The re-edited edited version. Please let me know what you think.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

He slammed the car door, quickly trying to compose his face into one that didn't show his obvious depression. Don't let them see who you are.

"Edward!" Alice yelled as she ran forward to greet him. He gave a wry smile, but his cheeks were so unused to smiling. It more closely resembled a grimace.

"Alice," He acknowledged in a monotone voice. She frowned. Go back to her, Edward. You aren't fooling anyone.

He ignored her, stepping past her towards his father and mother. Carlisle had his arm wrapped around Esme's waist. He sported a sad smile.

He tried to ignore that he didn't have a waist to wrap his arm around.

He didn't have Bella.

No! He thought, but it was too late. The thought entered his mind. He cringed, feeling as though someone had stabbed him with something sharp and burning. He chastised himself for having flinched in everyone's plain view.

Carlisle, realizing his mistake, had released Esme's waist. I'm sorry, Edward...I wasn't thinking.

He just shook his head, hoping to convey the fact that it didn't matter. Nothing mattered.

They proceeded to the living room, where they caught up. He tried so hard to answer their questions truthfully, but the task was proving hard. The urge for them to think he wasn't a total failure had won out over the two.

"How are you doing, Edward?" Esme didn't hesitate to wrap his arms around him, trying to offer any comfort she could. It didn't seem to make any difference for him, though.

"I'm fine." He lied, using him monotone voice. He was suddenly terrified that raising the pitch of his voice would make it break, just like the rest of him. He'd ever felt so vulnerable. As if a single word would snap his whole resolve.

"Okay," she said, calmly, frowning slightly. "So what have you been doing?"

"I've been...traveling," He said, numbly. This at least was half true. He'd already envisioned plans of travel. Chasing. Tracking. Anything to get his mind off of her. Anything to get his mind away from Bella.

Bella... He flinched again, feeling the stabbing feeling in his stomach.

They of course, noticed that.

"Are you okay?" Esme asked again.

"I'm fine."

He tried his best to keep up with the conversation. They tried to keep him, but soon ran out of thing to say to the unresponsive son. He tried to speak, but was still too terrified of breaking. Eventually they pointed him in the direction of his room, and let him go.

He dumped his bag on the floor next to his couch. He didn't really have any real possessions. A cell phone. A change of clothes. A bottle cap. A pillow case. A few doubles from the photographs she'd taken. Some things that still held a bare whisper of her scent. He wasn't sure how much longer they would be able to hold it in much longer.

He lay down on the couch, groaning softly. It still smelled like her. Like the nights when she would sleep in his arms, content. Like when she would whisper I love you in his ear, before falling asleep...

He clutched at his heart, gently, feeling the stabbing pain again. He knew what was next. She always came when he thought about her. When he could taste her scent in his throat.

"Hello, Edward." She whispered. Her voice was like the wind, tickling his ear. And it was beautiful. Not quite as beautiful as she was, though. She reached forward, holding her hand out for him to take, a forgiving smile on her face.

He reached out, taking her hand eagerly. But there was nothing left to take. The hand gently shimmered away, her forgiving smile freezing into a glare.

No...please don't go...please stay with me! If only for a moment, please stay!

But she wasn't listening. She glared further, freezing his heart into ice again.

His eyes shot open, realizing that he still held his hand out for her.

He wanted to close his eyes, to avoid looking around his room, but h knew that if he closed his eyes he would see her again. He was already weakened. He might try to do something infinitely more foolish.

Like he always did. Always folding to her. Always trying to kiss her, when he was not welcome to.

He wondered if anyone else was welcome to kiss her, but instantly shooed the thought away. Thinking about it wouldn't help it any more.

And the thought especially disgusted him. Another man, touching her in ways he could only fantasize about. Kissing her effortlessly, making love to her the children she so rightfully deserves.

It made his blood boil. What had he done to deserve this? He had her...but he couldn't have her. He could never have her. She was never meant to be his, and never would be. It simply wasn't...fair! Why couldn't he kiss her the way she wanted him to? Why wasn't he allowed to make love to the woman he wanted to keep with him forever? Why was everyone else around him allowed to live such bliss, while he be forced to suffer?

Because you're greedy. You took too much before, and want too much now. You should have learned a long time ago. Wanting things only leads you to ultimate failure.

SHUT UP! He cried out, but it was too late. The damage was done. The voice went on, unstopping.

And so now you must be punished. She will go on, and leave you with what you deserve. Nothing.

He clawed at his ears, trying to make the voice stop. He was already being punished, already suffering. Why must the voice continue goading him? As if he wasn't already half-insane!

He was already painfully aware of his suffering. Just the knowledge that she was probably happy without him was enough. His mind kept flashing to that final day in the forest. Thinking about how she let him go so easily. How it was almost as if...

As if she didn't love you.

He tried not to focus on thoughts like those. He was so sure she might have loved him at some point in time, though she probably didn't anymore.

What if she didn't love you? Maybe she just felt sorry for you, and was waiting for you to cut her loose. Did you ever think of that?

He wondered how he hadn't thought of that before. The sudden sting in his chest made him dig his fingers into the couch, not hearing the loud rip he was creating.

No wonder he hadn't thought of that before. Because the pain of it would surely drive him insane!

But what if it was better for him to believe she never loved him? Perhaps that would keep the initial urge to flee back to his sanctuary again.

Because he was weak. If he had the chance to run back to her, he would. He would hold onto her, and not let her go. If she wanted him to leave, he probably would no longer have the strength to do so.

And he knew he was a monster because of that. He hoped he would burn in hell, if it meant she would be happy in heaven.

Oh...but what he wouldn't give to see her one last time. See her smiling, laughing...

He quickly shut his thoughts off, knowing that this train would only lead to disaster. He shut his eyes, breathing in and out as deeply as he could, though he still felt like he couldn't breathe. Pressing his nose into the back of his couch, he inhaled, letting her scent clear his mind. In his mind, he could almost pretend she was with him...

And then suddenly, there she was again. This time, she reached for him, taking his hand in hers. He reveled in her warmth on his hand. The sinful warmth. So much more than he could ever ask for. She carefully unfolded his hand, pressing her lips to the center of his palm, before looking at him and giggling quietly.

The action drew his eyes to her lips and he moaned, seeing them. They were so perfect...and naked. Gods...he couldn't just leave them there...naked...

He leaned in closer, unthinking, before pressing his lips to hers again, reveling in the sinful warmth. Slowly, he wrapped his arms around her, as his kisses grew more eager, more desperate.

And then it was gone.

He opened his eyes, feeling a massive wave of disappointment rush over him.

He'd fallen for the illusion again. He wasn't sure how much more of this he could take. At least before he was able to distinguish the different between living, breathing, loving Bella, and a cold illusion.

The thought of her name brought yet another flinch. That wasn't what caused the pain this time, though. The pain was that he realized he wouldn't be able to kiss her...touch her again.

His arms felt colder than usual. His heart felt colder than usual. How had he done it? How had he survived so long without her?

"Bella…" He moaned. Why can't I go fifteen seconds without thinking of her?

His mind easily supplied more jabs for him. Each one like a tiny incision...a paper cut. Each one stinging worse than the last, making him writhe and moan.

"Go away!" He whimpered."Leave me alone!"

But instead of making it leave, the plea brought a new visitor...a knock on his door.

"Edward?" It was Alice. "Edward, can I come in?"

He stayed silent hoping she would leave, but she just opened the door without his consent. He scrambled to sit up, before he could see how truly pathetic he was.

She frowned. "You need to go back to her Edward. You can't go on like this."

He somehow managed to keep his voice steady. "I'll live, Alice."

"This isn't living, Edward. No one deserves this."

"You're wrong. I'm getting what I deserve. I should have stayed away from her after I'd saved her from the van. Then she'd have been safe." His frown deepened. "But I had to be weak. I had to go back to her, and befriend her... I had to go fall in love with her..."

"Edward, don't talk like that. She was in love with you, too. She had to have been. She accepted you, remember? It's not like you held a gun to her head and told her to love you." She said, this time, agitation peppering her voice.

"I didn't need to. She probably just felt sorry for me. She probably thought she didn't have a choice and–"

"Dammit, Edward!" she said, her anger increasing rapidly. "She loved you! She still loves you! You need to go back to her!"

"I can't. It's too late now. She's probably moved on. She probably has Mike Newton wrapped around her finger."

"How can you say that?!" she yelled, "She loves YOU Edward! Not Mike! Or anyone else! She loves YOU!"

"Get out." he whimpered, his voice breaking. "You aren't helping anything."

She looked down on him, disbelieving before turning on her heel and leaving.

He simply lay back down on his couch, curling back into a ball. Tighter. Take up as little space as possible. Try not to exist. Not to breathe.

But the comfort her scent offered was too desperately needed. He inhaled gently, taking in her scent, closing his eyes.

And there she was, waiting for him. She stood there, light surrounding her like and angel. This time, he promised himself he would look, but not touch. That didn't stop the urges, though. The urge to hold her...kiss her when she smiled...and tear off her clothing and make love to her when she laughed.

But he wouldn't move. She's not real, he chanted. She's not yours. Look, but don't touch.

Oh, but he wanted her so badly...he wanted to steal her away, keep her locked up. Where only he could please her, in a world where he was everything she needed.

Why am I so selfish? Can't I do anything right?


No, I can't.

He took in another deep breath, letting the scent calm him mind a little, before opening his eyes again.

Two hours down, and eternity to go.

My excuse is that Edward's pain was more fresh and sharp at first and gradually got worse, before he became numb. I wrote a companion to this, called Bridges. It's Edward in South America, trying to fight the pain, becoming numb as well.