Notes: Hey long time, no see! This was written for the Help Haiti Auction a few months ago, so if you donated to that, you got to read this much earlier.
This is an outtake from the end of RSoF, written in actual narrative instead of my weird texting. :) Thanks to Anechk86 for being my beta again.
POST ON THE RED STRINGS OF FATE MESSAGE BOARD
REPLY TO YOUR POST
Wait… Edward? And Alice? And Jasper, too? Who all is on here, discussing my personal life??
Actually, no, nevermind. I don't want to know. I hope you got your entertainment fix or dose of reality TV or whatever you were after from my life.
As soon as the post was submitted, Bella jabbed at her computer and turned it off without bothering to shut it down. With tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, she threw herself onto her bed and stared at the ceiling. How could Edward have done this to her? And after she had let herself fall in love with him…
Her phone chirped in its obnoxiously chipper ringtone from her nightstand, the one that Bella had set for Edward as soon as she got his number. Blindly, she reached over and hit ignore, dropping it back to the table.
No sooner than it had been silenced did it ring again, this time in Alice's ringtone. Again, Bella hit ignore, debating whether or not to just turn the phone off. But Renee hinted she might call and Bella hated to turn off her phone in case she tried to call her. If she didn't answer when her mother called, she'd freak out and call Charlie. And if father tried to call and Bella didn't answer, he'd worry and a worried cop plus a worried Renee was the last thing Bella wanted to deal with at the moment.
Her phone rang again, this time signaling a text. Out of habit, her eyes flickered to the screen and saw it was from Edward.
"Bella, please. Just talk to me. I can explain, as cliché as that sounds."
Bella didn't want to hear any explanations. She just wanted to be left alone.
Meanwhile, Edward was almost in a full out sprint as he cut across campus in his desperate attempt to speak to her as soon as possible. Redialling as many times as his phone allowed, there was still no sign that Bella was going to give in any time soon. He tried a text, to see if that would offer any better luck, but he got no response.
He reached her apartment and began banging on the door before he even caught his breath. There was no way she could ignore him all night long. And if all night long was what it took, then that was what he was willing to give.
When it was clear that she wasn't going to answer his calls, he left a message.
"Bella. Please. I know I did something stupid. I know I hurt you, but I swear I didn't mean to, and I'll do whatever it takes to make the hurt go away. Please just let me in so I can talk to you."
He lowered the phone dejectedly. His arm was growing tired from pounding on the door, and he was still gasping for breath from his impromptu marathon. He sunk to the ground, leaning against the door and completely at a loss for what he was supposed to do next.
Bella was weak. She listened to his voice mail, her heart breaking all over again at the sound of his voice.
The ping of her computer made her jump and she realized she'd only turned the screen off and not the whole machine. She debated looking or not, but in the end curiosity crushed her and she switched the screen back on.
It was from Edward, of course.
To: Bella (ciaobella(a)mymailman. com)
From: Edward (eacullen(a)mymailman. com)
Subject: I made another mistake
I'll stand out here all night if I have to, but Bella, please listen to me. I meant every word I ever said to you. This wasn't just some game or means of entertainment to me. I've gotten to really know you, and to really care about you. And I know that despite the fact you're upset right now, you can't ignore the New Mail chime. I know that you're sitting there, as you read this, biting your lip, and fiddling with a curl of hair, like you always do when you're anxious about something. You probably didn't even realize you were doing it.
Bella, I'm not perfect. I'm going to make mistakes. You know this better than anyone. But I don't regret going on that board. Without it, I never would have had the courage to talk to you. I never would have been able to get anywhere in a relationship with you. You don't realize how intimidating you are – you're so beautiful and so sweet. You're so everything I ever wanted. Please tell me I didn't ruin this forever?
The tears flowed freely now, as she realized just how well Edward knew her. She was indeed twisting one strand of hair around her fingers and biting her lip. She stopped doing both as soon as she realized she was doing it, but her stomach turned in painful ways.
The phone rang again, and again she hit ignore. She wanted to forgive him and believe the best, but as she'd skimmed that thread, she'd seen her most embarrassing moment to date, and several accounts of her dates with Edward. Those dates with Edward had been important to her, and private. To see them online like that seemed to cheapen them. They weren't just hers and Edward's anymore, they belonged to everyone and anyone now.
Again, the phone called to her. Again, she hit ignore. But she knew that if he kept calling all night, she'd give in and answer eventually. And even through her anger and hurt, she knew that talking to him wasn't a good idea – they would both probably say things they didn't meant to say.
So when the phone sang to her again, she typed out a reply.
"Please go home. You're going to get sick if you sit out there all night."
She got a response almost immediately.
"Not until I talk to you. Did you get my message?"
Which message did he mean? The ones that hurt to look at online? The voicemail? His latest email?
"I got your email. And your voice message. Please, just go home. I can't do this tonight."
Again, an almost instant reply.
"I'm not giving up on you."
And then her phone fell silent. She didn't know how to respond, so she said nothing. Instead she peaked out her window, to see if Edward was indeed still there.
He was. He was huddled on her doorstep, cradling his phone like his last lifeline, and clearly distraught.
Bella couldn't stand to have him out there all night, and she knew he was stubborn enough to do just that. So she punched in Alice's number.
Alice answered on the first ring. "Bella! I'm so-"
"I really don't want to talk to you or anyone right now." Her voice was clipped and soft. "I just need you to get Edward off my porch. I don't care what you have to do. Call his brother if you have to. He owes me one anyway. "
"Bella, you don't have all the details, please just-"
Bella cut her off again. "Alice. Just do this one thing for me." And then she hung up before Alice could protest any further. She watched from her window until Emmett drove up, and then she pulled her blinds shut, turned off every electrical device that connected her to the outside world, calls from Charlie forgotten, and went to cry herself to sleep.
Edward, on the other hand, wasn't going to give up without a fight. He refused to move from his post, forcing his brother to get physical. Edward wasn't a big guy like Emmett, but he wasn't going to make this easy.
First he went limp, making himself as heavy as possible as Emmett finally lifted him over his shoulders, much like he had Bella not so long ago. Edward struggled all the way to the car, pounding Emmett's back and head, and kicking whatever he could.
Finally, Emmett just dumped him in the passenger seat of his jeep. Edward knew it was a lost cause from there, and resigned himself to sulking and glaring at Emmett.
"Look, knock it off, Edward." Emmett could only take the glaring for about two blocks before speaking. It wasn't a long drive, but he couldn't stand the tense silence.
"You screwed up. We both know this. Now man up and unscrew it up."
"That's was I was trying to do," Edward replied darkly.
"Well you were doing a crappy job of it," Emmet remarked.
"I was doing the best I knew how. "
"Well then let me tell you something I've learned while I've been married to Rose. Sometimes, you've just got to give them their space. Sometimes, everything I say just makes things worse. So I leave her alone for a bit, and then when we've both calmed down, we can talk about things like adults. And then have great make-up sex."
Edward didn't even bother to roll his eyes as the car rolled to a stop in front of his building.
"Seriously, bro, you both just need to calm down. And if you go back over there, I'll just have to come back and drag you home again. And as much as I enjoy dragging you around, I'm not so much a fan of being outside in the cold in the middle of the night. Don't make me beat you up."
"Whatever," Edward said sulkily, climbing out of the car. He didn't say anything else, and instead let the key in his right hand doing the talking as he dragged it alongside the jeep's shiny exterior.
The next day, Bella woke up with an enormous headache, feeling like she'd run clear to the Pacific and thrown herself in it only to be thrown back to shore because the ocean didn't want her.
With a groan, she pulled herself upright and shook her head, trying to wake up. She was still in her clothes from the day before, and was a bit sore from sleeping in her jeans. So the first item of business was to shower and change her clothes.
Once that was done, she felt remarkably better. At least until she caught site of her phone. With no small amount of trepidation, she turned it back on.
Fifteen missed calls from Edward. Another two from Alice. At least there weren't any from either parent.
No texts or messages, though, thankfully. She dismissed all her missed alerts and set to the next task of checking her email. She was sure she'd get some messages there.
And her inbox didn't disappoint. Not only did she have several from Edward and Alice, but also she must have somehow unwittingly subscribed to the thread that had made this whole mess in the first place.
"Well, Alice, you said I didn't have all the details," she muttered to herself. "I'm going to get them now."
She went back to the website and began reading from the very beginning. She wasn't even two pages in when she realized what a mistake she'd made. Snippets stuck in her memory and she tried to read faster and faster until she reached her own post.
"one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen…"
"I wrote down what I want to say, so hopefully I won't screw this up…."
"It sounded perfect..."
Bella had never full grasped just how hard Edward was working to impress her and just how much effort he had put into their relationship. She knew she owed Edward a serious apology. She tried calling, but there was no answer and it was then she realized what time it was. The whole day was nearly passed and she missed both her classes and her work.
'It was worth it though,' she thought to herself.
She tried the next best way to contact Edward and typed out an email, agonizing over each word and phrase before deciding that simple honesty was probably best.
I read the whole post. Alice told me I didn't have all the details, and talked me into reading it.
I should probably be telling you this in person, but I'd like to keep some of my pride in tact.
I was wrong. I can see now that you were just trying to impress me. I'm actually really touched at all you went through for me. No one's ever tried that hard for me before. I wish you would have just talked to me, but I can understand why you didn't. I'm not mad at you anymore.
However, I'm still very much mad at Alice. She should have told me. Or at the very least, not posted on the board. She was going behind my back. And when I was freaking out about you and everything, she knew exactly what was going on and still didn't tell me anything. She was my best friend, she's supposed to tell me everything.
But that's a whole other thing. Please come over.
Then all she could do was sit back and wait.
Edward, on the other hand, was pulling his hair out when he discovered that in his earnest desperation to contact Bella, he'd let his phone battery die. He had gone to class in hopes of seeing her, and then to work in case she tried to find him, but neither attempt turned fruitful, and he wondered what else could go wrong.
"Ben, please tell me you have your phone on you," he begged his coworker.
"Yeah, always. Do you need it?"
"I just need to check my email really quick."
"You've been checking your own phone all afternoon, is something up?" Ben asked as he handed his iPhone over.
"More than something," Edward mumbled, already distracted as he entered his sign-on info.
He almost dropped the phone when he saw he finally received a response from Bella. He read through it quickly once, then again to make sure he wasn't just imagining it.
Without even signing out, he tossed the phone back to Ben, grabbed his jacket and ran out the door calling, "I gotta go! I'll explain later!"
Within minutes he was back outside Bella's door. He knocked once, eagerly, though not quite sure what to expect.
Bella opened the door shyly. "That was quick."
Edward immediately began to apologize all over again, "Bella I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have gone behind your back like that and I-"
She held her hand up to his lips, effectively shutting him up. "I know. I'm sorry, too, for overreacting." She paused, and laughed half-heartedly at herself. "Why don't you come in first?"
He gave her a small smile and follower her inside. They both sat on the couch, a respectful distance away from each other, neither knowing quite what to say, but both happy just to be with the other.
"So," Edward began again. "You read the rest of the thread?"
"I did," Bella said, looking down and picking at the couch.
"And you still want to talk to me?"
"If anything I want to talk to you more," she confessed. And that seemed to be all she needed to open the floodgates. "Edward, I should have known you wouldn't have done anything to hurt me. I'm honestly so touched at how much effort and work you put into getting my attention and into trying to make me happy. And I was happy. So happy. And I think that's what freaked me out. After such a perfect night, I think I couldn't believe it was real and that it was really happening to me. So when I saw that thread, it gave me an excuse to say that it wasn't all real."
"I meant it, everything I did and said that night," Edward insisted. "You know that right?"
"I think so. At least, now I do."
"Bella, look at me?" He couldn't stand the way she felt so far away.
She lifted her head and met his gaze, and that gave him all the strength he needed to continue.
"Bella, I love you." He said. "I meant it when I said it then, and I mean it now. You are such an amazing person, and I know I've screwed up. But I'm not good at this stuff, and I'm probably going to screw up again."
She laughed at that.
"But I'm not stupid either." He took her hands in his and kissed her fingers. "I'm not going to make the same mistakes again, and I'm not going to lose you."
"I don't want to lose you either," she admitted. "I'll try not to be so stupid next time you screw up and give you time to explain." Now it was his turn to laugh. "But seriously now," she shifted so she was kneeling beside him, "I love you, too. And I don't want us to break up over something stupid like a misunderstanding."
"Let's not talk about breaking up anymore," Edward said, "I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. I didn't exactly sleep well last night."
Bella looked contrite. "I'm sorry about that, too."
"Don't be, no more apologies. Just get over here," he pulled her over until she was nestled against his side, where she stayed wrapped in his arms until they both drifted off to sleep.