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Out of Thin Air

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Once upon a time there was a young girl who, like all children, yearned for happiness and love. She was born into a broken home, however, and it would be many years before she knew the joy she so craved.

Her mother, Renee, had never wanted to be a parent but had made every effort to be at least present for her first born son; Aiden. Though not the most doting mother she performed the least of her matronly duties to maintain a certain public image. She only assumed the role of family member for holidays and events which demanded public appearances. To the surrounding community she was the doting mother at every school play, the enthusiastic fan at sporting events and the prideful spouse at company parties. In private she ignored her husband and son as though they were’ ghosts in their own home.

In the face of his mother's cruelty Aiden grew into a terror quickly. Imagine if you will; the playground bully, throwing sand in faces, stealing toys, gracing children with the first precious lessons in disappointment.

His father, Sean, remained ever blinded to both the growing darkness within his son and the distance in his marriage. The very definition of blinded by love Renee could do no wrong and nothing warranted more his attention than her. More servant than husband he kept her as content as he could ever conscious of the fact she could leave him.

For 7 years this continued until Renee, despite her best efforts, fell pregnant again (accidents happen after all). Upon the birth of her second child, Isabella, Renee felt as though she were choking on the facade she had built. The night of Bella’s first birthday Renee left the house, under pretense of picking up the birthday cake, never to return.

The pain of his mother's physical abandonment, after so many years of her emotional absence, drove Aiden mad. He became convinced his mother fled from the newly arrived, always screaming, and smelly baby. He vowed to punish the little beast.

Bella's father fell into a deep and dark depression at the loss of the love of his life . So complete was his despair that not even the anguish of his children could break through.

Bella existed in the background cared for by the kindly neighbors in reminiscence of the woman her mother used to be to them. So shining was the image the community held of Renee it obscured her true nature. Quickly rumors spread of the monster Sean must have been to drive such an exemplary mother from her children. As Bella grew and the rumors spread slowly the goodwill turned to disgust and disinterest.

4 years later When it was clear Aiden and Bella could care for themselves neighbors turned to strangers and the small light of kindness in Bella’s life disappeared leaving her alone with her shell of a father and hateful brother.

2 weeks after Bella’s 5th birthday her brother called her name for the first time she could remember. At 11 years old he had friends and hobbies to keep his attention, always ignoring her presence, Bella had always wished to play with him and quickly entered his room glad to finally have the chance. Bella rarely allows herself to recall that day; the gleam of pleasure and malice in her brothers eyes, his hands on her body and the sound of her unanswered cries of terror as he ripped away her innocence replacing it with an emptiness that seemed to swallow her soul.

Bella never lets herself recall how absolutely insignificant she felt as he carried her into her room afterwards, dropping her to the floor like so much trash. She refused to believe she was ever so naive as to cry with relief thinking “at least it’s over” unaware how routine such treatment would be for the next 3 years. Bella can not survive the thought of being weak and so hides from herself her weakest moment.

At the tender age of 8 Bella is sure she lives in hell. Her days consist of hazy 5th grade classes, painful bully encounters and returning home to her abusive brother and uncaring father. With no concept that life should be different she is unable to ask for help. Even if she had the words to describe the constant pit of loneliness, anxiety and terror in her stomach she’d long ago become convinced that no one cared to listen. Unable to shake the will to live Bella trudged through existence even at such a young age resigned to continue on forever in her current state.

To her surprise life saw fit to grace her with what was, in her opinion, a miracle.

One day, whilst doing her best to block out her brother's daily use of her, Bella screamed. Something she had not done for a long time knowing it would only lead to punishment and solve nothing. This time, like before, her brother was swift in his punishment and in reminding her to be silent but her scream did serve as a solution.

A hitchhiker passing through heard the cry and peered through the basement window intent on helping the obviously very young individual in distress. It was to his horror that he became the only person to ever witness the foul acts Aiden subjected Bella to. With all speed he contacted authorities who could not ignore such an accusation. They arrived in time to bear witness as well and thus began the events that Bella believed would end her long suffering.

Though it was true Bella was safe from the negligence of her father and hatred of her brother as the saying goes; out of the pan and into the fire.

As is law Bella was remanded into the custody of her closest living relative. It did not take long for the authorities to find that to be Renee, Bella's mother. Conveniently located in Phoenix Arizona all these years.

Had Bella been able to recall anything about her mother or the time before she left she might have marvelled at just how easily Renee was able to take up the role of loving mother after so much time without practice. Being that Bella had scarcely spent a year in the woman's presence she accepted the crocodile tears and crushing hug she received when the police dropped her off as real. As Renee waved goodbye to the officers Bella allowed herself a moment to bask in how at home and safe she felt to be with someone who clearly did care for her, she sat upon the couch reveling in the unfamiliar warm feeling in her heart. That made it all the more brutal when Renee showed her just how wrong those feelings were.

At a very young age Bella had begun to idolize her mother as a saviour. Thinking that one day Renee would return and whisk her away from all her pain. Lifting her mother onto a pedestal of heroism above the clear villain of her father and brother. To have that light shattered was equally as painful as the verbal and physical blows Bella swiftly became accustomed to living with Renee. When the woman wasn’t melting in a drug stupor she was reminding her daughter just how much of a mistake she was, how unwanted she’d always been and how useless she’d always be. Bella often woke to the sound of her mother and various companions moving in and out of the house and always she would watch her own door with trepidation; certain that one day Renee's company would force her to revisit the horrors of her childhood anew.

Bella is thankful to Renee for one thing. Thanks to her mother's addictions Bella was introduced to marijuana. At the age of 15 Bellas door opened one night. She braced herself already feeling the tears prick her eyes at the familiar dread in her stomach.

The feeling swiftly turned to surprise as she felt a hand shaking her awake and a voice asking “Hey kid. You got a lighter?” in a whisper. Bella shook her head no carefully peering at the man through the darkness.

“Well I was gonna smoke a quick bowl of herb but my lighter died.” He said, sounding disappointed.

“I don’t want to go searching through your house and your moms out cold so I can’t ask her. I’ll let you join me if you help me look?” Bella considered his offer a moment. She had long ago vowed never to try drugs given what they had done to her mother. She understood, however, that there was a difference between herb and the harder drugs her mother indulged in. The few people at school who weren’t completely horrible to her often offered to share with her. She’d only ever said no but this night she felt a curiosity.

This man was so different from the others her mother brought home, gentler somehow and kinder in the eyes. He reminded her of the man who called the police liberating her from her brothers torture all those years ago. She’d only met him briefly before they’d taken her away. They hadn’t spoken; she'd been too shy, too traumatized, to approach him but she remembered his eyes and the kindness in them. Later when the smoke was swirling around their heads and she was listening to his whispers of stories about the world she hazily wondered if he weren’t the same man.

Bella finds that she is better able to cope with the reality of her life with Renee once she starts smoking weed. The stoners at her school become acquaintances, not friends, but at least people she can be around who ask for nothing but a smoke in return. Again Bella has resigned herself to her life this time with some semblance of belonging though no less painful, or empty.

It is not until the summer before Bella’s senior year that another miracle befalls her, setting her squarely on the path towards happiness she hadn’t even dreamt of in a decade.

While returning home from a late night smoking in the park Bella is surprised to find the flash of red and blue lights along her street. It is with a sinking feeling that she approaches her own house surrounded by neighbors and uniforms.

Bella moved through the crowd as though in a trance barely registering the word “overdose” whispering through the people around her. It doesn’t register until she sees them wheeling out the body and then she’s laughing, deep and unrestrained laughing, at the thought of what everyone must think of Renee. She wonders what they must think of her laughing at the death of her mother and laughs that much harder knowing how it would enrage Renee.

The laughter brings tears to her eyes that swiftly turned to sobs as she realizes how truly alone she has just become. Looking around at the faces of her neighbors she feels fury burning her cheeks at the pity in their eyes. Where was their concern when Renee was treating Bella like trash? Where was their pity when Bella cried alone at night stifling her sobs to avoid agitating her bruises? Bella wants them to keep their pity. She didn’t need it then and she doesn’t need it now as she steps into the waiting police cruiser and towards her uncertain future.

Chapter Text

“Thank you for flying with us! Your Baggage claims are A28-A32, check your ticket for specifics. We hope you enjoy your stay in Washington!” I did my best to return the over enthusiastic smile Kara the flight attendant gave but mine barely reached my eyes. Shoving my hands in my pockets I followed the overhead signs to the baggage claim area. 

As I made my way down the escalator I realized my ticket was not in either pocket. Shit. Stepping off to the side I frantically searched my backpack for the, until now, insignificant piece of cardstock. “Fuuuuck!” I growled out stomping my foot slightly as I remembered where I left my ticket, on the plane in my seat front pocket. I felt my cheeks flush at the stares my sudden outburst drew from the people getting off the escalator. I moved further into the baggage claim area as my chest tightened and tears began to prick at my eyes.

My mothers disapproving glare flashed before my mind's eye. Renee had always hated my habit of misplacing or outright losing my belongings. Nevermind that she routinely pawned things for drug money in her doped out stupor. Any and everything that went missing was automatically my fault and she made sure to remind me how painful the consequences could be.

I felt my veins turn to ice as the familiar feeling of embarrassment and worthlessness slithered up my spine. Breathing was becoming an incredible task as a loud tone rang in my ears on loop seeming to come from all directions at once. I could feel everyone around me staring at the tears on my cheeks. I cast my eyes wildly for the restroom and made a beeline straight for it; my ticket and luggage completely forgotten. 

If I hadn't been so frantic I would’ve been thankful to find the restroom completely empty. As it was all I could think of was trying to get my breathing under control. I quickly turned on one of the sinks to full blast cold water and gripped the porcelain sides tightly. I focused on the rushing water and the cool porcelain below my fingers.

I could hear my mother's voice cackling away in my head and I felt my muscles tense against the grating sound.

My breathing stayed ragged and spots of darkness started pricking at the edges of my vision. Dipping my head down I pushd half of my face under the spray of water. Droplets splashed in every direction soaking the top of my shirt and half of my hair. The cool feeling was a familiar shock and served to calm my breathing by triggering my body's cold water response. After taking a moment to be sure my breathing had evened I pulled back from the water and turned off the faucet. 

Locking eyes with myself in the mirror I chuckled slightly at the disheveled dripping mess staring back at me. This was not my first panic attack by any means but it had been at least a year since such a small issue had sent me into so much turmoil and so quickly. 

Renee would have a fucking field day with this the beating for making a scene in public alone would be-

“Nope.” I shouted and quickly shook my head to dislodge those thoughts before they could take hold again. Glancing at my watch I’d been in the restroom for nearly 20 minutes. I did my best to dry myself with some paper towels and took several deep breaths before heading back out into the now empty baggage claim area. Looking around I saw neither an airport staff member nor my luggage. I felt the familiar prick of tears in my eyes as the world became a blurry mess and I focused, once again, on keeping my breathing under control.

My heart and breath froze as I suddenly felt a firm hand on my shoulder.

“Hey Bells, you alright?” Came a gruff but familiar voice. Slowly my eyes settled on the kind eyes of my Uncle Charlie and I found myself better able to breath. 

“I was worried when your luggage was here and you weren’t” He laughed motioning towards 2 duffles in his other hand before looking back at me. “How’d you get all wet?”

“How did you get my bags; I lost my ticket?” I ignored his question uninterested in recalling my visit to the bathroom.

“Oh I had your flight info and everything...Is that what’s got you crying? You lost your ticket?” I blushed at his questioning and avoided his curious gaze.

After an awkward pause Charlie cleared his throat.

“Well I guess you’re ready to get out of here. Probably tired after that long flight from Phoenix?.” He changed the subject and tried again to meet my gaze.

“Yeah, I’m actually pretty beat. I didn’t sleep at all I wanted to at least remember my second plane ride ever.” I regretted meeting his gaze at the dark look I saw there. Probably shouldn’t have brought up my first plane ride. Stupid.

Charlie cleared his throat again then turned and started walking. I took the hint and followed more than eager to leave the airport. 

I paused as we entered the parking garage. “Seriously?” I questioned staring at the police cruiser before me. 

“Yeah sorry I got called into work earlier and I had to bring the cruiser cause I came straight here. One of the downsides to being chief of police.” Charlie sighed as he finished loading my bags into the trunk.

“Are there any upsides?” I mumbled as we buckled in and began our journey.

“Well there is one.” he said cryptically.

I had enough time to turn and look at him with slight trepidation before he flipped on the siren and slammed on the gas throwing me back into my seat. After a few miles of Charlie's laughter he turned the siren off and slowed to a reasonable speed.

“Haha oh Bells you should’ve seen your face! I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist you set that up perfectly!” He continued to chuckle for a moment and I simply turned, crossing my arms to stare at the passing scenery. “Oh Bella come on don’t be upset it was just a little prank. I just felt the need for speed?” He offered the lamest joke possible.

“I’m not upset, I'm just tired.” I laughed to avoid scoffing and closed my eyes hoping to escape the awkwardness in the void of sleep.

2 hours later I was awakened by the sound of a slamming door. “Bella wake up we’re home.” Came Charlie's muffled voice from outside the car. Opening the door I quickly hopped out, stretching and yawning slightly, before surveilling my new home.

The lush green surroundings made me feel calm. I took in a deep breath and marveled at how fresh the air smelled. The sound of birds calling in the trees faded and I felt a sense of peace wash through me like nothing I had ever felt before. I closed my eyes and took another deep breath of air. The fresh scent had a lightly sweet tone to it this time that set my heart racing slightly.

“Come help me with your bags.” Charlie's voice cut through my moment very effectively. I took another breath but the sweet air had passed. Nothing lasts forever I guess. Sighing I took the offered duffel and followed Charlie into the house.

He led me through the entryway pointing out the hall closet and bathroom immediately to the left and the living room off to the right. We continued further into where the hall opened into the kitchen and dining area.

“Go ahead and set the bags over by the stairs there.” Charlie gestured towards the back of the kitchen while handing me the other duffel. “Then sit at the table with me please.” 

Fuck. I knew the other shoe would drop eventually. Renee was all smiles and sunshine the first day until we got home too.

As I set the bags down I felt my hands start to sweat and my breathing picked up a little.

“You and I need to have a little chat about what’s to be expected now that you live here” Charlie’s tone was serious and my veins turned to ice. I sat down across from him and glued my eyes firmly to the table. 

Let me guess Rule 1. Don’t let you know I exist. Rule 2. Don’t touch your stuff. Rule 3. Don’t eat your food. Rule 4. I don’t own anythi-

“I know you’ve been through a rough time Bella. Not just recently, with your mom, but everything you’ve had to deal with growing up.” I closed my eyes tight but still felt tears slip past at the reminder of my childhood. My stomach churned with shame from my past.

But that’s nothing compared to what you’ve got in store? Guess kind Uncle Charlie is another wasted fairyta-

“I want to apologize for not being there for you. I can’t change the past but I’m here to support you now.” 

Fuck the what?! My head snapped up so fast I may have given myself whiplash. I was terrified to meet Charlie's gaze but I needed to see his face, he was looking anywhere but me.

I guess I have Dad’s side to thank for my aversion to feelings.

“I won't pretend that I know how to raise a teenager, especially one with your record, but I will promise to be patient, understanding and to do my best. Does that work for you?” He finished, voice wavering with unshed tears in his eyes and finally met my gaze.

This is way too good to be true. I simply nodded my head. I was speechless.

“Good! Now before I show you the rest of the house Bella I’d like to go over some ground rules.” Charlie smiled softly, wiping at his eyes. “Firstly you will have a curfew, 10:30pm on school nights and 1am on weekends.” 

1 am isn’t Renee’s “I don’t care” curfew but some of the kids back in Phoenix had 10pm curfews weekends included.

Charlie paused and I realized he was waiting for my response.

I shrugged. “Cool.”

“When it comes to boys.” Charlie cleared his throat and I saw the tips of his ears run pink. “I just ask that you be safe, be smart and use protection. Don’t be afraid to come talk to me about anything. If you are uncomfortable with something , if you have questions or if you need anything. You ask me.”

“Yepcoolgotya” I most certainly will not be coming to talk to you about ‘boys’ or any teenage ‘changes’ Charlie don’t you worry. “Anything else?” I would really love to be talking about literally anything else right now!

“Finally, I understand that you are a teenager and this is an important time of discovery for you. The world is big, bright and ready for you to take it. You deserve it all Bella.” 

I could see how much he really believed it in his eyes. He had a hope for me greater than anything I’d hoped for myself. My breath caught at the overwhelming support and I had to look away.

“Bella Look at me, this is important.” Charlie waited until he had my full attention to continue “I don’t know much about your mother or what you saw and did while you were with her. No judgements, however there will be no drugs in the house or in your system. Drug use is unacceptable in my household.”

Pump the brakes Chief there’s no way in hell I’m not getting baked in these woods. 

“Do you understand?”

I studied Charlie briefly. Charlie you might be a cop... but you seem like the trusting sort of guy who wouldn’t piss test his niece… “Understood.”

“Good! I imagine there were very few rules when you were living with your mother so this will be an adjustment for you.”

An amazing adjustment. I thought to myself as I compared the many welcome differences between Charlies household and Renee’s. I smiled at Charlie as I felt my body relax. “I’m sure it won't be too hard.” I replied with a genuine smile.

“Alright well I know you’re tired and ready to get to your room but there is one last thing. Apparently it’s been designated by the state that you should attend therapy due to the...traumatic nature of your mother's death and your past. You were supposed to be going while in your mother's care all this time but...well I guess we know now why the records of you going are basically non existent.” 

Let some random stranger poke around in my head? I felt the smile fall off my face. Hard pass.

“Don’t worry Bells I’m sure it will be fine. I’ve set up some meetings with a few therapists so we can find one before you start school in a few weeks.” Charlie offered me a reassuring smile before standing up. “Now how about the rest of that tour!?” He pumped his fist in the air before turning to head upstairs.

I laughed half-heartedly, to keep the lingering gloomy therapy thoughts away, before following behind with my bags. 

“So this is the second floor of the house. First door on the left is my room. There is a linen closet down the end of the hall there and your room and bathroom are at the end of the hall to the right. Your boxes and furniture arrived a week ago and I put it all together but let me know if you want to rearrange it or anything and I’ll help you move the heavy stuff. Happy unpacking!” And with that he headed back downstairs to do Charlie things.

I made my way down to the room he’d indicated and pushed open the door. I took in the desk and chair pushed into the far corner near the open window. There was a full bed along the wall opposite which stood a dresser next to the closet. Beyond that was a door I presumed led to the bathroom. I dropped my bags to the floor as I kicked the door shut. Shimmying out of my pants and shirt I crawled into my new bed and succumbed to some much needed rest.

 

~~B~~

 

I sat bolt upright in bed my tshirt clinging to my body with the same sweat that soaked my sheets. Clutching at my chest, I cast my eyes quickly around the unfamiliar room, briefly checking every dark corner I found, before settling on the clock a top my dresser. 3:40 am. I sighed at the unsurprisingly, though very disappointingly, early hour. I could not recall what nightmare had disturbed me but I was uneager to return to sleep even if it were quick to come. 

Bracing myself against the temperature change I threw off my covers and stood stretching my still sleep laden limbs. Shivering, I moved to close the window then I took another look at my surroundings much more familiar to my waking eyes. I contemplated unpacking the boxes that were strewn about as my shin connected with a particularly sturdy one but quickly cast that thought aside as my bladder made itself known.

After relieving myself I made my way down into the kitchen to see what breakfast food my uncle Charlie had on hand. My wishes for lucky charms were met with frosted flakes but I was pleasantly surprised to find out lactose intolerance runs in the family when I found soy milk. Whilst munching on my, very thankfully, lactose free breakfast cereal I made a mental note to pick up some lactose pills in town. I noted some foods I needed to pick up as well as some items for my bathroom before returning to my room to tackle my boxes.

By 6 am I was nearly done unpacking the bulk of my stuff from phoenix. I had just finished organizing my closet when there was a knock on my door.

“Hey Bells you awake already?” came the gruff but gentle voice of my uncle.

“Have been for a while” I said under my breath genuinely surprised he was bothering to check on me. “Come in” I said aloud watching as he opened the door stepping in fully.

“I came to grab you for dinner last night but you were knocked out. Woah I guess the extra rest did you good. Looks like you’ve made some headway here! I figured I’d need to give you a few weeks to get everything organized.” He said peering around at the mostly unpacked room.

“Yeah well I couldn’t sleep so I figured I might as well get it over and done with.” I responded as I turned to continue with the box I was working on before he’d knocked.

“I remember you being really messy as a kid.” He said ending with an uncomfortable cough as he mentioned my childhood. I nearly laughed at the awkward way he avoided meeting my eyes.

“We all grow up sometimes I guess.” I replied with a sigh. Charlie gave me a grateful smile at the easy out I provided him.

“Yeah well speaking of growing up I have to get to my grown up job as Chief of Police. I’ll be back around 6 to grab you for dinner and we can talk more about your appointments this week and on Monday we’ll get your schedule and have a tour of Forks high.” I nodded my understanding and Charlie offered me a smile. “Oh hey with all the excitement I forgot to give you this yesterday!” Charlie tossed a small box on my bed before leaving.

I walked over to find a new smartphone with a sticky note atop.

Cell: 360-555-5101

Work: 360- 555-1100 (911 in an emergency!)

House: 360-555-8933

~Now you can always reach me. Charlie.

I smiled at the note and moved to set the phone on my desk. Now that I was done unpacking I replaced last nights sheets with fresh ones before grabbing a long relaxing shower. The warm water felt amazing on my body after the nightmare and hours of unpacking. 

After exiting the shower I set up my new phone being sure to save the numbers Charlie provided before sending him a text. 

Thx for the phone! (it’s Bella btw)

A few moments later I heard my, freshly chosen, text tone go off.

No problem. Settling in alright?

I smiled at his quick and caring response. I think I am yeah. I texted Charlie my thoughts before spending the rest of the day exploring my new home.

Chapter Text

“You’re sure you don’t want me to come with you Bella, I can easily have the time off work?” Charlie questioned for the hundredth time breaking me from my thoughts.

“Yeah Charlie I’m sure. I’ll be fine.” I laughed at the uncharacteristic fluster in Charlie that I’d become familiar with during this week of appointments.

“Alright and you remember where you’re going? Dr. Willowford’s office is on the 6th floor suit 600G.” Charlie reminded me before I could answer.

“Yep yep you only said it about a billion times chief!” I replied with a roll of my eyes. Is this what it is to have a normal caring guardian because it's nice but kind of annoying?

“Okay...and you know which bus to take home?” I could hear the worry in his voice and my demeanor softened slightly. 

He just wants reassurance that I’ll be safe.

“No worries Uncle C. I’ll see you at home for dinner.” I said before hopping out of the police cruiser and shutting the door. He’s a cop and he doesn't realize safety is just an illusion. Ignorance is bliss I suppose. “I’ve got this.” I told him through the open window with a smile.

As Charlie drove away I turned to study the tall brick building before me. Looks more like a factory than an office building . I let out a deep sigh before venturing inside. 

I easily followed the signs to the elevator for the 6th floor. Instead of a regular button there was a call box. I followed the instructions hitting the pound before hearing 2 rings followed by a crackling voice.

“Hello and good morning this is Dr. Willowfords' office, who may I ask is calling?” The voice paused for my response.

“My name is Bella- Isabella Swan- I’m here for an appointment with Dr. Willowford?” I said even as I wondered why I hadn’t found a way to skip out on this meeting. 

“Oh yes Isabella! Come on up!” there was a short tone from the box followed by a mechanical grinding as the elevator doors slid open.

I stepped inside the elevator and was confused to find no buttons at all along any of the four walls. Despite not pushing any button the elevator lurched slightly into motion and I felt myself being carried up. When the doors open a short minute later I found that suit 600G was the entirety of the 6th floor.

As I stepped out and took in my surroundings I saw a woman sitting behind a large desk against the wall closest to the elevators. She seemed to notice me at the same moment and rose with a smile.

“Welcome Isabella. My name is Sarah. Have a seat wherever you like.” She gestured towards the various seating in the large office. I quickly decided on a pair of beanbags on the other side of the room under the window.

I settled into my seat and took a moment to take in the decor. The walls were a calm dusty blue adorned with more than a few degrees and accolades. The furniture was, for the most part wood with fabric in a mixture of blues and greens. I felt very at ease as though I were floating. There was a pleasant ocean sound machine that certainly helped the feeling along. 

I studied the woman seated across from me. She was beautiful in a sophisticated though intimidating way. A combination that probably only worked for her. She was dressed tastefully in a professional pantsuit in violet. She had very kind oval shaped honey brown eyes that complimented her face perfectly.

Having finally met her gaze I could see she was about to speak. Better shut that down.

“Let me stop you there Miss Willowford.” I began before she could.

“Sarah, please call me Sarah.” She stated pleasantly in a soothing melodic tone. What a beautiful voice.

“Right Sarah. Look I know how this works. Charlie thinks Renee never took me to a shrink but she did a few times to get some court papers signed. You just want me to tell you I’m doing fine and you’re going to pretend to listen to me so lets just sit here in silence instead until it's over.” I could see she was taken aback and I felt a slight pang of guilt at my abrasive tone but therapy is a joke.

“Actually this is more like a job interview for me. You get to ask me questions and see if you want to keep working with me. I get to tell you a bit about myself and my background to help you make that decision. If we have time, and if you do want to keep working with me then we’ll do some paperwork and maybe start talking about some of the reasons you came to see me.” 

Wait I’m confused “I always thought the therapist chose whether to take on a patient, not the other way around?” What kind of shrink shit is she trying to pull?

“Well yes to some extent we do but the patients have a say as well. You really have the bigger say in things because you’re the one paying me.”

“Charlie’s paying you I don’t have any money.”

“That is true but he would be paying me to treat you. That makes you my patient and the one to whom I have a responsibility.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

“Do you have any other questions for me Isabella?”

“How long have you been a therapist?”

“10 years this spring.”

“Do you only work with kids?”

“It's really a mixture but mostly children and young adults.”

“Why did you become a therapist?”

“I like to help others and I wanted to give troubled youth an empathetic ear.” She paused and chuckled softly. “It’s my way of doing my part for the village.”

“The village?” I regarded her quizzically at the strange statement. Are we sure you aren’t the one in need of professional help lady?

“It’s an old saying. “It takes a village to raise a child.”

“Is that your favorite quote?” 

Sarah smiled. “I guess you could say today it is.”

I took a moment to think about her response and my next question.

“Why would you want to work with me?”

Sarah stilled for a moment. I only realized how quick all her other answers had been when it took her so long to reply in this instance.

“From what I know regarding your recent move to Forks and your childhood you just seem like you might want a sympathetic ear and a cozy place to vent.”

I took a hard look at Sarah as she spoke and it seemed she was genuine. She’s not pushy or fake and her eyes are warm and welcoming. Just like how I used to imagine Renee's eyes. Letting out a deep sigh I replied. “That doesn’t sound all bad. I think you said the next step was some paperwork?” 

“Yes indeed let me just grab that,” Sarah rose quickly and almost seemed to glide to her desk and back. “Not that I’m not delighted you want to move forward with me, Isabella, but only a little while ago you were eager to sit in silence. What changed?” She finished taking her seat once again and offering me the paperwork.

“I didn’t totally hate your answers and, if I have to do therapy until I graduate anyways, I decided there was no harm in giving you a shot.” I shrugged as I took the papers leafing through them slightly as I sat back. “I believe the saying goes ‘The only knowledge that can hurt you is knowledge you don’t have.’ So maybe I’m hoping you’ve got something to teach me.  And you can call me Bella.” I offered her a small smile as I met her gaze again.

Sarah gave me a bemused look, “I think we will likely find a few lessons in each other, Bella.” she replied before guiding me through the various legal statements and required signatures.

Chapter Text

“Thank you” I said genuinely to the school secretary leading me to my homeroom class.

“It’s really no problem dearie.” She replied in a pleasant tone as we stopped outside room 212. “Here we are Mrs. Lee’s homeroom. Don’t be nervous hun you’ll fit right in.” She offered me a small smile before turning to return to her regular duties.

I took a deep breath as I pulled open the door to reveal a mostly empty classroom. I quickly found a seat in the back corner next to a window. Pulling out a notebook and pen I was prepared to doodle until the teacher arrived.

“Hey, you must be new here.” I heard the guy a few rows ahead of me say.

I hunched closer to my notebook hoping he would get the hint and pay someone else attention.

“I said hey, you must be new here.” He said again after a moment.

His voice sounded much closer and looking up I saw he was now standing directly in front of my desk. I raised both my eyebrows slightly in silent question as I took in his loose fitting jeans and hoodie, short cropped blonde hair and green eyes.

“My name’s Mike. Do you have a boyfriend?” He said, offering me a smile that instantly set me on edge.

“I’m not interested.” I said turning back to the poorly drawn dragon in my notebook.

“Hey who said I was interested; that’s super presumptuous of you, y’know?” He said smugly.

Lifting my eyes to meet his once again I barely stifled an eye roll at his cocky smirk. “My bad ‘Do you have a boyfriend’ just seems a lot like the kind of question that leads to other questions like ‘do you want to go out?’ and I-” I was interrupted by the sound of the school bell ringing out.

“Woah slow down Bella we just met and you’re already asking me out?!” He said louder than necessary catching the attention of the other students who’d begun to trickle in at the bell.

I scowled as I felt a blush creep along the tops of my ears. Thankfully the second bell and arrival of the teacher sent him back to his desk and I was saved from the rest of that unpleasant interaction.

“Alright welcome! Welcome back class so good to see all of you again!” The teacher clapped her hands together as he surveyed us with a wide smile. “I’m Mrs. Lee and I’ll be your homeroom teacher this year. I know most of you know me but we have a new face or two this year so the usual introductions are needed!” She clapped again and her eyes settled on me.

As she extended her hand in a clear motion beckoning me towards the front of the class I felt my blush flare up again. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck. Okay ‘My name is Bella Swan, I’m from Phoenix, my uncle is the police chief. NO do NOT say that. Okay ummm- I was so focused on trying to rehearse my introduction I didn’t notice Mike's foot conveniently placed in the aisle.

Stumbling, I threw a glare at his smug face over my shoulder as I righted myself and made it to the front of the class facing my snickering peers.

“Uhhh, hi.” I waved slightly and received an exaggerated ‘heya’ and wave from Mike eliciting more laughter from the others in the room. Mrs. Lee shushed them and gestured for me to continue.

“So yeah, I’m Bella Swan. I just moved here from Phoenix.” I paused unsure what to say next.

“Why don’t you tell us what you like to do for fun Bella?” Mrs. Lee suggested with an encouraging smile.

Hmm I like to smoke weed and wish I was dead. I scoffed at how voicing that thought would end. “I like to read and I like to stargaze.” I said instead with a shrug.

“Lovely pursuits indeed.” Mrs. Lee said as she took the front again gesturing for me to return to my seat. “Well let’s all be welcoming and helpful to Bella as she adjusts to our school hmm.” She looked pointedly at Mike who offered a thumbs up in return.

Any further homeroom activities were stalled by the start of day bell. “Alright everyone have a great first day and I’ll be seeing you here every morning for the next 300 or so days.” She laughed at her joke even as we all shuffled out the door groaning at the reminder of how long until next summer.

I could feel Mike right behind me and sped up to avoid any further unpleasant interaction. I was quickly swallowed in the sea of passing students.  Dodging him all year is gonna fucking suck. I just hope we don’t have any other classes besides homeroom. I thought as I fished in my pocket for the schedule I’d gotten from the secretary.

Suddenly I found myself sprawled out on the floor only the ringing of my surprise in my ears as the hallway fell silent around me.

“Oh shit my bad.” Came a voice from above as I felt myself being hauled up by a hand on my shoulder. “I was trying to catch your attention for a while, guess you didn’t see me.” The boy said tossing his shaggy black hair out of his eyes with a flick. “I’m Eric and you must be Isabella.” he said offering me his hand now that I was standing upright.

I just eyed his hand warily remembering the most recent forks teen I’d met.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to run you over. You walk really quickly.” he awkwardly returned his hand to his side before continuing. “I’m your schedule buddy. I'm here to make sure you get from class to class. Your hero chauffeur in one if you will” He shifted his weight from foot to foot as my silence continued even in the face of his joke. “You’ve got Physics this period with me, wanna go?” He gestured down the hall.

“Sure.” I shrugged and I could see he was surprised that I bothered to answer him.

“Cool.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and led me down the hall to room 225. Opening the door he quickly made a beeline for a table with a brunette already seated. As he sat down next to her she looked up and smiled in greeting. I watched as he said something to her before turning to the empty seat on his other side quickly. He looked confused for a moment before lifting his eyes to find me still standing by the door.

I made my way over at his wave preparing myself to meet this girl and hoping the two of them were at least moderately less annoying than Mike.

“Isabella this is Angela, Angela this is Isabella.” Eric introduced motioning between us several times with his hands.

“Nice to meet you Isabella.” Angela said, meeting my eyes with a genuine smile. “Sorry about him,” she nodded towards Eric. “I swear he’s not nearly as strange as he seems once you get to know him.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle along with her as Eric yelped out an offended “Hey!” at her teasing.

“So I take it you’ve known him a long time then?” I asked, causing Angela to laugh again.

“Oh lovely yes let’s all gang up on Eric why not?” He mumbled sarcastically, though I could see a smile on his downcast face.

“Well from what Angela here says you don’t make it hard dude.” I said nudging him with my elbow gently with a smile. “By the way you guys can just call me Bella.” I said as the bell rang.

Angela stifled her laughter as the teacher entered the room welcoming us all back and launching into a lecture about the marvels of Physics and the rules that govern the universe. 

 

~~ B~~

“Alright schedule buddy next up is the ever awful Gym class!” My body went rigid and I let out a small squeak as Eric threw his arms over both mine and Angela's shoulders leading us out of the physics room.

I carefully removed his arm from around me while trying to gain control of my thundering heart. Glancing around I sighed in relief seeing that no one paid us any undue attention.

“Bella are you alright?” Angela asked, reaching a hand out towards me hesitantly frowning when I took a step back.

“Yeah, no, yeah.” I said nodding my head quickly a few times. “I’m just not really a touchy person, sorry.” I said with a weak shrug toeing my shoe at the ground.

“That’s okay Bella.” Angela said elbowing Eric swiftly in the side. “Some people don’t understand the concept of personal space.”

“Yeah my bad. Didn’t mean to startle you.” He apologized rubbing at his side.

“It’s cool you didn’t know.” I forgave quickly hoping to get out of this uncomfortable situation as soon as possible. “So which way to gym?” I asked following Eric as he turned with Angela in tow as well.

 

~~ B~~

I chatted with Angela as we walked out of the locker room into the gym. Looking around I took note of how similar the large building was to the gym back in Phoenix. I guess gym is gym no matter where you go. I thought taking a strange comfort in the familiarity of it. I followed Angela over to where Eric was sitting on the raised equipment area next to a pretty brunette. They were both speaking to a blond guy  I couldn’t see due to the angle. As we approached I felt my stomach drop as the two came into full view.

I took in the smiles and easy demeanor of the three before me and hoped my smile didn’t look as uneasy as it felt.

“Bella this is Mike and Jessica the last members of our Musketeers” Eric introduced with a flourish that had Mike laughing along.

“Hey.” The girl, Jessica, waved slightly and I returned the gesture.

Mike smirked at me as he spoke. “Oh yeah, we’ve met. Bella and I have homeroom together.” I tried to hide my scowl at the smug tone of voice.

“Oh no way that’s awesome. Must be fate Bella, you're stuck with us now.” Eric shouted and poked Mike who laughed along as their antics turned to an imaginary sword fight. Angela  and Jessica rolled their eyes though they couldn't help but laugh as well.

I felt any hope of avoiding time with Mike evaporate as I watched these long time friends interact. I guess I can put up with him if I have these three as a buffer

Suddenly there was a loud whistle. “Alright class line up! York! Newton! Would you two knock it off? 1st day and already you’re goofing off.” The gym instructors' loud voice rang across the large space.

I sighed as we all jogged over to line up and hear what archaic torture he’d devised for us. 

“Today we’ll be playing an easy game of soccer to get you all back into the swing of things. First to warm up 2 laps around the gym and Newton’s going to lead the stretch when you’re done.” As Mike and some of the other students began running he glanced around at those of us still standing in line.

“Questions, comments, problems? Get going!” He barked out quickly and off we went sweating away the next hour of our lives.