Man this chapter was difficult to condense

Chapter 10

The phone rang loudly in the house, neither of the two occupants moved to answer it. For a moment there was an awkward atmosphere as she ignored her dad shifting uncomfortably, after a moment the phone stopped ringing and the silence that followed was deafening.

"Guess its six o'clock" her father said, and she knew he was giving her the look, but when she didn't respond the silence returned

Eventually she let out a huff and stood up from the table where they'd been enjoying a peaceful if awkward meal. Neither of them needed to check to see who had called, they both knew it was Danny.

The boy had stopped just outside of stalker mode, as he hounded their phone trying to get in touch with her for the last two weeks. He'd already spoken to her father several times and each time asked to speak with her; ordinarily her dad would have pulled his chief of police card and threatened him, but somehow Danny had endeared himself to the surly awkward man and even get him on his side.

She could hear them whispering on the phone about her like a couple of old biddies; she knew it was about her because her dad always went quiet when she entered the room, and she knew it was Danny he was gossiping to because she'd heard him automatically try and correct the other person on her nickname, Bella.

'I'd feel betrayed if I didn't know how good a conversationalist he can be (I got you Iz, I'd love to hear about that)' but she shook her head of those thoughts.

At the thought she couldn't help but remember with some indignation the first time she'd introduced her dad to Ed- her boyfriend

"All right, let him in" the man said gruffly even as he 'casually' cocked the rifle he had been performing maintenance on

Now not only did she have to avoid an inanimate object, but her own father's imploring eyes("Kid sounds kind of sorry for whatever it is he said Bell's, maybe you should hear him out"); and since he'd somehow been obsessive enough to time her coming and goings from trial and error, he now knew when to call to coordinate when her Dad was there to give her guilt looks.

She didn't want to talk to Danny; partly because what he'd said hurt (mumbling psycho), partly because… well her reaction really was beginning to seems childish in the wake of his clear remorse and it had been too long for them to simply sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn't happen.

Partly because she was afraid to have a real talk, to acknowledge that yes something was very wrong and she shouldn't continue on like this, that she needed to give HIM up… she wasn't ready for that.

"Bell" and she felt herself tense up as she prepared for a battle; for the last week since Danny started stalking their phone her Dad seemed to be gearing up for a big talk that he'd promised her mother he'd have with her weeks ago.

She cursed Danny for adding yet another awkward situation she didn't want to deal with.

This was roughly the fourth time that he'd geared himself up for the conversation, and in expert use of reverse psychology ("That's not how reverse psychology works Danny" "Don't question greatness Iz") she suddenly turned around and gave him her full razor sharp attention.

"Yeah dad?" she asked in an absurdly interested tone, like she was expecting whatever he was about to say was the most important thing she would ever hear in her life.

It never failed to make him loose his nerve.

"So before he can even lay into me for being late for like the thousandth time, I go 'Sorry Mr. Lancer, I understand my disruptions are inexcusable and I'll try not to do so in the future though I understand if you can't trust my word', he had no idea what to do, he just sort of stuttered that as long as I understood the consequences hurt me or whatever, no detention since"

"That's just sounds like taking responsibility Danny" she said dryly at his 'incredible sure fire way to make adults back off'

"I know right!" he shouts, and she rolls her eyes at his enthusiasm, but can't keep the slow smile off his face, "It's amazing how little people do it, to the point that people no longer no know how to react to people who do. Score one for reverse psychology!"

"Danny that's still not-"

"SCORE ONE!"

"Bells you listening" and she has to shake her head clear of the memory of yet another of one of their talks.

It's an upside she never anticipated with him, mainly because the all engulfing pain (gone gone gone, not whole, hurts, Edwa-) prevented her from focusing on anything else, but Danny (echoey voice, "C'moooon Izzy Fizzy Watts", "I got you") did not inspire that kind of pain and so she was free to get lost in the memories of the person who had been steadily patching her up the last few weeks.

Even more unfortunately, the dazes she gets when remembering Danny are enough to remind her Dad of why he keeps trying to have this talk. Apparently the suddenness of this one has given him the courage to see it through and not chicken out at the possibility of her icky teenage girl emotions.

Seeing she's been lost in thought he straightens up and repeats what he was saying

"What are you doing for Spring Break?" he asks in a strong voice like he's expecting a fight, and she actually blinks taken aback, this was not the talk she had been expecting.

"I was thinking about going to see the Blacks" she answers honestly and she knows her answer has surprised him, it would surprise her too, she never makes an effort to visit Billy or his son even as long as the two families have known each other.

"Oh" he blinks surprised and looks relieved for a moment, which doesn't make much sense; hadn't he been wanting to ship her off to Arizona at the first sign of her 'slipping'?

"Jacob's a good kid, I'm sure you all will get along fine" her dad continues, sounding more cheery than she's heard in a while.

Was the thought of her interacting with his friend's son really that exciting? And didn't she and Jacob always get along before?

"Yeah, well… I haven't hung out with them in a while… and I don't really feel like hanging out with my school friends."

It wasn't entirely a lie, even if her main reason for visiting was because she wanted to see if Jacob could fix the bikes she found.

At her statement her father immediately looks uncomfortable even as his eyes flicker towards the door, but before she can question it, the phone in the kitchen rings and the man is on his feet headed for it looking relieved.

Suspicious

"Right,right of course" he says rubbing the back of his neck still looking vaguely uncomfortable as he keeps his eyes on her while speaking.

She narrows her eyes, suspicions running through her head

'Is it Danny?' she thinks, before rolling her eyes and heading to the sink to start the dishes, 'Of course it is, why else would he be staring at her like that while talking'

"She's right here" he says, and she purses her lips at her dad's confirmation of who it is, "A Bella-"

"I don't want to talk to him" she automatically returns, not even letting him finish

"…Not that Bells, I was just going to suggest I finish the dishes" she turns to look at him curiously, while the man shifts on his foot.

Good investigator and chief the man may be, a smooth operator he is not, does he want her out of the kitchen so he and his new "bro" can talk without her eavesdropping? That's fine with her, she needs to do some homework now and get it out of the way so she can spend the rest of her Spring Break as she pleases.

Giving a passive nod, she turns and walks up to her room, only to freeze upon crossing the threshold

It only occurs to her after she enters that she hasn't been to her room at all today, not even to put her bag away which she uncharacteristically dumped on the couch upon arriving home from school. She realizes this, because of one difference to her room, specifically her desk.

There's a new computer on it, with a screen that's mostly flat and doesn't look like a T.V from the eighties; there's even a futuristic stylized 'f' on the side of the small box.

None of which are why she freezes

She freezes because on the screen is a black haired blue eyed teenager, with a phone to his ear, head rested on his palm, and a tiny grim smile on his lips. She doesn't know how she knows, but she knows, even before he opens his mouth and a familiar echoey baritone resonates around the room through brand new speakers.

"Yeah I see her Papa Bear, Ghost Boy signing out" he says before clicking the phone off not breaking eye contact with her in the slightest and tilting his head curiously at her.

For a moment there's silence, before Danny opens his mouth to speak

"… You know… it's rude not to return someone's call."