Achtung! This is my first attempt at writing fan fiction, so go on easy on me, okay? At least use a little verbal lube before you tear into me.
For the newbies this is the third chapter. If you want to start, go here.
15 Step is going to be posted chapter by chapter. I don't intend on it being too long but... we'll see. This story is Bella's POV. Everyone is a human. I did attempt to keep a decent amount of the original stories in this tale.
Oh, and as always - thanks STY. You're the wind beneath my wings (and you're old if you get the reference... like us, dammit)
Disclaimers - The characters, naturally, are Stephenie Meyer's and I've just warped 'em a little to suit our, er, "needs." The titles of the chapters and anything in italics do not belong to me, either. The titles are actually song titles and the italicized bits are pieces of lyrics that I've pulled from songs.
And, this goes without saying, these stories are intended for mature, adult readers. Well, adult, at least. Eighteen and over only.
Author's notes to follow story.
CHAPTER THREE – WRECKING BALL
Monday morning arrived wet and dreary as I dragged myself down the stairs and out to the truck. Charlie was long gone, probably down at the station. I was thankful that he left before I got up – it made keeping conversation to a minimum much easier.
I couldn’t help but seek out Edward’s Volvo as I coaxed the truck through the parking lot. I found it, dwarfed by some monstrosity of a jeep that looked like it could run over a small tank. Jessica and Mike stood not too far from it, leaning against a blue van and chatting with some other kid whose name I couldn’t be bothered to remember. As she did every morning, Jessica waved wildly, gesturing for me to come join them. I gave her an obligatory short wave back and skirted around the building, hoping to avoid any sort of conversation. The girl just couldn’t take a hint - I wasn’t interested.
My thoughts were still on Jessica as I climbed the steps, feeling a little hyper-conscious of the throngs of kids moving around me. Any day now hows about getting out of this place/ Anyways/Got a lot of spare time/Some of my youth/and all of my senses on overdrive… I reminded myself sternly that I only had to endure this for another year before I could start my own life. High school was merely a transitory stage.
Edward came into view as he turned the corner and I looked at him, wondering if he was going to say something to me. Emmett, his brother, walked next to him, massive and intimidating. Edward glanced at me quickly, expression inscrutable, before shouldering past me and murmuring something to his brother, who laughed loudly. My cheeks flushed and I picked up my pace in the opposite direction.
So that’s how it was going to be. No problem. Ignoring people was what I did best. Angrily, I twirled the lock on my locker and slammed my books inside. Then I headed to Biology with every intention of pretending like the person sitting next to me did not exist. As the late bell rang, however, Edward’s seat continued to remain empty. Seething, I realized Edward must have cut class, kyboshing my plans.
I couldn’t shake the annoyance as I walked absently to my truck, barely aware of climbing inside. I pushed my book bag up against the driver side door and stretched out across the bench seat, my boots resting against the passenger door, flipping idly through my iPod, unable to decide on a song to listen to. Frustrated, I gave up after twenty minutes and stomped off to English.
While part of me was relieved Edward had chosen to ignore me, another part was oddly disappointed and, as the English teacher droned on in front of the class, I mulled over this revelation, twisting it around in my head.
“Miss Swan?” The teacher’s voice broke through my thoughts. '
Her lips twisted into a moue of disapproval. “Would you like to tell me your thoughts on this novel?”
Fuck. The class turned to watch me and I blushed hotly, especially when I realized the tiny black haired girl who was calling Edward last week was staring at me intently.
“Uh, I’m sorry,” I mumbled. “I didn’t read the chapter.”
“I’m afraid I’ll have to mark you as a zero today then, Miss Swan.” The teacher swung around to her desk and scribbled something on a pad.
“Whatever,” I heaved under my breath. Her head snapped up.
“Excuse me?” Her tone was dangerous.
A brief internal battle ensued; while one part was begging me to keep my mouth shut another egged me on. As usual, the latter won.
“I said, ‘whatever’,” I replied in a petulant manner. That good part of me groaned and left me alone with only a devil on my shoulder.
“Is there something wrong with the novel?” The teacher took on that simpering timbre that adults do when they know a kid is going to get herself in a whole lot of trouble. As usual, I took the bait.
“I just don’t see the point in reading,” I glanced down at the title, “Wuthering Heights. I mean, who cares? This isn’t going to help me later in life. It’s just some bullshit story.”
The class tittered at my language and I gathered my books together, already knowing what the teacher was about to say.
“Go to the office!” She seethed at me. I was already out the door. This is the ballad of the young offenders/Leave no manifestos/ save graffiti in the train yard/ These legs were made to run...
Edward smirked at me when I walked into Biology class the next day and I knew the black-haired girl had told him what happened. I dropped my textbook heavily on the desk, slumped into my chair, and waited. It didn’t take long.
“How was English yesterday?” He asked casually.
“Tell your friend she has a big mouth,” I replied sourly.
“Ah, ah, leave poor Alice out of it.” I caught Edward’s grin in my periphery. “You, dear Bella, are the talk of the school now.”
“Goody for me.” I turned sharply toward him. “Hey, wait. Speaking of talking - why are you talking to me?”
He seemed surprised by the question. “Why not?”
“Um, because you ignored me yesterday.” I made a face at him and turned away, brushing a stray lock of hair from my face. “And anyway, I don’t think I want to talk to you, either.”
Heaving a sigh, I frowned at him. “You’re starting to sound like a broken record, you know, “ I pointed out. “I don’t want to talk to you because you made me look like a jerk in front of those guys on Saturday and…” I glanced around to make sure no one was paying attention and shook my bruised knuckles in his face.
Edward rolled his eyes. “You’ll never see those guys again. And I am sorry that I hurt you. It wasn’t my intention.”
“I’ll probably see those guys every time I see a band play!” I hissed. “I just hope they aren’t there this Saturday.”
“You’re going back to that place?”
Before I could answer Mr. Banner walked in and Edward dropped the subject.We focused on our lesson, though I could tell Edward wasn't willing to let the conversation end.
As usual, Edward followed me out to my truck after class.
“Are you going back to that place this Saturday?” he asked.
“And you think those guys will be there?”
I rolled my eyes and bit my lip, irritated. “I can’t predict the future, Edward. But, yes, probably.”
“That one guy is bad news. Trouble.” There was conviction in his voice.
Edward regarded me thoughtfully, a small smile on his lips. “You don’t need any help with trouble.”
I snorted and climbed into my truck. “Don’t I know it.”
Charlie’s cruiser was parked in front of the house as I steered the truck into the driveway. The sound of a basketball game greeted me when I opened the door and I assumed Charlie was sitting, enrapt, in front of the TV. I was wrong.
“I got a call from your principal today.”
I froze with my foot halfway on the stairs. Charlie turned around from the microwave, looking displeased.
“Oh yeah?” he repeated, dark eyes flaring. I swear I saw his mustache twitch. “That’s all you have to say?”
I sighed. “Look, I got a detention for it. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. Okay? Is that better?”
“Is this how you treated Renee?” If Charlie was trying to guilt trip me, he had another thing coming; it wasn’t going to work.
“Renee never would have cared. She was…occupied with other things.”
“Three strikes, Bella.” Charlie waved his spoon at me. “That’s all I’m giving you. I’m the chief of police – I can’t have my…“ he paused, struggling to dredge up the right word, “my ward running around causing problems.”
“I understand, Charlie.” I muttered, my lips pursed shut. “Loud and clear, Chief.”
I took the steps two at a time and slammed my bedroom door behind me. I glared at it, trying to ignore the feeling of heaviness sinking in my chest as I scrabbled for the iPod, stuffing the earplugs into my ears. Then I flopped back on the bed, kicking my book bag off with a scuffed sneaker. My ward. Whatever. I sighed as the screech of guitars drowned out my thoughts. I'm in this prison you built for you/In this situation I don't know what to do/Always something makes me think things don’t have to be so wrong/You put up walls with nothing spoken/In your weakness you're so strong…
I knew I was mad at the wrong person and that didn’t make me feel better; it made me feel worse. I was Charlie’s ward and he was the closest thing I’d ever had to a father. Hell, he was doing more for me than my own Mother was. No matter how grudgingly he offered his home to me, it was more than my own father ever did. Charlie was helping me out. I had to remember that.
I tried to be on my best behavior for the rest of the week after my tiff with Charlie. By Friday, most of my classmates had stopped whispering every time I walked by. I might not have been in the English teacher’s best graces but I kept my mouth shut and read the chapters. As I wandered absently through the halls of Forks High, my thoughts were on Wuthering Heights; I pondering the irony that I had actually found myself enjoying the characters when I accidentally plowed into some girl.
“Oh, crap!” I exclaimed as she spun around to face me. “I’m sorry!”
“Watch where you’re going!” she retorted angrily. Her hair was short and blonde and her face was twisted into an angry grimace. Her friends stopped, watching with mild curiosity.
“Uh, yeah.” A tremor of annoyance rippled through me. “That’s why I said ‘sorry’.” I turned to walk away.
“Bitch,” she muttered under her breath, just loud enough for me to hear. Someone laughed.
I froze. Willed myself to keep walking. But I couldn’t.
I pivoted slowly. “What did you say?” My voice was coldly cautious and my fists seemed to clench on the their own.
“I said,” the blonde took a step closer to me, “’bitch’. Gotta a problem with that?”
I sized her up, my promise to Charlie forgotten. She was taller than me and probably had me in the weight department, too – not that it made any difference.
“No. I don’t have a problem,” I grinned widely, baring my teeth, “but you sure do.”
I slammed her against the locker before she could open her mouth, my forearm pressed into her throat as her eyes widened in fright and surprise. Adrenaline took over; it was as if I was outside of myself watching the fight unfold before me.
“What are you doing?! Let Lauren go!” Someone shouted behind me. “Stop it!”
A crowd quickly gathered and began yelling at us, momentarily distracting me enough that Lauren managed to wiggle free from my grip and took the opportunity to grab a fistful of my dark brown hair. Tears welled involuntarily in my eyes as she yanked and I heard myself growl with indignation. I bashed her again, hard, against the locker and she cried out hoarsely as my fist connected with her solar plexus. You see me and you laugh out loud/ You taunt me from safe inside your crowd/My looks they must threaten you to make you act the way you do/ Red, I'm seeing red!…
“Fight, fight, fight!” the crowd chanted behind us. I watched with grim satisfaction as Lauren went down in a heap. I was moving in again when I felt strong, muscled arms grabbing me from behind. I struggled, howling, completely focused on pummeling the girl on the ground.
“Knock it off, Bella,” a voice rasped in my ear. “Before you get yourself in even more trouble.”
Edward’s emerald eyes were dark and his expression almost angry as he pulled me away from Lauren. I wrenched myself from his grasp, only to find an older male hand clamping down on my arm. Mr. Banner threw me a reproachful look as he dragged me in the direction of to the principal’s office.
The cracked, plastic chair that sat outside the office was put there specifically for ingrates like myself and the fact that it was beginning to feel familiar to me didn’t bode well.
I was so screwed. I slouched in my seat, scowling as the principal picked up the phone to inform Charlie of my transgressions. In the next room over, I could hear Lauren sobbing and her melodramatic theatrics made me want to march right in there and slap her around some more.
After a brief talk with Charlie, the principal turned to me. “You’re to leave the school immediately,” he said brusquely. “And not come back until the Monday after next. This suspension will go on your permanent record, Miss Swan. I don’t know how they handled things in your old school, but at Forks High we take fighting very seriously.”
I kind of wanted to hit him too, as he stared down his nose at me. Thinking better of it this time, I pulled myself to my feet, signed the suspension paper and stalked outside.
“Meow,” a voice I immediately recognized drawled from behind me. I didn’t even turn but kept walking swiftly toward my truck. “Someone’s got a temper.”
“Oh, bugger off, Edward, will you?” I groused. “Just leave me alone.”
Edward caught up with me easily and I turned my head so I wouldn’t have to look at him. I desperately wanted him to leave; I knew I was perilously close to crying and the thought of crying in front of Edward made me cringe in horror.
“You’re lucky you didn’t get expelled,” He told me reprovingly, running a lean hand through his tousled hair.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I retorted as I yanked my keys from my bag and fumbled to shove them into the lock. Edward plucked them from my hands and I sucked in a big angry breath.
“Edward!” I shouted savagely. “Give me my fucking keys! Now!”
“Relax, Bella,” he said, sliding the key into the lock. “I’m not the bad guy here.”
“Of course not,” I snapped. “Because I am. I’m always the bad guy. The perpetual fuck up.”
“That’s not what I meant,” he said softly as he pulled open the door and motioned me inside. I climbed into the truck and Edward nudged me over, sliding in next to me and shutting the door.
“What on earth are you doing?” I asked, mystified.
“Giving you time to calm down.”
“Can’t you just go away?” Even to my own ears, the words had the ring of defeat. I closed my eyes, wishing all of this could just go away. Wishing I could be back in Arizona, or anywhere else, for that matter. Anywhere but this forsaken place. This place is a prison and these people aren't your friends… There’re guards at the on ramps/ armed to be teeth/ and you may case the grounds from the Cascades to Puget Sound/ but you are not permitted to leave...
“I don’t want to,” Edward stated, as if there was no argument.
I groaned. “Why? I just don’t get it.”
He was quiet for a moment. “You… intrigue me, I suppose.”
“Thanks?” I wasn’t sure if it was a complement or an insult. I leaned my head against the passenger window and sighed.
Edward paused, as if he was searching for the right words. Or was unsure of what he was about to say.
“You laughed at me,” he admitted. “Most people here tend to keep their distance from me and that’s the way I like it. But you… you laughed at me.” Edward barked a laugh himself. “I found it… curious that you were so fearless. You’re not like the other girls here. You’re so… reckless. Unafraid of consequences. I just wonder what goes through your head when you do stupid shit like beating up Lauren Mallory.”
My own snicker was weak. “I’m not so sure I know the answer to that one myself,” I told him.
“How long are you suspended for?” Edward changed the subject abruptly.
“A week. Charlie’s going to murder me. Or kick me out. I’m not sure which one is worse.”
“I’m sure your Dad won’t kick you out,” Edward meant to be soothing but his words just stung me more.
“He’s not really my Dad,” I mumbled, regretting the words the moment they flew from my mouth. I did not usually volunteer personal information.
Edward arched his brows. “Really? Who is he then?”
I sighed. “Long story, Edward. Listen, I probably should go before they call the cops on me. Oh wait, they already did,” I laughed bitterly at my own joke.
It seemed as though there was a question burning in Edward’s eyes but he merely nodded and opened the door, exiting the truck. Just as he was about to shut it, he stopped, studying me. I raised my eyebrows at him, leaning over to reach for the door. Instead, he moved closer and caught my hand. His hand was warm and firm; the contact shocked me and all I could do was stare, perplexed.
“Will you do me a favor while you’re suspended?” he asked, his voice somber but sweet.
I shrugged. “Maybe. What’s the favor?”
“Don’t do anything stupid, okay? You seem to like getting yourself in trouble.”
I laughed. “I’ll try my best, Edward. That’s the best I can do.”
Edward gave me a small crooked grin but there was a worried look in his eyes. “Well, be safe, then. See you when you come back.”
He waited there until the Chevy grumbled to life, his arms folded across his chest, watching as I slowly made my way out of the parking lot. I glanced in the rear view mirror just before I entered the main road, and saw Edward still standing there, looking oddly alone.
Charlie was, as I expected, absolutely furious with me when I got home. The light drizzle that had persisted all day erupted into a fantastic downpour and I stood in the hallway, shivering and drenched, as he ripped in to me.
“You couldn’t last one week?” he blustered angrily. “One damned week?! You promised me on Monday that you would watch yourself and yet I get a call four days later telling me you’re suspended? For fighting?” He threw his hands up in disgust. “Really, Bella, I don’t know what to say.”
Neither did I, so I remained quiet, riding out the storm. He ranted on, his dark brows furrowing together.
“I don’t know, Bella,” Charlie shook his head, “this isn’t what I signed on for. If Renee hadn’t already moved to Jacksonville I think I would just ship you-“
My head snapped up; something cold wrapped itself around my middle, shooting up my spine. “She what?”
“Moved,” he sighed. “With that ball player husband of hers. She didn’t want to tell you until she was settled in.”
“Are you going to send me there?” My voice was barely a whisper. Charlie shook his head.
“I can’t,” I heard regret in his voice but I wasn’t sure if it was for him or me. “It’s an adult community – no children.”
“Oh,” His burly form blurred in my vision – I felt like my throat was stuffed with cotton. “I see.”
Charlie gave me a sympathetic look. “Bella, I –“
I cut him off. “Well, I’m sorry I’ve caused all this trouble, Charlie.” I said in a mechanical voice. “I really am. May I be excused?”
He nodded and I trudged up the stairs, my legs wobbling, as the rest of me was suddenly too heavy to carry.
My mother wasn’t coming back for me. Somehow, I think I knew that but now it seemed so… real. Something hot and wet trickled down my cheek and I angrily slapped the tears away, curling up on the bed desperately, my rain boots muddy against the comforter. My mother wasn’t coming back for me. I patted the bed for my iPod, my sanctity, and turned it on as quickly as my numbed fingers would allow. Yeah this is how it ends/ after all this time/ everything just fades away/ worn-out and empty and all alone/ with nothing left to say/oh it's all too big to make a difference/ it's all too wrong to make it right/ yeah everything is too unfair /everything too much to bear…
I don’t know how long I laid in that uncomfortable fetal position before the sorrow morphed into anger. It started slowly, almost softly, crawling through my body, heating my blood until I was boiling, pissed. I sat up in the bed and was trying to clear my head when suddenly I couldn’t breathe.
My lungs were filled with coal and ash. I wheezed and doubled over, feeling as if something was constricting my airways, cutting off my air supply. I gasped, panicked, trying desperately to catch air, reminding myself firmly that there was actually nothing physically wrong with me.
I hated her. It was the hatred that was choking me, making stars dance before my eyes. I hated her all the more for making me feel this way. Quickly, I grabbed my headphones, my hands shaking as I scrolled through the music, looking for something soothing, relaxing. My breathing slowed slightly but I found nothing relaxing or soothing. I gave up and switched to a harder beat. My heart sped up to match as my emotion soared toward volcanic intensity.
My boot struck the wall across from my bed with such force it knocked an adjacent picture to the floor, the glass shattering, glittering almost prettily. All of my fears came true/black and blue and broken bones you left me here I'm all alone/my little piggy needed something new/nothing can stop me now/I don't care anymore/nothing can stop me now… I stared viciously at it for a moment before launching the second boot through the air; it landed squarely on a small bookshelf, causing an eruption of paperbacks to scatter to the ground. From somewhere came the strangest sound, a guttural, high-pitched shriek that pierced through the music banging in my ears. Then the cursing started, even louder than my shrieks.
“You fucking bitch!” I screamed, decapitating a lamp with my book bag. “How could you do this to me?” I shoved a notebook off my cramped desk, it’s contents scattering in a flurry of papers. “What did I do to you?!”
“BELLA!!” Charlie stood in the doorway, his eyes wide, horrified. “Bella! Stop this right now!”
“Why did she leave me?” I yelled back, kicking over a chair. “Why? What did I do? How can she fucking do this to me? What did I do, Charlie? Tell me – what did I do that was so bad they don’t want me? That made her move someplace where I’m not even allowed to be with them? That selfish fucking asshole –“
“Bella!” Charlie took a tentative step toward me. “Calm down, please.”
“Calm down?” I gave a hysterical little laugh. “My own mother wants nothing to fucking do with me and – “
“Bella, please,” Charlie’s voice turned soft, pleading. “You’re bleeding, you’ve hurt yourself.”
I looked down numbly at my hand; it was oozing blood but couldn‘t recall what I had cut it on. Then I looked up at Charlie. He was watching me with such a sad expression that I wanted to disappear between the floorboards. My fuck ups were becoming a regular thing these days. I glanced around the room I had successfully destroyed; glass shards glittered in one corner while the lamp keeled over in another, it’s shade broken and smashed.
“I’m… I’m sorry, Charlie,” I mumbled dully. “I’m… so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Charlie said too quickly, clearing his throat and looking utterly uncomfortable. “Here, let me look at your hand.”
“No, Charlie,” I responded thickly, even though I was trying to keep my voice even. “You don’t have to worry. I’ve caused enough trouble. I can take care of it myself. I’m sorry.” I took a step toward the door but stopped, unwilling to get too close to him. He must have sensed my hesitation because he nodded softly and stepped away.
“Ok, Bells,” he said quietly, a little helplessly. “You take care of that yourself. If you want to… talk, just let me know. I’m here.”
“Thanks, Charlie.” My insides felt frozen; my voice sounded like a stranger’s. Numbly I headed to the bathroom and locked the door. As I watched my blood swirl down the drain I felt my bile rise. Tears burned in my eyes, fighting to get out even as I tried to swallow the feelings threatening to burst out of me. But I wasn’t strong enough.
The sobs came painfully, wracking through me as if some inner force was shoving them out of my body. Blindly I reached for the shower, turning it on, hoping the sound of pounding water would obliterate my cries. Charlie didn’t need to hear this.
I stripped down quickly and stepped into the shower, the water hot and punishing against my skin. I knelt down, until I was sitting in the tub. I pulled my knees up and wrapped my arms around them, my head tilted down, rocking, as the water pummeled me. And I let the grief take over.
I know a few of you thought Edward was being an asshole in the last few chapters. I realize that right now neither of them are all that... likeable but I implore you, give them a chance. They'll surprise you.
Chapter Title - Wrecking Ball by Crooked Fingers
Lyrics (order of appearance - song, band)
Any Day Now - Elbow
Young Offenders - The Constantines
Hoboken - Operation Ivy
Seeing Red - Minor Threat
This Place is a Prison - Postal Service
Numb - The Cure
Piggy - Nine Inch Nails