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Leaving Behind the Rain

Summary:
AU - Renee hates Forks. She takes her baby and leaves. This is the story of what Bella's teenage years would have been like if Charlie had followed them. Rain


Notes:
Disclaimer: This is fan fiction.


2. Chapter 1

Rating 3.7/5   Word Count 2700   Review this Chapter

They’d only been back from Phoenix for three days when the first invitation arrived. Bella Swan rolled her eyes as her mother read it aloud. “It’s from Sue Clearwater. She says Elsie has insisted that the nurses throw a house warming party for the new doctor and his family.”

“That sounds like Elsie, alright,” Charlie commented, around a mouthful of omelet. Bella grinned.

“Good?” she asked, plopping another onto a plate and setting it in front of her mom. Charlie nodded, but Bella didn’t notice. She was already turning around to get one for herself. With only a week left before she began her sophomore year at high school, she was firmly entrenched as the family cook. Charlie had neither the time nor the inclination, and Renee was very eccentric in the kitchen. For that matter, she was very eccentric everywhere.

“We’ll have to go shopping, of course.”

“You’re going?” Charlie asked, winking at Bella. He knew they were going. Every time Elsie instigated a party, the Swan family could be counted on to attend – whether they liked it or not.

“We’re all going,” Renee answered mildly, shooting him an exasperated glance that made Bella snort behind her hand and try to cover it with a cough.

“Honestly, Mom, you fall for that every time,” she explained, finally allowing herself to laugh when Renee turned the expression on her. Renee smiled as well.

“I do, don’t I?” She looked fondly back at Charlie, who was grinning unrepentantly, and then turned her attention to her food while Bella shook her head.

Later, as Bella was clearing up the dishes, she got up the nerve to ask, “So, Mom, do you think Mike will be there?”

The answer was swift, but not from her mother. “Yeah, Mom, will MIKEY be there? Because it can’t possibly be any fun without MIKEY!”

Bella rounded on her little brother, who’d slept through breakfast again, and launched a sudsy sponge at him in response. It missed, of course, but skidded to a sloppy stop at her father’s feet. “Bells,” he scolded, grinning at her bright pink cheeks. But Alex had already retrieved it and tossed it back towards her, laughing when she fumbled it and got soapy water all over her jeans.

She scooped it up from the floor and threw it belligerently back into the water. “Of course Mike will be there. The Cullens have children your age. Elsie will want him to meet them, I’m sure,” Rene responded finally, utterly ignoring the water battle that had just taken place in her kitchen. It didn’t make much difference, though, as Alex was already pulling off paper towels to clean it up, and Bella had turned back to the dishes.



Charlie carried a bottle of wine and Renee had a wrapped gift under her arm as they exited the car in front of the veritable mansion that belonged to the new town doctor. Bella carried nothing – everyone was too afraid she’d drop something important. Alex was empty-handed as well, because everyone knew he was just as likely as his mother to put things down and forget where he’d left them. Even at 15 and 13, it was clear that Bella took after her father and Alex after his mother.

The Newtons had already arrived, but Bella was surprised to notice Sue Clearwater was nowhere to be seen. She’d sent the invite, after all. Bella had assumed she was in on it, and all her friends from the reservation would be in attendance. “Dad, are the Blacks coming?” Bella asked quietly, after she’d been introduced to Dr. and Mrs. Cullen. She didn’t look at him as she spoke, though. Her eyes were still on Carlisle Cullen. She didn’t think she’d ever seen a more attractive person. His wife was really pretty, also.

Normally, Charlie would already be teasing her about her obvious interest in the new doctor, but her question made him smile grimly instead. “I doubt it. Billy’s being ridiculous. The Clearwaters backed out at the last minute, too.” He didn’t get a chance to explain further as the first of the Cullen’s children came barreling down the stairs. And since he was roughly the shape of a huge barrel, everyone was thoroughly distracted.

“Emmett,” Carlisle greeted him in a smooth voice, “I’d like to introduce you to some of the kids you’ll be going to school with next week.” The big kid grinned.

More introductions all around, and Bella noticed several things right away. Emmett Cullen, in addition to being huge, was every bit as good looking as his parents. And Mike seemed intimidated, which was rare. She watched them shake hands and bit back a smile. Poor Mike did seem a little small, comparatively. She also noticed that Alex seemed to really like Emmett, and wasn’t intimidated at all, though he was a fair bit smaller, even, than Mike.

She hadn’t got a chance to go and talk to the Newtons yet, so as soon as Emmett had turned his attention to his mother, she grinned up at her dad and headed off toward them. She heard Alex hissing something rude behind her, but she also heard her father tell him off for it, so she figured she didn’t need to know.

Elsie greeted her first, and boisterously. She answered a few questions about how Phoenix had treated her, and wondered why Mike hadn’t rescued her from his talkative mother yet. When she finally turned toward him, Elsie having been distracted by someone behind her, she discovered why. Mike’s eyes were glued to the girl who’d just come down the stairs. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the girl who’d just come down the stairs. Bella wondered briefly if Mike had noticed her staring at Dr. Cullen the same way and hoped he hadn’t. Of course, it hadn’t been exactly the same. She’d still been capable of carrying on a conversation with her dad – Mike didn’t seem to have even noticed she was standing beside him, in spite of his mother’s loud questioning.

Still, when introduced, she greeted Rosalie Hale politely, and shook her hand, which was so cold that she immediately felt goosebumps sprout on her arm. Rosalie murmured hello in a low voice and Bella watched Mike shiver at the sound. A few seconds later, she went to stand beside her father again, her eyes on the floor. She caught her toe on a perfectly even floorboard, somehow, on the way. She didn’t worry too much. Everyone’s eyes were still on Rosalie anyway. But when she finally looked up, she caught Emmett grinning in her direction, his eyes sparkling with mirth. So, someone had noticed that she’d nearly broken her ankle again. She couldn’t help but smile back.

Renee noticed the exchange. And surprisingly enough, so did Mike and Rosalie, each from an opposite side of the room. Rosalie just turned toward Emmett and captured his attention, talking in a low voice. Mike belatedly walked over to ask Bella how her summer had gone.

Esme broke into the conversation, then, explaining quietly that because all their children were adopted, she and Carlisle had decided not to stand in the way if any of them happened to form romantic attachments with their adopted siblings. Bella winced, imagining the gossip THAT news was going to illicit. Mike’s mother already looked like Christmas had come early.

“Are the Stanleys coming?” Bella whispered to Mike, who nodded. “Oh good grief, that’ll be a mess on Monday,” she concluded. Mike tried not to laugh and failed. Charlie turned from the conversation with Esme and Carlisle to scowl at them and they both fell silent. It was an exceedingly awkward moment.

In due time, the Stanleys did arrive, and several other families as well, which lessened the need for each person to feel obligated to speak to the newcomers. Well, each person except Bella. She couldn’t help but notice that Rosalie was standing beside Emmett silently, watching her new neighbors talk without, and sometimes about her. Bella sighed. “I’ll be back,” she said to Jessica Stanley, who was chatting idly about the clothes she’d purchased for the new school year. Jess rolled her eyes and turned her attention to Mike, who cared about the clothes even less than Bella did.

“Hi,” Bella said quietly when she’d reached Emmett and Rosalie. They returned her greeting with something like shock on their faces. “What classes are you starting next week?” she asked, when they said nothing further. The two exchanged a bemused glance, almost as if they didn’t comprehend why she was speaking to them, and then began to discuss their class schedules in muted tones. She found that she had no classes in common with them.

“So, you’re Juniors, then? Mike and Jess and I are in Sophomore year, and Alex is still in the middle school.” She gestured to where the people she’d mentioned were all standing in a circle, shooting glances at them in what they clearly thought was a covert manner. Bella tried not to be embarrassed, but it didn’t work. She felt her cheeks heat up and rolled her eyes. “They aren’t usually this anti-social,” she tried to explain, but Emmett was already excusing himself politely. She couldn’t help but feel very disappointed in her friends.

Alex, though, made an effort. He stepped towards Emmett, who noticed him but didn’t seem inclined to stop until the younger boy spoke. “Are you going out for the football team?” Alex asked quickly, his tone obviously hopeful. Emmett laughed, and most of the adults’ conversations came to a halt at the sound. Bella noticed Rosalie smiling out of the corner of her eye.

In due time, as the folks of Forks ate their way through the hors d’oeuvres, the other members of the Cullen family appeared. The first of these was a tiny, dark-haired girl named Alice, whom Bella liked at once. She came bearing an apology from Rosalie’s brother, Jasper, who was apparently already looking into colleges – he was out of town, visiting a campus with an aunt, she said proudly. Bella got the impression that Alice and Jasper, like Emmett and Rosalie, were romantically involved. It seemed clear to her that Jessica got the same impression, as she was already looking shifty. By lunch on Monday, the whole school would be buzzing with rumors.

Alice asked about classes and teachers, and Bella told her all she could think of – Alice had already memorized her schedule, but Bella had barely glanced at her own. She thought they might have a few classes together, though, because they were in the same year. As they talked, Rosalie stood near them, watching Emmett and Alex, who seemed to be getting along very well. Mike wandered over as well. Bella introduced him, but for the most part, he spent his time looking at Rosalie. He said little. Bella tried very hard not to let it bother her. She kept reminding herself that she’d stared at Dr. Cullen at first, too.

The last member of the Cullen family came downstairs alone as the others had done, and Bella took a moment to wonder why they hadn’t just all been waiting in this huge room where everyone was gathered. It seemed to her that they were behaving as though this was a pageant rather than a party. Of course, this – the youngest in the family, as Rosalie had mentioned – was the most beautiful of all of them, in Bella’s opinion. Perhaps they just hadn’t wanted to overwhelm the plain denizens of Forks by greeting them all together at the door like a host of angels. She grinned at the thought, her eyes still on the youngest Cullen boy.

She was distracted, however, when Alice stiffened beside her. She thought she heard the shorter girl hiss, which seemed odd. “Are you alright?” she asked, but got no response. At the same time, Bella noticed Emmett looking up in alarm to meet his brother’s suddenly confused gaze. She thought she saw them both move their lips quickly, but she didn’t hear them speak. An instant later, Carlisle introduced Edward to the room at large. But rather than come forward and shake hands with everyone, as his siblings had done, Edward remained on the stairs. At first, his eyes had been glued to Alice, but after only a brief instant, they’d trained on Bella, making her feel very uncomfortable. He didn’t look away, and Bella felt herself blush again.

“I’m sorry, Carlisle,” Edward said quietly, and Bella noticed he was holding his stomach gingerly, though he hadn’t been doing anything of the sort when he first appeared. “I’m not feeling very well. I was just coming down to see if there was any chicken soup or – what’s that pink stuff called? Oh, Pepto Bismal,” he quickly answered his own question with a grimace.

Bella felt her mouth fall open. She felt as if she’d just seen a fabulous actor play everyone in the room for a fool. She heard Rosalie snort delicately beside her and recognized that to be confirmation as Esme Cullen hurried Edward into the kitchen, Emmett following closely. Only when she took his elbow did Edward tear his eyes away from Bella’s, and she blinked several times in succession. “Shy, is he?” she asked Alice, her voice shaking slightly.

But Alice didn’t answer at first. “No, not usually,” she said finally, with a far-away look in her eyes. “We should make sure he’s alright.” And with that, she dragged Rosalie into the kitchen as well.

Bella looked around. Carlisle was chatting pleasantly with several nurses from the hospital, in addition to Renee and Elsie. The rest of the Forks high school gossip squad were in a huddle next to the piano, and Alex was standing forlornly in the middle of the room, where Emmett had clearly left him in the middle of a conversation. Bella walked over to him, aware that Mike was following her. “Well, they’re an odd bunch, aren’t they?” Mike asked.

“Emmett’s really cool!” Alex defended quickly. But he kept his voice down glancing toward the collection of men Charlie was standing with near the food table.

“Emmett does seem very nice. And Alice and Rosalie are as well.”

“Yeah, well that Edward – what was wrong with him?” Mike tried again. Alex didn’t have an opinion on Edward yet, so he didn’t answer.

“I’d bet he’s just shy, although he did look a little green around the gills,” Bella offered, smiling at the phrase her dad’s best friend always used. Jessica approached at just that moment.

“Did you SEE him?!” she demanded, dragging Bella away by the hand. Bella rolled her eyes, and then shot Alex a warning glance. That little twerp had BETTER not say anything to Mike about - “Seriously, did you SEE Edward Cullen?”

“Yes, Jessica, I saw him. He looked sick,” she answered in an exasperated whisper. But truthfully, he hadn’t looked sick at all. His face had been flawless. Of course, his every hair had been out of place, but that had only given the impression that none of them were. If Health had a poster boy, he was it.

“He’s perfect!” Jessica gushed, clearly ignoring the censure in Bella’s voice. Bella wasn’t looking at her, though. Her attention was divided between trying to hear what her little brother was saying to Mike, and noticing that Carlisle seemed to be noticing Jessica’s gushing.

“I think Dr. Cullen can hear you,” she whispered, and Jessica whirled around. But by then Carlisle appeared deep in conversation with Renee again. Bella narrowed her eyes. There was just enough of a smile to the man’s face that she was sure Jessica had been overheard.

By the time they left, Bella had the distinct impression that there was something very, very strange about the Cullen family. But she didn’t voice it. She recalled Charlie’s dark tone as he talked about how the res folks had all backed out of the party at the last minute, and resolved to talk to Uncle Billy about the Cullens before she formed any opinions.