A/N: No, I'm not officially back and I have not finished either one of my current stories. This one-shot has been sitting around for a loooooooooong time and I haven't gotten around to posting it until now. Since all of you have been so helpful and supporting, I decided to finally post it :) Think of it as a thank-you for being so awesome.
Let me get this clear right now: This is a ONE-SHOT and will STAY a one-shot. This was only a little side teeny project and if I ever make it into a full story, which I most likely will not, it will not be until all my current stories and upcoming stories are completed, which, knowing me, will not be for a while.
This is the first of my fanfics to be written in third person perspective. You don't know this about me, but I prefer third person, both when I'm writing and when I'm reading. I kinda wish Twilight was not in first person, but I digress... Enjoy :)
Disclaimer: Story idea and plot are mine, characters are not.
Bella did not know where she was going or what she was even doing. Hell, she didn't even know who she was anymore.
Well, that wasn't fully true. She knew she was in Seattle with a backpack full of clothes, two and half granola bars, and a few hundred dollars. She knew she was running away from home like a scared idiot or rather like a stubborn five year old who thinks her life sucks. She knew she was not five years old. In fact, she was eighteen. She also knew that she told her father she'd be home by six o'clock and it was now almost seven thirty. He'd be getting worried about her. He didn't even know she was in Seattle. He thought she was out with Angela.
But her mind was made up. She didn't need to think it over. She knew her place in life, and it wasn't where she used to think it was.
So here she was, hours and miles away from her hometown, alone with nothing but a backpack full of clothes, two and a half granola bars, and a few hundred dollars to her name. She had left her cell phone and anything that could identify her, such as her debit card and even her car, at her father's house in Forks.
Bella stood in the park in Seattle and looked around. It was a cool autumn evening, the sun starting to set on the horizon and she knew she would have to look for a place to stay the night. She watched as the last of the children in the park ran to their mother, who took their hands and led them home. It left Bella feeling very empty.
The only people left was her, a young man in a business suit who was looking through the Help Wanted ads in the paper, his face becoming more and more frustrated with every passing minute, a girl who didn't look much older than herself, sniffling and throwing pennies in the fountain, and an elderly homeless man, tired-looking and scratching his head through his toque.
They all had stories to tell, Bella observed. They were all real with lives and family, whether that family was still around, she didn't know.
She saw that the young man was obviously looking for a job, having lost his, and from what Bella could see, he was not having much luck. She could tell he was worrying about his future as he kept glancing at the homeless man. She knew what he was thinking: Will that be me? Am I looking at my future?
The girl had lost something today. Quiet tears streaked down her face as she through a small handful of pennies, one by one, into the fountain. She was making wishes. She was hoping to regain whatever it was she lost: her happiness, someone important, something important, or maybe she had a bad break up. Whatever it was, the girl was wishing for it to get better. She was hoping for a better day.
The elderly man had taken out a bag of dollar bills and change and was digging through it, probably counting how much he had. He then put it back in his duffel bag and wrapped his blanket around his shoulders to keep the chilly almost-night air out. His expression and body language did not give off much more than tiredness and an almost sad acceptance, but Bella could see from how his right arm was limp and unmoving that he had lost his job and had been unable to find another. He lost his home, all of his possessions, and from the wedding band on his left hand, his wife, too. He had no one to help him.
How was it that Bella could see and tell so much about these three strangers, but so little about herself?
Some, no, many, would probably not understand just why Bella ran away from home. Why she left her father, the one friend she had, and her entire life back in Forks without so much as a "See you later!"
She felt empty by leaving. She felt sad, but Bella knew it was for the best. She wasn't quite sure if it was the best for herself, but she knew it was the best for the people she had left behind. Namely Charlie and Angela.
Charlie Swan was her father and she had been living with him for half a year prior to running away. He was a quiet, reserved man who loved fiercely, but subtly. He was not one for showing his feelings. Bella knew he cared about her and she definitely cared about him. Angela was her one true friend at Forks High School and they built a quiet, but stable companionship. Angela actually liked spending time with Bella and Bella enjoyed having Angela around.
But that was the problem.
Bella had a relatively normal childhood. Her parents divorced when she was a baby and she lived in Phoenix with her mother up until a few months before her eighteenth birthday. On the outside, she was a normal child with a normal life. No abuse, no drugs, and no extremely traumatic experiences. Both her parents were alive and well.
That's how it was on the outside, anyway.
On the inside, Bella was crumbling. She felt depressed. She felt destructive. She felt like a selfish, whiny bitch with the heartlessness to run away from home and leave her father sick with worry.
She supposed the bullying at school helped her along the way. She supposed the snide remarks and not-so-subtle pushes did their job and drove her to take shelter within herself. She supposed that never feeling the proper parent-like love one expected from one's parents, helped. She supposed her hopelessly low self-esteem, thanks to Lauren and Jessica and so many kids back in Phoenix, helped too.
Regardless of all those things that may or may not have helped, Bella had it better than most. So why was she feeling this way?
Why was she feeling like she was just chasing a path and always falling short?
Bella knew this thinking would only lead her down a destructive road. She knew she was already starting to hurt Charlie and Angela. They both could tell something was wrong lately, and it hurt them when she didn't talk. She was even hurting Renee as her emails and calls were becoming few and far between. She just didn't feel she had anything to say that would make her mother happy and content, so instead, Bella said nothing.
Bella didn't want to talk to anybody. She didn't want it to be written off as some teen "emo" problem, because it wasn't. She didn't want a label slapped on whatever she was feeling and be put on some suicide watch.
Because, seriously, how could one commit suicide if they were on watch?
Bella wasn't going to kill herself just yet, but she thought about it. Again and again and again. Was it normal for a teenager to feel like this? She didn't really think so, so she kept mum.
Should she give up or should she just keep running around in circles, going nowhere?
Bella left her father's home to save him. To stop herself from taking him down her downwards spiral with her. She knew others would have called her stupid and a coward for that, but Charlie would be grateful for it later. Angela, too.
The sun had fully set by now and Bella looked around her. She was somehow sitting on a park bench, but she didn't remember how she got there. She was standing last time she checked.
The young man in the business suit and the girl with the wishing pennies were both gone. Bella and the elderly man were the only ones left in the park. The last of the day's meager warmth left with the sun and Bella wrapped her coat tighter around herself. She reached into her backpack and pulled out a pair of thin gloves to wear. It wasn't cold enough for her mittens yet.
She noticed the elderly man was struggling with something. It looked like a jar of something. Pickles? Jam? Honey? Whatever it was, he was having a hard time trying to open it with just one hand. Bella stood up, her backpack slung over her shoulder, and walked over to him, gently reaching for the jar.
"Here, let me open it for you, sir," she said quietly, her voice a little rough with misuse.
The man let go of the jar and let her screw the top open. She then handed it back to him and he accepted it.
"Thank you, love," he said, his voice was course, yet soft. She couldn't explain it.
"It's fine," Bella replied. She turned around to go back to the bench when his voice stopped her.
"How come you're out here, girl? Shouldn't you be at home?" he looked a mix of curiosity and concern. She wondered why a perfect stranger was concerned about her.
Probably the same reason she felt the need to help him open his jar.
Bella shrugged. "I don't have a home."
The man chuckled and shook his head. "Let me tell you something, love. Everyone has a home. No one doesn't have a home."
"Where's your home?" Bella asked without thinking. As soon as the words were out, she regretted them. They sounded so insensitive. "I'm sorry, you don't have to answer that if you don't want to. I mean, I didn't mean to offend you, since I know... you're, um..." she rambled.
The man chuckled again. "You know that I'm 'homeless'? I've always hated that phrase, you know. 'Homeless'. I'm not homeless. I have a home, just like you do."
"I don't understand."
He smiled at her and scratched his beard a bit. "Many young folk don't. But I'll let you in on a secret. My home is right here, in Seattle. This city is my home."
Bella blinked at him.
"Listen, love. Home is not where your address is or where you have a zip code or any of that nonsense. Home may not even be where you've lived all your life or that mundane 'John Doe, 567 Nowhere Avenue, Seattle, Washington'."
"Where is home if it's not where you live?"
"Oh, it can be where you live. It could also be where you don't live. Home and where you live don't always go hand in hand. Home is where you feel you belong. There's a difference. I may not have an address or a fancy zip code, but I do have a home, and it's this city, because this is where my heart is."
Bella stared at him for a moment. He was old and more experiences than she would probably ever have. Was there some truth to his words? Or was it just something he foolishly believed, trying to escape the reality of his situation?
"You asked me why I wasn't home," Bella said. "How do you know I'm not already there? How do you know I don't belong here, too?"
"Anyone can tell you don't belong here. You look lost."
"I'm not lost. I know exactly where I am."
"Sure you do - on a map. You know your location. It's not that kind of lost I was talking about."
Bella sighed. This man was clearly trying not to face reality. With his talk of home, hearts, and belonging. Even if what he said was true, Bella still wasn't sure if she had a home. Did she belong anywhere? She didn't know.
"Have a good night, sir," she told the man as she turned to leave the park, deciding to walk around before finding a cheap motel to stay the night in.
"You too, love. Go back home, where you belong." She was a few steps away when he asked her, "What's your name, by the way?"
She paused and looked over her shoulder at him. "Bella."
He smiled. "I'm James. It was a pleasure talking to you, Bella."
* * *
It was nine thirty when Bella finally stopped wandering around. She knew Charlie was probably in full panic by now, and she was feeling guilty. She hoped he would be okay.
The words of the man, James, in the park kept replaying, over and over again, in Bella's head. She didn't know what to make of them. Were they true? Were they not? Was she making a huge fucking mistake by running away.
Most would say yes; she was making the biggest mistake of her life.
Others would say no; she was doing what she thought was right for her family.
And then there would be the small group of people who would tell her to do what she thinks she should do.
Those people were always the most unhelpful. Just do what you think you should do. Just do what feels right. Just do what you want. Well, she didn't know what she thought she should do! She didn't know what she wanted! Why the hell would she be asking if she knew?
Bella stopped outside a 24-hour cafe and sat on the bench just a few feet from the entrance. She knew she probably would not have been able to sit inside for more than a few minutes if she didn't buy anything and she didn't want to waste the little money she had on the cup of hot chocolate she wanted. With extra marshmallows.
The light above her flickered a bit and she watched as a fly buzzed towards it. She felt like she was in a slow motion movie, watching as the fly flew to it's inevitable demise. Stupid fly. If you see the light at the end of the tunnel, don't go towards it!
After a few minutes, Bella felt her eyes droops a little and her head bob. It had been a long day and she was tired. She decided to find a motel by ten. She didn't want to get up just quite yet.
Was this where she belonged? It sure didn't feel like it. It felt cold, not just in temperature, but just... lonely. It certainly did not feel like a place she could comfortably call her home. She didn't know if she would ever find a home. She packed enough money to last a few days, but after that, what else? Bella wanted to hit her head repeatedly on a wall for being so stupid and not thinking far enough ahead.
She supposed she could catch a bus to another city. The farther she was from Forks, the less chance of Charlie finding her. After that, she wasn't sure. She'd have to play it, day by day.
She'd be okay, Bella reasoned. She could survive until she decided what she wanted to do with her life. What she could make of her thoughts and feelings. What she could make of how just a week before, she stood at the cliff at La Push and was ready to jump, but chickened out at the last minute and went back to the house.
Suddenly, something warm and steaming was being held in front of her, under her nose. It was a cup of hot chocolate. With extra marshmallows.
Bella looked up and was met with a pair of deep green eyes. She sat there, surprised. They were probably the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.
The green eyes smiled. "I thought you could use this," a voice said. It took a second for Bella to jolt back to reality and realize that those eyes were attached to a boy, and that boy was talking to her, holding out a cup of hot chocolate.
"Oh," she said. "Thank you." She reached out and accepted the cup, unable to hold back her sigh as the warmth spread through her hands. She hadn't realized she was so cold.
"No problem," the boy said. He then sat down beside her. Bella turned to face him, taking the rest of him in.
He wasn't really a boy. He looked about the same age as she. He had pale skin, a very handsome, chiseled face, and wild reddish-brown hair. Bronze, maybe?
He was also quite a bit taller than Bella. Even while sitting down, she had to look up at him.
The not-quite-a-boy ran a hand through his hair and smiled sheepishly at her. "I didn't know if you liked coffee or not, so I just got you that. Sorry if it's not what you want."
Bella shook her head. "It's fine. It's exactly what I want, actually."
He smiled again, this time it was a crooked grin, and it made the ends of Bella's mouth twitch upward. He held out his hand to her.
"I'm Edward Cullen. You are?"
She took his hand and said, "My name is Bella." She didn't give him her last name.
"Nice to meet you, Bella," Edward said. "What are you doing out here all by yourself? Especially at night? If you don't mind me asking." There was an undercurrent of concern in his voice and Bella felt it was odd how two strangers worried about her today. They didn't even know her.
Maybe that was just human nature. To care.
Then again, maybe not.
She shrugged. "I could ask the same about you."
Edward smirked. "I suppose you could. I was out with some friends, a going away party, and I bailed."
"Who's going away party? Your friend's?"
"No. It was my own." He looked embarrassed and Bella snorted, raising her eyebrows at him.
"You left your own party? That's awfully rude."
"I know, but no one was really paying attention to me anyway. It was just an excuse to land some girls and do some underage drinking."
"You didn't want to get drunk and laid?" Bella teased. She was a little surprised at her own easiness around him. She had never warmed up to someone as quickly as she was doing to him and for all she knew, he was lying to her and was actually a serial rapist. Something in her trusted him, though. She didn't know if this was a good thing or not.
Edward laughed and shook his head. "Not tonight, not really, no. I just slipped out and decided to walk around for a bit. I'm glad I did." He looked straight at her then and she felt herself blush. He noticed her darkening cheeks and his eyes lightened.
"So, where are you going?" she asked.
"You said it was your goodbye party. Where are you going?"
"Oh. My family and I are moving out of Seattle. My dad got a job offer in a smaller town and decided to take it. My mother never liked city life, anyway."
Bella nodded and sipped her hot chocolate.
"So, you didn't tell me why you're out here," he said. Bella tried not to squirm.
"You're right, I didn't," she replied without actually answering his question. She was avoiding it and doing a terrible job.
"I don't really want to talk about it," she said shortly, not looking at him.
Edward gently grasped her chin in his hand and turned her head back towards him. "Are you sure? Talking about it can help."
Bella nodded and shook her head out of Edward's hold, sipping more hot chocolate. "I'm sure. Please, just... drop it."
He nodded and sighed, leaning against the back of the bench. She was grateful he didn't push it further.
"So, Bella," he said, sitting back up again. "Any reason why you aren't inside a warm cafe instead of outside on a cold bench?" His tone was teasing and friendly, and Bella knew he was not making any accusations.
"I don't have any money to buy something in there." It was not a total lie. She didn't have any money - that she could spare. The money in her backpack was only to be used for the bare necessities. The longer she could stretch it, the better.
"Well, then it's a good thing I came along. You were chilled to the bone."
"I didn't really feel it," Bella admitted. "But thank you, again."
She drank the rest of the hot chocolate and tossed the empty cup into a trash can. She was surprised it actually went inside since she had just about the worst aim on the planet. Sports like basketball were not her forte. Actually, scratch that. Sports in general were not her forte.
Bella stood up and brushed some imaginary dust off her pants. She slung her backpack on her back and looked over at Edward, who stood up too.
"Well, it was nice meeting you, Edward," she said, trying not to sound as empty as she felt, especially at the idea of leaving him. It was strange. She barely knew him. All he did was buy her a cup of hot chocolate and talk with her a bit. It wasn't anything special. Yet... it somehow was.
Bella internally shook her head. She couldn't got thinking like that. She would probably never see him again, even if her plan foiled and Charlie dragged her back to Forks.
"Where are you going?" Edward asked, sounding, for a split second, sad.
Bella tried to look as if nothing was bothering her. She doubted she looked very convincing. "I have to go. It's getting late." She saw Edward's eyebrow raise just a bit and knew the fact she avoided his question again didn't slip by him.
"Well, at least let me walk you home. It's ten o'clock. It's not safe for you to be alone."
Bella took a step back and smiled apologetically. "No, it's fine. I'm not from here anyway."
"Then let me walk you to wherever you're staying."
If Edward was one thing, it was definitely persistent. It was starting to get a little annoying, but Bella saw genuine concern in his eyes and knew he only meant well.
"Um..." she said, digging around her brain for something to say.
Edward looked at her. She looked away. What was she supposed to say?
"I... I..." Bella stammered, trying to come up with an excuse and coming up blank. She could never lie, let alone lie on the spot. "Um, I... don't really..." What should she say? What could she say? By now he had to know that something wasn't right.
"Bella? What's wrong?" he asked, stepping forward and putting a hand on her shoulder. A small gesture, but it made all the difference to Bella.
She couldn't lie to him. She just couldn't, and she couldn't even explain why.
"I..." Bella looked away, feeling her eyes start to pool with tears. She blinked furiously, trying to keep them from falling. "I... I don't actually h-have anywhere... to stay."
His eyebrows furrowed, obviously displeased. "What? Why not? You just decided to wander around Seattle at night with no money and no place to stay?"
Bella still couldn't look at him. "I-I... I do have money. I'm not stupid."
"But you said-"
"I know what I said," Bella cut him off. "I lied. I do have money, but I couldn't spend it on stupid cafe food... I have to save it."
"For?" Edward cupped Bella's chin once more and moved her head so she was looking at him. She could tell from his eyes that he had suspicions of what was going on, but he wanted her to tell him herself. Why was she spilling it all to a stranger, again?
Maybe it was because he was a stranger that she could talk to him. Sometimes, talking to a stranger was easier.
"For me to live off of for the next few days," she said, her shoulders slumped with defeat. Her voice sounded just like she was feeling: Lost. "I was telling the truth when I said I'm not from here. I'm from a town hours away. I..."
"Did you run away from home?" Edward asked quietly.
Bella felt a tear fall down her cheek as she nodded and looked down.
She felt Edward move them back towards the bench and she sat down when he gently urged her to. "Why?" he asked, his eyes searching her face. Why did he care so much?
Bella shrugged and let out a humorless laugh. "The funny thing is, I don't even know anymore. I thought I was doing the right thing and saving my dad from hurting, but now I don't know. I don't know anymore."
"Doing the right thing? Bella, how could running away from your dad be doing the right thing? Does he treat you badly?" There was a bit of anger in his voice as he said the last question.
Bella almost wished she could yes yes. It would have made it so much easier for him to understand. "No, he's fine. He's a good dad. I just..." She paused and bit her lip. More tears were falling. "I just hate who I am, I guess. Actually, not even that. I don't even know. My mind's a jumbled mess. I can't think clearly and when I do think, it's all about how unhappy I am. I don't know why I'm unhappy. I feel like I'm going around in circles, chasing stupid things, and that I should just give up-"
"Bella, calm down. Breathe.'
Bella took deep breaths and without her even thinking about it, closed her eyes and slumped forward, her head falling on Edward's shoulder. He was a bit surprised by her boldness, but she didn't have it in her to care anymore.
After a few minutes, Edward spoke. "Bella, can you tell me what's going on now? Are you okay?"
She breathed in Edward's scent and exhaled slowly before answering. "I'm not okay. I don't know if I'm just depressed or something, but every time I just let myself think all that goes through my mind is how stupid this whole life is. All these thoughts... it's bringing me down and not only that, but it's bringing my dad down. I didn't want to hurt him any more. I left to save him pain."
Edward was silent for a moment. His hands were rubbing soothingly up and down her back. It felt good.
"Your dad loves you, right?"
Bella nodded. She was sure of that much.
"Do you love your dad?"
She nodded again. She was absolutely sure of that, too.
"Well, then how can taking yourself away from him possibly be saving him pain? It looks to me like it will cause nothing but pain."
"I don't want him to have to deal with me anymore. I don't know why I'm so damn unhappy all the time. And lonely. And lost. I don't want to put him through my crap."
"And leaving him without any warning is just going to make it better? Bella, how would you feel if he left you, without telling you, because he thought he was wearing you down?"
Bella knew how she would feel: Upset, hurt, sad, even a little betrayed. She felt even more guilty when she thought of Charlie feeling those things.
"I know it was stupid and selfish of me. I know I was being a coward. I just don't know what else to do."
"Bella, there are so many things you could do. Dealing with these feelings on your own is not going to help anyone. Not your dad and especially not yourself. Go home. Talk to him."
"I don't know if that's my home, to be honest."
"Well, do you really think you belong here? Alone in Seattle?"
Belong. Home was were you belong. Bella remembered what James told her and sighed. She knew she didn't belong here. She knew she was doing the cowardly thing by running away. She knew what Edward said was right; she was helping no one by doing what she was doing.
She belonged with Charlie in Forks. She could feel it. It felt right. She always knew it felt right, but stupidly pushed it away, thinking leaving was for the best.
That would be the last time she took advice from herself.
Bella extracted herself from Edward and stood up. She sniffed and wiped stray tears away from her cheeks. Edward stood up and looked at her expectantly. She looked back at him, her decision made.
"I need to go home. Thank you, Edward. I don't know what would've happened if you hadn't found me tonight."
Edward grinned and scratched the back of his neck. "It was nothing, Bella. Now, go."
Bella hesitated before engulfing him in a quick hug. Edward was surprised, but hugged her back and before she could register it, he kissed her cheek and let her go.
"Bye," she whispered and ran off.
* * *
It was early morning when Bella finally made it back to Forks. She walked to Charlie's house, no, her home, utterly exhausted.
Her heart stopped when she saw the police cars outside her house. She has almost forgotten how long she had been gone for. Of course there would be people looking for her. She felt sick at what kind of worry she put her father through.
She ran forward, spotting Charlie getting out of one of the cars. He looked so tired and... distressed.
"Dad!" she called.
His head snapped around just as she reached him and threw her arms around him. Charlie's arms immediately opened up to clutch his daughter closely. He was shocked and almost did not believe what was happening. The last hours had been the worst and scariest of his life. As the stunned surprise gradually subsided, the relief flooded in and her hugged her tighter.
Bella pulled back and noticed her dad's eyes were wet with tears. She had never seen Charlie cry before.
"Where have you been?" he asked, his voice raw with emotion.
She squeezed her eyes shut and tucked her head in his shoulder.
"Let's go inside," she said, her voice sounding the same as his. "I have a lot to tell you."
* * *
Bella didn't go to sleep until hours later and didn't wake up until one in the afternoon.
She sat up in bed and stretched. She and Charlie talked a lot after she came home, but she knew things were far from over. They still had so much to go over and Bella was going to make an effort. Things were going to get better.
She felt sad that she could never thank Edward properly. It was thanks to him, and probably a little thanks to James, that she came home. If Edward had not found her that night, had not bought her hot chocolate, she did not know what would have happened. She'd probably still be Seattle, she reasoned, making the biggest and worst mistake of her life.
Really, talking with a stranger, though Edward never fully felt like a stranger, helped.
She heard voices outside a took a second to recognize one of them as Charlie's. She went to her window and saw him talking to a couple about the same age as he on the front lawn. There was a moving truck in front of the next door neighbour's house. That house had been empty for a while, but had been recently sold. Bella guessed these were the people moving in.
Suddenly, something caught Bella's eye. Small, but something she'd recognize anywhere, even after only seeing it once.
A flash of bronze. Next to the door of the house next door.
Could it be...?
Bella raced outside, shocked and hoping it was who she thought it was.
The green-eyed, bronze-haired, not-quite-a-boy spun around and a look of pure surprise crossed his face before it was replaced with a brilliant grin.
Things were definitely going to get better.
Should I give up,
or should I just keep chasing pavements,
even if it leads nowhere?
Or would it be a waste,
even if I knew my place,
should I leave it there?
"Chasing Pavements" - Adele
A/N: How was it? Yes, it was very cheesy, but that can be good, I think, at times. Review and let me know what you thought.
If any of you are teens, or even if you're not a teen, I'm sure several of you can relate to the feelings of depression, even if you don't know why you're feeling them. Many people go through these feelings of worthlessness and emptiness everyday. I know people who have loving family and great friends, but feel depressed, even to the point where they almost kill themselves. I hope this can show that all hope is never lost.
I repeat: This will STAY as a one-shot. I will NOT be extending it, and if by some miracle I do, it will not be for a long time.
Sorry I haven't officially returned, guys. I'm still off till November. I'll see you then. Review, please. :)