Disclaimer: Nothing from Stephanie Meyer is mine. I don't own sparkly vampires.
"The people that actually try to stay in your life are the only ones you ever need."
"What?!" A yell broke through the chattering of the cafeteria, followed almost instantaneously by a loud crash, causing the eyes of all students in the vicinity to dart towards that table where two girls were at. One of them, a blonde, was standing with her hands on the table – apparently, she had stood up so fast her chair had clattered to the floor hence, the loud bang.
"Sorry." She cringed, quickly righting her chair and flashing an apologetic smile to the people sitting at the neighboring table before turning to her tablemate. She demanded in a hushed whisper-shout. "You're moving? Where? Why?"
"I'll tell you everything, Tiff. Just calm down!" The other girl, a brunette, glared at her.
"No! I can't, Lori!" She hissed, hands flying about agitatedly. "We were supposed to go to prom together! You're abandoning me?!"
Lori winced. "Yeah, about that, sorry. Really."
"Sorry?! You-!" Tiffany huffed, before collapsing onto the table, burying her face in her arms.
The brunette's blue eyes nearly popped out of her head. Didn't she know just how dirty their school's cafeteria tables were? Who knew what had been dropped there and god knows how often they were cleaned.
"Tiff, don't be a butt." Lori sighed, crossing her arms. "And do you know how dirty these tables are? You're going to have a breakout."
The blonde snarled.
Well, okay. Grumpy much?
However, this tantrum was something Lori had expected. Her best friend had just had a particularly bad breakup with a cheating ass of a boyfriend who was going to go to prom with his new armcandy. Bastard. Tiffany had been counting on her to be her 'buffer' there. Though, for the life of her, Lori couldn't understand why her friend wouldn't just not go to prom but apparently, it was important for her to keep up the image that she was doing fine and not hung up over him.
"Look, I'm sorry, alright? But we're doing it for our mother."
Forgetful, a little naïve, childish and fickle-minded. Renee Dwyer, Lori's lovely mother, that she and her sister, Bella, took care of more than she took care of them. Make no mistake, Renee was their mother and they loved her, but she wasn't really the best mother material.
But she loved her two daughters wholeheartedly. And that's what mattered the most.
Every time Phil, their minor league baseball player step-dad, left for a game – and it wasn't seldom – it was like Renee crumpled in on herself, bringing an aura of gloom wherever she went. The two sisters honestly couldn't take seeing their mother mope around the house like someone had kicked her puppy and then set it on fire just for kicks. Renee had said she was fine, that she couldn't leave them alone but her smile didn't reach her eyes.
Therefore, Bella and Lori, being the kind and loving daughters that they were, offered to go stay with their father in the small town of Forks near Seattle so that Renee could go traipsing around the world with Phil. Renee had of course, claimed that they didn't need to and that she was alright staying behind with them, but Lori could already see the beginning of a spark in her eyes at the idea. Lori really didn't want to hold her mother back from being with Phil when it clearly made her happy.
Staring at the blonde's figure slumped over the table, Lori knew that Tiffany knew that too. She had been invited over to the Dwyer residence enough to know just how much Renee missed Phil. It was unmissable.
"Prom's on a Friday night, isn't it? Don't go – screw Jackson – why don't you drive down to Forks for the weekend instead? I'm sure my dad wouldn't mind."
"Really? You think so?" Tiffany peeked at the brunette sitting opposite her over her arms.
"Yeah, I know so." Lori grinned. "C'mon, we'll have a girly sleepover. No boy talk. We'll paint our nails, watch sappy movies, binge on ice cream, all that. It'll be fun."
"Okay." She snorted, wagging her pinky finger in her friend's face. "You better not forget about me once you're there."
Lori wouldn't. She always treated her friends well, and Tiffany was a friend to be treasured. Someone who knew the dreadfulness of being alone in a place full of people, would never abandon a friend unless they were the one abandoned first.
"Pinky promise." Lori laughed, linking her finger with Tiffany's. Her pleasant smile widened. "If I break it, you can cut my finger off."
"That's gross." Tiffany cringed, shying away from her friend. "You watch too many yakuza movies. What would I do with your finger anyway?"
"Frame it? Bury it? 'Here lies Lorraine Grace Swan's little finger, as a lesson to never break your promises'."
It wasn't clear who gave in first, but both girls burst into laughter at the same time.
"I'll miss you, Lori." Tiffany smiled sadly.
"I'll miss you too, Tiff."
Apart from leaving behind her friends, Lori wasn't as bummed as Bella was to be moving to Forks. Of all the places to move to, she thought Forks was a pretty alright place. The colder weather there was definitely more to her taste than the sweltering Phoenix heat, having always preferred being cold and freezing to being hot and sweating. And as a fortunate bonus, her favorite leather jackets and boots would finally be able to see the light of day. Lovingly taking them out from where they had been stuffed into the back of her closet, she folded them into her suitcase. She already couldn't wait to try them out.
As far as small towns went, it wouldn't make much of a difference in her lifestyle. Except that people there might be nosier, since she doubted that many people moved in instead of leaving the town. Any new face would be immediately noticed. Well, she wasn't planning on doing anything outside of her room anyway.
There was a series of loud thumps, startling Lori and sending her to the doorway of her room to see what the matter was. She paused, taking in the sight before her.
"..What are you doing?" Lori eyed her fraternal twin sister, older by six minutes, weirdly.
The girl was sat awkwardly on the floor, holding her foot in hand, before the steps leading downstairs. She wouldn't even look up at Lori, clearly embarrassed at whatever mishap had happened. There was no need to be embarrassed though. The whole town was probably well aware of what a klutz the older Swan was.
"I was trying to bring my bags down but I slippedanddroppeditonmytoe.."
"Come again? I didn't quite hear that last part."
"I said, I slipped and dropped it on my toe!" Bella didn't have to look up to know that her younger sister was trying hard – and failing – to hold back her laughter. It was very obvious in her teasing tone.
Lori couldn't help but laugh as her sister stared forlornly at the suitcase burst open at the bottom of the stairs, clothes lying everywhere. It was a look she knew very well, having seen it for years. It was the one that said Bella was lamenting the existence of her two left feet, and her complete inability to do anything gracefully.
"Stay right there, Bells! Don't want you hurting yourself more or mom won't let us move to Forks." She darted back into her room to grab her own suitcase, wheeling it out to where Bella was still sat at the top of the stairs, because she might as well only make one trip down the stairs instead of down to pack Bella's things and then back up for her own bags.
Bella pursed her lips, mood taking a downturn at the mention of the small town.
"Is your foot alright? Does it hurt badly?"
She took her eyes off Lori to scrutinize her foot. There was a red blotch on the bridge of her foot spreading to her toes certain to become a great big ugly bruise the next day. She inhaled sharply when she accidentally brushed too hard against the tender skin, but nothing was starting to swell and her ankle didn't hurt either.
"Just a bruise, I think. Lori?" Bella frowned, looking around when she didn't see her.
"What?" She called up the stairs, already starting on folding the last quarter of her older sister's clothes back into the bag. "Just a bruise? That's good!"
Bella furrowed her brows, confused. She was just up here, how did she carry such a heavy bag down the stairs so quickly? And she didn't remember hearing any sounds of the wheels of the suitcase clacking against the wooden stairs either.
"Bella? What's wrong?"
"No, nothing." Lori must have been stronger than Bella thought she was.
Standing before the departure hall at the airport, the four of them made a typical picture of a mother and her husband sending off their children. Amused father, nearly hysterical with worry mother, one amused daughter and one miserably resigned but trying not to let it show daughter.
"Girls, are you sure you want to do this? Are you really sure?"
The two girls shared a glance before turning back to their mother.
"Yeah." Bella shifted, fingers picking at her jacket in her arms.
"Yes, mom. We're sure. Seriously. The tickets are booked, Dad's ready for us, and we're already here. How many more times are you going to ask us that?" Lori huffed in an exasperated manner, but the fond smile on her face told a different story.
"Hey, don't talk to your mother like that." Phil stared down at her sternly but his eyes were twinkling, and he immediately gave up the facade when she stuck her tongue out at him. He made a grab for her tongue, hand darting forward in a flash, causing her to squeal and dart behind her mother for protection. Not that Renee was much of shield, being roughly the same height as both her daughters.
"That's criminal." Lori grumbled, giving the three of them a good laugh at her disgusted scowl. "Mom, he's bullying your daughter."
"Oh, I can't believe you're really going to go." Renee's voice was nearly a whimper, and Phil affectionately drew her into a side hug, stroking his hand down her head a few times for good measure.
"Mom, we're fine. I want to go."
Lori almost snorted. The expression on Bella's face was more of a grimace than a smile, but apparently, it was believable enough for Renee and Phil to not notice. She still couldn't understand why Bella didn't like Forks so much. Yes, it was as much of a small town as it could be; no big malls, lesser people, everyone knew everybody, and simply put, there was nothing much to do there but it wasn't as though Bella was a very outgoing person that needed the hype of city life. In fact, Bella couldn't stand any sort of attention at all. If anything, she would have thought that it would be better for Bella there.
"Call – no, what am I thinking? You're both teenagers, you won't want to call your mom everyday-"
"Renee, don't worry. Charlie will take care of them and if he's too busy, Lori will take care of Bella." Phil chortled at Bella's indignant 'Hey!'. "In any case, they'll be alright. Now, scoot, or you'll miss your flight." He gave the two them rough pats on the head before ushering them along.
"I love you girls!" Renee cried, waving.
"Love you too, mom." The sisters chorused together, sharing a smile at their unintended synchronization.
Spotting Bella's melancholy expression as they watched their view of their parents get swallowed up by the crowd as they went further into the airport, Lori gave her a nudge.
"C'mon, Bells! Lighten up! I'm sure Forks will be better than what you think it is!" Linking their arms together – half in a show of camaraderie, half to make sure Bella didn't trip over herself or get lost – she tugged Bella along. Beaming at her older twin, her smile widened when she saw that Bella's lips tilted up in a small smile in return.
Yes, Lori had a feeling that everything would turn out better than fine in Forks.
Bella blanched at the sight before her.
After disembarking the plane, they had found Charlie waiting for them at the arrival hall. He hadn't changed at all, Lori thought fondly. Same old moustache. Same old stern face – though he was really just a gruff teddy bear. They had exchanged greetings and pleasantries as they rolled their suitcases to the carpark. Lori had to stifle a giggle more than once at the stilted way the other two tried to talk.
Lori tried not to be surprised though she could tell Bella was horrified at the police cruiser sitting in front of them. She had kind of expected it because Charlie was the Chief of Police after all but at the same time, she hadn't expected it.
"How did you manage to handle these suitcases?" Charlie grunted as he heaved them into the boot of his car. "They're not as heavy as I expected but they're still too heavy for you girls to carry."
Oblivious, Charlie carried on while the two stunned girls stopped in their tracks.
"Bella can't, of course." Lori flicked her gaze from watching Charlie struggle to Bella, wagging her eyebrows at her. She had to jump to the side to dodge a halfhearted swat.
"Yeah, Lori did most of the hard carrying."
She grinned at the smile playing on Bella's lips, glad that her playing around had helped to ease the awkward air between father and daughter. The two of them were much too alike in their personalities. Maybe that's why they were never able to bond too well, both being natural conversation killers. But she had an inkling that sometimes, her upbeat personality put her father at a lost too. He was too awkward to continue the conversation, not knowing how to react. At times, she wondered, how did the awkward young adult Charlie manage to date and marry young exuberant Renee?
Lori watched as their father's gaze swept over her slight frame – nearly identical to Bella's; pale and slim, looking like she never did a day of exercise in her life – in response to Bella's statement. He didn't say anything but the disbelief in his gaze was obvious. She just knew what he was thinking. Where in the world are those muscles hidden in such a skinny body?
"Right here, dad. Right here." Drawing her sleeves up, Lori flexed her biceps, whistling lowly as she did so. "Look at th-"
"Stop that!" Bella hissed, pulling Lori's arm back down, eyes darting around as though to check whether her younger sister's ridiculous display had attracted any eyes to them. The attention-grabbing cruiser was already more than she wanted to handle. She didn't need to deal with Lori's antics as well. "Let's just go." She huffed, pushing Lori towards the car.
"Alright, alright. Stop pushing." Noticing the rising telltale flush on Bella's cheeks, she decided to give her sister a break and got into the passenger seat.
And so, the police car carrying the Chief and his daughters drove away towards Forks.
After a while of staring out the window watching the scenery – trees, trees, and more trees – flash past, Charlie's voice broke the silence.
"You," He started, before clearing his throat. "Your hair, Bells, it's longer."
There was a slight questioning lilt to his voice, as though he didn't really know what to talk about but was grasping at straws anyway, choosing hair as the topic probably because they were females.
Lori, admiring the courage he had have to pluck up to start a conversation with his teenage daughters he hadn't seen in a few years, hoped with all her heart that Bella would reply nicely but she was stuck in a dilemma. She knew Bella had actually cut her hair but she didn't want her to shut him down so quickly and hurt his feelings when he was being so brave. Mind whirling, she chanced a look backwards to see how Bella was going to reply, only to meet the same deer-caught-in-headlights look from Bella.
"I cut it since the last time I saw you." She blurted out, before recoiling back into her seat at seeing Lori's glare.
"Oh. I guess it grew out again."
Lori cringed, thumping her forehead against the window. What kind of conversation was this? This was going to be bad for her heart.
But at the very least, crisis adverted.
And then, Charlie spoke again. "I found a good car – you two will have to share – but it's really cheap."
Lori kept silent, turning her head to quirk an eyebrow at Bella in the backseat.
"What kind of car?"
She could hear the half-suspicious half-interested tone in Bella's voice. It didn't really matter what car it was though since she probably wouldn't get to drive it unless necessary. She'd be just sitting in it relaxed for 99 percent of the time. Beyond the basic knowledge of engine capacity and brands, Lori didn't really know anything about cars. That was more of Bella's forte. Who knows what kind of car Bella was expecting in this small town though.
"Well, it's a truck, actually. A Chevy."
"A truck?" Lori echoed. She'd never driven a truck before. Was there any difference in driving a truck and a car? She hoped she wouldn't dent or scratch the truck but it was probably inevitable. She already dreaded the thought of driving. Driving their car back in Phoenix had already given her the reputation of being a bad driver – Lori had ultimately been banned from driving alone and Bella had been unofficially appointed chauffeur after a particularly bad incident involving the car looking like a bandito wrap around a pillar. She didn't know how it had happened either. How was she to handle a truck when she couldn't handle a normal saloon car?
"Where did you get it from?" Bella questioned.
"Do you remember Billy Black down at the Rez, La Push?"
"Vaguely." Lori hummed. "Something about fishing and mud pies."
Charlie shot an appreciative glance at Lori, before glancing inquisitively at Bella. "Yeah, he used to go fishing with us in the summer before. You really don't remember?"
At her blank stare, Charlie continued on. "Well, he's in a wheelchair now-"
"What?" Lori gasped. "How is he?"
"He's fine, used to it already but anyway, he can't drive anymore and offered to sell me his truck cheap."
"What year is it?" Bella asked, but Lori knew she most likely wouldn't like the answer. A truck that Billy drove. Well, it must be pretty old.
"Billy's done a lot of work on the engine, so it's only a few years old, really." It was clear that he was trying to dodge the question but Bella wouldn't give up.
"When did he buy it?"
Charlie sighed, appearing to have given up when Bella was that relentless in getting the information out of him. "1984, I think."
"Was it new, then?"
"In the early sixties, or late fifties, at the earliest." He admitted. The look on his face was so sheepish Lori could have burst out laughing. Watching Bella wrangle information out of the Police Chief was so much more interesting than the 'you cut your hair?' conversation. At Bella's dubious look he caught in the rearview mirror, he hurried to reassure her. "Really, they don't build them like that anymore. The truck runs great."
"How cheap is cheap?" Her tone was flat and Lori knew that she was trying to find out if there was a way she could reject the truck without being rude.
"..The thing is," He started hesitantly. "I already bought it. As a homecoming gift."
Lori saw Bella's expression and quickly cut in, well aware that she tended to unintentionally put her foot in her mouth more often than not, speaking before thinking it through. "That's nice of you, dad! Bella?"
The girl reluctantly agreed, unable to argue now, staring sullenly out of the window. "Yeah, thanks, I really appreciate it."
Charlie mumbled out something that sounded like 'you're welcome', a similar blush spreading on his cheeks faintly.
Lori snickered. One thing she was glad for, was that she seemed to have not inherited the famous – infamous? – telltale blush. She wanted to call him out on it, but she figured that if she did, the man would probably explode and then, they'd all end up in a car crash. It would be the first time she managed to cause an accident while not in the driver's seat.
"So, dad, how's Billy doing now?"
The man seemed happy to get a topic he was comfortable with, and the rest of the ride was filled with his low tone regaling them with the stories of his friends from the Rez.
The house the cruiser pulled up in front of was small and homely-looking. The wooden siding was painted white, and the two-story building was surrounded by greenery; trees and forest to the back, and bushes to both sides. Lori found that she already loved just the sight of it.
"Right, there're only two and a half bedrooms. I assumed you both would want a room to yourselves so I cleared out my study. One of you will have to settle for the smaller room. And there's only one bath so we'll have to share." Charlie explained to the two girls studying the house. "You two go ahead and choose. I'll bring the bags up."
"Thanks, dad." Lori grinned, before cackling as she ran into the house. "First come first serve, Bells!"
"Lori!" Bella cried, before following her twin, stumbling slightly on the driveway.
Smiling to himself as he popped open the trunk, Charlie was looking forward to living with his two daughters. Already, it was much livelier than it was before, filled with laughter courtesy of his younger daughter – he knew too well his older daughter was like him in having trouble expressing themselves – and warmth. He wouldn't have to come back to a cold and dark, empty house anymore.
Charlie paused, staring at the suitcase he had just pulled out. Was it him, or were the suitcases heavier than before? No, he shook his head, he was probably tired, that's all.
"Dad!" A shriek startled him and he flinched. Lori bounced up to him, looking like she was barely restraining from jumping on the spot, beaming from ear to ear. "I'll take the smaller room. I love it–it's wonderful–the view! Here, let me take that!"
The suitcase was snatched from his grip, and he could only watch, as she came and went like a hurricane with a giggle, swerving around his other daughter who was choosing to amble down the driveway at a normal pace.
"You'll get used to it." Bella remarked dryly as she grabbed her own bags, correctly pinpointing the reason for his stunned expression.
In the room she had claimed for herself upstairs, Lori stood, mouth gaping a little with awe. She walked around, climbing onto the bed and brushing her fingers reverently over everything to enjoy the texture of the wooden furniture.
It was a little small, but it was beautiful. As she had nearly screamed in her father's face before, the view from the window was marvelous. Opening out to the green forest, she knew it would be delightful to wake up to such a sight each morning. The walls were painted ivory in color, pastel blue curtains lightly billowing from the breeze, bringing the smell of nature and grass into the room like a natural air freshener, and the furniture – a bed, a small table, a bookshelf set into the wall beside the window to not take up floor space and a closet in a light oak color. There was even a small comfy-looking window seat beside the bookshelf already furnished with cushions to hug. She knew that was where she was going to spend most of her time.
It was small and there wasn't much space to walk around after all the necessary furniture had been placed inside unlike Bella's room but she loved it. It was wonderful.
Lori only hoped that she would grow to love her new school and the people in it as much as she did her new room.
A/N: Anyone want to guess what's Lori's secret? There's quite a few hints in this chapter! Hehe