Author's Chapter Notes:

Hello!? Is there anyone there? I'd be genuinely surprised if even half of you are.

Welcome back and thank you for sticking with me. I hope you all got the teaser during the week!

We've been here before, in this little situ, and once again I can only apologise. This fic takes a lot out of me to write, and while a lot of other authors are writing better, and worse in shorter times, I am doing my utmost to finish this for you guys.

You are ALL amazing, humbling and encouraging and I love you all individually for the patience you've shown me over the last few years.

I disclaim.

Chapter 50 – Just a Phone Call Away

So lately, been wonderin'
Who will be there to take my place?
When I'm gone, you'll need love,
To light the shadows on your face

If a great wave should fall
It would fall upon us all
And between the sand and stone
Could you make it on your own?

If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

And maybe, I'll work out
The way to make it back someday
To watch you, to guide you
Through the darkest of your days

If a great wave should fall
It would fall upon us all
Well I hope there's someone out there
Who can bring me back to you

Cause if I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

Runaway with my heart
Runaway with my hope
Runaway with my love

I know now, just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart and your mind
I'll stay with you for all of time

If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I'll go wherever you will go

If I could make you mine
I'll go wherever you will go
If I could turn back time
I'll go wherever you will go

The Calling – Wherever You Will Go

Bella POV: Now

Things were so different since I'd broken up with Edward. Weeks had gone by, but I'd yet to really sink into my new routine and life without him. We didn't drive to school together, we wouldn't whisper in class when the teacher wasn't paying attention. He wasn't walking me from class to class, holding my hand and making up silly stories about what Lauren and Jessica had spent their weekend doing. At lunch, we no longer sat beside one another but across, with the cheap plastic table acting as a physical barrier between us.

There were no nightly phone calls, no texts, no sneaking into my room in the middle of the night just so he could hold me as we slept. There were no little surprise gifts waiting anywhere, no sweet little notes and certainly no talk of us spending time together.

I was spending more and more time with Rose, with Alice even joining us on occasion. It was them I spent the afternoon filling college applications out with. It was them I went shopping for a graduation outfit with. It was them I spilled my heart to when it was just too tough to carry on in silence.

I got a shock the day I spoke to Edward out in the quad. It was obvious I had completely misconstrued Alice's words – hearing only what I wanted to hear.

"Things are better at home…"

I'd taken it as "Edward is getting better," but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was definitely not what she'd said. I was hearing things, thinking wishfully that things were getting better, that he was getting better.

Both Charlie and my shrink suggested maybe it was because I needed to feel justified in my breaking up with him. I had done it so he could concentrate on getting better, on remembering and being whole again. If Alice had come to me each day and told me what was really going on, I wasn't sure I'd have been able to stay away.

But that was the thing, staying away completely didn't seem like the right thing anymore. How could I justify tearing the one thing that was real away from him while telling him he wouldn't get it back until he was better? He'd always said I made things better, that being with me was the only thing that made sense.

Of course, that was before he found out I'd been lying to him too, but something in his eyes told me maybe if he had something – even a little something – that it would make his days more bearable.

We could all see it. He was completely withdrawn and exhausted. His skin no longer held the healthy glow it used to, his eyes no longer sparkled and his whole persona was defeated.

I knew enough to realize it was the drugs Kate had him on. Alice told me how he'd refused at first – that he wanted to know he was strong enough to fight it on his own, but sadly, he didn't seem able. Then he wanted off them because he didn't want to be spaced out – something about me speaking to him in class and he hadn't even noticed.

It hurt, and it ached, but I'd rather have known the truth than have been kept in the dark. Alice did her best not to talk about him too much, all of us wanting our girl time to be exactly that.

We'd built bridges of sorts, getting over our differences and petty quarrels from before, and I found I quite enjoyed having both her and Rose around on a daily basis. We were getting closer and stronger as a group over the weeks, and I knew when the time came to move for college, I'd miss them.

Edward's little speech about not knowing where his future lay, and knowing that mine was going in a different direction, was the proverbial straw. It hadn't crossed my mind that Alice wasn't doing the same for him as she was with me with information on each other.

He had no idea what my plans were, how I was, how I was coping with schoolwork or even what I did with myself in the time I now had unoccupied – time, I would have spent with him.

I'd wanted to break down and cry, hug him to me as tightly as I could and tell him that I wasn't going anywhere, that it wasn't important if he didn't go to college right away because I'd be stuck here too. It didn't occur to me that in the weeks we'd been apart, no one had filled him in on my situation.

My mother was in a mental institution getting the help she so desperately needed. I hadn't seen her since the night he'd stormed out of my house. He didn't know that my dreams of going to any college were taken with both of them that same day.

Our savings were gone. I'd applied for scholarships of course, but I wasn't holding my breath. There were so many people out there that needed the help, that were more intelligent or talented than I was, and I didn't begrudge them that. If I had to stay at home, work shitty jobs and save for years, then I would.

Rose had always planned on staying in Forks until she had enough money to open up a garage in Seattle, but with news of Emmett's football scholarship to Florida being a done deal, she decided she wanted to go with him. Of course, daddy Hale was a wealthy man, so Rose didn't need to worry about moving to the other side of the country without any job prospects.

I was excited for her, and I could tell Alice was too, secure in the knowledge that her and Jasper had a year of school left before they had to make their choices about college.

I couldn't help but feel alone and jealous. I was on course to graduate along with the seniors, but I had no prospects of jetting off somewhere like Emmett and Rosalie, and I was lucky if I heard back from the diner after handing in a job application.

I tried to not let it get to me, knowing there was nothing that could be done, knowing that crossing my fingers for a scholarship was the best that I could do, but there were still days it all caught up to me and I couldn't help but feel like the odd one out.

All that changed when Edward told me the truth. I wanted to grab him and never let him go when his scratchy, unused voice reached my ears that day.

"Things aren't getting better, Bella. Carlisle might want me to go to college, but I know I'm not going to make it. I thought I could get better, for you, but I'm so far under I can't even see the top."

He wasn't going to college. I wasn't sure if he'd applied or just not bothered at all, but I couldn't bring myself to ask. There was still a possibility that he went, and it only solidified his reasoning that our futures no longer laid side by side.

And it was my fault.

I sat staring at my ceiling, listening to the storm raging outside, whipping the branches of the tree outside my room onto my window. I could hear the rain lashing down on the roof above my head, hearing the seldom splash as a car slowly edged down the road in the low invisibility.

I heard Charlie get in, but I didn't move from where I'd stretched out diagonally on my bed. I listened as he checked the ground floor of the house for any sign of me before he set down his things and made his way up the stairs.

I pretended to be asleep when a light knock sounded at my door. I slowed my breathing and kept my eyes tightly closed as Charlie pushed the door gently open and slipped into my darkened room. I hadn't bothered putting the lights on when the daylight disappeared outside, instead letting the darkness envelope me and cocoon me in silence.

I knew where he'd been, but I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to hear how she was doing, what she was saying, how she was settling in. I didn't want to have yet another conversation with him about not going to see her. I didn't want to justify the dread I felt about seeing her again, about not wanting to visit my own mother when she was clearly unwell. I didn't want to voice the hatred I still harbored over what she'd done.

He sat down on the edge of my bed, causing my body to roll slightly as the mattress dipped, but I kept up my charade. Sighing gently, he brushed the hair from my forehead and leaned down to kiss the cleared area. Tears pricked at my eyes and I prayed none would slip out from under my shut lids and alert him to my non-sleeping state.

We'd barely spoken in the weeks since Edward's return. He'd taken to inviting Jake and Billy around nearly every night of the week, hoping Jake would be able to make me feel better. He did, and I was grateful to my dad for worrying about me, but I just didn't feel like talking about any of it.

Charlie knew Edward and I were no longer together, and that it had been my choice to break up. He knew how Edward was getting on, because I learned he and Carlisle were becoming somewhat closer as friends. Knowing what Carlisle was going through, I was happy that both Charlie and Billy had accepted him into their little group.

I just couldn't bring myself to have to face it every day. The conversations about Renee, about not going to college, about Edward not getting any better, about the ache that increased every hour of every day I was away from him, about my job at the diner in town.

I spoke to Rose on the occasions she physically manhandled it out of me, but apart from then, I kept it all to myself. I wasn't denying any of it was happening, and while I was sort of bottling it up, it wasn't the same as before. I was talking to Charlie, and to Rose, and Jasper, and Jake and Alice, just not about the important life-altering things.

I still held meaningless conversations with my friends. I still spoke to Angela about our upcoming exams, I still studied as hard as I ever had for them, kept on top of my schoolwork, and even did more around the house than I used to, but I didn't want to talk about any of the other stuff.

After weeks of this being apparent, everyone had stopped expecting me to, and had stopped trying to coax it out of me.

They'd also stopped tiptoeing around me, for which I was grateful. The week of Edward's departure, and the week after when he was missing from school, they'd all clammed up on the subject. If his name was accidentally mentioned around me, the whole conversation would freeze until someone shifted it onto a "safer" topic.

It was no longer like that. Edward was front and centre in my mind all day; he sat beside me in class, behind me in others, across from me in English and was a main player in my group of friends. There was no getting away from him, and if I was being truthful, I had never been more thankful for that. I didn't have to pretend to look at something else while actually looking for him in the cafeteria because he was right there and I could stare at him as much as I wanted.

In biology I could admire his arms and his long fingers as they gripped his pen from the corner of my eye, safe in the knowledge that he was right by my side should I unexpectedly need him. I could hear his voice every day, on the good days when he offered up bits of the conversation, and most of all I knew he was always in touching distance should it get inexplicably harder to stay away from him.

I fought that urge the most. Every time I saw him I wanted to throw my arms around his neck and hug him tightly, or fuse my lips to his and forget about the world, or even something as simple as running my fingers through his growing hair or interlocking them with his.

I didn't do any of that, instead I watched him as he came out of his shell more, ate more at lunch and offered up more in class when the teacher actually spoke to him. He might have argued he wasn't getting any better, but as someone who knew him better than anyone, I could see the minute changes occurring before my eyes.

Some days, those changes made the ache in my chest lessen just a fraction. Some days I found I was actually capable of smiling. The best day, was the day I'd followed him out onto the quad and listened as he'd pushed all of his worries and concerns out into the air between us. That day we even managed to joke. That was the day we decided we could try to be friends.

Charlie leaving the room again brought me out of my thoughts, and I listened carefully for him making his way back down into the kitchen. When his steps paused I knew he'd found the pot of soup and the homemade bread I'd left out for him for his dinner. He knew I wasn't ready to talk, but he knew I hadn't disappeared on him again. I was still there, still me. Still hurting, but still fighting just to get through each day.

My phone buzzed quietly from somewhere beside my ear and I rolled over, searching blindly on top of the covers for the little device. The screen lit up as I flipped it open, and everything around me just seemed to pause. I could no longer hear my dad or even the storm.

Edward had sent me a text.

My hands started to tremble as I remembered the last texts I had received from him. Sure enough, they were still there, three separate little bubbles of text one after the other.

I miss you.

I love you.

I'm sorry.

The newest one sat there underneath them, all innocent and innocuous. Just my name with a question mark, as if he wasn't sure that was still my number. Granted, I could have changed it, so maybe he really was that unsure, but something told me he had no idea how else to start up a conversation, and giving the way I'd ended things and avoided him for weeks, I couldn't exactly blame him.

It had been four days since our talk in the quad. I had spent my weekend in Port Angeles with Rose, first on Saturday shopping for a graduation dress, and again on Sunday with Alice too, both of them just spending an obscene amount of money on whatever grabbed their attention.

Alice said she just wanted to get out of the house. I was too chicken to ask her why. Rose never needed a reason to spend money. I was treated to lunch and we even had our nails done in a salon owned by one of Rose's aunts.

Edward hadn't come back to school after the weekend, and I knew it was because he was having a bad day. I hardly saw Alice all day, so I didn't get to act on my new resolution to ask her how he was doing as often as I could.

But he was reaching out. He initiated our "friends" relationship by sending me a seemingly random text, but if he was having a bad day, then it was obvious it meant far more to him than that if he got a reply. My fingers could barely hit the right keys as I replied.

That's me. Everything okay? B x

I felt like face-palming myself, but what else could I ask? I knew things weren't okay, but he wouldn't know I cared one way or the other if I didn't ask in the first place.

My phone chimed again mere seconds later.

Would it be okay if I called you? E

And then again, signalling the arrival of another one.

Friends call each other, right? I don't know anymore… E

Even in his simple texts I could feel his confusion and heartache, and it made the pain in my chest intensify. Instead of thinking about the consequences or texting him an answer, I let my thumb hover over his name before pressing the call button.

It only rang two times before he picked it up.

"Hey," he whispered, his voice hoarse.

My throat completely closed over at the sound of his broken voice and the silence amplified the beating of my heart in my chest.

"Bella?" he asked, concern taking over in his tone, giving me the push I needed to actually answer him.

"Hi…" I sounded pathetic, but I had no idea how unprepared I was for so simple a thing as a phone call until it was happening.

His answering sigh let me know that even my pathetic greeting was enough. It helped ease the pain slightly, knowing that even the sound of my voice seemed to make whatever he was going through even a little more bearable.

"You're not busy are you?"

I held back the laugh that wanted to bubble out of me. Since I'd cut him out of my life, I'd barely been able to fill up the hours in my day.

"Oh, you know. Lying in the dark contemplating life…" I wanted to face-palm so badly, but held it back and bit my tongue. I wasn't quite sure how Edward would take such a strange answer.

When there was no answer, I whispered his name into the darkness, relishing the way my skin tingled and my mouth dried up at the mere mention of his name after so long.

"Tell me," I whispered, no longer afraid to hear just exactly what he was going through. If either of us was going to make it out the other side, we'd need to be strong enough to face things head on.

"Every time I close my eyes I have a nightmare. It's usually the same one…my crash, only you're in the car, too, and no matter what I do, I can't get you out in time. I can't close my eyes without hearing you screaming, I can't sleep without waking up screaming myself. Kate says I need to feel it, but there's only so many times I can handle the thought of you dying only to wake up and realize it didn't happen, Bella."

Tears were streaming down my face, but I silently wiped them away, not wanting to alert him to how much his pain hurt me too.

"I'm right here, Edward. I didn't die, and I don't plan on it either."

"I know that, Bella, but waking up and realizing I don't have you anyway is just as painful."

My heart clenched in my chest and my breath caught in my throat.

"Fuck, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that, I don't want to make you feel sad or guilty or anything, I promise I wouldn't do that to you again."

Again. The word hung in the air in front of me, but I knew that he wasn't ready to talk about the night he walked out on me, about everything he learned and realized.

"I want you to call me. Every time you go to bed, or every time you wake up and I'm not there, Edward, I want you to pick up the phone and dial my number. I'll answer it, always, if it's the only way I can help you through this, I'll do it."

"Bella…" he sighed and I could hear the same emotions weaving through his voice as I used to when we were together. It made my heart clench again.

"Will you be in school tomorrow?"

"I don't know. I have to take each day as it comes now, Bella. Things might be better in the morning, but they could be worse."

"What is worse?" I asked, needing to know what he was going through.

"Some mornings I can't get out of bed. Like, I physically can't get my body to move. Sometimes I can't hear over the rushing in my ears, sometimes I can't see properly, imagining that a non-existent darkness is closing over me, taking everything away from me. Sometimes Kate tells me of things I can't remember doing. I threw Emmett's cell through a vase in the hall yesterday, I don't remember it at all."

I closed my eyes and let the tears fall, not being able to imagine just how much he was suffering despite him describing the least of it. He'd told me as much that day in the quad, about why he was on medication and why he didn't want to be, but as I lay in the darkness myself, his words seemed to finally hit home. He was supposed to be getting better, but I didn't understand why he seemed to be getting worse.

"Kate says it was lying dormant, that because I ran away and hid from it all the first time, it's manifested itself into full-blown depression. I didn't understand it either, Bella, but she is trying to help me."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean…"

"I know. No one has ever asked me what it feels like before…except Kate. Thank you for caring enough."

"They all care, Edward, they're probably just afraid to make you go through it all over and over," I answered him, feeling the need to stick up for his family.

"Can we talk about you?"

"Oh…well…" I stumbled over my words, not expecting the change in conversation, nor knowing what to say that would be the least bit interesting.

"Anything, Bella, I just want to hear your voice," came his soft answer, making my heart squeeze uncomfortably in my chest once again.

"I…I got my full time shifts from the diner today…they've got me working 3 days and 3 nights a week with Saturdays off…I guess that's not too bad. It'll be okay over summer, with everyone still here…but I guess it'll be pretty quiet when everyone leaves at the start of next term…"

Rachel, the manageress at the diner had told me earlier that day that she would try and keep me on even after the summer when it would be quieter, so I wasn't too concerned with having to look for another job.

"I might just see how the summer goes. I can always look for something else in September…"

"Wait…" Edward interrupted my rambling. "Why would you still be working here in September anyway? Even from Seattle, it's a four hour drive just to come back for a weekend job, Bella, you shouldn't put yourself through that. You might want your free time for something else…"

I clamped my lip between my teeth and gulped as quietly as I could. Edward didn't know I wasn't going off to college. He had no idea about anything that was happening in my life and I'd just walked us right into it with a seemingly safe topic.

"Bella…" his voice was firmer now, needing an answer.

"I…Edward I'm not going to college…"

"What…no…you…you said you were going to graduate early! Bella you have to…you can't throw your life away by staying here…"

"I don't have much of a choice, Edward," I replied tiredly.

"Bella, you're the smartest girl I know…any college would snap you up in a second, please, you can't stay here…"

"What, because you are?" I asked angrily, annoyed that perhaps he thought I was staying because of him.

"Bella, this isn't about me. I mean, it's not about me, right?"

I rolled my eyes, of course he wasn't thinking of himself before I mentioned it.

"No, Edward, as far as I knew, you were still going to college until you told me you might not…"

"Then…why? I can't bear the thought of you not living your life, Bella…"

"I can't afford it, Edward, okay? Not all of us have millions in a trust fund! We don't all have rich father's that send us an obscene amount of money on our birthday's every year or a super intelligent doctor dad who works every day of his life to do the best by his three kids!"

I took a deep breath and realized what I'd said, cursing myself for letting my thoughts run away with me.

"Edward, I'm sorry, I…"

"I…I don't understand."

"I'm sorry I said all that, please, I was angry."

"Kate wants me to get a handle on everything before we start going over the things I forgot…I'm sorry, Bella."

"No. What the hell are you apologizing for? God, Edward, just ignore me, please."

"Trust me, I've come to learn that that is impossible," he murmured so lowly I was sure he didn't mean for me to hear it.

"I don't understand though, didn't you always want to go to college? Your dad even mentioned it; he wouldn't have done that if he couldn't afford to send you...what happened?"

"I don't…please; I don't want to talk about it."

But of course, that wasn't enough. He was focusing on me now, probably to try and forget about how he was feeling, and he knew me better than anyone.

"Bella, what happened?" he almost demanded.

"Renee…she's in a long term psychiatric unit on the edge of the state. Probably the best our money could afford her. Charlie had to choose between getting his wife back and sending his daughter to college. If it had been you, I would have made the same decision. The money is gone, Edward," I answered in a monotone voice, not really feeling the words I was saying.

The silence on the other end of the line caused the emotions I was trying to suppress to bubble up. A single hiccup escaped before I could control it, and the dam burst. I could hear Edward's voice on the other end telling me I was okay, that everything would work out, that Charlie loved me more than anything and that it must have been the hardest decision he'd ever made.

I knew all that, but it didn't make it any harder to come to terms with.

"My mother is insane, Edward. What does that say about me? What if I turn out like her? What if I can never work my way out of this back-end town and get stuck like she did? What if I turn out like Charlie? Alone and barely living from day-to-day?"

My voice was becoming hysterical, and at the back of my mind I thought about hanging up, that offloading all of this onto Edward of all people was a bad idea. I felt ashamed for breaking down when I knew he was going through much worse.

"None of that is going to happen, Bella. I promise."

"You don't know that."

"Yes. I do. You are the smartest, strongest, kindest and hardest working girl I've ever met. I know that if you have to work four jobs a week just to make it, you will. I know that you'll go to college and live the life you've always wanted to, and I know that you'll never accept help even if you might need it because I know how stubborn you are."

I giggled lightly, thanking him for helping me overcome my hysterics.

"I also know that you'll never be alone, Bella. It's impossible not to love you, trust me."

A whimper escaped my mouth before I clamped my lips together.

"Tell me you believe me, Bella. You'll never be any of those things."

"I believe you."

And just like that, my chest felt lighter.

"I'm sorry about your mom, Bella. She's still in there somewhere. I have to believe that, too, because if she's not, then there's no hope for me either."

"Edward…I know you're in there, you're talking to me right now. Nothing is stronger than your will to get better, you're fighting it will only make you stronger."

"Isn't that a Kelly Clarkson song?" he asked with slight humour lacing his tone.

"No, that's 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'" I laughed back.

There was silence except for our breathing until I spoke again.

"If you remember that I know you're in there, that I can recognise that you're still here, then maybe you'll remember that you can do this. You've just spent the last twenty minutes assuring me of all the things I'm capable of, if it takes me twenty years to return the favour, I'll do it."

"Friends?" he asked quietly.

"Friends." I reiterated.

We spent the rest of the night talking about the weather, the news, and even Emmett's tux for Prom. I thought it was all relatively safe until Edward went quiet again, and without asking him I knew what was bothering him. If we'd still been together, and if he was well, he'd have been going to prom, and I'd have been going with him. I wanted to tell him that there'd be other opportunities for us to dance together with our friends, but the words lodged themselves in my throat, as if telling me they were a lie.

Instead I changed the subject and I rambled until the sound of his soft breathing filtered down the line to me. I changed into my pyjamas and crawled into bed with the phone still lying beside me on the pillow, Edward sleeping on the other end.

He didn't have a nightmare that night, and when I pulled my truck into the school parking-lot, Edward's car was parked under the trees, and he was leaning against the trunk with his legs crossed in front of him and his sunglasses shielding his eyes.

I smiled to myself when I saw him, and I was sure he nodded in my direction, as if we both knew that maybe our conversation the night before had managed to get us both out of bed with renewed conviction that morning.

I could feel him watching me all the way until the bell sounded as Angela chatted my ear off about her weekend with Ben. I could have even sworn that he smiled faintly when his brother clapped him on the back and said something into his ear. The blush that flamed over my face when I caught Emmett's eye told me it was something about me.

If it had Edward trying to smile, I told myself I didn't care.

That day at lunch, Edward spoke for the first time in weeks, and while the whole table sat in almost shock, I covered up the silence myself, receiving a grateful look from Edward.

I decided then and there, that in the remaining time we had left of school, I'd try my hardest to get Edward back to the boy I loved, and that our friends were all going to help too.

Author's Chapter End Notes:

I didn't reply to anyone's reviews to the last chapter, and I apologise for that, I am completely out of touch with the fanfic world when I'm at uni. I am at home relaxing for a few weeks, though, so I promise to try and get back to everyone this time around! Just remember to sign in if you want a reply!

Please review, let me know that you're still out there!

Thank you again, and I WILL see you soon