It had been 5 years since her emotional breakdown and she was in a much better place because of it.

Angela and Ben did indeed keep in contact with her. They talked every week like clockwork. Sometimes Angela would call her at random times just to tell her about something mundane like a rainbow appearing after it rained. Angela was in Forks. It rained all the time. Rainbows in Forks were as common as cold weather in the Pacific Northwest. Ben even called her at random. Most of the time it was about Angela. "What do you think I should get her for her birthday? Do you think she'd like this dress? What if she doesn't like my new haircut?" Bella loved it when Ben called her. She enjoyed the look on his face when he talked about Angela. You could just hear the love in his voice.

Bella was asked to be the maid of honor at Angela's wedding. Of course, she said yes. Luckily for Bella, Angela and Ben decided on an intimate wedding in Hawaii. She got the honor of witnessing the signing of their wedding certificate. Bella absolutely cherished her best friends and she loved that her best friends loved each other. Angela, Ben, and Bella made it a tradition to meet up at least once a year. Sometimes they'd meet up in Florida. Other times, they'd travel and meet up in another state or even another country. They were like the three musketeers.

To Bella's disbelief, Charlie stuck to his guns and kept his promises. They spoke on the phone multiple times a week. 3 weeks after Bella left Forks, Chief Swan took his first vacation in over 10 years. Charlie spent his vacation in Florida getting to know his daughter. He talked to her about anything and everything. Charlie and Renee even took the time to sit down and really talk through their problems. They didn't want anything standing in the way of caring for their daughter. Their talk repaired his relationship with Renee and they now considered one another friends. Phil and Charlie even got along. Even though Bella was now considered an adult, Renee, Charlie, and Phil agreed to take as much as they could off of Bella's plate while she got herself situated. It wouldn't make up for her childhood, but it was a start. It was co-parenting at its finest.

Over the years, Charlie did his absolute best to repair his relationship with his baby girl. Bella no longer struggled with calling Charlie "dad". There was even the occasional "daddy" that would make Charlie want to tear up and his heart swell. Bella's relationship with her family wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for her. She wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.


Bella had begun taking classes at the local community college. She knew with her grades and test scores, she had a good chance of getting into a notable 4-year university but she wanted to stay closer to her mom while she healed from the heartbreak. Plus, it was much cheaper to go to school from home. Community college allowed Bella to explore herself. She took any classes that intrigued her on top of her general eds. She jumped at any opportunity to volunteer. She liked feeling useful; ever a people pleaser. Even though Bella had begun to broaden her horizons, she was nowhere closer to figuring out what she wanted to do for a career. When she was young, well younger, and naive, she thought she wanted to go into English. Maybe go into editing. After giving it some careful thought, she decided against it. She didn't want to have work turn her hobby into something she loathed or something that frustrated her. Reading was her sanctuary and she'd like to keep it that way.

One night, Bella was talking to Ben over Skype while she sat in the kitchen. Renee and Phil were watching TV in the living room and it was only a few steps away from the kitchen table. Ben had briefly mentioned playing a computer game called Diablo. At this, Phil jumped up and ran over to the kitchen to stand behind Bella.

"You play Diablo too?!" asked Phil.

"Yeah, man! Add me and we can raid together," replied Ben

"Sweet!'" exclaimed Phil.

"Ugh, BOYS!" Bella said in mock exasperation.

"Oh, Bells, you just don't understand how awesome Diablo is," said Phil with a jokingly mocking tone.

"Yeah! Don't knock it till you try it! Hey B, Ang is home. I'll talk to you later?"

"Yeah. Give my love to Ang!"

Ben signed off and Bella turned to Phil.

"What's so great about Diablo anyway?" Bella said while gesturing quotation marks.

"Well, little Bell, let me just show you," Phil answered while rubbing his hands together. He looked positively mischievous.

That night, Bella and Phil stayed up until 3 am while Phil showed his stepdaughter the wonder that is MMORPGs. From then on, Bella, Phil, and Ben played together at least twice a week. Playing video games had become an addiction for Bella. She loved the way it felt to complete a quest or defeat a boss. She loved the camaraderie of playing with a guild. She enjoyed being able to talk with different people from all walks of life. She always struggled with making friends, but for some reason, making friends online was as easy as breathing for Bella.

Her online friends began asking about her life outside of Diablo. Bella opened up and told them almost everything about herself. She didn't have to worry about any judgy looks because they always talked through a screen. She began to truly appreciate her guildmates. They understood her and encouraged her to try new things in the real world.

When Bella had returned home after a particularly trying day, she vented to her guildmates about not knowing what to do with her life. She still didn't know what she wanted to do for a career. Nothing seemed to jump out at her. Her guild leader began talking about his own job. He was a Data Engineer that focused on analyzing market data for pharmaceutical companies. Bella listened intently as he described what being a Data Engineer entailed. Though she wasn't interested in data analysis, she was interested in coding. She liked the idea of building something on a computer.

She spent the next few hours watching Intro to Coding videos. When she glanced at the clock, she was surprised that she had been watching videos for 4 hours straight. Rubbing her eyes, she glanced back at her screen and smiled. This was it. This was what she wanted to do.

Outside of gaming, school, family time, and volunteering, Bella spent every waking moment studying code. When the next semester came around, she signed up for an Intro to Coding class and an Intro to Robotics class. Robots were moving computers so she thought why not? Might as well give it a chance. That chance did indeed pay off. Over the next year, she devoted herself to learning how to code and create and operate robots.

When a nationwide, young-adults robotics contest hosted by Stark Industries was announced, Bella knew she had to sign up. She didn't expect to win, but she wanted to see where she stood within the state of Florida. To her surprise, she wiped the floor with the Florida section of the contest. Bella had created an artificial intelligence system that operated through a natural-language user interface computer system. Her creation was practically a walking talking robot that learned from experience. She named it "A.I.D.A.N: Artificially Intelligent Drone And Nanny." She added the nanny part because she sometimes felt like AIDAN handled her like a nanny handles a baby.

Bella was absolutely flabbergasted when she won the nationwide contest. She couldn't believe that her AIDAN won! It beat out every other contestant and was hand selected by Tony Stark himself. She nearly collapsed from nerves when she had to shake Mr. Stark's hand on national television. She had only spent 3 years studying coding and robotics. Some of the other contestants had been in the field their entire lives with their parents starting them at young ages. Her parents were equally as ecstatic. Both Renee and Charlie attended the contest in person. They made sure everyone they knew was aware that their baby girl was on national tv competing for a spot in Stark Industries. Renee and Charlie made sure to have someone record the contest back home for them. They wanted to be able to relive this moment whenever they wanted, regardless of the results. Just knowing their baby got this far was more than enough.

Bella and her parents got to spend some time with Tony Stark before he returned to New York. He introduced himself and made sure to reassure her parents that she'd be in good hands. He gave a brief synopsis of what to expect when she joined him. She would be holding an entry-level Robotics Engineering position that would assist Mr. Stark's team. He promised more information would be arriving in the mail. He thanked them for coming and then left to get back to his Pepper. This contest was the beginning of a new chapter in Bella's life.


Two years had passed since Bella won that contest. She completed her schooling online and got an accelerated double Master's from MIT in robotics and coding. She kept her job at Stark Industries and swiftly made her way up the ranks. She was now working directly under Tony Stark. There were times when she just couldn't believe that she was working for freaking Iron Man! Bella had dove head first into her new role. She now lived, breathed, slept, and ate Stark Industries. The only time she did anything else was when one of her parents or Angela and Ben dragged her out. Occasionally, she'd go out with Pepper or Natasha when she was in town. Even Tony would push her to take a vacation and he's the biggest workaholic around. There were times when he'd ban her from Stark Tower to make sure she actually took time for herself. She didn't think she could be any happier.


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