Title: Coveting Thy Neighbor
Pen name: thewasofshall
Characters: Edward, Bella/Jasper
C2 Page: fanfiction. net/community/FML_Contest_Fics/77195/
A/N: The following one-shot is a complete work of fiction; all character names and personality traits have been modified from those created by, and copy to, Stephenie Meyer.
This was beta'd by Project Team Beta; my prompt is at the bottom.
Edward is on his knees, tears streaming down his face. Part of him feels like this is his fault, that maybe he did something somewhere and only now is he paying for it, and then part of him feels angry, so unbelievably goddamn angry, and he can't quite remember why he is on the floor in the first place. When Bella pinches the bridge of her nose and takes a step out of Edward's furtive embrace (something he's seen her do with others but never, ever, with him) he remembers.
"Please," he sobs out, not quite cognizant of the snot leaking out of his nose, the tears fogging up his glasses, or how fucking needy he sounds; Edward doesn't want this to happen and, anyway, appearances never really matter when the prosecutor already faults the victim – the crying is for him, not her. "Bella, please," he whimpers. He knows he sounds like one of those sad sacks holding on for dear life when everyone in their right mind has already fled the scene. He even understands that she is in the wrong here, that she's the one who probably already cheated and is only now admitting a guilt she doesn't feel simply because he would never have figured it out on his own. But, in this moment, Edward is only aware of one thing. Not the way his fingers try to grasp any part of her shirt or how she keeps smacking him away. Not the rug burn he feels with each crawling inch he shuffles against the floor. Not even the self-pity he is only exacerbating each minute he prolongs the end to their eighteen-month relationship. He can only comprehend that she is breaking up with him, that it will be over once he gives up, that he loves her and is going to miss her and therefore has to do everything in his power to make her understand whatever they used to feel for one another is worth more than whomever she's leaving him for.
"Bella," he cries. The sound comes out strangled, and Edward falls back against his calves, cradling his head in his hands. He can't believe he's letting this get to him but can't quite make himself stop. He doesn't even cry this hard at the end of Titanic when Rose figures out Jack froze to death and then pushes him off the raft so he can properly rest at the bottom of the Atlantic – and that scene makes him bawl.
"Jesus, Edward." Bella shakes her head and looks down at him. "You had to have seen this coming!" When Edward merely looks up to show that he's listening, she throws her hands up in exasperation. "We barely have sex anymore, and the only time we're even together is when the hospital sends you home because you've literally worked too much."
"I'll– I'll cut down my hours," he says, standing up and pacing back and forth. "No! I'll take a sabbatical! We can go somewhere and just be together–"
"Edward, stop," Bella says, grabbing his shoulders so he'll stop fidgeting. "It's over." She shakes her head again while Edward sits down on the edge of the bed so that he doesn't find himself on his knees a second time. "It's been over for a long time." She sits down next to him, close but not touching. When she places a hand on his leg, he sucks in a breath and stares at her fingers, tries to memorize everything about them – their length, their shape, the feel of them touching him, the fumbling ways they always found his in the dark. "I just can't go on anymore, and it's not fair of me to stay with you when I've already fallen in love with someone else."
His head flicks up automatically and then he feels it shaking, tries to clear the phrase he's just heard into something that makes sense with the constant back-and-forth. She's fallen in love with someone else. She's fallen in love with someone else while they've been dating. She's fallen in love with someone else while they've been dating and she's going to leave him because of it.
"Who," he grinds out through the pounding in his head. It's not a question, but he still expects an answer.
"That's not important," Bella retorts too quickly for it to really mean nothing. Edward doesn't need to see the way she's blushing to comprehend that she at least feels guilty for this decision; it's written plainly in her hesitation, in her reflex to remove any physical touch tying them together.
"I deserve to know," he states, slowly turning his head and staring at the side of her face, feeling revulsion crawl up his lungs and pile in the back of his throat.
"You're too angry." She sneaks a peak at him and then quickly turns away again. "You're not going to handle it well."
Pete, he thinks. Oh my god, the way she laughs at all his stupid jokes and fawns over him whenever we're at functions and the fucking way he looks at–
"But you'll tell me," he gets out at the same time his hands clench into fists. I will punch that motherfucker straight in the jaw the next time I–
"Yes," she pauses, "I'll tell you later." It's a whispered promise to settle Edward's conscience, even when he knows he's not going to like what he hears. "When you've calmed down," Bella adds for clarification. He sees her staring at his knuckles turning white and saves a triumphant smile for later when he's really going to need it.
"When are you leaving?" The question chokes him up towards the end, but he'll be able to laugh with Jasper in a couple of weeks about how utterly wrong Bella was for him, even though right now losing her is far greater than the circumstances surrounding her leaving.
"I thought that I could pack up this afternoon." She fiddles with the end of her shirt and throws him a small smile. "The sooner the better, I guess."
"Do you want my help?" He doesn't want to help, doesn't even want to be there as she clears out the room they share and packs up the little pieces of himself he couldn't wait to give away just because they were going to her – but he still loves her, and it's the least he can do. And anyway, he's already partially resigned to this, maybe physically separating their things will give him some modicum of emotional closure.
"No," Bella barks out too fast. Edward looks at her strangely before she continues. "I mean," she's stumbling, blushing – something's wrong with this, Edward thinks, something is so fucking wrong with this – "I thought it might be difficult, you know? Maybe you could leave for a couple hours and then, when you come back, I'll be out of your way?"
It's not a question, not really anyway – not when Bella expects it to happen – but Edward nods, massaging the back of his neck before standing up and shoving his hands in his pockets. "So… that's it, yeah? This is goodbye?" He's hoping for a hug, maybe a kiss, just something to remember this by that's not him sobbing on the floor or her telling him he's already been replaced.
She nods and looks down. "Yeah," she says to Edward's feet, coughing unnaturally when she looks up and catches his eye.
"Okay," he replies. It's almost a whisper and then she's engulfed in his arms and, just for a second, he thinks that maybe this will do it, that this physical connection will reverse her decision and not be the last time he'll ever hold her close and feel her warmth seeping into his own. "I love you, Bella." But she doesn't squeeze back and then he realizes it's over and that he should probably stop embarrassing himself.
When Edward's at the door to their apartment, he looks back one more time and sees Bella already throwing her clothes on their bed. He feels almost vindicated in thinking of her as a bitch.
Edward writes, rubbing his face with the hand not tapping out a consistent rhythm on the wobbly café table he currently occupies. He is proud of himself for at least remembering to bring the worn Moleskine notebook he bought at the beginning of last year. He's never had a reason to write in it – not like this, anyway – and some part of him is at least conscious of the fact that this physical item is something he owns, something that always was, and always will be, his.
A woman stares at him and then shyly looks away; Edward doesn't notice.
I don't even know where to begin right now.
He scribbles indefinitely, words misspelled and put down in a loopy half-cursive he only holds when rushed.
Bella broke up with me – she fucking broke up with me after eighteen months together. I was with Tanya for almost four years and we decided together that we were better as friends. And now I finally enter into a long-term relationship, open my heart again to real love, prepare myself for a life commitment (I mean, why else would Bella and I have lived together for so long? Twelve and a half fucking months! Jesus fucking Christ…), and this happens. I get dumped. I get fucking dumped for someone else.
Edward rubs his face again and remembers his behavior of the past hour. He's quickly moving from sadness to anger and pushes the cramping of his hand towards the back of his mind. Getting this down on paper, solidifying this feeling so he'll always remember, is most important. His lukewarm coffee cools.
Do you want to know the funny part? Just last week I was talking to Jasper about maybe proposing to her. Not that that's really funny, per se, just funny in that awful ironic way you hear about and always think, "Shit, I'm so glad that didn't happen to me." At least I didn't actually buy a ring, right? That's got to count for something – maybe just a lesson learned in the most unfortunate of circumstances: always make sure your girlfriend actually likes you before you start planning a collective future.
I mean, I just can't fucking believe this happened. She won't even tell me who it is. Not that she really admitted to cheating on me... but she wouldn't look me in the eye when she told me she wanted to break up. Only that she'd "met" someone and realized how wrong we were for each other… it's like she didn't even want to try anymore, like she'd already made up her mind months ago… fuck. What if it was months ago? How long has she known this person? Where did they meet? God, I can't even think about this right now…
Edward sits up and places his ballpoint pen in the open spine of his notebook. Two of his fingers are already stained from the ink and he can only attribute the mess to his haste. He feels trapped in the public establishment he's chosen to wait out the time he believes it will take Bella to pack up all her belongings, but he can't think of any other place to go. At least not until he figures out who this new man is, why he's worth more, why he's worth leaving for.
Edward's never been a particularly social person, but he does have a small number of friends – Tanya, his first girlfriend; Alice, his younger sister; Jasper, his roommate-turned-best-friend; and Emmett, his cousin – but he doesn't particularly want to talk to any of them right now, at least not until he figures out his own feelings first. But if he did feel like venting, the only person he would call is Jasper, who's stuck in the apartment with Bella – exiled in while Edward remains exiled out. And that means Edward can't call anyone because he's not quite ready to be that close to Bella, not ready to maybe-almost hear her voice or movements as she walks back and forth across the hardwood floors.
Edward really just wants someone to sit on the couch with him and talk shit about the girl he thought he loved, and it's the waiting that's really getting to him. He picks up his pen and continues to write.
It's been three hours and twenty-six minutes; Edward believes this is more than enough time to have spent sitting listlessly, and an almost adequate timeframe to pack up one's belongings and move them somewhere else. The quiet desperation he feels has simmered and stalled with the onset of night, and all Edward feels like doing is returning to his apartment and taking a sixteen-hour nap, after which he will wake up and this will all be over. It will be morning, and tomorrow, and a new day that will inevitably start The Rest Of His Life; he is sufficiently exhausted and simply wants to get a head start.
He is surprised, then, about what he sees upon opening his door. Immediately noticing the stupid trout potholder Bella bought at a yard sale for fifty cents gets him annoyed. Noticing her stupid fucking dirty sneakers kicked carelessly against the wall makes him angry. But her ratty, old coat with the sewn elbow, her stacks of DVDs placed haphazardly into his meticulously organized entertainment center, and her laptop cord plugged into the wall and then left lying across the floor simply pisses him the fuck off.
Did she not just break up with him this afternoon? Did she not just ask him to leave so she could pack up her stuff and move out? Did he not just leave for four hours to accommodate her request?
Edward moves slowly towards the kitchen island and is pushing her overdue library book onto the floor before he even realizes he's trying to find an outlet for his rage without really breaking anything. He grips his keys and takes shallow breaths, relishing the pain that warmed metal provides until he hears Bella's snort. Her fucking pig-snort that he used to tease her about but secretly thought was funny. And then her unbelievably girlish giggle followed by a squeal and,
It takes him five strides before he can grip Jasper's door handle and then he wrenches it open, breathing heavily with downward eyebrows and a clenched jaw while Jasper and Bella stop what they're doing and look at him.
"You'll tell me later, huh?" Jasper looks between them as Bella swallows and closes her eyes. "You'll be out of my way when, Bella? When I get up in the morning and you've already taken a shower?" His voice never rises in volume but Bella shrinks back anyway. Jasper slowly sits up and leans towards her.
"You never told him, B?"
"No, J." Edward switches focus, gripping his keys tighter. "She didn't fucking tell me."
"Edward, please," Bella pleads, "I felt bad enough falling in love with someone else! Did you really expect me to readily admit he was your roommate?" She stares at him, does something with her eyes to make him feel guilty for justifying the guilt she feels over her own damn actions.
He laughs instead, a bitter, hollow sound to something he doesn't really find funny. "So you thought that I would, what? Be okay with this? Be okay with the fact that the girl I love and my best fucking friend went behind my back and decided they liked each other more than they had any respect for me?" Edward pauses, squeezing his eyes shut while his free hand tugs through his hair. He feels like crying again, realizes in some fucked up way that maybe his prior reaction is now justified. "Are you fucking kidding me?" he yells out. "You're not going to say anything?" He quickly looks from one guilty party to the other, watches them look anywhere but at him or each other. "God, Jasper," he says, walking towards the door but only pausing their inevitable conversation, "I would have fucking come to you." Edward shakes his head and reaches for the door handle, speaks towards the wood and not the people behind him, "I thought I knew you better than this." Without looking, he slams the wood behind him.
Edward makes it all the way outside before he's dry heaving behind the dumpster. Somehow, the thought that it isn't Peter doesn't settle his nerves like he thought it would; he can't help but know why.
Jasper – she chose Jasper. Out of all the fucking people in this world, she has to fall in love with the one person I live with, the dude I call my best friend (used to call?), the guy I thought had my back for anything. Can I even forgive him for this? Look him in the face again and not automatically think he's telling me a lie? Right, Jasper, the girl you like is 'seeing someone else'… fucking understatement of the year.
Edward looks around the coffee shop and feels his stomach clench when two people kiss in front of him. A part of him thinks they're doing it on purpose; he looks down and goes back to writing.
Did she even really love me? I mean, how long was this 'thing' really going on? She's basically been living with Jasper as long as I have… that has to mean something, right? They had to have done something while I wasn't there… there is just no way two people can share that kind of space for months and not consummate when the opportunity presents itself.
He pauses, trying to think of anything else to say and not coming up with an answer.
Jesus… I just can't even deal with this right now.
Edward reluctantly closes his notebook, trying not to think too hard about what he's escaped from and what that means for his future. He had really just wanted a good night's sleep, maybe a gripe session with his roommate after looking around their apartment and not having any reminders of what he'd just lost. Now, he knows he won't get any of these.
He sips the rest of his lukewarm coffee and sulks.
Edward sits at his laptop, his music literally blasting through the headphones he hurriedly plugged in the moment he heard a suspicious two a.m. thump. He doesn't really like this song and can't discern who's singing or even what they're singing about, but it's the loudest music he owns; he needs whatever help he can get to drown out the sound of his ex-girlfriend and former best friend fucking two walls away. It's been a long day and, right now, he's more pissed they couldn't even wait twenty-four hours before having sex than he is angry that they're together in the first place.
He opens the Internet and immediately types in the URL of a website he and Bella used to read and laugh at on the rare weekend mornings he had off. He would bring the computer into bed, and she would curl up against him as they took pleasure in other people's misery. He doesn't feel so happy now, not when he starts to type and knows what's happened to him is a prime example of the universe fucking him up the ass.
Edward shakes his head and presses "enter" right before the song ends and he hears Bella moaning her orgasm. She never sounded like that for him (she always cried out in fake pleasure instead of the throaty moan he hears now), but he was never comfortable enough to bring up the fact that he knew she was faking (she seemed to always forget he was a doctor, of all things). Edward wants to throw his computer at their heads when he suddenly realizes she's never going to fake it again and that he'll be constantly reminded of just one reason why Bella left him.
What a nice thing Bella is giving her new boyfriend.
Today, my girlfriend broke up with me after a year of living together. She told me that she met someone else and wanted to move out. She moved out... but moved her things into my roommate's bedroom. FML