Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Any 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.

~0~

Hello! Once again, my profuse apologies for the stupidly long time it takes me to update. I'm thankful that you clicked on the link and you're about to read...

This chapter is entitled 'Canon', and yes, I've borrowed from Twilight (book and movie)and Midnight Sun. No copyright is intended as I pay tribute to Stephenie Meyer. I wish I could thank her personally for creating Edward Cullen! Oh and I'd really love to thank Robert Pattinson in person for being so spectacular as Edward, but, yeah, like that will happen! So, my dear, faithful readers please indulge me.

All I can do is dream...

From Chapter 48 - Suite (EPOV)

Then Rosalie pushed my hand away and the force of her movement sent her backwards and off the narrow platform that we were standing on.

I felt the straps of the harness cut deeply with the force of her weight as she fell. Her scream echoed off the trees as she dropped. I tried to keep my footing, but it was no use. I could feel myself slipping as well.

"Fuck!"

There was shouting and chaos. I leaned back, the pain was excruciating.

Then the familiar voice of the stunt guy who'd conducted the safety training.

"Edward, can you hold her weight until we can get to you?"

I couldn't see her, but I felt her harness swinging her in a wide arc, as I tried to hold the wire and support her weight. The harness straps cut under my legs and across my back.

"Fuck! No, I'm slipping! You have to get her!"

~0~

~~Edward~~

I woke, but didn't open my eyes. There was a dull heaviness against my leg. It was throbbing and didn't feel...normal. I wanted to go back to sleep, but then I felt like I was forgetting something very important.

Bella.

I could smell her perfume. I could feel the heat from her body lying next to me.

Making love to her had taken every ounce of my energy. The pleasure still seemed to beat through my veins like a drug, as I recalled how she felt...

She's so fucking amazing. I'm desperately in love.

"Edward!"

Sleep was still dragging me under. I rolled onto my stomach; my aroused dick pressed into the unusually hard mattress, and I reached out to pull Bella's body against mine.

I want her.

"Edward!" shouted Alice's voice. I could hear knocking.

Why in the hell is Alice in my hotel suite?

I blinked and lazily lifted my hand to rub away sleep from my eyes. My throat felt awfully dry and there was a tingling metallic taste on my tongue.

When my eyes focused, I was completely aghast.

Bella wasn't in bed with me.

I wasn't in my suite at the hotel. I wasn't in bed at the B&B, where Bella and I had spent a glorious weekend exploring each other's bodies.

I sat up, and pulled the black cotton sheet over my lap.

This is my bedroom at home…I mean my old home…in Forks.

My room was exactly how I remembered it. Familiar books and CD's, spine-out and alphabetically arranged, were on my bookcase along the wall; my baseball trophies on the top shelf. The view through the floor-to-ceiling glass showcased the lush green of the trees. They were blanketed with foggy morning dew and bathed in a soft, grey light that was so typically representative of the rainy Olympic peninsula.

My bedroom door burst open and Alice rushed in, still wearing her nightgown, her short hair sticking up on one side of her head.

"Edward!"

It was like I was dreaming. Alice's youthful appearance mirrored that of her teenage years. I closed my eyes and pushed my palm against my forehead.

I'm having a weird, yet very realistic dream.

"Edward, I dreamed about her! Your soul mate!"

This is just a very trippy case of déjà vu.

Confusion mixed with sleepiness and an even more pronounced ache in my leg.

My mind filtered through a hazy memory.

I was on-set. Alice and Emmett had arrived from the airport. Rosalie was being…difficult.

My heart rate seemed to accelerate as I recalled seeing Rosalie's pale face, her expression apologetic, as she looked up at me. We were both hanging. My harness was supporting all her weight as she was only suspended by one carabiner connecting her harness to the safety wire.

I seemed to recall that they'd gotten Rosalie down quickly, but before they could get to me, the tree branch gave out and I fell to the trampoline. My leg clipped the edge and I bounced backwards.

Fuck no!

"She's beautiful; she's kind and self-sacrificing. She will love you more than you will ever know. She will be searching for you; you are destined to be together. I think it's soon, Edward. I feel like you will meet her very soon. She's creative and humble. She loves music; she will be your muse. She will support you and encourage you; you will be lost without her. Edward the impression in my dream was extremely distinct. She has—"

"STOP!" I begged.

The surreal state of the situation was filling me with panic and dread.

"How old are we?" I demanded.

"What? I'm telling you about your soul mate, Edward!" Alice said with irritation.

"Please Alice," I could feel the fear crawling up my throat.

Did I fucking die? If I'm dead, if I've left her...

Bella baby. I'm sorry. Oh God, I promised we'd be together forever!

"Sixteen. What's going on? Did you and Ben smoke pot last night?"

"Alice, no. There was an accident. I think...I think I... died."

~0~

"I can feel that you believe what you're saying." Alice said, after I explained everything to her; my career, meeting Bella in Vancouver, what happened on set...

I sensed Alice was trying to think up a more plausible explanation to my theory.

"Maybe we should ask Dad? Maybe that marijuana you did smoke is causing you to hallucinate. Maybe it's delayed psychosis, or...something?"

I groaned and pulled at my hair. "You think Bella was a hallucination? You think I dreamed my whole life up, Alice?"

"Well, it is kind of unbelievable; you're a Hollywood actor? Seriously, Edward?"

"You two are going to be late!" I heard my mom sing cheerily from the bottom of the stairs.

"Think of it this way," Alice continued. "Maybe you're just unconscious and on lots of pain meds in a hospital and this is all in your head!" she laughed but then she reached out to punch my arm.

"Hey!" I said as I rubbed the sore spot.

"OK, maybe not." she frowned, and then looked just as confused as I felt. "Regardless, you have to drive me to school. So, get dressed!"

The thought of going to school made me feel even more uncomfortable than the phantom pressure against my leg.

I dressed quickly, frustrated by the memories swirling in my head.

My somber mood temporarily lifted when I walked downstairs and saw my mom. She looked radiant and happy; exactly as I remembered her being when I was sixteen. I could even smell the faint aroma of her perfume—Shalamar—in the kitchen.

The house was picture perfect. I didn't think my memory could have retained every single detail of the rooms in our old house in Forks. As Alice had pointed out, Ben and I did experiment with pot when we were sixteen.

I love this house. I enjoyed this time of my life.

When Alice and I walked into the garage and I saw my pristine Volvo, I was pumped.

I recalled the pleasure that driving my car to school had given me, like it was yesterday.

Maybe this is a long held fantasy that's been buried in my subconscious. Maybe I need to re-live this time in my life?

My fingers twitched against the key as I walked to the drivers' side.

"So, if you're twenty-three and you've just met Bella," mused Alice, "then, how old am I when I meet him?"

"Him?" I questioned, even though I knew she would be referring to her soul mate, Jasper Whitlock.

She rolled her eyes at me as we sat in the car and put our seatbelts on. "I've met him, right? In your, um, future?"

"You were nineteen." I stated.

"Oh MY God! What's HIS NAME?" she screeched in my ear.

I smiled and shook my head.

"Tell me!" she demanded. "Please, please just tell me his name!"

This is just a dream, right? I'm not going to fuck-up some future scenario or cause the World to implode if I tell her...

The dense pain still throbbed through my leg as I shifted into reverse.

"His name is Jasper."

I looked at her briefly. She closed her eyes; she looked like she was meditating.

"Are Jasper and I married?" she asked.

"No. You've been making him wait. You said you couldn't possibly marry your soul mate until I'd found mine." I grinned at her.

"That sounds like me!" she laughed.

Alice stayed quiet as I drove down our driveway. She didn't ask me specific details about Jasper, but I could tell she really wanted to.

The drive to school was familiar, yet slower than I remembered.

That's because I used to drive like a maniac to school! There were no leeches following me, tailing me to take my photo! Back then I was carefree and indestructible!

Like a hundred times before, I let myself think of Bella—about meeting her here, in Forks—if she had come to live with Chief Swan.

Would I have become an actor if I'd met her and she was mine?

I pulled the car into the school parking lot.

If this is a dream—my dream—could I dream Bella's here and I get to meet her now? Maybe it's my dying wish.

My chest ached.

"We're going to have a really bad day if you keep doing that!" Alice said as she pressed her hand against her heart.

"I'm sorry." I said. "What if I never see her again; if I've left her alone?"

A tear ran down Alice's cheek.

"Sorry." I breathed-in deeply, and opened the car door.

"I think we should check dad's medical journals tonight. Maybe there are case-studies about hallucinations during near-death...I mean, unconsciousness?" Alice said as she wiped her tears away.

~0~

I went to classes. The familiarity of my surroundings sent a wave of nostalgia and contentment through me that was strangely incredible.

Life in High School is simple, easy.

Here, I'm just a regular guy. People talk to me normally. Girls don't stare or giggle as I walk past. It was something that I didn't get in the reality of my 'actor' life, and I realized how much I truly missed it.

But this is all a dream, I hoped.

I tried pinching myself to wake up. It didn't work.

So I sat through lunch and 'visualized' how my dream would go.

Biology was my next class. In my mind, I imagined that Bella would be there. It would be her first day at Forks High. She had taken her mom's advice and come from Australia to live with Chief Swan. She'd sit next to me. We'd have to do some lame lab-work together.

Then the bell rang. I practically ran to class, and sat at the lab desk that I remembered from all those years ago.

I mentally chanted, begged, and even prayed that she would walk into the room.

My hope had all but faded, and the doubts started creeping back, as I watched familiar faces from my youth slowly file through the classroom doorway.

This isn't a dream. I can't control it. Maybe I'm destined to repeat High School over and over for eternity. Maybe school is my subconscious manifestation of heaven, or hell?

The swell in my chest had me gasping for breath when I saw her.

Bella walked into the room holding a piece of paper. She handed it to Mr. Molina, and I watched mesmerized as he motioned for her to sit on the vacant stool next to me.

I did this! I made her appear with the just the power of my mind?

Bella walked slowly to our table. She appeared shy and introverted. She had a small blemish above her lip that she'd tried to cover with concealer. She was my Bella, but she didn't know me.

Why am I getting to 'live' this?

Because I'm unconscious! What did Alice say...maybe I'm in a hospital and pumped full of pain meds. I'm still alive. I can't have left her!

Bella smiled when she sat next to me. I could smell her floral perfume, and her strawberry scented hair.

"Hello." I said softly. I tried not to reveal my exuberance. "My name is Edward Cullen. You're Bella."

She flashed me a nervous smile, as I looked into her wide brown eyes; she looked bewildered.

Her cheeks began to flush. It took her a few seconds longer than it should have for her to respond.

"Um, how do you know my name?" she asked.

A warm rush of rapture shot through my body at the sound of her voice. Her Australian accent was so familiar to my ears now, so distinct and cherished.

"Oh, I think everyone knows your name. The whole town's been waiting for you to arrive."

I wanted to say that I, and I alone, had been waiting...

"No," she said, "I meant, why did you call me Bella?"

I was confused, and my expression must have communicated volumes to her.

"I think Charlie—I mean my Dad—must call me Isabella behind my back. That's what everyone here seems to know me as."

"Oh," I said lamely.

I tried to focus. I didn't want to weird her out. To Bella, I was a complete stranger.

Stranger.

When I thought about it, I realized that I hadn't met many people in the last two years, who didn't already know who I was.

The reality of fame was far reaching. The only other comparable experience was when Bella took me to Laurent's, and I met the geriatric musicians that had no clue that I was a Hollywood actor.

Maybe I subconsciously wish that Bella hadn't known of me when we met?

She was looking straight ahead, and I realized I was staring.

Bella had no idea that all I wanted to do was hold her, kiss her neck, while I inhaled her floral perfume, and revel in the buzzing static that would pulse through me at every touch of her skin.

"Get started," Mr. Molina instructed.

I used the time to take in a painfully large breath. It felt like it took every ounce of self-control that I'd practiced in my twenty-three years of life, to just sit next to Bella and try and stay platonic.

Surely the love I feel is written all over my face?

"Ladies first, partner?" I offered, in the hope I could disguise the pure desire I felt for her.

I had no idea how long my dream would last, or even if I was actually dreaming.

Maybe I am in my own personal version of heaven?

Even as I briefly let that thought into my head, I didn't want to scare her, by appearing to come on too strong. Yet my traitorous, testosterone-fuelled body had other ideas.

I found myself staring at the equipment on the table; the battered microscope, the box of slides, rather than watch Bella's petite fingers in action. I was stupid to think in doing so, that I could suppress the memory of the pleasure of making love to her. The entire volume of blood in my body rushed to a certain appendage.

Fuck! Maybe I am sixteen!

I cursed my inability to control myself. I was so thankful that the table concealed my current physical state.

"Prophase," she said after a quick examination. She started to remove the slide.

"Do you mind if I look?" I said it impulsively—hoping the distraction would help me calm myself. I reached out to stop her hand from removing the slide. For the briefest second, the buzzing pulse zapped through my hand and traveled up my arm, simultaneously elating me and crushing my spirit, because Bella yanked her hand out from under mine, as If I'd burned her.

"I'm sorry," I muttered. I quickly grasped the microscope and stared briefly into the eyepiece.

Take deep breaths; stay calm.

"Prophase," I agreed.

"Like I said," she responded quietly, and there, right there, in that split second, was my Bella.

Hidden deep within this shy sixteen year old—that must have felt nervous about being in an American school and all the newness of her new living arrangement with Chief Swan—was her fire and spirit. I smiled as I looked at her and waited. She eventually looked up at me through her lashes. Her eyes roamed my face.

Do you feel it, even now, Bella? The pull for us to be together?

I was still too aroused to be able to hold her gaze. Breathing as quietly as I could through my nose, I tried to will my erection away. I concentrated on the simple assignment, writing the answer on the lab sheet, and then switching out the first slide for the next.

"Anaphase," I said to myself as I wrote on the second line.

"May I?" she asked.

I couldn't help but smile at the hopeful look on her face as I pushed the microscope towards her. She stared into the eyepiece with distinct eagerness.

"Slide three?" she asked, not looking up from the microscope, but holding out her hand. I dropped the next slide onto her palm. The telltale reddening of her cheeks made me almost quiver with want.

Bella didn't look at the slide for long. "Interphase," she said confidently—perhaps trying a little bit too hard to sound that way— and pushed the microscope to me.

We completed the task this way, speaking one word at a time. It gave me the opportunity to focus on calming myself down.

When Mr. Molina approached our table, I gratefully remembered that this was my High School biology class, even if I was actually dreaming. Bella may be sitting next to me, but all this was surely in my head, and I would wake up to my Bella, eventually.

"So, Edward," he said, looking over our answers, "didn't you think Isabella should get a chance with the microscope?"

"Bella," I corrected him reflexively. "Actually, Bella identified three of the five."

I watched engrossed, as she smiled, looking slightly embarrassed.

"Well, I guess it's good you two are lab partners." Mr. Molina walked to the next table.

Bella's cheeks seemed to continually flush pink.

Even in my dreams, she has a shyness and modesty that is completely alluring.

We sat in silence. The others in the class were having a harder time with the lab.

Bella was looking down at her folder, and the silence was killing me.

"Are you enjoying the rain?"

Bella was from a brighter, warmer place; and her skin seemed to reflect that, despite its fairness. Comparing the weather in Forks to Sydney would be a boring, yet safe topic for conversation. However, the very faint scattering of freckles across her nose immediately distracted me.

There was nothing about Bella that didn't spark my fascination. She was more than beautiful. Her face was interesting; her pouty bottom lip, the light and dark contrast of her skin and her hair, and then her eyes, brimming over with silent secrets. Secrets that I already knew...

"You're asking me about the weather?" she said, with the tiniest hint of bemusement.

"Yeah, I guess I am." I replied.

"I don't really like the rain. Any cold, wet thing I..."

Her face was so readable in that moment, her accent wasn't as pronounced. She shook her head minutely from side-to-side as if thinking of something unpleasant.

"So, why did you move to the wettest place in the Continental U.S.?" I prompted, when I suspected she wasn't going to complete her sentence.

"It's ...complicated."

"I think I can keep up." I insisted.

Even though I didn't expect her to tell me anything about her crush on Riley, I did want to hear her voice. It was the closest thing to comfort than actually touching her skin. I hoped common courtesy would keep her answering my questions, and I didn't care if it seemed rude or forward of me to ask them.

Bella stared down at her folder; her finger traced the looping circular design on the cover.

This made me impatient; I wanted to gently lift her chin and tilt her head up, so I could see into her beautiful, brown eyes.

"I just, needed to get over..."

She stopped herself.

I was quietly elated that she might have shared her 'secret' with me. The next words out of my mouth rushed out unintentionally.

"Get over a person?"

I waited for her answer. I couldn't tear my gaze away from her face.

"Not exactly..." she hedged. "Just an improbable, or rather, impossible situation."

Before I could respond, she looked up to me.

"I missed my dad, and I realized that I had to concentrate on my education, rather than living in a fantasy world that I have no place in."

But you do belong, Bella. You belong with me in my public and personal life, and I don't want you to ever believe there's no place for you there. I'll never let you believe that we can't make it work.

I stared into her eyes, recognizing that even in my mind, I could see how she ranked herself. Her low self-esteem was rooted in her so fully, that she just couldn't think any other way. Back then, when she was sixteen, Riley was out of her reach, and she didn't think she deserved him. And later, after he'd been in the accident and she finally thought she did have him, he lied and broke her heart.

Bella has never seen herself clearly; even the way she views 'different worlds, different realities', and fantasy versus real life. Her view is wrong. She deserves whatever life she makes.

I smiled at her. She smiled back.

That was all it took. Her smile was all it took for me to know exactly what I was here to do. Why I was able to live this dream...

She's mine. I'm hers. I'll experience what was supposed to happen when we were sixteen. I'll show her that she deserves everything. I'll help build up her self-esteem and make sure she never doubts how much I love her.

There's no Riley in this reality.

There's no Lauren Mallory.

No paparazzi! No fear of the media imposing on our privacy.

No miscommunication, and no other people getting in the way.

Just me; just Bella.

I think I'm here to enjoy what it feels like to meet her, and her to know me without all the impressions she already held of me being an actor.

But even as I desired this, I realized that if I were badly hurt in hospital—or something worse—my Bella would be frantic with worry. I knew my entire family would be inconsolable if something had happened to me.

I need to wake up!

I squeezed my left thigh as hard as I could.

Nothing happened.

I took in a deep breath.

For as long as I get to live in this dream or whatever it is, I'm going to worship her. I'm going to be everything she needs and wants.

Bella's body was closer to me than before, having shifted unconsciously in the course of our conversation. I forced myself to stay still. It would have been so easy to touch her leg, or wrap my arm around her waist.

However confident I was trying to feel that I was in a dream state, I still couldn't bring myself to risk scaring her off, by doing something inappropriate. But in the same breath, the willpower I was exerting not to touch her was being ripped into shreds. I rode a strange jittery high, as I slowly lifted my hand.

My intention was to slowly sweep a long curling tendril of her hair over her shoulder. She was biting her bottom lip, and I could have sworn her breathing had accelerated in anticipation for what I may do.

Then the bell rang.

I automatically dropped my hand and I watched as Bella gathered her folder and her book bag.

"See you tomorrow, Bella." I said softly.

Did she hear how my voice wrapped around her name like a caress?

I couldn't confirm her reaction, because she nervously rushed for the door.

I didn't remember walking to Spanish class, but I suddenly found myself sitting there next to Ben. All my thoughts were of Bella, and when I could see her again.

Ben kept talking about some new guitar he'd spotted in Strait Music in Port Angeles. He was complaining that it would take him forever to save enough money to buy it.

His voice sparked that surreal déjà vu that seemed to constantly surround me...

"Angela buys it for you, for your birthday." I recalled aloud. "Her father baptized the store-owner's son. He gave her a great deal."

"Angela? Angela Weber?" Ben said slowly.

I looked to his face. He looked...stupefied.

Fuck! They weren't together when we were sixteen!

"Angela Weber. She likes you." I explained. "I caught her writing 'Angela Cheney' on her folder in history. I meant to tell you...earlier. You need to ask her to the Spring dance. She'll be the best thing that has ever happened to you. So, you'll have to stop smoking pot and step up, man."

He jumped to his feet. His face then turned a sickening shade of green.

"Esta Bien, Ben?" asked Mrs Goff, startled by Ben's sudden movement.

He looked far from well.

"Me perdona," he muttered as he darted for the door.

"Edward, por favor, puedas tu ayuda Ben?" she asked, gesturing helplessly towards Ben as he rushed from the room.

"Sure," I replied as I hurried to follow him.

I'm not changing the future...Ben and Angela will always be together. I fucking need to wake up!

I finally caught up to Ben when he reached the far side of the school building. I placed my hand on his shoulder as he hunched forward taking in deep gasps of air.

"Sorry, Ben."

I knew he was freaking out. What I hadn't known—back when Ben and I were sixteen—was that he'd had a crush on Angela Weber since first grade.

I could have kicked myself for not remembering how he'd taken the news of her liking him back then.

"You don't have to freak out, man. Angela will instantly say 'yes' if you ask her out, and all you have to do is ask her to go to the diner after school." I said in a calm, confident voice.

He eventually caught his breath and stood up straight.

"Really?" he asked.

"Yeah, really." I said reassuringly, effectively hiding my inner turmoil.

~0~

That night, Alice and I referenced every medical text my dad had on his bookshelf.

Nothing.

"Maybe, you'll just wake up tomorrow and be back to normal. Maybe you just need to rest and see what happens."

"Sure." I said to Alice. "That's a great idea. See you in the morning."

I tried to sound hopeful, but to be honest; all I could think about was seeing Bella. I walked up to my room and closed the bedroom door.

I wasn't remotely tired.

It felt like I spent the entire night looking forward to sitting next to her at school. I thought about all the places I remembered in and around Forks that I could take her.

The diner, no, not intimate enough. La Push Beach; too crowded. The meadow with the wildflowers; too far to hike to.

I literally lay on my bed and imagined what I wanted to happen in sequential order, in the hope that I could sway the outcome of this...dream, or whatever it was that I was experiencing. I tried to close my eyes as if to sleep, but time was fractured, like it would be in a real dream. In my mind, the linear concept of hours and minutes didn't seem to exist.

Just like I lose the concept of time when Bella and I are making love.

Sleep wouldn't come.

When the moment came to actually see her, it was well thought out and executed. I sat in the cafeteria at the best table, spotting her as soon as she walked into the room.

I watched as she bought a drink for her lunch and nothing else.

I was practically bouncing in my seat, eager for her to look my way. When she did, I motioned with my finger for her to join me. She looked so startled by this that I couldn't help but wink suggestively at her.

Her mouth fell open, and she waited a few seconds before walking slowly to my table, her head dipped down shyly.

She stopped behind the chair across from me, hesitating. I inhaled deeply through my nose.

"Would you like to sit with me?" I asked. I couldn't believe I actually sounded quite nonchalant, even though I was anything but.

She pulled the chair out and sat, staring at me the whole time. She seemed nervous, but the way she looked at me, boosted my confidence even more.

"This is…nice?" she said slowly.

"Well..." I hesitated, thinking of what to say.

This version of Bella hadn't had her heart stomped on by Riley. Sure, he'd been in her life; she'd seen him every day. But as far as I knew—from what she'd told me—she had adored him from afar because he had a girlfriend. Apart from that kiss at a teenage party, he'd pretty much ignored Bella at school.

He is the reason she has such low self-esteem.

I wouldn't be that guy. There was no way I could ignore her.

Keep it honest. Keep it light, I mentally chanted.

"Now that you're here...in Forks," I added, "I may not let you go back."

What made me say that! I supposed it was honest. At least it's something I would have thought at age sixteen.

Bella looked really confused and I realized my words kind of sounded possessive and controlling.

I really shouldn't have said that.

She stared at me, waiting, as if she expected me to elaborate.

"Oh..." she said and bit her bottom lip, when I didn't continue.

Bella swallowed loudly, then opened her Diet Coke and took a quick sip, her eyes on the table.

"Aren't you hungry?" I asked.

"No," she eyed the empty table between us. "You?"

"No. I'm not hungry," I said.

I never feel hungry when I'm technically asleep or unconscious… I thought to myself with a wry smile. This must be a dream!

I was suddenly eager to be alone with her, so I just blurted out the words.

"Let's not go to biology. It's healthy to ditch now and then. What do you say?"

"I don't...think that's a good idea," she said cautiously.

Fuck, I'm coming on too strong. I don't want to risk her shutting me down.

I suppose going to class would have to do. At least she'd be sitting right next to me. Right now, this table separating us was too wide.

As if by coincidence—or rather as I wished—the bell rang.

This is my dream...

"Shall we walk to class, then?" I suggested, knowing she could hardly say 'no'.

"Um, yes." she replied shyly.

We walked side-by-side, close, but not actually touching, and yet, just having her there made me feel so euphoric.

As we neared the lab, I caught sight of Eric Yorkie. I came to the sudden realization, that he would be Bella's stepbrother one day, well, in my waking life...

"Hey, Eric," I said casually.

"Uh, hey," he replied. I could see the confusion on his face. We hadn't really communicated at school, except when we'd worked on the Yearbook together.

"Have you met Bella Swan?" I asked him.

"Oh, no. Hi Bella?"

"Hi," she said.

"Eric is the eyes and ears of this place." I said as we walked into biology.

"Yeah," he stated. "Maybe I could do a feature on you for the school paper? Front page?" he asked Bella.

Her face was priceless.

"Uh, you, no please...don't..."

Eric smiled. "OK, no feature," he laughed and walked to his table.

Mr. Molina entered the room as we sat down, calling the class to order. He was juggling a few small cardboard boxes.

He placed them on June Richardson's table, asking her to pass them around the class.

"OK guys, I want you to take one piece from each box," he said as he produced a pair of rubber gloves from the pocket of his lab coat. "The first should be an indicator card," he went on, "the second is a four pronged applicator and the third is a sterile micro lancet. I'll be coming around with a dropper to prepare your cards, so please don't start until I get to you. I want you to carefully prick your finger with the lancet," he took June's hand and jabbed the lancet into her middle finger and helped her to demonstrate. "Put a small drop of blood on each of the prongs," he said as he squeezed June's finger until blood flowed. "And then apply it to the card", he finished, holding up the card for us to see.

"The Red Cross are having a blood drive in Port Angeles next weekend, so I thought you should all know your blood type. As you're under eighteen you'll need your parent's permission. I have slips on my desk."

Bella had laid her cheek on the cool black tabletop.

"Bella, are you alright?" I asked softly, just as Mr. Molina reached our table.

"Are you feeling faint?" he questioned.

"Yes, Sir," she muttered.

"Edward, can you take Bella to the nurse, please?"

"Of course," I said immediately.

"Can you walk?" Mr. Molina asked her.

"Yes," she whispered.

I stood and took Bella's bag from the floor to put over my shoulder.

And then I had my arm around Bella's waist as she stood slowly, her face deathly pale. I helped to drape her arm over my other shoulder. She leaned against me heavily as we stepped cautiously out of the classroom.

I was buzzing from the feel of her body touching mine and tried so hard not to smile like a lunatic.

We walked slowly across campus. When we stepped around the side of the cafeteria, Bella stopped walking.

I absorbed the heat of our close proximity and the way her body seemed to align with mine perfectly.

"Just let me sit for a minute, please?" she begged and I helped her to sit on the cement.

I felt so helpless. She didn't sit for long instead she lay sideways on the damp sidewalk, with her eyes closed tightly.

"Bella, can you hear me?"

"No," she groaned.

I laughed then. I knew that she'd be fine, I just needed to get her to the nurse and off this cold wet ground.

Thrilled, I gently lifted Bella from the sidewalk, and held her in my arms, eliminating all distance between our bodies. I was striding forward in the same movement, in a hurry to have her out of the rain.

Her eyes opened, astonished. She instinctively wrapped her arms around my neck.

"You can put me down," she ordered in a weak voice.

"You faint at the sight of blood?" I asked and grinned at her. I watched as she closed her eyes. "And not even your own blood," I added.

I inhaled deeply when she rested her head against my shoulder.

Bella, I love you, so much.

We reached the front office. I pushed the door open with my foot and strode in.

Mrs. Hammond, the nurse, was standing at the front desk reading a novel.

"Oh my," she gasped when she looked up and saw how ashen Bella's face was.

"She fainted in biology," I explained.

Mrs. Hammond hurried to open the door to her office. Bella's eyes were open again, as I carefully laid her on the cot that was covered in a crackly beige paper. I savored the feel of her fingers as they glided from around my neck.

As soon as Bella was out of my arms I stepped back to the far corner of the room. My body was screaming for her touch. I was too eager, my muscles tense and adrenaline pumping through my veins; that all too brief feel of her in my arms was not nearly enough.

"What made her faint?" Mrs. Hammond asked.

"We were blood typing," I replied.

She nodded. "There's always one!"

I stifled a laugh.

"Just lie down for a minute, honey. It'll pass." Mrs. Hammond said.

"I know," whispered Bella, her eyes roaming my face and body, like she was in complete awe.

"Does this happen often?" the nurse asked.

"Never," she breathed out heavily and stared at my face.

I tried to disguise my laughter as coughing.

This brought me to Mrs. Hammond's attention. "You can go back to class now," she said.

I looked her straight in the eye and lied with perfect confidence; I was an actor after all.

"I'm supposed to stay with her."

She furrowed her brow but then turned back to Bella. "I'll go get you some ice for your forehead, dear. Just lay still and take deep breath," she said before she left the room.

Bella was looking at me...I was sure I'd completely dazzled her. I could literally see the red heat of her blush recolor her pale face that delicious crimson.

"You were right," she said softly, letting her eyes close.

"I usually am, but what was I right about?" I asked.

"Ditching is healthy," she sighed and then took in slow calming breaths.

She was silent then. I simply gazed at her face, admiring every detail. She really did look like she was only sixteen. Her lower lip was just a little fuller than her top lip. Staring at her mouth flashed me back to all the times we'd kissed. I could recall the taste of her, the softness and warmth.

Mrs. Hammond came back into the room with a cold compress.

"Here you go dear," she said as she laid it across Bella's forehead. "You're looking better.

"I think I'm fine." Bella said and sat up slowly. She removed the compress from her face.

Just then I heard some commotion and looked through the open door to the front desk.

Lee Stevens stumbled through into the office looking pale but annoyed. He held his hand near his face, blood trickling down his wrist.

"Get out to the office, Bella." I stressed with urgency.

She stared at me in bewilderment.

"Trust me, go!" I said.

Bella covered her mouth and nose with her hand as she whirled passed Lee, as he stumbled in to the room to show Mrs. Hammond.

I followed a few inches behind Bella. When we were back in the front office, she turned to look at me wide-eyed and with her nose wrinkled in disgust.

"Thank you," she said.

I smiled and stepped closer to her. Instinctively I raised my hand and brushed my fingers over her hot cheek, then across her cool forehead.

So much love coursed through my body when I touched her.

"I don't think I can go back to class. I'm still feeling a little...faint." she whispered.

I leaned closer to her; too close. My face only inches from hers, I could feel the warmth of her skin radiating to mine.

"I can take care of that," I murmured. "Go sit down and look pale."

I moved away from her slowly.

She did as I asked. I watched as she sat on one of the chairs against the wall and rested her head back. She closed her eyes and took in long deep breaths.

I turned towards the secretary behind the counter.

"Bella has gym next hour, and I don't think she feels well enough. I think I should take her home. Do you think you could excuse her from classes?"

The secretary swallowed loudly before answering. "Do you need to be excused too, Edward?"

"No, I have Mrs. Goff; she won't mind."

"Okay," she said cheerily. "It's all taken care of. You go home and rest, Bella."

Bella nodded weakly.

"Can you walk, or do you want me to carry you again?" I asked.

"I'll walk," she said, stifling a laugh, as she stood slowly, hesitating for a moment to regain her balance. I held the door open for her and we stepped outside and walked to the edge of the parking lot.

I watched as she lifted her face to the light rain, mesmerized as the drops landed on her eyelashes. She smiled as she breathed-in the fresh air.

"Thanks. It's worth getting sick to miss gym."

"Anytime," I said, but my voice betrayed me; my tone infused with desire and longing.

She opened her eyes and looked at me, simultaneously biting at her bottom lip.

"Umm, thank you for carrying my bag," she said and I realized it was still over my shoulder.

I handed it to her, and then she started to walk away from me.

Without thinking, I reached out and caught her by the back of her jacket. She jerked to a stop.

"Where are you going?" I said, incredulous that she was leaving me.

I hadn't had enough time with her. She couldn't go yet.

"I'm going home," she said, baffled as to why this should upset me.

"Didn't you hear me promise to take you home safely? I'm not going to let you drive in your condition."

"What condition?" she demanded. "I'm OK now and my truck..."

"I'll have my sister Alice drop it off after school." I said and gently pulled her back to me. We were standing too close again. Intimately close. The rain was getting heavier.

I motioned to my Volvo. "It's open."

She hesitated for a few seconds. I waited until she opened the door and got in, before practically running to get in the drivers seat; my key at the ready.

I get to drive her home!

I looked to her before I started the car. The rain had soaked through her thick hair, darkening it to near black.

As I reversed out of the lot, I tried to get control of myself.

"Clair de Lune?" she enquired about the soft music from the car's stereo system.

"You like Debussy?" I asked.

"Not really, but I like this one."

I could feel the smile spread across my face. I could recall with perfect clarity that this song was playing in the background, just a few nights ago, when I undressed Bella and made love to her for the first time...

I internally groaned. The memory of actually having sex with Bella seemed to dominate all my thoughts.

Like I really am sixteen.

We drove in silence.

I clutched the steering wheel tighter. The rain made her smell better. I wouldn't have thought it possible. Stupidly, I was suddenly recalling the cabin, the lake, how her lips tasted, how her wet body had felt, rubbing up against mine when we had been in the water.

I need to think of something else!

"What's your mother like?" I asked as a distraction. I concentrated on the wet road.

"She looks a lot like me, but she's more adventurous. She's more outgoing than I am, and braver."

"So, your mother is remarried?"

She hesitated a minute before answering. "Yes. My mother...she's young for her age. I think Phil makes her feel even younger. At any rate, she's crazy about him. I've known him since I was a toddler. He's a great guy."

"So you approve?"

"I want mom to be happy...and she loves him; he makes her so happy."

"I wonder."

"What?"

"Would she extend the same courtesy to you, do you think? No matter who your choice was?"

It was a foolish question, and I couldn't keep my voice casual while I asked it. From what Bella had told me, her mother hadn't approved of Bella's crush on Riley...

Would she approve of me?

"I-I think so," she stuttered. "But she's the parent, so it's a little bit different," she stated.

"No one too... scary then."

"What do you mean by scary? Multiple facial piercings and extensive tattoos?" she giggled.

"That's one definition, I suppose." I replied.

"What's your definition?" she asked me.

"Do you think that I could be?" I asked her, trying to hide my smile.

She thought it through before answering me in a serious voice. "Hmm...um, I think you could be, if you wanted to."

I could be... I could be hers. I knew this is not what she was implying, but I took it that way.

I absorbed the feeling of elation.

"So, can you tell me about your family? It's got to be a much more interesting story than mine. You have a sister?"

"Yes. Alice is my twin sister. I can introduce her tomorrow. She's desperate to meet you."

I stopped my car in front of her driveway.

She didn't move to get out of the parked car. She didn't want our time to be up either. I liked that very, very much.

"I guess you have to go," she said.

No, I don't, but I better...

"You probably want your truck back before Chief Swan gets home, so you don't have to tell him about the Biology incident." I grinned at the memory of carrying her to the office in my arms.

"I'm sure he's already heard. There seems to be no secrets in Forks."

I held my hand out for her key. "The key to your truck?"

"Oh, here," she said and quickly rummaged in her bag for it.

She handed it to me, our hands touching.

The buzz of electricity zapped through me. I inhaled sharply.

The reality of being here in Forks with a sixteen-year-old Bella, felt surreal in that moment.

I smiled ruefully at her, hoping she couldn't see the sadness in my eyes. How much I wished that this were all real. But at the same time, I pined for my Bella and what we had experienced together in Vancouver.

But I don't know how to get back to her or even if I can…

~0~

After Alice and I returned with Bella's truck and drove back home, I was reflective.

I knew time was distorted here, but everything else felt like it was really happening.

I feel like I'm in limbo.

Alice said 'Goodnight' and left me to ponder some more.

If I'm already asleep, I don't need to sleep.

I looked at the clock on the wall. In this 'dream' it was 10:17pm.

I need to see her.

Bella was all I could think about, so driving back to Chief Swan's house didn't feel weird. I assumed Bella's bedroom was the one upstairs at the front of the house.

I sat in my parked car, contemplating for only a few minutes. Her bedroom light was on. The desire to see her was too overwhelming.

Fuck it! It's my dream, and I need to be with her. I need to touch her skin.

I got out of the car and put the key in my coat pocket. Before I knew what I was doing, I had managed to scale up the trellis under her bedroom window.

I looked in, like a creepy stalker, but with no shame. She was lying on her bed, talking on her cell. She was just wearing a t-shirt and panties. I could feel my heart rate spike and the muscles in my arms felt tight from supporting my bodyweight as I held onto the trellis.

"Forks is growing on me." She said. "Well, yeah…"

I slipped my hand under and lifted the window easily.

Her eyes went wide when she spotted me, and she hastily sat up.

"Mom…can I talk to you later!" she said quickly and threw her cell on the unmade bed.

Then Bella was standing in front of me. I got a fantastic view of her perfect legs, and watched in awe when I spied a flash of the soft, milky skin of her stomach as she helped me to lift the window higher.

"Hi," I said. I couldn't help but grin like a fool at her, as I pulled myself through the small opening awkwardly.

She shook her head from side to side in disbelief. "What are you...?" she asked.

I could see her cheeks flush that delicious crimson color that I'd grown to adore.

This is all in my mind. She seems so real.

"Bella," was all I could say.

I thought back to her easy acceptance of our forced intimacy at school. How her body felt in my arms as I carried her, and her obvious physical acceptance of my touch. The way the buzz of electricity zapped through my skin when she touched my hand

I wanted more.

I needed so much more than just to hold her.

Her brow furrowed and she bit her lip before she walked back to her bed and sat down, staring up at me. She had questions that she wasn't voicing.

I sat next to her, on her bed, picked up her cell and placed it on her nightstand.

This is my dream. I need to touch and kiss her.

"I decided, as long as I'm going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly." I said slowly.

She stared at my face, almost dazed. Her questioning eyes seemed to widen and then her gaze flicked briefly to my lips.

I want it too.

"Bella, I just want to try one thing. Just stay very still." I said, as I stared at her mouth.

"Don't move."

I could feel her warm breath on my face as I moved slowly in to kiss her. I closed my eyes, almost certain that she would disappear, that I would wake up without the feel of her lips on mine. I drank in the sound of her breathing, the faint sound of crickets outside, and tried to take everything slowly, absorb everything that I was feeling, and memorize every second.

As soon as my lips touched hers, I felt whole. Complete.

I smiled.

She hasn't disappeared.

I kissed her again, desperate and elated at the feel of her familiar lips and how they felt so right.

Bella pushed her body closer to me. She lifted herself up on her knees and her hands glided into my hair as she pressed her wet lips to mine again; her fingers tugging gently and pulling my head towards her in desperation.

I was blissfully conscious that the whole situation was way too ephemeral. Yet, I didn't care if this was or wasn't a dream, because she tasted and felt like everything I've ever wanted.

The kiss got more passionate; my need to be with her started to overwhelm me. Before I was conscious of the fact, I grabbed her waist and roughly guided her to recline on her bed. I hovered over her, in desperate need to make love to her. Instead I forced myself to channel all my passion and desire into the kiss. I could wake at any moment, I could be back with my Bella any second, but this, this memory of what it would have been like with me and Bella at age sixteen, I hoped would never fade my consciousness, ever.

"Edward," she moaned as my lips traveled down to caress her neck. "My Dad is right outside," she whispered.

"Bella, I need you."

My cool hand slid under her t-shirt, halting just below her breast.

I was completely conflicted at that moment. How far could I go? The fact that she felt and even tasted so real to me should have been enough.

Totally implausible plot lines from movies started swirling in my brain as I kissed her passionately...

Back to the Future, Groundhog Day, The Butterfly Effect.

"I gotta stop!" I breathed out heavily and tried to pull away from her.

I had no idea how I actually achieved it, but I found myself off the bed and standing in front of the window.

Bella was breathing heavily; her lips an enticing shade of pink.

"I'm sorry!" she called out to me in a whisper, as if her actions were inexcusable.

I stood for a long time, just staring at her but not speaking. The sound of cutlery scraping plates could be heard coming from downstairs.

"Hey, don't go!" she pleaded.

Bella looked just as conflicted as I felt.

The rational side of my brain was telling me that if this were real—if I had just met her yesterday and we were sixteen—I wouldn't have taken the risk of getting caught by climbing through her window and practically mauling her on her bed. Especially knowing that the Chief of Police was just downstairs.

"I don't want you to go." she said, sadly.

She's all I need.

I needed to hold her in my arms, speak words of love and commitment without the act of sex dominating.

Bella surely knows already how attractive she is to me, and I can feel the attraction she feels in return.

I can support her without the need to constantly take from her; her caresses, her kisses, her warmth and love.

I found myself recalling the dream of the mountain lion; hungry, feral, ready to descend. To some extent, that was me, and then the paparazzi in the dream, well, that was probably my subconscious telling me that Bella will need to stand on her own two feet. I can't protect her all the time. My father's words in the dream— 'She'll be OK, Edward. She'll survive,'— resonated with me now.

I can't change the past, but maybe I can steer the future for Bella and me.

She may have to deal with the reality of my life in the public eye—leeches, fans, the media—but we'll have each other.

Did I need to dream this to work it all out?

I walked slowly back to the bed, simultaneously I kicked off my shoes.

She reached out for me; a relieved look covered her face. Her touch instantly reignited my desire, but I was able to rein it in. I simply lay next to her, and she snuggled into my side. I pulled the bed sheet up over her.

Bella's eyes looked heavy. She pressed her face into my chest and inhaled deeply.

"I know it seems quick, but I'm already in love with you, Bella. I just want to be with you." I stated.

"I feel the same," she whispered. "I just... feel like you're going to disappear, that this isn't real."

I tightened my arms around her and kissed the top of her sweet smelling hair. I had the same doubts. My chest hurt, because if I was going to die, if I couldn't wake up...

I couldn't even try to contemplate.

"You can sleep. I'll be here when you wake up." I said.

Bella sighed and her hand gripped on tightly to my lapel of my coat.

I could tell when she'd fallen asleep; her tight hold on me relaxed and her breathing became a constant relaxing rhythm in my head. I didn't panic when I heard Chief Swan ascend the stairs and use the bathroom before his bedroom door closed. I assumed he wouldn't enter her bedroom unannounced.

I thought about how simple life was as a teenager, and yet how many of the obstacles and hardships we internalized back then were...trivial.

Ben's reaction upon hearing Angela liked him was just one example and yet held a massive importance to him. This Bella in my arms had left her mother, her home, and a boy she had a crush on, to live here, in this rainy American town and attend a school where she didn't know anyone. I couldn't help but think that this scenario had been our destiny. Alice's words haunted me: 'I feel like you're going to meet her very soon...'

I could feel how right this was, being in Forks, with Bella. I'd never felt so content, and relieved that she lay here in my arms.

"Please, Edward. I need you. Come back to me."

I pulled her closer and looked to her face. I was certain she was asleep.

"Your parents on their way here. I want to be introduced to them, officially. But I want you to be the one to do it..."

"Please, Edward…come back to me. Please..."

Bella's lips weren't moving.

I closed my eyes. The phantom pressure against my leg was more pronounced, and I swear I could feel Bella's warm breath and sweet lips kissing my mouth.

I need to wake up.

Yet, I also wanted to stay here, being sixteen, with Bella Swan as my girlfriend.

I'd take her to prom. I'd be the first man to make love to her.

I wouldn't become an actor. I would immerse myself in my music. I'd go to College, with Bella always by my side.

I could imagine all of it. I could visualize it happening; getting married after we graduated, buying a house, visiting her family in Australia.

I could still have that.

I fell in love with the Bella Swan I met in the Purple Bar; the shy Australian girl that handed me a page of song lyrics and fled.

She's who I want.

All the events of the last five weeks had been necessary for both of us.

"We can't be apart," I heard her whisper.

"I love you, Bella," I whispered back.

Panic started to spread through my body. I didn't know how to wake myself up.

As I looked around Bella's bedroom I realized that this was all in my head, yet pinching myself hadn't done a thing.

I know I can do this!

I closed my eyes and concentrated on the pain in my leg. As I did, I could feel my limbs become heavier. There were swirling dots behind my eyelids. I felt a rush of calm overtake me, and it felt like I was weightless. The warmth of Bella's body lying in my arms suddenly disappeared.

I tried to open my eyes, but all I could see was a swirling black fog, spiraling down, and down, until I felt dizzy and nauseous. I heard an incessant beeping.

I could hear my heartbeat echoing back to me as if amplified by an electronic device.

~0~

A/N: Thank you so much for reading. I'm sure you'll tell me if that chapter was or was not worth the ridiculously long wait. Either way, the fact you did read, is motivation for me to get the next chapter posted in a timely manner.

I would like to thank mpg (for her editing skills and valued suggestions), Cared, twicrazreader, mountanlion718, DutchGirl01, emmzac, keyecullen, Hockey_Chick10 and MizzezPattinson for varying reasons, not least of which keep me connected to the fandom via my 'can't live without' iPhone—and some of these ladies also distract me from writing by playing word and song games ad nauseam, or send me lovely messages of encouragement ((((virtual hugs for all of you))))