Outtake / Alternate Ending (Of Sorts)
5 YEARS AFTER EPILOGUE
Edward was working on his residency, so he was gone a lot. Scratch that—he was gone all of the time. I hardly ever saw him, which might have devastated me at some point, but didn't. Not anymore. I spent most of my time away from the apartment we shared, anyway. I worked, too, though nothing near as prestigious as Edward. After all, there's only so much I could do with a GED. We moved to Portland, Oregon in order to be near Edward's residency program. It wasn't a large move for me, which was nice, and Edward's family was pleased that he was moving closer to home after such a long time.
What bothered me was that he came home exhausted. That, and Charlie. In an attempt to rekindle my relationship with my only family, I was basically groveling at his feet. After all, I deserved it. Ditching him like that, I felt like a real bitch. The hardest part was the first few times I initially spoke to him. It was still hard to speak to him. I couldn't handle his pent up feelings and emotions, and the way they seemed to break through all of the barriers I had carefully constructed after moving away from my childhood home. But I had a support system now, to help me. They helped me realize the things that were clouded in the haze of adolescence.
For one, they helped me realize that what I did was incredibly reckless and naïve. That, and it didn't work in the slightest. Rather, my leaving on my own during my senior year was probably one of the worst things I could have done. I deserted my family and my home, but most importantly I deserted Edward. It was hard to get him to open up about what it was like when I was gone. It didn't happen often, but when he did speak of it, it was both painful and sad. He knew I made a mistake, though, and he accepted that. It was much more than I deserved, but I accepted it all the same.
Edward came home at nine o'clock. I was just finishing up dinner—some Thai food I picked up on my way home from my appointment. I heard him unlock the door and walk in, then lock the deadbolt with a click. The sound of his feet was heavy and slow, which made me sad for him, though I ought not to. He was doing what he loved, and there were sacrifices he had to make before he could set us up properly. I heard him walk to the bedroom. Assuming he would come out again, I heated up some of the leftover Thai food.
After a few minutes, Edward still hadn't come out. With my brow furrowed, I walked to the bedroom to find Edward face down on the bed, still fully clothed. Chuckling slightly, I removed his shoes and put them in the closet. He grunted his approval and reached out for me, pulling me down onto the bed beside him. He snorted slightly. I politely ignored it.
"Come here," he grumbled, eyes still closed.
"But I have Thai food for you," I said, ignoring the inviting way he curved his body.
"Don't want it," he grunted.
"You have to eat."
He raised his eyebrows, finally opening his eyes; they were red but intrigued.
"You have to eat the Thai food," I laughed, rolling my eyes.
"Not interested," he replied, pulling me down to him. "Guess what?"
"What?" His hair was getting too long. It was beginning to grow over the collar of his shirt, and crawl into his line of sight. I brushed it back with my palm, willing to curl up beside him, bodies melding together. A siren blared from below our apartment before he could speak. Flashing lights of green and blue threw light haphazardly across our bedroom—lighting Edward's skin like a sparkling Christmas tree.
He looked ridiculous.
"I have the day off tomorrow," he grinned.
"What? No. Seriously?"
"Mmhmm," he acknowledged, obviously utterly exhausted. He pulled the blanket up and around us, still fully clothed in his work clothes. His arm draped languidly over my waist, and, in a matter of moments, he was breathing heavily in deep sleep. I smiled to myself, working each button of his shirt in order to free it from his body. Light hair brushed against his chest; it was something I had come to love, though it certainly wasn't present in our old relationship. It was symbolic of many things in our relationship. The newness was infinitely better than the old, but not completely different. He was still Edward and I was still Bella.
I moved slowly in taking off his shirt, careful not to wake him. Really, it was unfounded. Whenever he came home after work he was dead tired – nothing would wake him. Even when I unbuckled his belt he didn't budge. I traced the muscles of his chest, simply adoring him. I wondered how it was possible that I got so lucky, that the thing I wanted the most was realized.
It was stupid, thinking that I could ever truly live without Edward. I could survive, that was true. Hell, I did survive without Edward. I survived without Edward for five years. But, it wasn't actually living. It never would have been actually living without him with me. I fell asleep to the sound of his heartbeat against my ear, and awoke in the absence of sound.
He sat against the edge of the bed, scratching his head absently. His hair stood in all directions, as it always did in the early morning. At one point, he informed me that, during high school, it took him half an hour to tame it in the morning. When I informed him that it took him longer to get ready than me, a girl, he put on a sour face and didn't talk to me for half an hour. Then he got over it. Whatever.
I looked at the clock on the bedside table. It registered ten in the morning. Usually, Edward was up by at least six, due to the hours that were required by his residency. It felt good to have him here, with me, instead of out working. I moved in the bed and he turned around to see if I was awake. When our eyes met, he smiled.
"Good morning," he hummed, and ducked in for a kiss. I dodged, not allowing my morning breath to spread like the plague. He rolled his eyes and stood up, walking over to the window and opening the blinds. To the surprise of us both, light streamed through the small cracks. Rare sunshine on a Portland spring day. "Would you look at that," Edward remarked, peering through the slats in the blinds.
"Yeah, no kidding. We should do something outside today, maybe," I proposed, moving from the bed to stand beside him.
"Outside…" he mumbled. We were both at a loss. Outdoor activities weren't often hypothesized in Portland.
"I know what we can do in preparation," I smiled, turning my head to the bathroom.
"Shower?" he asked, turning to me and smirking.
"Shower," I confirmed.
After our shower, we finally decided that a picnic would be something that we could do outside that was also relaxing enough for one of Edward's only days off. We packed up a lunch that consisted of sandwiches and a few deflated, sad looking bags of Capri Sun. We didn't really have the traditional picnic garb like a wicker basket and a checkered blanket, so I threw everything in a grocery bag and we ended up pulling the blanket off of our bed (not a good idea, in hind-sight.) We drove around for awhile, pretty unfamiliar with any of the outdoorsy places around Portland. That was actually pretty embarrassing, for I was sure at least six of the people that lived on our floor alone were avid hikers.
Finally, after driving around in circles for a good hour, we ended up pulling off to the side of the road in order to create our own path. Also not a good idea. By the time we reached an area that was remotely suitable for our picnic, I was caked with mud, sticks, and dirt all the way up to the knee. Edward, on the other hand, was pretty much spotless. He was absurdly graceful as he watched me fall over stray stumps and logs. Of course, his reaction times apparently sucked. Either that, or he enjoyed watching me fall flat on my face. I assumed it was a little bit of both.
I threw the blanket down over the slightly damp grass. Thankfully, the dew was not strong enough to penetrate our thin protection. We sat down upon it, and I pulled out the sandwiches. Edward smiled gratefully, taking his and opening it up. Up 'till that point, we were almost completely silent. It was something we had to grow into – the silence. At first, we attempted to fill it in its entirety, though we soon found out that always stressing about what to say was positively fruitless. It was easier for us, personally, to communicate in the absence of noise. We did this through touches and facial expression, brief brushes of skin on skin.
Some evil crow that somehow must have been a hybrid with a sheep squawked incessantly.
Edward took a bite of his sandwich, and then promptly spat it up on the ground.
"What is this?" he spluttered, attempting to rid his tongue of the taste.
"A sandwich," I laughed, taking a bite of my own. The sticky, sweet syrup stuck to my teeth and gums as I chewed.
"What the hell is in here?"
He opened up the sandwich, peering inside with an expression both dubious and a little bit scared. He gaped at it for a moment, and then spoke.
"Okay, Bella. Be honest with me. Is this foreign turd left out too long in the sun?"
"Edward, that's horrible!" I laughed, slapping his shoulder. "It's Nutella. It's good… but you have to get used to it."
"I was expecting peanut butter," he grumbled, pushing the two slices of bread back together with his palms.
"We ran out," I explained. "But this is good too, right?"
He paused for a moment – a very brief moment – to deliberate.
"No. It's disgusting. It not only looked like melting turd, it tastes like it, too. Seriously, who buys this?" He put the decapitated sandwich back in the bag.
"I don't know," I replied. I almost said James, but I didn't. I hardly thought about him anymore; I only did when times got really bad. And, when I got that low, both Edward and my doctor were able to help me out of where I was. They helped me get back on my feet. I was prescribed some medication, though it took me awhile to get used to them. The pills had a way of making me paranoid and making my skin crawl, but they were infinitely better than the alternative. And the worst part of those lows wasn't even what it did to me; it was what it did to Edward. Never did I want to see someone I loved so fervently so scared. I didn't want to cause him pain or hurt or trouble. I did it for myself, yes, but one of my main driving forces was Edward, and saving him the worry.
And it was worth it.
I watched as he lay back on the blanket, hands hooked behind his head as he stared at the clouds. I admired him, finishing the rest of my sandwich in a seated position. After finishing, I lay beside him on the cool blanket. I felt his heat radiate. It filled me with warmth. Warmth and love.
"I love you," I said quietly, in between the cries of the bird-sheep hybrid.
"I love you, too," he replied, then paused. "But Bella?"
"Yeah?" I asked tentatively.
"Never buy Nutella again."
For: Lost My Mind Forever
Thanks to revrag for the betaing