Jobless Bella is in desperate search for an occupation; she finds one at Forks' Mental Institution and soon enough becomes acquainted with the inmates. How will she get on with the patients there? "We need to feel inflamed, but what sets us alight is what restricts us." Twilight/Cosmopolis crossover. Bella x Eric x cryptic dialogue.
3. Chapter 3
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There is complete and utter silence as they enter the room that Bella was sure hadn't been there previous to their arrival. She stared at Jasper's back, not being able to bring her eyes to look at the other eyes she could feel upon her. She felt severely self-conscious, and could feel heat like a sun-burn upon her skin.
"Don't let them freak you out," Jasper is murmuring, so low she barely catches it. "They do this to every new member of staff. They're testing you." Strangely, this doesn't make Bella feel any better. Instead, her toes curl in her shoes as she realises the necessity to pass.
"Okay, guys," Jasper says, clapping his hands together once again. They've come to a standstill in the opening of the circle their hungry-eyed audience are watching from within. Now that Jasper stands beside instead of in front of her, Bella's eyes find the floor – carpet, again.
"As you know, our previous psychiatrist, Dr Nevius, left due to . . . personal reasons," Bella looks at Jasper in her peripherals at his tone. He's looking up at the ceiling as if to say, give me strength.
Bella thinks she knows the feeling well.
"I'd like to introduce his replacement," He makes a motion towards Bella. "This is Dr Swan, I'm sure she's going to make a great addition to our team here, and," Jasper's tone takes on that of someone issuing a warning, while trying to make it seem like they're not. "I'm sure you're all going to make her feel very welcome."
There seems to be a silent, or else, attached to the statement.
Bell swallows nervously and noisily, and licks her dry lips once before looking up.
The first thing she notices is the size of the group; there are less in it that she thought there would be. Her shoulders relax infinitesimally at that.
Their stare is next. Each one, she notices wearily, looks at her, watches her, it seems without even blinking. They don't smile, don't fidget or move – don't even seem to breathe.
She won't inhale until they do.
The silence stretches on until she thinks it will swallow her whole and suffocate her without sympathy.
"Hello," She finally says, and her voice is small, shrunken to nothingness by the vast amount of eyes on her, that seem like never-ending black holes – just waiting to suck her in. "It's nice to meet you all."
No-one says anything, and her toes curl tighter in her shoes. She spares each individual sparse glances but she doesn't really see them. They are blurred shapes and colours in a cool, window-wide room.
"This is Emmett," Jasper says, motioning toward the burly man that sits closest to her. Finally, his façade cracks and a wide smile cuts his face in two. His teeth gleam in the bright room, and Bella notices some of his teeth are missing. She nods towards the man, trying not to feel caution at the sight of his muscles bulging beneath his shirt.
"And Leah," Bella's eyes shuffle over to the girl that sits next to Emmett. She seems so small and fragile in comparison to the wide man next to her. Bella can hardly see her face because she uses her hair to cover it. Tremors shake her frame every five seconds or so.
Bella says softly, "It's nice to meet you, Leah."
And so Jasper continues to go around the circle. There's a girl called Rosalie with faded, lack-lustre blonde hair. Her skin is very, very pale, and it seems to have trouble stretching over the sharp angles of her pointed body. She is skin-and-bones solidified.
Alice is tiny, and Bella has to do a double-take because it looks like she belongs in middle-school. Her face has a kind of youth and innocence that is both refreshing and unnatural. Her dark, dark hair is short and sits in various spikes on her head. She vibrates in her seat, like she's going to fly off it at a moment's notice. But her eyes are too-wide and open, and they see past Bella and into the vast empty space about her that contains nothing, as if she's seeing everything.
There's a boy called Michael – and Bella calls him boy because she's sure he's younger than her by quite a bit. He sits in the cushy chair with his eyebrows furrowed and he doesn't look up when Jasper introduces him. Instead, he sits hunched over what Bella thinks is a calculator – his fingers moving a mile a minute. She wants to make some lame joke about the kids of today and something to do with gadgets, but the non-existent words die on her throat as she takes in the dollar signs, the pound signs, and the yen and baht signs engraved into the skin on his hands.
There are more faces, more names, and more symptoms that show there is something clearly wrong with these people surrounding her. She feels overwhelmed and out of her depth. She wonders if they feel wanting – of help, of anything at all.
They've come to the end of the circle. Jasper says, "This is Eric."
Bella's eyes land on Eric. He sits in his chair like he owns it, and both knows it and doesn't care about it. But there's something formal about the way his legs cross, his foot on his knee, like it's purposeful and controlled. Sunglasses obscure his eyes from Bella, and so she can't know whether he's looking at her or not. The feeling brings with it an uncomfortable swell of . . . something.
He licks his lips when she sees him, and his fingers run over his chin and jaw. Sound hits the airwaves before Bella sees his lips move. "Are you inflamed? – And all the meanings of the inflamed?"
Bella's mouth parts.
We need to feel inflamed, but what sets us alight is what restricts us . . .
Introspective, she thinks, hello voice.
In her peripheral vision, she watches Jasper's eyebrows shoot up high into his forehead. Her own face is surprised, she can feel the strain in her features so she attempts to set them right again. She says, "I am not inflamed. I stay away from fire."
Eric's head tips to the side. "You can't fight fire. It will happen."
She tips her head up, raises her chin. "I've made no judgements," And then, for effect adds, "Eric."
She thinks she might see a smile playing in the corner of his lips, but it never erupts in full so she can't be sure.
Jasper claps. Once.
"Right, excellent," He says, and carries on talking, but Bella hears none of what he says. Her eyes linger on Eric's dark sunglasses. She wonders why he's here; she wonders what he thinks of her.
She wonders what colour his eyes are.
Eventually, she pulls her eyes away because of Jasper calling her name. She turns to him as he leads her away from the group and into a quiet corner of the room. Over Jasper's shoulder, she sees the group interacting. She sees Eric's covered eyes trained on her.
She shakes her head, looks to Jasper. "So," He says, "still want the job?" He's only partly joking.
"Of course I do," Bella says. "I want to help them." As the words spill out from her mouth, she realises their truth. Jasper looks surprised, but pleasantly so.
"Our last psychiatrist . . . " He trails off quietly, his eyes momentarily shooting over his shoulder to look back at the group. "Well, he couldn't quite, well, handle it."
"I want to help." Bella repeats.
Jasper nods. "I'm glad. I think you'll be good here, Bella, I really do." He looks back over his shoulder again, once. "But if it ever gets to be too much, don't worry about asking for a break, just go."
Bella nods. She thinks she might need that advice one day.
"And," He continues, and his voice has taken on a cautious tone. "Eric may seem . . . well, he's very cryptic. Inflamed?" He looks perplexed. "You understood him?"
"Um . . . " Bella stammers, feeling like she's just gotten caught out from doing something wrong. "I met him earlier – he spoke to me." She amends.
"Right," He shakes his head. "That's strange in itself. Eric doesn't tend to seek people out."
Bella doesn't know what to say to that.
"Can I ask why he's here?" She queries, curiosity burning quick and hard in her stomach.
Japer leads them to a couple of chairs a little way away, and Bella catches Eric twining his fingers together.
"They're all here for the same reason, essentially," Jasper says, smoothing down his shirt. "The levels go up depending on the severity of the disorder of the patients." He pauses. "Level four patients are those who are considered a vital threat to the lives of people around them, or they're own." His eyes catch hers, his blue deep and meaningful. "They aren't here on their own will."
It dawns on Bella. And she knows what he's going to say before he does. "So they're . . . " she starts.
He nods. "Involuntary committed."