A BRIEF AND SOMEWHAT STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Whilst the plotline and its components are in essence my own, the characters and dynamics belong solely to Ms Stephenie Meyer.
Um...yeah...heh heh...sorry. Time flies, doesn't it?
Chapter 15 - Talk
"I love you."
My eyes snapped back to his instantly, and they were smouldering. My breath caught in my throat. Our eyes met for a second, and then he leant in swiftly and pressed his lips to mine.
The instant his mouth met mine I forgot everything. I put aside the consequences, abandoned reality and kissed him back with a passion. Our lips moved in synchronisation and my mind was racing. He pressed against me, still pinning my body down, and I kissed him back, stronger and fiercer than we'd ever kissed before. My breathing sped up even though there was no use for it, and it felt as if my heart were beating again. I strained against him again, this time to get closer, and every line of his body was pressed into mine.
Fire raced through my body and our lips moved in a passionate rhythm as we kissed for what seemed like hours. When he finally drew away he leant his forehead against mine and breathed my name, as my eyes closed and I breathed raggedly.
I was home.
I fought to regain my breath, my eyes closed and his forehead against mine. As whole as I felt at that moment I could still feel the wave of anguish and loss hovering above me, ready to sweep over me again and tear open the newly-healed hole in my chest. I fought to keep the emotions at bay. My eyes clenched shut, my body tensed and my breathing sped up as I battled against the despair, trying to retain the love and passion I felt when Edward kissed me.
Edward felt my body tense under his and I felt him pull his head back to look at me.
His voice sent me over the edge. A sob broke through my lips and I shoved against him with all my strength. I felt his body fly off mine, heard him land on his feet a few metres away with a thud. I couldn't hold back the sobs any longer, and half sat up, turning my face away from him and digging my fingers into the soil as my chest heaved and my body shook with agony. I hated myself for losing it like this in front of him.
"Bella?" He was back at my side in an instance, one hand on my shoulder. I shrugged him off of me and twisted my body further away from him. "Bella, what's wrong?" I didn't answer, or course, but mentally I rolled my eyes. He really had to ask?
"Bella, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. This is all my fault." He continued to ramble on, alternating between unspecified apologies and berating himself. I found myself absently wondering what he was apologising for, or whether he even knew himself. My tearless sobs increased in volume, and he put his hand on my shoulder again, pulling me towards him.
"For Christ's sake Edward, stop!" I yelled, finally snapping, and before he could blink I was on my feet several metres away. My chest was heaving with ragged breaths and my hair fell across my face as I glared at him. My body responded to my anger, moulding itself into a defensive crouch, and I struggled to control myself. But beyond all that I was shocked. Never in my life had I imagined myself yelling at Edward, but suddenly I had found all that anger that I had been wishing to feel for months, and it was aimed at one person.
Edward winced at my words, but didn't seem surprised. He got to his feet but made no move to approach me. Which was probably just as well.
"You're sorry? Sorry for what Edward? Sorry that you left? Sorry that I'm here saving your ass? Sorry that you don't love me? Bullshit, Edward! Don't lie to me. You broke my heart, you left me, but for god's sake, don't lie to me! I tried! I tried so hard to cope! But I got dragged back into this screwed up world of fantasy, and now I'm stuck like this. Stuck as a permanent reminder of the guy who lied to me, who used me as a distraction and then threw me away, and who I can't seem to ever escape in my life. Do you even know what you're sorry for? Because if not, I don't want to hear it. The last thing I need is empty words, Edward. Meaningless apologies might assuage your guilt, but they mean nothing to me."
He stood there in complete silence as I yelled at him, wincing at each statement as if he were being stabbed. The pain on his face more than anything caused me to stop, and I stood there, breathing heavily, waiting.
"Bella..." He took a step towards me, one hand stretched out, and I stepped back instantly in response. His hand fell back to his side.
"Don't, Edward. Just don't." My brief burst of anger was waning fast. I felt physically and mentally drained. I took a deep breath. "Don't tell me you're sorry. You have nothing to feel guilty for. I don't blame you. So just skip the apologies and leave. Don't worry, I won't intrude again." I spat bitterly.
"No." He growled, and took another step toward me. Anger flashed in his depths of his black eyes. I took another step back. I considered running, but we'd already proved what that would accomplish.
"Just go Edward." I tried to glare at him, but the anger had disappeared as swiftly as it had arrived. Instead there was only sadness in my eyes. I saw the pain reflected in his own, and felt my will weakening. I had to get away. "I'm sorry." I whispered. His eyes widened, and I turned to leave. Before I could take one step he was there, as he grasped my shoulders and pulled my body round to face him, pushing me back against a tree. I felt the bark crack against my back and snarled at him, resisting the urge to throw him off again.
We both glared at each other.
"Not until you listen to me!"
"Listen to what, Edward? What do you have to say that I haven't heard before?"
"I'm not lying! I love you! I've always loved you!"
I closed my eyes, trying to block the words that gave me false hope. I was held captive by his strength and my reluctance to hurt him. I could feel his breath on my face, the sweet aroma washing over my lips, and I resisted the impulse to inhale. I couldn't lose myself now. I didn't have the strength to deal with this now.
"Please. I can't do this."
"No. I can't let you go. I can't face it again."
We stood there in silence for a minute, his body against mine, his arms pinning me against the tree. I kept my eyes closed tightly. I wondered vaguely if this was some sort of dream, designed by my subconscious to torment me further. Then Edward spoke again.
"I lied, Bella. I lied when I said I didn't love you. Everything I said in the forest was a lie." They were the words I'd always wanted but never believed in. I didn't know if I could bring myself to believe in them now. "I did it to keep you safe. I thought my world would put you in danger. You'd end up hurt or worse. I thought I was doing the right thing." My eyes flew open at these words to glare at him.
"Well that worked like a charm didn't it?" I spat, and he winced again, but didn't back away. "You left me, over what you thought might happen? You're not Alice. You can't know what's going to happen in the future."
"You were nearly killed Bella! Right in front of me! By my own brother, no less! How exactly was I supposed to deal with that?" He yelled back, and I was surprised that he was actually standing up for himself.
"The same way I did! By letting it go! I was human, Edward. I could've died crossing the street the next day! But I would have been happy, because you were with me!" I look down and shook my head slowly. "I can't do this." I repeated.
"I can." He whispered, and moved one hand to hold my chin. He pulled my face up to meet his gaze and his eyes burned into my, smouldering. "I love you Bella. I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you."
"It's not your fault" I whispered, giving up. "You thought you were doing the right thing."
"I'm sorry." He repeated. We both sank to the ground simultaneously. I was exhausted by the conversation mentally. His arms wrapped themselves around me and pulled me to his chest. I didn't pull away. It was a while before I worked up the strength to say something.
"Don't leave me." I whispered, barely audible. His arms tightened around me.
"I will never leave you." He vowed.
"I love you."
"I love you too Bella. With my entire heart, I'll love you forever.
We sat like that for a while in silence, with me curled up against his chest. I was content in the moment, and when he finally spoke again I was surprised to hear pain in his voice.
"How did this happen, Bella?"
I stiffened. He felt me tense up, and moved me round to face him until I was looking into the depths of his gaze again. "Who did this to you?"
I knew how he was going to react, but I couldn't keep anything from him. "Laurent." I said simply, and watched as his eyes seemed to grow darker and a growl echoed in the back of his throat. I put one hand against his chest to calm him. "He's dead Edward."
The growl stopped. "How?" he asked.
I shrugged. "Werewolves." His eyes widened.
"Tell me everything."
I took a deep breath to steady myself, recalling the day of my change. "I was...hiking." I said using the same lie I had told Alice. I had no hope that it would convince him. His eyes narrowed, but he didn't interrupt. "Laurent found me. In the meadow." A growl started building again, and I spoke quickly. "He bit me, but then about 5 werewolves appeared. They chased him off."
"They didn't kill you?" He barely whispered, his words strangled. I shook my head. "Why?"
"One of them knew me." I said, hoping that would suffice. It didn't and his eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Jacob Black." Edward took a deep breath in, and I spoke quickly. "He was my best friend, Edward. He helped me." I stopped there, reluctant to tell Edward the details of those horrific months before my transformation.
"You were friends with a werewolf?" His voice was calm, but I knew it wouldn't last long. So I sighed and began to explain.
"When you...left...I was pretty bad for a long time. Jake helped me. He didn't look at me as if I was crazy and pity me. He was my friend. If he hadn't been there for me...well, I wouldn't be here now that's for sure." I decided against telling Edward the extent of Jacobs feeling towards me. I changed the subject before he could continue.
"So what have you been up to? You know, since September." I asked, trying to sound light-hearted. He narrowed his eyes, clearly indicating that we would revisit my friendship with werewolves, but answered my question.
"I was tracking Victoria." His answer was as short and to-the-point as mine had been, but I exhaled sharply.
"Well, I wasn't about to let her get away. I swore to make sure she would never harm you. I took his face in my hands and glared at him.
"Don't you realise how dangerous that was? What were you thinking?" He rolled his eyes.
"It wasn't dangerous. She wouldn't have hurt me."
"I think tonight's example proves differently." He suddenly looked uncomfortable, and Alice's words came back to me.
"Bella, I don't think this is a fight he can win. And I don't think he wants to."
I inhaled deeply, trying to steady myself. "Edward, look at me." He was trying to avoid my gaze. "When I arrived, you weren't winning. You weren't even fighting. Why, Edward?" I asked quietly. He finally met my gaze.
"I thought you were dead." He whispered. I shook my head.
"That's not an answer Edward. What were you thinking? Do you have any idea how Carlisle and Esme would have felt if something had happened to you today? How upset Alice was when she called me? They need to know you're OK. I need to know. You can't think like that!"
"I wasn't going to live without you." He said, repeating the words he had said to me in Charlie's living room 10 months ago.
"A world without you in it isn't worth existing."
"I could say the same about you."
I sighed. It was clear that this discussion wasn't going to get us anywhere. I stood up, pulling Edward to his feet with me. "Come on, let's go."
"Where?" he asked. I smiled.
Ok ok, usually I have a fairly solid policy about not apologising for delays. After all, it's not as if I'm being paid for this. But yeah...anyone who's stuck around long enough to read this deserves an explanation.
In all honesty I blame the house. Old readers will notice my regular updates stopped as soon as I moved.
As for this chapter, well, I only found it last night. Turns out I wrote Chapter 15 as soon as I posted Chapter 14, but never got around to publishing :) My bad guys, honestly. If it's any consolation I've written 45,000 words of a completely different story, which I aim to start publishing in the new year. And I swear to have this thing finished over the summer.
So yeah, I apologise for the wait of about...oh, 7 months or so :S Anyone who bothers to come back has my most sincere gratitude. Later peeps!