Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters.


CHAPTER ONE:

TURBULENCE

"Always remember that you're absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." - Margaret Mead


BELLA POV :

"Mike, you need to stop with that crap." I chastise, failing to keep my curious eyes from seeking his out. He seems to be back to his degenerate hobbies again, and I already don't like the mood that dealing with these drugs has put him in.

"Shut up, Bella." He hardly gives my censure any mind, spreading the small baggie of weed out on the coffee table that separates us. His tone is undoubtedly irate. I watch the way his brows scrunch in frustration. "This is some fucking bullshit."

"What's wrong?" I ask, surveying the crumbles of greenery as if I could spot some type of fault in the quality.

I know less about marijuana than I even know about the reason why Mike wastes his time with the stuff. It is incredibly potent. The distinct aroma lingers in the air and will alert his mom of her son's debauchery as soon as she walks through the front door. Though the quality seems correct, there is something else that has obviously upset him.

"I paid thirty-five dollars for this." Mike looks up. His brows are still strained with displeasure; an unmistakable violence awakens within his eyes. "I knew that bag felt light. That bastard ripped me off."

"Who'd you buy it from?"

There are a lot of people who dabble in the art of selling and buying drugs. I tend to stay clear away from that crowd. Partly because my father is chief of the town's police department, but mostly because they are the type of people you just don't want to get involved with.

They're ruthless, and violent, and can't be trusted. Every time you look around someone is getting mugged or beat up by someone who runs with that bunch. They're always getting arrested and causing the town chaos. Gang violence is one of the number one reasons for crime in Forks now.

"Eric sold it to me yesterday."

He snatches the baggie off of the table and begins scooping the bits of weed back into its plastic concealer, taking great care not to knock any of it onto the floor. His parents would have a fit if they were to catch him. They are both well-off lawyers and expect nothing less than exemplary behavior from their prodigy son. I think that's one of the reasons Mike tries so hard to rebel. He hates living the structured life-style his parents have mapped out for him.

"Do you still have his number in your phone?" He wonders curiously.

I nod my head, allowing the faintest hint of apprehension to dance across my facial expression.

"Text him and tell him to come over here." Mike shoves the baggie back into his pocket, casting me a wry sideways glance when he sees my hesitation. "And don't tell him that I'm here. Tell him I went to the store or something."

I'm slightly lost for words. My mouth opens to decline his request, but nothing actually comes out. Mike's anger intimidates me. Being his girlfriend does not warrant me with special treatment from him. I've learned that just going along with what he wants is best, but sometimes I have to put my foot down and draw a line somewhere.

I don't want to be the pawn between him and Eric. Taking on that role will only weaken the ties that I have with Eric, and he happens to be one of my really good friends. Besides, I'm not the one who has an issue with Eric. If Mike wants to confront him, then he should take the initiative to do so on his own.

"Well, what the fuck are you waiting for?" He asks impatiently, focusing his steely, ice-blue eyes on me. The intensity inside of his gaze makes my moral determination falter quite easily. I want to do the right thing, but the truth is, I'd much rather see Eric on the receiving end of Mike's wrath than myself. "Are you going to do what I asked you to do?"

"What are you going to do to him when he gets here?"

"Why are you so concerned about Yorkie?" His eyes narrow slightly. It's hard not to notice the frightening possessiveness within his stern expression. "Is there something you want to tell me? Are you fucking him, Bella?"

I scoff at his crude accusation. It's completely absurd. No one in Forks has enough gall to even look at me the wrong way. Everyone knows that I belong with Michael Newton. They respect him and they respect that fact. Eric is quite possibly the last person he has to worry about straying my attention away from him. He's spineless.

I guess that is something we both have in common.

"You still didn't answer my question." He grabs my face between his hands forcibly, putting zero effort into making his actions gentle. I think he likes to see people cower underneath him. It gives him a power surge, an ego boost, a sense of self-worth. "Are you forgetting that your pussy belongs to me?"

I close my eyes, hoping that when I'm forced to reopen them, Mike won't be staring into my soul so indignantly. He wasn't always like this. I remember a time when Mike was sweet, and innocent, and endearing. We'd been infatuated with each other all the way through grade school and junior high, but we did not officially start dating until we became freshmen. At the beginning, he was the perfect boyfriend and all the girls resented me for his faithfulness.

He didn't become this frightening person until the middle of sophomore year, and I have absolutely no idea where the transformation came from. It started with him missing significant amounts of school, then the thing with him frequently losing his temper began, he got into smoking and going to parties, and before I knew it he was a completely different person.

"Tell me." He demands, and I am slightly taken aback by his tone. "Tell me that it's mine."

"It's yours." I mumble quietly, barely even audible against the silent background that encompasses us.

I do not like being objectified by Mike, but I've also learned that it's not at all about what I like.

Keeping Mike happy is first and foremost.

"No, open those pretty, brown eyes." He insists, running the back of his hand along my warm cheek. His touch is soft and it forces my heart to beat rapidly. "Look at me and tell me that it's mine."

Mike and I are not so different. I've come to understand that our similarities are what attracts us and not our opposites. My mother and father divorced when I was a little girl. Renee moved back to Florida with her mother and Charlie got us a comfortable home in Forks.

Over the years, he's kept a very good eye on me. School and responsibilities have always come first, values and abiding the laws are my oaths, and living above the influence has been stuffed down my throat since I hit puberty. I guess growing up in such a strict household has made me crave thrill in some way or another. I'm not allowed to go to parties, I'm barely allowed out on school days, and Church is a must every Sunday morning.

While I don't appreciate Mike's domineering behavior when he takes it too far, I have to admit that knowing he can easily dominate me gives me an adrenaline rush like no other. My cheeks deeply redden, the tingly feelings in the pit of my stomach spread through me, and my eyes lock onto his accordingly. I peer up at him coyly and through a fringe of dark lashes. I can tell he likes this because the corner of his mouth twitches.

"It yours." I say this surely, relishing from the way he can make me feel so alive.

"That's a good girl." He commends me in an appreciative tone. His lips press into mines for a brief kiss. "Now, do what I told you to do."

With an effortless release, my will is gone. "Alright."

He is a manipulator and I know I'm probably only valuable for his entertainment.

But that doesn't stop me at all.

...

An hour later Eric is knocking on Mike's front door, unaware of the wrathful boy that's awaiting his well-anticipated entrance.

Mike is on top of me, disheveled and aggressive. He's attacking my mouth with a ferocity that has to be stemmed from his previous irritation. We're sprawled out across his mother's snow-white sofa, and he's nestled right between my legs where I want him to be.

The knock on the door distracts Mike and he pulls away from me. I am immediately disappointed and I want to pull him back. I have better sense than to complain about it though. The door is unlocked and Eric finds his way into a situation he had not been prepared for.

"Hey Bella." He sees me first, sitting on the couch breathless and swollen-lipped. Mike is on the other side of the wall waiting for him to take the first few steps into the house. "What did you call me over fo..."

Eric does not get to finish his sentence before Mike has rushed into him and knocked all of the breath out of his lungs. Mike shoves him against the wall violently. They're supposed to friends but I see no evidence of this now. Eric is pinned against the wall by Mike's strong arms, winded and unprepared.

He tries to shake his head, but his uncomfortable position limits his movements. "Bro, what the fuck did I do?"

"Give me back my fucking money." Mike snarls viciously, widening Eric's fearful eyes even more. "Or I swear to fucking..."

"I don't have it!" Eric says quickly, casting his panicked eyes in my direction. It's obvious that I helped Mike set him up. There isn't much accusation on Eric's face however. I think he knows how domineering Mike can be when it comes to getting his way. I still send him a very apologetic look.

"What do you mean you don't have it?" Mike shoves him into the wall harder. Eric's back welcomes the hard, granite wall warmly. A whoosh of expelled air follows the brute impact. "Who the fuck did you give it to?"

"I got the weed from Jasper Hale." He explains quickly, innocently shaking his head. "I gave him the money."

"So, Cullen and his boys are up to no good again?"

The mention of the name "Cullen" immediately sends an alarm off in my head. Mike may have a reputation of being a trouble maker, but that is nothing compared to Edward Cullen and his gang. Edward is the most volatile person that I've ever known of. He's hot-tempered and explosive, he has mercilessly beaten people who've approached him the wrong way, and he's from the deep burrows of Kirkland, Washington.

Kirkland is one of the most dangerous parts of Washington, where the crime rate is uncharted and steadily rising. Only the most daring of people venture out of the safe boundary lines Forks has set to meet up with the risks Kirkland provides. Forks is the wealthier side of Washington. It is where all of the doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents live. This is where the kids from Kirkland would live if their lives were just a little bit less misfortunate.

Edward Cullen and his gang go to school in Kirkland. However, since most of the high schools down there are losing their accreditation, the two towns have made an agreement to let some of Kirkland's students attend Fork's High for half a day. This makes sure they'll have just as equal of a chance to graduate in the spring.

"I've got a few words for him when I see him tomorrow." Mike says threateningly, releasing Eric from his stoic grip.

Eric looks rather relieved that Mike has planned to direct his anger elsewhere, but equally horrified that Mike thinks he has enough nerve to approach Cullen.

"Are you out of your mind?" I question curiously. There is no way in hell that Mike will end up leaving with the results he wants. If Edward Cullen doesn't beat him near to death, then the members of his crew sure will. "You're going to get yourself murdered."

"Your confidence in me is astonishing." Mike says sarcastically, a bit of irritation laces his tone at the thought of someone thinking he is able to be beaten in any way. He might be annoyed with me, but I'm not going to agree with him just to pacify his ego. Souping up his head about this particular situation can seriously get him hurt with people like Edward Cullen. "Do you think I'm afraid?"

"It's not a matter of being afraid." I try to reason with him, hoping vainly that some of this might sink into his head. "You just have to think about what could happen."

"Do you think Edward's going to beat my ass?" He scoffs at the absurdity of this. I look towards Eric for help but he remains as silent as I knew he would.

"Mike, they're not people to be toyed around with." This is the truth. I've heard their gang has killed people before. Of course, I can't be entirely sure if this is the truth or not, but from what I have seen of them in person it's definitely not that hard to believe.

"Bella, listen to me..." I can tell that Mike is getting offended now. His tone indicates that this is the end of the conversation. It's his decision to make and not mine. "I don't give a fuck about any of that. They're not about to play me for some damn fool and get away with it."

"They're gonna know that I told you." Eric says suddenly, fearing how this will affect him.

Cullen and his boys have been known to jump people. It's a vengeance and respect thing. They've established themselves as the "all high" around Forks. Of course, there are other gangs around here that challenge them. La Push, Forks, and Kirkland have all been disputing since the dawn of time. But no one has ever been able to trample over Kirkland. They have what seems like the widest expansion of black market customers, they have the largest gang in the state, and they have claimed ownership of territory that is not just limited to their part of town.

Mike doesn't need to get into that mess, and he definitely doesn't need to jeopardize anyone else because of his brashness.

"Yeah, so what? You're my boy." Mike says, slapping his hand down on Eric's back in encouragement. His words offer no relief to our estranged friend. I see nothing but the wincing fear that has caught ahold of Eric's expression. "Do you think I'm going to let anything happen to you? I got your back."

"Mike maybe you shouldn't try to appro..."

"Did I ask for your opinion?" And just like that Mike pushes him away in frustration. "I'm going to make all of my doubters see that I'm not afraid."

I look at him pleadingly, trying one last time to assure him that this plan needs to be abandoned. "You don't have to prove anything."

He brushes my words off, banishing them behind the plans that have already solidified in his head. His determination is startling. I can't remember Mike ever being this passionate about something. It makes me wonder where his motivation has stemmed from. Of course, I'm not tactless enough to question him verbally. I keep my opinions and apprehensions sealed beneath my tongue.

Cement keeps my lips locked together and my words unspoken.

I pray tomorrow will tide over well.

...

When Mike picks me up for school, I do not mention what he planned to do last night. I figure that he's slept on it and has decided that approaching Edward Cullen is a shitty idea. I am secretly delighted that he does not bring up the subject either. We ride in a comfortable silence; one that I openly invite.

Mike and I make it into the school just before breakfast is ending. He walks me to my locker where all of our friends have gathered around. Eric, Tyler, Angela, Jessica, and Lauren all greet us accordingly. We sort of make up the in-crowd that's associated with our school. At Forks High, everyone is categorized based on who they know, who they hang out with, and what activities they partake in.

For example, the guys on the basketball team usually date the girls from the majorette squad. They sit together as a conjoined posse at lunch and attend all of the hottest parties with each other. This group is considered "popular" amongst our peers, but they aren't celebrity status like the football team and the cheerleaders.

Jessica Stanely is head cheerleader for The Spartans, andLauren Mallory is her highly accredited co-captain. Tyler, Eric, and Mike make up our school's quarterback, line-back, and defensive-end trio. Angela and I are the only people who are not a part of any trendy extracurricular organization, but Angela gets a pass because she's essentially in charge of our school's politics. Her status as school president warrants her with a power that other members of the in-crowd deem useful.

The popular people rock the latest fashions, live in the biggest houses, and drive the most expensive cars. Basically, money and popularity are equivalent to power here at Forks High. It's a very pretentious way to establish levels of prestige between the students. I never dare complain though. Everyone knows that my association with Mike is the only reason I'm even welcomed to be a part of it.

"What's up, bro?" Mike greets Tyler and Eric cheerily and enthusiastically. This is a first coming from him. He's usually not so friendly in the morning. "Did you get my text last night?"

"About Cullen?" Tyler asks curiously, cocking his dark brows.

My heart drops into the pit of my stomach at the sound of this. It almost crashes through my insides and lands directly on the scuffed, tile floor. I'd hoped that all of this talk about approaching Cullen would have blown over by now. It seems that Mike is still determined to get his point across, however. It's obvious that he wants to be glorified by his peers. Everyone wants to be the one to put Edward Cullen in his place, but there's never been anyone sinister enough to complete the deed. I think for Mike to put his well-being at stake to achieve superficial veneration is completely idiotic.

"What's this juicy news about Cullen?" Jessica asks with excitement. She is not able to restrain her profound interest in him. Her intrigue reveals itself across every square inch of her face. "What has he done now?"

"Damn Jessica, could you be any more desperate?" Mike snaps crossly, frowning at her obvious enchantment. It's been a known fact that since Edward Cullen emerged from Kirkland, Jessica has wanted to wear him on her arm— much to the detestation of Edward's current girlfriend Tanya Denali. "Close your fucking mouth and stop drooling."

Jessica glowers at Mike with baleful eyes, but her only response is the curt crossing of her arms. She knows her place. Everyone knows where they stand with Mike. He's the person that nobody else is supposed to ever oppose. In plain-view, we are his subordinates and he is our leader. The notion is a bit sad but amusing nonetheless.

I have to stifle a chuckle at her expense.

"So, you're still going on with this ridiculous plan?" I ask drolly, knowing that if he hasn't changed his mind by now then he never will.

"What ridiculous plan is she talking about?" Lauren questions curiously. Her interest is acute but less erratic than Jessica's. She looks completely past me and focuses her startling blue eyes upon Mike instead. "And why wasn't I briefed about this last night?"

Mike only offers our friend a slight chuckle, lifting his shoulders in an act of pure nonchalance. "Edward had his boy Jasper rip me off. I'm gonna walk up to him and get my money back."

I watch as all of their eyes widen from the content of his words. It is the same reaction that he received from me and Eric last night. They all think that he has lost his mind. None of them will take a chance at correcting him and ultimately step out of line. Their mouths remain glued, shut, and sealed together. I know their true opinions are floating around in their heads.

"Well, you know that I'll hold it down for you." Tyler says with some kind of pseudo representation of loyalty. "If any of his boys try to jump in I got you."

"And I just want that bitch Tanya to try something." Jessica adds, rolling her eyes at the thought of the blond-haired vixen.

"See, that's what I like to hear." Mike nods his shaggy head, confident in all of his vices. I still personally think that he should reconsider his plan, but I'd be wasting my breath if I spoke it into existence another time. "We got this one. No need to worry, Bella."

The assurance Mike gathers from his friends does not stop me from worrying at all. I try to push my qualms to the back of my mind as Mike walks me to my first class, and for the most part, I am able to keep myself stress free all the way through English. By time I get to my second class however, the halls are teeming with rumors about the notorious beef against Mike Newton and Edward Cullen. Gossip spreads so quickly around the suffocating halls of this dismal school building. It is the only way these spoiled, rich kids can get some excitement into their lives.

They take simple stories, twist and mar them until they are ugly scandals, and take fun in defacing people's reputation and social status. It's a sad truth that I try my hardest not to get involved with. Try as I may, I am still subjected to listen to the gossip if it happens to float near me. When lunch comes around, I can not believe what these people have already begun to spin the truth into.

Mike is going to fight Edward Cullen because he found out Edward was flirting with Bella...

Edward Cullen stole five hundred dollars from Mike so now they're going to fight...

Jessica Stanley slept with Edward Cullen now Tanya wants revenge...

The students from Kirkland do not arrive at our school until the second half of school begins. That means they spend the first four hours at their respective schools. Which ultimately means, they arrive just in time to catch lunch here.

I am not surprised to feel the eyes that linger on me, Jess, Angie, and Lauren when we enter the cafe. Being associated with Mike inadvertently renders us all part of the supposed conflict. We head over to the lunch-line to grab something to eat before we take spots at the table. Our clique always sits in the same place every year. It's been reserved as our table since freshmen year and everyone knows that. Only those who are exclusively invited are allowed to sit with us.

And those who claim seats without permission usually suffer the wrath from our most volatile members, which just so happen to be Mike and Jess.

"Dude, have you guys noticed that everyone is staring?" Jessica is the only person who feels the need to mention the obvious. It's impossible not to feel the heat of everyone's eyes boring into our backs. We're human targets today. "Even Cullen is looking this way."

"Kirkland must have heard the gossip as soon as they walked into the building." Lauren comments offhandedly, pushing green and purple leaves of salad around her plastic container.

At the beginning of the year, Jessica implemented a mandatory eating plan for all of the girls on the cheer-leading squad. According to her rules, they all have to eat fresh, green, no-carb diets. That means salads for breakfast , lunch , and dinner — without dressing. It's a part of Jess's theory that "less heavy" girls will fly higher and land easier. Now, I'm no rocket scientist but I'm sure there's a correlation between how many cheerleaders have been hospitalized this year and Jessica's rigorous diet.

I perk up at Lauren's news but not with excitement. My eyes lift to seek out the secluded table near the huge, bay windows that overlook the picnic area outside. The Kirkland Crew are somewhat like us. They talk to the same people everyday, sit in the same spot everyday, and no one dares try to join their mysterious covenant.

It consists of Jasper and Rosalie Hale, Garrett Pattinson, Peter and Victoria Nomad, Emmett McCarty, the Denali sisters, Alice Brandon, and none other than Edward himself. Together and separate they emit an aura of aloofness. Their unfriendly vibe warns most people to stay away from them. It only takes a brief glance in their direction to understand that they're not a force to be reckoned with.

Some people don't like how Kirkland has crossed the tracks and refused to follow the rules we've established in Forks. Their "you can't touch us" attitudes have ruffled the feathers of many Fork's inhabitants. The senseless disputes that transpire between Kirkland and Forks usually lead to petty fights, where Edward Cullen and his crew always end up on top.

Jessica is not lying when she says that Edward Cullen is looking over at our table. His concentrated eyes are unmistakably green as they sweep around and between the three of us. The boys have not arrived yet and maybe that's who he's waiting for. He doesn't look perturbed or impatient. Edward is sitting calmly as Tanya Denali rests beside him, her mouth moving slowly but animatedly.

It's evident that she is talking to him, but from across the room I cannot hear what she is saying.

Eventually, she looks up and realizes that Edward is not paying her very much attention. She hits his chest in irritation before she turns to see what has him so entranced. Her piercing eyes narrow slightly upon mine but she quickly smirks, as if she knows something incredibly funny to which I am ignorant. She forces Edward to look at her and presses her mouth against his with a protective confidence that practically leaks out of her pores.

"Damn, she's one lucky girl." Jessica sighs, alerting me to the fact hat I am not the only one amazed by how aggressive they are with each other. "If only I had one night with him."

"You wouldn't even know what to do with him." Lauren teases playfully, but underneath her smile, there is a challenge. That is what the in-crowd is all about. It teaches girls to be competitors against each other. Even though you're friends, when you're popular, you all secretly hate each other. "I bet he fucks Tanya so good."

My breath catches at Lauren's explicit assumption and I don't know why. Before I can ponder it, Mike and the boys walk through the double attention quickly shifts onto them. Some of Edward's crew members even stop what they're doing to watch them meander towards our table. Mike doesn't make any moves towards Kirkland, so I'm left to assume that he's planning on waiting until school is over to approach Cullen.

Maybe by the end of the day someone will have talked some sense into Mike.

That's rather unlikely now that he has an audience. The entire school has heard the rumors already. Now, Mike definitely has a reputation to live up to. He can't have people seeing him back down. This entire thing is all about his ego. It has nothing to do with the thirty-five dollars. Money doesn't really mean anything to Mike. He can call his mother and have five hundred dollars transferred into his bank account with no problem. He's just putting on one big show.

Sometimes, I wish that he'd see what the important things in life really are.

"Hey Bella." He greets me with a pleasant kiss to the cheek, taking the seat next to me that is "inexclusively" reserved for him. "How's class?"

I tell him about my day. I like this part of him. There are still some pieces of his old self left somewhere in the remains of what he is now. That is what I like to tell myself when I question why I stick with him. He's still the only person who really listens to what I have to say. I'll always appreciate that out of him.

"So, I heard people talking in the restroom." Lauren taps Mike's shoulder to get his attention.

I cannot help sagging inside of my chair with irritation. It's almost as if I am entirely forgotten. Lauren and whatever she has to say about Edward is now his first priority. That really pisses me off, especially since I know Lauren likes to purposely snatch the spotlight from people. She's an attention whore. The very definition of it.

"What were they saying?" I roll my eyes at Mike's display of interest. There's nothing she can say that we all haven't heard already.

"Jasper's been saying that he gave you that short bag of weed on purpose." Lauren nods her dirty-blond head, pushing back the frizzy bangs that keep falling into her face. "You know he's still put out about that stunt Tyler tried with Alice Brandon."

"It's not like they're dating." Tyler defends angrily, recalling the way Jasper had approached him last week.

There was a party last Friday night at Jacob Black's house. He lives in La Push but everyone around Washington knows him. He's a party boy and no one misses any of his renowned rendezvous. Of course, Charlie had not allowed me to attend. I only know the story through what others have told me.

Tyler was supposedly a little more than tipsy when he'd approached Alice Brandon for a dance. I guess she said yeah to his advances. He could be charming when he wanted to be. So, they went to the dance floor and started doing their thing. Knowing Tyler, I wasn't surprised to hear that he'd taken their dancing too far. Apparently, he started touching Alice in a very inappropriate manner and grasped her too roughly for Jasper's liking.

There was no talking, just a swift punch to the jaw, and a threat to stay away from Alice if he knew what was good for him. Since Mike rolls with Tyler, I guess Jasper gave him the short bag to spite them both. In this world, people are guilty by association. If one person doesn't like someone in a group, then all of that person's friends don't like them either, and they also don't like anyone else that is in that group or associated with that group.

"Yeah, but you know how they are." Angela replies, referring to Edward Cullen and his crew. "They're all freakishly protective of each other."

"Fuck them." Mike frowns, raking a hand through his hi-lighted hair. He is blonde-haired and blue-eyed. He's the epitome of what the all-american-boy should look like. The outside however, doesn't mean anything. It's that intense dominance that bakes his nerves on the inside. That's who he really is. "We'll have our time."

"When the last bell rings." Tyler agrees, eager to redeem himself from last week's humiliation.

The gossip about that had just died down before this new dispute brought it back to consciousness.

Eric and I share apprehensive looks with each other. We are apparently the only level-headed ones in this situation. Lauren doesn't really care about any of this. She's just here for the drama , Angela's only going along with it because she likes to stay on Mike's good side. She probably won't take a significant role in the actual showdown anyway , and Jessica is egging it on because she has more than a few unfavorable feelings towards Tanya. Her reasons for supporting the impending altercation are neither deep or profound.

The next four hours drag about. It's like someone has taken control of my life and remote controlled the day to pass in slow motion. I find myself watching the clocks on the walls more often than not. There is big anticipation about what's said to happen when school lets out. The disguised comments from my eager classmates are the only things that remind me that time is still moving.

When my last class ends, I grab my items and hurry out of the classroom. I have to pack my textbooks into my locker and quickly run to the restroom before I make my way out to the courtyard. This is where Mike and the others will undoubtedly be waiting.

All of the other students are lingering around the parking lot to act as speculators. Usually, we're all fighting to be the first person off of school grounds. Today, people are ready to see some action. They've been making wagers all day on who will be the winner of this fight, as if the nonsensical bickering is something we should encourage. Tomorrow the gossip will be flooding the school with the results of today's dispute.

"Where are they?" I ask curiously, scanning the courtyard for any sign of the Kirkland Crew. They'd be pretty hard to miss. They stick out against us. We can tell that they're different just by looking at them. It's not prejudice. It's just the way it is.

"We're waiting for them." Mike answers, deep voiced and concentrated.

All I see is a haughty boy when I look at him, but there is a small bead of sweat gathering at the edge of his brows. It indicates that he is not as confident as he seems. That fact makes my head reel. I wonder what's causing his determination to falter, the people around him or their judgmental eyes.

"Oh, wait!" Angela taps my shoulders excitedly. "There they go."

I don't get why she's so excited for this. What we're about to witness is not going to be pretty. I draw in a huge gust of air, and hold it in my chest as I flash my eyes in the direction Angela is pointing towards. Edward and his crew are just now exiting the entrance doors. They're talking conversationally among each other. None of them seem to be worried. Mike is a threat that they easily flick off of their shoulders.

They know no one can beat them.

They know they're the only ones who actually deserve to be haughty.

Edward and Tanya walk in the front. They're hand in hand and looking more fierce than any two people I've ever seen. Alice skips along the side of Tanya, Jasper meanders on the other side of Edward, and the others easily fall in line behind them.

When Edward spots Mike, he does absolutely nothing. His green eyes liven with mischief and a small smirk adorns the corner of his lips, but he waltzes right past me and my energized friends. Everyone uses their wandering eyes to follow Edward and his crew as they trail to their cars. The eleven of them have to drive a Volvo and a Jeep to fit them all. Against their expensive cars is where they post up.

Edward leans against his silver automobile and Tanya leans against him. Everyone else in their crew finds a place to fit into. They're waiting for us to make an approach. I become aware of this when Edward arches an eyebrow in Mike's direction. He lights a cigarette and wraps his right arm around Tanya's slender torso.

This is the moment I see Mike realize that he cannot turn back now.

The rest of us do what we're supposed to do. We follow Mike when he begins his trek. Our eyes lock with the eyes of our opposers. We're rivals even though this is not our fight. The world we live in requires roles and we're simply fulfilling ours. My crew stops a few feet away from Edward and his clan. I feel a dangerous aura radiating between our differentiating cliques.

They don't react to our presences. In fact, they give us little to no active response. Tanya squints her feline gaze at me. There's humor in the way that she twists her lips. Strawberry-blond curls sit against her fair skin like fine silk. She's beautifully ferocious and I find that to be the most intimidating thing about her. Edward merely cocks his head to the side with curiosity.

"What do you want, Newton?" He is naturally the first one to speak. His voice is flat with boredom.

The rich, deep tones that vibrate from within his throat widen my eyes. I have never been this close to him or any of them for that matter. He is so much more appealing up close. The clipped glances I get of him from time to time don't do his extraordinary features justice. That's for sure.

His hair is sun-kissed and bronzed. It's messy and effortlessly falls around his head in many different directions. The vivid color stands out against the starkness of his ivory skin. Despite his pale pallor, I can see a ghostly trail of freckles collecting around his nose. His eyes are dark green and heavily lidded, with eyelashes so thick and black that it seems like he is always looking out from under them. His facial structure is sharp and prominent. He's all cuts and angles with plump lips and a slightly crooked nose. He's toned and slender, lanky even, but not lacking muscle definition.

Tanya is a lucky girl. Even though she's every bit of gorgeous as he is handsome. They're made for each other.

"My bag was short Cullen." Mike's voice is clipped, he keeps his expression stormy as a method of intimidation. It doesn't seem to be working effectively. Edward is unfazed and it shows in the way he shrugs his shoulder so dismissively.

He takes a slow drag from the cigarette. The ultimate disrespect would have been to blow the smoke right into our faces, but he simply tilts his head back and lets the sky have it. I find it odd that he doesn't do more to antagonize Mike. It's almost like this situation is beneath him, like he's only engaging in this conversation to humor us— and maybe himself.

"I don't know what you're talking about, Newton."

It's pretty evident that does know what Mike is talking about. The smug look behind his neutral mask is not hard to see. Even Tanya's lip curls with arrogance. Mike does not like this at all. I can tell that his irritation is rising. My breathing stutters as I prepare myself for the result of Mike's anger.

"Look Edward, just give me my money back." He makes this proposition threateningly, tilting his head with a darkness that would have made anyone else cower. "And there won't be any problems."

"No Newton, you look..." Edward loses all his pretenses of being cordial. It only takes one second for me to grasp that the small talk had been an act. Edward is not patient and he definitely does not like people approaching him so boldly. His eyes darken, not the color of them, but the intense emotion behind them. "I'm going to give you a chance to walk away and I'll try to forget that this ever happened."

"Fuck you." Mike snaps, taking another step forward. This is when Edward unwraps his arm around Tanya's torso. She steps over to the right, out of Edward's way, as if that's her cue to ease away from the danger zone. "You ripped me off."

"Jasper how much did he give you?" Edward turns his head slightly, to look at his blond-haired friend.

The boy has a collage of different shades of gold running through the curls that sit upon his head. His eyes are violet colored and almond shaped. He shares a striking resemblance with his sister Rosalie. They are identical twins but different genders. It doesn't make him look more feminine, or her look more masculine. There is a beautiful balance between both of them. They too, along with Edward and Tanya, are undeniably attractive.

"He gave me thirty-five." Jasper's voice is husky and tinted with a southern drawl. "And I gave him 3.5 grams."

"See, that's fair." Edward smiles crookedly, though the gesture is completely mocking. He knows that Jasper didn't give Mike all of the weed he paid for, but he's not going to give him his money back. That much is evident.

"He didn't give me 3.5 grams. There was no more than a dime bag's worth in that bundle." Mike strained voice indicates that he is beginning to lose his temper now.

He's red-faced and steaming, and it's all because his plan is not working. Edward is barely giving him a reaction. That's not the way Mike envisioned this scenario playing out. He wanted to be seen as the person who knock Cullen off of his high-horse, but so far, he's done nothing but give Edward the right to mock him. Now he looks like an idiot, and he still isn't getting his money back.

"Are you calling Jasper a liar?" Edward asks, watching the way Mike fumes with ease. I think even though he doesn't take Mike serious, he's getting some sort of enjoyment out of this. The crooked smile on his face travels upwards and settles behind his irises. "Jasper's one of the most noble dealers I've got."

"Just give him his money back." Jessica snaps at Edward, which tickles him, but sets Tanya off.

"You need to keep your fucking mouth shut, Stanley." Tanya takes a couple of heated steps towards Jessica, ready to pounce at any second. She reminds me of a python. Everything about her is striking and cold-blooded. "This is between Edward and Newton. You don't have anything to do with it."

Edward takes Tanya by her arm and pulls her back to his side. He smirks at the menacing look that she directs towards Jessica. "Easy, little tiger."

Tanya swoons at Edward's act of endearment, and my friend effectively shuts her mouth.

"I'm going to ask you one more time." Mike growls, preparing himself to threaten Edward once again. It would have set the appropriate mood for the climax of this situation, but he's not given the appropriate opportunity to finish his sentence.

"And I'm going to tell you one more time..." Edward cuts his words short with a threat of his own. I know that he's serious about his ominous promises. His green irises flicker towards me, and my breath catches in the middle of throat. His eyebrows un-furrow, as if my unease brightens anger. I almost think I spot understanding in his gaze, but his eyes twinkle with that mischief again. He thinks we're all a joke. "You can leave now before I show your girl what's really under that false bravado you wear so well."

I don't exactly know what triggers Mike. Maybe it's the taunting gleam in Edward's eye, or maybe it's the fact that Edward mentioned me. I don't know. But whatever it is, it drives Mike to throw the first blow. He catches Edward directly in the nose. Edward stumbles back from the force of the impact, and blood begins to fall from his nostrils like a waterfall. I hear the gasps of surprise from the crowd that surrounds us, I see Edward's crew stand a little firmer in case they are willed to jump in, and I feel the instant surge of gratification soars through Mike's body.

Until Edward tackles him onto the ground and all hell breaks loose...

I only get to catch a brief glimpse of what Mike's face looks like after being forced onto the ground, before Edward's fists are covering it with powerful punches. The blow that Mike had previously thrown looks incredibly futile compared to what Edward is dishing out. He moves with lightening fast precision and he doesn't break a sweat. It's because this is what he's been doing for years. He's a delinquent. Fighting is all he knows.

At this point, the crowd is shouting and cheering in excitement. Jessica steps towards the quarrel as if she intends on trying to break it up, but Tanya matches her steps and shakes her head. Without uttering a single word, she indicates that if Jessica gets involved, it's not going to end well for her. Still intimidated from earlier, Jess takes the hint and steps back with the rest of us who can do nothing but watch as Mike struggles to throw Edward's lumbering body off of him.

My heart is racing because I've never been this close to a fist fight. I've seen many at school, but they've never been personal to me. I don't know where I get my voice from. It has been stuck in my throat ever since Edward flashed that devilish smile at me. Somehow, I am able to recover it from its hiding spot.

"Edward...STOP!" I scream loudly, desperately, but not daring to get remotely closer to where they are scrambling. "You have to stop. Please STOP!"

As if my voice breaks him out of his pugnacious rage, Edward actually stops his maneuvers and looks up at me. Our gazes seem to lock in that instant. I become entranced by him and I can't make myself look away. I see the darkness leaking out of the holes that Mike's faulty bravery has poked against his armor. Everything about Edward is dangerous and risky.

In that second, his eyes show me all of the depth and truth that any rumor about him ever has. If he wanted, he could hurt me so easily, and truthfully, not halfheartedly like Mike. He is the real deal and my heart begins to speeds up from the way his eyes drink me in.

"Edward, look out!" Tanya's high-pitched voice pulls both of us out of the haze. This is when Mike successfully breaks free of Edward's entrapment and forces him onto the wet pavement. Mike gets a few good hits in before the school's security guard is able to make his way through the horde of rioted students to stop the fight.

When the two are pulled away from each other, it is easy to see who got the upper hand in the fight.

Their faces are stark contrasts. Mike's left eye is swollen shut and purple, his top lip is split, his entire face is red, and there is a huge knot on his forehead. Edward on the other hand, is almost totally unscathed. The left side of his jaw is swollen and there is dried blood underneath is nose but nothing more than that.

"I knew it was a bad idea to let these Kirkland kids into our schools." Officer Clearwater says disapprovingly, standing in between Edward and Mike as he hones his walkie-talkie. "All you kids ever do is start trouble around here."

"What?!" Tanya exclaims, raising her voice as her frustration skyrocekts. The officer has offended her. The shocked expression she wears warps into an indignant scowl, but her marred features does nothing to diminish her beauty. "We're the ones who were attacked!"

"That's a lie!" Mike counters quite believably, even though he is lying through his teeth. "They gang-banged us."

The opposing claims start a chaotic argument between the members of Edward's crew and my ego-wounded friends. Everyone is yelling over each other to get their word in, the officer keeps snapping his head from left to right so he can hear both stories, and the crowd behind us is still jumping around and rooting rambunctiously.

Edward is oddly the only person who does not defend himself.

"I'm tired of these ridiculous shenanigans you Kirkland kids keep causing. This time when you get suspended we're sending you away for good. Back where you belong. Back with all of your failing schools...and this time we're getting the police involved."

"We were standing over here minding our own business." Tanya explains loudly. The disrespectful attitude she's giving makes it hard for the officer to want to take her side. "When this idiot brought his band of followers over to stir up some trouble."

"All I wanted to do was talk." Mike says this earnestly and Tanya's mouth drops in awe as she watches the officer drink in his story. It all has to do with reputation and the side of the tracks that you come from. They're on the unlucky end and Mike is using his "rich boy" card to his advantage. "Ask Bella. Her dad is the chief. She'd never lie about something like this."

Officer Clearwater's eyes turn towards me and I instantly shrink back. I definitely do not like being put onto the spot. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. I hate pondering my morals. They're already obscure enough. Now, I either have to lie to stay loyal to my boyfriend, or tell the truth and ultimately betray his trust.

"Is it true Bella?" Officer Clearwater asks carefully, glancing down at me with appraising eyes. He looks leveled and understanding, completely opposite from how he looked when Tanya tried to plea her case to him. "Did Edward and his friends start the fight or not?"

I am struck without my voice for a few seconds.

Tanya's piercing eyes lay upon mine. They are fueled with a hatred I've never seen before. Mike is looking at me impatiently. His swollen face is swallowed with frustration. Everyone else is looking at me with similar expressions. They're all curious and waiting to see what I'll say.

Edward is the only one who has this unique sort of look on his face. His brows are furrowed, his lips are pursed, and his head is tilted just marginally in my direction. He's looking at me with a wry expectancy, as if he knows I'm going to lie on him. He's looking at me like he knows exactly who I am, like he can see my weaknesses, like it disgusts him.

"Bella?" Clearwater nudges my shoulder lightly. My gaze drops from Edward's and meet his dull one instead. "Are you going to answer the question?"

I look down into my hands, shaking my head regretfully. "Not."

"What?" He asks incredulously, stepping forward to hear me more clearer.

I sigh to myself. I am disturbed that I have to say it again. I don't dare look at Mike's face, any of friends, or anyone that is in the crowd. "We approached them. An argument broke out. Mike threw the first punch."

"I see." It is clear to see that Clearwater did not want to hear me admit the truth. He would much rather have liked a reasonable excuse to send the Kirkland kids back to their town, than to condemn some of the kids from Forks. "I guess we'll settle this tomorrow morning. Be on your way."

This is our cue to depart and everyone effectively disperses.

The show is over.

Mike lost.

Edward won.

I'm a traitor.

No one says anything to me on our way over to Mike's car. They are all pissed off and with very good reason. I don't even know why I didn't just lie. It would have been a lot easier than dealing with the cold shoulders and strange stares that I'm going to be getting for the next couple of weeks.

But it was the way Edward had looked at me...

We begin to get inside of Mike's car. Everyone is moving like robots. Before I take my side in the passengers seat, I look back across the lot once more. Edward is not the one I find staring at me like I would have expected. He is over to the side with Tanya. She's touching his face with her soft fingers and kissing his sore spots.

The person that is looking my way is his cousin Alice Brandon. She is a short, little-thing with inky black hair. It's delicate, and wavy, and falls to her shoulders freely. All of her features are soft and pretty. She has green eyes that mirror Edward's but they are not nearly as intense.

There is something inside of them though. There's a glint that shows itself to me when her lips tug into a smile. I am confused but even though it is brief, I know that her smile is meant for me. That is all she offers me before she turns around and joins the rest of her group.

I rejoin my group.

And then we're all back to our respective lives. Our very different lives...


Additional Author note :

I want to state that in order to make the story line work I have reconstructed the map of Washington State. The geographic aspects are not all accurate as some of you who've visited Washington may now. The way Kirkland and Forks are designed in this fic is fictional and on my behalf.