DISCLAIMER: All recognizable story parts and characters belong to SM. All lyrical references and quotes are property of their original artist. No copyright infringement intended.

[Beta: Unbetad]

AN: Songs listened to on repeat while writing: Nine Inch Nails - Right Where it Belongs V.2, and A Perfect Circle - Weak and Powerless.

Thanks to OCDMess, my Grey Cloud.


*Warning. This chapter contains brief discussions of retrograde amnesia and child abuse and references drugs.*


"What if everything around you isn't quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know is an elaborate dream?
And if you look at your reflection, is it all you want it to be?
What if you could look right through the cracks?
Would you find yourself… find yourself afraid to see?
What if all the world's inside of your head just creations of your own?
Your devils and your gods all the living and the dead
And you're really all alone?
You can live in this illusion, you can choose to believe."

~Nine Inch Nails – Right Where It Belongs

Right Where It Belongs
Chapter Twenty-One
EPOV

"Would you rather go to the hospital to do this?"

"No. What difference does it make? Pissing in a cup is humiliating no matter what the scenery is."

"Well then shut up and piss."

"You're making me nervous."

"Do you have anything to be nervous about?"

"No!"

"Just hurry up, I have to head in to the hospital soon."

When Carlisle brought me the drug test, I realized he wasn't kidding. He planned on drug testing me every week for God only knows how long. Jasper had refused to sell anything to me the entire first week back at school, and honestly, I understood why. That didn't mean it was easy for me though.

I spun the CD on my finger as I stared at the ceiling. I was completely, utterly, and entirely fucking bored. I glanced at the clock for the five-hundredth time this weekend and groaned. I had another ten hours before I had to be up for school.

I wondered if Jasper managed to stay at Bella's all weekend, or if they got caught. Maybe he chickened out and didn't stay there at all? I ran through the possibilities of where else he would stay, but I came up with nothing. I still didn't know him that well, and I really couldn't even begin to guess where he would hide out for a few chilly spring nights. Next week would mark the first of May, but it was still cold at night.

Friday I would have to work the concession stand for the home game, and I was not looking forward to mingling with the sports crowd of Forks High. I had already decided that I would ask Bella to come with me. I'd buy her all the cotton candy and soda she wanted as long as I didn't have to be there alone.

I huffed loudly and dropped the CD beside me as I sat up and ran my hand through my hair.

Fucking bored out of my mind.

"Edward?" Carlisle called from down the hall.

"Coming," I hollered. "Yeah?" I asked as I pushed open his office door.

"How's the homework going?"

"Good."

"Just good?"

"It's done. That's good, right?"

"Is it making sense? Do you feel confident about it?"

"Sure," I snapped.

"I'm just trying to make sure that you're keeping up with your studies," Carlisle said with a slight sigh. He pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes.

I immediately felt bad for the short answers and mild attitude. "Sorry," I mumbled.

"It's okay. Have a seat."

I glanced at his desk and then the chair beside me. What did he want?

As I slowly sat, Carlisle cleared his throat and shuffled loose papers to the side. "How have you been sleeping?"

"Are you being my doctor, or uncle?" I asked. I hated it when he treated me like one of his patients while we were at home.

"Uncle," he said calmly. His lips twitched but he never completed the smirk.

I huffed and rubbed the back of my neck. The truth was that I had been sleeping shitty again. I slept perfectly fine twisted up on my couch beside Bella, but the past two nights had been restless. "I keep waking up," I admitted.

"Dreams?"

"No. I just can't seem to get comfortable."

Carlisle furrowed his brows and tapped his jaw with his index finger. It was his thinking twitch – I could practically hear the wheels turning in his mind. "Exhaustion?"

"No."

"Headaches?"

"No."

"Dozing off during the day?"

I sighed and crossed my arms. "No."

"Help me out here. Are there any kind of symptoms due to the restless sleep?"

"It's annoying as shit and frustrating," I said bitterly.

His lips twitched again, and he sat up in his chair. "Alright. I'd like you to see a counselor. It could be that you are having problems dealing with stress."

"I don't have any problems."

He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose again. I could tell that he was getting frustrated. "That's not how I meant it, and if you'd calm down, you'd realize that. I'm just saying that you have a lot on your mind; school, friends, health, not to mention your memories coming back and re-adjusting to a new place. That's a lot for one person to handle all at once."

"I'm fine, I just need," I stopped before the word 'pot' managed to leave my mouth. I looked down and scowled. I just wanted some fucking sleep, and pot usually helped with that.

"You need what?" Carlisle asked. His tone was slightly challenging, but also curious.

"Nothing."

"Edward."

"I said, nothing." I huffed and stood. As I turned to walk out of his office, I heard a strange noise that sounded like a cross between growl and a sigh.

"Sit!"

I froze and clenched my teeth.

"Please," he said calmer.

I huffed again and spun around, throwing my weight into the chair with a thud. We stared at each other, and as he visibly calmed, I tensed. "I'm not seeing more doctors who want me to talk about shit I don't even know is real."

"That's why you talk to them, so they can help you understand."

"I don't need some psycho-analysis bullshit!"

"I'm asking that you see a therapist, someone to talk to, not someone to diagnose you. You need to start opening up about what you are remembering, and if you don't want to come to me, that's fine, but talk to someone."

I rolled my eyes and looked at the corner of his office.

"Edward, you're finally remembering. A lot of patients don't get that chance—"

"I'm not one of your fucking patients!" I glared at him quickly before looking away. I couldn't explain where my anger was coming from, and I couldn't really contain it either. It freaked me out slightly; I had never felt out of control of my reactions before. Well, I had once before. The day Jasper and I were caught by Bella and we sped home, but that wasn't the same kind of out of control as I was feeling now.

"I'm sorry," he said softly. "Let's both just take a deep breath, and try to start over."

I clenched my jaw tightly and shifted in the chair as I tried to take a slow, even breath.

"You are waking up frustrated. Your memories are coming back in dreams and during the day, and you haven't been smoking pot or taking pills. You have final exams soon, and you're still trying to catch up on your makeup work."

I nodded stiffly and stared at the corner of his desk.

"I'm proud of you for not doing any drugs this week, Edward. I mean that. I know you still smoke cigarettes, and I know you think you hide it from me, but I'm not stupid. I would lecture you about how it's bad for your health, can lead to cancer, and could be part of what is keeping you awake at night, but I know you aren't stupid either," he said with a smirk. He probably thought he was being sly by lecturing me without really lecturing me.

"Can we get to the point?" I asked, slightly irritated.

"My point is that you have a lot going on, and you shouldn't try handling it all on your own. Let me help you. Let a stranger help you. Just talking and hearing another perspective on things can make a big difference. We could find someone you could try talking to once a week, and if you like them, we can increase the meetings to two times a week, if needed."

"I don't have time for some therapist. I don't need to spend a few hours every week talking to a random stranger –I need to be studying and passing these finals if I plan on graduating on time."

Carlisle seemed to think about my argument for a moment and nodded. "Alright, how about a compromise? We continue the drug testing every week, and afterward we sit down to just have a general discussion on how things are going. Twenty minutes of your time, that's all I'm asking for. When you finish your finals and are on summer break, you go to one meeting a week with a therapist to talk about your memories and dreams."

He was determined for me to see some shrink, that was obvious, but if I could hold him off for now, maybe I could convince him it wasn't necessary when he realizes how well I am handling everything. "Fine, can I go now?" I asked with a sigh.

"One last thing," he said quickly, then paused. He seemed to be debating something as he tapped his chin again. "You might want to consider talking to the Chicago police again as you remember more details from that night. I don't want you to feel like you have to, the decision is entirely yours and I will support you no matter what you chose, but it's something to consider, alright?"

I took a shaky breath and nodded. I hadn't really thought of that before. Would I want to talk to the police again? Would my statement hold any kind of relevance, or would they just write it off because of my known mental condition? If I had to testify, would a jury even believe me?

"Edward?" Carlisle asked, a concerned tone underlining his voice.

"Yeah, yeah… I'll… I'll think about it," I said slowly, furrowing my brows. Carlisle studied me for a moment, then nodded and stood. I got to my feet and headed for the door, but just as I reached the hallway, he called my name. I turned and raised an eyebrow in question, only barely noticing the flying keys before they hit my chest. He tossed my phone with a slight chuckle and smiled at me.

"You're no longer grounded. Try to keep your houseguests to the same gender, from now on, alright?"

I nodded and slipped my phone back into my pocket before turning to leave. Once my door was shut securely behind me, I dialed Jasper's number.

"Hey, how was seclusion?" he said with a hint of humor to his voice.

"Fucking spectacular. Did you stay at Bella's?"

"Yeah, but I can't tonight, so I'm just chilling in my car right now."

"Why can't you stay tonight? Did you get caught?"

He laughed and I heard the obvious sound of a car passing him. "No, and thanks for the vote of confidence. Bella's dad will be home tomorrow when it's time to leave for school, so there is no easy way of me sneaking out. Plus, there was the problem with my car being at school when everyone gets there in the morning, so I just left a few hours ago and have been listening to music. I didn't want my car to raise any suspicions."

"Good point. So you left it at the school all weekend?"

"Yeah, I parked it around the back side of the field."

"Huh. So where are you staying tonight then?"

There was a pause before Jasper spoke. "Uh, I was planning on my car," he said slowly, almost like it was a question.

"Dude, that's not cool. Wait until Carlisle goes to work around eleven, and you can come stay here tonight. I'll text you to let you know it's clear."

"You really think that's a good idea? I mean, you just got un -grounded. Do you really want to tempt fate?"

"It's not a big deal. He's leaving for work, and it's not like you're Bella or anything. Seriously, relax."

"Alright, fine. It's your head, not mine."

We exchanged our typical goodbye and I hung up. I glanced at the clock and decided to text Bella, but as I scrolled through my contacts list I realized I didn't have her number. I mentally cursed for not asking her for it, and contemplated asking Jasper to give it to me, but decided against it. I would see her in the morning and we could catch up during lunch.

I sighed and fell back on my bed, returning to my previous position and staring at the ceiling. I had a little over an hour to kill before Carlisle left for work. As my Nine Inch Nails CD played quietly in the background, I got lost in thought.

Carlisle's words swirled around my head as I remembered the dreams of the night my parents were killed. I hadn't gotten a glimpse of the person responsible, at least, not that I knew of, and I didn't know any specifics like how they got in or got out, so what kind of details did I really have for the police? Nothing. I had nothing new to give them, so why was Carlisle even bringing it up?

For the first time in a long time, I attempted to remember things on purpose. I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling and tried to focus on the missing pieces in my memory. I thought about the dreams of my mother at the piano and my father leaving for work and tried to force anything new to flood my brain, but nothing happened.

I sighed, rolled over onto my side and propped my head up. I tried focusing on my few memories of Jasper, and attempted to remember how we met, but all I got was a headache and more frustrated. As a softer song began, I relaxed and steadied my breathing.

When I was thirteen and in the hospital after everything happened, a therapist came to visit me. They tried all sorts of methods in order to help me remember and deal with everything, but none of it worked. One of the methods was meditation, but even then I was never a very calm or quiet person. I couldn't sit still or stop the random thoughts from entering my head, so the method was abandoned quickly.

However, as I stretched out on my bed and focused on the lyrics of the song, I found myself breathing deeply and relaxing. I closed my eyes and let the vocals take over my consciousness.

A distorted view of the high school slowly filtered into my mind. I mentally turned my head and realized I was inside of a car. Beside me, Jasper was laughing hysterically at something. When I looked back in front of me, Bella was standing there, screaming. We were somehow outside the car, and her hands were balled into tight fists as she spat out what looked like vicious words, but I couldn't hear her to know what they were.

I took a step forward, and she slowly faded away. Suddenly, I was standing on the sidewalk and staring out at the parking lot. Jasper stepped in front of me and nodded as his lips moved. I furrowed my brows, completely confused. It was like I could see everything going on, but nothing made sense without words… volume.

A sudden screeching came from beside me and I turned my head quickly. There was a bright light from the fender of a truck, and I covered my face. I waited for the impact, but after a few seconds of still standing there, shielding my face, I realized it wasn't coming. I opened my eyes and lowered my arms only to be blinded by a bright light above me.

As it flickered, I realized I wasn't outside anymore. The white ceiling above me seemed so far away and as I shifted to move, I felt the hard tiles beneath me. I glanced to my right as I moved my arms to sit up, but a giant hand covered my mouth and I found myself staring into icy blue eyes.

"Edward?"

I jumped and choked as I tried to catch my breath. I opened my eyes and immediately began kicking at the air as I struggled to get up.

"Edward! Calm down! It's just me," Carlisle said from my side as he pushed down on my shoulder.

"Get off!" I screamed, gasping for air.

Carlisle pulled his hand away and took a step back quickly. I looked around frantically and realized I was in my room. I finally managed to get my arms under me and pushed myself up.

"Did you have a dream?" Carlisle asked quietly.

I took a few more deep breaths before nodding my head slowly. I felt my chest tighten as my lungs expanded, and I swallowed.

I watched Carlisle take slow steps toward me in my peripheral vision. "Are you alright?" he asked as he touched my shoulder. "You seemed to be having trouble breathing."

"I'm fine," I lied.

He seemed to debate arguing with me for a moment. "Have you had this specific dream before?"

I shook my head. "Nothing like this. It was like… like… random images that faded together and made no sense. Pieces of Jasper and me, of Bella, of that night," I paused and shut my eyes. The vibrant pale blue eyes were still clear in my mind. Had I gotten a glimpse of the murderer?

"Did it feel like real events, or more like imagination?"

I shivered and opened my eyes as I turned to look at Carlisle. "It was real."

Carlisle nodded and stood up straight. He scratched the back of his neck as he stared down at me silently. "Alright, well, you were obviously startled or panicked about something in the dream. Did you want to talk about it?"

I sighed and shook my head. "No, I'll be fine." As I glanced up at Carlisle, I noticed how vivid his eyes were. They were almost the same blue as the eyes in my dream, only slightly darker.

"Well, I'm headed to work. Try and stay out of trouble at school tomorrow. I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."

I nodded and he turned to walk out of my room. The sudden thought of being alone terrified me, but then I remembered that Jasper was coming over. An urge to ask for Carlisle's permission came over me, and before I could re-think the idea, the words were out of my mouth.

Carlisle stopped and turned back toward me. He studied me for a split second before nodding. "Yeah, he can stay the night if it would make you feel better. Just make sure it's okay with his parents first, of course."

I was slightly shocked by his response, but nodded quickly. "Yeah, of course. Thanks, Carlisle."

"Try and get some sleep tonight," he said as he exited my room.

I heard his footsteps on the stairs, and the front door opened and closed a few seconds later. I took another deep breath as I texted Jasper that the coast was clear.

./.

The rest of the night went smoothly. Jasper and I watched random crap on the television, and I eventually forgot about the strange dream and blue eyes. As I was getting ready to sleep, Jasper came out of the bathroom from his shower. I wondered if I would ever get used to his scars, and if he would ever tell me about them – really tell me about them, not just vague answers to obscure questions.

"Bella talks in her sleep, you know," he said as he shook the blanket out onto the floor.

I glanced over my shoulder at him and stared. "Really?"

He nodded and hummed a yes.

"What did she say?" I asked.

He tossed the pillow onto the floor and collapsed to the ground dramatically. He took a deep breath with his face buried in the pillow before rolling onto his side and looking over at me. "About kissing, Alice, pea coats, sex fingers, bumble-bees. You know, the usual," he said with a smirk.

I threw my spare pillow at him and it hit the side of his face. "Asshole! You have to give me more than that!"

"Fine," he said with a grin and wrapped his arm around the pillow. "But I'm keeping this. Consider it asshole tax."

"Whatever, just spill."

"Alright, alright. Chill man, Jesus." He stuffed the pillow under his head and lay on his back, wiggling into it with a ridiculous expression on his face. "Last night she kept talking about not wearing the bumble-bees because they would scare away the pea coat. It was really random and she kept groaning like she was trying to fight something off, mumbling Alice's name. The first night she went on and on about sex fingers and kissing. The moaning was a little difficult to sleep through, I must say." His lips twitched as he stared up at the ceiling.

He knew he was pissing me off.

I couldn't be there, and he could. He got to hear her moan before I did.

I hated him for that.

After a long moment of silence he sighed heavily. "And she said your name a lot," he finally added.

I almost threw my last pillow at him, but I knew he would keep it too. "You're a dick, you know that?" I said bitterly.

"Hey, you said you had no problem with it," he said nonchalantly.

I growled quietly and closed my eyes. He was right, I did, but that was before I knew that she talked in her sleep… and moaned.

Did she moan my name? I soft whimper escaped my lips as I fantasized about the sound… her expression… her skin.

"She mentioned me once, too. That was strange."

My eyes flew open and I glared at him, but he wasn't looking my way. "What did she say?" I asked, trying to hide the jealousy from my tone.

"She repeated 'friend' over and over. I thought she was still awake at the time, but when I called her name she didn't respond. She also mentioned 'can't know', but I don't know if that had to do with me, or something else."

We were both silent for what felt like a long time. I was afraid of saying something that made me sound like a jealous asshole when I knew that I was worrying about nothing.

"I was kind of hoping that Alice would come over while I was there, but she didn't. Bella mentioned that she was hanging out with Emmett for the weekend since he is leaving soon. Do you think I should ask her out?" he asked, propping himself up on his side with his elbow.

All sense of jealousy faded away at the mention of his interest in Alice. "Yeah, if you like her, go for it. She's a little young, but we can't all be picky," I said with a wink.

He glared at me and chuckled sarcastically. His face slowly fell and he looked down at the corner of his blanket. "I'm worried about her seeing my scars."

I stared at him, a sudden sense of guilt washing over me for my comment. I hadn't thought about his scars and how it might affect a relationship.

"It's the reason I've avoided dating in the past. That's not a part of me I want to share, you know?" He gripped the back of his neck and closed his eyes before falling back against his pillow with a thud and a sigh. "Why'd this shit happen to us? Why does it keep happening to us? Can't fate or God or whatever it wants to be called fuck off and give someone else a turn?"

I swallowed and looked away, sensing the awkwardness. I had asked myself that question many times in what little of my life I could remember, but it wasn't until Jasper said that, that I realized I wasn't the only one who got the short end of the stick.

"Maybe we haven't learned what we were supposed to learn from it all," I said quietly, recalling words that I had heard before, but couldn't place.

"That's a load of bullshit. What kind of crap are we supposed to learn from this? How the world is fucked up? Check. How family will let you down, tear you apart or leave you? Check. I mean, fuck, what other grand lesson are we supposed to walk away with?" His voice went up an octave and cracked on the word away.

I glanced back down at him on the floor and saw his chin shaking as he clenched his jaw. He squeezed his eyes shut and turned onto his side, facing away from me.

I sighed quietly and tried to think of how to respond. "I'm sorry, man. You can stay here any time you need to. Every night, if you want. You don't have to go back home; you can tell someone."

"I can't," he mumbled. He pulled the blanket up over his shoulder and turned his face into the pillow.

"I'm sorry I can't do more to help. You can trust me though. I mean that," I said quietly.

"I know," he mumbled after a moment, his voice lacking the bitterness or anger it had a few minutes ago.

I didn't know what else to do or say, so I laid back and stared at the ceiling until I slowly drifted to sleep.

./.

We woke to some random song on my iPod, and as we got ready for school, we moved silently and avoided eye contact. We slipped into our cars and headed for school without uttering a word to one another. Bella and Alice were waiting for us near the gate, and when they noticed us pull into the parking lot, they walked toward us.

Alice waved when we were only a few feet away and smiled wide as she said a rather chipper hello. Bella unwrapped her arms from her torso and threw them open as she slammed into my chest, pulling me into a tight hug.

"I missed you," she breathed into my ear.

I furrowed my brows and pulled back so that I could look at her face. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, why would anything be wrong?" she asked in an unusual tone. She attempted a smile but it just looked too awkward to be genuine, or maybe I just didn't know her well enough to know genuine from awkward yet.

I shrugged and slid my hand down her back to her hand and intertwined our fingers. "No reason, I guess." You're just acting strange, I finished mentally.

I studied her out of the corner of my eye as we walked onto campus. Jasper was following behind us a few steps with Alice off to Bella's side, and the only sound was the random patterns of scuffling fabric on the pavement from our jeans.

We all seemed to drift toward Bella's first period class before stopping. I glanced at Jasper who was staring straight ahead at trig down the hall and snuck a peek at Alice before Bella broke the silence.

"So, lunch like usual?" she asked in a chipper tone.

I nodded and squeezed her hand. "We should get to class," I said after another moment of silence.

"Okay," she said with an eager nod. She glanced at my lips and then looked down at the pavement.

I got the hint.

I leaned down while I lifted her chin with my finger until our lips met. The kiss was warmer than the previous ones had been, and I immediately felt the tension in her body release as she eased into me. I was going for sweet or gentle, maybe even charming, but she made me crave more. It took a gentle bump from someone maneuvering around us to enter the classroom to remind me of our surrounding.

As I pulled away, I smiled at her still closed eyes and subdued facial expression. "I'll see you at lunch," I whispered and gave her hand one last squeeze.

Alice had already departed for her sophomore class down the hall, and Jasper turned to join me as I headed for trig. The sudden awkwardness returned instantly and I sighed as we slid into our seats a few minutes early.

"What's with the weirdness? Did I do something? Forget something?" I asked as I pulled my lecture materials out of my bag.

Jasper turned and stared – his eyebrows furrowed and his expression serious. "No, why?"

"Because I feel like I did something wrong or stupid. You're radiating… I don't know what it is, but it's awkward. What's with the silent treatment?"

Jasper rolled his eyes and focused his attention back on his materials. "Nothing, it's just personal shit."

"Personal shit, or stupid emo shit, because you've seemed down ever since," I paused, not sure how to phrase whatever had happened last night.

"Look, I'm sorry I dumped my baggage on you, and thanks for the hospitality the past few weeks and everything, but it's better if I just keep my shit to myself. People don't get hurt that way," he said bitterly, nearly mumbling to himself as he reached the end of his rant.

I stared at him in shock, utterly confused about what the hell had just happened. Had he been thinking about this all morning? Did a dream perhaps spur this reaction? "Wha-what? I don't understand," I said slowly, trying to form any kind of conclusion while attempting to speak at the same time. It didn't work so well.

"Just drop it. I'm not your concern," he said through his teeth.

His words slowly sunk in. People won't get hurt that way… I'm not your concern. He's trying to shut everyone out. I know that move, and it's bullshit.

"Fuck that," I whispered, practically hissing at him. "You're my friend so that makes you my concern, and just a reminder, asshole, you're people too."

His jaw clenched and unclenched visibly as he stared straight ahead at the front of the room. He could be pissed at me all he wanted, but he helped me when I didn't even remember who he was and I was going to be damned if he tried to back out of this friendship when I owed him.

The bell rang and we weren't given any free time in class. The entire period was filled with lecture because apparently too many people had failed to get a decent grade on the last quiz. When trig ended, Jasper practically flew out of his seat and stormed off to his second period class.

I was nearly shaking with anger when I slumped into my Spanish class. Emmett glanced at me with a questioning expression but I just huffed loudly and he left me alone. The rest of my morning passed slowly, and by the time lunch had come around I was finally calming down.

That was, until Jasper didn't show up in the cafeteria.

Bella took the seat next to me and Alice sat across from us with a confused look. "Where's Jasper?" she asked.

"Fuck if I know," I mumbled.

Alice and Bella both leaned back as if I had physically slapped them. "Sorry," I sighed. "I don't know where the asshole went. I asked him why he was acting weird all morning and he told me to back off and not worry about him. He basically said thanks but no thanks for the offer of moving in and told me to stay out of his shit."

"He said that?" Bella asked with a gasp.

"Why would he move in with you?" Alice asked.

I glanced at Bella and sighed. I'd forgotten that Alice didn't know about Jasper. "He hates his place, and we hang out so much he practically lives there," I said, attempting to explain.

Alice looked even more confused, but didn't ask any more questions. She glanced around the cafeteria and fidgeted.

"Why would he say that?" Bella asked quietly.

"He… he kind of said some shit last night, and I think he's regretting it. He's putting up walls," I said very quietly, hoping only Bella had heard as Alice was distracted looking around the room.

Bella frowned and slouched her shoulders. "We should go find him," she said after a moment of contemplation.

"I'll go," Alice said, already out of her seat. She turned and walked toward the exit before either of us could protest, leaving her bag and lunch behind.

I sighed and thought about stopping her, knowing the last person Jasper wanted knowing about him and his problems was Alice, but I decided that maybe he needed an outside perspective on things.

Besides, it gave me some alone time with Bella.

"Nothing happened," Bella said out of the blue.

I turned and studied her before responding. "I know. What makes you bring that up?"

"I just wanted to make sure you weren't mad at Jasper because of him staying at my place all weekend." She pushed her food around on her tray idly, avoiding my gaze. "That's not why this whole thing with Jasper happened, is it?"

"No, of course not. I'm not mad, and I mean that. I'm jealous, sure, but I'm not mad at him." That got her attention.

"Jealous? Over what?" she asked with a chuckle.

"You talk in your sleep," I said with a grin.

Her face flushed a deep red and the image of her standing in front of me with a spilled plate of lettuce flashed in my mind. The memory was gone just as quickly as it came, and I wondered when that had happened.

"Oh, God… he heard me? Oh… dang-it! What did I say?" she asked shyly. She hunched over slightly and peered up at me through her lashes like she was afraid.

"Apparently you like bumblebees and pea coats. Is this a fetish I should know about? I mean, I've heard about role playing, but I'm not going to dance in a meadow like some Blind Melon video," I teased.

"Oh, God," she whimpered, cringing and hiding her face.

"I'm just teasing. Well, kind of, but you really did mention those things. Jasper said you also mentioned Alice and something about sex fingers. I must say, I'm definitely curious."

She sighed into her palms and shook her head, still hiding in her hands. "I'm so embarrassed," she mumbled through her hands.

I smirked and lifted her chin. She struggled against me at first, but eventually she succumbed and looked up into my eyes. For a moment, I was lost in her gaze. She looked so innocent, naïve even, and I doubted whether I should be so forward with her. Had she been with guys before me?

I blinked, clearing the random daze and pressed my lips to her forehead. "Don't be embarrassed," I whispered. My lips lingered against her skin as I smiled before looking back down at her.

"You know, I thought I had you all figured out," she said with a shy grin.

"How so?"

"Well, the day I caught you and Jasper smoking in the parking lot, I just figured you two were pot smokers – you know, the typical high school delinquents you see in the media. I imagined you guys as slackers, charming slackers, but still slackers," she said, laughing slightly.

"But now?" I asked as I rubbed the bottle of soda back and forth in my hands.

"But now," she hesitated, "now I don't know what to think of you. You don't fit into the typical clichés of high school guys, but in a way you kind of do, except… it's more like a mask to keep people out." She chuckled and shook her head, looking down at her tray. "I don't know what I'm talking about," she mumbled.

"No, you're right kind of. It was a mask, but not for other people, it was for me. I never knew how to act because nothing ever felt right or comfortable. I had to create someone out of myself for me to be. It was almost like playing a constant role in a TV show or something. Eventually, I just felt like that must be who I was." I unscrewed the cap and took a large drink of the soda.

Bella was silent for a few moments before I saw her nod out of the corner of my eye. "This feels natural," she mumbled.

"It does," I agreed, and she glanced up at me in surprise. Perhaps she thought I wouldn't hear her comment.

"I thought things would be awkward, like in the movies. Fumbling of lips and uncertain which way to lean, or if public displays of affection were cool or not, but it isn't like that," she said thoughtfully.

"Wait," I paused as I fully let her words sink in. "Was that your first kiss?" I asked quietly, peering down into her eyes.

She flushed and looked down as she bit her lip.

"It was, wasn't it?"

Slowly she nodded and turned her head away; her hair fell off of her shoulder and shielded her face.

"Why didn't you tell me that night that you came over then?" I asked curiously.

"I… was going to, but then the whole thing with Jasper happened, and," her voice trailed off as she shrugged.

"So that means I'm your first boyfriend?" I asked as I silently prepared for a mental celebration dance in my head like a four-year-old.

She nodded again very slowly.

The four-year-old danced and I tried to contain my smile. "Well, how is it going so far? Do I make an alright boyfriend?" I asked as I nudged her gently.

She laughed and looked up at me just before rolling her eyes. "It's confusing, but only when I start over thinking things. There could be more kissing," she said with a smirk, "but I guess I shouldn't be greedy."

I leaned down and pulled her chin up as I pressed my lips to hers. She parted them almost instantly and our tongues briefly slid together. Her skin was warmer than it was this morning and she seemed relaxed as she moved in closer to deepen the kiss. My fingers traced her jaw line to the back of her neck, and I tilted her head up slightly as I threaded my fingers into her hair.

A soft vibration from the back of her throat was coupled with the sound of a moan and I immediately pressed my lips to hers tighter. I felt light headed and realized it was from the lack of oxygen. We both drew in a sudden breath as I leaned back.

I clenched my eyes closed and swallowed, trying to avoid the possibility of an embarrassing erection in the cafeteria. When I opened my eyes, she was staring back at me intensely. "What?" I asked, and my voice cracked. I cleared my throat and attempted a smile but it probably looked cheesy.

"Nothing," she whispered, and the faint trace of blush streaked across her cheekbones.

The rest of lunch passed quietly. We finished our food and Bella told me about her weekend with Jasper. We both kept glancing at the door in hopes of Alice and Jasper returning, but they never showed. When it was time to head to class, Bella stared at Alice's backpack as she tried to decide what to do.

"You could take it to her class, and set it at a desk," I suggested.

"Yeah, I guess. Hopefully she just goes to fifth period instead of coming back here first."

We dropped off her bag and barely made it to bio before the bell. As it drew nearer to sixth period, I grew more agitated knowing that Jasper would be there. Fifth period slowly turned into sixth, and I found myself sitting beside an empty seat.

Had he left early? Did Alice ever find him? Would he have gone home?

The bell signaling the end of school rang loudly in my ears and I began to worry. I gathered my things and tried to rush out the door, but Mr. Jefferson asked for me to wait.

As he rambled on about turning in my makeup assignments, all I could think of was Jasper, so when he said his name, I instantly tuned into the one sided conversation.

"Wait, what?" I asked.

"I said, be sure to let Jasper know about the prep test this Wednesday. I noticed he wasn't in class this afternoon, and the notes covering today's lecture will be vital."

I nodded at Mr. Jefferson and told him that I would be sure to let him know, then asked if there was anything else. He excused me and I nearly ran out the door.

I rounded the corner of the building and almost slammed right into someone. I skidded to a stop and went to open my mouth to apologize until I realized who it was. Before I could react, a fist connected with my jaw, snapping my head to the right.

"That's for the bitch that fucked up my nose."

There was another dull thud and sharp pain across my left cheekbone as I tried to look forward. I stumbled back a step or two and brought my palm to my face as I stretched my jaw.

"That's for the bitch that fractured my foot and fucked up our chances of winning this week's game."

As I glanced back up, I saw him leaning his shoulder back in preparation of another punch. I turned to the side just as he threw his arm forward and pulled my knee up. He muttered a profanity and doubled over when my kneecap connected with his groin.

I winced as I opened my mouth wide and a sharp pain shot through my jaw. I spit the small amount of blood that had pooled in my mouth out onto the cement beside the freshman and rolled my shoulders back.

"That's for not learning to leave shit alone that doesn't involve you," I spat bitterly and continued walking toward the parking lot, leaving Jake on his knees and cupping his balls.

As I exited the campus gate, I immediately spotted Bella leaning against her truck with two backpacks, one over each shoulder, and her phone in hand. She was focused on the screen, and seemed to be texting. I looked to the right and spotted my car, but Jasper's was gone.


A/N: So... yeah. Long time no update, right? I'm so sorry. I have dozens of excuses involving upcoming graduation, work, family... but in the end, none of that matters. I took forever, and I'm sorry. Please don't hate me! Truth be told, this was the most difficult chapter to date. It just didn't want to flow, so I wrote it in tiny sections at a time. The next 10 weeks will be slow for updates as I'm graduating, but I'm not abandoning my stories - I promise you that.

Have questions, comments, or concerns? Please leave a review, send me a pm, or catch me on twitter. I'm an open book, and don't bite.

Thanks for sticking with me - I truly appreciate it.