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Habitat for love

Summary:
Edward is running, broken from a past relationship. Bella is searching, trying to find a place where she truly belongs. Both feeling pessimistic and jaded, they head to a third-world country to volunteer their time. Will the place they travel to escape be the place they truly find happiness?


Notes:
Disclaimer: No copyright infringment intended. The characters belong to SM. all the plot are belong to us.


2. Chapter 2

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5387   Review this Chapter

Chapter 02 – Arrival

Bella had no idea of what to expect sitting here next to the girl she had considered the closest thing she had to a girlfriend for so long now. She got the ‘tone’ of Alice’s personality from her emails but there was nothing in them that would have even given the barest hint of…this. The girl next to her hadn’t stopped chatting away since she insulted Bella and then quickly apologized for it.

Bella didn’t know if the reason for the extreme talking was from embarrassment over the insult she hurled at her or if it was genuine and she was just normally like this. She decided to go with the first option since the second one made her want to stop all communication with Alice right then and there. But then again, she had insulted Bella and all but called her white trash; could she just get over it and continue a friendship with someone like that? And did she want to? Once again her thoughts were interrupted as Alice launched into another topic.

’Wow,’ Bella thought to herself, ’this girl is like the Energizer Bunny.’ She knew from their online communication that Alice was very friendly and easy to talk to, but she had no idea just how...chipper, she would be in person. Nevertheless, after that initial blunder of their first meeting, Bella did find herself feeling very relaxed and comfortable.

With Alice, regardless of the extreme exuberance, Bella had begun to feel at home. It was almost like she matched her mother in over eagerness, but where Renee was flighty and made snap decisions that usually resulted in disaster, Alice’s exuberance was done with confidence and thoughtfully planned out. She seemed to know exactly what needed to be done and did it, without wreaking havoc on everyone within a twelve foot radius. If it were Renee, chaos would definitely rear its ugly head. Besides, hadn’t Alice mentioned that she organized her whole family’s trip to Honduras?

Bella knew they should be approaching their destination soon and was beginning to get a little nervous. She had never left the United States before, and her thoughts seemed to mirror Alice’s words as far as the pace at which they raced along. Alice, for her part, barely seemed to notice that Bella wasn't contributing to the conversation. With her mind racing a million miles a minute, Bella was thinking of what things would be like once they got off the plane. Although she had been distracted with her own thoughts, her head immediately shot up and her eyes became alert when she heard the words from Alice’s mouth.

“Did you know that the Tegucigalpa airport has the second shortest landing strip in the world?” Alice hadn’t become aware of Bella’s panicked reaction, nor did she wait for her to answer before she continued on.

“Yes, really, it’s true. Pilots have to have a special license to fly into and out of this airport. When we come in over the mountains we have to angle down really fast, and once we hit the ground, they have to slam on the brakes really hard, so hang onto your armrests. You know, when I was looking around I found a news report less than a year ago where the plane didn't stop fast enough and it ended up messing up part of the terminal.” Alice finished without even having to pause for a single breath.

’Oh gosh,’ Bella thought as she groaned, ’I was not prepared for this.’ She closed her eyes and seemed to hold her breath as the pilot announced “Prepare for landing” while the plane made a sudden slant downward.

************

It appeared that Alice had chosen to respect Bella's need for a moment of silence as they landed. But once the plane completely stopped she simply started right back up again.

“Bella! That was so exciting, wasn’t it? I could see all mountains and beautiful landscape! Oh, I had no idea it would be so beautiful. It's too bad you had your eyes closed. Oh well, I suppose you will be able to see plenty of it during your time here.”

Bella cut in, “Alice....Alice! Could you please tone it down...just for a minute?” She pleaded with her voice shaking. “I just need to get it together really fast. I haven't been on many flights before and that just took me off guard. Just give me a minute, please.” Bella was trying her best to calm down. As she took a few deep breaths she closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger.

After a minute Bella realized that Alice had indeed granted her request and became extremely quiet. Complete silence wasn’t something she thought Alice could actually achieve; after the listening to her talk so much on the flight it somehow felt alien to her. She chanced a look up only to see Alice staring directly at her with her head tilted with and a somewhat curious expression on her face.

“Umm...Alice, what are you staring at?” Bella felt unnerved by the expression that she saw on Alice’s face.

Alice shook her head, quickly composing herself as she responded “Oh, nothing.” and started looking around as if she had not been staring intently at Bella for the past few minutes.

“Alice, really. I know we have not known each other in person for very long, but I know that look wasn't for nothing. Just tell me.” Bella’s nervousness was already at its peak from the flight and she didn’t know just how much more she could take.

Alice looked thoughtful for a moment before she responded, “You just, you reminded me of someone when you did that thing where you grab the bridge of your nose. It's nothing really, you just looked exactly like him when you did it, that's all.” Alice shrugged and hoped that Bella would just let the conversation drop;, the relief on her face was evident when Bella did.

“Oh, well, okay then.” Bella responded putting her iPod back in her bag in preparation to exit the plane.

As the plane pulled up to its gate, they continued to gather their belongings. While they waited to exit, Bella’s nervousness returned. She tried to think of Jasper allowing her calm returned again, knowing that at least one person was happy that she was on this trip with him. She knew she could always lean on him or talk to him when she started to feel this way. Bella, for probably the millionth time since she met him, envied Jasper and his ability to calm her down with just a few spoken words or a stare. His presence was so calming to Bella, she sometimes had difficulty remembering why they didn’t work out as a couple.

All of a sudden the fasten seatbelt sign turned off and everyone shot out of their seats at once. It was a cacophony of noise, hearing people speaking loudly at one another in both English and Spanish. When it came time, Bella and Alice moved into the aisle making their way off the plane.

Once they exited the plane they had only walked a few feet before Alice suddenly shouted, “Oh look! There's my family over there! I better head over to them so we can all go through customs together. I cannot wait for you to meet them! I hope we will be traveling on the same bus to get to Catacamas! It's so exciting, we will be staying in the same city! Anyway, I'll see you soon!”

She swooped in for a quick hug before turning and bouncing away to meet her family, which were, of course, the rest of the beautiful clan she had seen before boarding the plane in Houston. Bella took them all in. She noticed a beautiful looking older couple, possibly Alice's parents? There was another big guy who was standing with his arms wrapped around a beautiful blonde-haired girl who appeared to be, pregnant? Wow. Then there was a tall, slender guy with hair going every direction that had his back to her. Each of them held an air of confidence about them that Bella had never had with herself. Bella moved away slightly as she realized that the closer to the beautiful people she stood, the uglier and more plain she thought of herself.

Bella was suddenly jostled by a group of passengers trying to get past her. They were definitely hurling insults at the lost American in Spanish. She realized with a flush of embarrassment that she was standing in the middle of the walkway just staring straight ahead with what was sure to be a dumbfounded look on her face. Her mind began to race as she realized she had no idea where she was going and started breathing rapidly. ’Okay, just look for a sign with a picture of suitcase or something. Follow the locals, surely they will know where they are going. Where is Jasper?’ Bella was now becoming increasingly anxious.

Of course, thankfully, at that moment she heard music to her ears, “Bella, it's just like you to stand in the middle of the aisle looking like you are trying to catch flies. C'mon, let's hurry up and get through customs so we can get on our way!” Jasper grabbed her by the hand pulling her along.

They made is through the line for customs without difficulty and began making their way to baggage. Soon they walked into a room that had luggage sitting everywhere. Where in the world were the nice roundabouts with electronic signs telling you which one held the luggage for which flight?

“Well, guess we better get to looking for our bags, shall we?” Jasper muttered beside her.

*********

Thirty minutes later they had gone through every bag in the room, multiple times. They had checked all the name tags, and asked every person in sight if they had the right bag. Jasper was running around like a crazy person as if he were the one whose bags had been lost....which they weren't. Jasper had his suitcase and backpack securely in hand. Bella's bags on the other hand, were nowhere to be found. They had spoken with security, as best they could, and they were assured that Bella's bags would be sent to the camp as soon as they were found.

“This is definitely NOT what I envisioned our 'adventure' to be Jazz. What the heck am I gonna do? I have no clothes, toiletries, bed sheets, towels.” Bella held out her fingers and started counting off the fingers on one hand. “I have nothing! Ugh! Way to start this trip off on the wrong foot.” She groaned as Jasper took both her hands in his.

“Bella, everything is going to be just fine. I have plenty of t-shirts and shorts and stuff that you can borrow until you either get your bags or are able to go to the store to pick some things up. I mean, you wear my clothes in back home all the time. Granted, it's in private, where no one sees you, but you look fine, great even. Don't worry about it. Everything is going to be okay.” Jasper took a stray lock of Bella’s hair and brushed it gently away from her forehead where it was plastered with perspiration. “Now let's go find where we are supposed to be meeting our group. Everyone else is probably waiting for us by now.”

“You don’t understand…I have no extra underwear, I only have the bra I am wearing! Jazz, I have nothing except what I am wearing!” Panic was now setting in on Bella as she started to flush with embarrassment even more.

“Bella, baby, you know if you wanted to get into my pants, all you had to do was just ask. There was no need to hide your luggage.” Jasper put his arm casually around Bella’s shoulder gripping her tightly, willing her to calm down and find the humor in the situation. Of course, with the look of complete confidence on Jasper’s face, she did exactly that.

Bella let out an unladylike snort which caused several people to turn around which in turn had Bella turning her own head to fling her hair in her face. “My life is beyond hopeless right now. Remind me why we broke up?” Bella laughed again as Jasper grabbed her hands lacing their fingers together comfortably.

“I don’t remember Bells. When you remember why you broke up with me, you are going to have to fill me in sometime.” Jasper leaned down and kissed the top of her head as he turned them in the direction of where the crowds were headed.

Soon enough they saw a few groups of Americans in the outer portion of the terminal. Each had a person holding a sign designating what group they were associated with. They saw a sign for ’Doctors without Borders‘, then a group for ’Roatan‘.

“Man, wish I were going to the beach right about now.” Bella mumbled under her breath. She felt like losing her luggage was surely an omen showing her what the rest of the trip was supposed to be like. The very last group they came to had a young Honduran looking couple holding a sign saying ’Habitat for Humanity‘. A number of other American volunteers were hugging these individuals, greeting them as if they were old friends. Bella assumed it must be people who were returning to Honduras as volunteers. As they approached the group the younger Honduran man made his way towards them.

“You must be Bella and Jasper. I am Alberto. That is my wife Anna over there. We have been waiting for you guys to get here. Everyone is hungry and ready to eat but we did not want to lose you two.” Bella was surprised at how well he spoke English through his thick accent. She and Jasper shook Alberto’s hands warmly.

“Wow. Do you just pack light or where are you bags?” Alberto stated looking at Bella.

“They lost my bags.” Bella muttered, trying hard not to just burst into tears of frustration.

“Do not worry. This is Honduras. Things like that happen all the time. Your bags should get to us within a few days time.” Alberto shrugged, apparently he was use to people’s clothing becoming a casualty of travel.

“Great. Just a few days. No big deal right?” Bella stated as Jasper nudged her in the side.

“Well, I think I know just the thing to help brighten your day. Everyone listen up.” Alberto addressed the group of approximately twenty people. “Before we get on the bus we are going to be eating here at the airport. Your choices are pretty much, well, Wendy's.”

“Did you just say...Wendy's? Like...burgers, french fries, and frosty's? Wendy's?” Bella let the words tumble out of her mouth before she had a chance to stop herself.

Alberto just chuckled to himself as he said “Yes. You might want to enjoy it because you will not have it again until you come back here to head back home. Also, they take American currency, but after you finish eating come find my wife and I and we will help you exchange some of your money for Honduran currency before we get on the bus.”

Bella never gave a second thought to the exchange of money, her mind was still hung up on the fact that he had said there was a Wendy's, in Honduras! “Where is it?” she questioned, her eyes darting around.

Alberto had no more than pointed in the general vicinity of the restaurant as Bella was hurriedly dragging Jasper in that direction, muttering to herself. “I'm gonna get a huge cheeseburger, large fries, and the biggest frosty they have.”

No sooner had they ordered their food, Bella was shoving her face with her frosty stating “Okay, so maybe Honduras isn't so bad after all.”

Jasper just chuckled as he ate his own burger and fries. “This is why I keep you around. You are so easy to please Bella. You find pleasure in the simplest of things.”

“You have no idea how out of my element I am here Jazz. I was separated from you during the flight. Alice chatted at me the entire time, I barely got a word in at all. The plane about dropped from the sky while landing. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the only clothing I have is what I am currently wearing. This little meal here? Is my only reminder of me, of Bella. Simple thing or not, this is my element.” Bella spooned a mouthful of chocolate frosty into her mouth and moaned, licking her lips as she closed her eyes. She was completely unaware that she held more than one man’s attention until Jasper gave her a kick under the table.

“Bella. I know that look, and you had better erase it from your face right now. Jeez, are you trying to drive every male in here insane?” He asked as he leaned forward to whisper to her puting his arms on the table.

“Sorry Jazz.” Bella immediately looked contrite and shook her hair forward, forming her every present veil to hide herself from everyone.

“No, don’t hide it Bella. This is what you are trying to get away from. What happened to trying to find yourself while you are out here?” Jasper reached over the table and tucked Bella’s hair away from her face and behind each ear. “You were going to do things differently…remember those plans?”

“Jasper, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan so far. What exactly should I be doing? I am willing to try, but it just feels like that little black rain cloud has followed the plane the whole way here.” Bella sighed pushing her empty frosty cup away from her as she sat back and rested her hands on her full stomach.

Jasper had to agree and couldn’t hold back his laugh. “Yeah, it does seem like it followed you here doesn’t it?”

“Oh shut it Jazz,” Bella said as they got up and threw their trash away, heading back to find the rest of the group.

They made it back to Alberto where the rest of the group had started to gather again. Once everyone had made it back Alberto explained that they should each take out enough American money to exchange that they thought they would spend within the first week. He recommended around 30to 40 dollars, as most of their expenses were covered except for sodas or snacks, and they would not be shopping in any touristy areas the first week of the trip. They would have plenty of other opportunities to exchange money in the future if they felt they needed more.

Soon enough Alberto called Bella and Jasper to come with him to exchange their money.

“This seems kind of sketchy don't you think?” Bella murmured as they followed closely behind Alberto.

“Sketchy? Bella, he has been doing this forever. Just trust him. And by the way, he is Honduran, not deaf. He can hear you.” Jasper said with a smile as they followed closely behind Alberto.

Jasper had not finished stating that when Alberto turned to Bella chuckling, “Don't worry. You are not the first, and you will not be the last who thinks our system is weird. You just have to remember, you are in a different country now. Things are going to be very different sometimes. I promise if you let go of whatever you are holding onto, you will have a much better experience here. Plus, this way will give the best exchange rate.” Alberto shrugged, leaving Bella to decide for herself how best to handle the situation. He knew he had just hit the nail on the head when it came to dealing with Bella and her apprehension regarding the whole ‘going with it’ theory.

Soon enough they came up to a man who was sitting at a bench looking around. As they approached he turned in close to Alberto stating, “How much?”

Bella and Jasper handed over their money and the man handed back a large stack of bills to each of them in turn.

As they walked away Bella stated, “You know, I feel like a criminal, but that was so much cooler than going to the bank.”

“Atta girl.” Jasper responded, and as he gently rubbed her back reassuringly he saw a glimmer of a real smile grace Bella's face for the first time since they had landed.

Eventually everyone was gathered together once again while Alberto was announcing the travel situation to Catacamas.

“For those of you who don't know, both the Habitat for Humanity group and the Doctors without Borders group stay at the same camp in Catacamas, but we will be traveling in separate buses down there because we have too many people for one bus. We will be making one stop for snacks, drinks, and bathroom break on the way there. Okay everyone, let's head to the bus.” Alberto gave a big wave with his hand and the herd of people started to move. When they arrived at the buses, Bella couldn't stop the laugh that erupted as that arrived at the bus they would be traveling in.

“Now this is what I call traveling in style. My adventure starts now Jazz!” Bella beamed up at Jasper as she smiled her childlike smile. Jasper was so caught up in Bella’s innocent declaration, and Bella was so caught up in the big yellow bus that neither of them were aware that they were being watched by others from both groups.

Jasper just smacked her lightly on the butt and said “Just get your butt on that bus crazy girl.”

“Okay, but I get to sit in the very back. That's where the best bumps happen!” With that Bella took off for a run toward the door of the bus Alberto indicated with a smile. With more grace than he ever had in her whole life, Bella made her way onto the bus dragging Jasper to the very last seat. She pulled him down to sit next to her and looked briefly out the window to see Alice arguing with someone. Bella recognized him as being one of the ‘beautiful people’ from her family. Again, she could see Alice from the angle she held herself at, but the man was tilted away seeming to be giving her a hard time.

Bella’s heart went out to her new friend until she remembered that it was her family and she had plenty of support. She waved quickly as Alice smiled and waved enthusiastically at her. Bella wondered absently how many calories Alice burned off with that wave alone, the girl had practically used her whole body to simply wave goodbye. Bella’s apprehension of the trip faded away as she quickly looked back at Jasper, releasing her full smile on him. He casually put his arm around her shoulder and drew her into his chest as he kissed the top of her hair.

“That’s my girl.” Jasper said as Bella continued to smile. She pulled away from him only to rest her arms on the seat in front of her and lean forward. As the bus pulled away, Jasper was relieved to see that the smile on Bella’s face stayed firmly in place…they were on their way.

********************

Edward's gaze was drawn to a tall blonde boy as he reached down and tucked a strand of hair behind the ear of a petite girl with long, wavy, brown hair. It was such a simple act, yet it seemed so intimate. The way they looked at one another, there was such understanding. It was almost as if they were speaking to one another without saying a word, never breaking eye contact. Edward felt as if he were invading on an extremely personal moment just by looking at them, almost as if he were peeping into their bedroom window. He sighed, thinking that he had hoped he would be able to escape this kind of stuff by come to Honduras. He only hoped they would not be in his group. He didn't think he would be able to handle having to watch that kind of affection all the time.

He was suddenly startled as the high pitched voice of his sister sounded in his ear, “Edward...what are you looking at?” Alice asked as she followed Edward's line of vision. “Oh! Look Edward! That's Bella! And that must be her friend Jasper that she is traveling with.”

“That's Bella? And that's her ‘friend’ Jasper? Alice, did you see them together? I am telling you that is not the way a friend helps another friend.” Edward put his bag down in disgust and stood facing his sister with his hands on his hips.

All around them people were scurrying about grabbing for luggage and making sure they were in the right place and loading their belongings on the correct bus. With the rest of his family distracted by the chaos and no one to intercept him, Edward pounced. He was still trying to get his younger sister to see reason. He convinced himself that his reasons for being overprotective of Alice were stemming from childhood. Aside from Emmett, Edward had been Alice’s next biggest warrior. These days, with Rose being the focus of all Emmett’s attention, Edward felt like he had to be especially diligent in his duties. Indeed, due to her small size, Emmett and Edward both had done their fair share of protecting Alice over the years. It now seemed second nature to him. Trusting of everyone and believing the best of them, Alice had always needed protecting from people that took advantage of her. Edward felt certain that this girl was no exception. He was rationalizing the fact that Tanya had used him and ceremoniously dumped him had nothing to do with it.

“I am so not having this conversation with you. You don’t know her like I do Edward. Would she even be on this trip if she were as bad as you are making her out to be? Listen to yourself would you?” Alice slung her laptop bag across her shoulder picking up her purse to hang it awkwardly from her shoulder. It slid down her tiny arm as she reached for her suitcase that lay on the ground by her feet. She was starting to feel overwhelmed as Edward’s words constantly hammered away at her resolve.

“Alice, I am only saying this for your own good, I just don’t want you to get hurt. You are too nice to people and they will take advantage of your good nature.” Edward reached over taking his much smaller sister’s bag from her to carry it himself.

“I am not a child anymore Edward. I don’t need you or Emmett protecting me anymore.” Alice’s actions belied her fierce words as she reached over to grab her bag back from her brother, only to have it fall again from her arms. “Listen, I know you are only trying to help. I appreciate that, really. But I don’t need or want your help right now. Bella is here helping out, and that makes her okay in my book.”

Edward’s reaction to Alice’s words and actions was amusing. He closed his eyes as he pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger and tried to calm himself down before he spoke again. His eyes shot open as he heard Alice’s laugh.

“What?” Edward said, clearly confused by her reaction.

“Nothing Edward, nothing at all.” His sister’s knowing smile infuriated him further.

“Listen, just promise me…” Edward’s words were cut off by the rumble of a bus that has just started its engine. They both gave a short jump as they looked over at it coming to life in a cloud of exhaust.

The rest of Edward’s words were drowned out by the bus engine sputtering. They both looked over at the bus and Alice gave a short squeal. As Edward turned back to start in on her again, she started waving frantically toward the bus. Edward turned his head just in time to catch a glimpse of a brown curtain of hair flying forward. He saw her face in his mind, so natural, but still beautiful, which was a trait he did not often come by. She had looked so sweet and innocent from afar, but he could not risk his sister being hurt by someone who appeared to be already telling half-truths. That boy was her friend, sure. And Tanya hadn’t really cheated on him...yeah right. Edward briefly thought of trying to sell Alice a bridge right on the spot. He couldn’t believe how gullible she was being.

“Alice, people like that are NOT the kind of people you need to be friendly with. I want you to promise me that you will take more care in who you associate with. If you don’t, then I will and I will involve dad and Emmett.” Edward’s hands were back on his hips as the first bus drove away in a puff of smoke.

“You know what Edward? This may have worked in the 6th grade, but just so you know I have been just fine without ‘warrior Edward’ protecting me for the last few years. Who do you think looked after me while I was away at school and you were so wrapped up in Tanya that you forgot all about your younger sister? I looked after myself and did just fine! So you know what? Back off! Whatever you are thinking you can just forget about it because I am going to…” Alice’s words were drowned out by the sounds of the second bus starting up, effectively startling them out of their disagreement for the time being. The two of them stopped arguing long enough to give each other a panicked glare as they grabbed their belongings and headed onto the second bus.

Alice sighed heavily as climbed on just ahead of her brother. There were only two seats left, right next to each other. As she plopped down in the seat she frantically reached into her bag looking for her iPod to let Edward know they were done discussing her friendships. She now understood how people sometimes found her so annoying as she rambled on. As Edward prepared to launch into another spiel, she made an exaggerated show of putting her ear buds in.

As their bus pulled away Alice made a mental note to apologize again to Bella…this time for rambling on during their entire flight to Catacamas. It hadn’t occurred to her before that Bella had not exactly responded with all the chatting they had done on the flight, or rather the chatting that Alice herself had done while Bella listened, as she had been so excited to meet the girl, she had not let her get a word in edgewise. If Edward’s unsolicited advice helped her learn anything, it was that she would know exactly when to shut up!

Alice was mulling over the flight in her head, thinking about Isabella, and the feeling she had about this girl. She would stand by her words, no matter how much Grumpward tried to be a killjoy. “You're wrong about her Edward. I just know you are. She will show you. I know she will be good for all of us,”

Before they knew it, the bus jump started, leaving exhaust fumes behind, and they were on their way to Catacamas!