Sep 26, 2021 8:26 AM
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Bella still brings her lunch most of the time. Today, she is chipping away at the leftovers of the pasta monstrosity her father made when left to fend for himself. She has not yet had a chance to talk up Hilary's cooking because it would have seemed cruel in the aftermath of the... meal.

It's actually pretty edible after she added all that garlic and butter.

Jessica sits with her, and Angela, and then Mike; Eric's with some other friends today. There's an empty chair to her left; Angela's on her right, and the other two face them.
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There is no longer an empty chair to her left.

"Hi, Bella," says Alice as he deposits his tray on the table. His lunch is almost entirely cafeteria-sourced, with the exception of a mysterious opaque Tupperware container.

He bears no more visible injuries than he did yesterday, nor does he have the stiffness of movement that might indicate extensive non-visible injuries.
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"Hullo," returns Bella. "Have you met Angela, Jessica, and Mike?"

Angela, Jessica, and Mike are nonplussed.

"Also," says Bella, "more to the point, does that container by any chance serve as a container for cake?"
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"Got it in one," he says cheerfully. "Hi everybody. I have no clue who any of you are." He opens the container and slides it towards Bella; two slices of cake rest within. "Want one? Compliments of you know who."

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"I want both, but I won't secretly resent you forever if you give me exactly one," Bella says, helping herself to a slice. "They are Angela," she points, "and Jessica, and Mike."

"Hello," says Jessica gamely.
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"Nice to meetcha." He waves his fork vaguely at the three strangers and then pounces on his lunch, exhibiting absolutely none of the table manners he did last night.

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Bella finishes her pasta-item, bites her apple and determines it to be an inferior specimen of applehood, and then devours her cake.

"I didn't know you were friends with Hammond," says Mike.

Bella's mouth is full of cake. If Alice wants his nomenclature corrected he might have to do it himself.
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"That's 'cause it only happened last night," Alice volunteers between noms.

...While technically true, this is perhaps a tiny bit misleading.
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Bella rolls her eyes. "I doubt," she tells Mike when she has swallowed her bite of cake, "that he knew I'm friends with you, but now all that troubling ignorance is resolved."

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"Yep," Alice concurs, brightly.

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"Did something in particular happen last night?" Jessica asks.

Bella doesn't really want to let Alice answer that one. "I was bored," she says. "And you were still sick and Angela was babysitting so I couldn't really try either of you for plans. We went and hung out at his house. He violated the spirit of Mozart and we invented a fictitious sport."

"You could've asked me if I wanted to do something," Mike mutters.

"Perhaps I would have thought of that eventually," says Bella.
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Bella is a wise, wise person.

Alice, on the other hand, is demonstrably fond of pissing people off.

"Whassamatter?" he inquires of Mike, cocking his head with slightly over-exaggerated innocence.
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"I was free that afternoon, that's all," says Mike, giving Alice a sort of side-eye.

Bella's cake is gone. She drops her forehead onto the heel of her hand and looks exasperatedly at Mike, but doesn't make any effort to add to this line of conversation.
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Alice still isn't finished the main portion of his lunch. Without breaking eye contact with Mike, he nudges the container bearing the second slice of cake in Bella's direction.

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Hm. Cake or peace? Peace or cake?

Cake.

Bella takes it.

"Thank you," she says.

Mike is now actively glowering at Alice.
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"Y'welcome," he says cheerfully. "Looked like you could use it."

And back to his inferior cafeteria food!
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"Mike, are you okay?" Jessica says.

"I'm fine," Mike mutters.

"Maybe you're getting Jessica's cold," Angela suggests.

Bella enjoys her cake. Mmm, cake.
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The cake is immensely delicious!

Alice doesn't miss it, though. There's more where that came from. And taunting Mike and pleasing Bella are both more than worth it.
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"So," Jessica says. "What I was going to say before I got distracted -" this sentence is accompanied by a significant look at Alice - "is that we should all go hang out on the beach at La Push sometime, when it gets warm, and Bella, your car is the only one that could hold a good-size group."

"I'm amenable," says Bella.

Jessica looks at Mike, and at Alice, and says, "Delaney can come too. If you want to, Delaney."
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He grins.

"Sure, that'd be fun."
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Mike gets up to toss his lunch debris. He may actually be stomping.

Bella returns an empty Tupperware to Alice.

"Great," says Jessica. "So that's us five, plus Lauren, and Eric - is your car the kind with extra seats in the very back?"

"Yeah," Bella says.

"Then we can all squeeze in," Jessica says.
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Alice leans over to watch Mike's progress towards the garbage can, then straightens to accept his Tupperware back.

He is really not trying to be subtle about the taunting, is he.
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Bella gives Alice a look - it says Really? - and then says, "I've been to La Push a couple times, my dad has friends there, but not recently. Will it get at all warm anytime soon or are all these plans terribly premature?"

"Sometimes there's a weekend nice enough that a raincoat will do," Angela says, "even in January."
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Alice answers her look with an unconcerned shrug.

"I don't even know where that is," he contributes.
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"It's the Indian reservation about half an hour's drive away," Jessica says. "There are Indians there."

"Quileutes," Angela says, possibly in lieu of correcting Jessica on her ethnic terminology.

"There's nice scenery," Bella says. "The residents don't mind people hanging out there, generally."
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"Cool," he says, shrugging again and opening his bottle of juice. "I mean, not that scenery is my favourite thing in the whole wide world, but it's okay."

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