6 Months after Critical Mass ended.

It's October, midterm preparations are underway for my first semester classes at the community college near Forks. Nothing much has changed school-wise. Mike, Jessica, Angela and Ben all attend the college there too. We even have our own section in the student union for Forks High graduates. Familiar mundane faces fill each of my classes since it is so small. The college money I had been saving up wasn't much from working a part time time job at the Newton's store. The best decision for me right now was to live at Charlie's while going to work and school. I don't mind being stuck in Forks at all. My time besides work and school is split between my boyfriend and werewolf Jacob Black, my friends from school and my best friend slash former love, vampire Edward Cullen.

Charlie explained to me before to manage my time to not fill my life up with just one person. And now I am, even though Charlie isn't fond of The Cullens return, especially Edward's. Neither is Jacob. After horrible fights and arguments in the beginning between Jacob and I over spending time with The Cullens, I got my way.

Edward came back to Forks after seeing Alice's vision of me jumping to my supposed death into the ocean. He tried reasoning his leaving over a year a go for my well being and that he was still completely in love with me. I didn't believe it, er well wanted to believe it because that spring I began dating Jacob, who also had imprinted on me, another werewolf thing. Edward wanted to be with me but understood that I was taken. A compromise was set in place. Edward and I don't talk about our feelings, it's hard...for both of us but we make it work.

I was chirped into coherency by birds that had made a nest in between my window panes. I stretched in my bed, my joints felt like they hadn't moved for years. My blankets and comforters were all knocked off the bed, I must have had a rough sleep. I sat up and huffed from the sleep that was still in my back. "Oh!" I gasped as I saw someone sitting in my rocking chair. Edward.

"Good morning." Edward smiled his infamous crooked smile while rocking back and forth.

We were supposed to go hiking on Mt. Hood today in Portland. Hiking was one of the physical activities the new phase of our relationship took up. Something healthy and something that friends would do, right?

"Please tell me I didn't oversleep?" I asked jumping out of bed too fast. The room spun and my eyes were being clouded over by television snow.

Before the room stopped spinning and my eyes adjusted Edward had his arms around me sitting me down. A look of concern flashed through his eyes as I turned to him. The look quickly resolved into amusement. "Hiking may not be a good idea today." Edward smiled.

I turned and looked at my alarm clock, "10:30! Edward I told you yesterday you could wake me up if I wasn't up at 8!"

"You looked like you needed your rest when I got here, I didn't want to wake you. You need to at least be cohearent to hike."

Edward always put me and my needs first...even though we weren't together, together.

"I'm wide awake and ready for some dirt and trees, lets go." I said as I got out of bed successfully this time.

"Breakfast first" Edward advised appearing in front of me before I could take a step out of my bedroom.

"Fine, may I dress first?" I snipped at him, slowly holding up my clothes in front of his face.

He rolled his eyes and let me pass, stepping away and allowing me to proceed with his arm pulled away from him acting as a servant.

I headed down stairs to find Edward holding the chair out for me. I curtsied to him and sat down. He appeared in the seat across from me before I had the chance to scoot the chair towards the table. I wore a huge grin on my face as I stared at him. Even after everything we had been through I still melted inside when he looked at me in certain ways, and I'm sure he could tell the effect he had on me still by the splatting of my heart beat. "Well..." I eyed him.

"What?" He hated that he couldn't read my mind.

"What's for breakfast?" I sarcastically asked, my eyes wide searching the kitchen.

"No, not this again!" Edward looked at me sternly.

I laughed and jumped up and went to the cabinets. "Let's see, it looks like we have a few white tailed deer, some mountain lion, know thats your fave, and ummm and a few squirrels..."

"Stop it." Edward grumbled.

I poured myself some orange juice and I got my cereal, sat at the table and started eating. "What is that?" Edward asked intrigued, his eyes widening at my glass of orange juice.

"Have you not seen Star Trek?" I asked taking a sip out of the cup he was asking about.

"Umm...the television show? Yes. I didn't think you would be a fan. I'm sure it is before your time." He was thoroughly confused. I could tell he was thinking about my age and the date that the show was released. He also knew that I had no appetite for modern day television.

"I know there was an entire series of Star-Trek and I've passed through the channels it aired when I was younger but they made a movie. We went to Port Angeles the other day and watched it. Edward, you have to see it sometime! It was so intense! " I grunted and crushed my hands into fists. " I've never seen the show, didn't know what a Klingon was until I watched it and I was blown away. This is Spock." I introduced as I picked up my cup and did the Vanna White Wheel of Fortune showing to my Burger King Spock cup.

His eyes never left mine to examine the cup. He studied my expression and his serious look turned to sincere amusement as he took in my elaborate fascination with the glass.

"I still have three more to get to complete my collection." I noted.

"Ahh..What did you do yesterday?" Edward asked. He honestly did not know since his sister Alice could not see my plans when I was with Jacob.

I stopped chewing and put my spoon down. Sometimes I feel like I have to think things through before talking to Edward about Jacob and I. He gets upset by some of the things I let him in on. He doesn't think I am safe around him. He won't like what I'm about to tell him. "We rode our motorcycles around this dirt road in the country and Sam and Emily had a cookout to celebrate their engagement. They're getting married next month. I'm not sure why so soon. I thought weddings took like a year to plan out."

I wasn't surprised that it angered Edward when I told him about the motorcycles, he's been insisting getting me a helmet but I knew it would make Jacob mad that Edward would buy me things.

"Good for them." Was all Edward said, his eyes dropped to the bowl in front of me.

I took a big bite and chewed.

And that was all that was said about Jacob or any of the werewolves down at La Push. After I ate, I jumped on his back and we made our way to Portland. We spent the afternoon hiking around the woods and Mt. Hood and then rested at the top once we reached it. We sat up there for a few hours talking and watching people below us. It was a blessing that we could still be ourselves when we were together even though I was no longer his. We were completely comfortable with each other without the pressures of being intimate with one another. But sometimes I could see a touch of sadness in him when he wasn't being careful, letting his guard down. It made my heart hurt and my stomach flip. I felt like I was holding him hostage, only allowing a friendship when I knew he wanted much more. I know the best thing for him would be to leave and never come back. Like he was supposed to do the first time. He told me he feels like he has a duty to stay and look after me after inflicting so much danger to me with a slew of vampires who wanted me dead and my new friends and his only enemy the werewolves. And there was one more thing, he said he would never leave me again, that he would prove to me that he still loved and his leaving was the worst mistake he's ever made and would stay and convince me that he still loved me. Which I believe now but the first few months I did not listen to him. Edward knew that I didn't want him to leave either, I wouldn't be whole anymore, like I was before when he took off.

It was nearing dusk when we arrived back to Charlie's house. Charlie was home and I was going to fix dinner for the both of us. "Do you want to help?" I asked.

Edward looked at the door, eyeing it like he could see through it, "Charlie still isn't fond of me." He squinted at me, he was reading Charlie's mind through the door most likely.

"F' Charlie, c'mon." I said grabbing his arm.

"Hey! Where did that language come from?!" Edward almost sounded offended.

"Errr Jacob." I mumbled opening the door.

Edward huffed and I heard a low hiss come from deep from his chest.

"Hi Bella, Edward. I didn't hear you guys pull up." Charlie greeted us from the recliner.

I ignored Charlie's observation and went straight to the topic of food. "Dad, I got this pasta cook book the other day and I wanted to try something from it. We can fix a chicken macaroni bake. It will take like an hour and a half though. Did you eat lunch early?" I asked scrounging around the cabinet for the ingredients.

"Sounds great Bella." Charlie gave no reason to get off the chair.

Edward was a great cook now, he often helped fix meals for Charlie and I when he came over. I didn't punish him with the raw chicken, he cringed away from that. He boiled and fixed the macaroni, mixed ingredients and greased the pan for me as I did the rest.

It was then under the kitchen and stove lights that I noticed his eyes and the bags around them.

"Hey when was the last time you hunted?" I whispered next to him over the stove.

"Last Monday" He shrugged.

I almost gasped. I didn't like that he wasn't eating right, it just made everything harder for him since I smelled too appetizing to him.

"Edward! You can't do this to yourself! Are you planning on going anywhere anytime soon?" I hissed.

He looked at me, "Yes" he finally said.

"Why this long?"

He looked at me again, as if he didn't want to tell me.

"What is it?" I started to probe.

He really didn't want to tell me.

I put the dish towel and spoon that I was holding on the table and stood there with my hands on my hips glaring at him.

He laughed and took a step towards me and hesitated but then in a split second I was in his arms, my face pressed up against his chest. His lips were right at my ear, "You are adorable when you try to be serious." He murmered. "Emmett and Jasper picked up on an unusual scent late last week that wasn't from one of us. It was only one and we haven't picked up anything since then. I haven't left only out of precaution." He explained.

I pulled away from his embrace and looked up at him sadly, "Edward I'm so tired of...of everything." That statement applied to many things. I put a hand up to my forehead and took a deep breath. Ever since my encounter in the meadow with Laurent and the young visitor in my room a half a year a go everyone has been on guard of the strange events that all result most likely from Victoria.

Bubbling, sizzling and hissing came from behind me. I spun around and saw the pot of pasta had bubbled over. Edward was there before me taking it off the burner and turning down the heat. I walked over to the stove too. "Nothing to worry about." Edward smiled as he fidgeted with the stove with one hand and stroking my hair with the other.

"Pasta's done." I quickly changed the subject and smiled at him.

He laughed and grabbed the pot and poured the hot water into the sink, he wouldn't allow me to do it because last time I scalded myself when the water that splashed up onto my cheek.

We finished dinner and Edward did not stay for the eating part, as usual. I went to the door to let him out, "Thanks for today, I really enjoyed it. I think it made the list of top days." I said as we walked outside.

"Mine too." He said smiling, standing in an awkward position. Saying goodbye was the weirdest part of our relationship.

"Eat." I said flatly.

"I will." He put his hands up in defeat.

"I'll see you soon." I took a step towards him.

"Yes, soon." I could hardly hear him. His face was twisted with emotion.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him. He let out a big sigh and finally returned the hug.