I'm not even going to try to apologise. How late is this update? About a year or two? WHATTT. It's bad, I know. But here you go.

And because it's been so long, please forgive me about the writing. IT'S BEEN HARD TO GET BACK INTO THE PLOT. omg.


My body knew his body, so closely it was as if this union was destined from the moment we were created. We came into this world almost a century apart, and yet we came together in a timeless splendour. No barrier of time or space could dispute that we were made for each other. It was preordained before we'd even been aware.

I couldn't fathom letting another man in my bed, nor could I stomach the thought of Edward touching, loving, and consuming another woman the way he did with me.

This love was dangerous and it was so, so volatile. But the intensity that overcame us, especially now, as his hips rocked steadily against mine, filled me with such a burning contentment that living without it again could honestly kill me.

What do people do when they lose their soul-mates? How do you come back from the brink after this intensity is ripped out from under you?

Do you fall into a numb, empty vortex? Can you ever, ever feel anything worthwhile again? All I could think of, was that the pain I could still feel over Edward, the searing pain, was so incredibly satisfying. Satisfying, because at least I knew he existed, was here in my arms. Satisfying, because if there was no pain, there'd be no intensity, no love, no passion. And without that…what makes life worth living?

I remember Charlie once telling me something about my mom. When I was on vacation here in Forks, my two weeks of Summer purgatory at the age of nine, I found him sitting on the corner of his bed, staring into a photo album.

He'd been startled when I came in, but didn't make a move to conceal his longings over the distant memories sealed under plastic.

I'd gotten up onto his lap and he'd sat the album on my knees, pointing to me as a gurgling baby and a bouncing toddler. I had flipped back to the front of the thick cardboard pages, and pointed to their wedding photos.

That's the only time I ever asked him about Renee.

"Do you miss her, Daddy?" I asked curiously, staring at the cheerful expressions on their faces, covered with cake crumbs and frosting.

"I do." He answered.

"Don't you love her anymore?"

He'd kissed the top of my head.

"I loved her too much, baby. Sometimes…I loved her so much it hurt."

That's when I pushed the album off my lap so it toppled onto the floor.

Charlie protested, but I tugged on his sleeve again, demanding more information.

"But if you love someone, it's not supposed to hurt… is it?" I wondered.

"The best kind of love feels so good it hurts." He informed me. "It balances out. It makes you happy and sad at the same time."

I considered this, my nine-year-old brain trying hard to absorb it.

"So why aren't you happy and sad all the time?" I reasoned.

"Because mommy didn't feel that way about me. And when you can't share the happy and the sad with the one you love, you can't feel anything at all."

"Ever again?" my eyebrows rose.

He chuckled then, trying to diffuse the melancholy of the subject.

"Not the same way."

I hadn't been able to comprehend the subject properly. To me, Dad was only ever half of what he described. Sadness was second nature to him. He was happy when I came to see him, though. But there were undercurrents of gloominess that even I, as young as I was, could perceive. They never went away, at least not completely, and never easily.

It took me years of selfishness and only-child, privileged ignorance, before I was finally able to understand Charlie's pain. And the fact that he rarely got to see his only daughter just added to the dog pile of lonely brokenness, plus, I'd kicked and screamed in protest whenever I had to see him in Forks. Imagine what it would feel, having the person you love so completely walk out on you because she wasn't given the life she imagined, and then have you're only positive outcome from that destruction (me) feel such contempt at spending time with you.

I'm a horrible daughter.

But at least now I can take measures to rectify that. Charlie had lost my best years because of my idiocy, and Renee's selfishness. Now was the time to give instead of take.

At least I had an example of what this kind of love could do to you. What the result of losing it was, and at least a small amount of experience of it, too.

Although when Edward left, I'd clung to his existence, and refused to acknowledge his absence. Was I ever really without him?

What if he was dead?

His lips curved against my neck, probably mistaking my elevated heart rate for excitement.

He looked into my eyes and saw fear there, all evidence of joy and relief transformed into concern.

"Did I hurt you?" he asked gravely, freezing.

His stillness inside me made me squirm, wanting more friction. I shook the morbid, depressing thoughts from my psyche, gaining back the frenzied ache for his body against mine. It never really dulled, anyway. Even in sleep, wakefulness or semi-consciousness; there was never a break from how much I wanted him.

I shook my head and bit my lip, lifting my hips off the bed to meet his. His head dropped to my neck with a groan and a huff of breath at the sensation.

"God," he ground out between clenched teeth.

I couldn't agree more.

He pushed into me again and I dug my fingers into his shoulders as a ripple of pleasure ran through me. Being with him like this, it was impossible to describe.

It was as freeing as flying through the air unhindered, free-falling into clear light. And it was as fluid and intense as sinking further and deeper into water.

"Faster," my voice was high and squeaky. "Edward…"

He lifted my ass off the mattress, his skin catching the moonlight from my open window. The sight would have made me gasp with admiration had I not lost my breath from the dramatic shift in position.

"Jesus," I whimpered as he drove deeper, his hands linked under the small of my back.

"Bella," he whispered brokenly.

He brought one hand in front of him as the other supported my weight. Still thrusting, he brought his free hand down my torso, curving around my breasts, his palm flattening between them and running smoothly down my abdomen. I was incomprehensible, the heel of his palm rubbing against my clitoris.

Coupled with the shockingly deep thrusts of his hips, his cock sliding in and out, my body clenching around his, I was done.

It was like I convulsed, my body gaining this bizarre, desperate strength as I reached climax. I sat up so I was sitting on his lap, his legs bent underneath him.

I wrapped my arms around him, my nipples grazing against his chest as I came apart. His mouth found mine and I rocked harder against him, my body quivering and my rhythm broken.

He grunted, breathing hard and gripped me tighter.

"I missed you so much," I confess, falling off the precipice. "Oh, God!"

He made a hysterical chuckle, slash groan. I let go of him and held myself up with my elbows behind me as he came.

I watched his muscles tense, his hips slow their pace.

And his eyes never left me.

Him watching me like that, it was almost as intimate as the physical act of making love.

Our bodies were slippery where they joined. I noticed a thin film of sweat covered my forehead and temples as I ran a hand over my face.

He disengaged, pulling himself out gently as I leaned back into my pillows.

His hand smoothed a path back up my torso and over my ribs as he lay down beside me.

"We really shouldn't have done that," he said lowly.

"Why not?" I rolled onto my side to face him as he kept his arm on my naked waist.

"I should be keeping watch, not losing myself. I don't deserve what you just gave me. God, I don't deserve any part of your life but…"

His eyes found mine again and darkened with his words.

"I was rueing the day you found someone else to give yourself to."

I ran my finger along his jaw.

"Me, too."

His jaw clenched.

"I love you so much. So, I'm not going to force you to decide between me and…" he couldn't say his name, but then he sighed.

"Jacob." He finally murmured. "Not that you have to pick either of us." He added quickly.

"But I'm here for you, always. I'm not going to give up until you're safe."

The statement finally sobered me out of my post-coital stupor.

"What happened tonight?" I asked, trying to fit everything together in my head before he answered.

He looked at me seriously, his eyes widening. His lips parted slightly, and he seemed to hesitate.

"…you know that…that I would do anything to protect you. Right?"

This made a shiver run through me, making my bones ache with dread like they did when I saw his red eyes that night long ago. When I had to break my ties with the man I loved, turned rogue by the blood.

"What did you do?" I whispered cautiously, wondering if I'd have a death on my conscience.

"Nothing," he shook his head. "Not enough, actually."

"I don't understand—"

"They're here." He spoke over me.

I frowned, remembering the figure in the woods that made me drop my flashlight. I'd seen another shoot through the woods around it.

"Who?"

He swallowed hard and leaned over to my nightstand, flicking the lamp switch. The room remained black. The power was still out, I observed distantly.

A buzzing noise sounded from the floor, and Edward reappeared at the foot of my bed with his pants in his hands, pulling his cell phone out of the pocket.

"Alice," was his shaky answer. "What's…"

Something thumped against the floor boards down stairs and I jumped almost a mile high. Edward looked at me, then tossed my shirt and jeans at me, indicating a request to get dressed.

I pulled everything on, my shirt just over my head when the sound was outside of my door and I could have screamed because Edward was silent and still, and everything felt like a horror movie about to climax into a bloody massacre.

Who were the figures I saw tonight? Who had Edward subdued? Victoria and another friend to assist? What could be worse?

When would they strike? And who would fall in the battle? I glanced at Edward as he walked to my door with ease before it opened and I shrieked.

"Bella! God!" Charlie admonished in a surprised voice. "You fucking scared the shit out of me."

Edward remained silent, concealed behind the door. He could have said something! Like the fact that being fucking terrified at a noise was actually just Charlie. My Dad is the thing that goes bump in the night.

I sagged onto the edge of my bed.

"Dad," I grumbled. "You scared me first!"

He took a deep breath, his hand still on the door knob. I considered getting him a bell to tie around his neck.

I put my hand to my thundering chest and tried not to glare at Edward for not warning me.

"So, what are you going to do about the wolves?" I asked, now that I was closer to calming down.

Charlie rubbed his eyes, probably having had just about enough excitement to last a life time. You and me both, dearest father.

"I alerted the officers on duty tonight and brought home some paper work so I could stay home with you tomorrow. The doctor said you're not allowed to be left alone when you have a concussion." He explained despite looking almost-unconscious himself.

"Dad, you don't have to look after me, I'm fine." I told him, my head throbbing dully in the background of my lies. "Really, you should probably get some sleep yourself."

"Bella, come on. It's my job." He said weakly, although I'll bet my offer sounded pretty damn good to him right now.

I bit my lip and ushered him into the hall then into his bedroom. I sat down on the edge of his bed and eyed the night stand where I knew that photo album would forever preside.

The drawer it sat in was like a tomb, encasing years of memories, mostly good, some of them bad, but never forgotten.

"Dad,"

He seemed to register my serious tone because he took his hands off his belt, his typical cop-stance, and took his jacket off, sitting down beside me.

"I just wanted to say that…I mean, I hope you know that I don't take you for granted. I know it's been hard for you—"

"Bells," he tried to stop me, patting my shoulder dismissively.

"No. I need to say this. Dad, you deserve a lot better than life has dealt you. I used to think that coming here was a chore. I never realised how great you were until I came to live with you and even though…I've had some bad times," I conceded. "I've also had some of the best of my life."

His eyebrows drew together and now that I'd managed to keep his attention and stave off interruption, I continued.

"Anyway, I never had a chance to say sorry. For Mom, especially."

"What do you mean?" he asked politely and I could almost laugh because he knew what I was talking about he just never liked to delve too deeply into the Renee subject by himself.

"I mean that you're a good man, and you loved her but she left and took me with her. You never had a real chance, besides some sporadic visits to really get to know me. To influence me. And, I know it seemed like I was doing you a favour by moving here, but I realised pretty quickly how selfish I was being."

He looked away and up to the ceiling. I didn't know what I would do if he started crying. God, we were so alike that way. Hated crying, didn't know what to do when somebody else did.

But the difference was I'd never seen him cry.

"Where is this coming from?" he murmured, and his voice had turned gravelly with emotion.

"Because I've had time to think, and…after all this time, I figured out that you've done so much for me and I've barely taken the time to thank you. That I've taken you to hell and back with the things I've done and never said a proper apology. And what I'm saying now isn't just to fix my own conscience so I can sleep easier," I said, my own voice getting thick with tears. "It's because I can't stand you not knowing how great you are. That even though I don't show it, I love you, Dad. I'm sorry for everything."

He hugged me tightly and I pressed my face into his shoulder.

Frankly, I didn't know where that had come from either.

But, for some reason, I felt a strong urgency and motivation to tell him how special he was. I couldn't believe how childish I'd acted, how badly I've treated him when all he's done is love me and worry about me.

He patted my back and for once, showing emotion wasn't awkward. We were both awkward like each other so it balanced out. I wiped my eyes and he kissed me on the forehead.

"If you didn't want me to babysit you, you could have just said so." He chuckled, sniffing.

I just smiled and got up, closing his door behind me.

I felt refreshed and only slightly less terrified of whatever had been trying to hunt me tonight, emotional confessions notwithstanding.

I padded back into my bedroom and the door clicked softly behind me. Edward took my hand and smiled sadly at me.

"I owe Charlie an apology, too." He said quietly. "I owe him about a year of his daughter's life back."

I shook my head and tried to get him back to reality.

"What did Alice have to say?" I ask. "And what were you about to tell me before?"

He started with Alice, and I assume it's because it was a safer topic. Well, I was wrong.

"She still can't see our futures." He informed me and I was still terrifically concerned but no more than I was yesterday, which I was about to tell him, but then he continued.

"She can't see your future now, anymore. Which, I guess, is only a slight consolation. Better than seeing numerous visions of your death. She told me they went away after I left a month ago."

I nodded hesitantly.

"Well, yes, but…that was…" I couldn't explain it.

I'm not sure he could either.

"You were recovering," I stated. "That, coupled with my death visions, toppled you over the edge. Even before that, you were falling apart, no offence."

He grimaced.

"That's probably why I was dying in so many different ways. Because you were unhinged. You couldn't protect me..." I suggested as explanation.

"You were desperate, you were different…" I breathed in deeply and watched the Edward before me with his warm golden eyes.

I smiled, feeling a familiar contentment settle over me despite our circumstances.

"But now you're…you're Edward. The real Edward."

He smiled with relief, his eyes laden with pain and joy and uncertainty.

"I remembered what it was to be a human, I suppose. I thought about how I felt the first time I fed off of humans…how even though they were bad, I could barely look at myself, couldn't fathom interaction or relationships. How it destroyed me from the inside out."

I sat him down on my bed and he took my hands in his lap.

"I never told you how sorry I was." He beseeched. "I want you to make your own choices. I want you to not be afraid of being with me, or not being with me. But I also want you to be safe, and happy."

He sighed and looked up at me, cupping my cheek.

"You were right to tell me to leave. I needed to, to remember what I could lose if I lost myself."

I bit my lip and held back tears.

"I know you're hurt." He whispered, to reign in his shaking voice. "In here." He placed his palm over my heart and I put mine over his.

"Which is why it's your choice as to what we do now. The only thing you don't have a choice in is your safety. I'll be protecting you whether you like it or not. Everything else," he pulled back and opened his arms for emphasis. "Is up to you."

I leaned my head forward against his chest and laughed humourlessly. I gazed up at him for a long time before saying it.

"One thing I learned when we were apart was that I never had a choice. Not because you took it away from me. But because I never wanted one. The only thing I want is you, til the end."

He kissed me and whispered, "Until the very end."


I heard Charlie's snoring from down the hall and thought now was the best time to get something to eat after having nothing for way too long today. After absorbing all my emotions after they spilled unceremoniously out onto the floor, I needed physical replenishment. I padded quietly down to the kitchen. This way, Edward and I could talk louder without worrying about disturbing my slumbering father.

I had unwrapped a pop tart and placed it in the toaster when Edward told me everything.

I almost collapsed. As it were, I slumped like jello into the chair at the table sitting opposite him. He clasped my hand.

"My guess is that they haven't attacked tonight because I'm here and so are the Jaguars and Wolves. The good thing is, they can hardly have any concept of how big the pack is. Even if they try to kill you, or anybody, for that matter, they'll be destroyed."

I rested my chin in my hand, leaning on it for support as I looked up at him. I rubbed the back of my head, noting the dried blood in my hair from the accident. Head wounds can sure bleed a lot. I'm sure that looks attractive from the back.

I wonder how Edward was able to endure it.

Then I remembered back to South America. How I'd been bleeding from my injuries under the moon, my scent on the wind, a pack of rabid Vampires driven even madder at the sight. Then how Edward was barely fazed by it. At least not anymore.

I noticed him watching me, like he used to. Not darkly, not angrily, but affectionately. Like the way Carlisle looked at Esme. But it was an intense affection, and I didn't doubt I looked at him that fiercely, too.

"So what do we do now? We're basically back to square one. Playing the waiting game with the added nuisance of around the clock protection details." I complained, standing up as the toaster popped.

Edward hummed, and when I turned he was tapping his finger against his lips, thinking.

I chewed and my stomach rejoiced.

"I wish I wasn't a feeble little human." I blurted, crumbs falling from my mouth.

Edward's finger stopped and he stared at me.

I guess, we haven't talked about this for a while. Dark Edward may not have been as opposed to it as Normal Edward, but he wasn't fussed, either.

Now that Normal Edward sat in front of me, he had a pained expression pasted back onto his face. But there was also a tinge of intrigue and resignation.

I wouldn't want him to change me because he felt defeated though. I wanted him to change me because he accepted what I wanted. I also, selfishly, wanted him to want it too.

He seemed to echo my thoughts in the eerie fashion he always did.

And I thought he wasn't supposed to be able to read my mind!

"I do want to be with you forever." He assured me. "You know how I feel about it, though."

I nodded, pretending to consider it.

"I know." I turned and opened the fridge to find the OJ. "It's just that…why are we putting it off?" I reasoned, even though my argument had holes.

"You know why. Because the transition takes three days, Bella. We can't have you so vulnerable. At least if you're hurt as a human, we have a chance of changing you before it's too late. But if somebody gets to you while you're in transition, undead but with no defences, then you're gone forever."

I purse my lips and take a sip straight from the carton of juice.

"I suppose you're right." I digress.

"I just wish I could help."


The night remained uneventful after that. The next morning, Charlie left for work, rested and what could only be described as…unburdened?

I felt another wave of affection and comfort knowing I'd helped alleviate an 18 year pain from his heart.

Once the cruiser was down the street, Edward materialised behind me as I was washing up the dishes.

He offered to do them but I declined. I was occupying myself with this mundane task, even though I hated the domesticity of it. Whatever.

"I'll need to go hunting today. The rest don't need feeding, so it's the best time to go," he seemed like he was in more need of convincing than I was.

"Okay. Good." I agreed, trying not to overthink it.

After Edward left, it was Esme and Carlisle who showed up at the door unexpectedly.

Usually, they left the home-visits to the less conspicuous Cullen "children". I sheepishly let them in and tried to forget about our last meeting up at their house when Rosalie had called me out on asking about Edward and then I'd left in a huff, crashing my car and almost dying.

Yeah, that time.

Esme gave me a cuddle and Carlisle followed suit, their clothes soft and fragrant, and so crisp, and not to mention, way out of place in comparison to my house. With it's out-dated décor and old smelly sofa, well…I felt like I should lay out some plastic over the furniture.

This was the first time they had ever actually been to my house.

I asked them to sit at the kitchen table and they did while I finished making my tea.

"Is there a reason why you guys volunteered?" I asked curiously.

Esme laughed and it was such a beautiful sound, so mesmerising that I almost forgot to listen to her answer.

"We thought we'd do rounds. It's us first, then Alice and Jasper, then Rose and Em. We'll take the next shift in the woods."

"Ah," I tried to sound like I understood that explanation. "Is it so you guys don't get bored?" I joked.

"Well, a change of scenery every few hours is comforting." Carlisle offered politely.

They were so lovely. God. I couldn't imagine a nicer couple. I watched them interact, so smooth and delicately synchronised.

"Edward still doesn't want me to be one of you." I said out loud, interrupting them.

I blushed and tried to hide behind my mug as Carlisle glanced up at me with raised eyebrows.

"Well," he began. "It will be inevitable."

"I hope you know we all want you to be part of our family, Bella." Esme turned around in her chair to face me with a kind smile.

I smiled back at her, I couldn't help it.

"Yeah, I know." I bit my lip and narrowed my eyes at their lack of curiosity in mine and Edward's relationship now. "So, Alice told you everything?" I gathered.

They nodded in unison, beaming smiles up at me and I rolled my eyes.

Parents.

They even laughed together.

Then the mood shifted.

Their heads moved in the same direction, like dogs with their ears pricked up.

"It's Charlie," Carlisle informed me and I let out the breath I was holding.

"You've got to be sick of all the suspense." Esme commented, not particularly cheerfully.

I nodded, and they made a move to disappear.

"It's okay," I tell them. "He won't mind."

"We didn't exactly drive here, though." Esme countered, grimacing.

"We'll say we were dropped off. Alice wanted to use the car and we wanted to visit the chief and his daughter." Carlisle smoothed out the lie as Charlie clomped up the front steps and let himself in.

"Forgot the paperwork I brought home last night," he spoke to the house, not knowing which room I'd be in.

He looked to his left and saw me in the kitchen.

"Oh,"

Walking closer, he saw the Cullens and stopped, eyebrows in his hairline.

"Uh…Doctor Cullen, Mrs. Cullen…how are you?" he was slightly stupefied.

I'm sure he's uneasy around them, as most humans are, but there's also the added tension of them being Edward's "parents". But he treated them quite nicely as he picked up the brown folder of papers he'd left on the counter that I'd also failed to notice.

He was edging out of the room, clearly uncomfortable with their presence but not dreading it, when they both shot up out of their seats.

"What—" I began in shock, when the kitchen window shattered in.

Charlie and I ducked for cover, turning our backs and curling in on ourselves. I didn't see anything, what the hell was it?

Two people appeared in front of the empty window frame. Vampires.

Luiza and another, unfamiliar male.

I barely had time to gasp before Charlie was pulling his gun out of it's holster. They'd wrapped their arms around the Cullens. The sound of cracking stone and I screamed. Dad's gun went off but I couldn't see anything beyond the tears in my eyes and the fear filling my throat.

"No!" I shouted, my hand reaching forward numbly.

Gabriel appeared at the window, the heads of my decapitated Vampire parents in both his hands.

Dad shot at him, gaining his attention first. He threw their heads over his shoulder as if they meant nothing.

"RUN!" I wailed, pushing my Dad down the hall.

But where to run? Where to hide? Against a Vampire?

We're already as good as dead.

I'm crying and Dad's shouting and we're still alive so for a split second I think maybe, just maybe, somebody has come to our rescue.

We made it the few steps to the living room and Dad reaches for his radio to get help, and then I hear a thick growl resound from the kitchen, a large jungle cat slides into view in the hallway in front of the door, and he's wild but Dad just stares at it because I'll bet he doesn't believe his eyes.

Especially because one of the Vampires, Luiza is now battling it, holding it's jaw open and trying to break it with her hands, it's claws raking lines down her body, marring the stone before it knits back together. Gabriel must have fled. I try to get Charlie's attention. That if we run now, maybe we'll make it.

But life isn't that easy, and fate deals a hard hand.

His radio crackles like it usually does when he's on duty.

And it gets Luiza's attention. She breaks the jaguar's neck. A loud snap echoes through the house and Charlie is frozen to the spot, his gun isn't even raised in the air. Maybe he understands now that bullets won't work.

I reach out for him, but of course, she's quicker. Knocking me aside effortlessly, she lunges for my father and he can't do anything to stop it.

"DAD!" I scream. "No!"

Blood spurts from where she clamps her mouth down on his neck, and his body grows limp quickly.

"Take me!" I yell, regaining my feet, not caring whether she gets me or not now.

I'll trade in my life for my Dad's. I almost did it for Renee once.

She drops his body and I shriek and shudder at the sound of him hitting the floor like a blood-sodden rag doll. She licks her lips, her red eyes shine with life and victory as she places two gentle hands on either side of my face and I gulp.

"I'm sorry, Ed—"

The sound of stone hitting stone, a flash of colour before my eyes and Luiza is gone. I drop to my knees, my legs getting coated in the thick, warm blood pooled around my feet.

"Bella!" it's Alice.

I look down at my father, and I can't breathe.

I press my fingers to his neck where the blood is flowing, a rhythmic wave every time his heart beats. Slow, slower.

"Dad!" I cry. "Charlie."

I hear Jasper then, and Emmett and Rose. They all talk normally, in breathy voices.

I can't do this.

"Alice! Somebody," I sob. "Get over here now. Don't call an ambulance."

Alice is beside me in an instant, putting her hand where mine is over his neck wound. I can't look at his face anymore.

I look her in the eye.

"I want you to turn him."