A/N: Alright, my loverly little muffin cups, here's the next chapter (finally! - I've had copious amounts of papers and labs and financial aid applications the past few weeks). You may or may not have noticed a slight makeover: new summary and chapter titles in the drop-down menu. I'm not sure if I like them - they go against all of my OCD impulses, so they might be changed back in the future. This chapter is dedicated to my dear, genius friend JT.
I do have something quick to say: most of you think this is going to be the second coming of The Sopranos, or that I'm resurrecting Tony Montana in the form of Edward Masen. As interesting as that might be, I promise you Edward will not be wielding a gun or watching out for that new shipment at the docks anytime soon. There won't be any Italian accents anywhere, either. I'm super sorry if that's what you expected, I really didn't mean for it to be that misleading.
Anyways, please read, enjoy, and review!
Chapter Six, Part Two.
They probably thought I had gone crazy. I was staring at the tile floors, studying patterns and aligning my shoes in the curvatures of the fake marble. I was digging my nail into the pebbled surface of my plastic chair and humming a little Eisley tune, not paying anyone any mind anymore. Because I just didn't care.
It'd gotten to the point where the endless questions were getting completely ridiculous. I understood that it was in all likelihood the worst crime committed in Forks in the history of the whole logging town's history, but how many times did I have to tell the deputy that I was in the restroom the whole time and hadn't seen or heard anything of importance?
I had been in the bathroom. I'd just walked in to the restaurant, wanting to try one of their mocha milkshakes. A friend had recommended the place, and since I had nothing to do after school, I'd decided to check it out. I'd been alone.
I remembered the look on Charlie's face when he came clambering through the door; obviously, word had gotten through fairly easily that his daughter was in the diner that had just been robbed. I was blissfully unaware of my surroundings - every scrubbed counter top, every inch of cold pleather against my back, every frazzled middle aged woman and child was blank to me - and Charlie bursting through the door was like the sharp pin that burst the balloon. I was suddenly more alert to Edward being so close to me that his jeans were brushing against mine and my father's eyes swivelling immediately to our hunched, tense forms and flashing with something akin to irritation.
Edward was completely silent as he stood and let me slip out of the booth and walk over to Charlie. He embraced me and I didn't like it. My skin was raw, and the affection with which he hugged me didn't mesh well with my exhaustively barren emotions, even if I felt faint embarrassment pressing in on the edges of my barely awakening consciousness. I remained very still for a moment and was grateful when he released me.
He rested his hands on my shoulders and his eyes seemed to sweep my body for any injuries, though I knew none had been reported.
"Hey, you okay?" he said, his tone obviously worried, and it didn't so much warm my heart as stir bated annoyance, "How are you feeling? Cold? Clammy? Sick?"
"Fine." I didn't have any other explanation to offer him, because I wasn't feeling anything else at the moment. The faint chagrin I'd been experiencing was still only that - very faint and very precise. I felt that and nothing else, in a very small dosage.
"Fine? Really?" He was disbelieving.
"Yes, fine." His eyes fluttered over my shoulder and I could feel his fingertips clench my bones unconsciously. The direction his gaze traveled was eerily and recently familiar to me. He was looking at Edward, since he was the only other person on this side of the diner, with a peculiar expression, like protectiveness and illness and resignation all mixed into one. It was unpleasant.
"You here with Masen?" he said, and he was struggling to keep his voice even.
I turned my head just enough to see Edward standing five feet behind me, leaning against the side of the booth I'd just been beneath, his arms crossed in front of his chest. He could hear every word we were saying, every small inflection in Charlie's voice and lack thereof in mine.
I was suddenly, brutally, enormously disappointed. It hit me with the weight of a thousand bricks, acute and deeply sickening in the fallow quiet that my emotions had been seconds prior. I don't know what I'd been expecting; maybe for him to seem worried that he'd been caught with the police chief's daughter or that I would probably be subjected to an interrogation that would rival that of John Dillinger. Maybe I'd anticipated the flat blackness in emotional manifestation or obvious trepidation that I'd been witness to only moments ago.
He looked indifferent.
I turned back to Charlie, not bothering to set my features. The vexation would not be questioned.
After that, I was completely unconscious to the things around me, too distracted by the flood hitting me internally: shock, disbelief, terror, relief, a cacophony of senses that a normal person would have expected to experience while the trauma had actually been occurring. The perceived walls that were protecting me before had been knocked down by an enormous amount of dissatisfaction and frustration. It was all in retrospect, all more vivid than it should have ever been.
Worst of all, and by far the most clamorous, anger was crashing through me in waves stronger than tidals and more violent than hurricanes.
How dare he? How dare he be so apathetic? How dare he do something so insane and completely ridiculous, acknowledge the fact that I was aware of his questionable means, and then offer me nothing but a blasé glance and an ingenuine comment about my father?
I was too distracted by my riotous, colorful emotions, flashes of red anger and brown, muddy boots and off white linoleum taking over the whole of my vision for split seconds, punctuating the front seat of the police car and lobby of the police department with disquieting images.
I somehow managed to formulate a lie to tell the police officers, though I was only aware of doing it after the fact - it didn't matter, it wouldn't change their investigation in any way, and nobody in the restaurant would remember who I'd been sitting with when I came in. I wanted more to avoid unnecessary confrontation between my father, Edward, and I, or any discussion involving Edward at all, than I desired to tell the truth.
I sat in one of the three tiny interrogation rooms in Forks Police Department for hours on end, first being briefly inquired after by my father, then a Sheriff, then a state trooper and an SBI agent.
My patience was minuscule the entire time. I had bigger fish to fry than a bunch of crocks flexing their underused law enforcement muscles in my face (and on top of it all, my usually dormant cynicism and petulance was ravaging me in full force, initiated and amplified by my turmoil within). What I was actually running through my mind was shortening my attention span to the point where I would forget questions the moment they were asked of me and tell Charlie and the other officers things I'd already told them three times previously.
Beyond the colossal aggravation I felt at Edward's total lack of affect, what I was thinking was that, if the man standing behind us at the kitchen door had not seen, heard, or sensed anything suspicious, especially from his superior vantage point, then Edward would not have been able to either. Edward should not have been able to, with more than enough time to spare, warn me of the coming events and insist that I clamor and hide beneath the table.
I only vaguely registered the brief monologue performed by the SBI agent on the whole affair having possibly been connected to a string of crimes in small towns up and down the Western seaboard, and that my help would be greatly appreciated. By that time, my thoughts had become solid and settled within my chest - resolute anger and irritation utterly eclipsing any residual trauma - and my story was just as sturdy in their ears.
After regurgitating my lie one last time, I was finally released to go wait in the lobby while Charlie finished up with the last of the witnesses. I was secretly pleased that I wasn't, for some strange reason, the only one who'd been forced to endure three hours of this ridiculous run in circles.
Unfortunately, I was met with a hot wall of curious stares, all five secretaries and twenty police officers of course staying late to see the results of the Great Holdup play out.
I tensed up, my eyes widening, enormously uncomfortable with all of the unwanted attention. If I hadn't subconsciously reminded myself that Charlie had to come here in the morning and every morning afterwards to face these people as he worked, I would have sneered at them and told them to mind their own business.
Instead, as tactfully as I could manage, I half-nodded, appearing meek instead of as nettled as I actually felt, and sidled around the corner into a dark, empty hallway. I flung myself against the wall and squeezed my eyes shut, breathing in deeply and strangling the urge to hit someone or something.
The hush was odd, peculiar in that the long, lightless hallway made all outside noises seem faraway, my surroundings more cavernous than they really were. The strangeness of it was comforting, enveloping me like a soft blanket and just barely extracting me from my own self. In its own way, it was grounding as I struggled to reconcile the two paths ahead of me: a deep desire to confront Edward and a simultaneous one to run away.
Of course, my invaluable silence did not last as long as I would have liked it to and I was faced with the decision before I had really thought it through.
I didn't bother to open my eyes to know who it was. His voice was inherently ordinary to me now, regardless of how much that simple fact troubled me. It had been something of him that I'd studied in our extremely limited interactions, analyzed every cadence and enjoyed every change in tone. I'd probably never forget it now, no matter how much I may end up wishing I could.
I did eventually open my eyes, and he was standing at the entrance of the hallway, the light from the open office hitting him from behind and shrouding him in an ethereal fashion, much like it had when he'd appeared in the shadows of my under-table haven. His eyes, skin, and hair all seemed darker against the backdrop of the fluorescent white light. It was disturbing.
I didn't respond to him. My perturbed glare gave him acknowledgment enough. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. All of him was slightly less defined and remotely blurred by the darkness of the hallway coating him in front and illumination in back, and I couldn't exactly decipher the look carved into his face.
"Uhm, I was thinking..." he sounded genuinely unsure of himself, and the unsteadiness in his voice was abnormal. I felt a small pang of guilt for radiating such adamant irritation towards him. "I can pick you up for school tomorrow, since you uhm...don't have your car."
Yet another flash of temper hit me as he reminded me of this fact, a brief thought of blaming him for my predicament - an unfair choice between Edward, who I wasn't sure of my opinion on, and getting carried to school in the cruiser. I forcefully crushed it, keeping in mind the thoughtfulness and sincerity that was indelibly apparent despite the lack of my ability to decipher him aesthetically. It was a monumental departure from his cool indifference and just the shock of it took the edge off of my acerbity and possible antagonism. It wasn't an excuse or a fix, but it kept me from glaring at him as I nodded my consent.
I think he smiled briefly, though I rightly couldn't tell, before turning to walk away.
"Edward," I called to him, and he stopped immediately, reversing back to face me. As the light hit his eyes in odd angles, they cast nearly microscopic steel green reflections across the curves of his lower eyelid, and I could see that they were ineffably curious. Realizing how rude I may have appeared to him, my tone was even more mild than I had planned when I spoke again.
"I do want some answers." He frowned, and his brow wrinkled.
He studied me for an endless moment, and I couldn't quiet the unsettling feeling that I was being judged. I struggled to hold onto to my composure and keep from biting my lip in sharp consternation.
He nodded solemnly and left without another word.
Quick note to LM Wilson: thank you so much for your reviews! I love them even if you're not logged in! Your theory...is completely not right. Haha, you've sort of got the right elements, but you're not putting them together the right way. You're sort of warm, though! Also, to K, thanks for your sweet review!