Yes, the whole abuse thing sounds cliche, but, in a weird way, I don't control my imagination. Everything just pops into existence in there. And there's a reason cliches become cliches, after all.

Some info: Charlie's not the dad in the story. I just can't picture the big guy doing things like this, honestly. So, we shall call this father... Gabe. Just Gabe. And an advance warning--a lot of the stuff at the beginning, like some explanations for positions, are going to be pretty damn passe, but they're not essential to the plotline, mostly.

The overall inspiration for this story: music. Mayday Parade and We the Kings, thank you. And, of course, Dashboard Confessional.

Disclaimer: Because she's cool like that, Stephenie Meyer came up with Twilight. I know, I know, it sounds really weird. But that's why her name's in capital letters on the front covers of all three (soon to be four) books. Crazy, huh?

This chapter's basically all the background stuff that you need to know, so there's going to be a lot of flashbacks and explanations.

Note: AU--all human.


I could never be sure when he would come at me--I mean, it wasn't like he was relentlessly violent every night. Sometimes it was just childish,in a way; a shove here, a trip there. After all of these years with Gabe, still I had yet do discern even a hint of warning before the hatred would take over, controlling his fist, feet, arms in such an enraged manner. But since my mother had passed away, things had gotten worse. There was no more of her gentle caresses and soft, musical murmurings of Sweeney Todd's "Not While I'm around." One of the memories of her life that came back to me the most involved this song, but not at all in a pleasant way. Easily, it qualified as one of the worst.

I was on Renee's hip, my eight year old eyes streaming tears. She was running toward the closet, a room we frequented when Gabe was in a particularly bad mood. Today, though, was bad. Very bad. My mothers cheeks were almost as wet as mine, and her breath came in short, erratic bursts. Soon, we reached our destination, my father roaring not far away, and locked the door behind us, collapsing into a corner where Renee pressed her face into my hair, struggling to control her sobs.

"Nothing's gonna harm you--" There came a loud bang on the door. I whimpered.

"Open up!" Another bang. "Come on! You can't hide forever!"

I could feel my mother's hands arms moving to let her hands cover my ears, but we both knew that it would help nothing. "Not while I'm around..."

The banging was relentless now. It was the sound that would haunt my nightmares for years to come. "Open the damn door, Renee!"

"No one's gonna hurt you..." She was singing into my ear, now, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. "No one's gonna dare..."

For a moment, there was silence. The pounding of fists and feet on the door had stopped, but that couldn't be it. There was no way...


Then, without warning, something much more durable than Gabe's body rammed into the wood. I cried out in fear, clutching myself tightly to my mother. Again, the earsplitting sound came. A sob tore from Renee.

"Others can desert you, not to worry, whistle I'll be there."

Her voice was almost lost against the sound of splintering wood. We didn't have too much longer, we could tell that much. The door was giving in.

"Nothing can harm you..." There was a hole in the door, and Gabe's hand charged into it, feeling for the lock.

"Not while I'm around..."

And then the door was open.

Several of my mothers ribs had cracked under the blows, that day. When we took her to the hospital, we said that, chasing after me, Renee had skidded on the landing of our apartment building and tumbled down the stairs. At this, the doctor had given me a severe look that clearly showed his impression of children, and walked away to tend to the injuries. He could do nothing for her, however, not emotionally at least. She began to rapidly fade, and died just after my ninth birthday. Every detail of that ordeal has been indelibly burned into my brain, but the sharpest words of all were the ones that came back most.

"Self Neglect."

That's what they had said, dammit. That, they said, was what killed her, but I was helpless in proving them wrong.

Had I been alone throughout all of this, I don't doubt for one moment that I would have killed myself, but I was not alone.

From the moment that I had met Edward Masen, I knew that we would be each other's friends forever, and quite possibly the only ones either of us would have. It had been the first day of the first grade, and our meeting had gone something like this:

"There's a bruise on your neck." That was him, with his eyes narrowed in the look of concentration that I soon came to appreciate.

"I know." And me, the girl in the ratty blue sweater who always kept her head down.

"Where'd it come from?" He rocked back and forth on his heels.

"I'm not s'posed to talk to strangers."

"I'm Edward Masen. My daddy was a doctor. Now we ain't strangers no more. How come you got hurt?" Really, the sweet kid had looked concerned.

"I was standing in front of the door. Then Ga--my daddy came and accident'ly made it hit me."

"Oh." He thought for a moment. "What's your name."

"Isabella Swan."

"Imma call you Bella."

"Everyone does."

And that was the first time I had met Edward Masen. Ever since, we had been inseperable, been there through everything for each other. And when Edward became old enough to comprehend violence and the extremeness of it, he had managed to figure out my secret. I made him pinky swear to never tell a soul, no matter how bad it got, and he made good on that promise. He knew what it was like to have a sucky life--I mean, he didn't get... abused or anything, but his stepmother had never really been much of a mother at all. She just kind of ignored him while she went out and partied, smoked, and brought strangers home, which, I came to find out, was not the way he'd been brought up by his father, a former doctor, who had been killed in a knife fight that had erupted in the emergency room one day while his son was in kindergarten. That must have been hard, having a great life, only to have everything ripped away.

So we grew up together; he tended my wounds, both emotional and physical, while I would be the one to show him that I cared in as many ways as possible. Eventually, our friendship evolved into something more. It began when I would sneak over to his house at night and sleep with him, and I don't mean have sex with him sleep with him, I mean literally sleeping. Or talking, depending on how tired we both were. I was pretty sure that Gabe never noticed--he left for work early--and if he ever did, he didn't really care. Tanya, Edward's stepmother, had walked in on us one day as we were waking up, but she just snorted and muttered something like "clever little bastard."

I'll never forget the day I kissed him for the first time. It was a magical kiss, the kind that many girls would die to have. You see, Edward and I have this game where one of us will start singing a song out of thin air, and then the other has to sing the next line, and so on and so forth until the song is done. Sometimes it cheers you up, sometimes it makes you laugh, and sometimes it annoys the hell out of you, but you have to play the game forever once you start it.

There's no going back, Edward had once told me with a desperate look in his eyes. It's something you have to pull all the way through with, no matter what.
We'd been fighting that day in the seventh grade--something we do often enough to have a healthy friendship--and he'd tried to pacify me by starting a round, but I'd refused. The look in his eyes as he'd said that, though, melted me, and I'd belted the words out, wondering if I was only beginning to grasp what this game meant to Edward. Anyways, it wasn't long after that incident that we were playing round after round one day, when I decided to whip out one of my favorites.

I closed my eyes, biting my lip and concentrating hard, trying to find the perfect song to get back at him.

"Don't bust your light, little firefly," he teased me as I frowned in thought. "Just choose a song!"

"But I can't..." I began, opening my eyes and starting to raise my hands in exasperation. But then, I smiled--his words had given me inspiration--beginning smugly:

"And you said it would be funny to keep me hanging in suspense."

He smiled, knowing that this was a song I could listen to over and over again and probably sing backwards, too. (A/N: One Man Drinking Games, Mayday Parade. The inspiration for this entire story. There's a link to the song on my profile. Seriously, to get the depth of this scene and how much is communicated between them just while they sing, you have to be listening to the song.) "Then I'd run over to your house," he responded. "And I'd scale the chainlink fence."

"That borders your back yard, and then I'd climb through your window."

"And I'd whisper that I love you as you fall out of your clothes." He blushed a bit on that line, but neither of us really had problems talking about those sorts of things. It's not like we'd never skinnnydipped together when we were little.

"And we'd lay there in the darkness like this dream of you I had."

"Where we captured all the fireflies, and knew what time we had." There, that was the line that had popped into my head when the song came to me.

"Could be counted on our fingertips, and that almost made you cry."

"But you let me hold you tightly as we said all our goodbyes." Edward seemed a bit sad, all of the sudden, putting one hand briefly on my arm.

"May I say I loved you more?" I turned to look at him, trying to read his expression. (A/N: Ha. I'm too lazy to make them repeat lines that need to be repeated. No disrespect to the song, though.)

"And it must of been and hour that I clutched you in my arms."

"And I must have said the right things, because you instantly felt warm." I put my hand on his shoulder, and he moved his own to cover mine, squeezing my fingers gently.

"And you heard my heart stop beating, but you wanted not to cry." The sadness that Edward held deep in his eyes seemed to be resurfacing, and all I could think to do was to rest my cheek against his fingers, letting my knose skim across the knuckles.

"As your sympathetic whispers told a tale of bad goodbyes."

"You swore you heard me laughing and I swore I saw you smile." My hearstrings felt liket hey were being tugged at, by this point. I angled my head downward, hoping that he couldn't see the tears brimming in my eyes.

"As the time we've spent together was meant to last us quite a while."

"As I take this piece of you with me I'll carry to my grave." A bead of liquid slid down my cheek.

"And knowing that for someone, you're an angel sent to save." Edward reached over and brushed it away, then let his hand slide down to cup my neck.

"Keep Breathing my angel, if you go down I go with you." More tears came as Edward began his set of the repeating and overlapping lines.

"May I say I loved you more?" At this point, I knew that I would start sobbing soon, and normally I would have excused myself. But the electricity generated between our skin was too much to let go.

"Keep breathing, just keep breathing." I kept saying the lines over and over again as he said his, but the adrenaline in my veins knew what was coming.

"May I say I loved you more?"

Then I turned my face up, and his lips met mine.

We broke apart for a moment, searching in each other's eyes, but the kiss started again with much more vigor. I shifted my position so that I could move my hands into his hair while one of his stayed on my neck and the other slid down to my waist. For how long we stayed like that, I don't know, but there was still unfinished business to attend to.

"So let's drink to memories we share."

"Down one for all the hopes and cares." He was murmuring into my ear, his lips brushing the lobe lightly and sending chills down my spine. Only then did I realize I'd been crying the whole time.

"Here's two for being unaware that you're gone." No, that line didn't fit. He'd always be there.

"Because before too long you'll be a memory." Edward seemed to be thinking the same thing.

"Lets drink to the memories that we shared."

"Before too long you'll be a memory."

"Down one to all the hopes and cares."

"Because before too long you'll be a memory."

"Here's two for being unaware..."

"I said before too long you'll be a memory."

"That you're gone."

"I said before too long you'll be a memory."

And then the song was over.

Moments passed in a peaceful silence, the kind that I came to associate with the aftermath of sweet rushes of adrenaline. Then:



"We will have a happy ending," he said, and I knew he was telling not just me, but himself, too.

We both believed it.

So, what did you think? Tell me, tell me, tell me! I don't care if Cookie Monster popped into your head while you were reading this, I want to know!

And seriously, listen to the song. Everything makes so much more sense when you do.

Oh, yes I do know that I skipped a lot of lines on "Not While I'm Around." But I don't think Renee would've wanted to sing to her kid about "prowling demons" at a time like that.

Also; I think I need to elaborate on "The Game" a little bit more, but I couldn't find a place to fit it in the story. So here goes: First, you don't always have to just sing a line of the song. It can be a verse or a random amount until the other person buts in, or anything else. Secondly, in the future Edward might just sing a song to Bella, or vice versa. Just because you've started The Game doesn't mean that every time someone starts singing something, you have to play. And thirdly, and very importantly, the flashback of their first kiss is crucial to remember. This is the point at which Edward fully and completely understands what The Game means in their lives, what it represents.

And are Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart dating? On those videos they seemed like they went really well together.

Read and review. Like now. Tell me what you thought, or I'm not doing another chapter. (: