A/N: Welcome to my new story! :-) I'm rather excited about this one, it's definitely been fun to write thus far. A brief synopsis, this picks up after Bella's first week of school. Edward runs away to Alaska for a bit to get away, but this is what would've happened (in my opinion) if he hadn't come right back to Forks.

Disclaimer: I am not Stephenie Meyer, and I do not own any of the Twilight Saga or it's characters ... I'm just playing with them a bit. Enjoy!

Chapter 01

Bella's POV

My first week in Forks had now passed, and I was slowly forming a routine. Charlie was so easy to live with; I took care of the cooking and the cleaning for the most part, and he gave me my space. Upon leaving Phoenix, my mother had demanded daily phone calls, but I knew her much too well; I had only called her once my entire first week and she had yet to call me herself. She was too scatterbrained to remember the demand she had made, and I was allowed a little more freedom.

I sat with Jessica, Angela, Mike, Eric, Tyler, Lauren and co. at lunch every day, yet my eyes always strayed to the Cullen table. I couldn't help reflecting on Edward Cullen's mysterious actions on my first day; he still had not returned to school, and I couldn't help but feel responsible for his prolonged absence, especially because of the hatred radiating from the eyes of his family. Of course, the tiny brunette never looked upset, but the blonde – I believe Jessica had called her Rosalie? – had more than enough disdain for me to make up for the others' indifference.

Mike was overly chivalrous, and under any other circumstances this would have bothered me. However, after the negative attention from Edward Cullen, followed by his disappearance, it was comforting to see that he was apparently the only male who wasn't excited by my arrival in Forks. This was a particularly shallow thought for me, but I chalked it up to my anxiety about being in a new place.

"Your throne, milady," Mike said with a smile, pulling out my chair for me and setting my tray down on the table. He had taken to carrying my stuff whenever possible; probably some male display of dominance. He was marking his territory against his competitors, the biggest of whom seemed to be Tyler and Eric. I wasn't enjoying the attention all that much, but I did enjoy the fact that I hadn't had to eat my lunch in my truck, the bathroom, or someplace equally lonely and humiliating.

"Oh that's so thoughtful of you," Jessica muttered, every word dripping with malice, though Mike took no notice. He noisily slid a chair right up next to mine and threw himself down. He rested one arm along the back of my chair; Jessica stared daggers at me, no doubt willing me to spontaneously combust.

"So I've got some juicy gossip for ya'll," Mike said, a wide grin on his face. Everyone but me leaned forward expectantly. "Apparently, Edward Cullen is gone for good." A gasp rang around the table and Mike grinned, no doubt reveling in his momentary fame. "Yeah, rumor has it that he's gone to live with a cousin of Dr. Cullen's up in Alaska. He transferred a week ago, but they've been keeping it quiet."

All eyes turned to the Cullen table, which was now permanently down to four. They were all occupied in their own conversation, but to me it didn't seem real; almost like they were making a valiant effort to appear normal.

"I wonder why?" Jessica asked, her face crestfallen.

"I dunno," Mike replied. "I think maybe Bella scared him off," he teased, ruffling my hair. My eyes were still on the Cullen table, and at his words, all four members of the family visibly stiffened. But, no, it couldn't have been what he said; they were much too far away to hear us. Surely something else must've been causing their rigid posture. As ridiculous as the idea was, I still couldn't help but feel like Mike's joke was true.

"Bella, you look so sad," Jessica said with a sneer. "I told you not to bother with the Cullens… they're too good for us common folk."

"'Bother with the Cullens'?" Mike repeated, choking on his soda.

"Yeah, I think Bella had a little crush on Edward," Jessica sneered once more.

"Edward's a freak," Mike said harshly, and then regained his composure, "but it's not like it matters much. He's gone for good." It sounded like he was trying to reassure himself with these words.

Lunch passed rather quickly as I detached myself from the conversations flowing around me and focused on this news. Edward's initial reaction to me didn't matter anymore; he was gone. He could've been the friendliest person I encountered in Forks my first day of school, but it still wouldn't matter in the slightest. Blaming myself for his disappearance would only drive me mad, and I couldn't await his return to be proven wrong, because it was very likely that he was never going to return.

"Bella!" Mike was soon shouting rather loudly in my ear. "I said the bell just rang… didn't you hear it?"

"Um, no, sorry, I must've been daydreaming," I said, rising to my feet. I reached for my backpack and tray, but Mike already had them both.

"I've got this," Mike said with a smile, carrying my tray off toward the garbage, one backpack slung on each shoulder.

"Thanks," I said with a smile. Annoying as he might be on occasion, I had to admit that sometimes it was a real comfort to have Mike around. I felt a little bit more at home in Forks, knowing there was someone other than my father watching my back. We headed off to Biology, darting quickly from one building to the next to avoid the rain.

Once we had walked into the Biology classroom, Mike approached Mr. Banner and asked if he could sit beside me, offering the information of Edward's indefinite leave of absence and suggesting that he could help me get settled and caught up with the routine. His motives were laughable; it was already clear to me that he wasn't the best science student the school had ever seen. Miraculously, Mr. Banner allowed a temporary seat change, and Mike gleefully came to sit beside me. This was clearly going to make things more difficult with Jessica, but I couldn't help admitting that I liked having Mike around.

Mr. Banner made his way around the room, setting a box of slides before each set of lab partners. "Before you I have placed a box of slides of the different stages of mitosis in onion roots. You and your partner should carefully examine each slide and arrange them all in the proper order. I'll be walking around to see how you're doing."

"Shall I?" Mike asked, retrieving the first slide from the box. He put it under the clips on the microscope and began adjusting the settings. I waited patiently as he attempted to focus the slide and figure out which stage it was. After a few minutes, I decided to let him off the hook.

"A little help?" I offered. He grinned sheepishly and slid the microscope to me. "Prophase," I said confidently and he scribbled the word across the first line. It was barely legible. I asked Mike to prepare the next slide, and once he was distracted I quickly erased his answer, rewrote it slightly neater, and slide the paper to the far edge of the desk away from him. I didn't really want to lose points because of his chicken scratch.

After a minute of studying the slide, Mike was still silent. "Can I have a look?" I offered. I felt quite terrible; Mike was clearly extremely uncomfortable by how incompetent this lab was making him look. I personally was loving it; this made up for the hellish week of Gym I had been subjected to. It was a nice role reversal, to have Mike staying back and out of the way while I took the reigns on something.

He was content to sit back and watch me finish the lab. Unfortunately, Mr. Banner was not.

"All set?" He asked, striding over to our lab station.

"Yes sir," I said, flipping the sheet around so he could read it.

His eyes scanned the paper for a moment. "Were you in an advanced class in Phoenix?" he asked.

"Yes, I've done this lab before," I admitted.

"Well Mr. Newton, it would appear that your previous lab partner could use your help much more than Ms. Swan," he said. "Why don't you return to your original seat; I think Bella's going to be just fine."

"Yes sir," Mike said, crestfallen. He scooped up his things and moved back to his seat.

"Normally I don't like students to be without a lab partner, but it was never a problem for Mr. Cullen. It seems like it won't be one for you either," Mr. Banner said, before turning and walking among the other students. I sat and doodled in my notebook, anxious for Biology to end. I didn't like the empty seat there as a constant reminder of the boy who wasn't in it.

Edward's POV

My tiny silver cell phone began to ring in my pocket. I excused myself from the room, and took the call outside.

"Hello?" I answered warily upon seeing the name of the caller on speed dial.

"I don't want to do that, Edward," Alice whined through the telephone. Good. If she had a vision that she had to do this, then my mind was completely made up. Or at least solid enough for her to be having visions.

"You have to Alice," I replied. "It's going to look weird enough even with an explanation. We can't not put one out there."

"But why do I have to start a rumor about you? We could just all leave, all come there with you!" I could see persuading her was going to prove more difficult than I had anticipated.

"Be reasonable, Alice," I argued. "For one, if I uproot everyone because of this, Rose will never let it go. She's never all that happy with me as it is; if I make her restart high school again, she's going to start cracking skulls."

"Ah, well… maybe," she agreed.

"Besides," I said, "you'll be done with high school in a year and a half… that's no time at all. You can hang in there without me."

"Edward," she whined into the phone.

"Call me multiple times a day," I offered to pacify her.

"You won't always answer your phone," she pouted. I saw a vision of myself ignoring her phone call and laughed.

"I'll only do that if the calls are getting too excessive," I laughed.

"Please, Edward," she asked, her voice no longer whiny and pouty, but dead serious. "You don't need to stay away forever. Don't let this girl make you stay away."

"I won't be responsible for uprooting our family that way Alice," I reasoned. "If I come back, Isabella Swan will die and we'll be forced to move."

"Not necessarily!" she cried, and showed me the possibilities in her head. One was of Bella and I, in a field somewhere soaking in the sun. The other was of Bella and Alice standing together, arms around each other, both pale white with ochre eyes.

"No," I growled into the phone. "There must be some other path."

"Well, there's this one," she muttered, and showed me a vision of myself with Tanya, in a situation much too intimate to be merely friendly. Then the vision flashed to various glimpses of Bella with Mike Newton; down at the beach, at a movie theatre in Port Angeles, sitting together for lunch the Forks High School cafeteria.

"Newton?" I scoffed.

"Does it really matter who she chooses, as long as she's alive?" Alice asked.

"I suppose not," I agreed. "But the vision of me?" I was hesitant to use Tanya's name, as it was entirely possible that she was within hearing distance.

"The soft spot she's got for you is no secret, Edward. Would it really hurt so much to just give her a chance?" Alice asked. "You may not realize it just yet, but you are going to give in, so why not just walk right back in the house and do it already."

"But come on Alice," I argued, "I'll never feel the same toward her as she does toward me. Wouldn't it just be cruel of me to give her a chance when I know it'll never mean as much to me? If one day, I'd be willing to let her go?"

"So make it clear from the start how you feel. Don't give her any room to assume you care more than you do."

"Well, I suppose since I'm going to be here for a while – and I am going to be here for a while, Alice – that it wouldn't hurt to be friendly," I reasoned. "You can come visit me on the weekends, but I will not be returning to Forks."

"Fine," she pouted. "I can see your mind is made up. What if I put Esme on the phone?" she asked.

"Don't you dare," I threatened. "I'll hang up before you hand her the phone." As much as I loved Esme, I couldn't deal with the guilt trip a phone call from her would bring.

"Yes, you would," she scoffed. "That's terrible."

"I should go, Alice," I said after a moment of silence. "If it makes you feel better I'll go… talk to her."

"Good, do it. And come home soon," she whined into the phone.

"I can't promise that," I sighed. "Just come visit me."

"Fine. Goodbye Edward," she said softly, and I heard the line go dead.

"Bye Alice," I muttered to myself.

I turned to stare at the front door of the house, knowing Tanya was waiting inside; I willed myself to walk forward, but my feet suddenly felt like they weighed a thousand pounds each. How was I to be clear of my intentions to someone so forward, so confident and intimidating?

I strode into the house and back to the table where Irina and Tanya sat playing chess.

Everything alright? Tanya thought, her face worried.

"It's fine," I replied, "Just talking to Alice. My stay here is going to be a little longer than I initially thought."

"Really??" she cried, enthused.

"Yes," I answered. "I think it's the best way. I would feel terrible for harming the Swan girl, and I'm certain it would happen involuntarily if I were to return to Forks. I'm going to stay here until my family graduates once more, I think, and then when we all move once more, I'll move with them."

You could just stay with us indefinitely, Tanya thought.

I shook my head lightly. "Even though circumstances require us to part for now, they're my family. When this blows over, I'll be returning to them."

"What's so special about this girl anyway?" Irina asked, raising her gaze for the first time from the board to look at me. She had just captured Tanya's queen, a move that was almost certain to win her the game.

Seriously, she can't be that special, Tanya mentally agreed. She looked chagrined immediately – that wasn't something she meant for me to hear. She was not yet accustomed to controlling her mind around me the way my family was.

"I wish I knew," I muttered, reflecting back on the girl. She was entirely ordinary: pale, brown hair, brown eyes… there was nothing about her that stood out or was particularly eye catching. She was pretty enough, sure – enough so that she attracted the attention of every male on campus her first day – but this control she exuded over me, now that was impossible to explain. If not for her scent, she would be completely ordinary, not even a blip on my radar. Just like every other girl in Forks.

"We're hunting tonight," Irina said, possibly as a distraction. "Come with us."

"Maybe," I replied absentmindedly, wandering from the room. I went to their bathroom and checked my eyes in the great mirror over the sink. Pitch black. It had been almost three weeks since the last time I hunted. I was past the point of carelessness; this was flat out reckless. I would be the end of any human who crossed my path, not just Bella. "On second thought, yes," I replied from the bathroom, knowing they could hear me perfectly in the living room.

Tanya's mind was barely coherent as it raced through a million different possibilities of how the evening could go. I knew I would need to talk to her, and soon, but she was just so enamored with me already; how could I possibly reason with that? A conversation of any sort would just make her more hopeful; she would never really hear all the things I had to say to her. She would just grow fonder of me, and feel a sense of longing and attachment that I did not feel for her.

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I hope you've enjoyed the first chapter! Please leave a quick review, and I'll try to get the next chapter up real soon! :-)