Sunday, December 20, 2009

15 Step - Chapter 10 - Puny Human (Twilight Fan Fiction)

Hai there! I know it's taken me FOREVER to update this fic and I do apologize. Real life has been fucking with me these days.

Anyhoo - just the usual reminders. I don't own these characters, I just like to fuck with them. And occasionally have them fuck each other.

This story contains strong language, sex, drugs, violence and Rock N Roll. Though not necessarily in every chapter. 18 and older, please.

As always, thanks to the ever lovely, sometimes bitchy Snarkier Than You for proofing my story!! Mwah!

Without further ado...

Chapter 10 - Puny Human

A stony silence permeated the Volvo as Edward sped toward Forks, the trees along the highway a dark blur outside the windows. I glanced over at him, still clutching the bloodied paper towels in my hands. His jaw was a hard line, pulsing slightly, his eyes were narrowed and tight. I knew this was not a good sign.

“My nose isn’t bleeding anymore, Edward,” I said softly, cautiously. “I probably don’t need to have your Dad take a look at it.”

His cheeks hollowed as he sucked in his breath but said nothing.

“You had a good time at the show, didn’t you?" I tried to spark a conversation that wouldn't end up involving our altercation with James.

“Yes. But not afterward,” he replied grimly and it was my turn to suck in an irritated breath. At the sound, Edward's fingers curled tightly around the steering wheel as if he was trying to strangle it.

“No, not after,” I agreed. “But don’t worry about him.”

Edward barked a laugh, slanting his angry gaze in my direction. “Oh, no?” he answered dangerously. “I shouldn’t worry about a guy who just threatened you?”

“Edward, seriously, he’s just full of shit. I know guys like that. He’s all talk.” I gripped the wad of paper, rolling it around in my fist, wondering how I could talk Edward out of whatever he was thinking. I honestly didn't know what the big deal was about James. He was an arrogant prick who tried to toss his weight around, whether because he was older than us or because he had somehow deluded himself into thinking he was important, I didn't know. And I didn't care. At the end of the day, I was sure that James was nothing more than a loud mouth full of bravado. This bog is thick and easy to get lost in/ when you're a stupid,dumb ass, belligerent fucker/I hope it sucks you down...

“You don’t know that.” Clearly, Edward disagreed.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m pretty sure I do.” I returned flippantly.

“You know, Bella,” Edward’s tone hardened and dipped in temperature. “For someone who is so mistrustful of people in general, you really can be fucking naïve. You’re like a fucking magnet for danger.”

My stomach tightened as the all-too-familiar anger slowly unfurled itself in my belly, stretching like a beast after a long hibernation. “I am not naïve!” I brushed one hand roughly through my knotted hair as my other one clutched the soiled paper towels. I smelled like my blood and other people's sweat and I was sure I looked like someone had dredged me up from a cesspool. Edward, of course, was still casually, stylishly rumpled. He was probably the only person at the entire show who hadn't produced an ounce of sweat and, for some reason, this irritated me further and I scowled darkly at him.

The Volvo sped past street lights on the highway and Edward's lean profile blocked the fluorescence with its sharp angles. “You just had to get the last word in,” Edward shot back. “You just couldn’t walk away from that prick. Instead, you continued to provoke him.”

“Are you saying this is my fault?” My nose throbbed and I bit back a groan.

Edward's lips twisted a grimace. “I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault. All I’m saying is you walk around like you’re fucking invincible and end up doing really stupid things.”

"I do not!" I retorted hotly. "What was I supposed to do? Run away and cower behind you like a scared little girl? I can take care of myself, Edward." I groaned again as the aching began to spread and I rubbed at my temples.

Edward sighed and hesitantly reached out to me. “It still hurts?”

I recoiled from his touch. “Whatever.”

“Bella, stop being so stubborn all the time!” Edward's shoulders hitched in frustration and he gripped the steering wheel again. “You know I’m right. You should have just walked away but you didn’t.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” I crossed my arms over my chest, feeling very much like a child who had just been scolded and, as much as I hated to admit it, Edward was probably right.

An image swept past my mind's eye of James, his eyes a glacial blue, calculating and wicked. My stomach knotted a little as I replayed his words, recalled the cruel smile curving on his sharp, hawkish features. Yes, I had dismissed James and, with a pang of alarm, I wondered how many others I had disregarded, how many other situations I had put myself in that could have turned out very badly. All those times I had wandered around the streets of Phoenix by myself, late at night, when Renee was nowhere to be found and boredom drove me from our small apartment. I wasn't a danger magnet. I had a death wish. You burn too bright/ You live too fast/ This can't go on too long/ You're a tragedy starting to happen...

I had no intention of enlightening Edward with my revelation and we fell into an uncomfortable silence, both of us lost in our thoughts.

Then Edward spoke up. “Are you mad at me?” There was a tentativeness in his tone that I had never heard before, marring the confidence I usually heard in his honeyed timbre.

“No,” I answered, surprised. “I’m not mad at you. I’m just… frustrated with the situation.”

“I know,” he sighed. “Me too. I know that guy is up to no good, Bella. He's not going to let it go, I saw it in his eyes. It's like a game to him--you have to believe me.”

“I believe you,” I replied honestly. Edward just nodded curtly as he navigated the car down the Cullen's long, winding driveway.

“Oh shit, the whole crew is here,” Edward grumbled. I looked out the window as the Cullen residence loomed in front of us and saw Rosalie’s very expensive looking red convertible, along with a yellow Porsche, better known as "Alice’s baby”.

“Great.” I didn't even bother to hide the displeasure in my voice as I opened the car door and stepped out, reluctantly following Edward toward the massive house. Our footsteps crunched beneath us, sounding loud compared to the soft soothing rustle of a late night wind that caressed the heavy foliage surrounding the driveway. Large leaves and fronds whispered out to me as we found the slate pathway and I wished I could sink down into their feathery folds, rather than head into what was probably going to be one of the most awkward situations of my life. There is nothing that screams "bad first impression" like a bloody and possibly broken nose when you're about to be introduced to your boyfriend's father. Oh baby, why am I worried now?/ Did someone make a fool of me/ Before I could show them how it's done?

Edward was oblivious to my consternation, kicking open the heavy wooden door that looked as if it would take an army and a few battering rams to break through.

“Carlisle!” he yelled, his voice echoing off the high ceilings. We were in the foyer and I hastily wiped my feet on the doormat, lest I get a single speck of dirt on the shining, spotless ceramic tile. A simple dark wooden bench sat like a sentry next to the door, sleek and modern with razor straight edges and a simple latticework back. Edward tugged at my frayed, stained gray backpack, which I was clutching to my chest like a security blanket, and threw it carelessly onto the leather cushion of the bench. A large, ancient-looking cross rested ominously near the foot of the stairs, stark against the light airy crispness of the house. He smiled sweetly at me, catching something in my expression that made him laugh faintly.

"Don't worry so much," he whispered. I opened my mouth, fully prepared to beg that he not take me upstairs in my state of disrepair, when I was cut off.

“Edward!” Emmett’s deep, booming voice bellowed back. “Dad’s in his study. Come play Wii with us.”

I could hear the chatter of Alice’s animated voice in the distance, followed by a quiet chuckle that clearly belonged to Jasper, and I suddenly wanted to go home. I was tired and in pain and wasn't sure if I could muster the energy needed to play nice.

The sharp click of heels against the floor grew louder as Rosalie rounded the corner and I stood there, frozen, wishing like hell it was anyone else but her. She glanced up at the last minute, her blue eyes widening in shock as she drank in my bedraggled appearance. In one split moment a flutter of emotion flickered across her face before she swung her gaze toward Edward, venom in her eyes.

“What did you do to her?” she demanded, stalking up to Edward. I stepped away, momentarily stunned as Rosalie straightened to her full height, looking both beautiful and menacing.

“I didn’t do it!” Edward replied, offended. “What the fuck, Rosalie?”

“Emmett!” she shouted. “Come here! You need to check this out.” Her full lips were drawn in a tight line and one curvy hip jutted our sharply as she placed her hands on her waist. It was a position that was both sexy and aggressive and only someone with ample curves could pull off. If I had done that, I would have looked like I was about to fall over sideways. For once, Edward said nothing and crossed his arms across his chest, meeting Rosalie's gaze unflinchingly.

I just stood there like an idiot, vaguely wondering why Rosalie was wearing four inch stilettos to play Wii at her boyfriend's house on a Saturday night and wishing I could disappear through the floor. Normally, I would have had some kind of sarcastic response to fling at her but my mind was a blank. I mulled over the possibility of a concussion.

A stampede of footsteps clambered down the hall and the next thing I knew Emmett was standing there, flanked by Alice and Jasper and every single one of them was staring at me with a horrified expression. Alice slapped a slender hand over her mouth, which had dropped open, her eyes wide. Even Jasper's eyes were completely open, rather than their usual half-mast, his lips quirked up into a bemused expression as he absently mussed his own unruly blond curls.

“What the fuck is going on?” Emmett’s confused gaze volleyed between Edward and I, his eyes growing large. “And what happened to you?” he asked me.

“As I was trying to explain to your girlfriend before she jumped to conclusions," Edward glared at Rosalie, who returned it, “Bella got hurt at the show. I was taking her to Dad to have her checked out.”

“Yeah, sure, that’s what happened.” Rosalie rolled her eyes haughtily and pointed her finger at Edward accusingly. “You sure that little ol’ temper of yours didn’t 'happen'?”

Suddenly it dawned on me what Rosalie was insinuating and I started to laugh. She looked at me incredulously.

“Do you honestly think Edward would be standing here with his testicles intact if he had hit me?” I asked bluntly. “I was in the pit and someone hit me. Or kicked me, I’m not sure really…” I trailed off as they continued to stare. “I look really bad, don’t I?”

My explanation appeared to temporarily mollify Rosalie and she relaxed slightly, though she was still staring intently at me as if she was looking for some sign that I was lying. Edward took me gently by the elbow. “Let’s get you cleaned up and looked at, shall we? I think this Spanish Inquisition is over.”

I gave Rosalie a pointed look before I let Edward lead me up a winding set of stairs to the second floor. He said nothing as he rapped his knuckles against a closed door and pushed it open without waiting for a response.

“Carlisle,” he said with a small smile, his fingers tightening a little when I balked. “Can you please take a look at Bella's nose? There was an... accident tonight.”

An incredibly handsome man sat behind a exquisite antique mahogany desk that was scattered with papers and x-ray charts. His hair was blond and slightly tousled, a more dignified version of Edward’s hair, though they looked nothing alike. His eyes twinkled with friendliness as he looked up with a pleased grin on his face...which disappeared immediately when he took in my appearance.

"Hi," I said weakly, feeling the heat burn my cheeks.

Immediately, Carlisle switched into "doctor mode." “What happened?” he asked as he strode over and sat me down in a chair. He didn't look up from me as he gave Edward orders. “And go get a towel and some warm soapy water. We need to wash the blood off.”

It was at that point I decided it was a good time to look at myself in the decorative mirror that was hanging on the wall. My hair was in gnarled tangles, tendrils still somehow stuck to the sides of my neck, where they had dried, mingled with sweat. My nose and mouth were smeared with dried blood and a smattering of blood trickled down my neck. My shirt had large, darkly ominous stains on the front. A bruise was already starting across the bridge of my nose and my right eye was swelling, obscuring the chocolate color of my iris beneath the pink, angry flesh.

“Holy shit!” I gasped at my reflection in horror. Then I realized that I just swore in the presence of Edward’s father and clapped my hand over my nose and mouth, sending a shooting pain through my face and very nearly swearing again. Instead I uttered a garbled yelp.

"It’s okay, Bella,” Carlisle laughed. “Both of my sons have said far worse than that. Now, let’s take a look at this nose, shall we?”

“Thanks, Dr. Cullen,” I muttered. Edward returned shortly afterward, an elegant ceramic bowl filled with water in his hands a cloth draped over his forearm.

“You can call me Carlisle.” He smiled at me as he took the bowl and cloth from Edward and carefully began wiping the blood from my face. His hands were warm and soft against my damaged skin and, though he was very gentle, I held my breath, waiting for the pain to strike me when he began to poke and prod at my nose. It never did and slowly, I began to relax.

“It isn’t broken but you are going to have one nasty bruise for a few days,” Carlisle announced when he was done with his examination. He glanced up at Edward, who was hovering behind me, a meaningful look in his eyes. “Anyone care to explain to me exactly what you mean by 'accident'?”

I recounted the story to Dr. Cullen, flushing a little as I explained exactly what I was doing flailing around in a crowd of rowdy boys. Unlike Rosalie, Carlisle seemed to accept my version of the story and, after he suggested I put some ice on my nose and take some ibuprofen for the pain and swelling, we were dismissed.

“Do you want anything to drink?” Edward asked as he rubbed my back. We were walking down the stairs, Edward one step behind me. His voice was soft but concerned.

“Do you have any whiskey?” I joked. “You know, to help with the pain.”

We hit the landing and I followed Edward into the state-of-the-art kitchen. He pulled out a sleek chrome stool and I climbed onto it, smiling a little as he brushed my hair back and, very delicately, kissed my cheek.

“That can be arranged,” he murmured lightly, his breath tickling my skin. “But first I’ll get you some ice for your nose.”

I groaned. “I can’t believe how terrible it looks. The rumor mill is going to burst into flames on Monday at school.”

“I wonder how long it will take Lauren to start telling people she punched you,” Edward chuckled as he opened a black and chrome refrigerator and filled a baggie with crushed ice. After wrapping it in a very expensive looking dish towel, he handed it to me and I rested it gingerly against my nose.

“I’m pretty sure she’ll be talking by second period,” I replied, my voice muffled under the cloth. “And then I’ll have to punch her in the nose for lying.”

“Judging by that bruise, I actually think you weren’t punched.” Edward scraped the stool next to me out from the counter and folded his lanky body into it. “I think you were probably kicked. Or got a serious elbow. I’ve been punched in the face quite a few times and I’ve never bruised like that.”

This was news to me. “Punched in the face quite a few times?” I repeated, incredulous. “You? I don’t believe it.”

A transformation swept across Edward’s regal features. His eyes iced and hardened, his expression became shuttered, closed down, even as his jaw pulsed with tension. Edward’s long lean fingers, which had been drumming the marble countertop were now curled into a fist.

“Believe what you want,” he said tightly, his voice emotionless. “But it’s the truth.”

I was moving into unchartered territory and knew I had the tread carefully. “Fights at school?”

Edward snorted. “Something like that.”

I paused, then brought the ice away from my face and placed it on the counter. Slowly, I coaxed Edward’s fist open and weaved my cold fingers through his. His hand closed tightly over mine but he still wasn’t looking at me; his gaze was trained somewhere far away.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked hesitantly, unsure if I even wanted to listen.

“It was a long time ago.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know how to respond and we both floundered in the heavy silence around us. What's your story?/ I want to listen/ I can't fake pity/ I may not sympathize/ Twilights tailing/ Try my lies for size...

“Bella,” Edward said cautiously, finally turning to look at me. “I’m sorry. It’s a long story and I don’t feel like going into it now.”

“That’s okay,” I assured him. “I understand.”

Edward smiled sadly and I reached out with my free hand to stroke his cheek. He dipped his head to meet my touch and closed his eyes, breathing deeply.

“I knew you would,” he whispered, warmth creeping back into his voice. He opened his eyes and studied me before releasing my hand and picking up the ice pack.

“Keep this on your nose,” he told me firmly. “Why don’t you go into the family room with the rest of the guys and I’ll get us some drinks.”

My heart dropped a little at the thought of walking into that room and having everyone staring at me and asking questions. “I’ll wait.”

“You should just go in there and get comfortable.” Edward looked perplexed. “I’ll be right there. Give me two minutes.”

“Well,” I countered, “I can wait two minutes.”

“Bella –“ Edward’s mossy eyes narrowed but his lips curved up into a smirk. “Wait a minute. Are you afraid to go in there by yourself?”

“No!” I exclaimed, grimacing as my the outburst sent a tremor of pain through my nose. “I just don’t… want to.”


I shuffled my feet. “I want to wait for you.”

“You are afraid!”

“No, I’m not! I just don’t want to talk to them. I don’t know what to say.”

Edward walked over to me and kissed my pouting lips. “You fucking kill me, girl. You have no problem being in a crowd of guys throwing random punches at each other. You’re totally fine with beating up Lauren, or cursing people out that you don't even know but you don’t want to go into a room full of friends?”

“They’re your friends.”

“Bella, they’re your friends, too. They aren’t going to bite.”

“Fine,” I grumbled. Edward smiled and helped me out of the stool.

Slowly, grudgingly, I made my way into the family room, feeling like a lamb going to slaughter. I had seven faces/ Thought I knew which one to wear/ But I'm sick of spending these lonely nights/ Training myself not to care...

Emmett and Jasper were standing in the middle of the room, clutching Wii remotes and staring intently at the huge flatscreen TV. Suddenly, Jasper made a motion like he was swinging a tennis racket, narrowly missing Emmett’s head, who backpedaled and flailed his arm, yelping.

“Fuck!” he bellowed and the girls laughed.

“You absolutely suck at tennis, lovey,” Rosalie chirped, grinning widely, her blue eyes twinkling. I lingered by the doorway and watched them for a moment. She was watching Emmett proudly, her full, luscious lips tilting upwards as she swept her golden locks from her her shoulder and they fell obediently, and beautifully, across her back in a flaxen wave. For the first time, I could really see just how beautiful Rosalie was when she looked at happy. Then she caught my gaze and her smile faded a little and she was back to regular stand-offish bitch Rosalie.

“Hey.” My voice grated over the syllable and I mentally cursed myself as I sidled past Jasper, letting the ice pack dangle uselessly in my hand. “Um, Edward told me to come in here.”

“How’s the nose?” Emmett asked, his eyes trained on the game. He whipped his arm again and the character on the TV mimicked the movement, connecting the with tennis ball and vaulting back into Jasper’s character’s court.

“Uh, it’s fine, thanks.” There were two couches in the room caddy cornered against the wall, as well as a leather recliner. I sat down stiffly in one of the oversized couches, as far away from the guys as possible, in case another errant elbow came my way. I could only handle one pummeling a day.

“Where’s Edward?” Alice twisted from her position on the other couch, next to Rosalie and smiled broadly at me.

“He’s getting drinks.”

“He better be getting drinks for all of us,” grumbled Emmett. Then, he yelled, “EDWARD, GET ME A FUCKING DRINK!!!”

“Christ, Emmett,” Edward’s droll voice rang through the doorway. “Can you yell a little louder?”

“Yes!” the others replied in unison.

I laughed as Edward rolled his eyes and came through the doorway with a tray full of glasses and Coca Cola cans. He put them down on a side table and Alice clapped her hands excitedly.

“You don’t happen to have anything along the lines of, say, alcohol, do you?” she asked, peering up at Edward with her wide, doe-like eyes.

Edward smirked as he placed the tray on an ottoman off to the corner and produced a flask from the back pocket of his jeans. I recognized it from our night in the meadow and knew it was probably full of whiskey. “Of course, dear Alice.”

“I knew it!” she crowed, sliding off the couch and deftly ducking as Jasper took another swing of the remote. "Who wants one?"

When Edward first started bringing me around his friends, I dismissed Alice as a perpetually cheerful, ultra girly goody two shoes. Then one day Edward and I arrived at his house and found Jasper and Alice lounging on the hood of a Mercedes, giggling crazily and smoking a very large joint. Apparently, I'm not a very good judge of character.

"I do!" everyone replied. Alice swiftly poured the whiskey from the flask and began filling the glasses up with Coke. Rose leaned over and grabbed one, wrinkling her nose a little at the strong scent of alcohol.

I pulled myself from the comfort of the couch and picked my way between Emmett and Jasper, whose controllers dangled safely from their wrists. I was reaching for my own glass when there was a noise from the hallway and Alice grabbed the flask before bouncing back to the couch, where she shoved it between the two cushions and settled her body over it.

A very pretty, sweet looking woman entered the room, light honey-brown curls framing her heart-shaped face. She was small and slender but shared Emmett's brown, friendly eyes. My heart picked up speed and I straightened quickly, trying to step away from the contraband drink but there was no where to go. We were busted, I was sure of it. I wondered if she would call Charlie and rat me out.

"I heard there is a new addition to the gang," she said, her voice a lilting contralto.

"Mom, this is Bella," Edward introduced us and I quickly swapped the ice pack I had been holding from my right to left hand in order to shake her hand.

"Hi," I mumbled. "Nice to meet you. Um, sorry about the cold hand."

"Bella, call me Esme." Her smile grew impossibly wide, the corners of her eyes crinkling up. "It's so nice to finally meet you. How are you feeling?"

I stared dumbly at her for a moment before I realized she was talking about my nose and not the fact that I was standing in front of my boyfriend's mother for the first time wearing a blood-stained t-shirt, not to mention the whiskey and Coke next to me.

"It's okay... Esme," I replied as politely as I could, my face burning with mortification. "A bit sore, but Dr. Cullen says it will be fine."

An awkward second ticked by and I chewed my lip nervously as I shifted my weight from foot to foot. I felt the fake smile plastered on my face but couldn't find a way to make it go away.

Alice slid up next to me, grinning at Esme. "Esme, did you get the new Anthropologie catalog this week?" she asked, apparently taking pity on me and deflecting Esme's attentions. I mouthed a silent thank you as Esme focused on Alice.

"I did!" she exclaimed. "Did you see that sweater with the beautiful lace pattern down the back?"

"I loved it!" Alice chirped back, swinging her arms and looking extremely innocent. "Do you have the catalog? There was something I want to show you..." Her voice trailed off as she hooked arms with Esme and they both disappeared from the room.

"Alice is a clothes whore and so is my mother," Edward explained as I stared, confused, at their retreating figures.

"Oh," I answered. "I thought they were talking about science or something. You know, like digging up dinosaurs."

Jasper guffawed. "No, it's some really expensive store that sells strange frilly girly crap that Alice loves."

I shrugged. "Sounds... well, sounds like Alice." I grabbed a drink and was making my way back to the couch when Emmett stuck out his hand and offered me the Wii controller.

"Hey, Bella do you want to play?"

"No thanks, Emmett," I told him, sipping my drink and plopping back down into the couch. "I think I've done enough damage to myself for one day. I'm going to stay away from swinging arms for the rest of the night."

Emmett chuckled. "Fair enough. I don't blame you."

A few minutes later, Alice came back into the room, looking very pleased with herself.

"You're welcome, everyone," she said, winking at me as she dropped onto the couch next to Rosalie. "I think I deserve some props for running parental interference tonight."

Rosalie stared at her, one perfectly sculpted brow cocked. "Do you want a fucking cookie?" she asked, her voice sharp but teasing.

"Nope. But you can massage my feet." Alice moved swiftly and let one bare foot fall into Rosalie's lap. Rosalie's eyes widened in horror and she grimaced, staring at Alice's foot as if it were a rotting, dismembered appendage.

"Ew!" Rosalie shrieked, slapping at Alice's shin. "Get your filthy fucking feet off of me, you bitch!"

Alice only laughed as Rosalie tried to squirm away from her foot.

The couch dipped under Edward's weight as he sat down and he smiled at me.

"Rosalie hates feet," he explained. "She totally freaks out. It's really funny."

At that moment Rosalie jumped up from the couch, her face red, her features twisted with disgust. "Mary Alice Brandon you're such a cuntface sometimes. I swear to God!" She gave a shiver and turned to face Edward and I.

"Move," she demanded as she sat down next to Edward, who gave a grunt of complaint as she squished herself between his body and the arm of the couch.

Alice drank deeply from her glass and stretched her tiny body across the space that Rosalie had occupied moments before, smirking.

"Jasper, can I play winner?" she asked sweetly, lifting her leg in the air and wiggling her toes. Her tiny little ballet shoes were abandoned on the floor and Alice had a huge Cheshire grin on her face, which grew even bigger as Rosalie growled.

"Stop it, Brandon," Rosalie warned. Alice wriggled her toes again, stretching a little as she swung her leg out, her bare foot hovering a few feet away from us. The cuff of her jeans rose slightly, revealing a narrow ankle that had a delicate silver chain wrapped around it.

"Rosalie," Alice could barely keep the mirth out of her voice and failed at making a serious face. "It's time you conquered your irrational fear of feet. I'm helping you, just think of it that way."

"I'm not afraid of feet, you ass-clown!" Rosalie snarled, shrinking back into the couch as far as she could go. "I just think they're disgusting and ugly."

"Darlin', stop harassing Rose," Jasper finally cut in, trying to restore the peace. His soft, mellow voice was comforting and he was grinning lazily at his girlfriend, who smiled back.

I'm just trying to help," Alice repeated, innocently.

"The next time you help I'm going to put MY foot up your ass," Rosalie threatened.

Edward snorted. "I think we may have finally found Rose's Kryptonite, folks."

"You stay out of it, Cullen." Rosalie turned her scowl on Edward.

"Be nice to me or I'll make you rub my feet. Alice's feet are adorable compared to mine." Edward grinned widely and Emmett chuckled.

"Trust me, baby, Edward really does have some nasty ass feet. Seriously ugly," Emmett told Rosalie.

"So they look just like his face," Rosalie retorted.

"Watch it, Rosalie," Edward shot back. I laughed quietly and downed the rest of my drink. My face was still aching, my one swollen eye tearing slightly. I reclined my head and closed my eyes, listening to their chatter and wishing I could jump in. Slowly, the pain in my nose began to fade and I sighed.

I must have drifted off because the next thing I felt was Edward's breath against my cheek, tickling slightly.

"Hey, Bella," he whispered. "It's getting late and you look pretty tired. Why don't I take you home."

"'Kay," I mumbled back, yawning. When I finally opened my eyes I realized that we alone. Edward kissed me gently, careful not to nudge my nose.

"Charlie is going to flip when he sees you," Edward mused as he pulled me to my feet, enveloping me in his warm arms, stroking my tangled locks with one hand.

"Nah," I sighed, tiredly. "He'll get over it."

"Come on, kid." Edward ushered me out of the living room and helped me into my coat, which I had left on the bench by the front door, along with my backpack. Before I could grab it, Edward scooped it up and led me to the car.

The air had grown chilly and damp and as we trudged our way to the Volvo, I yawned tiredly again. Once Edward was satisfied I was safely ensconsed in the vehicle, he slammed the door, walked around to the drivers side and folded himself in. It took a few minutes for the car to warm up enough to put the heat on, but once it was working, Edward tilted the vents in my direction and we headed back to Charlie's.

"Can I see you tomorrow?" he asked as he drove. My iPod was still humming contentedly in the background, soothingly.

"Sure," I replied. "But are you sure you want to? I mean, I'm pretty sure I'm going to look fucking scary tomorrow."

"Bella, you will always look beautiful to me," Edward admonished and I blushed. "I was watching you tonight at the show, you know. It was hard to see you in that crowd but you looked amazing out there. So sexy. And happy."

"Mmm." I leaned my head against the window, smiling. "I was most definitely happy tonight. Well, before I got a boot to the face. That part didn't make me happy."

Edward gave a sad chuckle. "I wish I could make you that happy," he mumured.

I stared at him in silence, processing his words. "You know what Edward?" I said slowly, surprise ringing with each word. "I think you do."

As always, thanks for reading! It looks like Bella is starting to realize she doesn't always have to be her own island, though she's definitely not very comfortable with 'the crew.'

As always, lyrics (song, artist)

Title - Puny Human - Deadguy

Swamp Song - Tool
Red - Elbow
Middle Cyclone - Neko Case
Can't Stop - Elbow
NYC - Interpol


  1. YAY!!! Thanks JJ! I'm so excited! What a great Christmas present. Between this and Stan's Jingle Balls, I've got some FF to read...

    I haven't read it yet, but it always seems like I'm late to the comment party and just HAD to be first. Plus, I'm a little saucy - 'nuff said.

    Love all you Twitarded bitches!

  2. Awesome, JJ! Great chapter. I like how Bella's character is starting to relax and trust people. Too bad she doesn't realize what a creep James is! Can't wait for the next installment!!!

  3. Another amazing chapter. Seriously worth wait. If it wasn't so late and if I wasn't afraid I would reek of alcohol at the doc's office tomorrow morning, I would go and partake in a little whiskey consumption. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  4. Yay! I have been waiting for this for a long excited. I loved it and so clever....I caught your little vampire innuendos.....very nice job JJ!

  5. Where do I find the beginning of this?

  6. I love you and I love this story. Definitely one of my favorite Bella's and Edward is definitely NOT a pussy!

  7. @pettypeet: Check out the left side of the blog - scroll down and you'll see 15 Step listed. That should be all the chapters. It's also on

  8. Woah, seriously good, now I gotta read this from beginning so have added you to authors, stories and everything else LOL,
    If F-Kat appears can you ask her to email me cos I've fucking lost everyones email address-don't ask cos my brain won't work anymore. Its fucked-end of

  9. awww!! you girls just made my day!!! i was so down cause its fckin monday and the chapter was sweet and aish i loved it! love you girls!!

  10. finally some ff characters smoking pot. i love the naughty behavior.

    also, NYC is such a good song.

    i love you, jj. there, i said it.

  11. Note to self: Do not read Fanfic while at work.

    When you wrote about Bella grabbing her face after seeing herself in the mirror, I very loudly said "ow" and grabbed my own nose... my boss asked if I was ok! ooops

    Then I swooned at the very end...and again I was asked if I was ok by my boss.

    I, of course, was more than ok... I just read the most recent chapter of 15 Step! I didn't tell my boss that but I will have to be more careful in the future :)

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  13. This . Is . A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Really sweet chapter. Ill be waitin 4 the next one, Can you please post the next one soon? Im incredibly getting addicted to it. I NEED to read the next one SOON. :| whoa, Kinda desperated.

  14. I love this Fanfic! I'm getting excited for bad ass Edward to come out. That asshat James isn't going to stay away, and after the comments about Edward taking punches....I'm betting there is going to be some sort of altercation!

    Those last couple of paragraphs were so sweet. I love it when Edward gets mushy! I'm looking foward to your next update, but I understand how crazy hard it must be to find time to write it. I'll be waiting as patiently as possible!

  15. heyyy ... so i've been reading this for a long time ... and i was wondering when you would be posting the next chapter, just getting a little anxious.

    Its a great story though!!


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