Leaving Behind the Rain
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.
Disclaimer: This is fan fiction.
5. Chapter 4
Rating 4/5 Word Count 3412 Review this Chapter
It was unnecessary to call Mike's parents when they arrived at the hospital. The school had already called both sets of parents, and Charlie was behind them in the cruiser before they'd even arrived. Elsie and Michael Newton Sr. were standing worriedly outside the emergency entrance.
Bella was helped out of the back of the ambulance first. "I'm fine," she said preemptively as her father rushed over. "But Mike hit his head." She tried not to wince as she put weight on her leg. After being still for the rest of class, and the ambulance ride, it was unhappy to be asked to move again. No one noticed, though, as the EMTs removed Mike's stretcher from the ambulance.
Bella waited nervously with her dad as Mike and his parents disappeared into a room to be examined. Forks Hospital was thankfully not very busy at the moment. She told the whole story to her dad and then told it again when her mother arrived with Alex, who snickered at her until she snapped at him to shut up because while her part in the situation was funny, Mike's wasn't.
For once, instead of getting in trouble for being rude to her brother, her father took her side and hushed Alex, which only made him sulk. For a long time, they were all quiet after that.
Bella didn't get to go in and see Mike until everyone else decided to go out and grab some dinner. They promised to bring her something back, and Alex whispered that he'd bring something for 'Mikey,' too. Charlie heard him and smiled a little, but didn't disagree. Bella had been in the hospital enough that they all knew what the food there was like.
Sue Clearwater showed her to the little room Mike was in and he didn't look very happy to see her. She thought about it for a minute and decided she wouldn't like to be seen in a hospital gown either. "Does it hurt very much?" she asked, curling up carefully in a chair that had already been pulled up to his bedside. She didn't want to bump her leg.
"Can't feel a thing," Mike said bracingly, "but I'm not dizzy anymore. What about you? Are you alright?"
Bella had been wearing sweatpants, and had thus been able to hide her own bruise, but she pulled the leg up again gingerly now, wincing. It was a much deeper purple than it had been a few hours before. Mike winced. "Sorry," he said, and she shook her head. As if this was somehow HIS fault.
"It was my fault. And anyway, I'm used to it," she joked. "It's just a shame you got hurt for my clumsiness." She was about to cover the bruise again when the door opened abruptly and Carlisle Cullen appeared.
"Oh!" he exclaimed with false surprise that she could see through easily. "I thought everyone had gone. My apologies." Then there was a calculated pause - as if he hadn't noticed her bruise the moment he opened the door, or hadn't heard them talking about it from outside. "Were you also injured?" he asked, even though she'd covered her leg back up as quickly as she could. She watched him carefully for any of the discomfort she'd noticed in Jasper, but saw none as he closed the door behind him and stepped forward. She was going to deny it, though she knew it probably wouldn't do any good, but Mike didn't give her a chance.
"I kicked her pretty hard on my way down," he admitted. "Maybe you could take a look?"
Bella shot him an annoyed glance, but he looked honestly worried about her - he wasn't just suggesting it to tease her, at least. She sighed and looked back at the vampire doctor, who was watching her expectantly. Then she pulled up her pant leg again.
Dr. Cullen took two more steps forward, and paused for just the slightest instant, his eyes meeting hers with a worried expression, and she pulled in a hasty breath and held it while he reached out and poked at her injury gently. That didn't work very well for her, as it hurt quite a bit and the breath wooshed out of her all at once. Dr. Cullen went tense again. This time when he looked toward her she held his gaze, almost against her will. There was something about him that was just utterly captivating. She all but forgot Mike was in the room. And then the doctor blinked and looked away.
"I don't think you bruised the bone. I'll give you some pain medication for that, though, if you'd like. It'll probably be very tender tomorrow."
Bella nodded and glanced over at Mike again, but he was looking down at his hands, which were grasping the bed sheets rather hard. "When will Mike be able to go home?" she asked as the doctor moved around to the other side of the bed. Mike looked up quickly, and she tried to smile at him, but her mind still reeling over the odd dazed sensation she'd had looking into Carlisle Cullen's eyes and wondering why she hadn't felt afraid. It seemed to her that vampire tricks like that ought to frighten her.
She watched as Carlisle looked into each of Mike's eyes, checking for dilation. "By the time they get back with dinner, he'll probably be alright to go," he answered cheerfully. Bella thought he sounded a little too cheerful, like he was trying to distract her from a lapse of some kind, and she thought back to the way he'd tensed as he approached her, unsure of what it meant. She couldn't really be sure what was going on, but she was starting to believe she was doomed to be much more involved with this coven of vampires than she wanted to be. She had a nasty tendency to end up in the ER all the time, and an overdeveloped sense of social responsibility that made her feel guilty that everyone gossiped about them at school. Both things added up to conversations with vampires that she really didn't want to have.
Carlisle retreated, and Bella took Mike's hand as the door closed behind him. Mike's usual smile was back on his face almost at once. He was almost always cheerful. "Well, this was one way to get some time alone. I think I'd have rather taken you to a movie," he joked.
"When you're feeling better ask me again," Bella responded seriously, and he assured her he would, still smiling.
"I'm really sorry," she said again, unable to maintain a smile under these circumstances. She was sorry for exposing him to the vampire doctor as much as for the concussion, but of course, she couldn't tell him that. She was still trying to figure out why Carlisle didn't frighten her. Jasper had. But she recalled Billy saying he worried more about the younger ones - the newer ones than about the doctor. Maybe she was getting her bravery from that.
Mike waved off her apology and just looked at her for a long moment, still smiling. It made her blush, though, so she looked away. They were still like that, his hand held by both of hers, when their families filed back into the room. Bella knew from experience that they were all about to be kicked out. You couldn't have this many people jammed into an exam room and expect no one to notice.
She watched Alex slip Mike a bag of fast food, which made him grin even wider, and her mother handed her something as well. She didn't even get a few seconds to come clean about her bruise before the doctor appeared again and ratted her out, handing Renee a prescription that caused every eye in the room to turn towards her, and forced her to show off the bruise again. She was blushing even more by the time this was over, and it wasn't the same pleasant sort of thing that Mike had brought on a few moments before.
"Oh, Bells. I should have known," Charlie said, grimacing.
"It was my fault, I kicked her on the way down," Mike offered, but no one paid him any attention except Alex.
"You mean she tripped you," he clarified wickedly.
"Not on purpose!" Mike and Bella said it at the same time, and everyone laughed. And then the Swan family was booted out. Mike assured Bella he'd see her at school, and squeezed her hand for goodbye while Alex snickered at them. She made sure to bump him hard on her way out the door, but that only made him laugh harder.
The last beach trip before the weather got bad was usually scheduled by Mike. It was sort of a tradition, ever since he'd arrived in Forks, though before he'd got his license his mother had always driven them. This year, it fell in mid September, just after Bella's birthday. It was not the fun trip they all remembered from the previous year, however.
Jessica and Tyler had broken up. In fact, nearly everyone who'd been dating over the summer from their grade and the grade above them was single now, except for Mike and Bella. And everyone knew exactly why.
Bella hadn't approached the Cullens again. Alice occasionally spoke to her during one of the three classes they shared, and she sometimes noticed Emmett watching her - usually after she'd made a fool of herself in some way or another. And he was always laughing. Normally, she would have been mortified, but somehow it seemed like being entertaining to him wasn't the same as being laughed at by mean-hearted peers. She started waving to him whenever she caught him looking, and he'd wave back, but that was as close to conversation as she got with the older Cullen 'children.' Edward did eventually show up at school, but he avoided her altogether. They shared not a single class, which was fine with her.
This suited Uncle Billy just fine as well. He'd scolded her extensively for her over-exposure to vampires on the very first day of school, looking at her as if there was something wrong with her. But in the end, even he had to admit that it wouldn't have been much like her to leave the new kids to flounder for themselves with no one else speaking to them. Nor could he have expected her to stay in gym class while Mike was rushed to the hospital, especially considering that it had been her fault. And above all, he wanted her to behave as if nothing was unusual about the Cullen family.
So she had. She was aware that her waving at Emmett and talking to Alice made them all seem more accessible to the school population at large than they would have if they'd not interacted with anyone at all. She also noticed that they began taking her advice shortly after Edward returned to town - some of them bringing bag lunches one day and some another. People stopped wondering what their problem was with the school food and conjecturing about why they didn't eat.
She was preoccupied with all of this as Mike pulled into the little gravel-covered area just off the dirt road that they used as parking for First Beach, but she snapped out of it when he smiled over at her. They were the only ones smiling. They'd had to bring three separate vehicles, and had been very careful about who rode with whom, to avoid putting anyone with the person who'd most recently broken up with them.
Jessica couldn't ride in the same vehicle as Tyler, for example, so she rode with Mike, Bella, Angela and Ben. Eric couldn't ride with Lauren, but thankfully neither of them had come in the Suburban. There were several others that everyone was trying to keep separated without excluding them entirely. Bella thought the whole thing was a bit ridiculous and couldn't understand why everyone felt that having five inhumanly pretty new students at the school meant they all needed to be single. She enjoyed hanging out with Mike a lot, and having to see Edward's flawless face turned in her direction from across the lunch room didn't seem to have any bearing on that for her. She wondered, sometimes, why he was looking at her, but didn't see any reason to ask. For the most part, he didn't make her nervous. Only once in a great while, when his eyes looked particularly dark, did she ever look back and narrow her eyes to chastise him for it. On those occasions, he always looked away quickly. But when his eyes were golden, she tried not to look into them, mindful of the dazed feeling that had come over her in Dr. Cullen's presence.
The water was cold, but they were used to it. Bella was glad Alex wasn't with them, for once. He tended to enjoy carrying her into the water whether she wanted to go or not, ever since he'd realized he was taller, and could pick her up fairly easily. She was certain he'd turn up soon enough, though. The res kids usually came to hang out with them when they were on the beach, and Alex was surely with Jacob for the day. She was correct.
They'd made a fire in the usual pit, and she and Angela were comparing notes on Mike and Ben, whom Angela was interested in, when several of her Quileute friends made an appearance. Jared led. Behind him, Alex walked along with Jacob and Embry, who were followed by little Seth Clearwater.
Bella blushed hotly as they approached, even though she loved times like this, when all her friends hung out together. It was a rare enough occurrence, and she intended to enjoy it. Unfortunately the first thing out of her mouth ruined the previously good moods of all the newcomers.
"Hey guys. Didn't Leah come with you?" The older boys, who were a grade ahead of Leah at the Quileute school, exchanged a glance. "Jared?" Bella prompted when they didn't answer. She knew Jared fairly well, though it looked like he'd grown three feet over the summer while she'd been away.
"Guess you didn't hear," Jacob answered quickly. "Leah's sort of upset. Sam is dating her cousin Emily these days."
Bella stood up, frowning. Leah and Sam had been dating since the beginning of Leah's freshman year at school. She'd thought for sure they were going to end up married. What’s more, she knew that Leah had thought so, too. "He broke up with her? When?"
"This summer," Jared answered carefully, "Not long after he first met Emily."
Bella shook her head, glad Sam wasn't around today so that she wasn't tempted to tell him what she thought about that. She and Leah and Rachel and Rebecca had been friends as far back as she could remember. She felt bad for not knowing about it sooner. "That's awful. I hope Leah's alright. I'll have to stop out at the Clearwater place and see how she's doing."
The boys didn't have an answer to that, so she sat back down heavily, considering Leah's pain. Finally, she realized Jacob and Alex had seated themselves as well, Jake nearest her, so she asked after his sisters. They were off looking at a college campus in California, apparently. She shook her head. The girls were suddenly vastly out-numbered.
Not long after, Mike reappeared with his arms full of driftwood to add to the fire, and it was proposed that they take a trip to the tide pools, which were Bella's very favorite thing about First Beach. The Forks kids divided pretty evenly, but almost all the Quileutes stayed on the beach.
"Does Jacob Black always sit that close to you?" Mike whispered, holding her hand as they tromped through the underbrush toward the tide pools. Bella looked up, startled, and walked into a low hanging branch.
"Sorry." Mike held the branch aside and pulled her passed it. Bella followed, trying to think back to just how close Jake had been sitting. She hadn't noticed.
"I didn't realize he was, to be honest," she said finally, after a glance behind her to see who all was in hearing distance. Angela was behind her, smiling at what she'd overheard, but keeping her eyes averted. Mike didn't reply.
The tide pools were beautiful as usual, and as usual, Bella spent far too much time there. She and Mike climbed one of the trees and stretched out, each choosing a thick branch that hung low over the pools, so they could look straight down into them and see everything. It was not an activity she ever tried when she was here just with her mother and Billy’s girls. After all, if she fell, as she was apt to do, who would get her back to the beach?
The other kids went back after a short time, and those who'd elected to stay in the beginning appeared in their place. Bella noticed that several of them were already forming new attachments. Lauren appeared very interested in Tyler, whom Jessica had broken up with a week previous. Tyler, of course, was oblivious. Bella pointed it out to Mike in a whisper and they both laughed quietly. They were jarred from their quiet posts, however, when Alex and Jacob, rough housing on the far side of the pools, accidentally knocked Lauren into the shallow water. As she tried to keep her balance, her ankle twisted unnaturally, and she shrieked as she tipped over. Mike was down the tree and vaulting from one rock to another to help Tyler and Jake haul her out of the water before anyone could blink, but Bella took her time climbing down. One injury a day was plenty.
Lauren was furious with the younger boys, of course, and would probably have told them off if Mike hadn't fished her out and started carrying her back to the beach. Instead, she shot Bella a vicious smirk that made her look utterly evil as far as Bella was concerned. She watched them go, Lauren relaxing and leaning her head against his shoulder.
"Don't worry, Bells. He doesn't like her," Alex said quietly, and Bella took a deep breath and turned away from the sight. Her brother really was a pretty nice kid, as rarely as she deigned to admit it. She noticed as she turned to thank him that Jacob was staring at the ground - not something the smiling boy usually did. She guessed he felt bad for injuring Lauren.
"I know," she said quickly, answering Alex. "You guys shouldn't screw around when there are innocent bystanders to think of, but I'm sure she'll get over it. She's fine," she added bitterly at the end. Because knowing Lauren she probably WAS fine, and just enjoying the opportunity to make Bella jealous.
Jake seemed to realize she was trying to assuage his guilty conscience because he looked up and forced a grin. "Yeah, she'll be alright," he agreed, but he still sounded upset. Bella looked at him hard for a moment.
She was about to assure him again that Lauren would be alright, when he broke under her gaze. "What?" he asked disarmingly, grinning wide and throwing open his arms in a perfect parody of innocence. Bella couldn't help but laugh and shake her head.
"You're both awful. Go on, get back to the beach and say you're sorry," she instructed, still laughing. Then she looked around and realized they were the last ones still hanging around. "I'm right behind you," she added, climbing back to the beach side of the pools carefully. The way everyone else darted over the rocks was blisteringly fast in comparison to her.
By the time she was halfway back, she'd decided that Lauren was harmless, and if Mike hadn't dumped her to try and compete for Rosalie or Alice's attention then he certainly wasn't going to leave her over Lauren. She was smiling at the thought when she heard whispers in the woods near the overgrown path she knew so well. She stopped, but didn't recognize the voices. It took her only a moment to decide she wanted to know what they were saying. Maybe someone had gotten lost on their way back to the beach.