Too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is Eternity
~Henry Van Dyke
"Ben, can I borrow your Algorithms book? I gave mine to Marcus during lab and I don't want to go all the way across campus to get it back," Edward called to his roommate. His request was met with silence. He glanced into Ben's room and realized he was playing World of Warcraft. Again.
Edward sighed. Trying to talk to Ben when he was raiding was like trying to talk to Alice during the semi-annual Nordstrom's sale: basically impossible. But, he really wanted to get a head start on the homework so he wouldn't have to spend his whole weekend in one of the computer labs.
"Ben. Ben. Ben!" Edward had to resort to shouting when his attempts to draw Ben's attention were ignored. Ben finally turned and glared at him over his shoulder. "Where's the book?" Edward asked, shooting a glare right back.
"Backpack," Ben grunted, tilting his chin towards his bed before turning back to his game. Edward rolled his eyes. Honestly, you'd think the man could handle more than one word answers, or at least point rather than gesture with his head. Heaven forbid he remove his hand from his mouse or keyboard.
Edward rifled through the stuffed backpack, finally finding the battered, second-hand copy of the Algorithms text book. As he pulled it out of the overfilled bag, another slim book came out with it, dropping to the floor.
Edward crouched to retrieve the smaller book, but startled and nearly fell over when he saw the half-naked female torso on the cover. The woman was reclined on a bed covered in crisp white sheets, creating a stark contrast with her lightly tanned skin and lacy black lingerie. The focus on her body was soft except for her hand, which was playing with a delicate pearl necklace draped above a pair of lusciously round breasts. He noticed the delicate script "2015" in the corner and realized it was a calendar.
He hadn't expected his friend to be carrying such a provocative item in his backpack of all places. Plus, Ben had a steady girlfriend; they'd been together since middle school, and this just didn't seem like the kind of thing Ben would go for. A Star Trek calendar, absolutely. A nudie calendar, not so much.
Ben glanced up at Edward's startled huff, and as Edward rose to his feet holding the book, Ben's eyes widened in horror and he banged his head against the back of his chair in frustration.
"Shit, you're not supposed to see that," Ben groaned. "Angie's gonna kill me."
"Hey, I won't tell her. Everyone looks at stuff like this," Edward said gently, trying to soothe his friend's distress.
"No, she knows about it. It's her pictures, actually. I just promised her I wouldn't show anyone."
Edward glanced at the calendar again, confused. From the pictures Ben had up of him and Angela, he'd gotten the impression she was more of a cafe au lait skin tone than the peaches and cream skin in the picture. He decided he must have just been mistaken.
"For what it's worth, she's smokin' hot in these pictures," Edward said, then cringed, realizing how that might sound.
"Nah, that's not Angie. She just took the pictures, put it all together for a couple of her classes," Ben explained.
Now Edward was thoroughly confused. "So why can't you show it to anyone?"
Ben sighed. "The chick in the pictures is her roommate. Apparently she's super self-conscious and Angie practically had to beg her to pose for the shots, promise her that no one except the teachers would see the final product."
"Then why do you have it?" Edward asked.
"Angie wanted a guys opinion before she turned it in, wanted to make sure it worked as a 'marketable item' or something," Ben shrugged.
"Uh, I'd say mission accomplished."
Ben laughed and nodded in agreement. Now that Edward had seen the calendar, Ben didn't seem overly anxious to retrieve it, so Edward started flipping through the rest of the pages. As he perused the provocative yet tasteful pictures, he noticed the model's face was either cut out or obscured in every shot.
It struck him as odd, since she seemed to be attractive in the few pictures where her face was visible but in shadows or blurred. Then again, Ben had said she was self-conscious so that must be why.
As Edward flipped through the pages of the calendar, something tickled the back of his mind, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what. Having made it through all the pictures, he decided to go back to a few that had particularly caught his eye. They may be fairly tasteful shots, but they were still extremely sexy, and Edward was mentally cataloguing the images for later personal use.
He paused at the image for May. The girl was wearing a sheer, pale pink top that was actually fairly modest, although the panties she had on barely qualified as underwear. But that's not what had caught his eye. She had on the same pearls from the cover picture, but mixed in among the strands of pearls, Edward noticed another necklace.
He swallowed convulsively and brought the picture closer to inspect it. He was right - it was a delicate, jeweled infinity symbol. Just like the one he had given...Edward shook his head in denial. There was no way.
He scanned the other pictures, and more memories jumped out at him. A cluster of freckles on her shoulder that he would trace gently while letting the sunshine dry the moisture from his body after swimming. A small scar on her wrist, a burn from a cookie pan that he had held under cool water while she whimpered against his shoulder.
"R2..." Edward breathed in disbelief.
"What?" Ben had turned back to his game, but now craned his head around to peer at Edward in confusion.
Embarrassed, Edward cleared his throat and tried to act nonchalant. "So you said this is Angie's roommate?" His cover was blown when his voice cracked on the last word.
Ben eyed Edward warily, then slowly nodded.
"Know her name?" Edward asked, hoping his voice didn't betray his eagerness.
"Bella, I think," Ben answered.
Edward sucked in a surprised breath upon hearing his suspicions confirmed. Ben was looking at him like he had lost his mind, but Edward didn't notice. He was too busy trying to process the revelation that this gorgeous, scantily clad woman was, in fact, his Bella. The R2-D2 to his C-3PO.
He sat down heavily on Ben's bed, staring at the calendar in front of him, trying to reconcile the truth in his mind. He vaguely heard Ben say his name, but didn't respond.
Bella Swan...he didn't have a single childhood memory that didn't involve her. He'd been in love with her since before he even knew what that meant. But he hadn't talked to her in almost two years, though not from lack of trying on his part.
He glanced at the picture for May again, focusing on the infinity necklace. He had given it to her just before his family moved away, a promise that he would always be there for her. But, by the time his family had settled into their new home in Alaska and Edward had finally gotten internet access again, he had found himself unfriended and blocked when he tried to message her on Facebook.
That had broken his heart. He hadn't understood at the time why she suddenly cut him out of her life, and he still didn't. He'd obsessed for months, trying to figure out what he had done wrong, why she had severed all contact, but he came up empty. And it had gnawed at him ever since.
Edward raked a hand through his hair, then sat up a little straighter. Maybe this was a sign. A way for him to finally get some answers, and maybe a chance to fix it. Seriously, what were the odds that his roommate's girlfriend would be roommates with his wayward best friend?
In that instant, Edward was resolved. He was going to get his R2 back.
A/N: Here we go! I'm hoping to avoid lengthy A/N's in future chapters so this one is going to be pretty long.
First and foremost, the only thing I own is the plot. The characters, any recognizable locations, brands, etc, are used in fun - no infringement is intended; all I get out of this is my own personal enjoyment.
Secondly, the current plan is to update once a week. Once the story is completed (I'm about 75% done right now), I will look at posting more frequently. But for now, weekly updates to give me some lead-time to wrap things up.
Finally, thank you to all of you who gave me so much love for In Flight Entertainment. This is a very different story (definitely no strippers here), but I hope you love it just as much!