Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended.

The Vital Difference

By Fishous

Edward tapped his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel of his Volvo. Alice and Bella had been gone for a good half an hour longer than expected. Where were they?

What if something had happened to Bella, he worried. But they were shopping. What could be taking so long? Usually Bella tried to get in and out as fast as possible. He missed her.

Searching in the direction of the large department store that they had stepped in for a few small things, Edward found Alice's thoughts. It seemed that everything was fine. In fact, Bella actually seemed to be cooperating with Alice.

That was distressing enough for him to slide out of the car and start walking quickly towards the building. He weaved through the aisles, homing in on Alice's thoughts and Bella's heartbeat. He ignored the admiring thoughts of the mostly female shoppers as he passed them.

There they were, just ahead.

"What do you think of these?" his sister asked his love.

Bella took the package that Alice had offered her and studied it briefly. "No…I don't know if they have the right type here, Alice. No decent ones anyway." She handed it back.

"Well, if you can't get any of that type, then you might as well get the best of this type," Alice replied, presenting Bella with another selection. As he got closer, Edward realized it was a bundle of socks.

"Hello, Edward," Alice greeted him. Bella turned around from where she's been studying the wall of stockings, socks and slippers that she'd been perusing and gave him a smile. He loved that smile. Edward grinned back.

"Did you get lonely?" she teased him.

"I just wondered what you were up to," he answered simply, evading the actual question.

"I've been having trouble choosing."

"Between socks?" He was mystified, as he often was by Bella.

"It's a very important decision," Bella informed him.

Edward was about to ask for further illumination, but suddenly Alice cut in front of him.

"Here, Bella! Here! I found them!"

Bella examined the newest prospect. Her eyes lit up. 'They're perfect!" she declared after a moment.

Edward glanced at the parcel in her hand, and to the package she'd rejected not a minute ago, and back.

They were the exact same. He said as much to Bella, by now thoroughly bewildered.

"Oh no, they aren't" she answered. "These ones are better for me."

He waited for more.

"These ones have grips on the soles," she clarified.

His expression cleared, and the smile returned.