A/N: In this story the roles are somewhat reversed as Edward, a boy from an average family who doesn't see himself very clearly, moves from Forks to Phoenix. He finds himself struggling as the new kid at school, that is until he meets Bella, a girl from a very wealthy and rather intimidating background.
This story is all human and will feature many of the familiar characters and situations from Twilight. I own nothing and all recognizable references are the property of Stephenie Meyer.
Edward stood in front of the mirror staring at his reflection. He turned his head slightly to the left, then to the right and watched as his fingers moved back and forth across his chin. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn't see it, whatever all the fuss was about.
"Still trying to figure out how Mom and Dad managed this level of perfection the first go 'round," Emmett teased, while gesturing to his overall appearance, "and so royally screwed up the next time?"
"Something like that." Edward mumbled after another glance, letting his hand fall lifelessly to his side.
He looked over his shoulder at his older brother, happily sprawled across the little twin bed that was situated across the room from his own and shook his head. Perhaps if he had some of Emmett's confidence or even their little sister, Alice's, outgoing personality he wouldn't mind all of the attention so much. Perhaps then he would appreciate, or even take advantage of the situation. Unfortunately though, he could hardly muster the courage necessary to go down the stairs and face another day as one of the new kids at Central Phoenix High School.
"Come on, Edward! We're gonna be late if you don't get going!"
He sighed once more realizing he had no choice but to do as his sister was demanding, and went to retrieve his messenger bag from where it sat piled on top of his jacket in the corner. Alice was right, of course. Traffic around here was horrible, and though they lived less than five miles from school they'd need every bit of the half hour they had left before the first bell in order to get there on time.
"Hey Ed," Emmett's unusually serious tone was the only thing that made Edward stop and want to pay attention. "You know, this is a perfect opportunity to start over if you wanted to. Nobody knows you here, so there aren't any expectations, if you get what I'm saying."
Edward was certain that his brother had meant for the words to be encouraging, but he was instead frustrated by his inability to follow such a suggestion. He stood there briefly contemplating a response, but in the end he just sighed once more and turned away.
Twenty minutes later, Edward and Alice had successfully reached their destination. Having already scanned the heavily populated lot while searching for an appropriate parking space, he refused to look around once he shut the engine off. His rusty old Volvo was now safely sandwiched between a bright red, Chevy pickup truck and a Honda that was covered in enough chrome to sufficiently blind someone. Even though the truck looked like it had just rolled off of a showroom floor and the Honda had a disturbing amount of aftermarket improvements, these were still two of the more average looking vehicles available. He would hate to think about how his secondhand Volvo would stand out if it were sitting next to any of the more outrageous, high-end cars littering the rest of the lot; so this was definitely the lesser of two evils in his opinion.
"Bella invited me over after school, so you don't have to wait on me this afternoon." Alice cheerfully informed him as she began gathering up her bag and made to get out.
"Which one's Bella?"
Starting over in a new school was a difficult process for Edward. He was never one to embrace change very well and having only one year left before he would go off to college, he hadn't wanted to leave his old school behind. Even though he'd considered his situation there less than ideal, he still felt reasonably comfortable with it. Add to that the fact that he wasn't nearly as outgoing as his sister when it came to meeting new people and one could understand his considerable reluctance to start over at this stage of the game.
Alice on the other hand was happy for the change. Being the youngest, and the only girl in a family that had lived in such a small town for so long was difficult for her. Though she'd known most of the girls in town her whole life it was hard for her watch their interest in her brothers grow as they'd all gotten older. And likewise it was nearly impossible to get a boy to notice her, or more accurately speak to her in anything other than a friendly manner, when they were all so intimidated by Emmett.
"I introduced you to Bella yesterday at lunch. She's the mayor's daughter—the girl you said sat next to you in Biology afterwards." He remembered Bella now. She was the nice girl. The one who hadn't asked him about every insignificant detail of his first day, who hadn't offered to show him around, or take him out on the weekend. She hadn't winked or giggled or touched him inappropriately. She had instead commented on the novel he was reading with enough insight to make him understand that she had indeed read and enjoyed it; unlike three other girls who had seen him with it earlier in the day and faked interest in order to impress him. She was also the girl who'd spent the rest of their lunch hour engaging Alice—offering to help with her math assignment before patiently listening to his little sister babble on about a million other random topics. She was indeed the only girl he hadn't minded meeting yesterday.
"Will you need a ride home from her place later?" Edward asked, genuinely pleased that of all the people Alice had met so far, Bella seemed to be the one she was most eager to befriend.
"Doubt it. She has her own car and we'll be out shopping this afternoon. I'm sure she can just drop me off afterwards."
Edward didn't have a chance to protest. Not that he was looking for a reason to have to chauffeur his sister around town this afternoon, but he hated the idea of Bella—the mayor's daughter—seeing their shabby little home before she had the chance to really understand their situation.
It wasn't as though he was ashamed, and Edward didn't blame his parents one bit for their financial misfortunes. They were good hardworking people who'd fallen on hard times thanks to the present economy. His mother had been without work for nearly a year and when his father had lost his position with the local hospital last month they'd ultimately been forced to seek other opportunities. All the same he knew how others might perceive their current lifestyle. Back home in Forks, Washington they were an average, working family. They had an average house, average cars, and for the most part no one had looked down on them when they'd had to start making do with less and less. Here in a place as big as Phoenix however, their situation would place them well below the average standard of living; and with no one around who knew them well enough to understand that it hadn't always been this way, he had to wonder what sort of rumors would begin plaguing them and when.
He shouldn't worry about it though. His parents were both working now. Emmett was due to start his first semester at the University this spring and with any luck his scholarship would come through by then, allowing him to find a place of his own. But until then, at least he was contributing as well, thanks to his new part time job at a nearby gym.
"Morning, Edward." He'd barely straightened to his full height, and distracted as he was by his thoughts he'd jumped at the sound of her voice. It was Bella, but it would appear that Alice had already monopolized her attention by the time he'd noticed.
"Hi." He offered softly, just to be polite, before turning towards the main building in hopes of making it to his locker and subsequent class without incident.
"Hey you." No such luck.
He looked up again but his mind was blank now. Although he'd recalled Bella with very little prompting, he was at a complete loss over who this girl was. She was obviously one of many who'd shown him a tremendous amount of attention the day before, but he'd been trying his best to avoid eye contact with most of them.
"Hi." It came out sounding like a question.
"Hey Lauren, have you seen Tyler this morning? He was looking for you." It was Bella again, bless her.
She and Alice were now walking together towards the same building that Edward had been headed for. Bella didn't wait for Lauren to respond, but Edward was grateful to note that she no longer seemed interested in whatever had prompted her to approach him this morning. Apparently Tyler was more important, and that was fine by him.
"Edward Cullen…It's me, Jessica, Jessica Stanley. We have third period together." Oh for the love of God.
Edward shoved his hands into his pockets and started walking after a brief nod to acknowledge the girl. Who would have thought that in a school this large the arrival of two new students would be such an event, Edward had contemplated more than once over the past twenty-four hours.
"I know you've only been here for one day…well almost two," Did she really just giggle over that? "but anyway there's this study group at my house and well, it's really just me and a couple of…"
"Jess!" It wasn't Bella this time but whoever it was had his thanks.
He picked up his pace, certain that he could use the excuse of the first bell, which would be sounding in a matter of seconds, as a reasonable need to escape this one.
"So? What do you say?"
"I'm sorry?" He hadn't even noticed her catch up to him, which was no small feat considering he was nearly a foot taller than her.
"Study group. At my house."
"Oh, sorry. I can't. I'm starting a new job after school this week." He shrugged. It was an excuse. He would be getting a job as soon as he was able, but he hadn't found the opportunity to look for anything yet. For now his days were occupied doing repair projects around the house, but no one needed to know that.
"Well, consider it an open invitation." Jessica continued without hesitation. He nodded again but refused to speak, wondering the whole time how bad it would be if he were to ditch third period on only his second day of school.
And so that's how his day went. In first period he was reintroduced to two girls who had spoken to him the day before and one that he'd not met. In his second class of the day he was made to endure Lauren again, who'd apparently forgotten all about Tyler, along with her friend Katie. Jessica occupied every free moment of the third. And during fourth period he'd lost count of how many suggestive smiles had come his way. He was seriously looking forward to lunch by then; not only because he'd skipped breakfast in favor of being on time, but because he'd be able to find Alice and have her run interference for him—at least for a little while. Just one hour of peace before being thrown back into the madness, that's all he was asking for.
"How's your day been?" Alice asked pleasantly as he flopped into the empty chair next to her.
"Fine." He grunted while pulling out his book and the sandwich he'd brought from home.
Alice studied her brother for a second and didn't know what to say. He had always been a bit quiet and reserved. He was polite and friendly enough—outgoing when he wanted to be, but she and Emmett's personalities generally seemed to overshadow him in many ways. She knew that he hadn't been looking forward to the move, and though she was happy to embrace the change it appeared that he was actually struggling with this far more than she'd realized. "What's wrong, Edward?" she asked in all seriousness. It wasn't out of pity that she wondered and she wasn't upset with him for struggling. She just wanted to know what was going on and if she could help in any way. Edward understood why she would want to know, but it was still difficult to be honest.
"Let's just say I feel like a shiny new toy that's been dropped into a daycare full of spoiled little girls."
"Wouldn't Emmett be jealous." Alice chuckled.
Edward rolled his eyes at that and opened his book. Alice was right, of course. Emmett would be eating up all of the attention, but for Edward it was a difficult thing to accept. He wasn't interested in the type of commitment an actual relationship would require and he was far too sensitive to think that he could submit to anything more casual and not feel some type of regret afterwards. He was never opposed to friendship, but for the past four years it had been nearly impossible to find a girl that would be satisfied with just that.
"Hey, either of you want a soda? The machine spit out an extra one." Bella sat a Coke down on the table between them and proceeded to take the seat across from Alice.
"Go for it Edward, you know how caffeine and me don't mix." Alice laughed nudging the drink in her brother's direction.
"Hmm?" he wondered looking up in confusion. He'd completely missed Bella's arrival and the fact that there was some sort of conversation underway.
"I'm surprised you're not done yet." Bella smiled pleasantly when she saw the color on his cheeks, having been surprised by her presence.
He hesitated for a moment to regain his composure, not wanting to sound like an idiot. It was obvious that she'd noticed the book he was reading once again.
"I umm, I haven't had a lot of free time…lately." He flipped the novel closed and set it aside so that he could pay better attention to his surroundings.
He'd rather concentrate on eating his lunch without the book anyway. True enough, he was enjoying the story but it was little more than a convenient way to avoid unwanted conversation right now. With Alice and Bella around it was probably safe to do without the prop for at least a few minutes. Besides, Bella seemed like a nice girl—a good friend in the making for his little sister. He should probably avoid anything that would make him seem rude when she was around—for Alice's sake, of course.
He soon found that though he was trying to pay attention now, his mind was busy attempting to wander back towards his previous thoughts without his permission. When he'd looked up a second time he noticed that Bella was busy dissecting her taco salad even though she was still going on about what a good book he was reading. And that was all it had taken.
"Well, you need to hurry up. Nobody around here has even heard of that book, much less read it, and I can't wait to talk to someone who has."
Her enthusiasm was genuine and Edward found himself smiling and asking if she'd been able to get the sequel yet.
"No." She's adorable when she pouts that way, he thought.
"Oh hey, we could totally stop by the bookstore on our way to the mall." She immediately suggested to Alice, who was smiling despite herself.
"Would you like to come with us?" Edward knew that the offer had come as an afterthought, Bella obviously not wanting to seem rude by excluding him. Still his heart unexpectedly jumped at the idea—something he never would have expected.
He realized then that Bella was a nice girl, and even better, she didn't really seem interested in him in the usual way. She was the first girl he'd actually felt some need to converse with in quite a while, so perhaps if he was friendly towards her then other girls might assume that he was off the market…but then again this was Bella. She wasn't someone he could use, no matter how innocent his intentions may be. And suppose she got the wrong impression. Would she be mad at him? Would she take it out on Alice? Start spreading rumors?
No, it wasn't worth the risk. Bella was completely out of the question. She was likely to become a good friend to his sister, but the more awkward problem in his mind was her elevated status. She was the mayor's daughter after all.
Edward glanced over at Alice trying to gage what his answer should be. She shrugged slightly but with a grin that told him it was perfectly fine if he wanted to tag along. He sort of wanted to go, but in the end he thought better of it. There was very little he could offer someone like Bella, even if he was interested. Which I'm not, he quickly convinced himself.
"Nah, I've got some stuff to do this afternoon. And Alice has seriously been deprived of her girl time lately; wouldn't want to intrude on that."
Bella let him off the hook without a fight and went on to ask Alice about the assignment their English teacher had been discussing the day before. Edward was glad for the change of subject and hurried through the rest of his food.
"I'm gonna go." he smiled after a while, taking his things and the soda that both Alice and Bella had encouraged him to have after it had sat unopened for the better part of their lunch period.
He really hadn't meant to encroach on any of Alice and Bella's time together so he was determined to leave them alone now that he'd eaten and managed to gain a much better outlook on the day. Talking with Bella and Alice had been just what he'd needed. He realized now that he needed to stop feeling sorry for himself and find a few friends, someone worthy of talking to, maybe even a few people to hang out with. There was that guy Ben in his Trig class…maybe he'd say hi to him again today. He seemed like a nice, normal sort of person. And his girlfriend, Angela; he wondered if Alice had met her yet. She reminded him a little bit of Bella, only not as talkative. She seemed nice though, just not as pretty…
Edward stopped and shook his head. He was going to have to be careful around Bella. She was just the type of girl he could find himself being interested in, and the type of girl he could never have.