A/N: I wrote this outtake for the Fandom Against Domestic Violence fundraiser. They raised a phenomenal $2645! It always amazes me when this fandom can come together to make a difference.
This takes place between the last chapter and the epilogue.
Big thanks to Lexiecullen17 for being my bombtastic beta and to HunterHunting and CarenL for being kickass prereaders. An extra shout out of thanks to bmango - my phishy soul sister!
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just enjoy getting them high!
I watch as Leah stares at the man in an orange reflector vest. He looks a bit nervous, standing there with his hand stuck out, as he shifts uncomfortably under Leah's glare.
"What the ever loving fuck?" Leah growls as she digs through her bag, finally finding some cash. "Twenty fucking dollars to park, and we're not even in the damn venue!"
I pass Leah a ten, hoping that helps calm her rage somewhat. Although, to be honest, I have to agree. It's pretty much highway robbery. They know you have no other place to park, so they stick you for twenty bucks just because they can. I guess it's just one more reason I'm glad we carpooled. From the backseat, I watch as Emily reaches over and strokes Leah's face.
"Don't let this get to you, babe. You're right. It's absolutely lame, but there's not much we can do about it now. So, let's just have a good time! Plus...you know what I heard?" Emily asks, throwing me a wink. "I heard that Swan brought some treats..."
At the mention of food, Leah's ears perk up and the pissed off look on her face melts into one of intrigue. The parking attendant is forgotten as Leah pulls into a spot and looks noticeably more relaxed.
I smile to myself, loving the way that Emily can almost effortlessly calm down Leah. They work well together, and I'm more than lucky to count both of them as my friends. We met Freshman year, when Emily and I were in the same dorm. Leah came along a semester later when Emily met her in a class. The three of us now hang out together all the time, and I'm excited to be sharing this concert experience with them...albeit, ten dollars lighter.
"Want kind of treats you got, Swan?" Leah asks, so I dig into my bag until I hit gold.
I hold up the baggie and shake it in front of Leah.
"Ganja goo balls, bitch!"
We all break down laughing, and I take one out, breaking it into thirds. I pass some to the girls, and we clink them together, giggling as we say "Cheers!" I take a bite, and suddenly I'm in heaven.
This is a pretty kickass batch. I mean, really, you can never go wrong with goo balls, but I totally hit these ones out of the park: Rice Krispies, oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, mini chocolate chips and a crapload of ganja butter. I finally look up to see that both Emily and Leah have finished their pieces and are licking their lips hungrily.
"Nope," I scold. "No more until we get inside. This is your first Phish show, and I don't want you to experience your first song totally fucked up. Just a little bit."
Emily's pout does her no good as I shake my head.
"No way. But I swear, once the first set starts, I'll break out some other stuff," I promise with a grin.
Emily claps and does a little dance in her seat before grabbing her purse off the floor and getting out of the car. Leah, on the other hand, is a bit more reserved.
"You better, Swan. Because lord knows I'll need to be high to deal with all this hippy crap," she spouts off before making her way out of the car as well.
I shake my head as I gather up my stuff. Despite her brusque attitude, I know that Leah is happy to be here. Underneath her rough exterior is a fierce and loyal friend, and it was really her and Emily (with about a million Skype sessions with Alice) that got me through the whole break up. Before I leave the car, I pull the few joints that I've brought with me and tuck them into my bra. I'm not chancing some security guy snagging them from my bag. After I've readjusted myself, I slip out just in time to catch up with Emily and Leah.
We make the walk to the Comcast Theater, and I find myself remembering why I love late August shows in New England. It's still warm enough during the day to wear a dress, and in fact I have my favorite spinning dress on. I scored this blue and purple spaghetti strap dress at Goodwill, and after a few alterations to the skirt, it flairs out awesomely when I dance.
As we walk down the sidewalk, there are folks around us with their pointer fingers in the air, and some of them are asking for a miracle.
"What the fuck, Swan? Are we in Jesus country?" Leah asks, and I have to laugh. I don't think many people would call Hartford, Connecticut "Jesus Country."
"A miracle is a free ticket," I explain. "All these people with their finger in the air are hoping to score a ticket and a bunch of them are hoping not to pay."
Emily nods in understanding, and I swear I can hear Leah mumble under her breath something about "hippy fucking bullshit." We're pretty close to the venue now, and we have to walk through the official Comcast Theater parking lot to get in.
"Stay close," I instruct my friends as we make our way through all the tailgaters. "I'm going to take you through Shakedown."
In addition to all of the people who are hanging out by their cars cooking food and drinking beers, there is an entire section of the lot that's dedicated to something called Shakedown. It's full of unlicensed vendors selling anything from delicious grilled cheese sandwiches to t-shirts and even glass pieces. I stop to look at a guy who has a black briefcase full of beautiful glass one hitters. Emily and Leah are inspecting some hand blown glass jewelry, but in the end, none of us get anything.
"This place is unreal," Emily exclaims, as she takes it all in. "It's like an outdoor mall."
I nod, grabbing her hand and tugging her towards a food vendor. The guy is also selling beer, so I buy three bottles of Sam Adams, knowing I'll pay way less out here then I will inside the venue. As I go to take the beer, the guy selling them keeps his hand on mine for a second.
"Hey, pretty mama," he says. "How about some phat veggie burritos? One for three, two for five?"
I pull my hand away from his and look over at my girls. They shrug, so I politely decline and make my way back over to Leah and Emily, beers in hand. We down our bottles as we walk through the rest of Shakedown and am pleasantly surprised when I see Emily buy a necklace from somebody else. I love that they're getting into the spirit of things. Every so often, a wave of happy cheering rushes through the crowd, and we join them, whooping and hollering away.
We finally make it through the lot to the venue and wait in line with everyone else to pass through security. Thankfully, I only get a quick pat down and a peek in my bag before I'm ushered through. After having our tickets scanned, I grab the joints from my bra and place them back in my bag. We make a quick pit stop at the bathroom for Emily before heading up to the lawn. I wasn't able to get three tickets together in the seats, so instead we're going to chill on the lawn, which is always fun for a summer show. We walk up the stairs and then proceed up the steep hill until we find a decent spot.
Plopping down on the ground, I take in the crowd around us. It's a crazy mix of frat boys, dreadies, hippie chicks and random old folks. My eyes scan the crowd, trying to see if I spot anybody I recognize.
"Stop it," Leah warns, and I give her a questioning look. "You know what I'm talking about, Swan."
My eyes drop from the people around us, and I find myself tucking in to Leah's outstretched arm. She strokes my hair soothingly while Emily tries to whisper words of reassurance to me.
They really are the best.
When things with me and Edward hit the fan, both Leah and Emily were there to trash talk him, comfort me with ice cream and chick flicks, and help me get back on my feet. They saw me at my worst, and they know all my secrets. They know that they're not only here to enjoy their first Phish show. They're also here as backup in case we run into...him. Because they know that all it would take is one look and I'd be gone.
Emily and Leah both know that I'm not over Edward Cullen. That despite the fact that it really was for the best that we broke up two years ago, I've never truly gotten over him. No guy has been just right, and I always find myself comparing whatever new date I'm on to Edward. It's never really fair. I'm not certain that he's here, but I have a feeling that he is. There's no way he'd pass up a Phish show this close to his school.
So, despite the fact that my eyes are straining to see shocks of cinnamon colored hair somewhere in this crowded amphitheater, I do my best to push those thoughts to the side, ready to enjoy a night of fun times with my girls and kickass music.
We people watch for a while, enjoying Leah's dry but absolutely hilarious commentary. We do end up seeing a few people we recognize from school and end up chatting with them for a bit before they move on. It's a little bit after eight, and as the sun starts to set you can feel the energy in the place start to rev up. The background music that had been pumped in shuts off, and a split-second hush falls over the crowd as four men take the stage. In an instant I'm up on my feet, screaming with everyone else. We all wait, anticipation coursing through us, wondering what the first song of the night will be. As soon as those couple of notes hit the air, I make an embarrassing shout of glee followed by a fist pump.
"Meatstick!" I can't help but call out, thrilled that they're starting the show with the most ridiculous song ever.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Emily give Leah a strange look, but soon she's bopping her head along to the infectious beat as the boys begin to play. After a bit, the chorus hits and along with all the other fans around me, I belt out the lyrics and may or may not do the accompanying dance.
"Time for the meatstick, bury the meatstick, take out the meatstick time! Whoa, shocks my brain! Whoa-oh..."
"Okay, Swan," Leah says, shaking me out of my meatstick haze. "This is just beyond anything I signed up for. If you want me to stay you better give up the goods."
I whip around to see her staring at me, hand held out and a resolute look on her face. I know that look. It's her "I mean business" one, and you don't want to fuck around with Leah when she gives it to you. I dig through my purse and find a joint, passing it to her as fast as I can. Leah sparks up less then a second later before offering me a hit. I gladly accept and then pass the joint on to Emily, who takes it with a grin. After taking a hit of her own, she returns it to Leah, who yanks it away before flopping down on the grass to smoke. Emily sticks it out and actually looks like she's enjoying herself, at least if her shimmy shake of a dance has anything to say about it.
Happy that my friends are currently appeased, I allow myself to get lost in the music. The set jumps around from a funky jam to some spacey noodling, and I'm dancing all over the place, allowing my skirt to spin, spin, spin. As the music slows down into a more mellow number, I realize that I've strayed away from Emily and Leah. It's gotten dark enough that I can't see them from where I am, so I start heading back in the direction that I think I came from.
I do my best to make my way through the dancing crowds, trying not to step on people who are either sitting or passed out on the ground. I think I see Emily in the distance and walk that way until my attention is pulled by the first few notes of Tweezer...I love this fucking song.
Soon, I'm in my own world again, dancing and grooving. I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn around, expecting to see Emily or Leah. Instead, it's a tall guy wearing a Yale baseball hat. I swear I feel my heart skip a beat.
"E-Emmett?" I ask, squinting. It's dark and the rim of his hat covers most of his face, but I'd recognize him anywhere.
"Hey, Bells!" he shouts out, his voice carrying loudly across the music.
We stare at each other for a second before it gets a little uncomfortable. The gnawing feeling in my stomach turns into a heavy weight as I realize that if Emmett is here, Edward is most likely nearby.
Edward and Emmett actually became good friends after he started going to Yale. When I would come down for visits, we'd all hang out and even Rosalie grew on me. However, I haven't seen either of them since we broke up, and I'm not really sure how to act. I wonder what Edward told them. Thankfully, we move away from the awkward pause when Emmett hands me a small glass pipe.
"Want a hit?" he asks, and I immediately grab for it.
"Thanks," I mumble as I try to light up. The warm wind keeps whipping at me, not allowing the lighter to stay lit. Emmett uses his body to shield the wind and cups his hands over the pipe, finally letting me get a good flame.
I hold the smoke in as long as I can, letting it seep in, suddenly craving the high. At least my brain will be fuzzy enough not to worry too much about Edward. I roll my eyes, knowing that even if I was high off the dankest weed, my mind would still be focused on him. My only hope is that Emmett somehow wandered off like I did, and we're nowhere near Edward at the moment.
Of course, my luck is the shittiest ever.
"Hey bro, where'd you run off to with my pipe?"
I don't even need to look up to see who it is. I'm not sure what to do. My heartbeat speeds up, and I start to breathe really fast. I can feel the palms of my hands get sweaty, and I shiver, so I wrap my arms around myself.
Please don't notice me. Please don't notice me.
"Hey, Ed. Look who I ran into."
Fuck you, Emmett.
I turn slightly, thankful that my hair has fallen into my face, partially obscuring it. My hair veil doesn't deter him as I watch his face shift in recognition. Edward's mouth falls open, but he recovers quickly, despite the lingering look of shock in his eyes. I can't hold back the small gasp that escapes me as his hand shoots forward, pushing away the strands of hair from my face. His fingers brush the upper edge of my cheek and then my ear as he tucks the hair behind it. If I wasn't having a panic attack before, I'm certainly having one now.
Nobody is talking, and in fact, I can't even see Emmett anymore. The music fades to the background, and all I can focus on is Edward.
Damn him and his mojo!
Our eyes are locked, and neither of us is willing to break the stare first. Despite keeping my gaze firmly attached to his, I can still see that the corners of his lips are turning up into a smile. I wonder if he's actually happy to see me. I try to decide if I'm happy to see him. It's not like I've been completely devoid of Edward since our breakup. Although, if you ask Leah or Emily, they'd say I haven't seen or spoken with him since. And that's true.
I mean, there is Facebook. And while we totally stopped being Facebook friends when we broke up, he still gets tagged in albums of friends. So...I may still be able to see him. And damnit. Those grainy Facebook pictures don't do him justice.
He looks amazing.
His eyes are still the fierce green ones that I remember with red spidery veins speckled through the whites. His hair is a little shorter, but it's still super shaggy, and I wonder if it feels the same to run my hands through it. I actually have to clench my hands to the sides of my body to stop myself from reaching out and touching it. I want to say hi to him. I want to ask him how he's doing, how school is going for him. I want to know what I've missed in the last couple of years, but I can't speak, not wanting to end this moment we have.
Unfortunately, the moment ends only seconds later, but not because of either of us. A pair of arms slide around Edward's waist from behind him as a giggly voice breaks into our bubble.
"Where'd you go silly? You said you'd be right back. I missed you!"
The high-pitched voice snaps me back to reality, and my head whips around to get a better look at who it belongs to. She's petite and blond and her boobs are bigger than mine, but when she gives me a smile I can see that her front teeth are kind of crooked.
I want to reprimand myself for thinking such a bitchy thought, but she's touching Edward, my Edward. Even though we've been broken up since Sophomore year, something inside me calls out possessively to him, and I want to rip the girl's hands off him. But of course, I don't. And instead, I just give them a weak smile before mumbling something about having to go off and search for my friends. I wave at them and thank Emmett for the pot before hightailing it the fuck out of there.
I only make it past another handful of people before I hear my name being called.
"Bella! Bella! Wait! Please stop!"
I turn around to see Edward rushing over, waving a glowstick in his hand to flag me down. He looks a little ridiculous, and I can't help but stop, giggling a little. When he finally reaches me, I just stare at him, not trusting myself to speak.
"Um, you, uh.." He stumbles with his words, and I wonder what's so important. "You forgot your lighter."
He hands me a little pink Bic lighter that I must have dropped after I smoked. I take it from him, my heart hurting that he ran after me for a damn lighter.
"Thanks," I manage to mutter before turning around.
His hand on my arm stops me.
"That's not all. Wait. How...how are you?"
Are we really going to do this now? He wants to know how I am? I shake my head, still not really believing he's here and we're talking right now.
"I'm okay. I'm great, really," I say, trying to sound like I mean it. And, in general, I am really great. I'm kicking ass in my classes and enjoying my studies and my part time job. My friends are amazing, and I love my little town. In fact, there's not much missing...really.
"That's...that's really great Bella," he says, and while his tone remains nonchalant, his eyes look sad. "So, um...who are you here with?"
"Friends," I answer, and his question makes me realize that I need to get back to Emily and Leah.
"Oh." And I swear I see his face fall a little. "I guess I'll let you get back to them, then."
And then, out of nowhere words tumble out of my mouth.
"You can join me, if you want..."
I could blame it on the pot. I could blame it on being swept away in the magical vibe that is a Phish concert. But the reality is that I just want to spend a few more minutes with Edward. I sneak a glance at him, and I can see the surprised look in his face. He shakes it off only seconds before nodding and telling me to lead the way.
Edward follows behind me as I weave through the crowd. While he's not touching me, I can still feel him behind me, that crazy electricity between us as hot as ever. I finally spot Emily, who's now sporting at least five glow rings as necklaces. I rush up to her and pull her into a hug.
"Please help me make sure Leah doesn't make a big scene. Please," I whisper in her ear.
Before Leah even realizes I'm back, Emily takes in the scene and then quickly bends down to say something to Leah. I cringe, waiting to see what's going to happen, but whatever Emily said seems to have worked, because I only get a judgemental glare, which is way better than a heated lecture.
By this point, Edward's caught up with me, and as soon as he sees Leah, I can see he's uneasy. She may not have had some kind words for him the last time she spoke to him, but I'm hoping they can both overlook that at the moment.
"So, look who I ran into," I say, trying to be all light and carefree, despite the fact that I'm still dealing with an internal battle. Even though it's been two years, seeing him like this has me reeling.
"Hey, Edward," Emily offers, and her smile is a kind one.
"Edward," Leah manages to spit out, but I notice she hardly looks at him.
"Hey," is Edward's reply, and I can tell he's super uneasy now. "So, um...is that it?"
I turn and look at him, not sure what he means.
"I mean, are you here with anyone else?" he clarifies as he looks around.
I shake my head and frown.
"Nope, just my girls."
I swear that for a moment, Edward actually looks relieved. I raise my eyebrow in question, but he just shakes his head and starts rolling a cig. By the time he starts to smoke it, the band brings the funk with a super hot "You Enjoy Myself" and the crowd goes wild. We all start dancing, even Leah, and whatever weirdness surrounded us is gone for the time being. The song closes the set and bright lights turn on as soon as the band leaves the stage. There's usually about a half hour of intermission, and I wonder if Edward is going to leave us now.
Instead, he hangs around while we sit on the grass and shoot the shit. We talk about the first set, and it's interesting hearing Leah and Emily's thoughts. Edward and Leah actually get into a pretty intelligent discussion about the music, and it's so easy to slip back into that comfortable space of feeling like two couples. Only, while Emily is sitting in Leah's lap and they're holding hands, Edward is sitting kind of far from me with no touching going on whatsoever.
Edward and I don't talk too much, but he keeps looking at me, his eyes slipping to mine during his heated conversation. I feel my cheeks heat up each time he glances my way, and I know those old feelings are still there. I'm almost glad we don't have a chance for a private conversation, however. When the lights start to dim for the second set, I see Edward looking at me questioningly.
"What?" I ask, clearly having missed something.
"I asked if you wanted to come down into the seats with me. I have two stubs and thought you might want to see the show from up close."
I don't even hesitate. While being up on the lawn is fun, there's something awesome about being able to experience a show closer to the stage.
"Let's do it!" I shout, and as I'm about to sprint down the hill, I'm stopped by a firm grip on my upper arm.
I turn around to see Leah giving me a death stare.
"Um, give me a second?" I ask Edward and he nods, scooting away just enough to give us a bit of privacy.
"While I still maintain that he can be a huge douche, he definitely seems to be cool tonight. But, Swan," she warns in a hiss. "Don't you dare fall for any half-assed apologies or promises. You are Bella Fucking Swan, and you deserve the fucking best. Don't let those puppy dog eyes and killer cheek bones sway you in the least. We'll meet you at the car right after the show. You better be there with all your clothes intact."
I want to bust on her for mentioning Edward's cheek bones, but I refrain. Instead, I nod solemnly and give her a hug, whispering thanks for before I pull away. I feel Leah slip something into my hand before I leave, and I look down, confused at the little silver canister I'm now holding.
"It's pepper spray," she says, loud enough so that Edward can hear. "You know, in case he thinks he can get handsy with you. Don't be afraid to use it!"
I shake my head and pocket the spray before nudging Edward to get moving. He waves at the girls, flashing Leah a huge smile before placing his hand on my lower back and ushering me through the throngs of people.
"You wouldn't really use that spray on me, would you?" he asks, a touch of anxiety lacing his voice.
"You wouldn't actually give me cause to, right?" I counter, and it seems I've rendered him speechless.
We make our way to the seats and flash our ticket stubs to the security guard at the top. He waves us through, and we bound down, making our way to the section printed on the tickets. The band is off in a spacey "Ghost" jam, and as soon as we reach our seats we're both dancing. By the end of the song, I'm grinning so hard from the killer music and the way my body feels from all the dancing. There's a pause in music as the band figures out what to play next.
"Where's the rest of your crew?" I ask Edward.
"Probably back up on the lawn. I snagged these tickets from Bree."
"Um yeah," he says, with a shrug. "The girl you kind of met. When you were with Emmett?"
Oh, Bree. The big boobed blonde, who had her paws all over you. Right. Bree.
"She's a friend of Rosalie and her dad works for some big company in Hartford that gets first crack at tickets to this place, and she got these killer seats, but since everyone else was up on the lawn..."
I'm not sure how Edward ended up with these tickets, and I don't know if I want to. He must sense my annoyance, though, because he leans down to whisper in my ear.
"She doesn't even like the band. And she's not..." He mumbles the rest of his words, and I can't quite make them up. When I look over at him, hoping he'll repeat himself, he looks away, averting my eyes.
I shrug it off as Edward being Edward and disregard it completely when the band starts back up with a fast song. We're back to dancing and laughing and catching each other's gaze when they pull out some sick stuff like a really funky bass line or make up new lyrics to a song. It feels friendly, easy, but it's hard to ignore that underlying tension crackling beneath it all. The songs switch up again, and it's something slow, something entirely too familiar. They're singing the song that Edward was playing before we kissed for the first time. I don't look at him. In fact, I look everywhere except at him.
Only...Edward is making that really difficult. I'm standing there, swaying to the sweet sounds when I feel a hand brush up against mine. I look down and see Edward's hand dangerously close to mine. In fact, it's so close that it wouldn't be hard at all to just grab his hand and hold it. But instead, I stay still, my eyes trained downward. The song continues, and I feel as if Edward's moved closer to me, and suddenly his hand has engulfed mine, and he's squeezing and it feels so damn good.
So familiar. And just so, so good.
I still don't look at him, and instead I squeeze his hand back.
I wonder if we're going to have a talk, but of course, this is Edward and words are few and far between. Instead, he lights up a joint. The sweet, cloying smell floats around us, and I hold out my free hand so he can pass the joint to me. Only he doesn't. With the joint firmly between his fingers, he uses his hand to turn my chin up so that I'm looking at him. My eyes are watering from the smoke, but when he removes his hand, I don't look away. I stay, staring him right into his eyes.
"Are you..." he starts, his words not entirely clear. "I mean, do you...are you seeing anyone?"
I shake my head and throw the question back at him.
He shakes his head so fast that his hair flops in front of his eyes, and I smile. He takes another toke and then leans in, raising his eyebrow in question. I nod, hoping for the shotgun I think is coming. I am not disappointed.
Edward's lips eagerly fuse to mine and suddenly a billow of smoke fills my mouth, and I inhale it down. I feel brave and press my lips to his in a kiss before pulling back to blow the smoke out. Any pretense is gone and Edward's lips are suddenly on mine, and his kiss is so familiar yet still so invigorating. My body feels alive for the first time in a long while, and I keep kissing him, wanting the feeling to last forever.
Finally we break apart, both of us gasping for air. But we never once look away from each other. We both know there is still much to say, but not here, not now. Instead, we enjoy the rest of the concert together, our hands never parting. As the second encore is played and the bright lights eventually turn on, I hold tight to his hand, unwilling to let the magic end.
Edward decides to walk me to Leah's car, texting Emmett that he'll meet him in a few. Right before we reach the car, he stops and pulls me into the shade of a nearby tree.
"I...Can I call you?" he asks, and I nod.
"Of course. Please. Yes," I spit out, and hope I don't sound too eager.
Edward laughs, and I decide I don't care. I know we have a lot to talk about and issues to figure out, but for now, in this moment, it's enough. I wrap my arms around him and pull him into a hug.
"I've missed you," I mumble into his shirt, and I feel his hold on me tighten.
"Fuck. Me too, Bella. Me too."
We stand there hugging each other for a moment, and suddenly Edward's chest starts shaking slightly as he begins humming something. It's familiar, but I can't quite place it. He doesn't relent when I ask him to tell me what it is.
"It's Grateful Dead by way of Buddy Holly" is all he'll say, and then he distracts me with his lips.
We kiss for a minute longer before my phone starts vibrating and doesn't let up.
"I...I need to go, or else Leah's going to come looking for us, and you know she won't shy away from her pepper spray," I say with a laugh.
Edward grimaces but gives me a quick peck on the forehead before finally releasing me. I wave goodbye, and as I make my way to Leah's car, I feel my phone vibrate again, and I grab it, ready to tell Leah to cool it, but instead I find a text from Edward.
A lover's love, not fade away...
A/N: To get the feel of the concert, check out this fab video of Phish (and friends) playing Meatstick this past new years eve (and I got to be there - so. much. fun!) http:/www(DOT)youtube(DOT)com/watch?v=vkgwhc3cSh0