A/N… Okay, just so you guys know, I won't be bombarding you with A/Ns on this fic. This will probably be the longest note at the beginning of a chapter, so please just bear with me.
This story literally came out of nowhere, and I started writing it on July 18th, and I finished the epi on August 12th. And that was a shock to everyone involved, including me! It's totally complete. So those of you that don't do WIPs, have no fear here. Okay?
Next… This is a combo of labels – thriller, supernatural, hurt/comfort, romance, and friendship. There are several influences for this fic from movies to music to books, but I won't say them just now. It's truly Alternate Universe.
Once Upon Another Time - Summary: We'd promised each other in blood and ink to return if the threat ever came back to Forks. My breath caught at the sight inside that box. I reached in and picked up the ornate brass key with a note: "Keep it safe. Keep it hidden. It's started again." AU/ExB
Chapter 1 – Live to Tell
I have a tale to tell,
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well,
I was not ready for the fall,
Too blind to see the writing on the wall.
"Live to Tell" by Madonna
I thumbed through my journal, pondering the point of it all. Was I writing to me? Was I documenting something no one would believe? Or was I simply sinking into memories just to keep it all close?
Shaking my head, I sat back in my desk chair and stared out into the city. Seattle at night almost seemed peaceful. It wasn't, but it looked that way from thirteen stories up.
There was a time where my life wasn't surrounded by buildings and glass. It was surrounded by trees and rain, immersed in friendships so deep that we were practically family. Blood didn't mean shit when you had friends who would die for you. In fact, sometimes, blood wasn't worth knowing. I also remembered a time when night was far from fucking peaceful.
A knock tapped lightly on my home office door, snapping me out of memories I either needed to get down on paper – or at least a computer document file – or forget completely.
"Come in," I answered, smiling at my assistant.
"You've got mail, Edward," Garrett said, holding up a stack of envelopes and a magazine or two. But the interesting thing was a small box on top. I didn't remember ordering anything lately.
Garrett was a good guy, young, using his time with me to learn. He wanted to be in publishing, maybe editing, not to mention write screenplays – Kevin Smith was his hero, where Stephen King had always been mine. He was a sophomore at UW, and working as my assistant was earning him experience. I had a feeling I wouldn't have him much longer. He'd truly outgrow getting my mail, managing my schedule, and answering calls soon enough. He was too talented for that.
And really, I could do those things for myself, but the English Lit professor at UW was a friend, so he would send me his newest and brightest for experience. Marcus had done the same thing with me when I'd entered his classroom, and now I was published, with two books on the bestsellers list.
I held my hand out. "Thanks, Garrett," I said with a smile, taking the stack from him. "If you want, you can cut out early. How's Katie?"
"Stunning," he answered immediately, nodding a little. "Yup, she makes me feel dumb as a fucking rock."
Laughing, I nodded. "Yeah, a pretty girl can do that to a guy."
Suddenly, memories of dark-brown hair and even darker brown eyes flooded me. First kisses and secret smiles, laughter and adventure, tears and moving away – it all came with the thought of her. She was a girl I'd loved my whole life, it seemed.
"You hear from her lately, Ed?" Garrett asked sadly.
"Not in a long time," I muttered, frowning down at the pile of mail. "Too long."
I tossed coupons and insurance ads into the garbage, set bills and bank statements aside for later, and studied an envelope and the small box.
"Does she know?" he asked, pointing toward my bookshelf.
Snorting, I shook my head. "Does she know she's the basis for my life's work?" I clarified, and when he nodded, I smiled sadly. "No, probably not. I don't even know if she reads my shit."
He cracked a smile. "Fair enough."
Garrett's first day was question after question concerning my book series. He wanted to know why I wrote supernatural thrillers and how I got my ideas. He wanted to know the basis for my work, including all the key players. But specifically, he wanted to know who the gorgeous and brilliant brunette was, if she was real.
She was very real.
And I told him a few stories, using real-life relationships as a teaching method for the future writer. What he loved even more were stories about my friends growing up, which was probably why my journal was calling to me.
I picked up the box, turning it over, and my eyebrows shot up at the return address.
"I wonder…" I mumbled, using a letter opener to cut the tape.
My breath caught at the sight inside that box. It was something I hadn't seen for ten years. A glance at the calendar made me shake my head. Not quite ten years.
I reached inside and picked the ornate brass key up out of the bed of wadded-up brown paper. It was heavy, tarnished a little, but the sight of the cross made my brow break out into a sweat.
With a shaky hand, I reached in to pick up the folded note inside the box.
Keep it safe. Keep it hidden. It's started again. – J
"Oh, fuck," I whispered, crumpling the note in my hand.
Without realizing it, I rubbed my fingers across the ink on my chest over my heart. Ink that just happened to match the fucking key in my hand.
"You okay, boss?" Garrett asked. "Dude, you just went white as a sheet."
Swallowing nervously, I nodded. I set the key down on the top of my desk and reached for the plain white envelope. It, too, was postmarked from Forks. I ripped it open, pulling out a few clipped articles from a newspaper.
Four Campers Attacked by Bear in Olympic National Forest, No Survivors
Local Man Goes Missing, Feared Animal Attack
Forks Sheriff, Charlie Swan, Dead at 51
My ears started to ring, my vision went a little dark, and deep down, I was fucking angry. But what was overriding all of that was pure fear. The ringing of my phone snapped me back to the present.
"Cullen residence," Garrett answered softly, though I could see he was still eyeballing me with concern. "Sure. Let me see if he can take a break from writing," he covered for me smoothly. He muted the phone. "It's your sister."
I held a shaky hand out for the house phone.
"Ed, you okay, man?" Garrett asked one more time.
I nodded, taking a deep breath and letting it out. "Yeah, I'm good. You can go ahead and go, Garrett. Go see your girl." I tried to smile, but it probably came out as a grimace.
"If you're sure…" He trailed off.
"I'm sure. Go. Take her out, buy her something nice, and make sure you tell her how you feel, Garrett. Don't let opportunity pass you by, because you'll regret it," I told him, because fuck, if all that wasn't the damned truth.
Hesitantly, he nodded and pushed away from my door. I heard him gather his things, and then the front door slammed closed. I turned the phone over in my hands, finally pushing the mute button.
"Hey, Alice," I said, trying to sound normal, but even to my own ears, it sounded strained. "How're the wedding plans coming?"
"Forget the wedding," she practically growled. "I just received the weirdest letter."
"Three newspaper articles?" I asked, pushing my own copies around until they were all spread out before me.
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"I don't think Jake sent them."
She went quiet. "Jesus fucking Christ… Why would you say that? He's—"
"Because I got something in the mail you didn't. He sent me the key," I whispered, squeezing my eyes closed at the memories of fear and sweat and unbreakable promises.
"Fuck me, they're back," she barely said aloud, but I heard her.
"We have to go, Alice," I said with a warning to my tone. "Call Mom and Dad."
"I don't want to," she pleaded in tears. "I've got a wedding, a job, a dress fitting…"
"We promised. We swore in blood and ink, Ali. And she's gonna need us," I countered, picking up the article on Charlie to see when the service would be. "It's not like you can run from this. You're marrying Jasper; Charlie practically raised him. I'm sure he's already talked to her. Just… Call Mom and Dad, because we're going to need the house opened."
"Alice, we owe it to Jake, we owe it to Charlie, because they stayed when we didn't," I snapped, because as much as I understood her fear, we had, in fact, promised to come back should the threats return. "And now? We owe it to Bella."
"Have you heard from her?" my sister asked softly.
I pulled open the side drawer of my desk, pulling out a small box. It was every letter she'd ever sent me. The last one was a year ago. Originally, they'd come from Arizona, and then eventually, California. I blamed her mother.
Just saying her name made my heart pound, my brow sweat.
"Last letter was a year ago," I replied, frowning at that. "God, I wish we could go back to when we were kids."
Alice laughed softly. "You two…had something way before the rest of us."
Edward - Fourteen…
"Edward! Wait up!" I heard behind me down the hallway.
I turned to see Bella pushing through the crowd of Forks Middle School students. She was long, dark hair and a smile that always seemed just a touch sarcastic. She also ignored the mean girls and the idiot boys as she caught up with me. She couldn't care less about rumors or opinions, other than her friends.
"Are we all walking to your house together?" she asked, shifting her backpack higher.
"Yeah, I think so. Well, everyone but Jake and Rachel; they're getting dropped off. C'mon. We'll wait for everyone out front," I told her.
Alice and I were turning fourteen, so our parents had finally agreed to let us have a combined sleepover birthday party. Not that most sleepovers didn't turn out that way anyway, no matter at whose house we slept.
As we stepped out to the front of the school, I shook my head. We couldn't be any more different. All of us were just…different.
Alice and I were twins, and that alone had made us weird when we'd first moved here, but the group I was looking at didn't care. Jasper was Bella's cousin, and he'd been living with them since he was a baby. They fought like siblings, and he was super smart – loved history and sci-fi. Emmett was the funniest kid I'd ever met, but he used his jokes to cover up how he was bullied for his weight. Honestly, some of our classmates were assholes. Emmett wasn't as fat as they all said. He loved his scary movies, but he loved to cook, too.
Rose had been friends with Bella from like…kindergarten. They were the prettiest girls in our class, but they didn't know it. Or maybe they did and just didn't care. Rose was blonde hair and blue eyes, tall. Emmett was convinced she could be on TV, but Rose? She liked building stuff – cars, motorcycles, go-karts. She lived for shop class.
Bella was hair and eyes the color of melting chocolate, which earned her the nickname Baby Ruth from Jasper. She always punched him when he said it, because he claimed she was "nuts on the inside." She'd punch him even harder if he switched it up to Butterfinger when she'd accidentally trip or drop something.
But Bella and I had something in common. We loved books. Old books, new ones. Scary ones or science fiction. Fairy tales or poetry. It was how we'd met. In Forks Public Library, reaching for the same damn book – The Hobbit. It was the summer before sixth grade.
Bella was the first person I'd ever told that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. She'd kissed my cheek and told me she couldn't wait to see my books in the library.
"I think your sister is crushin' on my cousin," Bella whispered in my ear as we got closer to the loud group waiting for us.
"Yeah, I think that's mutual," I agreed, but I gazed over at her, because my sister and I had sworn our feelings about the Swans in a pinky swear, but I could rat Jasper out, no problem.
She grinned, linking our fingers together. "C'mon. I can't wait to give you your present," she said with a giggle and a tug of my hand. "I also can't wait for your dad's burgers and your mom's banana pudding. I know she had to have made that for tonight."
Grinning, I nodded. "I asked her specifically. Ali wanted a cake. I wanted banana pudding."
"I'm sure she did both," Bella said with a laugh.
"Are they a thingor not?" I heard hissed behind us, and I rolled my eyes because Lauren hated Bella.
"I can't fucking tell," Jessica hissed back.
"Speaking of crushes," Bella muttered, rolling her eyes.
When she tried to pull her hand away, I kept our fingers linked. "Don't let go," I whispered in her ear. "Because that shit is not mutual."
Bella cracked up, leaning into me. "You really wanna piss 'em off? Tell them I'm about to sleep over at your house. Or you could be my date from now on to every function."
"Done. Yes. From now until we graduate high school." And I wasn't fucking kidding about that shit either.
Bella laughed, her cheeks turning a light pink. "That sounds like an amazing plan."
We reached our friends, and Rose gave a shrill whistle, saying, "Okay, let's get this weekend started! I'll be glad when school is out for summer next week."
We were all a loud, boisterous group walking down the sidewalk. By the time we were turning into our front yard, a white VW screeched up to the curb. Leah Clearwater blared her radio as Jake and Rachel got out of the car, grabbing their things.
"S'up, Cullen!" Jake called with a grin. "Happy birthday, you two. Please, please tell me Esme made banana pudding!"
Jacob Black was a little younger than us, but his sister was friends with the girls. They'd all kind of grown up together. She was a quiet, shy thing, and I knew she liked me. She was cool and all, but I was way too happy about Bella's hand in mine.
"Yo, Ed," Jasper called from my porch. "Are we campin'?"
"I can ask," I replied, reaching for my front door. "Alice, you want to camp out in the woods?"
Bella snorted into a laugh, burying it into my shoulder, because my sister couldn't look more conflicted. The outdoors wasn't exactly my sister's thing. It was Jasper's idea, but it was sleeping outside…in tents and sleeping bags.
"C'mon, Alice. It'll be fun. Ed can read us one of his stories to scare the piss out of us," Emmett urged, grinning my way.
"I'm actually down for that," Rose said with a nod.
"Me, too," Jake and Rachel added.
"Yeah, sounds good," Bella agreed softly.
"Ugh, fine!" Alice finally agreed.
We all piled into the house, and my mom was there to greet us.
"Hey, kids! Go put your things upstairs," she said, and when I opened my mouth to asked about camping, she laughed. "I heard, I heard. Jasper's not exactly quiet."
We all cracked up, shoving at Jasper.
"So…camping out back. Got it. We'll do cake and presents first, and then you guys can go howl at the moon," Mom teased us.
"That's a jab at my tribe, right?" Jake asked with a laugh, ducking when Mom reached for his hair, because he'd more than once told us the scary stories about the Quileute reservation.
"No, it's a jab at this entire crazy lot. Go. Get changed and come back down," she ordered, leaning into my kiss to her cheek.
The girls all rushed upstairs to Alice's room, and the guys dropped their stuff off in my room. I was only changing shirts. Once I put my things away, I opened my door to see Bella there.
"Here," she whispered, giving the hallway a quick glance. "I want you to open mine first."
"Yeah? Okay," I said, taking the present from her. I ripped open the brightly colored paper, pulling out a really nice journal – black leather and lined pages, with my name in silver. "Bella, this is…really awesome."
"It's for all your story ideas. I mean, I know that you use your computer, but…this is for when you can't, and I know your notebooks are filling up…" She kind of trailed off because I'd opened the cover, seeing her handwriting on the first page next to the year.
"To: Edward – Happy birthday. May all your dreams come true. Love you, Bella."
She seemed needlessly nervous when she added, "I mean that. I hope you become the biggest and best writer there is. Just…don't forget us normal, boring people."
I laughed, because Bella was far from boring. "That will never happen, Bella. I promise." I leaned in and kissed her cheek, but sort of, kind of close to her mouth. I wanted to ask about the "love you," but I didn't. Instead, I simply said, "Thank you."
I picked up the journal, running my finger across her inscription.
May all your dreams come true. Love you, Bella.
I took a deep breath and let it out. She got her wish that I'd become a big writer, but not all my dreams had been about writing. I picked up the key, spinning it between my fingers. Just the sight of it was enough to scare the shit out of me.
I picked up my phone, calling Garrett.
"Hey, boss. You need me back?" he answered immediately.
"No, Garrett, but I will need you to watch over my apartment for a while. I have to go out of town," I told him.
"Yeah, sure. Everything okay?"
"It's umm… It's a family emergency," I told him, and it wasn't exactly a lie. "And you need to cancel whatever appointments I have coming up. Okay?"
I got up from my desk, grabbing the key, the articles, and the journal, stuffing it all in my laptop bag and shouldering it.
"No problem. How long will you be gone?" he asked as I made my way to my bedroom to pack.
I took a deep breath and let it out. "I'm not sure, Gare, but I'll keep you posted."
There was a part of me that wondered if I'd be back at all, but I'd made promises I refused to break, so I was packing to go back home to Forks.
A/N… There will be a playlist on YouTube for this fic, and yeah, it kinda runs the gamut on what genres I'm using – most of you should be used to it. You can simply search drotuno.
This chapter the only song added is "Live to Tell" by Madonna.
Since this is complete, then I'll probably post twice a week (Sun/Wed), unless I give you a heads-up. While this is posting, I will be finishing Judas, for those following that story.
Until next time… Mooches, Deb ;)