I don't own these characters. I make no money from them. I just like to scribble and torment them. This is a one shot, AU, all human, nothing heavy or major or even particularly significant. Just a little "what if?" Rated M for some language.


When they were five he pulled her hair and called her a doo-doo head. She retaliated by kicking him in the shin and calling him a stinky boy. He sulked for seven minutes and then offered her the last cookie in his lunch box. She took it after just enough hesitation to make him worry that she wasn't going to accept his apology, then bestowed on him her gracious forgiveness. Of course, as she was eating the cookie, she told him he was still just a stinky boy.

He retorted that he didn't stink and she informed him that all boys stank. Then she stuck out her tongue. He did the same. Then he grinned. "My name is Edward," he told her.

She paused for a moment and then smiled back. "My name is Bella." Then she leaned forward and said in a conspiratorial whisper, "You don't stink as bad as the other boys."

And from that moment on they were best friends.


When they were seven a boy named Mike told her she was ugly. She cried for a moment and then found Edward on the swing set. She told him what the other boy had said. Edward frowned as he searched for the boy and finally found him by the slide. He pushed Mike to the ground and told him to take it back.

Mike decided that he wasn't going to and said so. Edward kicked him in the shins, having learned from Bella just how much that hurt. Mike started to cry and Bella felt bad, so she comforted Mike and then glared at Edward.

Edward was confused and told Bella she was nothing but a silly girl. Bella called him stinky boy. Then Mike called him stinky boy and Bella kicked Mike in the shins.

Edward laughed. Mike cried. And Bella rolled her eyes at both of them and stomped away.


When they were ten Bella fell out of a tree at Edward's house and broke her arm. Edward jumped out of the tree behind her, landing a foot away from her. "I'm so sorry, Bella," he whispered and he was surprised to find himself crying. He wiped the tears away with an angry hand. "Can you walk?" he asked, ready to help her to her feet.

Bella thought about it for a moment and then shook her head. Edward nodded as if he expected that. The arm did look pretty bad, from what he could see. It was already swelling and starting to turn a dusky color. "Don't move!" he ordered. His father was a doctor and he had learned that much. "I'm gonna go get help."

By that time, Bella was crying too – in earnest. So Edward patted her on the head, just like his grandpa did to him, and ran back to the house. A few minutes later he returned with his father and mother. Dr. Cullen picked up Bella and carried her back to the house, where he called her parents.

They all decided to meet at the hospital and Bella got a pretty purple cast. Edward was the first person to sign it. His brother Emmett teased him and told him he should have put "Love, Edward" on it so Edward punched his brother in the stomach.

He got in trouble for it and had to go to bed without any television that night. As far as Edward was concerned, it was totally worth it.


When they were twelve, Bella fell in love for the first time. And it wasn't with Edward. She confessed her feelings to Edward one night when they were playing Scrabble (which Bella always won). Edward had wanted to play chess (which he always won) but Bella had beaten him in arm-wrestling and won the right to choose the game.

Edward was still sulking about it when she blurted out, "I think I'm in love with David Maykoff."

He stared at her for a moment, wondering who she was and who had kidnapped his best friend and substituted this…girl for Bella Swan. "What? You're in what with who?"

"David Maykoff, the guy with blond hair and dreamy blue eyes," Bella replied nonchalantly, looking at her letter tiles. "I'm in love with him."

"He's an ass," Edward muttered.

"I'm telling your mom you said a bad word," Bella threatened. "And besides, he isn't."

"He isn't what?" Edward asked with a smirk.

"He isn't what you said," Bella snapped.

"I don't remember what I said," Edward mocked. "Maybe you should refresh my memory."

Bella heaved a sigh of exasperation and rolled her eyes at him. "He isn't an ass," she clarified.

"I'm telling your dad you said ass," Edward retorted with a grin.

"You're the ass, Edward Cullen," Bella said with narrowed eyes.

Edward just shrugged, though his lips were pressed together. He didn't care what Bella said, David Maykoff was an ass – and Bella could do much, much better.


When they were fifteen Edward asked Jessica Stanley to the freshman dance. When he told Bella, he was surprised when she gave him a huff of displeasure and turned around and walked away. He stared after her, wondering what the hell he had done wrong. Bella didn't speak to him for three days and Edward remained puzzled as to the reason.

Finally, he broke down and told his mother what happened. She smiled and brushed back his hair. When he asked her what she was smiling about, she just laughed and said, "Oh nothing that would make sense right now, so let's just drop it." Then she kissed him and Edward was really grateful that no one else was around because he'd never live it down, especially if Emmett saw that kiss. He'd be calling Edward "Mama's Boy" for the rest of eternity.

After his mom turned away (still smiling, he'd never figure girls out, their brains just worked differently, he didn't care what anyone said), Edward wanted to wipe her kiss away but he figured that was a little childish. Besides, he didn't mind it too much.

Then he realized he still didn't know what he had done to make Bella so mad. Girls, he thought with a snort. But at least she couldn't beat him at arm-wrestling anymore, he thought with smug satisfaction.


When they were sixteen, Bella told Edward that she thought the new boy, Jasper Whitlock was "hot." Edward proceeded to point out all his faults – his legs were too long, his hair was too blond, his eyes were too blue (and what was up with Bella and blue-eyed blondes, he wanted to know), and his accent was stupid.

Bella sighed and rolled her eyes (she did that a lot, he noticed) and told him he was a stupid, jealous prick. For some reason, hearing her say that word made him feel weird and something in his stomach clenched. That made him angry and something else he couldn't quite identify, so he pulled her close and pressed a quick, hard kiss to her lips.

Her mouth softened beneath his for just a moment and then she was pushing him away and jumping to her feet, muttering under her breath that boys were stupid assholes and she'd never figure them out.

Edward knew how she felt.


When they were eighteen they stared at each other, both of them dressed in hideous yellow graduation gowns. "So," Bella said. "You're going to Europe for the summer."

Edward stared at her in bewilderment, looking over her shoulder for his girlfriend. "Uh yeah, you knew that Bells." He was distracted. He had told Bella right after he and Sarah started doing "it." She told him that was gross and she didn't want details. Strangely, he didn't want to give details. So they never talked about him doing it with Sarah Morgan. And right now he was looking for Sarah so they could sneak off and do it again.

"Yeah, yeah," she agreed. She opened her mouth, looking nervous, which surprised Edward. She was never nervous around him, well except that time she had gotten her period at his house and didn't have anything with her. She had blushed red enough to masquerade as a fire engine until he had figured out enough to leave her the hell alone and get his mother. He snorted at the memory, but wasn't about to bring it up. She had informed him quite clearly that that story was in the "completely off-limits stories of Bella" category.

"What?" he asked. "What's wrong?" Bella bit her lower lip and Edward brushed his thumb along her cheek. "What's wrong, Bella?"

"See, Edward," Bella took a deep breath. "The thing is that I… Well I feel…more…" She blushed furiously. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel-"

Just then Sarah threw her arms around Edward's waist and kissed him loudly on the cheek. "You ready to get out of here, baby?" She looked at Bella and gave a slight smirk. "Hey, Bella, you look…great."

Bella gave them both a sick smile. "Wait, Bella," Edward said. "You were saying?"

"Just saying that I felt…uh sick," she answered quickly. "Better go, see you later."


When they were twenty-one they ran into each other in a bar in Seattle. "Oh my God!" Edward said with a whoop of joy. "I can't believe it's you!" He hugged her close and twirled her around in a circle. "It's been for fucking ever!"

Bella laughed, though she was somewhat unsteady on her feet. "Hey, Edward," she said quietly. "Yeah…it's been a while."

"So, what have you been up to?" Edward asked. He vaguely remembered his mother mentioning Bella during his last phone call home, but then he had been distracted by his buddies calling him to play Guitar Hero and quickly ended the conversation.

She held up her hand and wriggled in front of him. Her left hand. "Well," she said shyly. "I got engaged."

For some reason, Edward felt like he had been punched in the gut. "No shit?" He pasted a grin on his face and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "That's just great. Really. Congratulations."

He wondered why the words made his throat tighten. So his reaction was to distance himself. He ran his fingers through his hair. "Listen, it was great to see you again, Bella!" He turned and looked over his shoulder. "But I've got to run. Congrats, again. Really."

Really. He had said it twice, who was he trying to convince? Another swift kiss to Bella's cheek and he turned and walked away, unsure why he felt so…sad.


When he was twenty-two, he returned home for a visit. In two weeks he was set to start his job. It was just an entry level position with an architecture firm that he could do while getting some more education under his belt, but he had hopes it would lead to something bigger eventually. Besides, as his boss told him, he had a real knack for it. There was nothing more satisfying than seeing something real and tangible take form where there had been nothing before. The next few years would be incredibly hectic and fast-paced, and he wanted to take some time to be with his family.

It was Sunday morning and he was sitting down to breakfast with his brother and parents. Emmett had gotten engaged the night before and it just enough to make Edward ask his mother a question. "I never got an invite to Bella's wedding," he said. "Did I get left off the guest list or something?" He smirked, even though he felt a little ashamed that he had not been better at keeping in touch with her. They had shared everything for so long, but the last time he had talked to her had been in Seattle – a year ago.

He was a shitty friend.

Then he noticed his mother glance at his father. It was one of those looks and he was immediately curious. "What?"

Emmett snorted. "You mean you didn't hear?"

"Hear what?" Edward was starting to get pissed off.

"The wedding got called off," Emmett replied with a grin, as if the news pleased him.

"Oh." Edward found himself torn between a fierce, unexpected joy and the desire to pummel the unknown, prospective bridegroom into the ground. "What happened?"

Emmett shrugged. "No idea really," he said. "It just sort of…didn't happen."

Edward looked at his mom. Esme shrugged and that weird smile she sometimes got tugged at her lips. "Maybe he just wasn't the one for Bella," she said softly and then deftly changed the subject.

Huh. So Bella wasn't married.


When he was twenty-five, Edward almost proposed to the woman he had been seeing for two years. Almost. She was perfect for him. She was beautiful and smart and sexy and had a great career. Her parents loved him and he respected them. Her little sister had sort of a crush on him and her big brother thought he was an all right guy.

He even looked at rings – and his calendar to see when they might possibly hold a wedding that could accommodate two large families. And yet…

The more he thought about it, the more anxious he got. He just couldn't bring himself to buy the ring he had picked out, though there was no doubt it was perfect for her, large and flashy, yet elegant too. It would have been the perfect ring for a woman like Marissa. Absolutely perfect.

He almost bought the ring. Almost.


When he was twenty-six, he returned home to Forks. His life had been busy but lonely. Since he and Marissa had broken up a year ago, he had given up on dating. Edward had kind of accepted that he'd never find his "one" and had finally gotten resigned to that fact. He loved his job, of course, and he had a wonderful family.

And if he was sometimes lonely, well, he was still luckier than a lot of people. Still, he wanted to reconnect with his family and feel like he was a part of something. In fact, he wanted to feel that more often, so he was considering a change in his life – maybe moving closer to home.

He had a niece now, who was just two months old and he found, to his surprise, that he actually liked babies. They were small and cuddly, and usually smelled good and when they didn't there was always a father or mother or grandma to fix that. Yes, he was enjoying his visit.

Then one day, he found himself at the tree where Bella had fallen and broken her arm. He remembered how scared he had been and how fast he had run back home to get his father. Bella had cried and he remembered how helpless that had made him feel.

"It hurt like hell you know." He knew that voice, knew the gentle laughter in it better than his own voice. Somehow it seemed right that she would be there. Now. With him. Weird, but true.

He turned and smiled and there she was – at last. "What did?"

"When I fell and broke my arm," Bella replied with a smile. She looked good. Hell, she looked great. The pretty girl had grown into a breathtakingly beautiful woman. Her hair was still long, but layered now. She still didn't wear much make-up, but she didn't need to, Edward conceded. "You ran and got help," she added. "You saved me."

"Hardly," Edward snorted. "I was scared shitless, if you must know."

"I know," she replied gently. "Even then I knew what made you tick."

They were silent for a moment and it should have been uncomfortable, but it wasn't. The long years of friendship had created bonds that were not easily undone. The threads that intertwined their lives together were as strong and lasting as they were fragile. A dichotomy that was somehow eminently reasonable.

"I hear you're thinking about relocating closer to home," she said.

"How'd you hear that?" he asked curiously. No one knew that except his family.

"Esme," Bella answered.

"You talk often?" That was surprising; his mother never mentioned it. Then he remembered that smile his mother sometimes had. Sneaky.

"Yes," Bella answered. "Quite often."

"So what are you up to now?" Edward asked.

"I'm a teacher, middle school English," she replied.

"Oh God, I'm so sorry," Edward laughed. "You know they're nothing more than walking hormones at that age, don't you?"

"Yeah, I sort of got that when I started teaching," Bella teased. "But I like it. It's rewarding…and most of they are really great. They just need to figure some things out. That's all."

Edward looked at her and felt something tight and clenched inside of him loosen. "Yeah," he said softly. "I know how they feel."