Chapter 20: Destiny, p. 2
a/n: Thanks for all of you who have stuck with the story. I appreciate your reviews and comments and questions.
a/n: just for this chapter, Rowena and Nalani are the grandma and grandaughter that Alice and Edward met in Hawaii the first time how figure out Edward's abilities.
a/n: I have on my profile page the chapter song, Zero 7's "Destiny" as well as links to pictures of Tahitian Black Pearls if you've never seen one.
from chap. 19:
Or the part about how I was hellbent on us taking this slowly, with us going on as business as usual. We'd had enough sacrifices in the last year in the name of love. I didn't want us to repeat the pattern.
This time around we'd do it right. Nothing drastic. Nothing extreme, or self sacrifical - because we knew how that ended up.
"Just remember Edward," I whispered in his ear."We're steering away from the operatic and miraculous, and setting our sights on monotony."
"Mediocrity even," he chimed in with a smile.
"Yeah, something like that."
Montony? Lives up to its name.
Mediocrity? Been there done that. For like the first twenty years of my life.
Living la vida loca? Got a little taste of it, and was ready to head back to the crazy.
The first four hours I was resolved, feeling self - satisfied after giving my "Tomorrow's Another Day" speech to an admiring Edward.
Take that Scarlett O'Hara.
But then I got home. To my twin bed with a crappy mattress. A cat who simply yawned with my arrival. Unblue walls.
And week-old quinoa and turkey bacon on my side of the fridge.
"Live a little Librarian Girl," I chanted as I did an about-face and headed back towards the front door. If I hurried, that Kosher Deli on the corner of Edward's street would still be open. Falafel, humuus, and Edward, all placed delightfully on his bed for a midnight snack....
But there was one little obstacle between me and my getaway plan....
"Where are you scurrying off to, looking all squirrely and shit?"
Angela sized me up with one scrunched eye.
"I need to go get some humuus." I picked up my pace.
"Where," she shot back, picking up her pace faster.
"Just like about 300 miles down the road..."
Within minutes, she had me restrained on our living room sofa and making me tell her the whole sordid tale of the past week.
"Did he finally tell you his big, dumb secret?"
"Did he tell you he was at Music Fest? And that he thought Paul was your boyfriend because you kissed him?"
"Did he tell you he thought you'd forgotten him?"
"And that he loved you?"
Then she heard about car crash near misses, and going back to Edward's.
The rest of the story didn't take too long to tell.
"Sleep. Eat. Talk. Love. Repeat."
"Well, the regiment's done you good. You look well rested, and there's a hint of post-coital glow on your cheeks there.."
Not to mention that my skirt felt a tad tight around the waist....
And then I confided in her things I couldn't confide to anyone else: about the fact that I didn't know how to proceed, if I was being honest with myself.
"My heart tells me to run back to the humuus and the boy. But my head reminds me how that worked out last time. That I need to get back to business as usual, and take this as slowly as possible so we do it right."
Angela just shook his head.
"Geesh, you guys are two peas in a dysfunctional pod. You're both stuck in this sort of romantic binging and purging cycle. Hey, here's a thought: how about instead of compulsive fixation or total deprivation, you choose.. moderation? Balance?"
Huh. Never even crossed my mind.
"Don't go rushing to live with him right away. Then he'll flunk out because you two will never get out of bed. Both of you stay put for the short term where you are, where your schools are. But start planning on how to close the distance gap. Be creative. Where there's a will, there's a way."
The next couple months months flew by.
I got back into the groove of my old life -with my old school, and old jobs, and old apartment. But we tinkered with that moderation thingy as much as possible.
Edward's school schedule was rigid, but he was able to work a more condensed schedule with his job. I did the same thing, changing some hours and classes around, which gave us most Fridays off, along with the weekend.
God bless good bosses rewarding good workers.
And on the days we weren't physically together, we talked on the phone constantly. It was different how we interacted, when we weren't in person. In some weird way, it was easier to talk about the harder things that were more easily pushed to the side when we were entangled on beds and couches. Things that Edward may have had a harder time admitting to face-to-face.
It was in those moments, late at night, in the dark, that we confided what scared us most. Our fears were the same - that the other would take off the rose-colored glasses one day and see what the rest of the world saw in the daylight.
A freak on his end.
An ordinary girl on mine.
We just had to keep reminding ourselves it was those fears that pushed eachother apart in the first place.
Edward and I took turns visiting eachother on our long weekends. Sometimes we met up halfway.
Monotony worked well in these instances - bedroom takeouted three day weekends never got old for us.
But it was time for us to venture out more. I had a feeling the only way for us to ease our deepest fears was to test them in the real world. That which does not kill you makes you stronger and all that good stuff.
We took baby steps at first - simple dinners with Angela and Ben. Ben showed Edward the Peter Pan with the noose he bought me. Edward cracked up and replied that "Peter Pan" got off easy.
"Well, before he got the noose, Angela and I played hacky-sack with him a couple times. It was Angela's version of a stressball."
Edward loved that most about Angela; how loyal she was to me, even if it put a bullseye on his forehead.
Ben and Edward eased into a true friendship.
Ben would tease him about his pretty boy look.
"Your hair, it's truly is one of the natural wonders of the world. Or else the result of hair products that cost more than my car."
Edward made fun of his penny pincher ways.
"Take Angela out to dinner without a coupon in your hand for once. Dammnit, man!"
Ben never strayed from his eight dollar barber. But Edward began to enjoy the delights of Thrifty Town. They'd take off on their own on Sunday mornings often, checking out garage sales. And if they had an especially successful outing, Ben would treat Edward to a Costco lunch.
But not at the snackbar, where lunch could be had for as cheap as a dollar and fifty cents. No, Ben had to make up the money he invested in the Costco membership fee by eating as many free samples as possible.
Edward soon became his partner in Costco double-dipping sample crime.
"They probably have your guys' mugshots on the side of the table to warn sample workers," Angela chided one day after they came home particularly full from Thai chicken wings and potstickers.
We watched from a window one Sunday morning as both of them washed our cars outside in the complex parking lot. Ben may have been careful with his money; but reliance and gesture wise, he was one of the most generous boyfriends around.
"Bella, does Edward have many friends?" Angela's face was serious, not a hint of sarcasm in it for once.
I shook my head no.
"Huh." She stared back at me for a moment before continuing. "You know, I didn't want to say this to you in the beginning. But I thought Edward was really weird in Hawaii. And once you guys started hanging out again around here, he only reinforced that impression."
I couldn't help but crack up - if she only knew the half of it.
"I mean, don't get me wrong. I still have moments where I feel like I'm talking to E.T. trapped inside the body of Aberchrombie model, which is jarring in and of itself."
She stopped herself, worried she offended me. Of course she hadn't - she was more perceptive about the divide between Edward's looks and demeanor than most.
Edward himself said as much.
"But, lately, I was thinking. It's not that he's weird, so much as somethings just don't come naturally for him. Like he's just learning how to do some of this stuff for the first time. Like being with you. Or being around us even, with you as a couple. I don't know if I'm making sense."
More than she realized.
"You know, that's probably why we work, Angela. We're both learning how to do some of this stuff for the first time together. We're what you call latebloomers. Don't let the Aberchrombie hair fool you."
We both looked back outside at the boys. Ben was scolding Edward for not turning off the hose while he scrubbed the hood.
"Cheap ass," Angela muttered, before we both cracked up.
"I think Ben's good for Edward," Angela added. "And I think Ben likes being good for Edward."
I couldn't have agreed more.
"If Edward should take learning cues from any boyfriend, I'd want it to be Ben. He's a keeper."
Angela sighed: "Now if Edward could get Ben to stop buying clothes from Costco just because he has a coupon for them. There's only so many aloha shirts you can own."
A couple months later....
Emmett ended up being the most gifted.
The somewhat obnoxious, overbearing, overly confident big brother of every boy's nightmares was the undercover genius in the family.
From the start, Bella and I had joined forces to figure out what to do with Edward.
After the last year, it became clear just how little he expected for himself. Even when life offered him more in the form of Bella, he'd rejected it.
He'd thought himself too damaged for her. And he was damaged in a way - all the secrecy over the years(his secrets, the secrets of others he'd been forcefully privy to without them even realizing it) had gotten the better of him.
We as a family hadn't even realized it.
Bella and I wanted to make sure he had enough support this time around to not let those demons get the better of him.
But there was one little complication.
He found out Emmett and I had told the whole family about him, even Jasper and Rose.
Edward was pissed, and not up for a big family, touchy-feely, healing reunion anytime soon once he found out.
I appealed to Emmett about what we should do.
"He feels too exposed. Betrayed, that we told a secret that wasn't even ours."
Emmett listened to all my concerns before answering. " Alice, it's going to be okay. You guys indulge his dramatic tendencies too much."
I thought this was Careless Emmett coming out again, and told him just that.
"I'm not being careless. I just think the more you guys feed into his abilities being this ominous thing that's going to cause his doom, the more he feeds into it as well. He starts giving it more power than it really has over him, and that's when all the shit hits the fan."
I didn't understand what he wanted us to do then, if he thought we were overreacting.
"You guys need to just chill and help him laugh at himself. The more he can laugh at it, the less hold it has over him. The less he thinks he's destined for some particularly tortured fate."
I didn't quite see how his solution would work in practice, until Emmett put it to the test.
We finally got Edward to come to dinner at our parents' house - mainly due to Bella's insistence.
He showed up, ready for some dramatic family intervention.
It was tense and quiet throughout the meal, until Emmett cleared his throat.
"So, let's not beat around the bush here, sister and brother dear. We all know now about what you guys have dealt with since you were kids. And that's understandable you guys wanted to keep it secret the whole time, not knowing how others would react. But shit, let's face it-you guys haven't made the most of your abilities. Talk about wasted talents..."
Chairs began to shift. Throats began to clear. It was sink or swim time for Emmett.
"I mean Jasper and me were talking about this the other day. We both have mortgages, future weddings to finance, extra mouths to feed in the next couple of years. If we had that X-Men juice flowing through our veins, we'd be pulling some serious Ocean's 11 to the tenth power in Vegas."
Bella let a giggle slip.
"Think about it. Alice can have one of her little dreams to let us know which casinos would be the best to hit up, and Edward can use his bag of magical mastermind tricks to figure out what the dealers are thinking. We'd hit the jackpot in a new casino every night. After a week's work, we'd all be able to retire in Fiji."
He pointed over at Edward.
"You in, bro? You could be the Brad Pitt to my George Clooney."
Jasper chimed in: "You said I could be Pitt. Edward can be Damon."
Emmett started shaking his head. "You can't pull off Pitt. Edward has that cute pixie Pitt nose. You're lucky if we let your ass be Casey Affleck. You aren't bringing any X-men superpowers to the table..."
They continued fighting over casting choices, while the rest of the table erupted in laughter.
Just like that, Emmett shined a spotlight on the pink elephant in the room, made us all publicly acknowledge it, and went on to change the direction of the conversation in a matter of minutes.
And as he and Rose formally asked Edward, Bella, Jasper, and I to be a part of their wedding line, he threw me a quick wink that said explicity:
"I told you it would be okay."
From that day on, that was how our family dealt with the long held secret between my twin and I. Edward's abilities were talked about casually, given the status of a neat skill he possessed. The way Jasper could do a hook-shot, or Emmett could bench press 350 pounds.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Behind the scenes though, Emmett was more sensitive to the very real and weighing consequences of his gift. He mentioned to all of us that when Edward lived with him, he tried to "cleanse" his thoughts around Edward, so as not to add to the weight of thoughts he often was dealing with. He tried hard to make his actions align his thoughts, and to keep those thoughts positive.
"I saw a change when I did that, honestly."
After his explanation, I just stood there, shaking my head.
"You're Professor Xavier. Professor X."
"What?" He asked with a confused look.
"If Edward and I are X-men, you're the guy who takes all the little mutants under his wings and protects them."
I leaped forward to hug him, marveling at how much our family had been through in the last year - but came out stronger for it.
8 months since their re-meeting...
"I hate to say this, because I'm not sure if it's a compliment or not, but it's like they were made for eachother."
Rose and Emmett's wedding went off without a hitch. The bride looked gorgeous, the groom looked dapper, and Bella actually handled her four inch bridesmaid heels with ease -- after a two day tutorial from me.
We were in the middle of the reception now at the head table, eating our entrees. Bella was originally sitting by me, but Edward had struck up a deal with Jasper. Bella sat in his seat during dinner while Jasper got to sit by me. We were watching the two love birds now, equal parts love fest and train wreck, with opened mouths.
Edward kept putting his hand over Bella's eyes, while pretending to dig his butter knife into his finger, his ear, his forehead.
He kept saying a little too loudly, "where is it now?" to Bella. Bella would answer, he'd take his hand off her eyes to show her something, she'd laugh. And then they'd start the odd exercise all over again in a fit of giggles.
Jasper just shook his head: "I hate to say this, because I'm not sure if it's a compliment or not, but it's like they were made for eachother."
I couldn't have agreed more.
"They were. And if that's not an example of God working in mysterious and neurotic ways, I don't know what is."
Welcome to Bella and Edward's world.
After the deep dark secret unveiling, Bella and Edward began to visit the homebase more often, as did the rest of us. A new cohesion began to brew among us all for the first time, in different combinations. Bella, an only child, seemed to relish her new sibling status. Rose, Mom, and I often had to fight with the boys over who got Bella for an afternoon or evening. She was in high demand on both sides of the gender line. Edward interacted more with the family than he ever had as well, no longer hiding behind a piano or a canvas.
And yet, with all the new connections he was making, real connections that I knew would help keep him grounded better, Bella was still the one who kept him grounded most.
She took over my Edward duties in social situations. I used to be the one who intervened when I could tell he was getting overwhelmed, and would usher him out of the situation as soon as possible.
Bella's ways were different though. She took Emmett's approach and ran with it. Instead of trying to give him an escape plan, she became his fellow conspirator.
I'd watched her for months now, in awe with how well she could calibrate her response when he was getting overwhelmed. Sometimes she'd simply give him a reassuring kiss, and have him focus on her as she talked softly in his ear. You could see the tension just melt from him.
But more often, she'd simply turn it into a game. Earlier in the reception line was a perfect example. The cramped quarters and endless line of people randomly hugging him was becoming too much. Bella threw me a knowing look and then whispered:
"Is your Uncle Randall thinking what I think he's thinking?"
A quick glance made me see her point; our dear old uncle(twice removed) was staring straight into Rose's cleavage as he congratulated Emmett.
Edward leaned back in: "Yes, and then some."
They both broke out into conspiratorial laughs while Bella looked for another target to zone in on.
It was her most effective approach really; shifting his focus to something specific, turning it into a game almost - a game for two.
No longer a trial for one.
Jasper whipped me out of my thoughts: "Well, I guess there really is someone for everyone."
Bella held her hand up right then, looking smugly at her ring finger.
"It's an odd little ring," Jasper whispered. "Did he really buy it at a garage sale?"
He had, with his friend up in Eugene. Months earlier, apparently, knowing no other ring would fit Bella so perfectly.
"She hates anything ostentatious. The situation in Africa turned her off of the diamond trade. I met her in Hawaii, and Tahiti isn't too far off. And nine out of ten mermaids prefer pearl jewelry," he joked when I asked him about his choice. "It's from the ocean too - sorta like Bella."
The ring was beautiful really - a black Tahitian pearl with shimmery strains of purples and greys set in a simple silver band.. But I questioned the apropriateness of it for an engagement ring. It looked more like costume jewelry..
But, with the enthusiastic blessing of Emmett and Rose, he presented it to Bella at the rehearsal dinner the night before.
His proposal was awkward and shy and sweet - everything that made Edward as loveable as he was.
Her acceptance was awkward and shy and sweet - everything that made Bella as loveable as she was.
And as she looked at her finger, beaming with pride at the odd little ring my brother bought for forty dollars at a garage sale, Edward had been right -no other ring would have fit Bella so perfectly.
It hadn't been an easy road for them so far. Edward still feared his need for so much private time was isolating for her. Pretty faces eyeing Edward constantly could make Bella question herself. They still had a hard road ahead, with plans of marriage put off until she finished up school.
But watching them now as they laughed and whispered into one another's ears, I knew they'd make it. They'd find a way.
"Who would have ever thought," Jasper said with a smile as we watched Edward nuzzle Bella's neck. "Who would have ever thought for ol' Edward."
I did, I silently answered; thinking back to that dream so long ago that put everything into motion, of a pretty girl with a flower coming to change my brother's life.
One year after their re-meeting...
The sun was just coming up over the horizon now as we settled down on top of the big black rock.
It was the only request I had for our trip back to Hawaii.
Edward had bigger plans - another visit with Nalani and her grandmother. With me in tow this time.
He'd never gotten over wanting to understand that day I had saved him. My "gift" had never shown itself again since that day - further proof of my adrenaline theory.
Emmett cracked up when he heard about our Hawaii trip itinerary:
"Great, who do you guys think you are? Some fustrated X-men trying to form an alliance with other giftted mutants? Tell Professor Grandma Xavier there's a new X in town and I'm coming for her crown. Or wheelchair."
We went and visited them. Edward told them how everything turned out between us - at least the part he knew about. About our seperation - our grand reunion. My odd ability to steer him to safety. They listened quietly, the grandmother especially. She touched my head several times, smiling sweetly. But the smile always ended with a puzzled look.
"Your gift is too good," Nalani whispered with a laugh. Rowena and Nalani agreed on one thing: I had protective gifts of some sort. But how those gifts manifested? They didn't have a clue.
"They are so protective, they are protecting themselves from us," Nalani said with a wink.
Edward was the revelation of the day though. The more they tried to focus on me, the more they kept coming back to Edward.
I was too closed off - to them anyways. Edward though?
Edward wasn't what he thought he was.
He had always processed his ability as some keen body languager reader. In Hawaii, he realized it was more than just body language - that his abilities went further than that.
"You have more abilities than you realize. You can do more with your gifts than just import thoughts. You can export your thoughts as well." Rowena looked concerned with that revelation. "You need to understand these abilities though, Edward. Don't ignore them. They won't disappear by ignoring them; if anything, they will grow in size and force until you have no choice but to acknowledge them."
It was as if her words were spoken in in slow motion, and everything else around me drowned out:
"You have more abilities than you realize. You can do more with your gifts than just import thoughts. You can export your thoughts as well.You need to understand these abilities though, Edward. Don't ignore them. They won't disappear by ignoring them; if anything, they will grow in size and force until you have no choice but to acknowledge them."
It was like finding the missing piece of a puzzle Alice and I had secretly been trying to solve for months. Alice never had a vision like the one that caused Edward and I to part -- hadn't since then.
She had been racked with guilt the whole time, thinking it was all her fault.
"I know others' thoughts can infiltrate his mind; but, you're saying Edward can infiltrate others' minds too, Rowena?"
She nodded. "He doesn't know how to really use it yet, from what I'm seeing. But yes, he has the ability."
"Would his twin sister's mind be the mind he could infiltrate easiest of all," I asked.
She nodded more forcefully this time: "Edward and his sister's gifts work in tandem, like two blades on scissors. Their gifts work together--"
"-and can even bleed into one another, those gifts?" I tacked on.
Rowena pointed a finger at me. "Very perceptive, Bella. Yes."
That explained it all - how all of this began.
I waited until the next morning to explain it all. It was time for him to know the whole truth.
We watched the sun rise in silence on the big black rock. A thermos of coffee and freshly-made malasadas sat between us.
"Edward, you know the day we met your family at this beach? And went to dinner? And then dancing?"
He looked at me, smiling in acknowledgement.
"And you took me to the beach outside of the club? And I was being so stubborn with you, not believing that our relationship could last past Hawaii. And you were so sure about it, convincing me that it could work?"
Edward's smile faded with those memories - and how the following year would play out as I had feared.
"At some point, right before I ran into the water, I changed my mind. I thought maybe you had a point. Maybe it could work."
I could tell Edward didn't know where I was going with this - so he remained quiet.
"Do you remember that very moment, Edward, when I stopped struggling against the thought of us staying together after Hawaii? To take our relationship back to real life with us?"
His eyebrow raised incredulously. "Of course I do, you took your bra off like two seconds later in the water. I remember quite well, trust me."
He tried to deflect with a joke, but his clouded expression indicated that wasn't all he remembered.
"This is important, Edward. Be honest: After you finally convinced me, and I ran in the water, did you have a moment, however brief it was, where you weren't sure that we could make it together back home? Even though you'd been arguing that very point to me the whole time?"
"No," he said , his eyes shocked by the very implication. " I never doubted us. I never doubted you."
"Maybe not me. But....what were you thinking in those moments after I gave into you? After I said we could make this work back home, not just in Hawaii?"
Silence. But then he finally spoke.
"You were running into the ocean in your underwear. Water and underwear. That was pretty much all my mind was registering at the moment." He shrugged his shoulders, as if that answered it.
"Okay...do you remember after that?"
"I remember thinking you were a very silly girl, for thinking I could leave what we had behind in Hawaii."
He closed his eyes now, trying to focus.
"The water was so cold when I got in with you. Your teeth were chattering, and your shoulders shaking. You looked so small and cold in the water right then. Vulnerable."
He became silent now, his face showing a rush of emotion.
Edward nodded his head. "I didn't like seeing you all alone in the water. Even when I had you in my arms, it bothered me."
He opened his eyes, as if something came to the forefront of his thoughts.
"Have you ever wanted something so much, Bella, and then you actually get it? And all of the sudden, you go from wanting so badly, to feeling scared? Because now you don't want to lose what you finally have?"
I couldn't help but laugh: "Of course. Why do you think I was resisting having more than a holiday fling so much? I didn't want to lose what I thought I couldn't have to begin with."
He took my hand in his again. "I did have that fear go through me. That I didn't want to lose you." His lips turned up crookedly to one side." It didn't last long. Your bra was completely transparent by then."
Still trying to deflect...I marched on.
"What fears did you have go through you."
"I felt a lot of things rush through me seeing you in the ocean like that. Dread. That thought of losing you. Something taking you away from me. You drifting away from me..."
I asked him what he meant about me drifting away. He looked at me like I was being simple minded.
"Bella. I'd never had a girlfriend. I was in my twenties and had lived with my parents my whole life. I'm a freak. You know I could go on with the list of reasons for why you'd drift away."
It was then that I finally told him about Alice's second version of the dream that she had the day of the crash. How the perspective of the dream was different. Nothing outside us was ever trying to break our hold, trying to hurt me. Edward had broken the hold all by himself, head down, hellbent on seperating himself from what we had.
All because he didn't think he think he deserved us.
How the dream came to fruition - how in fact it was a self fulfilling prophecy. How, in his attempt to keep me safe while we were both driving that afternoon a year earlier, he paid no mind to his own safety. He blindly ran red lights, bypassed cars on the wrong side of the street, vaulted into oncoming traffic.
"As if you could save me by harming yourself. By seperating us all over again," I scolded.
He just rested his hands in my lap. He kept his eyes downcast.
"I don't....understand though. I don't understand why the dream happened in the first place then, if it wasn't a warning."
And that's where Rowena came in.
"Edward, Rowena said you and Alice were like two blades on a pair of scissors. That your gifts can bleed into eachother. That night, that moment, when you worried what would happen with us back in real life, worried you would end up disillusioning me, and make me drift away? What happened right afterward, Edward?"
He looked up in recognition, like a lightbulb just switched on in his head.
"Alice. Alice came to the beach."
"Rowena said you don't know the extent of your ablities yet. People infiltrate your mind - but you can do the same. Your gifts bleed into Alice's."
He looked out into the ocean, his eyes wide now.
"My thoughts seeped into Alice's head. She thought it was a vision."
And it was a vision in a sense - a vision of how Edward thought our story could only end one way.
We talked more about the strange events of that day - almost two years earlier. Most importantly, we talked about how it happened; so easily really, without Edward even realizing it. How so much could have been avoided - if had just talked to me.
"Rowena was right. You need to understand what your abilities are-or your abilities could overpower you again."
We would have to come back to Hawaii again soon- so that Rowena could help him understand it. We could never let his abilities go unchecked again.
."A whole year wasted," he echoed. And this is why I waited a whole year to even him tell him the whole story - because I knew this would be so hard for him. To know all his efforts, all his sacrifices, had been dependent on a mistake. That everything essentially began from his own doubt in us.
"Not wasted, really, Edward. You know how I look at it? Both of us weren't ready in Hawaii for eachother in real life. We just weren't. I didn't think
I was enough for you. In looks, in life. I was a mousey librarian who hadn't been on a date in over a year."
I cut him off before he tried to give me a self esteem building sermon on my alleged beauty:
"And you're a freak."
That got him to smile -and cut me off before I could give him a self esteem building sermon of my own:
"You think we would have ruined us then, even without the dream?"
I nodded affirmatively. " And maybe nothing would have ever made us ready for eachother, with the exception of losing what we feared losing the most."
And it was true for me. The whole time he offered himself to me beyond Hawaii, I refused it, dismissed it. Not because I didn't want him. I couldn't picture being enough for him beyond a five day retreat. Going back home, having him see my modest life without the rose colored vacation glasses. My modest looks even, once the bikinis were traded in for baggy sweatshirts and jeans. I wouldn't have fought for him, because I thought it would be a losing battle.
And I knew that went double for him.
"I can't speak for you, Edward. But for me, that lost year taught me to fight for what I wanted."
Edward opened his arms, and I made myself comfy in his lap.
"I feel the same way. I still worry that I'm not enough for you. But nothing could make back down from us now. Nothing."
He got quiet now as he held me. I knew he was only beginning to process everything that I'd been thinking about for a whole year.
"It wasn't all a loss. I got a mural out of it, you know," I reminded him. He simply nodded, his chin bumping into my shoulder.
I turned around so I could look into his eyes. He needed to hear what I was saying.
"You know my favorite thing about the mural?"
He shook his head.
"That you didn't make us Peter and Wendy. Neverland broke them."
Edward laughed out loud: "I remembered you telling me that. But a lost boy isn't much of an improvement."
I stared at him in disbelief: "All this research for the mural and you still hadn't read Peter Pan?"
He shrugged his shoulders.
"I just cared about the mermaid part, to be honest."
"But you missed the best part of all."
I took his hands in mine as we stood up, inching backwards until I knew I was as close to the edge of the cliff without falling off the side.
"In, Peter Pan, the Lost Boys found their way back home. Unlike Peter Pan, they move on, grow up."
He kissed me on my nose, a shy smile grazing his face. I could still make him shy at times, even two years after the fact.
"Do you remember asking me if I saw you in ten years, right before you almost got smashed like a pancake in that intersection?"
"I answered your question silentlly. Or more like wished in that moment what I saw in ten years for you."
"What did you wish?" His face was full of anticipation now.
It was my turn to feel shy. He could still make me shy too, even two years after the fact.
"Oh, it's dreadfully boring for wishes. Almost embarrassing."
"If it embarrasses you, then I'm definitely interested, " he reassured.
Here goes nothing.
" I saw us both, in the same place and time and moment in ten years. We're painting a mural together. One with a happy ending of little Lost Boys going back to London to grow up and Mermaids trading their fish tails for dry land legs and real life. Together.
And the mural wasn't for a hospital this time around, but for a new office. Your pediatrics office. I'm still in school, even a decade later, and publishing papers in obscure academic folkloric journals. And no one will ever read them, but you'll be my biggest cheerleader and read every single thing I write. Even the ones my mother won't. And I'll pay you back with really great ideas for murals, like the one we're painting in that moment.
And maybe a little one will be flopping around by our feet, letting her paint slicked fingertips pepper the mural painting. And her dad will simply laugh at the contribution - and turn the little yellow fingertips into baby chicks on the wall."
He smiled brightly, though his eyebrow arched suspiciously. "That's a pretty detailed wish to have in the space of a couple seconds."
I bit my lip. "Okay, some details were added in the past year. But they were only added with Alice's blessing."
Edward's jaw dropped in shock. "Alice's blessing? Or dream?"
"Shhh.." I hissed with a finger over my lips. "You aren't suppossed to know. It's a surprise." I looked upwards:" In about nine years anyways."
His lips brushed against mine before I could finish. Sweet and eager, his kisses were still. Even a year later.
"That's some answer to my question. I'll try and keep up with that checklist."
"Just keep holding onto my hand and you'll never fall behind, " I whispered, before stepping back off of the ledge. I pulled him along with me, just as I had from the beginning. We'd done it countless times now; and yet, the excitement and fear that mixed together while plunging downwards toward the water always made it feel like the first time. Edward's eyes fixed upon me as we descended - and then we broke through the surface of the water. Silence invaded my ears and salt water rushed into my nostrils and bubbles surrounded my eyesight. But Edward's hand held onto mine with a firm, unwavering grip. And just beyond the bubbles, I could see the phantom shape of a lopsided smile.
His hand pulled me up quickly through the water to the surface, strong and steady. And I knew, I just knew, that hand would be strong and steady from here on out - and that he'd never let go again.
a/n: Thanks again for reading the story, lovelies. I really had a blast writing it. Viva La Oahu!lol
eta a/n: Yes, Alice's vision told of them having a little rugrat in about 9 years time...