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.
8. Chapter 7
Rating 0/5 Word Count 2883 Review this Chapter
Mike’s mother had been pestering him to take a nap ever since he’d finished the chicken soup she gave him for lunch. But when the phone rang as soon as school was out, he was sure he’d made the right decision. That had to be Bella, saying she was on her way. He wanted to be awake when she arrived.
Only it wasn’t Bella. It was the last person in the world he really felt like talking to. “Mike, honey? Lauren Mallory is on the phone for you.” Mike sat up just far enough to see over the back of the couch.
“Can’t you tell her I’m asleep?” he whined.
There was a pause. “No, that’s fairly impossible, now,” his mother returned, clearly amused.
“Oh fine, give it here,” he grumbled. He couldn’t fathom what the girl could possibly want. He’d told her after the beach trip that he didn’t appreciate her taking advantage of his help to try and make Bella feel jealous. He thought he’d been pretty clear. “Hello?” he asked, grimacing at his mother as she handed him the cordless phone. He wondered if he could convince Lauren that there was bad reception.
“Mike, its Lauren. You aren’t going to believe this.” Lauren was whispering, which Mike found annoying.
“Why bother telling me, then?” he asked sourly, knowing it wouldn’t slow her down in the slightest.
“I forgot my history notes in my locker after school, so I had to run back and get them and I saw Bella sitting out at the picnic tables with Edward Cullen!”
Mike didn’t respond, and Lauren was only able to wait for a second. “So I just had to call you and – oh!” All the glee seemed to have drained out of her voice, and Mike felt his stomach drop unpleasantly.
“What?” he couldn’t help but ask.
“OH! He just kissed her!” The glee had returned in spades.
Mike’s jaw seemed to lock into place, which was good. Several choice words were tumbling through his brain – for both the situation and the messenger. And his mother was within hearing distance so it’s best he wasn’t able to talk.
Lauren didn’t say anything for quite a while. Like Jessica, she had a gift for knowing when her audience was invested in whatever rumor she was telling. She knew he was interested enough to stay on the line. “What did Bella do?” Mike asked finally, unable to wait any longer.
“She ran away, but then he followed her to that hideous truck she drives and –“
Mike waited impatiently. “AND?” he asked after a moment.
And then in the background, he heard another voice, far less familiar than Lauren’s, but no more welcome. “While you’re on the phone with Newton, be sure to explain just how thoroughly Bella rejected me.”
“Lauren?” Mike asked after a moment.
“Yea – yeah?”
“I don’t guess you have much else to tell me.”
“I think he’s angry.”
Mike didn’t respond to that. He was angry as well, and with far more cause, it seemed to him. He hung up the phone, and resisted the urge to chuck it into the kitchen just to hear it fall apart. “I’m going to bed,” he announced instead, setting the phone carefully on the charger next to the couch. He didn’t hear what his mother responded, though he knew she was talking. He dragged his blanket behind him and wondered if the returning headache was a result of his fever, or that conversation.
Bella was halfway to first beach when it occurred to her that she had all of Mike’s homework assignments with her, and she should really go to his place instead. She turned around reluctantly, but after some thought decided it was for the best. First beach was always where she seemed to go when she was upset, but she didn’t really want to tell Billy what had happened, even though he was the only person who might be able to offer some insight into exactly WHY that had occurred. Further thought led her to feel that maybe he wouldn’t be much help anyway. After all, he didn’t have any personal knowledge of vampire mating habits. As she pulled into the Newton’s driveway, she came to the conclusion that if she wanted to know exactly what Edward was playing at, the best person to ask would be Alice.
Elsie Newton invited her into the kitchen before she could even knock, and greeted her warmly. Bella smiled at the familiarity. After such an unexpected afternoon, Mrs. Newton’s friendliness set her at ease again.
“Mike’s asleep just now, dear. You can set his things on the table,” she said, turning back to the potatoes she was peeling for dinner. Bella grinned. Mrs. Newton was an amazing woman in a lot of ways. She would probably finish making the entire meal without getting a single smudge or water droplet on her perfect outfit. Bella was sure her own mother would look like she’d been hit by a bus full of flour, if she attempted anything like the casserole Mrs. Newton was making. And Bella could tell at a glance that there wasn’t any flour needed for that recipe.
Bella hoisted her bag up onto the table and started digging through. “Is he feeling any better?” she asked, fishing out Mike’s notebook, which she’d swiped from his locker to write down his assignments in. She started rearranging her bag to try and fit her own stuff back in.
“Actually, he seems to still be getting worse,” Mrs. Newton replied, without turning around. “He tried to stay up to see you, but got so sleepy he just had to lie down.”
Bella frowned. She’d been hoping Mike would be back to school the next day, as it would make it far easier to avoid Edward Cullen. “Well, tell him I hope he feels better soon,” she said after a moment.
“I’m sure he’ll call you when he wakes up, dear, if it isn’t too late.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Newton. See you tomorrow, then.”
Bella let herself out the front door and drove home, trying to decide if it would be better to tell Mike what happened over the phone when he called, or wait until after school the next day. Neither option seemed like a good idea.
Mike didn’t call, and Bella assumed that he’d probably slept right through dinner. She wondered if he was developing pneumonia or something, and frowned as she got ready for bed, thinking about the possibility of having to make another trip to the hospital. She’d managed to avoid any serious injuries since the disastrous first day of volleyball by a combination of being extremely careful, holding hands with Mike every possible moment, and uncommonly good luck. The last thing she wanted now was to have to go face Edward’s ‘father.’
She lay in bed, unmoving, but unable to actually fall asleep for a very long time, amazed at the fact that life had somehow become even MORE complicated in just the few short hours since school ended.
It wasn’t so much that Edward had kissed her, although naturally she was aware of just how odd that had to be, for a vampire to kiss a human. It was the fact that the kiss had made her feel something that was causing the confusion that kept her awake. Of course she hadn’t expected to be kissed at all, but if she’d given it any thought, she knew she’d have expected any kissing that didn’t involve Mike to feel a lot like kissing Jared had felt. Hollow, somehow. Instead, it had been –
Bella rolled her eyes at her own train of thought and then shifted in bed, burying her face in the pillow. She had to get to sleep. Tomorrow was sure to be a hellish day at school, between avoiding Edward and trying to find a way to talk privately with Alice. She was going to need all the brain power she could get.
She drifted off into a restless sleep only to awaken abruptly half an hour later. She sat up in bed. The room was so dark she couldn’t be sure at first that she had opened her eyes. She knew exactly what had awakened her and she was embarrassed, blushing in the darkness. Saying Edward’s name in her sleep while she was very happily dating Mike made her feel guilty. Never mind where that dream had been headed. She dropped back to her pillow heavily. “It was just one kiss, Bells,” she told herself in a stern whisper before rolling to face the wall.
Friday morning Algebra was a bit of a shock, and Bella hesitated in the doorway when she noticed Mike sitting listlessly in his usual seat, his hair uncharacteristically slicked back due to rainwater and disinterest, and his chin propped on his hands. His eyes were closed, and the circles under them – though not vampire-dark – were alarming. He looked worse than she’d seen him on his last day of school before he’d called to say he was staying home sick.
She hurried to sit down beside him and put a hand on his rain-spotted shoulder. He hadn’t taken off his coat. “Mike, are you feeling any better?” she asked gently.
He shifted his head to rest his cheek on his hands so he could look at her without sitting up. “Not really,” he admitted. In truth he was feeling much worse. What he really wanted was his blanket back, and some tea. He was already beginning to regret showing up today. In spite of the three Advil he’d taken, his head was pounding, and his stomach still felt a bit strange. But he hadn’t been able to make himself stay home and wait for another call from Lauren.
For her part, Bella was glad she’d come in early to try and catch Alice. Of course, that plan was shot, now, but she could always try again on Monday. “Why’d you come, then? You’ll probably be sick all weekend, now!”
“I’ll be fine,” Mike assured her. He kept his voice low, so as not to give away how hoarse it was. He reached his hand up to take hers, pulling it down to rest with his on the desk. Bella had to shift forward in her chair, and stretch her arm out further to accommodate him, but she didn’t mind. He looked miserable, and if holding her hand would make him feel better, she’d be the last person to deny him.
Unfortunately, her sleeve pulled back from her wrist just slightly, revealing the bruise Edward’s fingers had left there the day before. Naturally Mike noticed. He sat up abruptly, still holding her hand, and pushing her sleeve up further.
“Did Cullen do this to you?” he demanded, no longer trying to hide the fact that his voice was hoarse from having a nasty sore throat half the week.
Bella pulled her hand out of his grip and covered the marks up again self-consciously. “How’d you hear about that already?” she asked, dodging his question.
“How else? Lauren Mallory called me.” Mike struggled to keep from sounding angry, because he wasn’t angry with Bella. As best he could tell, she’d handled it exactly the way any boyfriend would hope his girlfriend would handle that sort of thing. But he was angry with Cullen. In fact, now that he’d seen that bruise, he was furious.
“I wanted to tell you about it last night, but your mom said you were asleep,” Bella whispered. The teacher had finally arrived, and they were out of time. Mike didn’t get a chance to respond, though she could see that he suddenly looked a little guilty, and she realized that he hadn’t really been sleeping when she’d arrived at his house the night before. Bella noticed Alice slide into the room just as the bell rang and take her seat. She looked back at her for an instant, but couldn’t catch her eye. She was fairly certain Alice was going to be impossible to corner.
Bella was pretty annoyed by lunchtime. Alice WAS impossible to corner. Mike was in a rotten mood, and feeling worse by the hour. She could tell when she saw him between classes. And everyone was talking about her behind her back. Lauren was the worst, but literally, the whole school seemed to know. Even Emmett grinned at her knowingly every time they passed in the hall.
She entertained the idea of trying to talk with Emmett instead of Alice, but didn’t really think that would work out. For one thing, she didn’t know him nearly as well, and for another, the last thing she needed was to feed the Forks High rumor mill something new to talk about.
She walked to lunch with Mike, watching him carefully. They still hadn’t had more than a whispered conversation in the hallway, during which he’d assured her he wasn’t angry with her. She got the distinct impression that he’d forced himself to come to school entirely to prevent her from talking to Edward Cullen again. She didn’t think there was really any need, though. Edward hadn’t so much as passed her between classes or walked by her locker. She hadn’t seen even a hint of him all day, though she was sure she'd have heard if he was absent. She wondered what he and his family thought of all the rumors. They could probably hear all the whispers perfectly.
A quick glance told her that Alice wasn’t at the Cullens’ lunch table, and she grimaced as she made her way to the lunch line. She’d considered just walking up to her there and asking to talk with her, but apparently that wasn’t going to happen.
Mike just went and sat down at the table. Bella didn’t blame him for not wanting to eat, since his stomach was still upset, and she felt really guilty that he’d dragged himself out of bed because of her. It occurred to her that some ginger ale might help him, and she left the lunch line. She knew the school nurse kept some on hand, so she braved the cold rain and went to ask.
Just outside the door, however, she ran into the last person she’d expected to see. She grinned at Alice, pleased to have run into her. “I’ve got to talk to you,” she declared boldly. Alice smiled back, her dark eyes dancing, though she’d looked thoroughly surprised just an instant before.
“I really have to get to lunch.”
“You have to sit down right there and talk to me,” Bella insisted, her smile falling away. “This is important.”
Alice hesitated for only a second, her eyes darting towards the window, as though she was expecting to see someone. “Edward didn’t see me leave, so he isn’t going to rescue you. Now sit down, please, and tell me what in the world he was thinking!” Bella demanded, exasperated beyond reason.
Almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth, Bella regretted them. She liked Alice a lot, and sometimes it was difficult to keep in mind that Alice was every bit as dangerous as the others. “Please,” she added again, in a quieter tone of voice.
Alice, however, seemed more amused than angry. “I don’t know what he was thinking. I can only imagine that he likes you more than even he was aware. He was only SUPPOSED to find out if you knew about us, and decide whether or not you were trustworthy.” She grinned again, suddenly. “I guess he trusts you well enough.”
“Oh very funny,” Bella replied sourly, throwing herself onto the bench ungracefully beside the smaller girl. “I just don’t understand how he could think I would want him to – I mean, I’m – “ She stopped, sighed, and leaned forward with her face in her hands, elbows on her knees. She missed Alice’s unhappy frown.
“Human.” Alice finished for her, in the tiniest whisper. “You’re human. I suppose it would be very uncomfortable for you to kiss a vampire.”
Bella sat up again to look at her, shocked. “What? I don’t care what he is, Alice, he’s not MIKE. I - he had no business kissing me! He’d never even spoken to me before! Of COURSE it made me uncomfortable. I don’t see how he could expect differently!” She took a deep breath and leaned back against the cold bench, letting her head fall back against the wall behind her.
Alice was quiet for a while, and Bella was just realizing that it hadn’t really been fair to expect some kind of answer out of her on the topic of her brother’s behavior when she spoke again. “So, it didn’t make you uncomfortable to be kissed by a vampire?” she whispered softly.
“No. What made me uncomfortable was how much I liked it,” Bella admitted wearily, rolling her head in Alice’s direction so she could frown at her. But Alice was grinning and shaking her head.
“You really are the strangest human I’ve ever met,” she whispered. Then she was on her feet, dropping a cold kiss on Bella’s forehead, and flitting through the door toward the cafeteria.