Summary: Bella's psyched when Charlie gets her a new laptop, especially now that she can chat with Edward, the boy she's loved since freshman year. It's a shame that nobody bothered to tell her that offline messages would be received once the person signed back on…

Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any relating plots or characters.

Mixed Messages

By Ardent Ly

"Oh darn, was what my password again?" I mumbled, wracking my brain. I never realized how complicated instant messaging was and this was probably why I hadn't gotten myself an account before now. I rummaged through the papers on my desk, lifting up short stacks of books and random pencils trying to find the Post-It I had conveniently written my password on (bswan13).

After finding it on the back of one of my worn novels (and after receiving quite a few paper cuts), I was set. I typed it in quickly, straining to remember the detailed instructions Alice gave me in class earlier today. A dozen windows popped up immediately, all requesting a contact approval. I smiled when I saw that Alice had been the first to add me and nearly danced when I saw that Edward had, also. After adding Jessica, Mike, and (much to my surprise) Lauren, I turned back to Wuthering Heights. My worn book was calling out to be read again, and I wasn't very well going to just sit around and wait for someone to talk to me. With Alice offline, there really wasn't a chance that anyone else on my short contact list was going to start talking to me (except for maybe Mike, but I really didn't want to think about that).

Just as Catherine was to marry Edgar Linton, the speakers buzzed and I jumped a mile off my seat. After composing myself, I took a peek at the monitor. On the right-hand corner of my screen, a short message popped up. Edward has just signed in. My heart leapt up to my throat. Should I talk to him? Or would that make me look too eager? Maybe I should wait for him to talk to me; but what if he never did? I didn't want to lose an opportunity to talk to him, but the butterflies in my stomach made it hard to concentrate on anything. I felt my inner teenager shine through, something I definitely wasn't accustomed to feeling. After mentally debating with myself for a solid five minutes, another message appeared, taking the decision out of my hands.

Hey, Bella! it read. My lungs forgot their purpose when I realized it was Edward talking.

Hey, what's up? came my bland response, and only immediately after hitting the enter button did the idiocy of my words hit me. Smooth, Swan. Real smooth. Thankfully, he didn't comment on it. Still, the conversation didn't exactly go as I had hoped;, jumping from topics like the weather ("I'm glad it didn't rain today, too.")to an English essay we had due in a week and a half ("I wish she'd give us a bit more time. I have a chemistry test to study for that week."). It was funny how I could feel the awkwardness even through my screen.

A few minutes of silence from his end and his window began to flash again. Delighted, I scrambled to check it out. Sorry, I have to go. My expression deflated. Mom's calling me down for dinner. I'll be back on later tonight, if you're still online, he continued. Talk to you then! And with that final salute, he was gone.

I felt the ends of my mouth fall as his status changed to offline. Blinking, I cursed softly and pushed back from my monitor, picking up my tattered copy of Wuthering Heights I had forgotten about. I was determined to keep my thoughts from straying back to him. When I couldn't bare the eerie ticking of my tableside clock any longer, I sighed and (much too eagerly) gave in to my inner desire. I glanced back at my still screen, knowing that it was useless to pretend that I wasn't waiting for him. I had re-read the same sentence countless times over, and even after reading the entire book a hundred times, I couldn't for the life of me recall what that sentence was. Searching for his name on my short contacts list, I locked onto it almost immediately, willing him to go back on and continue our conversation. If only he was a mind-reader.

As more time passed and there was still no sign of a change, I growled – growled – in frustration. I didn't realize "later tonight" would exceed more than – oh. It was then did I realize that it had only been fifteen minutes since he left. I grimaced.

"Bella! Get to bed, you have school tomorrow!" Charlie hollered from his recliner, and I was struck odd at my thankfulness of it. Finally, I had an excuse to stop my crazy fan girl tendencies, my crazy Jessica-and-Lauren tendencies, if only for tonight.

Grabbing the wireless mouse, I gave one last longing look at his unavailable contact name and whispered to myself, "Good night, Edward." I was just about to sign myself off, when a sudden bout of spontaneity ran through me. Acting on adrenaline, I clicked on his name, typed my impromptu message and hastily signed off. My entire bedtime routine was spent giddily dancing around – carefully, of course – and smiling like a fool.

By the time I was ready to climb into bed, the jolt of excitement had died down. I have to be the biggest coward in the world, I reprimanded, feeling sheepish now. Suddenly, writing "I love you!" on an offline message didn't seem to be such a hot idea, after all. Thankfully, he would never get the message and I felt my body relaxing on that thought. Still, it would've been nice to finally just get it off my chest.

Sleep came slowly to me, but when it did, I nodded off to the image of smiling green eyes.

The next day came far too quickly and I groaned as I lugged myself out from beneath the warmth of my sheets. I took a habitual glance over at the digital clock resting on my side table and did a double-take.

8:35. I had less than half an hour to get to school.

I shuffled through a quick shower and an even quicker breakfast of stale fruit loops, trying to fight the clock. After a rushed peek at a mirror, I threw myself into my trusty red truck, ignoring the flakes of rust and red paint that floated to the ground as I slammed the door shut. I pushed the engine as far as it would allow, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to school with just about five minutes to spare.

Driving up to the student parking lot, I parked in my usual space, disappointed to note that the silver Volvo usually only three spaces away wasn't there yet. Trying to preoccupy myself, I played a very lonely game of catch with my keys as I walked towards the building. With my third toss, they slipped through my fingers at the last second. Sighing, I bent to pick them up, only to get startled by the pale hand that beat me to it.

"Good morning, Bella." Edward's smile was extra dazzling today and my knees grew weak at the sight. "Great day, isn't it?" I could only wonder what could possibly be so good about today – the sky was just as gray as yesterday, the air just as biting. But the way his face lit up made me forget that he was not the center of my world, and without really processing it, I agreed.

"Yeah, it's great." His features faltered at my lack-luster response, but he was quick to recover.

"May I walk to your class?" He asked with a jaunty offering of his arm. Being at the receiving end of his charm, I couldn't help but feel vulnerable and found myself giving him an easy smile, though I knew that all of my first period books were in my locker. We walked in strained silence. I glanced over at his face from time to time, growing more worried each time as I realized that the V of his brows was deepening. Something was bothering him and I itched to ask him. The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could even register them.

"Edward, is something the matter?"

Impossibly, his frown intensified. "I am… confused."

I blinked. "Confused? What about?" I hadn't been expecting that answer at all. When he didn't supply an answer, I turned to look at him. For the sake of my control, it was a huge mistake. I was struck still at the intensity of his probing eyes and when I looked down to avert them, I zeroed in on his lips and felt the urge to kiss them and bring his smile back. Of course, being the coward I was, I didn't. But I did become aware of the many awestruck spectators around us and felt the heat rising to my cheeks.

Thankfully, he ended his trance and allowed my heart to start working again. "Never mind. I have to get to class. Bye." The instant he turned his back on me, the hurt erupted in my chest. I walked into my classroom, feeling just as confused as he was. Rejection, or whatever this was, was a hard pill to swallow.

"Is there something going on between you and Edward?" Jessica stopped me a few paces from my desk, arms akimbo accompanied by a sly look. It was clear that she meant business and wouldn't drop the subject until she got an acceptable answer.

I wasn't afraid to let her down. "No, there isn't." I walked past her, disappointment radiating off of her in waves. She had clearly heard the – albeit, sorrowful – truth in my tone.

"Then what was that all about just a few minutes ago?" She persisted, slipping into the seat in front of me. "I've never seen Edward walk with a girl before, yet alone walk a girl to class. Spill, Swan!"

"There's nothing going on, Jess." I insisted, pretending to search my bag for my notebook or something in order to avoid her gaze. It only made her roll her eyes at me.

"Whatever," she scoffed. "Kudos, though, for looking so calm and collected. I probably would've melted into a puddle if the Edward Cullen looked at me the way he was looking at you." She gave a pleasurable shiver and I unconsciously tightened my grip on my bag strap. "So, are you going to tell me? I promise to keep it between us." I resisted the reflex to snort. The chances of Jessica Stanley keeping her mouth shut were just as likely as Edward and I dating.

"Look, Jess, if there was something going on, I'd tell you. But, there's nothing happening with Edward and me." The truth of the statement hit me hard, the pain in my chest growing.

"Miss Stanley, I'm so sorry to interrupt your little conversation over there, but I'd like to get this class started if you don't mind." Our English teacher's sarcastic voice floated from the front of the room and after a sour, "What a bitch!" from Jessica, she had no other choice but to drop the subject and turned in her seat to face the front.

The class flew by in a timeless daze and I was grateful that Mrs. Jennings hadn't bothered on calling on me. I suppose that she had noticed my absentmindedness and spared me the embarrassment. I toyed with the dog-ear marking my page. What had happened back there? Being so open one second to acting so cold the next… it just didn't add up. Was it something I said? Or maybe something I didn't say? It was like I was reliving last night all over again.

Before I knew it, it was two minutes till the bell, and once I realized that Jessica had every intention of cornering me, I rushed to pack the few things I bothered to take out. I nearly sprinted out of class, and because the Gods hated me today, I ran into someone almost the instant I was out the door. I fell back with an "oof!"

"I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! I'm just so clumsy – "

"Bella!" I paused. Alice was beaming down at me as if I was holding the Holy Grail – or a pair of Manolo Bhlaniks.

I brushed imaginary dirt off my pants, feeling strangely unsettling to be talking to the sister of the boy who had just basically broken my heart. "Hey, Alice."

The spiky-haired girl bounced on the toes of her heeled shoes. "Hey! So… have you seen Edward, today?" She wagged her perfect eyebrows suggestively, and despite my current feelings about the boy in question, I blushed for the second time that morning.

"I have, actually." I said in a tone I hope sounded dismissive. "Anyways, I'll see you later. I have to get to class." I walked off in the opposite direction, feeling her stunned eyes burning a hole in the back of my head.

It took her much faster than I had originally calculated to catch up to me considering the length of her legs and the outrageous shoes she has on. "Wait! That's it?" She was sounding suspiciously like Jessica. I shrugged my shoulder, keeping my pace. "Bella, what happened?"

"I don't know." I answered truthfully.

She stepped up in front of me, blocking my path purposely. "You don't know?" she parroted, disbelieving.

"I don't know." I repeated firmly. "Look, Alice, just cut to chase, okay? What exactly do you want to hear?" But my best-friend-since-forever had no chance of hearing what I had just said through her crazed mumbling and frustrated hand gestures. "Alice?"

"We'll talk later, Bella," she said, and we exchanged a weak hug. She departed then, but not before I heard her mutter, "I'm going to kill him! What an idiot!" Baffled, I walked the rest of the way to class in silence. The Cullens were going to be the death of me, I was sure.

I managed to make it through the rest of the day appearing unperturbed and, thankfully, without encountering anymore Cullens. Lifting my hood to cover my head, I started towards the direction of my truck, eager to get home and end the day.

"Hey, Bella!" I bite back a groan and plastered a fake smile on my face before turning around.

"Hi, Mike." I replied weakly. This was the last thing I wanted to deal with after such a terrible day, but he was my friend and I didn't want to hurt him. "What's up?"

The baby-faced boy slid up beside me, standing far too close for me to really be comfortable. "Nothing really. I was just wondering how your weekend went." I had to bite my lip a second time to keep from snapping "It's Wednesday, Mike! Why the hell would you be asking that now?" at him. I took a deep breath and gave him my shaky smile again. With the way he beamed back at me, I was positive that he couldn't tell I wasn't really focused on him.

"It went okay. Nothing big happened."

"Oh?" Mike looked slightly taken aback and I rewound my words in my head to pinpoint just where I had screwed up. "Didn't you get a new laptop on Saturday? That's pretty big." He laughed lightly at my absentmindedness.

"Oh! Haha, yeah. I did." I would've said more, but as I readjusted the bag slipping from my shoulder, something behind him caught my attention. Gazing past him, I realized it was Edward…only it wasn't. The murderous look on his face looked completely out of place on his godly features and the skin stretched across his knuckles were a frightening white. The thing that shook me the most, however, was the fact that his eyes were not directed towards me, but to Mike. If looks could kill, the poor boy probably would've been dead ten times over already. "Look, Mike, sorry, but I've got to go. I'll talk to you later." I headed back to my car quickly, trying to keep him from finding a reason to keep me back, but he was persistent and took hold of my wrist.

"Wait! I, uh, I was wondering what you were doing this Saturday." He scratched the back of his head sheepishly and offered me the boyish grin that I knew had other girls weak in the knees. But as I searched his face, I couldn't help but picture gold-dusted green eyes and a crooked grin staring back at me. Looking past him again, I saw that Edward was still standing there and looking more infuriated than ever. He took a step towards Mike, but Alice thankfully intervened and with a quick, apologetic smile for my benefit, pushed him towards his Volvo. I watched as the siblings got in with very little argument, all the while releasing the breath I wasn't even aware I was holding.

"Um, sorry, Mike, but I'm busy this Saturday. And every other Saturday this year," I hurriedly added when he opened his mouth to reply. I instantly felt like a jerk when his shoulders slumped dejectedly. "Look, why won't you ask Jess out? I've heard that she's been really interested in seeing that new movie with the ninja or whatever. You guys should go together." His face lit up that instant and the imaginary bricks on my chest were lifted. I gave him one of my few genuine smiles of the day and left him.

Operation Deflect Mike was a success! I celebrated in my head, slipping into my truck. I drove off in a noisy manner, fully aware of the eyes that followed me. I tried to distract myself from the hurt look I managed to catch in them just as I was leaving, thinking aimlessly about Charlie's dinner, the next few chapters I had to read for English, and whatever else I could conjure up. He had no right to be feeling that way, I reminded myself, not after he so rudely snubbed me that morning.

Yeah. That made me feel loads better.

Hey, everyone! So, this is my second try at a Twilight fanfic, so I really hope you all enjoy it. For those who have read my first one, Remnants, and are waiting for an update, I really don't know what to tell you. I do have a chapter all written out, but I'm just happy with it at the moment. So, let's just say that it's still in the editing process (: Anyways, if you like this story and wish for me to continue, please drop me a line (aka review) and tell me what you think!

All the very best and happy Valentine's day!