let's keep this brief, here's the a/n:
we don't own, SMeyer does. She also owns all HEAs because god forbid there not be one
this is the EP.
There is a HEA (so don't get your panties in a bunch). This fic was also A/H, canon, OOC (a ton), and... what other disclaimers should we have given at the beginning that we failed to?

Evidently we did. Listen, it's one thing to not agree with choices and to say so, but if you're going to be rude...don't do it here. This isn't the place.


BPOV

Relationships are messy.

Relationships on the sly are even messier.

Four months later and all I can say is I was thankful for Edward, but not how we happened... or how we ended.

I thought of him constantly. I thought about him while I was watching TV, or ordering takeout, or doing my laundry.

He was in my every thought and yet, I didn't call.

I didn't want to know that he had married Tanya, or that he hadn't but hadn't reached out to me either.

And so, even after James and I broke up, a week after we had reconciled (who was really surprised by that?), I stayed away.

I had realized very quickly, that it was better to be alone than in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship.

The second time around, James took the break up better; I personally think it was because his ego wasn't bruised because I was leaving him for someone else. It was pretty undramatic, actually. We exchanged boxes of stuff we'd had at the other's apartments the same day we had the break up and I hadn't heard from him since.

Though despite what people say, time does not heal all wounds; I was still hurting every day I went without Edward. I kept hoping that each blocked number call I received was his.

But it never was, and really, I shouldn't have expected it to be. I had been insane that day, throwing out accusations and yelling...

It had been four months and four days since I'd seen Edward; I know that because I had counted.

Diligently.

But I couldn't think about him today.

No, today was moving day. After much deliberation and apartment hunting I had finally found a really nice apartment in downtown Seattle. It was close enough to my job so that I could walk to work, and still far enough out to not cost ninety percent of my paycheck.

Emmett had driven up from Portland to help me with the move and hang out for a couple days while I settled in.

"Beldorf! You gotta be my eyes while I move this mattress!" Emmett hollered from the top of my staircase. I ran from the moving truck to the bottom of the stairs. "Okay Em, one foot in front of the other. They're just stairs."

"Shut up, I know that. I just need to know when I'm approaching the last one and make sure I don't take off a piece of the railing." I laughed to myself as I remembered the time my freshman year of college when he took off a piece of the wooden staircase railing trying to move my dresser. He made it down the stairs and I guided him again up the narrow ramp to the inside of the truck. I stepped inside as well and began rearranging boxes to make more room for the rest of my bedroom furniture.

"Bells! You have a visitor!" Emmett shouted from outside the truck. It was probably someone from the leasing office asking for my keys back. I hopped off the truck, choosing to bypass the ramp. Once I'd landed, I dusted my hands off and looked up.

Edward.

I shoved my hands in my pockets, suddenly very self conscious of my raggedy navy blue tank top and faded jeans. Edward was casting dirty looks towards Emmett who was off in his own world, checking his cell phone.

"Hey." I said meekly as I approached them. They both glanced in my direction.

"Who's the friend?" Emmett asked pointing with his cell phone towards Edward. Edward shot Em another menacing glare before looking back at me.

"Oh, right. Emmett this is Edward. Edward, this is my brother Emmett."

"Your brother?" Edward asked sounding surprised. I smirked. "Nothing alike, remember?"

He grinned and nodded, "right."

Emmett's voice broke Edward and my moment. "So who is this kid?"

"Edward and I..." Where to begin? Oh right, he already knew everything.

My sudden pause must have tipped him off and his eyes widened with recognition. "Wait... WAIT. So this is..." his voice trailed off and I nodded as the blush spread across my face like wildfire.

He turned back to look at Edward and gave him the twice over. "Better." He told me looking back approvingly. The entire time Edward looking from me to Em and back, not saying a word.

"Well kids, I'm gonna go finish unloading the apartment. Beldorf, just shout if you need anything." He announced as he back peddled towards the apartment complex.

My eyes focused back on Edward and he was staring right at me. "He knows everything?"

I sighed and nodded. "I had to tell someone. And let's just say Em hasn't ever been James' favorite person."

"We should start a club." Edward said dryly, running his fingers through his hair nervously.

"So..."

"So..."

I shook my head, looking at him. "So what're you doing here?"

EPOV

Mmk.

What the fuck was I doing here? I had no fucking clue.

"I... um... well..."

"Yea?" Bella asked, biting her lip as she watched me.

"I was just thinking," I started, shuffling a little on my feet and shrugged. "maybe we could...talk a little?" It sounded okay in my head, but...god, why would she even want to?

"Um.." She stalled, looking down at her feet and I could feel my heart drop. "Yea... okay. Let me go just let my brother know." She told me, gesturing over her shoulder and suddenly I was okay again. I was alive again.

I nodded, looking back toward her brother (who really didn't look anything like her) and sighed. "Yeah, I'll wait here," I told her, walking back toward the street and shoving my hands in my pockets.

I had to get through this.

I had to get through this.

I could get through this.

When Bella returned, she gave me a small smile, shrugging her shoulders slightly. Loved her. Loved her so fucking much. "Okay, all set."

I grinned back at her and we started ambling down the road, silence surrounding us. I owed it to her to tell the truth. She deserved to know what the hell was going on in her own life. I had to just man up and tell her.

I had to.

"I thought we could talk...about everything," I started, mumbling as I looked at my shoes. One foot in front of the other. "There's still some things I think you should know."

She nodded, "Okay."

Okay, deep breath.

Here goes nothing.

"I didn't...I wasn't honest with you...when we got together," I started. "And I've done my best to keep that from you since the beginning."

"Honest about what, exactly?" She asked, like I was litereally killing her with every sentence. And I felt like ass about it. I didn't want to give her one more reason to be sad. I didn't want to be the reason she cried again. But I knew I had to. I knew she had to know.

I sighed. "I caught James and Tanya that first night. I've known they were sleeping together from the beginning."

She stopped dead in her tracks, blinking at me. "What?"

I sucked in my cheeks nodding. "Yeah. That...that's my secret."

I felt like shit.

I felt like she was going to smack me and run away.

Honestly, I wouldn't blame her.

"I'm sorry I kept it from you, but I didn't...I didn't expect us, bella. I didn't expect to love you the way I do, and I definitely didn't expect to be with you forever. BUt then...then everything changed when we kissed," My finger tips came up to my lips and a small smile played at my lips. "And I didn't know how to tell you."

"Oh." She mumbled her eyes drifting down to the sidewalk."Oh."

"I know you're pissed and you're probably wondering why the hell I'm telling you this now," I sighed, watching her carefully. "But I thought you should know."

Bella sucked in a deep breath, pushing back her hair as she nodded. "Well, thanks. I mean... I guess it doesn't matter since James and I have been done for months. But... I guess.. thanks for telling me."

I sucked in a deep breath, nodding a little. "Yeah, I know. Well, no I didn't but I wasn't telling you so you'd know about James. I wanted you to know because I felt like shit for keeping it from you. I still feel bad about it. I'm so fucking sorry Bella, I," I pushed the heel of my hands into my eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry."

She nodded slowly, and I could almost see her mind working. "Yea..." She started, "I'm not really sure what to say. I mean... thanks for not waiting for me to find out another way, I guess."

"And Bella, I love you," I told her, keeping my eyes trained on the ground. "I love you very much and you have to know...you have to know that Tanya and I never set a date," I plead. "SHe was never...I promise when I proposed, you were my only." I stopped, then added in a whisper. "You still are."

"What?" She asked, her voice soft as she looked up at me.

I blinked at her. "I love you," I murmured, watching her carefully.

Her eyes drifted back down and her face was obscured, but not before a saw a small, coy smile playing at her lips."Oh."

She didn't say it back, but...but it was better than her yelling. I smiled a little, in spite of myself and sighed. "That's all I have, Bella."

"Yea." She nodded, "I-I should get back. I only have the truck til five."

I nodded, feeling a new sense of calm wash over me. "Yeah, okay. I walked down so...I guess, this is I'll see you around?"

"You walked? You live in the neighborhood?" She asked, sounding surprised.

I puffed out a laugh, shaking my head. "Still at the studio. I needed to think," I told her, wondering how, on my walk I'd ended up here. Where she was.

"Oh," She nodded, and maybe I only hoped I saw her seem a little disappointed. "Cool. And yea.. I mean... your studio is so close to my office I'm surprised we haven't bumped into each other before today."

"Yeah, me too," I sighed, watching her watching me. "It's good to see you though. It's...really good."

She smiled a little, her blush springing to life over her cheeks."Yea... it's really good seeing you too."

I love you.

I miss you.

My heart fucking aches for you.

Come home.

"And maybe...I'll see you soon?"

She laughed, biting her lip, "You said that already."

I laughed, feeling my own blush rise. Damn it. "Yeah...sorry, I guess I"m nervous."

"Yea... well.. I should really get going. Take care Edward, really." She rushed out, then turned to jog back toward her building.

I sighed watching her go back inside, and for the first time in a very long time it felt like I was breathing.

BPOV

Between lifting boxes up and down flights of stairs, loading and unloading the moving truck and general exhaustion, I managed to talk to my brother.

Thank god he was here.

Otherwise I would have been alone to deal with the aftermath going on in my head.

I wanted to tell him I loved him too.

That I missed him.

That I was sorry for being insane and overreacting and believing whatever was said instead of believing in him and us.

Emmett teased me throughout the afternoon about the guys lining up at my door, before he got older brother on me and warned me about falling for guys that cheat.

And the he said he knew how much I loved Edward, and if I thought there was a chance it could work out for real, that I had to grab it before it was gone.

We hung out the rest of the weekend, goofing off and unpacking and spending a day up in Forks with dad.

Emmett and him went fish and I walked around.

But all I could think about was Edward.

I didn't know if he had the same number and I thought about driving back to Seattle and going to his studio btu that was just adding to my crazy factor.

So I stayed the day, made dinner out of the fish dad and Em had caught, and then the two of us barreled back down to Seattle.

"So you figure out what you're gonna do Belzeratti?" Emmett asked as we sat in rush hour traffic just outside Seattle.

I shook my head. "Not a clue," I admitted.

"Well, sleep on it. Maybe you'll have clearer thoughts without your big brother around." He grinned, rustling my hair. I turned to scowl at him, which just made him laugh and he cranked up the radio.

There was very little that was more amusing that Emmett Swan pelting out Queen lyrics.

I was really lucky to have a brother like him.

A family like I did.

Family.

I sighed, pulling into the underground parking lot of my new apartment complex and swerving into an available spot.

"So, call me when you get home." I reminded Emmett as he hopped out of the car and started jogging over to his muscle truck.

"Yes mom!" He shouted over his shoulder.

I knew he was anxious to get home and to his new love - an Alaskan Husky named Grizzly. I waved as he flipped the ignition and revved up his engine. He grinned, flipping me the peace sign as he whipped into reverse and out of the parking lot.

I headed up to my apartment, where there were still a dozen or so unpacked boxes laying around the various rooms.

There was no energy left in me to bother, so I bypassed them all and b-lined for my bed. Falling backwards onto it, I let myself indulge in the memory of Edward and I on it, spending lazy Sundays curled up together or me under him or visa versa.

The dresser drawer I'd cleared out for him, once again full of my unmentionables. The shelf in the medicine cabinet - the highest one - was cluttered already with my allergy pills, spare razor blades and bandaids.

I felt my stomach grumble and sat up, moving into the kitchen to forage. I hated that just seeing Edward for twenty minutes brought back everything tenfold.

All the memories.

All the good times. And bad. And just...

loving him.

I loved him so much it still hurt to think I'd have to stop one day.

But, did I really have to?

Edward had said he still loved me.

And maybe, we couldn't go on as we had.

Our relationship couldn't be built on infidelty and sex and we couldn't pretend that it was something other than that.

But what if it was something other than that. What if it didn't start as a one night stand, caused by lies and betrayl. What if it was more.

What if we had a solid foundation?

I whipped out my phone and grinned with anticipation and hope - something I hadn't had in a very long time.

i'm not sure if this is still Edward's phone but if it is... and Edward is hungry... the smurfs would like to meet at a specific downtown seattle restaurant in... I glanced up at the time before going back to typing 20 minutes

I grabbed the coat hanging on my newly purchased coat rack and couldn't help what a good omen it could possibly be.

It was Edward's coat.

EPOV

i'm not sure if this is still Edward's phone but if it is...and Edward is hungry...the smurfs would like to meet at a specific downtown seattle restaurant in...20 minutes

I laughed, grinning a little and scratched the back of my neck.

Was I hungry? No, not really.

But did I want to see her? Of course.

I couldn't give up this time. I couldn't let decisions that were made or weren't made get to me because in the end, I had to live with it. I had to fight for her; fight for us. I wanted to cling to whatever was left of bella and I even if there was nothing tangible. Even if there was no Bella for me.

And to be honest, I didn't expect there to be.

My Bella, the Bella I'd met all those months ago was someone I admired, someone I wanted to be like. She didn't hold back and she was completely her own. She never listened to people tell her she couldn't or that it was impossible. Everything was possible for my Bella.

And I knew, after all of the time that passed, and after everything we'd been through there was a very good chance she wouldn't trust me with her heart again. But maybe...maybe she still cared for me. That was enough to make it worth going.

I threw on my coat, hustling down to the garage to get my car and dive out to the docks with more speed than I knew I was capable of. I just knew I had to get there. I had to prove myself to her after everything so that she knew I was all in this time. I didn't have a foot out the door, and there wasn't someone else.

Only her.

Only ever her.

My heart was thumping as though I'd pushed the car to the docks when I got there. I walked slowly to the entrance, my feet like lead.

Everything would be okay.

And as soon as I saw her face, I knew that was true.

She was at the bar, her hands clasped in her lap as she stared at the menu. I made my way over to her slowly, then say beside her. "Hey," I said, my voice sounding quieter than I'd anitcipated.

Bella looked up, smiling as she reached out to shake my hand. "Hi there. I'm... Bella Swan."

I puffed out a laugh, doing a double take and nodded. I took her hand and shook it. "Nice to meet you, I'm Edward Cullen."

"Nice to meet you," She grinned, her smile lighting up her face."Can I buy you a drink?"

I laughed a little, biting my lip. "Sure. Uh...whisky sour?"

Bella held out a hand for the bar tender and ordered for us both before turning back to me. "Are you here for dinner too, or just a drink?"

"Dinner," I nodded, smiling over at her again. "Are you...waiting for someone?"

"Not tonight," She said, paying for our drinks before she smiled, "What about you?"

I shook my head. "Nope. Free as a bird." Except for my heart. It belongs to you.

"Well, perhaps you'd like to join me for dinner then?" She invited, handing me my drink and looking at me over the rim of hers.

I nodded, taking the glass from her and holding it in my hands. "Sounds good, thank you."

Bella got up first and slung her-no, my jacket over her shoulders. My jacket. She'd kept it. "Lead the way."

I grinned over at her, seeing my girl and everything we'd been through. The fights, the lies, the cheating the secrets...and somehow it all faded away. It was just Bella and I again. Just the two of us against whatever came our way. "Gladly," I grinned, following her to the hostess and then to a table; the same table we'd had our first date at all those months ago.

This was the way it should have been.

Bella sat across from me, taking a sip of her drink before she spoke again, "So, you want to hear this hilarious theory I've heard about racist smurfs?" She asked me, beaming all the while.

I nodded, grinning over at her and leaned across the table. "Badly."

She started telling me my theory again rehashing every detail of it, as we ate and talked and laughed. It sounded better when she told it. Everything seemed like a distant memory, but new at the same time. Everything was fresh again, and everything was clear. It was beginning again.

We finished and I sat back, watching as the sun set behind her. "Hey, you wanna walk down to the docs?" I asked, smiling a little over at her.

Bella noddd, "Sure, I parked near them."

I laughed a little, nodding as I paid the check, then started for the door. "It's supposed to be a beautiful night."

She turned, looking out the window and I felt her hand brush against mine. "Mhm."

I looped my hand around, brushing my fingers over her palm at scratching lightly at it. "I love the water, too. It's nice down here.'

"Yea, it is... relaxing." She said, lacing her fingers with mine and and I sighed.

I squeezed her hand in mine, sighing a little as we stopped to look over the water. "It'd be nice to just take a boat and sail away."

Her face scrunched up in the most adorable way and I couldn't help but smile. "I don't like boats. My balance is bad enough on stable ground... boats are kind of a no-no for me." She laughed, as though I needed to be reminded of this.

I laughed, leaning my head on my free hand as i looked over at her. "I take it your a klutz, then." My klutz.

She nodded, pulling our laced hands around her back so that she was even closer to me, and I could smell her familiar scent. "Yea, a bit." She murmured, blushing a little.

I pulled her closer, her face inches away from mine and I sighed. "I'll have to be careful to keep you up then."

She nodded, her voice barely above a whisper. "Yea, the best way is usually not to let go."

I shook my head, my other hand coming up to brush over her cheek. "I don't think I can."

"Good, because I don't think I want you to."

I nodded, leaning in to press my lips gently to hers. Suddenly my world exploded. Color, light everything that I'd been missing was pouring into my world. Bella brought that for me. She took a kid who probably didn't deserve her or for her to love him and made him better. I grew up because of her. Because she loved me and made me accountable.

But I still felt...calm.

As if every single moment in my life were leading up to this one moment.

"This feels different," I sighed, pulling back a little and dropping the charade as I kissed over her face.

Her hand came up to my jaw and she nodded, "Better... it's just so much better." And with that her lips were on mine again.

She was right, it was.

For the first time, it was everything it could be.