This story is meant as a sequel to The Kübler Ross Model and probably doesn't stand well on its own. If you'd like a basic run down of what happens in KRM and don't think you can handle reading it (because it is a hard story to read), PM me and I'll be happy to summarize for you.
Thank you to my fabulous betas, pkitten21 and TFX. I don't know what I would do without you two. Prereaders, thank you for your insight and suggestions. Every single bit helped.
Tie me here in time
I think I'm doing alright
And kind of getting by.
Who do you turn to
When you don't know who you've turned into
And everyone has changed?
-Getting There is Getting By, Punchline
I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing, a shrill tone that let me know Dexter's mother was calling.
"Morning Sandy," I mumbled after I managed to flip the piece of shit open. "What's up?"
She said good morning and in typical fashion, started in on a long monologue about . . . something. I laid my phone down on the bed and quickly switched out the hoodie I slept in for the one I put on each morning to smoke.
When I picked up the phone Sandy was still prattling on, talking about some meeting her grief counselor wanted her to go to. "Do you want to come with me, Bella? I think it would be good for us to go to something together," Sandy said.
I stepped through the sliding glass door of my apartment onto the tiny balcony, lit my cigarette and took a long drag before answering her.
"I don't know. When is it again?"
I silently prayed it was scheduled for one of the nights I had to work, because I really didn't want to go to yet another meeting where people cried into their bad coffee and stale cookies and gave me the side eye because I wasn't crying. It was hard to explain to outsiders, and even Sandy, that I felt like I'd shed all the tears I was going to cry for the time being.
"Tuesday at 7:30."
I did a little jig and tried to sound disappointed through my smile. "Oh Sandy, I'm so sorry. I work on Tuesdays. I'd ask Ben to switch with me, but that's the only night he and Angela both have off and get to spend time with one another."
"You can't ask someone else to cover for you that night?" She sounded irritated and I had to stifle a giggle.
"There's really no one who can work that night. Ben spends time with Ang, Kate has a final that night and the new guy isn't ready to work a solo shift yet."
She sighed heavily into the phone and I knew I'd escaped for now. She was certain to ask me to go to another meeting with her at some point.
"Okay, Bella. I understand. Maybe when Kate or the new guy . . . What's his name can work a full shift alone," Sandy said sadly.
"Sure. That sounds great."
I stabbed my cigarette out in old coffee can I used as an ashtray and headed back into my apartment. I stopped short when I caught sight of a mess of tangled limbs and disheveled hair on my couch. "Fuck," I mumbled into the phone.
"Bella? Are you okay?" Sandy's worried voice asked.
"I'm fine Sandy. Just found a bill I really need to pay today. I'll talk with you later, okay?"
"All right. Bye Bella."
"Bye." I hung up the phone, picked up a pillow from an arm chair and chucked it at the sleeping man.
"Edward. Wake up. Emmett will be here in half an hour and I don't need him making assumptions," I hissed.
Edward mumbled something that sounded an awful lot like "fuck off" and shifted in an attempt to untangle himself from the blanket that was wrapped around his body. He pulled hard on a loose end and promptly tumbled to the floor.
"What the hell, Bella?" he asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "What are you doing at my . . . oh. I'm not at home. What happened?"
"I thought you went home after I went to bed last night," I said, putting my hands on my hips. "You were supposed to walk me home, watch whatever it is you made me watch last night, what the fuck was that by the way? Then go home. Imagine my shock when I come in from smoking -"
"You really should quit."
"Shut up, I'm talking. Imagine my surprise when I come in from smoking and find you passed out on my couch."
"I made you watch Ace of Cakes, which is one of the best shows on the Food Network by the way, and I swear I planned to go home after you went to bed. But Unwrapped came on and it was the one where they were talking about how candy canes are made. I had to watch it. I must have fallen asleep," he muttered.
"At least you have the decency to look sheepish about it. What the hell am I going to do with you?" I sunk down on the floor next to him and laid my head on his shoulder. "People are going to talk. They're going to think we're in some kind of relationship," I sighed.
"Wouldn't want anyone to think you're moving on too quickly," he said sarcastically.
"Whatever Edward. Just get out," I said, pulling him off the floor after I stood up.
"Can I go to the bathroom first?"
"Fine." I stomped my foot and crossed my arms over my chest.
"Did you seriously just stomp your foot? I thought girls only did that on TV."
"Shut up and go pee or I'll make you do the walk of shame without relief."
"Going, going," he said, heading toward the bathroom. He came out a few minutes later, hair all messy like he'd tried to fix it and gave me a crooked grin. "Lunch later?"
"Yeah, whatever. Just go before I have to have Emmett kick your ass for being here in the first place," I said with a wide gesture to the front door.
He pulled me into a hug and kissed the top of my head. "See you later, Bella."
I closed the door behind him and leaned against it, taking a deep breath. I was about to head to the kitchen to start breakfast when Emmett knocked and pushed at my door.
"Open up, Bells. I know you're in there!"
"Well good morning to you too, Emmett." I held the door open and ducked out of the way of his arm as he tried to pull me into a hug.
"You know, I'm kind of glad you're not letting me hug you. I passed Edward on the way up. I'm definitely not in to sloppy seconds," Emmett said, waggling his eyebrows.
"Eww, Em. Just . . . ew. He passed out on my couch."
"Suuurrreee he did, Bella. If by "passed out" you mean "fell into a post coital slumber" then yes, he passed out on your couch."
"What's for breakfast?" Emmett asked, flopping down on the couch. "Seriously? You guys couldn't clean up after your romp out here? Please tell me I'm not touching any of Edward's bodily fluids."
"Beats me, Em. If Edward had a wet dream, I wouldn't know anything about it. I slept in my bed. He slept out here. We slept."
"You're no fun, Bella."
I rolled my eyes at him and walked into the kitchen, pulling bacon out of the freezer to defrost while I mixed up a batch of pancakes. I swatted Emmett's hand away when he wrapped an arm around my waist in an attempt to snag a piece of bacon out of the frying pan and quickly plated our meal. We ate in silence, which simultaneously relaxed and scared me. It was nice to get through a stretch of time without Emmett teasing me, but I knew he was probably coming up with various ways to insinuate I'd done something more than sleep in a separate room from Edward.
"Did you want to go shopping with me today?" Emmett asked. "I need to grab a few things, including a birthday gift for my mom. Isn't Sandy and Tom's anniversary coming up? Do you need to get them a gift?"
I shoved a piece of pancake into my mouth to keep from snarking right away and chewed thoughtfully. "I don't know. I guess I'll talk to my mom and see what she thinks. I'm almost afraid it might be awkward. I mean, what do you buy for parents whose son died six months ago?"
My eyes filled with tears as I thought of what Dexter had been planning to do. They were about to celebrate 25 years of marriage and he'd wanted to throw them a huge party with all of their family and friends in attendance. When Dexter's counts started to tank a few weeks into the planning, it had fallen to the wayside.
"I'm sure your mom will help you with whatever's worrying your pretty little head, Bells. You think entirely too much." Emmett ruffled my hair as he stood to put his plate in the sink. "Come shopping with me. I'm trying to woo Rosalie Hale and I want to do something other than flowers."
"This again Emmett? She's leaving for Seattle soon anyway," I told him while we washed dishes together.
"She's going to finish her law degree at UW or something like that. I don't know, Edward was talking about having to find something with more reasonable rent soon. They managed to talk old lady Cope into letting them break their lease at six months instead of a year because Rose is leaving. He was thinking he might put in an application for the vacant apartment here."
"You've been spending a lot of time with Edward." It wasn't a question.
I felt my temper flaring up. "So what Emmett? Tanya keeps telling me -"
"You're seeing Tanya Denali?"
Shit. I hadn't meant to let that slip. Emmett had been encouraging me to see a therapist since just after Dexter died and I always told him I didn't need to talk to anyone, that I was fine. I briefly wondered how Emmett had figured it out so quickly, but reminded myself that Tanya Denali was the only Tanya in Forks.
I ducked my head, unwilling to look him in the eye when I made my confession. "I've been seeing her for nearly six months."
"I knew it! I knew there was no way you were doing so well on your own." Emmett pumped his fist in the air and wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because," I snapped. "Because I knew you'd do this. You always act like a complete ass when someone tells you that you were right about something, which isn't to say that you're right, Emmett. What I mean is . . . I mean it has been helpful. But I didn't start going because you told me to. I started because Sandy asked me to go to a grief support group with her. Tanya was running it and she was the only person who didn't make me feel like a bad person for going back to work and grieving my own way. You know people had the nerve to tell me I didn't love Dexter enough because I got through the eulogy at his funeral without crying? Sandy included."
My voice cracked but finally telling Emmett about Tanya, however unintentional it was, had opened the flood gates.
"Christ on a cracker, Emmett. I've known him twenty two years. He is . . . was my best friend, and for someone to tell me I didn't love him enough because I didn't cry? Who the hell does that? Sandy still doesn't think I'm grieving enough. She keeps calling me to go to these stupid meetings with her.
"I think she's upset with me for doing exactly what he made me promise to do. He told me he wanted me to move on, to keep on with my life. He was so pissed when I told him I wasn't going anywhere after graduation, but I couldn't leave him. I put everything on hold while he was sick and he hated that.
"Why is it that Sandy focuses on what I'm doing now now; going back to work after the funeral, spending time with you, Kate, Ben, Ang or Edward instead of what I did then? She never comments on how I came back from my internship to be with him or how I put my entire last year of college on hold to be with him before he died. I can't deal, Em. I just . . . I feel like she's angry, maybe jealous that he spent so much time with me. Like she thought he'd want his mommy or something when it got close to the end. Does she not get that he said his goodbye to me the night before he died?"
I was sobbing, my face buried in Emmett's neck as he rocked me back and forth, his hand rubbing slow soothing circles on my back.
"I love him so much, Emmett. It still hurts when I wake up and realize he's not next to me in bed. I love spending time with you and everyone else from the bar, even Edward, but I feel so guilty. I know I'm doing what he wanted me to do, but it tears me apart. I cry myself to sleep all the time. What am I supposed to do?"
"Shhhh. Sweetheart, it's okay. You're doing exactly what Dexter wanted you to do - you're living your life. Don't let anyone tell you what you're doing is wrong," Emmett whispered. He laid his cheek on top of my head and we sat there for a long time, his arms around me as I wept for the man I loved and the guilt that consumed me every time I smiled, laughed or enjoyed something.
Sniffling, I pulled away from him and swiped at my eyes, angrily wiping the tears away. "Where were we?"
"I believe you were starting to rip me a new one because I pointed out that you've been spending a lot of time with Edward Cullen lately." He held his hands up when I glared at him. "Hey, I'm just trying to be helpful!"
"I was just saying Tanya thinks I should move on. She told me the first time I talked with her about Edward that it was good to know someone outside of my relationship with Dexter. Really Em, you've all known me my entire life. Before he died, could you think of him or me without thinking of the other?" I snorted when he shook his head. "Exactly. Tanya says it's good for me to see how someone who knows me as just Bella, not Bella of 'Dexter and Bella', thinks of me."
"I wasn't trying to be an asshole, Bella," Emmett said quietly. "I was just making an observation. You have been spending a lot of time with Edward. I was actually going to point out how I can always tell after you've spent time with him. You smile and laugh more. You seem more relaxed and you definitely call me on my shit more often. I've missed that about you. You were never someone who hid their feelings and seeing you withdraw the way you did after he died . . . Bella, that was tough on all of us."
Emmett listened to me talk until it was nearly time for me to meet with Tanya. He waited while I showered and got ready, then drove me to the appointment with a promise to see me at work that night.
I explained what had happened with Edward and the resulting conversation I'd had with Emmett to Tanya. She was proud of me, telling me in no uncertain terms that it was "about damn time" I told someone besides my parents about therapy. She spent the rest of the hour trying to convince me to agree to a date, should Edward ever invite me on one, and telling me to relax because friends fell asleep at other friends' places all the time. I didn't tell her it was the third time in two weeks he'd done that. Tanya encouraged me to talk with my mom about whether it would be appropriate to throw the anniversary party for Dexter's parents and I promised to call Renee as soon as possible.
After my appointment with Tanya I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. There was a spring in my step as I walked toward the bar and I took a moment to truly enjoy the late summer weather in Forks. The sun was shining, something that didn't happen too often, and I whistled happily as I walked.
Remembering my promise to talk with my mom, I pulled out my cell and turned it on. I was just about to dial my parents' house when a text message popped up.
Call when you're done?
I smiled to myself. Edward. I never told him where I was, just that I had a weekly appointment. We always talked afterward usually while I grabbed lunch from the small coffee shop near The Last Call.
I quickly ordered my usual lunch and slid into the same seat I'd been sitting in for nearly four months. Until Edward and I started spending time together, I had taken the day off of work when I had an appointment with Tanya. I typically went home and did the crying I was ridiculed for not doing in public in the comfort of my bed.
Dialing Edward's number, I held my breath until he answered. The conversation was brief and ended with him saying he'd see me around closing time so he could walk me home. As usual I protested, and as usual he insisted. He liked to joke that walking me home made him feel better, despite the fact that my father was a police officer and we lived in Forks.
Calling Renee was next on my list of things to do, so I scrolled through my contacts until I hit the entry for my childhood home. Mom answered on the first ring and said hello three times in rapid succession before I swallowed the bite of sandwich I'd taken after pressing send.
"Hey Mom. It's me," I said, clearing my throat. "I wanted to ask you something."
I explained what Dexter had been planning for his parents and asked her opinion. My gut told me the party was something Dexter would have wanted me to do, had he remembered to ask me. I choked up a few times while we talked and started crying when Mom told me she thought the party was a great idea; something that would hopefully help Sandy and Tom and even offered to help. We hung up after a shared laugh over a memory of Dexter and I planning a tenth "friendiversary" party for our moms.
I paid for my lunch and took my time going to work. For the first time in a long time I window shopped, stopping in one store to grab something that caught my eye and immediately reminded me of Edward. I pulled out my phone to send him a text.
Got you a present. Here's a hint: You stick around now, it may show. I don't know. I don't know.
So . . . What did you think? I don't know how long this story will be. I do know that it will be longer than KRM. I have a lot planned for these two.
Link to the video for Getting There is Getting By is on my livejournal - jadedboringff(dot)livejournal(dot)com. I'm also going to try to post teasers there.
If you haven't had a chance to do so (and don't mind a non canon story), please read LyricalKris's Alice's Jasper, Edward's Bella and afragilelittlehuman's Spell My Heart. Both can be found under my favorites.
Oh! And I'm cohosting a contest called The Littlest Peen. Information can be found at fanfiction(dot)net/~thelittlestpeen.
Welcome home, Agu.