Hello. You likely aren't very happy with me at the moment. When I promised in one to two days, for some reason I didn't register the fact that Monday was Labor Day and that I would be busy... Oh, well. I got around to this chapter as soon as I could.

Enjoy!

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Bella's POV:

The florescent brightness of the Sea Tac airport at night was a constant irritation to my perceptive senses. The intercoms, beepings, airplanes, and constant lull of voices seemed to drive me to the very edge of my sanity.

As a group of tourists passed us, busily lugging baggage, I flinched back slightly. My slip in control had severely shaken my self confidence, making me feel vulnerable to giving in again. Edward's cool hand curled over my own as I closed my eyes, leaning my head back as if weary. In truth, I was anything but. My senses buzzed erratically, making it nigh impossible to concentrate fully.

Swallowing my breathing, I cracked an eyelid open. Glancing swiftly at the time, I inwardly groaned. It seemed that it had been ages since we had been waiting for our connection.

"Bella," Edward's voice was near my ear, his breath gently tickling my neck. "Relax. I'll admit, flying to Phoenix then to Dulles, then to Europe is a rather roundabout way to go, but it was all that was open."

I grumbled under my breath indistinctually. Settling back into the hard, synthetic chair, I waited. Scents whirled around my head like millions of perfumes, giving me the urge to sneeze. The idle thought gave me the first smile in days.

"Edward?"

"Hmmm?" His voice sounded distant, as if he wasn't fully paying attention. Turning my gaze on him, I saw him stare fixedly at a traveling soccer team.

"Edward," I growled, narrowing my eyes. His butterscotch gaze flickered back to my own, startled. Taking in my mildly irate expression, he grinned apologetically.

"Now that I have your full attention," I paused, raising my eyebrows, "I have a question for you."

It was his turn to look quizzical as he stared at me expectantly. I continued as if I hadn't paused at all, "Is it possible to be allergic to someone?"

Edward stared at me for a moment, completely nonplussed. "What do you mean, allergic to a person?" His eyebrows were furrowed at his gaze flicked unintentionally behind me again.

"I mean," I explained, "their scent. Is it possible to be allergic to someone's scent?"

He stared at me fully for a few moments, his caramel eyes holding a tumult of amusement, bewilderment, and inquisition. "I don't know," he finally choked, looking suspiciously close to breaking into laughter. "I never have. I'm not sure it's possible." He snorted, casually passing it off as a cough. And the charade would have worked. If it was necessary for vampires to cough in the first place.

"Old habits die hard, huh?"

He gazed back at me for a minute before his smooth expression broke into a warm smile. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I'm used to lying to humans. It's more difficult with you."

I stared balefully back, rolling my eyes. "I thought we already had a conversation about lying?"

"True," he agreed glibly. "But in the context of something important. This doesn't qualify."

Rolling my eyes again, I settled back into the chair. Smiling softly when Edward stroked my hand, I immediately stiffened when he snatched his arm away. Snapping my attention to him, I followed his gaze. Edward stared fixedly at the same group of soccer players, lips parted slightly in a snarl. An almost inaudible growl rumbled from his chest as he glared, eyes seeming to emit sparks.

"Edward," I hissed, urgently grabbing his shoulder. "Behave!"

Unwillingly, he turned back to me, eyes apologetic but still retaining traces of their former fury.

"What's the matter?"

"Them," he responded tersely, chancing another glance at the boys.

"Do you care to be more specific?" I pursued, annoyed.

Amusement flickered into his enigmatic gaze as he interpreted my tone. "Their thoughts. They are very— childish."

I raised my eyebrows questioningly, knowing the answer to my next question before I asked it. "Childish as in two year-olds or childish as in immature eighteen year-olds?"

Edward looked at me, eyes narrowed. "You know."

"Yes, I do," I replied agreeably. "But it's funny to hear you say it."

He growled again, eyes sliding back to the group. "Edward, honestly," I sighed in exasperation. "I can't hear what they're saying. Or thinking," I amended. "It doesn't bother me."

"Well, it bothers me."

"Do you really think there's any competition? If you do, that superiority complex just have turned into an inferiority complex."

"No," he admitted grudgingly. "But it's annoying."

"You have nothing to worry about," I slid a furtive glance that I knew Edward wouldn't miss at the soccer jocks. "Besides. I don't tend to be attracted to guys wearing canary yellow."

For a moment, it looked as if he was unsure to snarl or laugh. The latter won, and he pulled me into his lap, chuckling warmly. "Alright. I'll behave."

"You'd better," I grumbled. "Now if you don't mind, I need some beauty sleep."

Edward chuckled, pulling closer. I rested me cheek contentedly against his hard chest, breathing evenly. I bit my lip to keep from smiling as Edward's lips smoothly trailed down my hair. "And I'll watch you sleep. If you don't mind."

Chewing the inside of my cheek, I composed my expression into a serene mask. Even if I could sleep, it would have been impossible with Edward gently stroking my hair and back.

After a few minutes of contented peace, Alice's typically musical voice broke into our happy reverie. "Not that discussing allergies and men's sporting wear aren't riveting topics of discussion, I thought you'd might like to know we're boarding soon."

I opened my eyes, searching for Alice. She was perched lightly on the edge of the chair, gazing around the passing people with a look of vague interest on her face. I flinched slightly as particularly inviting scent came into my senses, stiffening. Edward's arms tightened around me, and I shut my eyes firmly.

"It's alright, Bella," he murmured softly. I mutely nodded, reluctantly scooting of off his lap. Stiffly I climbed to my feet, warily breathing. Edward rose after me, gently resting his hand on my shoulder. I twisted slightly to glance at him. His bronze hair was in its normal disarray, strands falling lightly over his forehead. Smiling, I gently pulled them to the side, my hand skimming against his jaw line.

He chuckled, snapping his head up as the flight attendant announced that the flight was boarding. "Ask Alice," I murmured, turning. Edward's melodic chuckle sounded behind me as I slung my duffle bag over my shoulder, making a conscious effort not to accidentally toss it the length of the airport terminal.

"Shall we?" I asked, mock formal.

"Ladies first," he smiled back, holding out his arm as if the escort me. Taking it, he bowed elegantly, completely ignoring the bemused stares he got from strangers.

Grinning, I had taken one step towards the boarding area when the local news came on, reaching me easily.

"Hello and welcome to news at ten o'clock." I didn't turn to watch the television mounted on the wall, but I could tell the anchor was a female and middle-aged. "In news today, we have the report that a woman, Anna Wilson, was killed in a tragic car accident earlier today. Anna, mother of one child, was killed when driving down the highway on her way home from work when she took a head on head collision with another car. A lane of traffic was closed down as the police and ambulance arrived, but Anna was pronounced dead on the scene." The lady's voice was –pleasant but detached, containing just the right amount of pity. "Anna's only daughter, Ellen, is to be left in the custody of her stepfather, Phil Dwyer."

I stopped dead in my tracks, breath catching in my throat. Whipping around, I managed to briefly catch a glimpse of a picture of a young teenage girl, blonde hair falling in curling waves over her shoulders.

"Phil Dwyer, married to Anna Wilson for a couple of months, has opted for custody of Ellen. Though the court ruling has yet to be officiated, it is believed he will win the suit on the basis that Ellen has no surviving blood relatives. On other news today, the War in Iraq is…"

But her voice had faded off into the distance. Vaguely, I felt Edward's arm over my own, restraining me. Strangely blurred imaged crashed through my mind.

Phil, yelling, screaming.

Phil, his arms raised to strike a woman whose face wasn't quite clear.

Phil, his leering face too close.

His voice, echoing back to me.

The feel of his hands as he struck me…

The rage that had boiled inside as I had watched him hit my mother….

The emotions cascaded into me faster than I could keep track of. Dimly, I was aware the entire family had stopped.

But all I could do was stare into space.

I saw the picture again. The depiction of that girl, Ellen Wilson. Her smile happy and slightly nervous. Her brown eyes laughing a little unsurely. Her hair, gently falling over her shoulders.

All I could see was her smiling, innocent face.

No.

The word echoed through my mind.

No.

I would not allow what happened tome happen to her. I would not let my story become another's.

She would never hold that same look as before her mother died. That I knew with a deep conviction I could not give words to. But I wouldn't let even more sorrows be added to that face which must have changed so drastically within such a short amount of time.

I wouldn't.

No.

I had been fortunate enough to have a happy ending. But I had been lucky. How much luck was there left in the world for girls like her?

As if receiving as vision like Alice, I could clearly picture her face in a few years. Closed, guarded. Those eyes that had once laughed to gaily now holding a quiet yet tragic sadness that she would never admit to.

The best she could ever hope for was a bittersweet ending.

No.

I had to do something. I wanted to scream, wanted to yell at the world for being so cruel. For being so twisted.

Breathing deeply, I vaguely became aware of Edward holding me in a vice-like grip. The hum of voices that had so annoyed me before seemed to be oddly muted. As if I was listening to them from underwater.

Bittersweet.

But it would be just bitter.

I realized then, that my past wasn't truly closed off. Not until this was finished. Not until I had stopped this.

I didn't know what I was planning, what I was going to do. How I was going to do it.

But it didn't matter.

I had tried to run from my past. But it had caught up with me in one swift blow, I might as well not have even tried.

I could walk away.

The thought occurred to me suddenly. I could leave those painful memories behind. I don't have to reopened the wounds that are so fragilely healed.

The girl's face came back to me again.

No I couldn't.

Bittersweet.

It kept echoing in my mind.

Life was rarely anything but that.

But it wouldn't be just bitter.

Closing my eyes, I didn't know what to do. How to do it.

Breathing deeply, the phrase repeated itself to me, over and over again.

Bittersweet.

Smiling grimly, I opened my eyes.

It was time to take care of some old business.

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I can't think of any witty remarks at the moment. I was redoing my profile with some quotes, and they are making anything I happen to be thinking of at the moment seem rather insignificant...

Until then,

Lon-Dubh