|Going for the Gold
Author: bethaboo PM
Edward Cullen, an Olympic swimming star, goes to Beijing with winning gold medals on his mind, but is distracted by the beautiful but clumsy reporter he meets on his way. All Human AU, co-written by tameleine.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 21 - Words: 91,734 - Reviews: 2,393 - Favs: 3,632 - Follows: 1,517 - Updated: 05-09-09 - Published: 08-18-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4483468
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: I have to apologize for how long this has taken. Tami and I had no intention of making everyone wait for months to see the epilogue. Unfortunately with the complications tied to her pregnancy, the wait did happen. I do apologize and I hope everyone prays or thinks or hopes or wishes for Tami in the next few weeks as she prepares to finally have her baby. Because of her health, unfortunately Tami was not able to help me write the epilogue, however, this is the same epilogue that we talked about writing all the way back when we started GftG.
I want to thank everyone who has reviewed or favorited or even just read GftG. This was the little story that could, and I am so appreciative (and I know Tami is too) that everyone was so incredibly supportive. We appreciate it more than you can even realize.
Specifically I want to thank my great friend and cheerleader, EE, with whom this would never have been written. He is the greatest support that any girl could ever hope to have. Oh and if you hate this, really it's his fault because he told me it was awesome (kidding!).
"Edward, you really need to calm down," I said, not even bothering to hide my rolling eyes from him. He glared back, but I could see the telltale smirk blossoming at the corner of his mouth.
"Seriously," I said blithely, ignoring the fact that my own heart was thumping rather arhythmically and my palms were clammy and damp. I told myself that there was nothing to be anxious about, but ultimately, even though I'd love my daughter regardless, I was still nervous for her.
And if I was nervous, then Edward, who had been the competitive one of the family until Stephanie came along, was a wreck. I reached over and gave his hand a supportive squeeze and nearly gasped when he absentmindedly clenched back with what must have been quite a lot of his arm strength. For a man in his mid-forties, Edward was still exceptionally strong, likely because he made it a point of personal pride to swim every day still.
I glanced sideways at my husband, and even though we'd been married for twenty years now, I couldn't help but smile nearly every time I saw him. He was still a handsome man, with his still-thick bronze hair and piercing green eyes. Each morning when I woke up next to him, I reminded myself that I was the luckiest woman on earth. Edward Cullen was my husband and we were still madly and completely in love.
A young girl waved to us from far below, her dark green eyes a splash of color in her pale beautiful face. I felt Edward's hand tighten around mine and I must have let out a strangled sound of pain because he immediately loosened his grip and gave me an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, sweetheart," Edward said sheepishly and I honestly would have laughed at the outpouring of nervous energy, but deep down I understood. Edward wasn't very good at handling stressful situations when he had zero impact over the outcome.
And today, at the 2028 Olympics, Edward was simply a spectator.
"She'll be fine," I reassured him. "She's done everything she can to prepare for this moment. You helped her as much as you could."
I knew Edward wished he could have done more. Edward always put 1,000% into everything he did, and I knew that it was killing him that he had to just sit here, in the stands, and watch his only daughter compete without him.
"If only she could have been a swimmer," he whined and I laughed. This was a common complaint from Edward, and though it was a common enough joke in our family, I thought that perhaps, deep down, he meant it.
When Stephanie had been born, she'd spent a lot of time near the water and even more inside the water, always being carried by her adoring father. I knew Edward had harbored notions of a three generation swimming dynasty, but it was not to be. When Stephanie was five years old, we'd gone skiing in Aspen because Edward decided he needed a new athletic outlet.
Ironically, he'd been hopeless with his long limbs and he'd complained vehemently at his clumsiness. However, it was Stephanie who had taken to the skis like a duck to water. Edward had taken one look at her laughing form as she coasted down the baby hill on her third try and by the end of the week, we'd been the proud owners of a ski lodge.
Each year it seemed like we spent more and more time in Colorado, and when Stephie was only ten she begged her father for a snowboard instead of a new pair of skis. He'd relented, like he always did—I was forever telling him that he spoiled Stephanie silly—and after that particular season, Edward and I had a very serious talk about whether we wanted our daughter to participate in competitive activities.
Edward, of course, was all for it. He was a Cullen—and that was what actually made up the majority of his argument. "She's a Cullen, it's in her blood," Edward had argued relentlessly until finally I'd given in, throwing up my hands in defeat.
"Fine," I'd told him, "it's up to you and her."
Stephie took to competition just like her father had predicted. Even though her water was frozen, she was definitely a Cullen. Edward, of course, wanted to be as involved with her snowboarding as Carlisle had been with his swimming. Unfortunately, Edward was as hopeless on a snowboard as he was on skis, so he'd had be content with taking over her workout regime. His goal was to make sure she was the fittest girl on the amateur team. Though she occasionally whined about his obsessive tendencies, I could definitely see that my daughter had followed in her father's footsteps. I hadn't seen anyone as driven to succeed since Edward.
And just like Stephanie and Edward had planned together, here she was, seventeen and at her first Olympics. Truth was, though she was the novice here and Edward the expert, she was handling it a lot better than he was.
Edward had let go of my hand and was now fidgeting with the rolled up newspaper in his hand. He'd been furious that every reporter had immediately jumped on the father-daughter angle like they were re-inventing the wheel. Both Stephie and I tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent him from speaking to his lawyer—who had just looked at him like he was nuts at trying to prevent publicity.
Finally, he'd given in and given a handful of requisite interviews, but he'd maintained that Stephanie's presence here was by her choice only, and that no matter what happened, he'd support her regardless. Any questions about her going into swimming instead of snowboarding had gotten the Cullen blank look that after twenty years of marriage I was infinitely familiar with.
He'd deliberately downplayed the importance of her results, over and over again, and I knew he'd simply been holding it all in. He cared intensely—he wouldn't be the Edward I knew and loved if he didn't. He knew how hard Stephie had been training for this moment and he wanted her to feel how tremendous success after perseverance was.
I heard him mumble under his breath, "She's a Cullen, by god," and the edges of the newspaper shredded under his tight grasp.
I couldn't help but laugh at his worry. "Edward, she'll be fine. She looked like she was ready. I think you might be more nervous than she is."
He met my eyes then, and the anxiety in the green depths worried me. I was so afraid that at the last moment he'd betray it to Stephie, and then she would have to go through her first Olympic experience with the kind of pressure that Edward had had to experience.
We'd talked about that last fateful Olympics many times over the years, and the more distance Edward had from the moment itself, the more he began to understand how miraculous it was that he hadn't cracked under the unbearable pressure and stress. He would often joke that it had been my presence that had saved him, and I always rolled my eyes at this patent fallacy and teased that he'd brown-nosed me enough.
"She'll be fine, Edward," I reassured him one last time, and I prayed that he wouldn't keel over from the stress before the round even began.
"You think?" he asked and it seemed that he genuinely did not know.
"Of course. Would I lie to you?" I teased, trying to lighten his mood.
He nodded his head vigorously and I laughed. "Maybe just about vegetables and TV shows and stupid stuff, but never about Stephie."
"You know, I've been thinking," he said rather seriously. "I don't think it was so much that I was a Cullen that got me through Beijing. It was you."
"Not this again," I laughed. "Seriously, Edward, I'd be crazy to believe that me, a simple girl you had just met, got you through the most stressful two weeks of your life."
"But you did, Bella. I think I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. Those beautiful brown eyes," he said, his voice contemplative as his fingers grazed my cheek, "so serious, so nervous, but so determined. Brave. Empathetic. I knew you would be important to me."
Every other time I had laughed him off as being ridiculous and trying to stay out of the dog house, but today, with his dead serious expression, all the love in the world in his eyes, and with our daughter about to compete for her own gold medal, I could do nothing but simply nod my acquiesance. Maybe he really believed that my presence at that time in his life had actually been not only providential but life-changing.
"I won those gold medals for you, Bella," he continued and there was so much love in his voice that I wanted to cry. Some girls never got a real love, not even for one year, but I'd had this incredible love for twenty now. When Alice had told me before Beijing that I was meant for great things, I'd never believed that she'd meant this, but now I knew that she was right. Maybe great things didn't have anything to do with accomplishments, but only with the happiness of those you loved. Edward would never have been satisfied with a subpar showing in Beijing. He would have settled for nothing less than those six gold medals and if I was able to help him, then that was all that mattered.
"Well, for myself too. And Carlisle, and Esme too, I suppose," he added with that lopsided grin that I loved so much. "But mostly for you." His voice dropped down low. "I wanted you to love me so much Bella, and I knew if I did something incredible, if I did something nobody else had done, then maybe I had a chance to win you forever."
I flung my arms around him and hugged him close. "I did love you. And I do love you, Edward Cullen," I murmured into his ear, feeling my eyes grow misty with tears. "Thank you. I'll never forget the moment you won that sixth race. Never." It was true. That moment was one of those that you replayed in your head a million times—when you were having a bad day, when you felt stressed or anxious or worried. It was one of those moments that you replayed on a day like. . . a day like today.
"She's going to do fine," I reiterated to him and this time, Edward just smiled and the worry he'd been carrying around like a cloak around his shoulders lifted for the first time since we'd arrived.
"She'll do fine," he agreed. "She's a Cullen."
And then finally, when both of us had finally managed to understand our last Olympic experience, our next one started.
"Stephanie Cullen," the loudspeaker behind us boomed and I clenched Edward's hand and his arm wrapped around my shoulders, holding me close as we prepared ourselves for the next chapter in our lives.
And guess what? Edward was right. She was fine. More than fine. That day, Stephanie Cullen was gold fine.