FAGE Six Pack
Title: Pulling Pigtails.
Written for: Sunsetwing
Written By: Nicia
Summary/Prompt used: Written as a pinch hit for FAGE 6. Isabella Swan, twenty-eight, divorcee, single mother. Edward Cullen, thirty, a widowed single father. They hate each other/They've hated each other since their kids first day of kindergarten. Unfortunately for them, their children are best friends. But is it truly hate, or anger hiding something deeper?
Author's Note: Very many thanks to Little-Angry-Kitten for the cheerleading, readingmama for pre-reading and to LanaW.81 for beta'ing! Sunsetwing, I hope you enjoy this!
At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled. ~Marshall B. Rosenberg
"Mom! Can Callum come over for dinner?"
The bellow was my three second warning to plant my feet before my son's small body crashed into my knees, a hard head knocked into my stomach and drove the breath from my chest as soft brown eyes stared up at me pleadingly.
"Please, mom! Please, please, please!"
I opened my mouth to let him down gently, I'd had plans for a quiet, relaxing night in, not catering to two loud, rowdy, seven year old boys… but Max's wide eyes stared up at me and my will power crumbled.
"Only if his father says it's ok-"
"Yes!" A fist pump and a tight, squeezy hug to my legs, and then Max was gone, sprinting across the playground with a wide grin to where his best friend and his father stood.
I gritted my teeth and schooled my features into a semblance of a smile as I caught sight of Callum's father, and then allowed myself a quick scowl down at the ground as I bent to pick up Max's abandoned school sweater and lunchbox.
Just thinking his name made me want to gnash my teeth and punch a wall.
Edward fucking Cullen; widower, single father, 'drop dead gorgeous with sexy bedroom eyes' – as the other mothers liked to say, and prick extraordinaire – as I liked to say.
My hatred of Edward Cullen wasn't irrational, and it wasn't one sided either. He loathed me equally, though I liked to think that my rage far outshone his, and he was just a pissy little jerk because his supposed charm hadn't worked on me. The first time we'd met - the first day of kindergarten for each of our sons – I'd been in a rush to get to work, trying to sneak out of the classroom unnoticed so Max didn't start bawling and clinging to my leg with his limpet impression, and hadn't noticed him stood in the doorway. He had – rather stupidly in my opinion – a cup of hot coffee in his hand, and hadn't seen me because he'd been too busy waving goodbye to his son. I'd crashed into him, the hot coffee had landed all over his white shirt, and onto my brand new, dry clean only, pantsuit. He'd yelled and called me a blind bitch as the coffee burned his chest, I'd screamed that he was an idiotic dick who was going to have to pay my dry-cleaning bill, three of the children in the class had started crying because of the noise, some of the others were giggling because of the 'naughty words' we'd used, I'd shoved him in the chest and rushed out, hoping against hope I'd still get to work for my meeting on time, and that was it. The battle lines were drawn, the war paint was donned and we were sworn to be mortal enemies.
Everything was settled, and we would have been happy to seethe in silence, cursing each other's names and throwing dirty glares across the playground if we noticed each other.
Our children had other ideas.
It started pretty innocently, Max rabbiting my ear off on the way home about his great new friend Callum. I hadn't thought it of much importance, it was a good thing Max was making friends and I was happy he'd made one so quickly.
A week after the Coffee Incident, Max asked if Callum could come over for dinner, and I'd nodded, telling him we needed to ask his mother's permission first – Max told me Callum didn't have a mother, only a father, and I still didn't make the connection.
Then, after school the next day, Max dragged me over to where Callum and his father were waiting.
I cursed the Fates for screwing with me and dug my nails into Edwards palm when we shook hands. He smiled politely, we figured out the details for the boys' play date, and then when they weren't looking, he yanked on my hair. Hard.
Two years later, Max and Callum's friendship was still going strong, and the animosity between Edward and me hadn't diminished either. However, the friendship between our sons meant we had to be civil, at least in their presence.
Though the two boys spent as much time in each other's houses as they did their own, I still liked to check it was okay with Edward, to make sure Max hadn't outstayed his welcome, and he did the same with Callum, which is why I found myself face to face with Edward once again.
"Can't stay away from me, Swan?"
My hand itched to slap his face, to wipe the grin from his lips. I'd done that once before, and from the way Edward kept just out of my reach, he remembered it too. For some unknown reason he'd had thought it a good idea to accompany Callum on his play date. We'd spent two hours merrily ignoring each other, focusing on our work, and then he'd decided to try and strike up a conversation.
In my defense, 'So why are you such a frigid bitch, Swan? Didn't you figure out that method doesn't get the guys when you frightened your husband off?' wasn't the best way to go about starting a civil conversation, and my hand had made contact with his face before I'd even realized I'd moved. His expression had been shocked and a little awed, I'd spat some nasty words at him about the death of his wife, and he'd left, dragging Callum out with him.
Since then, relationships were not a subject we talked about. In fact, anything more serious than 'Nice weather today, isn't it?' and hashing out pick up times and the like were off limits.
I snorted loudly, and let that be my answer to his ridiculous question. "Callum wants to come over, is that okay with you?"
"Usual pick up?" I nodded. "Then I'll see you at eight, Callum, behave for Ms. Swan." He dropped a kiss to the top of his son's head, narrowly avoided being head butted as the two boys sprinted towards my car. "See you later, Bella."
I blinked at his retreating back in astonishment. He'd never called me by my first name, it just wasn't done… Then he turned around, saw me still staring after him and winked.
Broken out of my little trance, I scowled, flipped him the bird and headed after the boys.
Angela rolled her eyes as I finished telling her about my latest run in with Edward.
"I've told you time and time again, Bella. He. Likes. You." I made a face. "And you like him too. All this pussyfooting around-" she had to raise her voice to be heard over the sound of my gagging and shouts of denial. "… are you two acting like a pair of kids who have a crush on each other and don't know what to do. He's picking on you to show his affection, and you've got that snooty 'boys are gross' act down perfectly."
"You need to stop talking, and I need more wine."
"No, you need to listen, and you both need to grow up and start acting like the adults you're supposed to be."
I paused, thought about it and then shook my head. "No, I definitely need more wine."
She pushed her empty glass towards me and I shook my head again. "I'm cutting you off. You're obviously drunk, thinking that Edward and I... No, it's disgusting, I can't even say it."
"… And then he said hi and smiled at me. Smiled! At me! Like he hasn't been a dick every chance he got for the past two years!"
"To be fair though, Bella, you have been pretty awful to him too-"
"That doesn't matter. He started it!"
"And now he's clearly trying to end this feud you two have going on, can't you at least show a little good faith and be nice back-"
I'm always nice! I'm the nicest person there is. He's the one who spilt coffee on me first!"
Angela stared at me as if I was mad. "That's why you guys have been at each other's throats?"
"It was a brand new suit!"
"Brand. New. Suit."
"You're both a special brand of crazy that I can't help. I doubt even Doctor Phil could help you two."
"Oh, shut up and have some more wine."
The next day, I decided to test out Angela's theory.
When Edward smiled and said hello to me, I smiled back.
The shock on his face made me laugh, and when he walked into the wall because he'd been staring at me in surprise, I laughed even harder.
The second day, Edward seemed wary, but not as shocked when I smiled and said hello in return once again.
We kept it up for about a week, exchanging polite words and smiles rather than scowls and words full of contempt.
It was boring.
So I stuck my tongue out at him the next time I saw him, and giggled as Edward tripped.
The next day he pulled an awful face at me from across the playground and grinned at my shocked expression before Callum caught his attention and Max lead me to the car.
"Whatever it is that you want, no, you can't have it."
"So if I wanted the yucky broccoli you've made to go with dinner, I'm not going to have it? Great!"
"No, you get a double helping of cauliflower instead!" Max looked horrified and I laughed. "What did you want to ask?"
"Do you like Callum's dad?"
"I-" I paused. Did I like Edward? Two weeks ago, it would have been a resounding, 'Hell no!' Now however, did I still feel the same way?
The overwhelming hate wasn't there, but that didn't necessarily mean I liked him.
Max seemed to mull my answer over, and then nodded. "Can he come over for dinner sometime?"
Max shrugged. "He seems lonely. Callum said his dad doesn't really have many friends, and we thought maybe you would be his friend but you didn't seem to like each other very much."
"And you think inviting him over for dinner would help that?"
"Callum said his dad always smiles after he talks to you."
And after dropping that little bombshell, Max ran off to continue playing with his toys.
Had Edward fought with me for those two years because he was lonely? Was he that desperate for company, for interaction that he'd argued and fought with me simply so he would have someone else to talk to?
I didn't sleep well that night.
"Edward," I cleared my throat awkwardly and dropped his gaze. "When Callum comes over for dinner tomorrow doyoumaybewanttocometo?"
Edward looked at me suspiciously. "What are you planning to do to the food if I say yes?"
I'll admit I slipped back into my old habits – the bruise on his arm was still showing a week later.
Three more weeks passed in the same manner and Edward and I talked a little more. He was still an ass, but without the deliberately arrogant, irritating persona he was… tolerable. More than tolerable if I was forced to admit it, which Angela repeatedly tried to make me do when I slipped up and told her that we'd stopped the constant sniping.
"I told you!" She laughed for half an hour, and then held her hand out. "You owe me twenty bucks. Remember our deal. Whenever I'm right and you're wrong, you owe me twenty. And this time you were sooooooooooooo wrong. So, so, so, so, so, so, so wrong! So pay up! And then give me some more wine. And when you two get married, make me your maid of honor."
I choked on my drink. "Married?! We're tentative friends. Not lovers!"
"Meh. Semantics. Now that you've shown him just how good a person you are, and he's stopped being a jerk, and you've both stopped dancing around each other like angsty teenagers, he's going to ask you out."
"Want to bet another twenty bucks?"
Angela was a sneaky, psychic bitch, I decided, when Edward asked me out for lunch the next day, while the boys were at their Saturday football training session.
While mentally picturing the millions of ways I would kill Angela for daring to be right twice in a row, I smiled and nodded at Edward, feeling a slight hint of a blush on my cheeks at the crooked, happy grin he gave me when he said yes.
And two years later, when Edward popped the question, the damn bitch laughed like a drain, told me she already had her dress picked out, and held her hand out for her twenty dollars.