Aug 01, 2021 10:26 PM
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Bella leaves school that afternoon not having had any notable conversation with Delaney before or after gym. She's just making a beeline for the blue station wagon her dad found her, cheap and functional if not very loveable. She's got homework to pick through and an email to Renée to write. She might go to a movie with Jessica later.

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Delaney is sitting on a parking block at the very corner of the parking lot, about twenty feet from Bella's car, under a tree. When he spots her, he waves.

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Bella waves back.

That's all a wave calls for, really.
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When she's closer to her car, he calls, "Yours?" and gestures to indicate it.

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"Yeah, move-in present," she acknowledges, patting the car. She unlocks the driver's side door.

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"Lucky you."

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"Yep." This appears to be turning into a conversation. "I expected to have to get rides in the police cruiser until I could find a carpool."

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"...Rides in the police cruiser," he repeats, raising his eyebrows.

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"He doesn't have another car," she says.

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"Yeah, I missed the part where your dad's a cop," says Delaney. "Huh. You really could ruin my life."

He sounds oddly appreciative of this fact.
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"I was getting the impression I didn't have to say anything beyond possibly my last name," says Bella. "Small town, and everything; people keep picking up on it without being told. He's the chief of police."

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"I didn't really catch your name," he admits. "Or his, if I've even met him, I dunno. Or much of anybody's except Finch."

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"I said my name, in front of you," she says. "The other day, when I had to explain to Dave how telling people one's name works."

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"Yep," he agrees, "you did. Then I forgot it."

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"It's Bella Swan," she says.

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"Hi," he says amicably. "Nice to meetcha. Don't call me Delaney."

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"What should I call you? Jessica was only able to produce one of your middle names but assures me there are two. There's 'Hammond'. Or 'Junior'," Bella says amiably.

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He makes an eloquent face at 'Junior'.

"Which one'd she come up with?"
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"The one she knows is 'Kermit'. I'm not entirely sure if she has been pranked or not, with that one. And haven't gone to the office to inquire."

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"Nope, she's on the level. Delaney Kermit Erskine Hammond," he recites. "I hate the whole fucking thing. Well, Kermit's kind of hilarious."

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"You still haven't told me what you'd rather be called, Kermit."

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He mulls this over for a few seconds, grinning.

Then he says, definitively: "Alice."
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"Alice. You realize if I call you that - for instance, at the top of my lungs trying to keep you from cracking someone's jaw - no one will have any idea who I'm talking to and I will appear to be a maniac. Perhaps you could wear a nametag."

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"I'll know who you're talking to," he points out. "If anybody gives you shit, I'll back you up. Maybe I'll start wearing those little blue dresses."

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"I'm not actually sure I could bring myself to yell 'Alice' when referring to you in the first place. It's pretty hard to scream in a crowded room at all, and the difficulty increases when what one wishes to scream will predictably seem strange to the audience. Maybe I'll just call you Alice when talking at a normal volume, like this, and I'll call you 'belligerent idiot' if I have to break up another fight."

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"Works for me," he says cheerfully.

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