AN: My third fanfic =P Whoot whoot

Very angst-y. Edward's POV as he leaves Bella. I seriously cried as I wrote this =(

Enjoy! Reviews will cheer me up and out of my Edward-angst-induced depression.

The quiet, green-filtered solemnity of the forest was the exact reverse of my present state of mind. My insides were churning with conflict and desire and regret and self-hatred.

You have to do this, my noble side reminded me. Keep Bella safe.

Just kiss her and blow this whole thing over. Do what you want for a change, my less noble side urged.

My love was walking next to me. I found her facial expression peculiar and amusing-it was somewhere between panicked and determined, like when she had been cornered by those low lives in Port Angeles. I growled mentally. I would always regret that I didn't go back, that I didn't give that monster Lonnie the drawn-out, excessively painful end he deserved. Knowing that he was in prison wasn't enough, not by a long shot.

At the same time, I was fighting the urge to reach out and take Bella's hand. Her skin was so soft, smooth and warm . . .

I stopped a few strides into the woods and leaned against the tree, measuring the distance from here to Charlie's house. It would only take her a few minutes to walk back, and the path was clear enough that she could find her way.

Now. The hardest thing I would ever do in my entire existence.

I had to say goodbye.

"Okay, let's talk," Bella said. I knew her voice; she was straining to sound brave, but panic and dread lurked just below the fa├žade in her angelic voice.

I inhaled unnecessarily. Before the words were even out of my mouth, a sharp-edged dagger of pain and longing plunged deep into my chest. I wasn't sure if I could continue. No. I had to say goodbye. Bella deserved a normal, happy life free of the supernatural. If we moved on (well, I wouldn't), she would eventually forget. She could be happy. "Bella, we're leaving."

She took a deep breath. "Why now? Another year-"

Her words confused me. Another year? For what? Who? Then I understood-she thought that it would be her, and me. The knife twisted. I had to make myself more clear, even if it killed me.

"Bella, it's time. How much longer could we stay in Forks, after all? Carlisle can barely pass for thirty, and he's claiming thirty-three now. We'd have to start over soon regardless."

Bella gazed at me, looking bewildered. I waited, trying to make my expression look cold and impassive. It wouldn't take her long to deduce my meaning. Bella was intelligent. And beautiful, and good, and kind . . . Then her face crumpled. My unbeating heart contracted.

"When you say we-" she whispered.

"I mean my family and myself." How I wished I could say you and me.

Bella was shaking her head back and forth. In denial? I wished I could know for sure. "Okay. I'll come with you."

Yes, I wanted to say. Come with me.

"You can't, Bella. Where we're going . . . It's not the right place for you." Where was I getting the strength from to hurt my Bella so much? I could see the hurt in her eyes. I was a monster.

Where was I going, exactly? I supposed that Esme would try to lure me to Alaska to find solace among the snow-topped peaks as I had last time when I had ran from Bella the first time when she had come to Forks.

I didn't want to go anyway. It was no attraction to Forks itself I had, rather an irrationally strong attraction to the Forks-habiting girl standing before me with a heartbreaking grimace on her face.

"Where you are is the right place for me!" the words burst from her lips, sounding desperate and angry and sad.

"I'm no good for you, Bella." These were perhaps the first true words I had spoken. Someone as good as Bella deserved someone perfect-not a repulsive monster like me. Someone that couldn't hurt her, ever.

"Don't be ridiculous," she begged, splintering my dead heart into two pieces. "You're the very best part of my life!" I listened to her heartbeat, fast and jerky with anxiety.

I wanted to scoop her up in my arms and kiss every part of her that I could reach. I wanted to kiss away her hurt, her anger.

But what was best for her was far more important than what I wanted.

"My world is not for you," I replied, words colored grim by the horrifying memory of Jasper, my brother, snarling and leaping forward with his wild eyes focused on Bella, humanity having dissipated in his sudden thirst. I felt an unexpected urge to chuckle. Only my angel could get a paper cut when she was surrounded by vampires.

As though reading my thoughts, Bella cried, "What happened with Jasper-that was nothing, Edward! Nothing!" Each word pierced my heart like poison-tipped darts.

"You're right," I answered, self-loathing spreading through my body. I was truly a beast, taking this delicate creature from her safe, albeit mundane, human world and dropping her head first into the dark shadows of my immortal world. "It was exactly what was to be expected."

It was exactly what was to be expected. Bella, being put in danger time and time again. I shuddered inwardly, remembering seeing her nearly dead from loss of blood, broken and bleeding on the ballet studio floor, and knowing it was my fault. Even worse, her screams as I knelt over her and sucked the venom from James's bite, thinking I would end her life myself. A huge gash in her arm, filled with fragments of glass, her face contorted in discomfort of the smell, eyes wide with fright. And on other occasions when, unconsciously, my words wounded her, beautiful, fragile features freezing in shock and pain.

"You promised!" My angel looked like she was going to cry. "In Phoenix, you promised that you would stay-"

"As long as that was best for you."

"No! This is about my soul, isn't it?" she shouted. I froze. "Carlisle told me about that, and I don't care, Edward. I don't care! You can have my soul. I don't want it without you-it's yours already!"

I inhaled. I knew this would be hard. How many times had I kissed Bella and whispered that I loved her? I knew it would take hours to convince her of the truth of this blasphemy. I focused my gaze on the moss covered earth for a few long seconds, studying the tiny creatures scuttling through the grass as I controlled my expression, attempting indifference.

"Bella, I don't want you to come with me." Each word hurt like a rusty knife stabbing my heart.

Her face folded, and she looked as though she was trying to decode any secret message in my words that would give away the real truth. Her heartbeat and breathing grew jagged.

"You . . . Don't . . . want me?" The words fell uncertainly from my love's lips.

She believed me?

Hope blossomed in my chest. Maybe, if she really thought I didn't love her anymore, that would make this parting less painful. I didn't care at all what pain I would be on the receiving end of when I left her; I would deserve every moment of the agony I would endure for the rest of my existence. Bella didn't need to suffer as I would. She needed a clean break.

A sneak preview of the agony flooded my mind, almost numbingly strong. "No."

Bella's face had frozen. She looked stunned, like a surviving witness to a cataclysmic accident. When she spoke, I half expected no sound to come out. But on the contrary, her voice sounded calm. "Well, that changes things."

"Of course, I'll always love you, in a way," I said, turning and looking at the stretch of emerald. The most passionate, obsessive way there is. "But what happened the other night made me realize that it's time for a change. Because I'm . . . tired of pretending to be something I'm not, Bella." I was tired of lying to myself, buttering my ego, telling myself I was good enough for this angel on Earth. "I am not human. I've let this go on much too long, and I'm sorry for that."

"Don't," my love whispered. The tiny word almost shattered my resolve to walk away right then. "Don't do this."

"You're not good for me, Bella." I wanted to laugh out loud-the statement would have to be reversed to be true, the way I had uttered them earlier. Bella deserved better. I was the one who was worthy of nothing more than this dark immortal hell.

"If . . . That's what you want," Bella whispered.

I nodded physically, mentally shaking my head with as much force as I was capable of. "I would like to ask one favor, though, if that's not too much." Then her blank, numb face registered in my head, and a portion of the agony roiling inside of me flitted across my face before I could compose it. How many times had I seen that face smile in delight, seen those eyes sparkle as I played with her hair or caressed her cheek? Apparently I could hurt her just as strongly.

"Anything."

"Don't do anything reckless or stupid," I ordered. "Do you understand what I'm saying?" For, even if I could never see her again to keep her safe I wanted to know that somewhere in the world my angel was alive and hopefully happy.

She nodded, looking helpless.

A clean break. A clean break, Edward. I just needed a few more words, a promise, and I could leave this ordeal behind me. And Bella would be free to live and flourish without me, an immortal anchor dragging her down and away to a life of melancholy eternity. "I'm thinking of Charlie, of course," I added, fighting to keep my voice detached. "He needs you. Take care of yourself-for him." And me.

She nodded again weakly. "I will."

"And I'll make you a promise in return. I promise that this will be the last time you'll see me. I won't come back," I vowed, my heart and lungs tearing themselves to pieces. From the expression on Bella's face, her organs were doing the same thing. "I won't put you through anything like this again. You can go on with your life without any more interference from me. It will be as if I'd never existed." If I'd died in 1918 as I should have, instead of being saved by Carlisle, damned to an eternity of darkness.

I smiled, allowing the expression to be a little less distant, more tender. I could afford that now, because I had clearly convinced her. I felt as euphoric as I did pained-Bella would not have to suffer, and my own suffering would now be ten folded. "Don't worry. You're human-your memory is no more than a sieve. Time heals all wounds for your kind."

"And your memories?" my angel choked out.

"Well-" I paused, pondering the ocean of grief and pain that stretched out before me. No doubt I would fall to pieces at every petite brunette on the street. "I won't forget. But my kind . . . We're very easily distracted." I tried to smile, making the expression tranquil. There would be no distraction for me.

I took a step back. "That's everything, I suppose. We won't bother you again."

The plural we must have caught her attention. Bella was nothing if not perceptive. "Alice isn't coming back," she breathed, too quietly for mortal ears.

"No. They're all gone. I stayed behind to tell you goodbye." I breathed in, remembering Alice's complaining screams. No, Edward! I have to! I love her too! And Esme's begging, Emmett's brotherly instincts bringing him regret, Jasper a wreck from the despair and sorrow in the atmosphere . . .

"Alice is-gone?" Bella sounded disbelieving.

"She wanted to say goodbye, but I convinced her that a clean break would be better for you." A clean break. The meteor crashing onto the sand, sinking beyond the horizons abruptly.

"Goodbye, Bella." The two words I had never thought I would have to say in the same sentence escaping my lips. Suddenly this entire situation sounded entirely surreal, like I would suddenly find myself in Bella's rocking chair watching her sleep. I stepped back.

"Wait!" she said, reaching her hand out to me. My own hands reached out to lock around her wrists and pin them to her sides. Then I ducked my head down and with the gentlest pressure touched my lips to her forehead for an instant. Her chocolate orbs closed softly.

"Take care of yourself," I whispered, then turned and ran headfirst into my ocean of pain, leaving my heart in her hands.