested on the tiled floor, on the pale wall, on the astounded journalist. Then on the hungry eye of the camera, one last time.
"I'd have preferred she killed me rather than herself."