This is a re-post of this story up to the most recent chapter. Updates will be continuing as I work though my normal story rotation.
Warning: This story is rated M for language and lemons.
Disclaimer: Twilight is the creation of Stephenie Meyer, I just amp up the angst and throw in some lemons. "I Remember When" is the property of NKOTB, who I'm glad to see are still rocking it after all these years! The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The chapter titles are either titles or lyric references from NKOTB or possibly from the solo careers of the band members. "I Remember When" was the inspiration song used in the contest and the title of Chapter 1.
I hate jet lag. There is something truly annoying about flying out of JFK at 8:30 in the morning and spending six and a half hours on a plane to land and have it only be noon. After the painfully long ride, I turned onto our drive, which was easy to miss if you weren't looking for it. As I weaved through the woods I noticed how much the drive had become overgrown, that was something I would mention to my dad when I saw him. I pulled my rental car, a shiny silver Volvo, up to the garage door and got out.
Turning my key in the front door I was hit by all the memories that the familiar smell of ginger snaps brought back, my mother was baking up a storm for someone. As I dropped my bag by the front door and made my way to the kitchen I was pleased by just how little had changed, you could always count on my parents to keep things the way they always had been.
I came around the corner just as my mom looked up from her cookie tin and let out a shriek. "Edward? Oh my goodness, sweetheart what brings you home?"
Before I could answer her arms were wrapped around me and I was gasping for air. "Good to see you too, mom. I needed to get away for a little while, recharge my batteries."
She pulled back and looked into my eyes. "What foolish woman broke your heart this time?"
I laughed, but my mother wasn't far off, whenever love did me wrong I came home to the one place that held memories of the great love of my life, even though she never knew it. "It isn't my personal life this time, I'm working on this show and I'm having problems wrapping my head around it. Plus, I felt bad having to miss Christmas because of work. Things are just so much simpler here, like it's a different time completely. Nothing ever changes here and I need that if I'm ever going to figure out the problem with these songs."
My mom smiled as she released me. "Well I'm glad your back, it'll be nice to have music fill this house again. But as for you last remark; plenty has changed since the last time you came home."
I scoffed, knowing my mom she probably had a laundry list of mundane things like garbage day being switched from Thursday to Saturday, but I decided to play along. "Oh yeah, like what?"
"Bella's home." My heart froze as her words sank in. Bella, my Bella, my best friend was here. It had been so long since I'd seen her and now she was within my grasp.
"She's visiting too, that's a coincidence." I tried to play it cool, but I knew my mother wasn't fooled. "I should stop by and see her." I took my keys out of my pocket and kissed my mom on the forehead.
"Try the diner, she's there most days." I wondered why someone who loved to cook would spend her time at the diner, but I would take whatever insider information I could get.
"Thanks mom, I'll see you later." I was out the door and back in my car in a minute, all of the jet lag and exhaustion forgotten as I sped down the drive to the main road.
I drove through town and finally pulled into the diner. Getting out, I was overwhelmed again by the memories of Bella and me and all the time we spent together here. I opened the door and walked in, looking around to find her. When I noticed that she wasn't at any of the tables I turned to leave when I heard a voice by the counter. "Edward?"
For the second time in the last hour someone had spoken my name with a questioning tone, as if they weren't sure if I was real, but the hope in Bella's voice was unmistakable and made my heart pound as I turned to her.
I was shocked to see her standing behind the counter in a Forks Diner uniform, but even through the disbelief I could see her beauty. Something had to have happened to bring Bella back to Forks like this and I was suddenly glad that my writer's block had hit me when it did. "Bella, when did you get back to town?"
Bella walked around the counter and threw her arms around my neck and pulled me close. My arms claimed her waist as I took in a deep breath of strawberries and freesia and fry grease, but even through the diner smell she was still my Bella. "I got back a few months ago, what about you, what brings you all the way here from Broadway?"
I chuckled as she motioned for me to sit at the counter. I looked over the menu when Bella placed her hand over the center of it. "Let me save you some time. You'll order a bacon cheeseburger, with Swiss cheese, well done French fries and a vanilla shake." She laughed as I closed the menu and nodded, before she turned to place my order and put away the menu.
"I needed some peace and quiet; I couldn't get any work done with all the distractions."
Bella laughed as she started making my shake. "Distractions, you know I'm sure those girls wouldn't appreciate the term."
I grimaced at her comment, I didn't like that she thought I was a player, even if she was engaged. God did I regret not telling her how much I loved her. "Edward, are you alright?"
I looked up to see her standing in front of me with a frown on her face. "Fine, and for your information, I wish the distractions had to do with some parade of women, at least it would be a problem I could fix. So what brought you back to Forks?"
"Bella, order's up!" The bellow from the kitchen interrupted us as Bella picked up the food and delivered it to the only other table in the place.
"You're lucky you didn't get here a half hour ago, we still had the after school rush and those monsters are too much." Bella smiled and I remembered back to the days when we were two of those monsters, driving Lisa, the owner's wife, batty with our slow eating habits and our propensity to pay in change. "To answer your question though, I'm back in town for Charlie."
My chest grew tight as I saw the pain flash behind Bella's eyes as she tried to hide it from me, whatever was wrong had to be bad. "So does James commute from Seattle, or do you go to him?"
"James and I are no longer together." Bella turned back to the kitchen to grab my food and when she put it down and saw that there was indeed no ring on her finger I took her hand in mine.
"I'm sorry; it seems like life has kicked you around a bit. How are you doing?"
Bella let out a deep breath and leaned on the counter behind her. "I'm a townie who's sleeping in her childhood bed and waiting at the local diner, I'm a joke okay, a fricking cliché."
"You're not a joke; don't ever talk about my best friend like that."
She smiled and looked up at me through glassy eyes. "You still think of me as your best friend?"
I nodded and looked directly into her eyes as I answered her. "I know I haven't acted like it the last few years, but you're still the only one I can tell anything to." Well, almost anything.
"You too, it's so easy to be myself with you. I couldn't even talk to James the way I talk to you." A few locals came in and Bella went to seat the tables and get their drink orders. While she worked I ate my burger and by the time she came back I was taking the last sip of my shake.
"Sorry about that, the early bird rush is starting. Are you free tomorrow? I'm off so maybe we could catch up."
"Sure what time?" I was glad for the time I would get to spend with her.
"How about noon, I have to go see Charlie, so how about you meet me at my house then."
The same sadness threatened to free itself and I found myself far too curious to let it go, especially if I could comfort her. "What's wrong with Charlie that he isn't home?"
Bella looked up and then back at the floor. "He has Alzheimer's, I would have told you earlier, but I assumed your parents would have told you."
"No, I didn't know. I'm sorry Bells; I know you and your dad are close." I felt like an ass for pushing it now, and was curious as to why she thought my parents would have told me. "Okay, I'll see you at 12."
I threw down a fifty and waved her off as she tried to tell me to wait for my change. I got back in my car and drove home, only to find my parents sitting on the sectional couch watching the news.
"Edward, it's good to have you home!" My dad stood up and clasped me into a hug before sinking back into the couch.
"Can I ask you a question?" I stood at the end of the couch and both my parents turned to face me.
"Of course Edward, anything." My father answered truthfully and I shifted my weight.
"Why would Bella assume you would have told me about Charlie?" My father looked me dead on as my mother stared into her lap.
"Probably because I was the one who diagnosed him and then called her and told her to come home. And now with it being public knowledge, I guess she thought your mother would have told you."
My mom looked up at me with regretful eyes. "I didn't think it was something you should have heard from me, I know I would want to be the one to tell my friends when I was ready, I didn't want to take that away from her. She's had a hard couple of months."
"What happened?" I was desperate for information, and well aware that Bella would have a hard time retelling the story.
"Why don't we go upstairs and talk about it in my study." I nodded and followed my dad up to his office, sitting in one of the chairs on the near side of the desk while he walked around and sat in his arm chair.
"No one knew it was happening at first, it was just minor things and he was alone so often. Then his deputy began to see that he wasn't his usual self and one day he was rushed to the hospital after having a mild heart attack and that's when they discovered it. He hadn't been taking his medications, and he couldn't answer things he should know. So I called Bella and she was going to stay for a few weeks, try to get him settled, but he was too much for her to handle alone so she had to put him into the nursing home in town, and she hasn't left. She's been trying to find a better facility, but most of the ones that will take his insurance and not cost her a fortune are far away, and she didn't want to move somewhere where she didn't know anyone, so she's keeping him here for now." My heart broke for Bella, and all I wanted to do was be there for her.
"Do you know what happened with her fiancé?" I had a feeling I knew the answer, but I wanted a heads up for tomorrow so I didn't ask anymore dumb questions.
"He never came to Forks. She tried going back and forth, and one day she came back into town with a rental truck and moved into her father's house. Then Bella got the job at the diner and she's been here ever since."
"Thanks, I just didn't want to make it more uncomfortable for her tomorrow."
My dad smiled and patted my shoulder. "I'm sure you'll be able to cheer her up."
I left the study and went up to my old room, lying down to stare up at my ceiling.
The next thing I heard was the sound of my old private line ringing. I rolled over and answered it out of habit, not even aware that it was still on until that moment. "Hello?"
"Oh God, I woke you up. Jeez I'm sorry." I was instantly more alert as I heard how upset Bella was.
"Bella, its fine. I was just taking a nap, what's wrong?"
She took a stilted breath and my heart lurched as I heard the emotion thick in her voice. "Forget it; I shouldn't have called this late."
"If you don't mind me asking, why did you call this number? I didn't even know it worked until the phone rang."
Bella let out a short laugh and then took another deep breath. "I didn't think it would work either, but it's the only number I have for you that wouldn't wake up your parents. I wanted to hear your voice and short of throwing pebbles at your window, that was the only way that came to mind."
I laughed at the memory of Bella throwing rocks at my window when I got my private line cut off for bad behavior. "Remember that time I was mad at you and I wouldn't answer your calls so you walked the two miles to my house and were so pissed by the time you got here you threw the rock at my window and broke it."
Bella's laugh filtered through the phone and I smiled at my success at cheering her up. "I remember."
"Bella, if you want to talk about whatever upset you, I could come over."
The line was silent for a minute as I threw on an old t-shirt and some sweats along with my worn pair of sneakers so I would be comfortable if she said yes, and ready for bed if she said no.
"Are you sure it isn't too late?" I smiled to myself and grabbed my wallet and keys.
"I'll be there in ten minutes."
I ran downstairs quietly and headed out to my car, quickly driving the two miles and pulled up to see her sitting on the front porch in purple shorts and a tank top, her hair was wild because of the wind and her face was wet with tears.
"Still in love with Volvo's I see." Bella laughed at the memory of my first car, a 1988 Volvo.
"Hey that car lasted a lot longer than that truck of yours."
Bella scowled in mock anger as she walked down the steps. "My girl took good care of me."
I was almost to the steps when Bella tripped and flew down the last two steps where I swiftly caught her. "Why don't we get inside, it's a little chilly out."
I helped Bella regain her balance and then we went up the steps and into her father's living room. If I thought nothing had changed at my parents' place, then the Swan residence was the house that time forgot.
"Time warp, isn't it?"
I laughed as Bella picked my exact thoughts out as she settled on the couch. "Yup. Now what had you so upset?"
Bella started crying and I pulled her to me as I stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. "This is nice, that even after all these years we get along like no time has passed. You don't know how much I needed you these past few months."
"Why didn't you call me?" I whispered to her as she snuggled closer to my chest.
"I dropped my phone in a puddle and lost a bunch of numbers I had, and I didn't feel right about asking your parents for it." Bella took a deep breath and started crying again. "Charlie doesn't recognize me. I sit with him every day and he talks about me, but I'm right there and he doesn't know. Am I that forgettable Edward?"
I held her closer. "No. Bella you are anything but forgettable." I felt the need to comfort her so bad that the words poured out of me and I couldn't stop myself, and at that point I wasn't sure I wanted to either. "Bella, you are caring and compassionate and loving. You take care of people, and you're a phenomenal cook, and you are so smart. You kept me in line all these years, which means you're on the short list for sainthood and you are beautiful. God Bella, you are the most gorgeous person, inside and out and I have loved you for as long as I can remember."
Bella shifted in my arms and looked up at me. "What? You love me…you mean like a friend, right?"
It cut deep to hear her ask that, but I couldn't stop my confession now because for the first time in my life I felt the weight lift off me, I didn't have to pretend anymore. "No Bella, as so much more than a friend. I'm in love with you. I loved you when we played all of those games that you and I would make up so no one else could join in, and when I called you 'stumble B,' and when you would dance around on your front lawn on those rare sunny days. I remember those damn New Kid on the Block albums you used to play and the promise that we would always be there for each other. We used to say we were 'together forever' and I'm sorry that I broke that promise."
Bella placed her hands on either side of my face and forced me to look into her eyes. "You didn't break that promise, I did. I did it a lot sooner than you, but in true 'B and E' style, it was for the same reason, even though I didn't know it at the time. I love you too Edward."
My mind reeled. Bella loved me, she felt the same way. "When did you…?"
"Two months ago. I spent that first month commuting back and forth and James wasn't supporting me and the whole time all I kept thinking was, 'I wish Edward was here.' When I finally realized it, I packed my stuff and left. James wasn't even upset, he told me to take care. I was his fiancée and all he had to say as I walked out the door was 'take care.'"
Bella sat back and pulled one of the pillows to hug to her chest. After a few minutes of silence she turned to me. "I should have figured it out when I didn't hit you for calling me 'stumble B!'"
We both laughed and then spent the next few hours talking about the old days and how much we remembered, and all the things we couldn't. I don't remember falling asleep, but I do remember the electric pulse of Bella's touch as she stroked my cheek and pushed the hair out of my eyes.
"Morning sleeping beauty." The smile on her face reached all the way to her eyes as she tried to hold in her laughter.
"Good morning yourself." I sat up and could smell the breakfast that was probably sitting on the tiny mismatched table in the kitchen.
"Breakfast is ready, why don't you come eat something."
Bella led me to the kitchen and we sat down to eat in silence. About halfway through the amazing pancakes that were sitting in front of me, I noticed a packet with a Manhattan zip code. "What's that?"
Bella followed my eyes and pulled out the envelope. "It is a clinical study for early onset Alzheimer's patients; I had the doctors send his medical information to see if he would qualify."
"Did he?" I know Bella was nervous about moving him, but if he could get help in New York she might go there, and I desperately wanted her near me.
"Yeah. It starts in a month; I don't know how I will get everything settled before then though."
"I'll help. Bella I know New York City like the back of my hand, and you could stay with me."
Bella looked up from her plate. "Until I found my own place?"
"If that's what you want. But it doesn't have to be temporary."
Bella's eyes sparkled, but I knew that would be a bargaining point after she moved in with me. "I have to speak to your father, the nursing home has been preparing for the move, but I need his help with a few things. Do you think we could stop by your house?"
I smiled. "Sure, you want to do it before you go to see Charlie, or after."
Her brow furrowed as she turned to the window. "I'm not going to see Charlie today."
"Bella, I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be for you, but you have to go. Even if you just go to check on him quick and then to see how things are going along there in preparation for the move and the clinical trial."
"I should see your dad first. How about I shower quick and then I'll follow you home and talk to your dad before I go see him."
I nodded and Bella went to clear the table before I stopped her. "You go shower, I'll take care of the kitchen."
She squeezed my bicep, and as much as I wanted to say that I was doing this to be chivalrous, the truth was I needed something to keep me busy knowing that Bella was in the shower and everything we felt for each other was finally out in the open.
When she came down a short while later I was ready to go. She followed me home and soon we were pulling up in front of my parents' house. Bella and I walked up the steps hand in hand and I opened the door to find my mother standing by the door.
"Edward, I know I taught you better than to-" my mom saw Bella and her expression softened immediately. "Dear, it's so good to see you. If you're here to see Carlisle he should be down any minute."
Bella blushed and looked down for a moment before addressing my mom. "Thank you Esme. And I'm sorry that I kept Edward out all night, I had a bad evening with Charlie and I needed someone to talk to."
My mom's eyes flashed down to our joined hands and cheered even more. "Bella you don't have to explain, it's just that Edward knows to leave a note."
"You do realize that I'm an adult and I'm standing right here, right?"
Bella and my mom laughed as the stairs creaked, signaling my father's entrance. "I thought I heard Bella's voice. How are you?"
"I'm fine Carlisle, but I'd like to talk to you for a moment if you have the time."
"Of course Bella, I always have time for you. Why don't you come up to my study so I can look over your father's file if I need to." Bella nodded and squeezed my hand before following my father back up the stairs.
I ignored my mother's gaze as I went up to shower and get ready for the day. When I was dressed I looked out the window and Bella's car was already gone, so I went downstairs to sit at the piano. I began to mess around with the song that had been a source of constant stress back home.
As I played around with the part that I had already written, I began thinking of Bella and everything we had learned last night. All those years we had wasted, all the anguish and frustration of being alone in love. And then it hit me. I had spent so much time trying to make this song end happily, when it couldn't. At the point in the show this song was supposed to take place in, the male lead was so lost that he felt like he would never love again, so I have to embrace that melancholy. After all, Bella and I had resolved ourselves to our fates just to have life throw us back together and have everything fall into place. We weren't meant to be together when we were younger; we had to live through everything that we had for what we have to be special…that's why we found our way back to Forks at the exact same time.
The music poured out of me as I made my notations on the sheet music that was sprawled out in front of me. The lyrics would come later, but right now I was flowing through the end of the first Act with tremendous force.
I hadn't realized how long I had been sitting there until I heard the doorbell ring. My mom answered it before I was able to get up. Bella came in and hugged my mother before she ran to me and threw her arms around my neck and kissed me passionately. This was the first kiss we had ever shared and it was also the best kiss I had ever experienced. When our lips finally broke apart she was smiling at me with such love in her eyes that I almost burst with happiness.
I looked at her a little perplexed before chuckling and reaching up to cup her face. "With a greeting like that, I should be thanking you."
She rolled her eyes and turned to kiss my palm. "Edward…my dad recognized me, and if you hadn't talked me into going I would have missed it."
My eyes bulged and I grabbed her, spinning around while she laughed. "Bella, that's amazing. What does that mean for him?"
"Nothing really, he was just having a good day, and it was early, which helps because people with Alzheimer's are more lucid in the morning. But everything looks like it will be good for the start of the trial, now I just need to get my life in order."
I was so happy that she was having a better day that I wanted to share my breakthrough with her. "Bella, sit down, I want to play something for you."
Bella did as I asked and I began playing the first of the three songs I had powered through this morning. As I played them I kept my head down and only looked up on occasion to gauge her reaction. When I was finished her eyes were glassy and she was smiling again. "Edward that was beautiful, were those the songs you were struggling with?"
I nodded. "I realized that everything didn't need to be perfect throughout, just as long as they got there in the end."
Bella stood up and crossed to where I sat at the piano. "Like us."
I stood up and pulled Bella the last few inches until we were flush against each other as I leaned down to kiss her. It didn't take long for the memory that my mother was still in the house to make me stop what I was doing. I stepped back and Bella looked slightly hurt. "My mom is-"
"Shopping in Port Angeles, she left as she let me in." Bella smiled as I swept her into my arms and carried her up the stairs to my bedroom. I know I was being presumptuous, but the idea of being alone with her was too good to pass up. Luckily, Bella seemed to be right there with me as she kicked off her shoes as soon as I put her down. We were quickly stripped out of our clothes and Bella sat on the center of my bed looking absolutely breathtaking.
She blushed and moved to cover up when I stopped her. "You are perfect. Please don't hide yourself from me."
Her blush deepened and I sat in front of her to kiss her. As our lips touched I let out an involuntary moan as I moved towards Bella, hovering over her body. She reached up to pull me closer and let out a gasp as my erection hit her stomach. I sat up quickly to dig my wallet out of my jeans and retrieve my prize. Once I had it, I sat it on the bed and resumed my plan to worship Bella's body.
I kissed down her neck and collarbone, finally stopping when I reached her perfect breasts. I massaged the right as I took the left in my mouth and she bucked up into me as her back arched off the bed. After a few minutes, I switched sides and the pants and moans that were passing her lips let me know that I was doing everything right. As I trailed down her stomach and reached her center I was amazed at how wet she was for me. I rested between her legs and let my tongue run a pass along her lips before teasing her entrance with my fingers.
I slipped the first one in and she rolled into my hand, so I quickly followed with a second finger as I lowered my lips to her bundle of nerves. I teased and licked and sucked until finally Bella was panting my name as she closed down around my fingers and I made quick work of her sweet nectar.
When I sat up Bella had the condom in her hand as she rose up to meet me. "Make love to me Edward."
I growled at the sincere request and rolled the condom over my member before I repositioned myself at her entrance and slid home. Never had that baseball analogy for sex made more sense than in that moment, because Bella was my home.
I began to thrust slowly, lovingly as she rose to meet every stroke. We found a rhythm and within minutes I could feel myself nearing my release. I wanted to hold out until Bella was there as well, which didn't seem to take her too long after that.
"Edward, faster baby…I'm almost there."
I did as she requested and right before I climaxed, Bella began to quiver around me and her mouth fell open into the most perfect 'o' shape I had ever seen. I lowered myself on top of her and rested my forehead against hers.
"God I love you Bella."
She smiled and kissed the tip of my nose. "As I love you."