Learning To Fall
A Twilight fanfic by Starfire Star
Epilogue: A Catch
It's my birthday, September 13th. I am sitting at my keyboard, typing away on one of my assignments, while my roommate Angela ponders the latest box of chocolate and card that arrived at our door an hour before. She is tearing open the box, and her eyes are sparkling. She holds out the box to me, saying, "Hey, it's your birthday! You can eat whatever you want." I shake my head—most of the chocolates are fruit-flavoured.
"Oh my goodness, Bella! I swear I've never been on a date before. Not even in high school—I wasn't much of a social butterfly. And now, here, I go on one date and already I'm getting chocolate!" Angela sounds as if she's close to tears. She falls back onto her bed, completely smitten, and I feel so happy for her. She always told me of stories in high school, where she was labeled one of the wallflowers, and it was true—here at UCLA, her life did a complete turnaround.
"I think I'm in love with Ben," she confides in me, pushing up her rose-coloured glasses. "This has never happened to me. I honestly cannot believe it… maybe fairytales really do happen…" She sits up abruptly, a look of horror on her face. "I'm so sorry!" she apologizes to me, and I frown as I prop my elbow on the desk and put my head on it.
"Why are you sorry?" I ask, confused. She sighs. "I keep talking about him, and it could make you feel sad about Edward…" I laugh, and suddenly a look of admiration crosses her face. "Don't worry," I reassure her. "Everything's fine. I'm not sad one bit."
"Good," Angela grins, "Because we are going out clubbing tonight! It's your birthday, and we should celebrate, whether we're experienced club-goers or not."
I frown at her. "We're not even of age. That's a stupid idea!"
Alice is supposed to arrive at one o'clock. We're scheduled to go out for lunch, and then Alice will treat me to 'some shopping, because you know how much you love it!', and then a movie. Alice also, as Angela told me later, was enthusiastic about the club idea. She had already made the arrangements for Angela and me to get fake IDs. Alice already had one. She had also already booked a room at the club.
But first we must get some studying done. Angela and I both have tests in three days, and neither of us is willing to let our grade drop for a one-night-only clubbing on a whim. Angela lies on her stomach on the bed, textbook open, and I could tell she's absorbing every word. I, on the other hand, am having far more difficulty.
I had never made birthdays a big deal in the past, and today, was no different. The only different fact was that Alice was flying in to see me. I couldn't conceal my excitement—I am jittery, and it shows. Finally, I stand up, stretch, shut my books, and ask Angela if she wants anything from Starbucks. Angela looks up from her phone, on which she is texting, and shakes her head. "You go ahead and get whatever you want," she says to me, a hint of a smile on her face, and turns back to texting. "I don't feel the need to take a break just yet."
I nod and just as I am about to open the door, a man delivery man is there, carrying an enormous bouquet of flowers. "Angela!" I call over my shoulder as the man seems to be struggling with his clipboard and pen. "I think you have another bouquet here for you." The man makes a gesture with the pen and says from behind the bouquet, trying to peek around it, "I'm afraid, not, miss. Are you Isabella Swan?"
"Yes," I reply, astonished as I take the pen from him and sign off on the clipboard. "These are from you. Special delivery, all the way from New Hampshire. Enjoy!" He hands me the bouquet and I am having just a bit of trouble with it. I hurriedly place it on the desk next to the doorway and Angela jumps off her bed, excited.
"These are beautiful! Freesia, lilac, roses…" She murmurs as I take the card placed inside the bouquet and read it.
"To Bella—have an amazing eighteenth birthday. We're sorry we weren't there to celebrate it with you. And we're sorry we didn't send two bouquets. All our love, Jasper & Rosalie," I read out loud. I am such a softie—my body feels warm and a lump appears in my throat. I miss them so much.
"You have amazing friends," Angela remarks as she looks at the card. She gestures to the photos on my desk—photos that were taken on a beach and some at the house the week before we all left for our respective colleges. Angela and I automatically walk over to them to admire them once more. There's the photo of Rosalie and I—not exactly looking like the best of friends, but smiling nonetheless. We are on the beach, and sitting on two beach chairs. Rosalie looks stunning—her blonde hair is radiant—but I don't look too bad myself. My cheeks have colour.
We look at the others—Emmett and I making a funny face at the camera in front of the house, Jasper and I sitting at the table eating breakfast. And then there's me and Edward, his arms wrapped around me as the picture is taken on the roof of the house…" Tears already brim my eyes, and I scold myself.
Angela and I silently look at the last photograph, the one of all of us—we are perfectly posed—the girls are sitting while the guys are standing behind us. We are smiling, picture-perfect smiles, while I knew we were all trying to suppress tears and sadness. It was our last day together.
"Bella," Angela says, arm around my shoulder, "You shouldn't feel sad!" I guess she noticed the tears. "It's your birthday!"
"I'll cry if I want to," I joke, and Angela gives me a playful shove. "Go out and get a cup of Joe, for goodness sakes. I don't want tears here." I laugh a shaky laugh and soon am out the door. I stream past the bulletin board laden with ads for missing items, jobs, tutors, and parties. I am walking down the street, walking so quickly, but feeling as if I couldn't get to Starbucks fast enough. But I turn the corner and see the familiar sign. I am relieved. I am so occupied with getting in the door that I don't see a tall guy carrying a cup of coffee, leaving the shop, and bump into him.
"I am so sorry!" I apologize, looking first at his shirt to make sure that he hadn't spilled anything. And then I hear a chuckle. I look up and Emmett is grinning at me, and I throw my arms around him. "Emmett!" I shout, and he just laughs even harder. "You look stressed, and it's your birthday," he comments before I could get to more serious matters. "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be at school? Aren't you busy?" Emmett grins even wider and shakes his head.
Alice strides out the door, wearing sunglasses, her black hair short and layered, and is wearing a yellow dress and leggings. She looks absolutely amazing, and is texting on her cell phone in one hand, carrying a cup of tea in the other. "Emmett, I told you you're not here to hit on girls," she says without even looking up. "And I don't think Rose would appreciate it." We gape at her for a minute before she looks up, sees me, and shrieks. "Bella!"
I reach over and hug her small figure. She grins at me and takes her sunglasses off. "I've been dying to wear this stuff for months. I finally have the opportunity," she sings to me, and I laugh. "Happy Birthday!" they both chorus, and I am smiling so hard my face hurts.
They usher me inside and I order the cheapest thing, as I have been ever since I arrived, despite Emmett and Alice's protests to treat me. We sit at a table and they are smiling so wide and abnormally that I look at them strangely.
"Guys," I say to them, glancing back and forth, "Stop that. It's freaking me out."
"We're just happy to be here, honestly," Emmett says, throwing his hands up. I give him a suspicious eye before turning to Alice. "Don't get me wrong, I love Emmett being here and all, but I thought you were flying here alone."
"Why fly why you can just drive?" Alice asks me, sipping her tea. "I didn't want to waste money on a plane ticket. And I don't exactly like taking my Porsche out, and Emmett wasn't busy anyway. We decided to take his Jeep…"
"Ah," I nod. Alice and Emmett glance at each other before glancing back at me. "Are you sure this is okay? Are you sure you're not sad?" Alice asks me, her eyes wide. I shake my head and roll my eyes. "Honest, guys, why would I be sad on my birthday? Especially when two of my favourite people in the world are here?"
"Well," Emmett says, "Because Edward—" Alice nudges him quickly before he can continue. "It's no big deal," I shrug, staring at my coffee. "I've made it clear that it's not a big deal, right?" Alice and Emmett are silent. I sigh. Way to kill the mood. But Emmett winks at a passing blonde in a short skirt and Alice hits him on the head. "Hey!" Emmett yelps in protest. I laugh, and suddenly the mood is lifted.
"You and Rosalie…"
"Hey," Emmett says, shrugging. "We're taking things slow. Besides, does this really count as anything when she looks like Rose…?"
"Speaking of which…" Alice whips out her phone and checks her messages. "None from Jasper," she sighs. Emmett takes out his own phone, and returns a missed call from Rosalie. "Hey, babe…" he says as soon as she answers. I can't help but try to think of other things, besides my own misery. I couldn't check my own phone because I left it in the dorm room. Alice flips her phone shut and smiles at me, saying, "We're going to buy you a hot outfit, whether you like it or not. Or at least, I am." She winks. My stomach sinks.
"You guys… I've been meaning to ask…" I am more anxious now; my stomach is becoming a pit of darkness. Alice and Emmett watch me as I bite my lip. "How's the house?" I finally ask. Alice and Emmett glance at each other. They do not live in the boarding house anymore; they live in a small apartment in Seattle.
"I'll understand if you guys haven't seen it in awhile, you do live in Seattle, it's just that… Charlie told me he plans to rent it out to tourists in the area."
Alice nods. "We miss it. We've only been down for a weekend. He and Helena are doing pretty well, actually. Nothing's really changed. It's only been a little over two weeks since we all left."
"Bella… by the way, Helena isn't pregnant," Emmett tells me. "Alice happened to ask her out of the blue when we stayed at the house. Thank God Helena wasn't offended, though. Alice can be so blunt."
Alice rolls her eyes. "Charlie tells me Mike Newton still pines for you?"
"Can we not start on that? I wish I hadn't given him my email."
Hours later, I am sitting at the small desk in me and Angela's dorm room, and am being primped and fussed over within an inch of my life. I have to admit, I'm not exactly crazy about the process. I'm not exactly crazy about the rest of my birthday. We did not have a chance to go to the movies because Alice insisted on going from store to store, picking out clothes, then shoes, then make-up, then a bag… Alice is working on my hair and Angela is applying some foundation to my face. Angela looks about as confused as I am as Alice gives her instructions. We stare at each other in the mirror while Alice curls my hair and give each other panicked looks. After a moment, we both crack up.
Emmett is at a gym working out, Alice said, because he felt the need after a couple of hours in a car. She frowns as she applies some mousse to my hair, and glares at the door as someone knocks on it. Angela leaves to answer it, and opens the door to reveal Rosalie and Jasper, looking a bit lost but relieved as they see our shocked faces.
Alice lets out a yelp and drops my hair, running to Jasper and throwing her arms around him. Jasper looks slightly embarrassed, and Rosalie steps in the door cautiously, giving me an uncertain smile. I smile back. "Happy birthday," she greets me, and she looks amazing. I am still shocked. I couldn't believe that they had flown all the way here for my birthday.
"Thank you so much, Rose. You didn't have to come all the way out here for my birthday…"
Rosalie laughs and shakes her head. "I came here to make sure Emmett—to make sure that you had an amazing birthday, with all of us here to celebrate it." She seems to regret what she said. "I mean…" I shake my head. "Don't. It's fine."
Alice is still hugging Jasper, and Angela asks, "Um, do you two need a private moment…?" Alice laughs and shakes her head. Jasper looks embarrassed, but pleased nonetheless. "Happy birthday, Bella," he says over Alice's shoulder. "I see you received the flowers." I grin and Alice grabs his hand and leads him away, saying, "Rose, finish Bella's hair, won't you?"
Rose nods. I introduce her to Angela and Angela proceeds to ask her how going to school in New York is like. Rose shrugs. "It isn't as thrilling and exciting to me since I've lived there my whole life, but I do enjoy being back after the summer."
"Is anyone hungry? I sure am," Angela says suddenly, finishing off the eye shadow on my eyes and picking up her cell phone. "I'm going to phone for a pizza. Anyone want anything special?" We shrug, saying anything would be fine. Angela realizes she does not have the number to the pizza place. I don't either and she goes into the hallway to check the Yellow Pages.
As Angela shuts the door, Rosalie says casually, "So Greg called me."
I look at her in the mirror, shocked. "What happened?"
"He says that things are rocky with his wife… he wanted me to meet him. I refused, obviously," Rosalie says, clicking her tongue. "But I don't know if I should tell Emmett, or not, because I know it would just make him upset if I told him. But then he might feel even more offended by me not telling him, and so forth."
"You should tell him. I think Emmett will be upset, but he'll be happier that you trust him enough to tell him. Plus, he knows you would never go back to Greg," I reply. Rosalie sighs and nods.
Alice dances in, happily praising my 'make-over', Rosalie looking satisfied at her job. I wonder why Alice did not say anything about my face already. Angela hadn't finished, and I wonder why Alice did not bite her head off. Instead, Alice simply picks up a tube of lip gloss and applies it to my lips, and does something to them after I complain that they're too shiny for my taste. Rosalie laughs, and Jasper comes in, guitar strapped onto his back.
"You look beautiful," Jasper agrees, and I thank him with a smile. As always, he is carrying a book under his arm. I wonder if he will come to the club with us. I wonder how long everyone will stay. I worry about where everyone will sleep. Suddenly a funny look crosses Jasper's face. He is still in the doorway, and he looks behind him anxiously. "You stink, man," Jasper says and frowns. A grumble from the hallway tells me Emmett has returned.
Rosalie's eyes widen as Emmett comes in, takes his gym bag, and heads for the shower. Angela looks alarmed, and Rosalie looks outraged. "Who the hell do you—" she begins.
"Oh, hey baby."
"What do you mean, 'hey baby'?" Rosalie asks in disbelief. "Are you kidding me, Emmett? Aren't you even happy that I'm here?"
"I am happy. I'm just going to take a shower and then be happy. I feel pretty disgusting right now." Jasper laughs and Alice looks at Rosalie. Rosalie looks as if she is trying to calm down. Emmett goes into the washroom and Jasper looks uncomfortable coming in. I assure him he's allowed, and he comes in to look at the photos on my desk. He smiles fondly, looking at a picture of him, Alice and me, him playing the guitar, Alice looking absolutely awe-struck, and me, staring out into the sky.
"Don't you miss it?" Rosalie asks him as she catches him looking. Jasper nods. "I do, although it's been hard to think of anything else while studying..." his gaze wanders over to Alice, who is at my laptop, checking her email.
"Bella," Jasper says to be quietly, so quietly that I didn't even notice he was talking to me until a moment later. I look at him and say, "Yes?"
He does not say a word. He takes his guitar out and plays me his acoustic rendition of "Happy Birthday". It sounds beautiful—his voice is amazing, listening to it live. Alice watches interestedly between typing on the laptop. Her eyes twinkle every time they meet Jasper, and I can't help but feel slightly disheartened. But as the song ends, I smile and we all burst into applause. "Thank you," I say to Jasper, and I go over to him and give him a hug.
At that moment, Emmett comes out of the bathroom, dressed and bathed, and I can smell his cologne. Rosalie stares at him with an indecipherable expression, and as I look at her, I realize she is wearing a short dress under the knee-length pea coat. Emmett grins at her, and Rosalie suddenly says, "Emmett and I will go on ahead and take a cab to the club. We'll meet you there."
"Okay," Alice agrees. "Make sure you ask for the room under the reservation, Swan, so that…" Rosalie nods hurriedly and she and Emmett escape the tiny dorm, Emmett winking at us as he follows Rosalie out the door.
Alice laughs and checks her make-up in the mirror. I wonder where Angela is, she must have finished ordering the pizza by now. Alice and Jasper do not seem to notice how long she is gone. But then, as soon as I think to ask Alice, Angela comes into the room, looking slightly harried.
"Bella…" she begins nervously. "I hope you don't mind, but can Ben come to your birthday?" Seeing Angela's hopeful face, I agree. "Of course. Is he going to come here, or…?"
"Actually, he's already headed down there," Angela admits. "By the way, pizza should come in about…"
"It's taking too long," Alice interrupts. "Maybe we should just cancel it. We should be leaving soon, in any case. You'll be able to grab something on the way." Angela bites her lip and nods. Jasper goes downstairs to hail a cab while Alice and Angela gather the things they'd need. I grab my own too-expensive purse and stuff some money, keys and phone in there. Alice thrusts a compact in there as well. We do a quick sweep of the dorm to make sure there are no safety hazards (upon insistence of Angela) and we turn off the lights. Alice is talking on her phone and Angela leads the way down the stairs, when I realize I do not have my ID.
"I'll just go back upstairs for a second," I say to Angela and Alice. "Go on ahead, I'll be quick, I promise." I realize that in order to get out of going to the club, I should have not remembered. But it is too late. Alice and Angela just smile and nod and I dash upstairs, opening the door and turning the lights on. I shut the door behind me as I make my way to my nightstand, searching the little card with my face and info on it. Someone knocks on the door, and it must be Angela or Alice. They must have forgotten something too.
But then a voice calls, "Pizza delivery!"
I sigh. I thought Alice had already cancelled it when she was talking on her phone. I throw the door open, saying, "We cancelled it…"
And come face to face with him.
My stomach immediately moves around and my heart leaps. "You're not the pizza delivery boy," I breathe, and his crooked grin makes my face burst into flames. "Hey, that was my line from the very beginning," he says to me.
He is dressed in suit and is looking amazing and charming and handsome and perfect. "Edward," I murmur as he comes in the door, immediately wrapping his arms around my waist and kissing me. "How on earth did I deserve this?"
"It's your birthday; I wouldn't miss it for the world," he replies, taking a hold of my face and kissing me again. I eagerly press myself against him, and he chuckles. "Bella… you look… so…" he doesn't finish as I press my lips against his and pull him back, forcing him to come into the dorm.
We are moving backwards, and I feel as if I can't kiss him enough. But stupid, stupid me, I left my bag on the ground and I trip over it and we are falling but Edward catches me. I stare into his green eyes and grin. "Nice catch."
"I missed you, you know," I remark. He chuckles again, pushing a lock of hair out of my face. "I email you every day. Plus, I was up on the phone with you at 1 o'clock in the morning just to wish you a happy birthday."
"I know," I say and clutch his shirt. I pull myself closer to him. Funny, it's exactly how I felt like when I was in love with Jacob. I don't make comparisons, anymore. Because now, this love with Edward, it's more mature, and it suits me exactly right. We fit like two puzzle pieces in a puzzle. It is complete, even though he lives practically across the country. I find myself always missing him, but I also know how to stand on my own.
"Should we be heading over to this club?" Edward asks me hesitantly after a moment of silence. I contemplate, and say, "I don't really want to. Do you…?" Edward shakes his head. "It's your birthday. All that counts is I am with you. And to tell you the truth, I'm not too crazy about the whole club idea." I laugh, and I pull him onto the bed and he kisses me again, his lips trailing down to my neck and up again. I giggle like an immature tween and feel stupid doing so.
"What's so funny?" Edward murmurs. "Nothing," I cough out, and he suddenly gets off the bed. "Hey," I complain. "Come back. Do you want me to tell you why I was laughing?" Edward shrugs and reaches into his jacket pocket. "I'm just getting the first part of your birthday present. I was also going to get you flowers but…" His eyes trail toward the large bouquet on my desk.
"It's a gift from Jasper and Rosalie. It must've cost a lot," I admit, and Edward reassures me that it's okay. "You know, that's practically nothing compared to the gifts they've showered their friends in the past."
"Alice must've given them the memo."
"I know you don't like gifts, but don't worry, I didn't spend a lot of money on mine," Edward says. I groan inwardly. "You don't have to; really." Edward shakes his head. "Too bad, Bella. I already spent a lot of time on it."
He holds out a burnt CD in its jewel case and I take it, flipping it over in my hands and checking to see who the artist is. I give up and pop it into the CD player; the room fills with the sounds of a piano. It takes a moment for me to realize track one is Edward playing his song for me, and to my surprise, my eyes do not fill with tears. Instead, I fall onto the bed and Edward wraps an arm around my shoulders and I wrap my arms around him and am perfectly happy. "Thank you," I whisper. He just grins and nods.
After a moment of content silence, I say, "Edward—this gift is enough."
"No—I have another one for you," Edward disagrees.
"Please—it's fine, really."
"Oh, you don't have to accept it. Not right away." I narrow my eyes in suspicion. What is he talking about?
Edward reaches into his pocket and produces a black velvet box. He does not get down on one knee. Before he even says a word, I let out a small moan. Oh no… this was exactly how Jacob proposed to me…
"Please don't do this… not like this…" I say to him as he opens the box. Edward looks at me and says, with a slightly perplexed expression, "Oh, I'm not proposing to you."
I stare at him. "You're not?"
"No… this ring should be yours, Bella. As long as you have my heart it will always be yours," I sink with relief and glance at the ring in this hand. It is beautiful. It has a large oval face with many diamonds on it—timeless, one could say. "It was my mother's. This was the one I was having restored. You don't need to wear it," Edward adds as I gawk at it, touching the diamonds with one hand.
"It's absolutely amazing… are you sure you want me to have it?" I ask him timidly. Edward nods. "You thought I was proposing to you…" he says, and it sounds like a statement more than a question. He looks at me for a moment and asks, "Do you want to be proposed to?"
"No—I mean, do you? Well, of course not, I mean, we're so young but there was a ring and…" my voice trails off. "I always think of proposals when I see rings." I look down at my hands. "Sorry."
Edward chuckles. "You don't have to be sorry." I look at the ring and he takes it out of the box and slides it onto my finger. "So this is like 'insurance'?" I ask him, and he chuckles again. "I suppose you can view it that way."
"I don't know if I'll wear this all the time… I mean, it's a little… ostentatious, don't you think?" Edward shrugs. "Fine by me. My mother did have a taste for really gaudy jewelry."
I kiss him again. My body is shaking, and Edward tells me casually that he feels guilty for leaving everyone at the club. After another moment, we decide to take a cab and head over to the club location. After moving past the dancing bodies and already-drunk girls, we find the room. Everyone looks from me, grinning, and then to Edward, shocked looks on their faces.
"What are you doing here?" Emmett demands while Jasper grins. We head over to the table where Edward hugs Rosalie and Alice and I notice a waitress has been following us with shots.
She sets them down on the table and I ask Alice, "Where's Angela and Ben?"
"They went off together," Alice replies with a shrug. "Someplace. Have a shot!"
I pick up a shot glass of an unfamiliar substance and we raise them into the air. "A toast, a toast!" Emmett chants. Alice grins and clears her throat.
"To Angela and I, for deciding to do something illegal for Bella's birthday!" she exclaims, keeping her voice down. "And for getting Bella to actually come out to it!"
"To roommates," Jasper adds, and I realize my face hurts. I do not think I have stopped smiling since Edward came. He looks at me and grins that crooked smile I will forever love.
"To meeting new people," Rosalie says.
"To us," Emmett chimes in. "To us—now and forever."
"To us," we all agree. Edward reaches out and holds my hand. We raise our glasses, clink them together, and drink. I am complete.
Thank you all so much for the support you've given me. It's been almost a year since I started this story, and I cannot have been more blessed with the reviewers who have stuck by me since the beginning. I will be forever grateful. I wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day and a gigantic teddy bear named Emmett.