Author's Note: Last chapter! I can't believe it! Read on!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.
Jasper eventually called me personally after a few months. He claimed that Renesmee had requested for everything in her possession to be passed down to me. She had left me her money, her house, and all her materialistic belongings. I acknowledged the will and reluctantly added her things to my own. I made a separate account in the bank to keep Renesmee's money. I would never touch it.
I went back to medical school. After the whole tiresome process, I decided to stay and complete my residency. I successfully went through the motions of becoming a true doctor. I was strong enough now.
I moved to Ithaca, New York, and settled into a new job in the hospital. Renesmee would've whined that I should've done this before so that I could work alongside her. Edward would've been proud of me. And Carlisle would've given me his finest of smiles.
I worked in the emergency room. I ran around in human pace every day, attending to emergency victims and making my way slowly toward improving my thirst resistance. I turned down fellow doctors' advances politely and avoided going to hospital events. I was getting better at accepting the fact that my daughter was long gone.
I was moving on, along with time. She would be proud of me.
Edward's Point of View
When Alice announced that Bella was in Ithaca as well, I jumped at the chance to see her for the first time in years. What has she been doing? Was she finally over Renesmee's death? Was she ready to start over with me? Did she miss me?
Alice called out as I left, a laughter in her tone. "Drive safely, brother!" She was purposely blocking her head from me. I wondered vaguely what she saw.
I didn't think twice about her words. As if I would need to be careful while I drove. It was easier than breathing.
What my sister didn't tell me was that I would indeed be involved in a car accident in five minutes.
Bella's Point of View
The nurse poked her head through the curtains. "Dr. Swan, can you take the car accident case that just came in? Nothing serious, but all the doctors are out at the moment." She smiled apologetically. "And truthfully, you're the only one who's not as busy here."
I smiled back. "That's fine."
"Thanks. I'll leave the chart on the counter."
After finishing up with the old man who had come in about two hours ago, I told him and his granddaughter that he was free to leave and warned him not to eat anything spicy anytime soon.
I swept out from behind the curtains and strode over to the counter briskly. "The chart?" I asked another nurse. She pointed to it.
I took it, looking over it absently. It was almost an automatic action now, something that I did every day and excelled at. My eyes still on the chart, I began walking toward the number thirteen bed. I took out my pen from my chest pocket of my lab coat and signed my name, indicating that I had indeed taken the case.
"Miss Kimberly Hopkins?" I prompted, turning over the paper. "How are you feeling today?" I looked up, inclining my head.
She looked perfectly fine, merely shaken up. Her eyes were wide. She was a blonde, her hair in pigtails. She couldn't have been more than eighteen.
"I'm fine," she answered, her voice rather high. I raised my eyebrow. I didn't think she realized it. "But I still can't believe I crashed right into someone! I'm usually so attentive at driving! I'm so good!"
I held up my pen in front of her eyes. "You're not supposed to give yourself compliments about driving well. It's bad luck. Look here, please."
"Still," she said, her voice lowering as her eyes followed the path of my pen. "The guy I crashed into was pretty hot! Look next to me, Doc."
I sighed, though admiring her enthusiasm. To humor her, I glanced toward her left, at the number twelve bed. And received a shock.
Edward Cullen was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking glorious and perfect as ever. He was wearing dark skinny jeans, a white button-down, and a black leather jacket. He looked faintly amused as he inclined his head, his warm, topaz eyes drinking in every detail of me.
My eyes widened in shock. He couldn't be the hot guy that Kimberly had crashed into, could he?
First of all, it was impossible. Wouldn't he have prevented the accident in the first place? He could've read Kimberly's mind. And secondly, how could he be here? Unless Alice saw something...
"What...? How...?" I could do nothing but stare, wide-eyed.
Edward raised his hand, looking rather sheepish. "Hi."
Kimberly glanced between us. "You know each other?"
I tore my eyes away from his perfect figure, confused. I never thought I would see Edward again in a hospital, regardless of that scene in the hospital when I, myself, had been seventeen.
Wanting answers, I turned back to him. "You were in a car accident?" My tone was incredulous.
He smiled crookedly. "I'm quite irritated as well. My sister did tell me to drive safely, but I didn't think there would be a double meaning to those words."
"How do you know each other?" Kimberly piped up. "Hm? Come on, Doc. How do you know the hot guy?"
A flash of annoyance shot through me. Edward glanced at her, looking amused. "While I'm flattered, please stop saying that so loudly. It's quite embarrassing."
Kimberly blushed at his velvety voice. "Uh, sure."
How in the world was Edward planning to get out of this one? Carlisle didn't work here and couldn't cover for him. The medical staff here would insist that he get a checkup, which couldn't happen.
Edward didn't look particularly worried. Which did make sense to me, actually. He was positive that Alice had allowed him to get into a car accident for a good reason. She must have also seen that he would be just fine.
Because of me. I groaned internally. Of course. I would have to get him out of this tight spot.
I flashed him a glare, and he shrugged ever so slightly. Sighing, I turned back to Kimberly. I finished my examination as quickly as possible, then instructed for her to wait until her parents got here.
Behind me, I was aware of one of my colleagues returning to the counter. He asked about which case he should take and was instructed to take number twelve. No!
I turned abruptly and walked swiftly toward the counter. He was about to take the chart when I put out my hand to stop him. "Wait, Mark. I was going to take this."
Mark looked at me, surprised. Then, he smirked, switching instantly to flirty mode. I winced internally. "Why? Let me help you." He stepped closer to me as his eyes flickered down toward my body.
I forced a pleasant smile. "Number twelve and thirteen were involved in a car accident. I was just examining thirteen and was thinking that I should handle the whole thing. It's just easier. Besides, I know twelve personally."
Mark blinked. "You know twelve?" He glanced down at the chart. "You know...Edward Cullen?"
Think fast, Bella. You need to get Edward out of here. "I'm his guardian. I know his family."
"Yeah?" He glanced toward Edward, and his face fell. "Huh. Handsome guy, ain't he?"
Think I don't know that? "Do you mind?"
"I guess not." Mark looked disappointed. "How do you know him?"
I smiled angelically, taking the chart. "We've practically grown up together."
"He's a teenager."
And I'm not? I barely escaped teenaged years. "Family friend. Thanks, Mark."
Relieved, I headed back toward Edward, not hiding my scowl. He looked even more amused at the lie I'd just told my colleague, though his eyes betrayed irritation at Mark's flirty attitude. He was so getting it later.
I stopped in front of him, glaring. He just shrugged innocently. I held up my pen. "Look here."
He obliged, humoring me. He didn't dare speak, knowing that I was angry. Kimberly watched as I conducted my fake examination. She seemed vaguely confused when his examination was cut considerably shorter than hers.
"You seem perfectly fine," I said curtly, making a note on his chart.
"No way," Kimberly said, frowning. "I saw. I crashed into his car pretty hard."
I fixed him with a cold look. "Seems like he was pretty lucky, then." My eyes flashed. "I am going to go get my things. You will wait here for me. Is that understood?"
His lips twitched. "Yes, ma'am."
"You're leaving with the Doc?" Kimberly yelped, shocked. "How do you know each other?"
"She's my guardian, apparently," Edward said, smirking.
I turned on my heel and walked quickly toward my office to get my things. I made my way back, saying my goodbyes as I passed my colleagues. I crossed my arms when I was in front of him again. "Where's your car?"
Edward looked thoughtful. "I'm sure Rosalie's already working hard on it."
"It was towed away by a blonde and some huge guy earlier," Kimberly told me. "I'm pretty forgetful, but I remember because they were laughing at us."
"More specifically, I'm sure they were laughing at me," Edward mused.
"Fine," I snapped. "Get up. We're leaving." I turned to Kimberly, taking out my wallet and handing her a wad of cash. "For the damages on your car. I'm hoping we won't have to resort to insurance claim."
Her eyes were wide. "But I'm the one who crashed into him! I can't accept this!"
I smiled politely. "Please do. We're not totally innocent either. I'm sure he could've done something to stop the accident. Right?" I shot at him.
He fought back a smile. "Right."
Kimberly took the cash and counted. She gasped. "There's over two thousand dollars here! Why do you carry so much cash with you?"
I ignored her question. "Insurance claim won't be necessary. Our fate ends here, right?"
"But I crashed into an Aston Martin Vanquish," she said in a small voice. "Are you sure?"
"Don't worry," I said dismissively. I shot Edward an annoyed look. "His family is loaded." I turned back to her. "Take care of yourself, Miss Hopkins. Take Tylenol for the pain."
"Thank you," she mumbled.
"You." I gave my full attention to the man I still loved. "Follow me."
I stormed out, leaving him entertained.
Edward's Point of View
I couldn't stop my amusement from showing through. After trying so hard to push me away, she was still helping me. Of course, she was more worried about how to get me out of the hospital without getting found out that I didn't have a pulse.
I made to follow Bella out when Kimberly stopped me. "Hey, wait!"
I turned back, curious. She was blushing, but she mustered up the courage. "I'm really sorry about all this."
I shrugged. "It's fine. Like she said, my family's loaded." I smiled at the private joke. We were more than loaded.
"I was wondering if, uh, you wanted to go out sometime," she said. "I'll give you my number."
I couldn't help but grin when I heard Bella's footsteps faltering. "I'm sorry, but I already have someone I'm interested in. I'm not into blondes."
Kimberly cocked her head. "Not the sexy Doc? Your guardian?"
"Is it that obvious?" I raised my voice slightly, making sure Bella could hear.
"She's a doctor!" Kimberly looked horrified. "She must be years older than you and me! You still like her?"
"How old does she look?"
"Like...twenty," she admitted.
"Then that's enough for me." I turned and walked out.
Bella was waiting for me down by her car. She tossed me her car key and walked toward the passenger's side. "I trust that you haven't totally lost your driving skills?"
Bella's Point of View
As much as I hated to admit it, it felt incredibly good to see him again. It was like I'd forgotten how handsome and perfect he was. Like I had forgotten how much I loved him.
We sat in silence, both staring out the window. Well, actually, he kept sneaking glances at me. I tried my best to ignore him.
We were nearing the river. Curtly, I said, "Stop there."
Even I was surprised that I was still so angry that he had almost blown our cover. His cover, Carlisle's cover. How would he have gotten out of the mess without me?
Once the car rolled to a stop, I got out and walked a few steps toward the water. It was nearing twilight, and the cool breeze felt nice. But it was getting harder and harder to contain the anger.
He approached warily, stopping a couple steps behind me. I tried my best to keep calm. But it was too late. It was beyond my control. All the anger and frustration – the bitterness – I'd felt all these years came bubbling up.
"Are you very angry?" Edward asked. "I'm sorry that you had to go through that to cover me, but-" He stopped, surprised, when I whirled around unexpectedly.
"You, Edward Cullen, are the most remarkable man I've ever met," I said, my voice trembling. My eyes held tears of anger.
He suddenly looked fearful, as though he knew where I was going. As though he knew why I was so angry, even when I myself didn't know. "Bella?"
And as I spoke the next words, I, too, realized why I was so unreasonably angry over this situation. It wasn't the fact that I'd had to save Edward's butt. It was the fact that we kept running into each other when he'd broken me into pieces so many decades ago, as though we were destined. I was angry over something that couldn't be controlled.
It was the fact that he wouldn't leave me alone. It was the fact that I couldn't stop loving him even if I wanted to try. It was that fate would never let us be.
"How could you..." I tried to form the words exactly how I felt it. But it was impossible. "How can you..." I shook my head angrily. "Fate really is cruel, isn't it? Were we really meant for each other, Edward? This is getting out of hand."
His eyes held pain, but he didn't speak. He let me continue.
"I've really been much too nice about all this," I went on furiously. "No matter how much I think about it, we weren't meant to be. The birthday party, you leaving me. I push you away, but you keep coming back to me. We can never agree on anything anymore.
"I blame you, Edward Cullen," I said in a clear, harsh voice. "You're the source of all my troubles. Without you, I would've never been thrown into a world of vampires and werewolves. I would never have had to become like this. I would've died years ago as a human, and I wouldn't have had to pine over you like some stupid idiot that can't forget her first love."
He gazed at me, still not speaking. He seemed resigned, as though he hadn't expected anything more or less than this.
His silence angered me further. Why wasn't he fighting back? "Do you understand me?" I yelled abruptly. "You made me like this! I hate it! I hate that I'm still in a twenty-year old body and I hate that you keep appearing in front of me! I want everything to be over!"
I stared at him, crying silently. "Do you understand?" I asked again, in a quieter but more devastated tone. "I wanted to be human. You were right. I was never ready to join your world. I wanted to grow up and have a career. I wanted to marry and have kids. I wanted to die in my daughter's arms, not have my daughter die in my arms!"
His expression was calm, though he could not hide his true emotions in his eyes. He took a step toward me, his hand reaching out. "Bella, you have every right to scream and yell at me. But-"
Suddenly feeling exhausted, my legs gave way, and I found myself squatting, hugging my knees. I rocked back and forth, tears clouding my vision slightly. "How do I go back?" I murmured. "I want to go back to when everything started. I would've cut you off. I would've said that I was scared of you, and that I wanted you away from me. I should have lied. I should never have loved you."
Edward lowered himself too, much more slowly. He reached out and placed a hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry, Bella. If it makes you feel better, I'll even let you hit me all you want. You're right. I am to blame for everything you've gone through."
I raised my head slowly, staring at him incredulously. "If you acknowledge it so quickly, then what do I become, Edward?"
He sighed heavily. "Then should I scream at you too? Should I defend myself, saying that I don't deserve to be hated by the woman I love? That would be a lie, and something that you'll never catch me doing."
"Stop," I mumbled. "You're making me feel worse."
"Why don't you scream at me some more?" he asked, a small, sad smile on his lips. "It would make you feel better. Almost a century's worth of hatred and resentment isn't healthy to keep bottled up inside."
Although I couldn't hide that I did feel much better after having almost a century's worth of resentment bottled up inside, I couldn't hide the rising regret that I felt for yelling at him. I could see that he was already blaming himself for how I turned out; did I have to make things worse?
He could see my thinking process. "No, you were right, Bella. You've held it inside long enough. I'm not surprised. I knew that this was coming one day. So stop regretting it. Maybe we both needed to hear about how much of a jerk I've been."
I sighed deeply, exhausted. "I'm moving soon. It's already been years since I settled here. I have to move on."
His face fell. "Bella..."
"Time means a lot, even to us vampires," I said dejectedly. "A second might seem like a minute to us, so it's much more agonizing when the time it takes to recover from a heartbreak is the same amount of time a human takes to get over a past love."
"Bella, I don't want to leave you again," Edward argued. "I didn't know where you were the past few years. You don't know how relieved I was when Alice said that you were in Ithaca-"
"Stay with your family, Edward Cullen." I looked up at him, weary. "Can you take me home?"
After much consideration, I chose to go back to Forks. It had been exactly a century since I'd left, and nothing had changed much. It was just the same old, small town.
It felt nostalgic, being back. I had lost my loved ones here, but I still found myself wanting to stay as long as possible. I chose to enroll into Forks High School as a junior.
On my first day of school, I found myself the center of attention. I tried my best to ignore and escape from eagerly friendly humans. When I walked into the cafeteria during lunch, my eyes automatically strayed toward the Cullens' old table. I sat down slowly where Edward had once sat, staring down blankly at my tray.
It had been only days that he'd reluctantly left me again. And yet, I already missed him like crazy.
This was insane. His last visit had done it. It was no longer possible for us stay separated. I wanted him. My outburst had been the final step in this process. I was finally ready to forgive him. I was longing to be with him.
The problem was, I was already all the way across the country from him. And I was sure that he'd changed his number since the last time I'd called him, which was when Renesmee had still been alive.
Edward...Edward... Will you forgive me for being such a jerk?
As though they had read my mind, the Cullens appeared out of nowhere a week later. I'd had no idea how I was going to go back to Edward, but it seemed as though Alice was already onto it. She was helping me to snag him back.
Ignoring the stares and calls for the new kids to sit with the humans, the Cullen siblings glided gracefully toward me. Smiling warmly, they all sat at their old table, which had also become my table.
I glanced up at Edward, who had naturally sat in front of me. He stared back with a curious expression on his face. I couldn't tell what he was thinking.
"It was too soon for you to move, wasn't it?" I asked quietly. The question was directed at the others, but I kept my eyes on Edward. I couldn't seem to look away.
"Well, how could we ever live without you, Bella?" Alice chirped, grinning. "And seeing Edward sulking didn't help much. We decided that we missed Forks too, and that coming back would be beneficial to all of us."
"Hm." I continued to stare at Edward. How could I tell him that I still loved him? I hadn't said the words 'I love you' to a man in years. Charlie didn't count.
It was truly a situation worth mulling over. What if we were truly fated to never come together?
I needed to think. I decided to go hunting, since my eyes were getting dark. After taking down a couple of elk, I slowed down to human pace. I wandered through the forest aimlessly, hardly thinking.
It was as though nothing had changed. I had lived for a century, and I had seen and experienced much. And yet, loving Edward had been the single most exciting thing that had ever happened to me continuously.
After about an hour of walking and thinking, I stopped at a familiar trail. It had truly been a long time since I'd last visited. I had been a human when I'd last been there.
I suddenly felt the wildest urge to go there. It was as though someone was coaxing me in, like something was meant to happen.
There was no reason to resist the feeling. In no particular hurry, I followed the unmarked trail at human pace, like I had with Edward so many decades ago.
I paused when I saw the circular meadow. The place had grown wild over the past few decades, but it was not as wild as it should've been after a century. Perhaps he had come to clear up weeds and such...?
I walked through the tall grass and wildflowers slowly, my hand outstretched. I brushed past the rustling plants, ignoring the light rain. I came to the middle of the perfect circle, then looked up at the gloomy sky.
It was here, where my immortal life had started. I had transformed here in this meadow, and I had parted with my old life here. So many memories were encased here, in this morose sphere of Forks – both good and bad.
I closed my eyes, sighing. I missed Edward. I missed loving him without having to worry about anything. I missed what could've been my life. But in the end, would I have chosen my human life or forever with Edward?
If Edward had stayed, he would've resisted all he could about transforming me. Then I would've aged...and I knew myself enough to know that I would've thought the situation through again. Would I have still chosen forever with Edward? Or would I have told him to go away so that I could live my life as a human? If only I'd aged a few more years, if only I'd been a bit more mature... If that had been the case, where would I have been the last few decades of my life?
Bella Swan. Would you have chosen Edward Cullen? Or would you have chosen to live for yourself?
If I had chosen the latter, would he have gone away? Would he have agreed to stay away so that I could age and meet a mortal man? What would he have done?
There were so many possibilities that we could never know the answers to. I still didn't know what the right answers were. What would I have chosen? If I had to choose how to live my life from this point onward, what would I choose?
Edward was back in my life; that much was certain. Asking him to stay out of my life was no longer an option, since he would never agree to do it. That left living alone or forgiving him. It meant that I would have to keep living by myself, or accept that fate was never going to leave us alone, and love him.
What do I do?
I felt wronged. What had I done so wrong that I had to be making such a choice? Why couldn't everything in my life be simple and easy? So many choices, so many consequences. Thinking about all the hardships that I'd gone through over the years formed a lump in my throat.
I pursed my lips together, my eyes still closed, trying hard not to start crying. It seemed that all I ever did these days was cry. I was exhausted. I wanted to rest. I wanted to stop thinking.
What was the right choice for me?
His confused voice sounded out from the edge of the forest in front of me. I opened my eyes slowly. I stared back at him.
Could I forgive him? Had it been long enough? Was my heart capable of loving anymore?
Edward walked slowly toward me, looking bemused. He looked beautiful, in jeans, a simple white tee, and a gray cardigan. I felt self-conscious, as I always did in his presence, though I was wearing similar clothes.
He stopped five feet away from me, frowning slightly. "I didn't know you still came here."
I opened up my gift, wondering what he was thinking about me at the moment. He was confused because I had remembered the meadow. He was hopeful, too. If I was here, then would it mean that I was considering coming back to him...?
I smiled humorlessly. "I can never forget about the meadow. This is where everything began. Our relationship, my immortal life...everything."
He just stared at me. "That's not fair," he reminded me softly. "I can't read your mind, but you can see my recent memories, my recent thoughts."
I shrugged lightly. "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to think." His eyes studied me intently. "And you?"
"Same." I regarded him ruefully. "It's been almost a century since we were both here together."
"What are you thinking?" Edward interrupted, his eyes smoldering. "Even after a century, I still get frustrated, not knowing what you're thinking about."
I laughed quietly, once. It sounded weak and helpless. "Even after a century, I still don't know if I can forgive you. If I can love you."
His lips parted slightly. "But you're thinking about it."
It was a statement, not a question.
I sighed heavily. "I don't want to think about it. But I keep doing it."
He took a step toward me. His voice was soft. "Even after a century, I still love you. Significantly more than yesterday, considerably a lot more tomorrow. You're the reason I'm surviving, Bella Swan."
We stared at each other for a long time. Finally, I chuckled lightly. "Fate really goes all the way, doesn't it? I really hated it, for a long time. But right now...at this moment..." I looked up at him fervently. "It's not so bad. It brought me to you."
He blinked, starting to look hopeful.
"I went through a lot. Now I know that those were the obstacles that I had to face to eventually get to you. You're my reward, Edward.
"I'm tired of resisting now. I can't deny it anymore. I want to be with you. I want to stay with you."
He took another step forward, then another. He was getting closer...his arms were snaking around my waist...
"I love you, Bella," he whispered, holding me as though he never wanted to let me go. "I've waited forever to be with you. I'll never let you go again."
I raised my own arms to hug him back. I could finally relax. I could finally breathe. "I love you, Edward. Thank you...for loving me even when I wasn't looking, even while my back was turned. And...I'm sorry."
He pulled away, my favorite crooked smile in place. "I'll never make the same mistakes again. Thank you for coming back to me, Bella. That's all I ever wanted."
"A century without you," I mused, reaching up to touch his face lightly. "It was only bearable because of Renesmee. Stay with me, Edward. As long as we both exist, you're mine."
He smiled radiantly, then leaned in. His lips were only inches from mine as he made his vow.
I knew now. Everything was crystal clear. I knew that Edward was my fate and destiny. He was my soul mate and my true love. My only love. I knew that it wouldn't have mattered whether I'd been twenty or thirty. I would still have chosen Edward Cullen. I would never have pushed him away. He was the one for me.
Yes, happiness and bitterness was always packaged together. But a century's worth of bitter memories was enough for me. From now on, there was only happiness to enjoy. Just Edward and I.
AN: It took us a while to get to forever, but we did it! I hope you're satisfied with this alternate universe of Twilight that I created. It was simply my interpretation of something that could've been, my attempt at something so many others have tried. I hope you enjoyed it. And, as always, thank you to everyone who supported me all the way! I love you all forever!
Also, keep on the lookout for my new story! I can't promise frequent updates, but I can promise you that the first chapter will be up soon! Thanks a lot!
Review...for the last time!