This is a one-shot I wrote based on Sarah Dessen's book, LOCK and KEY. It's not that similar because I tweaked it a bit and somehow made it my own. ENJOY =]

~*~ I Thought Leaving You Was For the Best ~*~

I could hear rattling in his house. The noise was too loud not to be heard. I peered through my window to look and saw him 'talking' to his dad. I closed my eyes and sighed.

"Dad, I'll handle it" I heard him say. Then a plate crashed on the ground. I opened my eyes again and I bravely looked once more.

"Make sure you will this time" his dad growled. The larger figure from the house sauntered out of the view of the window.

My lips quivered. My heart deeply ached for him. I tried to help him—I still was. But he always brushed me off. I wiped my tears with the sleeve of my blouse then walked towards my phone. I dialed his number. I looked again at his house and saw him pick up his cell from his pocket. My mouth tugged into a faint smile when I saw him sigh in relief because I was calling.

"Hey" he said, his voice sounding a little raspy. I played at the loose seams of the curtain.

"Hey" I said. "How are you?" I cleared my throat. "I heard noises from your h…"

"It's nothing" was his reply. Of course he would say that. I sighed.

"Edward, I know something's wrong" I said. "Could you please stop hiding it?"

"Bella, you shouldn't be involved" he sighed. I saw him sit down on his coach. He then pinched the bridge of his nose—an act he involuntarily did when he was irritated. I was annoying him. "It's really nothing."

"You can't hide it" I said stubbornly. "You are clearly forgetting that we're neighbors."

Then I heard his dad return. "Edward, come in here!" he boomed.

"I have to go" Edward said hastily before hanging up on me. I stared at my phone for a few seconds before dropping it on my bed. It was terribly no use getting him to open up to me.

But I knew I had to try harder.

****

Five months ago

"Ooh, don't look now but Edward Cullen's staring at you" Alice grinned at me, her eyes directed at someone over my shoulder. I blushed. Even though it was only my third day in Forks High, I was already aware of the famous Edward Cullen. My new friend Alice Brandon told me he was hard to miss since he dominated both academic and non-academic categories. He was not only smart, but athletic too.

"He is not" I mumbled. She rolled her eyes.

"Fine. Turn around and see for yourself then" she challenged. I cringed. Slowly, I turned around. She was right. Edward Cullen was staring at me.

The moment we met gazes, he grinned at me for about a second then returned his attention to his friends.

"See?" Alice giggled.

****

Four months ago

THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.

I blushed profusely as my books tumbled out of my locker—just when Edward walked by. "Crap" I mumbled, swiftly squatting down to retrieve them.

Suddenly, two manly hands came to help me. I looked up and met gazes with Edward Cullen. He smirked. "Hey, partner" he joked. We were Biology II partners, a fact Alice couldn't forget.

"Thanks" I said, smiling faintly, as he gave me the remaining book from the floor. We stood up at the same time. Silence ensued. I shifted uncomfortably in front of him, and he just laughed.

"Well, see you in Bio" he said, walking backwards. I waved at him then shoved my books back into my locker.

****

Three months ago

It was a cool afternoon and I was walking home from school, my books hugged to my chest. I stopped when I saw Edward looking at a thick pile of papers while leaning against his silver Volvo in front of his house. It was normal to see him like that since he told me he was being trained by his dad to manage their company.

"Uhm, hi" I said. He looked up and grinned at me. It was his normal greeting to me.

"Hey" he said back. He straightened up then put down the pile of papers on the Volvo's hood. He crossed his arms over his chest then eyed me. "Where's your car?"

I shrugged. "Dad brought it to the car shop. It broke down"

He laughed. "I'm not surprised" he joked. "Your truck was dying on you from the start, you know."

I rolled my eyes then stood beside him. We had become friends now so it was natural to act around him normally. "No, it wasn't." I denied.

He nudged my shoulder. "Yes, it was" he countered. I looked up at him.

"It was just bad luck on my part" I denied still. He leaned closer. My smile grew strained as I fought the urge not to gasp at our closeness. This was the first time he teased me this way.

He looked at me—then at my lips. I gulped. "You're not going to budge, are you?" he grinned.

"I'm sticking up for what I believe in" I mumbled. He laughed.

"That's what I like about you" he said before pressing his lips onto mine. Slowly, I closed my eyes and let myself be enveloped in this moment. We moved our mouths in synchronization, not catching our breath for a few moments. When we pulled away, we were panting and looking flushed. He grinned then went down on me for another kiss.

****

Two months ago

I couldn't sleep. There was just something that nagged me to no end… a feeling of uneasiness. I rolled off my bed then went to peer through my window. There I saw Edward pacing back and forth in his living room, his figure almost obscured from the big fat raindrops showering from the sky.

He had grown distant for the past week since I discovered a discoloring bruise just under his mouth. He didn't want to share what happened to him, obviously.

Slowly I did realize the rift between him and his too-controlling father. He began missing classes in order to fix some company problems his dad wanted solved immediately. His grades slowly slipped. It angered me that his dad was letting his son's future crumble for the sake of the company. I pointed it out once, which resulted to him getting annoyed with me.

I couldn't just give up, now, couldn't I?

My struggle to get a hold of him—and to let him be open with me—still continued two months later.

And I was afraid my patience was slowly decreasing with this issue.

****

Present time

It was the usual wet day in Forks. People had their raincoats on and umbrellas in hand. The atmosphere had this musty smell circling around, coming with the rain. I looked drearily out the window of the History classroom in my school.

It was silent reading time. And I was glum as the weather. This morning, Edward and I didn't have the time to speak to each other. Well, not that we had any chance to anymore. This fact slowly creeped up to me.

Alice tapped my shoulder with her black Sharpie pen. I looked at her drowsily. "How are you and Edward doing?" she asked, noticing my mood these days.

After discovering Edward's situation, I had begun the act of looking okay with this—even though I would often badger Edward in the dark without Alice knowing.

But the thought I dreaded was here.

I was considering giving up.

"Not good" I admitted. I pursed my lips and looked back at the window. "In fact, we weren't okay from the start."

"What? Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded sympathetically. "And what's wrong with you two?"

"He has this thing with his dad" I stammered. "And I'm scared it's getting worse. I want to help him—I've wanted to help him all this time—but he doesn't want to accept it. H-he's pushing me away… and I can't help but watch from afar…"

"Bella, what exactly is the situation?" she asked, interrupting my quiet breakdown.

I looked at her with pain in my eyes. The cat was out of the bag. "H-he's being beat up by his dad. I think he's relieving his stress by that. And it irritates me that Edward lets him."

"You have to talk to him—once and for all" was Alice's straightforward answer to my problem. "Don't let him walk away knowing that you still have to tell him something."

I stayed silent. Alice was wrong. Talking to him wouldn't solve it. I tried it so many times, always irritating him in the end. Now look what my persistence had gotten me—the non-contact between us.

"Bella?" she shook my shoulder a little. I blinked.

"No" I said. Then I stood up from my chair, making everyone's attention turn to me—including the teacher.

"Miss Swan, is something wrong?" Mister Banner asked, eyeing me suspiciously through his thick glasses.

I walked over to him. "I'm not feeling well" I lied. He nodded then gave me the pass without any further questions. It was obvious I was a wreck.

"Thanks" I mumbled before stepping out of the classroom. I wasn't going to the nurse's office. I was going to find Edward. I knew it was his free period now so I wracked my brain for possible places he could be spending his time in.

GYM… not there

AUDITORIUM… not there either

LIBRARY flashed in my mind and I automatically made a run for it.

There I saw him reading a book—or looking like he was reading it. As expected, he had his phone pressed to his ear. He was speaking to his dad about business, no less. I approached him silently.

"Edward" I croaked, loud enough for him to hear. He smiled when he saw it was me.

"Hey, Bella" he said. Then his brows furrowed. "Uh, aren't you supposed to be in class?"

I held up my hall pass. "I have permission, don't worry" I managed to joke. I sat on the seat across from him. He eyed me suspiciously. "I need to tell you something."

He retracted his phone from his ear and looked at me. He leaned back from his chair. "Shoot" he said skeptically.

I entwined my fingers together and prepared to speak… but his phone rang once more. I sighed. "You should get that. It's probably your dad. I need to return to class anyway…" I stood up from my chair then turned away.

But he grabbed my arm, making me turn around. I looked at his phone and saw that he turned it off. I looked up to his face and saw he was worried. Why was he the one worried? HE was the one being maltreated here!

"You have my attention. Now talk" he said.

I looked at his phone again. "Your dad will be furious" I said, ignoring what he said earlier. "You might get punished."

I had made it, once again, a moment to go into that topic. He let go of my hand. "Bella, don't start" he groaned. This made my blood fume.

"I'm not going to" I said. He looked at me. "I've had it."

His eyes widened a little. Truth be told, I was surprised at myself too. I didn't think I would have the courage to say it—after only saying it in my dreams. "You've had it..?" he echoed. I held up my hands and slowly backed away, silently praying I don't land on my butt.

"I've completely had it" I repeated. Then I turned and ran away.

When the final bell rang, I went straight to my red Chevy truck. I stopped a few feet away from it when I saw Edward leaning on it casually, waiting for me to arrive.

"Edward, why are you still here?" I asked, surprising him. He looked at me. "Shouldn't you be on one of your errands?" I fumbled for my keys from my messenger bag, trying to avoid eye-contact.

"I had to settle something with you" he said matter-of-factly. I looked at him briefly before unlocking the car door. I stepped inside, quickly strapping myself in.

Since my car window was open, Edward touched my hand, the one resting on the steering wheel. I reluctantly looked at him, his smoldering green eyes seeking my face for explanation for my statement back in the library. "I have to get home before Charlie does" I said, breaking the silence.

"I just want to make something clear" he said stubbornly. He put his hand on my cheek, stroking it slightly. I fought the urge not to close my eyes and sigh. I looked at him with my lips pursed. He pursed his lips too, his brows furrowed at the same time. "Did you just break up with me back there?" he asked. His eyes were begging me not to confirm what I did.

I took his hand off my face and smiled. "It was the right thing to do" I said softly.

"The right thing" he said flatly.

"Sorry" was all I could say before I drove out of the parking lot, leaving Edward standing alone.

Only when I got home the tears did start flowing down my face. I immediately made my way to my room and just hid my face in my pillow and sobbed my heart out.

This went on for quite awhile.

I only emerged from my room when I got hungry. And it was the wrong time to feel it because that was when Charlie got home. I swiftly went to the bathroom to wash my flushed face, hoping not to expose what I did all afternoon.

But luck wasn't on my side. Charlie stopped dead when he saw me. He immediately went to my side. "Bells, what's wrong?" my dad wasn't the most emotional, but when it came to me, he completely melts into the perfect dad mode.

"Edward and I broke up" I sobbed into his police uniform. He stiffened.

"He broke up with you..?" he asked, sounding a little angry. I shook my head.

"No" my voice cracked. "I broke up with him."

His hand that was stroking my back stopped for a moment before continuing once more. "I'm sorry about that, kiddo" he said quietly. Then he kissed the top of my head for a few seconds. This was the first time I felt him not hold back. This was the first time he didn't become embarrassed. He showed me how truly concerned he was.

And I liked it.

I needed it now and I was glad he picked the right time to show me how much he cared.

After that day, Edward and I permanently didn't talk to each other. We didn't even say goodbye after our high school graduation. Alice tried to make me take back the words I said to him, but I didn't budge.

We went on our separate ways without patching things up.

In my mind, I felt like a total coward, giving up on him totally right when he needed me most.

But he didn't accept my help. That phrase ran through my brain as a reminder why I did what I did. So I kept convincing myself that I did the right thing… barely

Maybe someone had more power to save him from his dad.

But not knowing how he was taking the abuse sickened me.

For years, my mind debated: did I do the right thing… or did I not? I was completely at war with myself. And I had no clue which side of me was winning. It was always coming to a tie.

****

Five years later

"Alice, I might not be able to come" I said hurriedly into my phone while I tried to balance the files in my hands as I walked towards my cubicle. My phone was pressed between my ear and my shoulder. "Mister Aro is ordering me to finish this story by the end of the day."

"What? But Bella, we've been planning this since Monday!" Alice whined from the other line. It was planned that she'd take me with her for gown shopping. She was going to attend an important company event and it was a given that she'd look her best.

"I know. I'm sorry" I said, quickly plopping the files onto my desk. I sat on my chair and turned off my computer from standby mode. "But I just can't afford to screw this up."

She sighed. "Fine" she surrendered. "Let's just go tomorrow, I guess"

"Thanks" I breathed. I looked at the clock and couldn't help but yelp. I only had three hours left before quitting time. "I gotta go. Bye!"

I sighed then leaned back on my chair. Then I heard a thump. I jumped in surprise then looked up to see Jessica Stanley smirking at me from over her cubicle. "You better start or else, Bella" she joked. I grinned.

"I will, Jess" I said then went on typing my article.

After two and a half hours of typing and looking for grammatical and factual errors, I printed my article then slipped it inside a manila envelope. I grabbed a black marker then labeled it nicely. Jessica poked her head once again. "You done already?" she asked.

I nodded then waved my envelope. "It's right here" I said. Then I looked at my clock. Half an hour left.

I wove my way through the labyrinth-like cubicles, quickly dodging occasional co-workers. Finally, I was in front of Mister Aro's glass office. I knocked on his door and he let me in. he looked up at me. I lifted up my envelope. He nodded then gestured at his desk. I put my article there and excused myself.

When I was out of his office, I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I returned to my cubicle to grab my things and prepare to go home.

New York was in deep contrast with Forks. It was noisy and bright—while Forks was silent and glum. It was a definite change of atmosphere. I thought of being a journalist a good getaway from my past. It kept me busy, making me too preoccupied to think of things I did back in Forks.

I looked up and grinned at the lights. The honking of cars didn't bother me at all. Like I said, it was a good distraction.

It became a habit that after work, I would always head down to Barnes and Noble. Occasionally I would buy books to keep me busy over the weekend… but if I had spare money to spend. Mostly, I would just browse.

I made my way to the bestsellers section—my first stop all the time—and grabbed the first book I saw. A few moments later, I heard an uneasily familiar voice from afar.

"Thank you very much" he said in his velvet voice. I fought the urge to look up, silently begging he wouldn't pick me out from the crowd. I groaned at the realization that there weren't large enough crowds in bookstores to hide people.

I quickly put back the book I was browsing and walked towards the exit, my head bowed down.

Just my luck, I bumped into someone. A man

"Sorry" I mumbled before continuing my dash. But a hand grabbed my arm and stopped me.

"Wait. I know you" he said. I slowly turned around and looked up at him sheepishly. His eyes widened for a moment before they returned to normal size. They then showed my most dreaded emotion: hurt. "B-Bella..?"

I bit my lip. "Hi, Edward" I said. "Long time no see."

He smiled a little. "Uh, yeah" he said awkwardly.

Minutes later, we were sitting across from each other in a nearby Starbucks outlet. To avoid eye-contact, I kept my attention trained on my scalding-hot mint green tea.

He was the one who broke the silence. "How are you?" he asked.

"I'm fine" I said, distracting myself by blowing on my drink. I briefly looked at him. "You..?"

He smiled. "I'm fine, too, I guess" he said. I nodded.

Then I bit my lip. "How's… how's your dad?" I asked.

He shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't know" he said. "I haven't heard from him since I went away for college in Dartmouth."

"So you're not working for his company anymore?" I asked.

Great Bella… just great I scolded myself. You two have only seen again each other and you are already chatting him up about his personal life.

"I quit the moment I graduated" he said. Even without looking at him, I could feel his gaze on me. "So I was grateful I was on a scholarship. I got a part-time job just to have some money to spend"

"That's lucky" I commented. He sighed for no reason. Did I say something wrong?

Quickly, he took my drink away from me and placed it on the table. I looked at him. He looked at me back. "Why don't we go to the park?" he offered suddenly. I mutely nodded.

We sat on a nearby bench in Central Park, him surprisingly holding my hand… like we never separated at all. It was like we were still in our happy phase in our relationship back in high school… right before I knew what was happening to him at home.

Of course I didn't ruin the moment by rejecting this gesture. I missed it as much as he did.

I looked at him as he looked up at the barely-there stars. One of the downsides of living in New York was that we rarely saw stars because of the bright city lights obscuring them. My free hand clenched. I wanted to kiss him so much, and just beg for him to forget what I had done in high school.

But you did the right thing was the genius reply of my brain from the selfish request of my heart. You shouldn't feel guilty.

I closed my eyes and bowed down. Edward put his index finger under my chin and tilted my head back up so I was looking up at him again. His eyes scanned my face. He looked like he was searching for something.

"What is it?" I asked breathily.

"Why…" he started. "Why did you do that?"

"I couldn't bear to see you like that" I said. "Besides, you wouldn't tell me…"

"I told you it wasn't your problem to carry on your shoulders" he interrupted, making him look like the same stubborn eighteen-year-old I knew.

I narrowed my eyes and furrowed my brows. "What was I supposed to do? Just watch you helplessly get abused by your dad? I couldn't have that!"

"Just having you around made me endure it all, Bella" he interjected. Then he shook his head. "Didn't you know that?"

"But having me just there didn't make your problems go away" I argued, taking his finger off my chin. "You didn't expect me to just be clueless, did you?"

He sighed then surprised me by kissing me. My eyes widened incredulously for a moment before I let myself get enveloped into this moment. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him harder and more passionately, missing the touch of his lips on mine.

But he pulled back a second too soon. He looked into my eyes and smirked faintly. "That was enough for me" he said softly.

A tear rolled down my cheek. Edward kissed the salty droplet then pressed his lips against mine once more. While he went on kissing me, more tears flowed down my face. I couldn't help it anymore. As time passed, whimpers began to escape my lips. And then sobs.

When I had enough, I pulled back and turned my head away so that I could wipe my eyes without him looking at me. He put a hand on my shoulder. "J-just give me a minute—please" I hiccupped.

Then my phone rang. I fished it out of my pocket and saw Alice's name flash on the screen. "Hello?" I said, trying my hardest not to make it obvious I was crying. But a whimper and sniffle escaped. Alice went worry-mode.

"Bella, are you okay?!" she trilled. "Where are you?!"

"I-I'm fine" I said. Then I gulped. "I'm with someone."

"Who?"

"Edward" I said simply. That was all it took for Alice to go more ballistic.

"Edward?! What? How..?"

"Sorry" I said before I clicked end. I turned to him. "Sorry, too. I shouldn't have pulled the waterworks on you…"

He wiped my face with his handkerchief. "It's fine" he said. He looked away for a moment before looking back at me. "I should probably take you home." I nodded.

"That would be nice, Edward" I said softly then pulled myself to my feet.

When we arrived at my apartment, I turned to him and said my thanks. He shrugged and prepared to leave. But I couldn't have that. "You should stay for awhile" I offered. He turned back and grinned at me.

"Thanks" he said.

I fished out my keys from my bag and inserted it into the keyhole. The door swung open then I stepped inside, shrugging off my coat as I did.

I left the door open for him to enter after me. Edward closed it behind him.

I went into the kitchen and grabbed a container of leftover pasta. I popped it into the microwave and turned to him. "Want to stay for dinner?" I asked, smiling a bit. I was a little nervous knowing that we were the only ones here.

He nodded. "Sure" he said nonchalantly.

Minutes later, we were sitting across from each other in the dining room, eating our pasta in silence. I avoided eye-contact as possible. I didn't want anything dramatic to happen. I just couldn't handle it anymore.

"It's been so long since we've hung out" he said, breaking the silence. After a moment's pause, he added, "I missed it."

"Me, too" I mumbled. I looked up and saw that he was staring. I caved. "And I feel bad about giving up on you. On us"

He shook his head. "It was my fault. I didn't let you… help"

I leaned a little over the table and placed my hand on his. "Please understand that I didn't want to see you suffer."

He entwined his fingers with mine. He nodded. My heart completely melted when I saw him like an eighteen-year-old again. He looked so… vulnerable. Vulnerable but pretending to be strong for the sake of others

We didn't say anything more—just cleaned up our plates.

And just as I was going to put the last plate in the dish rack, he said, "I still love you, Bella." I stiffened. Slowly I turned my face to him. He wasn't looking at me.

"W-what?" I stammered, putting down the plate on the counter.

He turned then and looked at me with burning eyes. I fought the urge to look away. I stood my ground. Slowly he put his hands on the sides of my face and leaned closer. His lips were mere inches from mine, and I could feel and smell his sweet breath. "I said I still love you" he repeated, his voice raspy.

Then I found my mouth opening. And it began moving. I involuntarily said, "I still love you too."

Then his lips crashed on mine, soft at first then not so soft. This wasn't the way he kissed before. He was so gentle with me then. And now it felt like he was giving off so much passion. It was getting harder for me to breath, but I didn't want to stop.

His tongue licked my bottom lip and I opened my mouth. Our tongues fought with one another. Groans escaped from both of us most of the time. This was a first for me. We never did this before. It was always long but gentle kisses then.

He began to walk, making me stagger backwards until I was pressed onto the wall near the pathway toward the living room. My hands were on his waist, and then his stomach (I forgot how prominent his six abs were), his chest, until they were on his messy bronze hair that I've missed ruffling.

I gasped when his mouth left mine and kissed my neck. He nudged my collar a bit to the side then went to kiss my collar bone. I could tell he truly missed touching me. I felt the same.

"Don't leave me, Bella" he whispered against my collar bone. I opened my eyes slowly and felt myself nod.

"I won't" I whispered back. Then his lips reconnected with mine for one more kiss. When we pulled away from each other, I said, "I thought leaving you would be best for us."

He smirked. Then he stroked my cheek with the back of his hand. "It wasn't" he argued nonchalantly. He looked down at his watch. "I'd better go." I nodded then led him to the door.

With one more kiss, he left. And this time he was going to return. And I was going to let him without the feeling of desperation to help.

We were going to be fine.