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the color and consistency of glass

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It was the second time Bella Swan went missing. The first time they found her dead to the world, shivering and cold as a statue. The second Angela finds her drunk, throwing rocks at a glass wall and screaming at the sky.

In Angela's opinion, it's an improvement.

"You liars!" Bella shouted. "You lied, you said you'd stay, you said you loved me, you--" Her sob turns into a hell, a guttural thing that makes the hairs rise in Angela's arms. Bella hefted a first sized stone and chucks it with all her strength. It went through the glass and inside the house with a dull thump. A second after comes the sound of broken porcelain. A pretty good shot, for someone staggering drunk.

"Should I have brought eggs?" Angela mused. Bella stumbles around, half wild. The hair sticks to her face with sweat and humidity, a sharp contrast to the redness of her eyes. There are two beer bottles on the dirt, one of them open and dripping wine in slow currents. Charlie had found one other empty at home and the whole four pack gone. Bella had only drunk three and or two and a half, probably. Enough to go out to the wolf-ridden woods to wreck her ex's house, apparently. 

"Angela?" Something makes Bella slow down. Was it so very strange to imagine Angela in the skeletons of the Cullen's mansion? "What are you doing here?"

For a very small moment Angela was tempted to snap at her, say you disappeared and no one knew where you were, are you drunk? Chief Charlie is terrified, we didn't know what you would do to yourself. Bella sniffles, dashes an angry hand over her face and she was immediately contrite. It was clear that Bella needed help, regardless of how admittedly selfish her actions might be.

She said: "I've come to break some Cullen furniture, of course."

She gave her a disbelieving look. Angela smiled wryly back, knowing how ridiculous it sounded. Sensible Angela Webber, breaking private propriety. It was a terrible idea. But it also made sense: it was why she had driven here in her family's minivan, after all. Bella was shattered, and longing for when she was whole. So Angela had guessed. She was good at that, Angela was.

Besides. Logically speaking, the Cullens were covering something up. If Angela's mystery book-reader sixth sense was working correctly, they wouldn't dare or care to press charges.

She knew better than to explain that to Bella right now. Angela shrugged and looked down, analyzing the ground with the eye of a childhood rock collector. She frowned.

"Did they really have a rock garden?" She asked incredulously.

Bella howled with laughter.

She wasn't laughing any more when Angela walked thought the gap in the glass. She was glad; that hysterical howling did nothing to help her fake boldness.

Bella needs me, she thought, lifting her chin as she skirted a blade coming out of a spidery glass crack, ignoring how nervous it made her to be near Bella and so many sharp shards.

Angela adjusted her glasses. They were dirty with sweat from the trek, but she didn't have her contacts with her. They would have to do. She looked around, considering.

"Alright. What should I be aiming for?"

Bella was still staring at her askance, but shrugged visibly. For someone so private, this reckless abandonment was uncomfortable. Honestly, Angela was more than a little horrified. How could nobody have noticed how far away Bella had gone? It wasn't just the drink. In all her rather sheltered years in Forks she had never see someone with eyes like that, hollow and sad and far too wide. 

But she was speaking now, a rarity in itself, so Angela paid attention. "The paintings." Bella said decisively. There was an awareness in her expression that hadn't been there in a long time, beneath the sleepless exhaustion and the alcohol.

This is worth it if only for that, Angela thought, and acted: lifted the bottle up and Angela darted a hand out and chugged it down in one go. There, no more alcohol. It burned down her parched throat pleasantly. She could hardly believe she had done it, but needs must.

Bella snorted. 

"What?" She asked without blinking. "Do you think I never nicked some wine from mass?"

Bella squinted, then grinned, a small mirthless grin. "Fair enough. Where were we?"

"How to go about vandalizing the Cullens propriety." She reminded her.

Bella nodded, then stopped, dizzy. "Right. The piano is mine."

Angela nodded herself, fought the drunken urge to diffuse the situation with a salute and walked towards the paintings.

In truth, she had never been in the Cullen's house before, hadn't even known where they'd lived before following her deduction and checking to see the school records. It had been a shot in the dark but anything was better than nothing if it got Bella safe. Safer, maybe.

The reality didn't really come close to the guesses she and her friends had come up with. It was a magnificent house, of course, very --modern, but not quite. The spiral staircase was very charming, and the positioning of the furniture reminded her of the predict dramas she enjoyed watching with her mom. But the study in whites and grays felt strangely discordant with the vibrant forest outside in a way no wood of leather loveseats could compete with.

This is a pale place for pale people, Angela thought, remembering the way color seemed to actively avoid the Cullens. A glass house for an unbreakable family. 

The paintings were utterly lovely, in the way costly paintings are, yes, but also historically rich. There was a Modigliani copy (possibly a copy. Hopefully a copy), a slightly morbid painting of apples served in a coffin cleverly painted to look like a basket, a tiny print from the late 1800s or something dwarfed in a huge metal frame. Some photos of mountains in the winter with excellent lighting.

She was pretty sure that was a Miró sketch by the kitchen counter. Who put a Miró by the kitchen counter? Someone who doesn't use the kitchen, that's who. What a waste. Angela's father, minister and amateur cook, would have loved that top of the line stove. Her mother, on the other hand, might actually pull a heist if she told her there was a lonely Miró waiting for her at an abandoned house. 

Thought they hadn't been away long enough for a thick layer of the dust to settle, the place felt hollow. Abandoned, in the faded way that Bella had been since they left.

Maybe she was being too cruel. But it was difficult to imagine this place ever being vibrant, not like Bella had once been, with her red high-neck shirts and quiet wit. For all that the Cullens were wealthy and beautiful, they were dangerously careless, to leave Bella and Mirós behind like so much dusty trash. The girl that had survived the Cullens was a different one, the color and consistency of glass in the shattered light.

Suddenly Angela was angry. With disarming ease, she lifted the empty bottle and swung it at the kitchen counter. She flinched back, covering her face wit her sholder. The counter looked the same, shiny marble veined in sickly blue veins. Before she was rightfully angry, but that made her furious.

"This is for Bella." She yells, and swings again until the stupid marble is dented.

After the first shattering noise it was a haze: broken statues, flying empty bottles, yelled insults and curses. At one point Bella sat on the piano and kicked the keys with her boots, legs swinging like a child.

An horrible noise echoed in the silence. Angela jumped. On the other end of the room, Bella poked her head. In one hand glinted a glass shard, and in the other she held a piano wire, one of those grey cords that made up the innards of the instrument. She was cutting them all, she realized, one at a time. It made the most dreadful noise, like the piano itself was fighting against its unbecoming.

After some more sawing came a high twang and the key fell. It was a black one, high but not nearly as high as the church pipe organ Angela played. She twisted, flailed in exaggerated fashion. The sound of a rock breaking glass joined the cacophony.


Angela, still very sober, kept her away from the worst of the shards and the kitchen, in had left other sharper things behind.

Bella was sharper now too, her laughter desperate, her clumsiness at home in her drunken rage. After a while Angela sat down, feeling her blood cool and watching Bella saw through the piano wires with vicious gutting motions.

They looked at each other. Bella's lip twitched. Angela snorted. And they were laughing, this time not hysterical but honest, two girls laughing at a dead piano and a broken room, splayed in the polished wood of a teenage battle ground. Bella pulled the wire and it rebounded, curling in itself with a cat-like noise and that made her giggle again.

"Oh god." She said. "I have never been in such a pretentious place before."

Bella leans against the piano seat, neck bared. "I know! Did you know he doesn't have a bed, only a leather couch?"

She snorts again. "What an asshole." She said. Bells reared back, looked like she was going to defend him, but stopped. Breathed loudly though her nose. Her face did a very complicated thing and she pursed her lips.

"He said I wasn't good enough for him."

Angela almost punched the ground. She didn't look like she was almost not punching he ground, but that was WEbber's had great angry poker-faces. It was known. Except for Bella, who didn't. It was startling, to realize the depth of how alone Bella must have felt. Not isolated, but alone, and easy pick for someone like Cullen. 

I am not blameless in this, she accepted grimly. I should have been a better friend, to hell with being shy. But I will do better. Everyone will, if I have anything to do about it. 

"He lied." Bella looked up, startled at the intensity of her voice. "He lied, Bella. You are a kind, strong, smart girl, and Edward Cullen is not better than you."

Bella sobbed and spit out yells at the same time."You don't know, you don't know!" She was holding her wrist like a twig to her chest, like a splinted aching thing. Angela very much did not think of old religious tales and breathed out calmly. 

"You didn't deserve what he did to you, Bella. I don't pretend to knoweverything about you two or how you two worked together, but I saw you everyday. You loved him, and he loved you" Bella sobbed. Angela felt horrible, but she went on, voice wavering. Someone had to. " But he hurt you. Badly, unjustly and cruelly. So yes, Edward Cullen is an A-grade asshole."

"An asshole."

"Yes. Edward Cullen is an asshole."

Bella flinched. Angela stilled, scotted closer, slowly, petted her leg. Then when nothing happened, she dared to speak again, softer.

"You can say the name, you know. Fear of the name does nothing but strengthen the fear of the thing itself."

Bella stared blankly. Angela stared back. The mouth opened in horror. Suddenly the spell of the moment was broken. "Oh my god. Oh my god. You haven't read Harry Potter."

Bella wrinkled her nose. "Isn't that for kids?"

Angela threw a pillow. She worried at once, but it only fell in Bella's stomach. She poked at it in drunken surprise at the squishiness. Then she seemed to remember it had been thrown at her and glared.

"You threw a pillow at me."

"Sorry. In my defense I was overcome with horror at the heresy against Harry Potter." Some people stuttered when they drunk. Angela went embarrassingly honest and strangely eloquent. "But sorry."

"'S, ok." Bella said.

"You can borrow my books, if you want." Angela said, surrosing herself at what a good idea she was. "We're probably going to be punished for this."

She lifted a soft arm to the wreckage that had once been the Cullen's living room. "But they're good books. I think you'll like them." She cleared her throat, cheeks hot. "If you want to try."

Bella looked at her. Her eyes were very moist, her face flushed as well. "I will. I do."

Angela smiled almost widely. "Good. I'll remind you when you're sober."

Bella hummed. Laying her head in the pillow, she closed her eyes. Her feet were close enough to touch, soles stuck with glass. Her hands were bleeding. So were Angela's, she noticed with some surprise, but only shallowly.

They should probably get that looked after. Call Charlie, her parents. She should have Bella drink water and get up before she fell asleep and move from this forsaken mausoleum, do something to avoid getting arrested if the Cullens actually decided to give a fuck. But the wood was cold beneath her face and she took of her glasses. It was easier to see like that, the world turning purple outside, everything without the jagged reflection on broken things.

Bella's eyes were closed in restless sleep. Angela stayed awake, standing sightless vigil as dusk fell.