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.
9. Chapter 8
Rating 0/5 Word Count 2467 Review this Chapter
By the time Bella returned, the lunch line was empty, so she quickly filled a tray and picked up an extra package of pretzels for Mike. She set the ginger ale and pretzels down in front of him. He raised his head and tried to smile at her half-heartedly. It looked more like a grimace. For several long minutes he did nothing but sip slowly at the ginger ale, letting his hand rest in Bella’s while she watched him worriedly. He didn’t seem interested in the pretzels at all.
“You should try to eat something,” she said finally, her voice concerned. Mike had started out the day quiet, and only become less talkative as the day progressed. She suspected it was because his throat had started hurting again, but she was incorrect.
“No, what I should do is go over there and blacken Edward Cullen’s eye,” Mike replied darkly, putting down his drink a bit too hard. Bella felt her eyes widen in surprise, and worried for an instant that he’d overheard what she’d discussed with Alice before lunch. It wasn’t at all like Mike to be violent. She’d known him all her life, and she was sure he had never hit anyone.
“Just for kissing me? Honestly, Mike, that’s a little extreme,” she said nervously. The last thing she wanted was for Mike, healthy or not, to get into a fight with any of the Cullens. She’d heard too many legends dealing with the strength of vampires.
“Of course not just for kissing you!” Mike replied, offended. He wasn’t the sort of guy who went around hitting people just for being interested in his girlfriend. Frankly, all his friends were interested in her, so it wasn’t likely he’d have any friends at all if he acted that way. Tyler, Eric....only Ben and Austin seemed to avoid actively trying to flirt with her, which is why he spent most of his time with them these days and not Tyler. “You already told him off for that, and it must have worked, because he isn’t staring at you anymore. I meant for hurting you. He had no right.” He turned her hand over to reveal the inside of her wrist, where Edward had left behind the perfect, bluish, finger-shaped bruises that Mike had noticed earlier in the day.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it,” Bella whispered, trying not to attract any further attention. But it seemed to have the opposite affect. Their friends at the lunch table, who’d been politely not listening to their soft conversation, seemed to sense that NOW they were trying to hide something. Austin was the first to notice.
"Dang! Did Cullen do that?” he asked loudly. Bella snatched her hand out of Mike’s and hid it under the table.
“It’s nothing. It was an accident.” But the damage was done. Alice and Rosalie were both staring at her. Edward’s back was still towards her, but he looked hunched over, as if he was really upset. They had clearly heard.
“It didn’t look like nothing,” Angela said quietly in a worried voice.
“I didn’t notice it until Mike pointed it out this morning,” Bella replied quickly. “I didn’t even feel it when it happened.”
For the first time all day, Mike’s lips turned upwards into a real smile. It wasn’t his usual expression by any means, but it cheered Bella for just an instant – right up until he spoke. “You are the worst liar I’ve ever heard,” he said, shaking his head. “Wait here.” He stood up.
“No, Mike, don’t. Please? Just let it go. I’m not angry with him.”
“Well, I am. He can’t hurt someone and expect to just get away with it.”
Bella watched with pursed lips as Mike walked over to the Cullens’ table. In fact, the entire cafeteria seemed to watch him go. She caught Alice’s gaze, and mouthed, “help,” but Alice only shrugged. Bella wanted very badly to hide her face in her hands, but even more, she wanted to hear what was being said. She wondered if Alice would tell her later.
Mike was too angry, and too ill to really feel nervous about dealing with Edward Cullen today. What he felt was weary. He didn’t even have the energy to infuse his voice with a decent amount of loathing. “Edward? We haven’t met. I’m Mike Newton.”
Edward turned to look at him as if he hadn’t known he was approaching, and stood up, forcing himself to play dumb. “Nice to meet you, Mike.” He offered him his hand to shake, but Mike didn’t move – just continued to look at him steadily.
“Don’t be an idiot. You left a handprint on my girlfriend yesterday, and I only came over here to tell you not to do it again.” For an instant it seemed he was going to say more. Additional words certainly went through his mind. <i>If you touch her again, I’ll leave a handprint on you.</i> But he thought better of saying it aloud.
Edward dropped his hand. “I apologize. It wasn’t my intention to hurt her.”
“Obviously,” Mike replied dryly. He knew exactly what Cullen’s intention had been. “It had better not happen again,” he added, and he meant more than just the bruise. Whatever he’d told Bella, part of his purpose in this conversation was to prevent Cullen from kissing her again.
“Of course,” Edward agreed pleasantly. Mike narrowed his eyes, but couldn’t find fault with the response, even though he was fairly certain he was being mocked. No one was that polite when they were being dressed down.
“Good.” He trudged back toward his lunch table, looking sullen even though he mostly felt the conversation had gone well. Behind him, Edward picked up his untouched tray of food, dumped it, and exited the cafeteria through the back door, alone.
Bella spent the rest of the day feeling nervous. Rumor had it that Edward’s silver Volvo had disappeared from the parking lot after lunch, and she felt bad that the rest of them were going to have to walk home, though she supposed it was less of an inconvenience for them than it would be for anyone else.
Mike sat out of gym, so Bella tried just to stay out of everyone’s way. She really, really didn’t want to end up visiting Carlisle after all that had happened. What she DID want was to know what Mike had said to Edward, but she couldn’t very well ask Mike, and she was certain she’d never manage to get Alice alone again. But then Alice hadn’t been much help so far, anyway.
Bella survived gym, and met up with Mike afterwards. “Is your mom picking you up?” she asked, as they walked out to the parking lot, and she noticed that the Suburban was missing. She figured he must have been dropped off.
“I told her I’d call her if I couldn’t get a ride,” he admitted sheepishly, realizing he’d forgotten to ask her as he’d intended to. There had been so many things to talk about through the day, and so little time, that it had slipped his mind. Bella grinned as he ducked his head and then looked up at her. “You don’t have any other passengers today, do you?” he teased.
“Let me check my log, to be sure the cabbie station didn’t book me for this afternoon,” she replied, which made him laugh. When he started coughing instead, however, Bella found she regretted trying to be funny. “Oh, Mike.”
He just shook his head, and started out from under the awning. The rain was light, for once. It seemed to have poured for the last four days straight, so this was almost a reprieve. Still, Bella didn’t want him out in it. She tried to run out ahead of him, but he wouldn’t let go of her hand, so she didn’t get far. Then, instead of going to the passenger door, he followed her to hers. She opened it, but he pulled her back when she made to sit down. “Bella I’ve got to ask you something,” he said nervously.
“When you’re out of the rain, dummy!” she said, laughing at him again.
“No, this is important. I need to know. Do you like Edward Cullen?”
Bella closed the door to her truck with a pained expression on her face, and then led Mike around to the other side by the hand. She opened HIS door, and pushed him inside. Then she handed him the keys. “Turn on the heat before you make yourself worse,” she whispered.
“Shh. I’m going to answer you. Just get warm.” She closed his door as he reached over obediently to put the key in the ignition, and took her time scanning the parking lot. She noticed most of the Cullens doing the same thing, though of course, they must have realized that Edward left without them in the middle of the day. They’d probably heard the quiet car start from inside the building. “He’s made a real mess for me,” she whispered in Alice’s general direction, as much to test the limits of the vampire’s hearing as because it needed to be said. Alice’s eyes focused on her immediately, and Bella smiled a little and shook her head before she got into her truck.
Mike had turned the heat up to a stiflingly hot setting and still looked miserable, though Bella supposed that might have more to do with their unfinished conversation than his cold. She pulled a knee up on the seat and turned to face him, smiling. “Now, listen,” she said, mock sternness tingeing her voice. “If you’re waiting for me to tell you that I hate him or something, it’s going to be a very long wait for you,” she warned, and Mike smiled.
“I don’t think you even know how to hate anyone,” he replied, an involuntary shiver ruining the humor in his tone. “I just want to know if –“ he stopped abruptly, then dropped his eyes. “If we’re okay.”
Bella reached over and took Mike’s hands from where they were resting listlessly in his lap, and pulled them towards her, forcing him to face her. “We’re okay. Edward seems like a very nice ... person. But I’m not in love with him. I’m –“ she broke off when Mike looked up at her anxiously. “I’m in love with you, Mike,” she finished quietly, blushing hotly and turning her eyes away.
Mike didn’t respond at first, except by pulling on her hands to get her to scoot closer to him, and putting an arm around her shoulders. He squeezed her tightly, letting her hair cover his face. “I love you too, you know. I think I always have. The longer we’re together, the further back I can look and see that I should have known it all along.” He tried to keep his voice gentle, which was a difficult task between the hoarse timbre of it from being sick, and how excited he was about what she’d just said. It felt like he’d been waiting to hear it all his life. He pulled her closer as she squeezed his hand, which she now held in both of hers.
“Do you remember my eighth birthday party?” he asked after a brief silence, causing Bella to pull away to look at him. She looked thoughtful.
“I missed that one.”
“You said you’d come, but then you went to Phoenix early that year and missed it.” Mike gently ran his fingers through the hair at her temple, pushing it back from where it had fallen in her face.
“I brought you back a present,” she said defensively. Her voice was full of mock indignation, though she was grinning at him. As he’d hoped, she seemed to have forgotten her embarrassment of a moment before. But he continued like he hadn’t heard her answer.
“I cried so hard that my mother called yours – in Phoenix – to ask her to make sure that when you came back, you’d wish me happy birthday or something. It was downright embarrassing. But I thought you’d forgotten –“
“And meanwhile I’d spent half the car ride in tears because I hadn’t known we were leaving early, and I was missing the only FUN party I got to go to each year,” Bella cut him off, laughing a little.
Bella only smiled, nodding.
“That transformer is still sitting on my desk,” he said, smiling. He was enjoying the conversation so much, he hardly felt the headache that had been dragging him down all day.
Bella only shook her head. “I had no idea what to get you.”
“It didn’t matter. You could even have got me a <I>book</I>, and it would still be sitting right there on my desk.”
“A book would have seen less use, I’ll bet,” Bella teased him, grinning.
Mike laughed. “Maybe,” he allowed.
“Well, I’m sorry I made you cry, anyway.” She looked contrite, suddenly, but Mike was still smiling.
“Wasn’t the first time, or the last, Bells,” he scolded. “Mom says when we were four, you accidentally kicked me in the head and I cried then, too. Apparently she asked me why I was crying and I said it was because I couldn’t hit you back because you were a <I>girl</I>.”
They both broke out laughing at this, though neither of them actually had a memory of it occurring. It didn’t matter.
“Did you really want to hit me back?” Bella asked, when they’d both fallen silent.
“Who knows? Maybe. Or maybe I just didn’t want to admit that it’d hurt.” Mike laughed a little more, trying to cover his sudden understanding of how closely that situation mirrored this one. Bella wasn’t fooled.
“Well, I’m sorry I kicked you in the head, and I’m sorry I missed your birthday party, and I’m especially sorry I couldn’t prevent what happened yesterday. But I think it’s time we got you home and back to bed,” Bella replied, falling back into seriousness again.
“That wasn’t your fault,” Mike said quickly, leaning over to press a kiss into her hair. He would have liked to have denied that it fit in the category with times she’d made him cry, but didn’t guess she’d believe him. He hadn’t REALLY cried, of course, but his eyes had certainly stung a bit, lying in bed and listening to her chat with his mother in the kitchen. He wasn’t going to make that mistake again, though. If something like this ever happened again, he’d far rather talk to her about it right away than spend a sleepless night wondering. To think that she might have admitted she loved him a whole day sooner!