The Long Road Back To You

B/E, Romance, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort

***This is a companion piece to "The Long Road Home", however, it is not a sequel, so there is no need to read that story in order to understand this one.

***For those who read "The Long Road Home", this story is a "What if" alternate version, completely separate from that story, with the only thing similar being the backstory and the nature of the character's relationships. It takes place a little earlier in their lives than that one, because I think that's where the drama would happen in this alternate universe. Please try to keep an open mind, and remember nothing in the other version applies to this one except for events that happened before Edward turned 5. I hope you give it a shot, it's coming together rather interestingly in my head, but I do have to say, I miss the other Edward. He was so much sweeter than this one in the beginning ;)

*Warning: Contains topics that may be triggering for anyone sensitive about child abuse, rape, kidnapping, and/or suicide. Do not read if you have issues on any of these topics!

Chapter 1 – Screaming

The screaming...

That's what I remember most about my early childhood…

That blood curdling kind of scream that would echo off of every wall in the house, and pierce through you until it was reverberating in all the corners of your mind and straight down your spine. The kind that was so loud that not even the roof could contain that level of pain…

Night after night of torturous screaming.

Neighbors had called the police more than once, which was always shocking since we lived on a forty acre ranch. How did they even hear it? Then again, those were the nights that were the darkest. When the clouds were so thick they shrouded the moon, and not even a single twinkle from a single star could shine through. I suppose the screams were held down by those clouds, and couldn't escape into the endlessness of the sky.

As loud as the midnight screaming was, it was nothing compared to the cold deafening silence that plagued the house during the day. Even the sound of the squeaking floorboards below our feet as we crept through the halls, sounded like a crashing freight train compared to the hush the house always existed in back in those days.

Things eventually got better - quieter at night, and louder during the day… but there was never a time, even after a decade of calmness, when the house felt truly at peace. There was still a heaviness that would follow us through every room, and we became so used to the feeling that it disguised itself as an old friend. That is the feeling that lingers in the house to this day...

"You know, usually people write in their journals in the privacy of their bedroom," Edward said as he plopped on the couch besides me and basically stole my notebook right out of my hands as I was writing.

"Don't! I'm serious!"

"Oh, you're serious. Now I'm scared," he replied mockingly.

"Edward, just give it back to me!" I said in an angry panic.

"Bella listen, I'm just trying to help you here. It's best if I read this. It's not healthy for you to keep your feelings all bottled up inside. Trust me, my therapist spews that shit at me all the time."

"Stop being a jerk, and give it back to me!" I said frustrated, and because he smiled at me while slowly opening the cover in a brazen display of disrespect, I jumped on him to try to take it back by force.

Of course, he was stronger than me, and far too fast. He leapt to his feet, and actually started jumping on the couch as he read the first line…

"The screaming. That's what I remember most about my early childhood…"

Thankfully, I somehow managed to tackle his arm, and use all of my strength to wrestle the pages out of his hand before he could read any more.

"Jesus, Bella, what the hell are you writing? Some kind of angsty horror novel? I wish you would have at least let me get to the good part about how the masked serial killer chops up the girl with a chain saw."

"Its not a novel!" I snapped at him.

"Well, who writes shit like that in their journal?"

"I didn't say it was my journal either. It's none of your business!" I shouted a little louder than I intended to.

"Wow, I really hit a button there, didn't I?" he said, far too amused by my anger.

"You always hit all of my buttons!" I growled at him.

He chuckled at me, just like the pompous jackass he was, and I was literally seeing red. I was generally a calm and reserved person… except when it came to Edward Cullen. He knew exactly how to push me over the edge, and pushing me over the edge seemed to be his favorite pastime.

"Hey now, what's going on in here?" Emmett said as he walked into the living room, and could immediately see how upset I was; he probably heard me yelling and wanted to intervene.

"Nothing. Just Edward being Edward," I explained bitterly.

"Man, what the fuck is wrong with you?" Emmett asked Edward. "Seriously, when the hell are you going to grow up?"

"Me grow up?" Edward scoffed. "You're like twenty one years old, and you still live at home. That's pretty pathetic, bro."

"I'm living at home while going to college. A ton of people do that," Emmett said defensively.

"A ton of losers," Edward snickered.

"Do you know what your problem is?" Emmett asked him frustrated. "Mom and dad have always been way too easy on you. You have zero respect for anyone or anything."

"Who am I supposed to be respecting? You?" Edward laughed again.

"Someday…. Someday you'll get what's coming to you, and nobody around here will give a damn anymore, and then you will be alone," Em warned him.

"I can't wait for that," Edward deadpanned.

"Look, you can be a prick to me all you want, but just leave Bella alone. Alright?" he tried defending me.

"Emmett, don't. I'm fine," I told him, not wanting it to escalate any further than it already had.

"No, I'm not going to just let him treat you like crap. He gets away with everything around here, and I'm sick of it!"

"Or maybe I get away with everything because mom and dad just like me better than you," Edward said in a belittling tone. "Actually, everyone likes me better than you, even your girlfriend has eyes for me. You should have heard the things she was saying to me the last time she was here. 'Oh Edward, I wish Emmett was as sexy as you are. Please, take me now. I want to squeal out your name..."

Edward's crass rudeness was abruptly cut off when Emmett's right hook met his jaw. He obviously didn't hit him hard, because if he did Edward certainly couldn't have recovered as fast as he did, and then he retaliated. The two began throwing punches – Well, Edward was throwing punches, Emmett looked to be just trying to restrain him while protect himself.

It probably would have ended quick enough on its own, because despite Edward's rudeness, Emmett had an unyielding love for his little brother and hated fighting with him, but that was the moment Carlisle arrived home from work…

"What the hell are you doing?" Carlisle shouted as he somehow managed to pull Emmett out from under Edward, and then he got in his face. "You could have killed him!"

"Are you kidding me?" Emmett retorted before wiping the blood from his freshly split lip. "I barely touched him! Look at my face compared to his. Maybe instead of jumping to conclusions, you could have asked what happened."

"It doesn't matter what happened!" Carlisle continued yelling in Em's face. "You are bigger than him, and older. There should never be a reason for you to strike him."

"No, it was my fault," Edward spoke up unexpectedly. "I was being a prick."

Carlisle refused to listen. "I don't ever want to see or hear about you laying a violent hand on him again. Do you understand me?"

"But he…"

"Do you understand me?" Carlisle repeated himself sternly.

Emmett sighed. "Yeah, I understand… but just so you know, ones of these days, his mouth is going to get him into a whole heap of trouble with someone who won't go easy on him… and it'll be your fault for never punishing him," Emmett said to his father, before storming out of the house.

Carlisle stared at the door Emmett had just slammed, and then he turned to Edward. "Are you okay?" he asked him.

"Yeah, well, I probably shouldn't have said what I said to him… I guess I deserved that," Edward mumbled.

"What matters is that you're not hurt. If he bothers you again, just let me know," Carlisle said before heading into his home office.

Edward stood there for a moment, then he turned his head to look at me. When he saw that I was staring back at him, he quickly looked away, but it wasn't quick enough. For that brief moment I was able to catch a glimpse of something I had never seen in his eyes before… pain.

I had a sudden, overwhelming desire to rush to him, and wrap my arms around him until that pain was gone forever, but that urge only confused me. Edward and I were not friends. If anything, he made my time with the Cullens almost unbearable, but that brief peek into the depths of his eyes actually made me begin to question everything about him.

Edward was generally a cold, obnoxious, jerk that the Cullens all seemed to walk on tiptoes around. It was like they always did whatever they possibly could not to upset him in any way… all of them except for Emmett it seemed. Em was the only one out if the family that actually cared when Edward was being a jackass, and he was always the one to get into trouble for it. It wasn't uncommon, but for whatever reason, Emmett continued to get shocked by it every time he'd get punished for Edward's behavior.

"You should apologize to Emmett," I mumbled after a minute.

Edward glared at me, and then he headed for the stairs, pausing only for a moment when he saw Alice sitting halfway up. I hadn't notice her there before either, which I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised by. She seemed to always silently appear whenever there was any kind of loud confrontation in the house. In fact, her quiet presence often melted into the scenery there, and many times we didn't even notice her at all.

Edward didn't even politely excuse himself as he passed her, he just mumbled some kind of annoyance with her being in his way, and then I heard his bedroom door slam above me.

Alice's eyes found mine, so I sighed. "Boys were fighting again," I said to her. "I kind of thought they'd grow out of that eventually."

"Some boys never grow out of it," she murmured. She then got up, and headed outside to presumably sit on the porch swing, as she often did.

I followed her out, since it was clear to me she was upset, but as soon as I stepped foot out the door, a car pulled up to the house.

"Hey, what are you doing here?" I asked, surprised to see him.

"What? Can't I visit my girlfriend?" Mike said with an irritated undertone.

"What's wrong?" I asked him.

"Nothing is wrong except for the fact my girlfriend is questioning why I'm visiting her."

"All I meant was that you didn't text me before you came like you usually do," I said slowly. He was definitely in a mood; it seemed all the men around there were.

"Well, I was in the neighborhood," he explained a little more gently.

"You were in the neighborhood?" I said with a little laugh. "We're way out in the country. There is no neighborhood."

"Well, maybe I was out and about and started thinking about you, and just ended up here," he said while wrapping me in his heavy arms uncomfortably. He then leaned in for a kiss, but I turned my head away from him. "What's that about?" he asked insulted.

"Alice is sitting right there," I pointed out.

"So? Has she never seen two people kiss before?"

"Come on," I said, pulling away.

"She's not even paying attention!" he argued. "She looks fully engrossed in her little stupid baby book."

"Shhh-ut up!" I hissed at him quietly. The last thing I wanted was for him to make Alice feel bad, when she was already upset enough about her brothers fighting.

I took Mike's hand, and then led him out to the barn so we could speak more privately.

"You have to understand something about Alice," I started, but Mike stopped me.

"You don't have to tell me again about how traumatized Alice was and all that. I know. We've been dating for six months and you've only told me five hundred times. I get it. Hell, even before you told me what happened to her, I already knew. Everyone in a five hundred mile radius knows what happened to her."

"If you know, then why would you make that snide comment about her book? She reads 'Paddington Bear' when she's feeling anxious and upset. She certainly doesn't need your insensitive comments to add to it."

"Fine, whatever," he said in a clear attempt to end the conversation. "Do you want me to go apologize or something?"

"No, it's okay. Just please try to watch what you say around her."

"Alright! I get it. You know, I have to be honest, I don't understand why you stay here with the Cullens so much. I mean, I get your dad is a cop, and all that, but you are fully capable of staying home alone when he works long shifts."

"My dad is a detective, not a cop, and you know he would never allow me to stay alone at night…."

"You're almost eighteen! So, after your birthday he will let you? What difference does a few months make? The law is so dumb when you think about it that way."

"I don't think it has anything to do with any law. He's just… overprotective. He doesn't trust the world anymore. He's been like that since before I was even born, especially after what happened to Alice. He never knew that kind of evil really existed, and he's a detective."

"He's going to have to let you go sooner or later. Can't be under daddy's watchful eye your entire life," he said condescendingly.

"Well, I'm not… I'm also watched by the Cullens," I pointed out.

"What's going to happen next year when you go off to college?"

I shrugged. "I may just go locally and commute back and forth. I don't want to leave my dad alone, and I really like being here to help with Alice. She talks to me… which is more than she does with most other people."

"Well, I hope you change your mind about that. This town is shit. I can't wait to move away from here next year."

I smiled at him. "If you move away, who will help your dad at the family store?"

"They have plenty of employees," he said evenly, and then he started looking around. "Hey, maybe staying out here isn't so bad after all. It seems pretty secluded…. Nobody can see us," he said suggestively.

He attempted to kiss me, but I ducked away from him. "An old run down barn doesn't scream romance…. And it kind of stinks," I told him.

"I don't think there's ever been animals in here, so I don't know how it could stink," he argued, before attempting to kiss me again.

"I'm sure there were animals in here before the Cullens bought the place," I said while avoiding him again. "It just smells musty and gross."

"Fine. Get in my car. We're going to my place," he practically ordered.

"No… not today. Alice was upset earlier. I just want to hang here to make sure she's okay."

"She has parents for that!" Mike said incredulously.

"But sometimes I can make her feel better when no one else can," I argued. "I'll see you at school on Monday."

"I can't believe you won't leave with me. Why the hell did I have to fall for a goodie-goodie?" he grumbled to himself.

"No one said you had to," I replied bitterly.

"Whatever. I'll see you on Monday," he said before walking over to his car, and then leaving. It was strange just how relieved I felt every time he left, and I wondered what the hell that meant. Mike could be a jerk at times, but he was definitely better than some guys our age. I could definitely have a worse boyfriend, in fact, most girls envied me because of him. Still, I often found myself preferring the company of a good book than him. I sighed just thinking about it.

By the next evening I was home with my dad again, and I was back to writing my memoir for English class…

The screaming… it still haunts me. Sometimes I hear it in the silence, even when no one is around, and sometimes, when I close my eyes at night, I can still see those terrified eyes staring back at me. It makes my heart leap out of my chest, and then I'm the one who is screaming…

***A/N: Quite a difference from the other version so far, right? Just because Carlisle made a different choice, doesn't mean he made the right one. There are millions of little choices people make everyday, and clearly some of them were wrong in this family.

Anyone interested in this version? I still don't have every last detail mapped out perfectly just yet, so if you have any interesting ideas to add to the storyline, I'd love to read them. Thanks!