Disclaimer: The Twilight Saga belongs to Stephanie Meyer, no copyright infringement intended.

Homeward Bound

It had been seven months since I committed the blackest blasphemy and told the most wonderful, beautiful girl in the world that I had stopped being head over heels, deeply, madly, and truly in love with her. As if it were even possible. And then I left her, trying not to look over my shoulder the entire way.

I had been able to stay away physically, but my beautiful Bella was always with me. Whenever I allowed my eyes to close to find what little relief was possible from my pitiful existence, she was plastered to the back of my eyelids. She was all I wanted to see in this world. As I had traveled south and the hot nights permeated the air, how I wished that it was Bella's body laying beside me one of those nights in her bedroom, her human heat branding me as hers. When I was tracking Victoria it was for my Bella. Although, I knew we could never be, she was an earthbound angel and I was a soulless monster, it was going to be my mission to keep her safe until the day she died, naturally of old age with many children and grandchildren beside her with tears in their eyes. And then I would follow her. A vile creature like me could never join her in heaven, but the pain of living in a world without her would be too great for my long dormant heart.

The pain of being away from her had slowly caused me to wither away: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I only contacted my family every few months, I knew the pain I was causing them. Music and other things held no interest to me. I rarely hunt anymore. My mind can only think about Bella despite the fact that whenever I do my heart twists and rips larger holes in my chest to match the ones I gave myself all those months ago. I denied myself the one woman whose safety was more important then my selfish desires.

And yet, here I was now. I stood in front of her house looking up at her window motionless. If any of her neighbors were to suddenly wake up and look across the street, they would see a pitiful excuse for a man and a horrible monster.

I had finally broken.

I couldn't take the pain another second. I had to at least glimpse her flawless features. I had to at least know she was alright and that she didn't need me anymore. But would one look really satisfy me? As I lived without her all these months she was still my reason for not curling up somewhere and staying there until kingdom come.

I was trying to do just that when my senses came back to me. I was wallowing in a filthy attic in Brazil. I had lost Victoria yet again, but this time I had no trail to pick up. She could be anywhere in the world. I had utterly failed Bella.

I had to find Victoria. A growl had escaped me as I thought of Bella, broken and bloody by Victoria's mate, James. He was dead, a pile of ashes long scattered in the Arizona wind, but she was still out there. Anyone who had a hand in allowing James to be in the same room as my Bella deserved to die.

My Bella.

After everything I did, I still call her that in my mind. What right do I have to that wonderful creature of heaven? She was free now. She didn't have to worry about a silly little paper cut getting her killed or mythological monsters hunting her down. She would be safe now. She could be a normal, happy human. I loved Bella; so much I was willing to leave her. I love her. The words were so obvious and true, but they sounded so sweet.

"I love Bella." The words were more delicious on my tongue then any blood I had ever tasted, including Bella's. I love Bella! What was I doing in that filthy attic when the most important thing in my world was an entire continent away?

My answer came as memories of her ill-fated birthday party. My family had wanted to make it such a happy day, and look what happened. Could I really subject Bella to such danger again? Had I not been holding Jasper back, I had no doubts that I would have been held back from the blood that was my own personal brand of heroin.

I do not blame Jasper in the slightest. It is simply what we are and what Bella should never have been introduced to. I let my attraction and desire for Bella put her in a situation that, like all humans, she should have been happily oblivious to. Instead, I had to fall so deeply in love with her.

While I kept telling myself that I wish she had moved on by now, deep in the recesses of my mind I had tried to keep locked away was the hope that she still loved me too.

No man would be good enough for Bella, but they would be better for her then I was. He could hold her in his arms without the fear of breaking her. He could kiss her delicious lips without the fear of his teeth covered in venom behind his own lips. He could show her the passion I had only dreamed of showing Bella, but was too afraid to act upon.

I may be a monster, but the man inside of me returned the day I got Bella. I wanted to be the one to hold her in my arms. I wanted to kiss her full lips. I wanted to be the one to make her heart race.

I wanted her.

I needed her.

That thought passed through my head before I could stop its creation. I needed Bella.

It was not only that I loved Bella and wanted her in my life, although that was undeniably true, I had an absolute need for Bella just as humans need air. I. Need. Her.

I had to go back.

When I finally allowed myself to make up my mind to go home, I ran to the airport in the dead of night as fast as my hunger-weakened legs could take me. I went straight to the ticket counter and demanded a ticket to Seattle. The airport didn't have a direct flight to Seattle, but the scared employee offered me a ticket to Los Angeles and then I would have to change planes there. I pounced on the offer. Not only because Los Angeles was over six thousand miles closer to Bella then I already was, but also because the flight was leaving in ten minutes.

I had an hour layover at LAX, which drove me to the point of near insanity. I was sorely tempted to push all the other airplanes off the runway so that my flight could get out of here. But in one of the busiest airport in the world, that wasn't a good idea to use my vampire abilities in front of hundreds of humans. But what did I care if the Volturi found out and would come to take my life? It would all be worth it for just one more look at Bella's beautiful face. But when I truly gave myself time to think about why I would reveal myself to all the travelers, I knew I wasn't going anywhere for another sixty minutes. I was going back to Forks to put my family back together, not tear it apart further. What would happen to Carlisle, Esme, and the others when they hear that I went and got myself killed so recklessly? I had done enough to them. And my perfect Bella. The Volturi were one of the last things about my world that I had told Bella about. If the Volturi were to find me, they would no doubt find my great love. I could not allow them to hurt her. So for the longest hour of my life I sat in the terminal as far away from the sunny windows as could possibly be allowed.

But once I got to cloud covered Seattle, I ran as fast as my weak self could allow. At first I ducked and dived down alleyways and empty streets reading peoples minds to see where humans were thinnest. I suppose I could have waited to rented a car or got a taxi, but I did not have any patience left in me. I needed to go now!

Once I was out of the city and the suburbs I took the straightest path possible to get me home.

Home. After months of being alone and utterly depressed, I was finally going to where I felt like I truly belonged. That was wherever Bella was. Not only was she the love of my existence and my reason to live, she was my home.

After all that, I was standing in front of her house like an imbecile. I was too scared to even climb to her window. All I had to do was remember the utterly broken look on her face when I told her I was leaving.

And worst of all, there was the look on her face when I told her that I didn't want her anymore. It was not the pain or the hurt I saw that I was causing that made my chest to rip and my cold, un-beating heart to shatter within me. It was her true belief in the words.

What had I done to warrant such a reaction? How had she ever doubted my feelings for her? Did she not remember the thousands of times I told her that I loved her? Was she thinking of all the times I pulled out of our kisses before I lost my control and something would have happened to her? Did she see that as rejection?

I was here now. I had to make her realize that my words that day were a lie. The most terrible lie that anyone has ever told. If I couldn't, then I didn't know what would happen to me.

A soft moan sounded from inside. Bella. That came from her. That did me in. I was up the side of her house in an instant.

Her window was closed. That was not a sight I was used to. I suppose she wasn't waiting for me any longer. I remember how all the males at Forks High would always stare after Bella. I'm sure I was too late. But I needed to do this. I had to just see her. The window groaned a little as I wedged it open so that I could enter.

My throat burned even before I slipped through the window. Bella wasn't in any danger. I had lived without her for so long it was as if my burning for her instead of just for her blood. I wanted Bella. Her beautiful face. Her warm touch. Her love.

It probably would have been best if I had hunted before returning, but that would only have prolonged my suffering. There I go again putting my selfish desires in front of the love of my life's safety! But I wasn't strong enough to leave her now. Not when she was right there on her bed.

She looked like the angel she was. Her cream skin still looked soft and smooth, the pale color was only broken by her full strawberry colored lips. Long brown waves of hair were splayed across her pillow.

Bella tossed and turned in her sleep, mumbling, "No, don't . . . stupid . . . reckless . . . flame . . . on the water . . ."

I smiled. I used to love listening to her at night. Of course none of it made sense to me. How I longed for a look inside her beautiful mind. Bella had always amazed me. She probably still would even inside her head. All I could do was watch her deafly. I was disappointed when she got quiet for a while then horrified by what happened next.

Bella started tossing and turning even more. Her mumbles and tired groans turned into whimpers and cries. "No . . ." Her talking picked up in volume, "No! . . . don't . . . leave me . . . I . . . need you . . . Edward!" As my heart shattered at her words I was not prepared for the full-blown scream that emanated from her full lips.

Before I realized, I had moved to be beside her bed. I knelt down and began rubbing small circles on the back of her hand like I used to do. The scream died away to a whimper. "Shh. Bella, it's only a dream. Shh. Please, Bella. I am so, so sorry . . . I'm sorry." Further words were caught in my throat. Dear Lord, what have I done to this angel?

All I could do was continue to hold her hand as she slowly began to quiet. I stopped breathing as I heard Charlie wake up. I didn't plan on leaving so I would hide in her closet or beneath her bed. The thought seemed rather childish, but I didn't care. I wasn't leaving. But Charlie didn't get out of his bed.

Bella is screaming again. I thought she was getting better even since she started hanging out with Jacob and his friends. If I ever get my hands on that Cullen kid again he is going to be in a hospital bed for the rest of his life.

Was this a common occurrence? Have I so thoroughly ruined her life? I felt a terrible pain in my chest, ten times worse than my transformation into this life. It was a good thing I was already on the floor because even with my vampire strength and balance, I would have fallen, revolted by my action and what I had caused my personal angel to suffer. If it were only possible, tears would be in my eyes.

Somehow Bella did not wake up. She curled up tightly into the fetal position and slept on, exhausted from her outburst. Her cries died away into the night. But I could still hear them clear as day.

She should never have cried for me. Bella deserved so much more in life then the danger and heartache I have brought her. I will never understand why she chose me to be with, and why she didn't go screaming in the opposite direction the second she knew what my family and I truly were. I used to be glad that she chose me, now it only breaks my heart so much more that I did this to her.

I sat down on the edge of her bed. I couldn't bring myself to lie down next to her like I had done countless times before. After that emotional display I didn't think I had the right to.

Up close now, I saw Bella wasn't as well as I had prayed she would be. She had become so thin. She looked even more fragile than I remember if that was possible. Her hair had lost its shine. Beneath her eyes were dark shadows which no doubt resembled my own. Tell tale signs that the nightmare she just had wasn't an isolated incident.

Oh, my Bella. How could I have done this to you? All I wanted in the world was for her to be safe and happy. If that was without me, so be it. But to see her in such pain made my heart rip anew.

The protector in me came to the surface. I wanted to brush away all of Bella's nightmares, all of her pain. She was such a fragile little human.

I couldn't help myself. I stroked Bella's soft cheek as she slept. Unconsciously, she leaned into my palm. It broke my dead heart. Did her dreaming mind know it was me? Or was she merely taking comfort wherever she could find it?

During my reverie, Bella's breathing and heartbeat began to change. She was waking up, restless after her dreams. I didn't know what to do. Should I be here right when she wakes up or come to her at a decent hour when Charlie would be a work and we could be completely alone in the house.

I reluctantly pulled my hand off her warm cheek but I couldn't find the strength to move from her side, the one place I wanted to be for the past seven months.

And then, like a flower greeting the sun, her eyelids opened revealing the chocolate colored eyes I loved so much. As much as I would have loved the stare into them forever, I held my breath and became very still. I prayed Bella would go back to sleep and get the rest she needed. No such luck.

In her groggy state, Bella blinked a few times before her human vision cleared enough to look around in the darkness of her room. I could have removed myself from the bed and hidden, giving her a chance to have a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep. But as I stared into her sleepy eyes, I could not find the strength to move from her side.

Her pupils dilated to the darkness. As her eyes widened and her breathing stopped I knew she saw me. She simply froze. She did not say a word. She did not move. She didn't even resume her breathing. After several minutes I feared she would pass out from oxygen deprivation. Only the fast, erratic beating of her heart made me realize she wasn't losing consciousness. If anything it was picking up speed.

Just as I was about to say something to hopefully break her out of whatever trance she was in, a deep sadness came over her eyes. Her posture relaxed and her eyes lessened back to the sleepy width they were at when she had awoken. I suppose I should have been glad at this change but I was just burning to know what she was thinking when she saw me.

Bella shook her head in disbelief and rolled away from me. "You're not here," she tried to convince herself. Was I too late? Had I destroyed both our lives to the point of no return? Did she have no wish to every see me again?

"Bella, I am here."

She squeezed her eyes shut. "How could you be? You left me. I wasn't good enough for you. I'm just dreaming," she tried to tell herself.

Wasn't good enough for me? That statement was so perverted. It was I who wasn't good enough for this ethereal being next to me. I remember Bella had never seen herself clearly, but how on earth could she possibly have believed that evil statement as it came from my lips that day?

I was on the other side of her bed before she opened her eyes again. Her brown eyes widen slightly more at seeing me now directly in front of her, but they quickly returned to normal. My speed was nothing new. I remembered all the times I had ran with her on my back. It had scared her so at first, but it became our pastime. Anything where she could hold on tight to me was beloved by her.

"Although I can see where you would get me confused with a nightmare. But I am here Bella, and it's I who isn't good enough for you. Despite that fact I came back. Bella, I love you and I am so, so sorry."

"No, no," she kept saying. "This is just my guilt talking."

Guilt. What on earth did she have to be guilty for?

"This is because I almost kissed Jake today, after he brought me home from jumping off that cliff."

WHAT?!

"Because I can never be fair to him. Because it's always been you that has had my heart."

That last statement should have made my heart soar, but it didn't. What have I done to this beautiful creature thanks to my terrible lies? She jumped off a cliff? Dear God in Heaven, was she trying to . . .?

"Why would you do that, Bella? You promised you would stay safe."

Bella's sad chocolate eyes looked away from me. "You promised that you wouldn't leave me. Why should I keep my promise when you broke yours?"

Was this about promises then? "Even if I did break my promise that is no reason to try to kill yourself. Why would you do that? How could you do that? What about Charlie and Renee and everyone else who cares about you?"

I had to close my eyes, as if they would help hold back the floodgates. I was mad now. Not at her. Never at her. I was furious at myself for pushing her this far. When I was leaving her in the woods behind her house, she let me go so quickly. I thought she didn't have any clue as to how much she meant to me if she couldn't see past something so ridiculous as me not loving her. Now, she has night terrors and depressed.

"I wasn't trying to kill myself. I was cliff diving."

My eyes flashed open. She wasn't trying to kill herself. I felt a weight being lifted off me. I was still crushed by so much we still had to say. But every little bit helps.

She shook her head and gave a short laugh. I saw absolutely nothing funny about this moment. "I'm arguing with my own hallucination."

I sighed, exasperated. I had no idea how to approach this so she would truly believe she was awake and sane. She seemed determined to believe that I was merely wishful thinking.

Her eyes briefly flashed away from me. They fell on the window I had left open after entering. Her eyebrows bunched with confusion. No doubt remembering that she had closed it. Quickly, she eyes shot back to me. She seemed to be searching me for any signs that this was an illusion or that she was insane. Judging by the look in her eyes she had thankfully found neither.

Her hand shook as it reached up to my face. I stayed completely still. She needed to do this. When she connected with my cheek it was glorious, like a fire but without the pain. I had to close my eyes in ecstasy. Her fingers trailed down my cheek and then dropped off at my jaw line. I forced my eyes open when her touch was gone. Her eyes were full of disbelief.

"You're . . . here?" her voice shook and broke as she spoke those two words.

For all that I wanted to say to her, for now a simple "yes" escaped me. I couldn't rush into this. By the realization only that I was here, she was looking frantic and dubious. I did not know how she would react during the conversation that was sure to take place tonight.

So many emotions began to play across her face. All I could do was watch helplessly. I so desperately wanted to know what I had to say to Bella to make everything all right.

After a long moment, Bella's thin arms reached for me and wrapped tightly around my neck. I sucked in a breath and wrapped my arms around her as well. I was surprised when she pulled me down onto the bed next to her. I could have prevented it easily but she caught me off guard. She quickly buried her face into my chest. I tensed for a fraction of a second. I couldn't see her face. After so long without her it was torture, but she was in my arms. That was just as good.

My cold stone arms wrapped around her delicate frame in an unbreakable hold. The position felt so natural. She belonged there. Her soft body molded itself to me. Her human heat warmed me to my core. Her scent filled my nose in ecstasy, no longer holding the promise of the drug of her delicious blood, but it was the drug itself. I buried my nose in her hair, getting my fix. It was glorious.

Her body began to shake against mine. She was sobbing. I rubbed her back.

"Shh, it's alright. Shh." I gently pulled her away so that I could look into her eyes. The windows to her bright, beautiful soul. How many times had I prayed that I could hear beyond those chocolate orbs into her head? What was she thinking at this moment, seeing me? What could I do to brush away all her sorrow and fears? All I could do was stroke her face and hair as tears continued to pour out of her eyes. I felt utterly helpless. "It's alright, Bella. I'm here."

She shook her head. She tried to speak through hysteric sobs. "You said . . . you weren't . . . coming back . . . that I would . . . never see you again."

My chest ached. "Bella, I am so sorry. I thought it was for the best."

"The best?" she asked incredulously.

"At your birthday party, you came so close to being killed," it was hard for me to think about it, "I was afraid. I was so afraid of losing you to the one place I can never follow. I just can't live in a world where you don't exist so I took far too drastic steps to keep you safe. But all I ended up doing was breaking both our hearts."

In my mind I saw Bella with fragments of crystal plates in her arm, but I also saw Bella screaming in her sleep. In my heart I knew which was worse. I pulled Bella tighter to me.

"What are you talking about? You made it clear when you left; you aren't in love with me anymore."

I was in shock. She had truly believed me. I felt sick to my core.

Bella saw a change in my face and quickly continued. "And I understand but . . . it was just so . . ." She couldn't meet my eyes as she tried to finish, " . . . sudden. On my birthday you seemed so happy and the next day you were as cold as when I first met you. Just tell me when you plan to leave again so I can prepare for it." Her face contorted with pain.

Leave again? I couldn't seem to register the words. "Bella, I'm not leaving you."

"But in the woods . . ."

"I lied to you Bella. I am so sorry but I did and I have so thoroughly screwed up our lives because of it."

She lips parted as if to speak.

"Please, let me finish."

Those glorious lips hung open for a fraction of a second and then closed. How could I possibly explain? Unwillingly, my eyes flashed to her window into the black night beyond.

"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars – points of light and reason…And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly, everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn't see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything."

Her eyes filled with tears and I could see the doubt in them. She looked away and murmured, "Your eyes will adjust."

"That's the problem – they can't," I insisted. "When vampires find someone, it's forever. We are like living stone. All that we are when we were human is frozen: our moods, our likes, our dislikes. To find something or someone that truly changes us is eternal. And you have changed me Bella. To my very core."

I remember how Carlisle and Rosalie had seemed to go through a second transformation when they found their mates. Thoughts of love had surrounded them like a cocoon. Alice and Jasper were the most prominent when they joined the family. And after what they both had to go through in their lives, they desired their happily ever after now.

What would it be like for Jasper to leave Alice? Would she scream for him? Would she go into a catatonic state? Would she doubt every word he has ever said to her?

How much damage control would be necessary to repair my mistake? Was it even possible? In a brief painful moment I remember how she had accepted my lies as truth so easily.

I pulled her away slightly to look into her eyes. She fought me a little as I pulled her face away from my chest to bring it eye-level to me. She wanted as much contact with me as possible. But as soon I she met my eyes she went very still. Her eyes locked onto my as if searching the soul I surely didn't have. But I could see her soul: good and pure. Her eyes told me everything her mind refused to. I did see love, but I also saw fear and uncertainty. I feared to know which of those three emotions was the most dominate.

"Why?" I croaked. "Why did you believe me, Bella? I need to know what I did that would even plant that seed of doubt in your mind."

Her lips trembled as they parted to speak. Her words came out as no more then a whisper. "It never made sense for you to love me. I always knew that."

I shook my head. Why could she never she herself clearly? No woman could hold a candle to her. "The only thing that never made sense is why you chose a monster like me. You deserve so much more than me. Something safe, something better."

"Better than you?" It looked as if Bella couldn't even comprehend those words.

"Something much, much better than the sorry excuse of a man that I am."

As always she surprised me when a small smirk played across her face. "You always say I don't see myself clearly. Apparently, it's a mutual thing."

Was this how Bella felt? I certainly hoped not. If it were only possible for me to cry. "You were supposed to move on. Be happy."

Bella's eyes filled with tears again. "How could I? You took my heart with you."

How could I have been so blind? How was this not fate for us to be together? "I left my heart here with you also. I could deny myself being with you but I could never deny the fact that I love you more than anything else that has ever been in this world."

"You . . . love me?"

I had to smile at her. "I truly do."

She smiled at me, but there was something in her eyes that wasn't quite right. She was still afraid that I would leave again. I was suddenly saddened. Doesn't she see that I can't leave? Not without her by my side.

I slid off her bed to go down on my knees beside her. It seemed only appropriate.

"Bella," her name was like a prayer, "I will spend however long it takes to making up for my egregious act. Please, just give me the chance."

Bella shook her head; she didn't want to hear any more promises. "Just stay, Edward."

If that was what she wanted, I would give it to her with everything I had to give.

"I am never leaving you again," I said the words slowly and deliberately. She had to fully understand. I was here. I loved her more than anyone could possibly love another. And yet, the only coherent words I could form were, "I love you, Isabella."

I was disappointed at the inadequacy of my words. They had hardly even begun to convey my emotions. And yet, despite my understated words something lit up on her face. As if those four simple words were all she needed. Her delicate fingers reached up to brush my face before searching the darkness for my hand. When she found it and she laced our fingers together. "I love you, Edward."

It was as if all those months of pain were nonexistent. I was with Bella. With one hand laced with hers, I used my other to hold her tightly to my chest and placed another kiss on her delicate lips. I didn't want to let go of her again. After all, I had a lot of time to make up for.


I'm thinking about putting in a short second chapter just for kicks and to tie up loose ends. Tell me what you guys think. (In other words, review. Pretty please.)