Disclaimer: not mine…
I turned to look as the door opened behind me, and a tall, lanky figure stepped in. Jasper Cullen's face was expressionless and pale, his eyes betraying no emotion. "Hello, Carlisle," he said in a quiet, deep voice. "Hello, Bella."
I stared at Jasper and then back at Carlisle with a mortified expression. "Carlisle, what's going on here?" I said, sounding more afraid than angry.
"As I said before, Bella, some people in my family have gifts of their own," Carlisle said, leaning his elbows on his desk and folding his hands under his chin. "Jasper has the unique ability to tamper with people's emotions."
Jasper came to sit in the chair adjacent to mine and turned his full attention to me. I recoiled a little under his intense gaze and glanced at Carlisle with unease. "Now, Bella, I will be giving you instructions as Jasper works with you. If, at any given time, you feel overwhelmed or unsafe, say 'stop' and we will do so."
I did not have time to protest before Jasper took my hands and made me look at him in the eye. His face contorted with concentration and I instantly felt something change inside me.
The anger began at just a slight simmer in my gut, and I struggled to fight it off as my hands began to shake in Jasper's grip. What does he think he's doing? This is ridiculous. I shouldn't even be here. He's putting himself and everyone around him in danger.
"Concentrate, Bella," Carlisle ordered.
The rage boiled up to my throat as my vision clouded bright red. I gritted my teeth and let out a low hiss. The idiot! Doesn't he know I could kill him any second now? Oh, god, what am I doing?
"Bella," Carlisle said, more urgently now. "You can control this. You want the anger to go away, remember? Will it away, Bella! Concentrate!"
I growled furiously and writhed a little in Jasper's iron grip. Calm down. Find a happy place. Breathe. Happy place. I want this away. I can do this.
"Bella, concentrate!" Carlisle commanded as I hissed louder and snapped my teeth. The anger felt as though it was eating me from the inside, consuming everything in flames. Everything was a blinding haze of red.
Please, go away. Calm down, Bella. I want this to stop. I want this to…
"STOP!" I screeched suddenly. I felt Jasper's hands release me, but my vision did not clear. My eyes were wide open, but I was no longer in Carlisle's study.
I was back under the big oak tree, its branches wrapped around me as I hid from the flames. I desperately swatted them away as they got dangerously close, blindly swinging my arms from left to right to protect myself and the tree. They gradually subsided and I grabbed hold of the trunk for stability. I looked up into its branches, and my white owl was perched high above me, watching as I reached out towards it with a deep, penetrating golden gaze…
I gasped and shuddered out of the half dream, my vision devoid of red when I looked around frantically. My eyes landed on Carlisle immediately, who was beaming proudly.
"You did it, Bella!" he congratulated, coming around his desk to give me a hearty pat on the back. "I knew you could!"
I broke into a huge grin as I brushed my hair out of my face. "I did?" I said, my voice coming out raspy from all of the hissing and growling.
Jasper's expressionless mask faded as he smiled at me. "You did, Bella," he said, patting my hand. "You didn't hurt a fly."
I jumped up to hug both of them, and fell back instantly when I looked around the study. The papers Carlisle had neatly stacked on his desk were strewn about the room, a flowerpot was broken on the floor with dirt scattered everywhere, and a bookshelf that had been in the corner lay in splintered shambles.
I turned my horrified gaze back to Carlisle and Jasper, all traces of my grin vanished. "I…didn't…hurt…a fly?" I repeated Jasper's statement in disbelief.
Jasper shrugged as Carlisle started to pick up his papers. I raised my hands to my head and raked them through my hair, before walking over to the closest wall and slamming my forehead into it.
"Hey!" Carlisle cried, pulling me away from the wall with a worried expression. "What's that all about?"
"Did I hit you?" I asked simply, my voice dripping with self-loathing.
"No," Carlisle frowned. "And you didn't try to. You looked very afraid and you were swatting at random parts of the room, but you wouldn't touch Jasper or I."
Some of the tension in my muscles faded and I sat back down, burying my head in my hands. "I'm sorry about your office, Carlisle." I mumbled into my palms.
"It's all part of the process, Bella," Carlisle said sympathetically, patting me on the back. "Don't worry about it. Besides, you did great."
I slowly got up to leave. "Well, thank you guys for this. I guess I'll see you Wednesday, then." I said reluctantly.
Carlisle's face brightened. "I guess you will."
I departed the study quickly, still mentally punching myself for ruining Carlisle's study. I was halfway to the front door when I heard a familiar tune coming from the living room nearby. I peeked around into the entrance and clapped a hand over my mouth to stifle a gasp.
Edward sat at a beautiful, black piano, his eyes closed as he poured his emotions into the keys, playing so wonderfully the sight would've brought tears to a human's eyes. His face was serene, with a little crease between his eyebrows as he caressed the keys with perfect concentration. I listened to the powerful melody that reverberated off the walls and it filled me with a strange kind of peace and sadness simultaneously. Debussy's Rêverie. I smiled bitterly to myself and looked away, leaning against the dividing wall between us. How fitting.
I wished I could've gone over there and just sat next to him as he played. I could've watched him forever. But there was more than just a wall dividing us now – we were miles apart. I looked back longingly in the direction of the beautiful music and even more beautiful man, and silently opened the front door and ran outside. The rain had ceased and the traffic was sparse, so took a back road and ran home, desperately trying to push the thought of Edward and his perfect melodies out of my head the whole way there.
The rain continued through the next two weeks, and on days where I didn't have to go to the Cullens', I opted to spend long hours after school in the library until Charlie could come pick me up. On those days, while doing my homework or reading a textbook, I often found myself drifting from reality and let myself think of the torturously beautiful music Edward had played and his perfectly calm expression. I hopelessly hung onto that image, and would often conjure it from my memory when I received a cold look from Edward in the cafeteria or in the hallways.
There were precious moments when his expressions would not be so cruel, however, and there would be a certain element of longing or hurt present in his deep topaz eyes. I would inventory those looks into my memory, too, with the ridiculous hope that someday the thousand mile-wide space between us would disappear and we could maybe start over or something. Then I would remember myself and nearly snort out loud at the very idea. One can only hope.
Then there were the days that I would catch a ride with Alice back to her house and spend my time with Carlisle and Jasper, often breaking at least one or two things in the study per visit. Had I been able to bruise, my forehead would be black and blue from all the times I slammed my head against the wall in frustration. We never seemed to make any progress after the first time. I'd always get incredibly angry, lose my mind completely and scream "STOP!" right before I'd have the exact same half-dream every single time. The only slight difference was, the owl in the tree seemed to get farther and farther out of reach each time, and the flames only seemed to get closer. It was both infuriating and disappointing. I wanted so badly to change, to get rid of my anger, but it almost seemed like a lost cause. We weren't getting anywhere.
The only motivation I really had to go was to listen to Edward play after my session with Carlisle and Jasper. I would just lean against the wall and listen to him play Chopin or some perfect rendition of Moonlight Sonata and I would just sort of melt for a while. It was altogether the most pathetic thing I could possibly do, but I just couldn't bring myself to go over there and close that stupid divide so I could sit there and watch him play. Because I still wasn't all that safe, and he still hated me. The thing that killed me the most was that all I had to do was move away from that wall, walk up to him, and say how ridiculously sorry I still was and that I didn't need him to stay away from me anymore. But I just wasn't ready to make that sacrifice yet. Because god only knows what would happen if I lost it again around him. That would really kill me.
The days dragged on monotonously, and by the time another Wednesday rolled around I was considering just finding another vengeful old vampire to tear me to pieces in some dark alleyway, and save the Cullens any more trouble. I was still plotting my demise when Alice's car pulled up after school and she motioned for me to get in.
"Jeez, Bella, you're soaked," she chided as I slid into the passenger seat. "Why didn't you stand under that tree you always stand under?"
"It's probably tired of me by now," I mumbled as I gazed out the window into the pouring rain.
She snorted and cranked up the heater. "You're crazy."
When I didn't respond, her gaze became apologetic and she tugged on a strand of my soaked hair gently. "Hey," she said with concern, "What's going on with you, Bells?"
I leaned back against the headrest and turned my face to look at her. She was frowning slightly and her eyes looked worried. I let out a long sigh and finally gave in. I guess even I needed girl talk sometimes.
"Edward hasn't spoken to me for weeks," I said in a small, sad voice. "I think he really hates me now."
Alice glared at the road up ahead and gripped the steering wheel with unnecessary force. "I knew it," she growled. "It figures, with you two both acting so strangely lately. You totally love him."
I blanched and stared at her disbelievingly. "I… what – I barely even know him!" I sputtered incredulously.
"Doesn't matter," Alice shrugged nonchalantly. "When I met Jasper I knew in the first ten minutes."
I rolled my eyes. "Edward glared at me for the 'first ten minutes'," I said skeptically, making air quotes with my fingers.
She shrugged again. "So you hate him."
"Of course not!" I exclaimed defiantly.
"Then you love him."
"It's not black and white like that, Alice," I sighed. "He's really angry with me. He thinks I don't want him around. Which I don't. I'm unsafe. But I don't want him… not around either."
"Oh, cut the crap, Bella," Alice suddenly snapped. "All that 'I'm not safe' bullshit gets old after a while."
I stared at her silently, feeling a little hurt by her sudden outburst. But I probably deserved it, so I wouldn't complain.
"I'm sorry," Alice apologized quickly, "That wasn't fair. All I really want to say, Bella, is that, well… Edward cares about you more than you know. And I think you do, too. And you guys would make the cutest couple," she sighed longingly.
I chuckled bitterly. "Yeah, right."
"Really! You would!" she laughed. "I think you should tell him. Today."
"Tell him what?" I asked, confused.
She smiled deviously. "That you totally freaking love him, that's what."
She looked so sure of herself that I scoffed and looked down at my lap, feeling a little embarrassed. "I won't do that," I said quietly.
She frowned and gazed at me curiously for a moment. "Well, you should at least try," she said simply and returned her attention to the road in front of us.
The car ride ended finally in a contemplative silence. I didn't want to believe what Alice had said to me, but with every step I took towards the Cullen house, I began to regret my decision to push Edward out of my life more and more. Because even if I did… care for him more than I was allowing myself to think, it wouldn't matter now. I was completely positive that Edward Cullen hated me and that was that. I think.
I exchanged my normal friendly greetings with Esme, Rosalie and Emmett and went to meet Carlisle and Jasper in the study. As I had expected, the session went exactly as it normally did, and ended with my slamming my head against the wall with frustration. Like always, Carlisle pulled me away and sat me back down in my chair.
"Bella," he said gently, kneeling beside my chair instead of taking his usual seat behind his desk. "What is troubling you?"
I looked at his concerned, kindly face with confusion. "What do you mean?"
"I think the reason we haven't exactly…" he paused to clear his throat, "…progressed is because something is bothering you. You've seemed rather unmotivated recently. And you've been getting quite angry," he said hesitantly, motioning to a new replacement bookshelf lying broken on the floor.
I massaged my pounding forehead and closed my eyes. "Sorry, Carlisle." I said quietly, refusing to pursue the subject.
He sighed and got up to open the door for me. "That's alright, Bella. Next time."
I felt the guilt wash over me as soon as the door shut behind me and I began walking towards the front door, trying to avoid the piano music filling the air as I passed by the living room. I knew exactly what my unmotivated attitude and excessive anger had to do with, but what could be done anyways? Its not like I could just waltz right up to him and invite him right back into my life…
Okay, so, I realized my logic wasn't really perfect at the time. I mean, there were a lot of things that could've gone wrong. It could've made things worse. Impossibly worse. But I was just so desperate to end this whole thing between him and I. And, come to think of it, Alice had sort of swayed me with her ideas in the car. The point was, I didn't really think twice before I stepped into the living room and plopped right down next to Edward on the piano bench, who was immersed in his flawless playing of Lizst's Liebesträume. I smiled at the name on the sheet music before turning to gaze at Edward.
He just sat there, continuing to play with that same calm expression on his face. Except now the little crease between his eyebrows was deeper and his eyes were open, never leaving the keys. I inhaled deeply, taking in his endearing scent and smiled a little to myself, enjoying it as though I didn't get to smell it every day in Biology.
His smoldering topaz eyes snapped up to meet mine and his playing slowed. He stared at me searchingly for a moment and returned his attention to the keys. When he looked back up at me, all traces of the coldness and resent in his normal expression were gone. His face was now merely riddled with a defeated hopelessness. My heart just about dropped to the pit of my stomach. As if I could've possibly felt worse already.
"What is it, Bella?" he finally said softly, eyes boring into mine without a hint of happiness to see me.
I took a deep breath and tugged at a strand of my hair. "Um," I said pathetically. "So I think I give up."
He gritted his teeth and his brow furrowed deeper. "What do you mean?"
"I mean with the whole thing about making you stay away from me and all," I sighed with the exasperation I had been holding in for weeks. "I don't like it. I… um, I just don't think you need to anymore."
"Who's making me?" he snapped, getting up from the bench and starting towards the staircase. "Watch – I can stay away all by myself now."
"Edward, wait," I pleaded, getting up and grabbing his arm desperately. "Please don't go."
"Why?" he spat, hurt and resent lighting up in his golden eyes once again. "You told me to stay away. I'm merely respecting your wishes."
I dropped his arm, fighting back the urge to smack my head against a wall and cry at the same time. I bit my lip so hard it would've drawn blood had I been human, and took a step back.
"I don't want you to," I said, my voice shaking.
He took a step towards me uncertainly, the resent leaving his features as his eyes searched mine.
"Because," I said, taking a calming breath to steady myself. "Because I don't have… I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore."
Something like hope crossed over his features as he ran a hand through his tousled, bronze hair. I bit my lip, wondering if what I had said was too much. I mean, we hardly knew each other.
"We hardly know each other," he said softly, echoing the thought.
"Alice said she knew with Jasper in the first ten minutes," I mumbled obstinately.
"You didn't want me near you."
"Yes I did!" I nearly cried out in frustration. "I still do. And that's just the trouble, isn't it? Because you hate me, don't you, Edward? You've hated me ever since I told you I was a threat and to stay away!" My hands started to shake and I struggled to compose myself. I would not, under any circumstances, lose my temper this time. Even if he threw me out of the house right now.
He closed the gap between us and grabbed my upper arms, eyes blazing. "I have never hated you, Bella Swan. Never," he said firmly.
I pressed my lips together and swallowed a dry sob. "I'm dangerous," I whispered pathetically. "I hurt you. This is unsafe."
He grabbed my chin and pulled me so close I could feel his breath fanning my face. "Does this feel unsafe?" he breathed, brushing the back of his hand across my cheekbone.
I gulped loudly and shook my head, unable to create any coherent sentences.
"How about this?" he said softly, tipping my head back and lightly grazing his lips along my jawline. I shuddered and shook my head again slowly.
"Didn't think so," he said, pressing his forehead against mine and smiling crookedly. I could faint.
"Listen to me, Bella," he murmured, gently placing his hand on the side of my face, thumb stroking my cheek. I placed my hand on his shoulder and gazed into his eyes solemnly. "I know you think I'm taking a risk by involving myself with you. But honestly, I'm willing to take it. I want to be a friend to you, no matter the danger." He smiled again and lifted his forehead from mine. "Okay?"
I nodded, forcing a smile. He wanted to be a friend to me. I forced out all the feelings that had been burning in my chest in a sharp exhale and stepped away from him. "Okay, well, um…" I said in a small voice, feeling the divide between us grow with every step I took towards the door. "I guess I'll be seeing you…" At a loss for words, I turned and bolted out into the rain towards the back road I always took home.
"Bella, wait!" Edward called after me. I whipped my head around, squinting through the merciless sheets of rain. "Do you want me to drive you?"
My frown deepened as I gazed through the rain, and although I couldn't see it clearly, I could imagine his face looked only mildly concerned. "No!" I called back, a little more sharply than I had intended and turned sprint down the back road home.
I disregarded my dripping wet hair and clothes as I bolted up the stairs and into my room, throwing myself face-first onto my bed. I blindly grabbed at a pillow and covered my head with it, trying to mute the loud recording of my conversation with Edward playing on repeat in my head. Stupid, stupid, stupid, How could I have been so stupid?
I couldn't believe I had actually listened to Alice. Of course it wouldn't have been the same with Edward and I than it had been with Alice and Jasper. They had been mutually in love from the moment they saw each other. Edward only saw me as a friend. I bet Alice had told him to be nice and forgive me. In fact, he probably didn't even care that much. I mean, why would he? He had seen the monster in me on several occasions. He must know better than to actually like me by now.
I flipped over and rubbed my face furiously, trying to wipe all traces of Edward off my cheeks and forehead. What did he want from me anyways?
I jumped up when I heard a knock on my door. Charlie walked in and frowned at the sight of me sprawled on my bed, dripping all over the place.
"You okay, Bells?"
I glared up at my ceiling. "Yeah, Dad, I'm fine," I muttered in reply.
"Well, I got your car back today from the mechanic."
I rolled over onto my stomach and looked at Charlie. "Really?" I said, perking up a little.
"Really," he said with a satisfied smile, chucking my keys to me. "So you can stop running home through the rain like a crazy person now."
I grinned and flopped back into my back, tossing the keys a few times in the air. "Thanks, Charlie. I mean it."
"Anything for you, kid," he said genuinely, patting the frame of my door. "Love you," he added tentatively before starting down the stairs. I smiled to myself. At least someone did.
When I heard him turn on the television downstairs, I got up and opened my window as quietly as I could, and in one lithe movement, I was on the ground. I ran silently into the woods, letting my feet guide me to wherever.
I jolted to a stop when I realized I had run back to the Cullens' house. I stood there, hidden in the shadow of the trees, gazing up at that balcony again. I wanted nothing more than to climb up onto it and look into its lit interior, and discover who it was that had been the golden-eyed shadow in my first real half-dream – but, somehow, I didn't need to look to have my answer. I'd known all along whom it was.
And now it didn't really even matter. I'd never have a reason to scale that wall and meet Edward on his balcony. Because now, standing outside his house like the idiot I was, so close to him, the divide between us never felt greater.
A/N: Okay, so I just wanted to clarify on something real quick. When I had Edward say something like, "we hardly know each other" and I wrote it was "echoing my thoughts", I did not mean he could read Bella's mind. It's just a figure of speech really.
Anyways, reviews are total freaking love.