A/N: This outtake was purchased by Team MVF during the Fandom Gives Back charity auction. You can thank them by reading some of the awesome stuff they have over on the My Vamp Fiction archive.
This is Edward's POV of the last chapter of the story. I hope you'll enjoy a little glimpse into his slightly neurotic mind.
Thanks to juliebutterfly, Chele681 and Sweet Dulcinea for pre-reading. This isn't betaed, so I apologize in advance for any typos etc.
All copyrighted and trademarked items mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
I stood in the corner of the cramped elevator that was taking us to our final New Year's Eve destination, while covertly (or so I thought) staring at Bella's reflection in the mirrored panels.
The wavy, dark hair that was visible from beneath her furry black hat rested softly on her shoulders. Her full lips were the most enthralling shade of pink that I had ever seen on a girl who wasn't wearing any lip gloss. She was nearly inhumanly pale and her porcelain skin was almost irresistible to touch. Her eyes were melted chocolate. Her cheeks were rose petals. And I had obviously turned into Lord fucking Byron.
The weirdest thing about this whole epic weirdfest of a night (and there were many obvious things to choose from), had to be the fact that I wasn't completely repelled by Bella. I had seen her probably a dozen times in my Great Female Writers of the Twentieth Century class, and never once felt anything but annoyance towards her. I usually found her too opinionated and vocal during lectures. Not that I had anything against opinionated women, but Bella could be a little scary when she got passionate about something. After knowing her for a couple of hours I actually thought that I might look more kindly upon her fierce monologues if I could see the fire burning in her eyes from up close.
Yes, after only a few short hours she had me completely enraptured. With every challenge, comeback and thinly veiled insult, I found myself begrudgingly liking her a little bit more. She was definitely a handful, but I had never been so intrigued by a female. Whoever said brains aren't sexy?
I continued to examine Bella's features as we ascended to the top floor and noticed that she seemed to be squirming a little. Whatever color she had in her face was gone and I could tell she was furiously gnawing on the inside of her cheek.
With a sudden pang of fear I started to wonder whether the reality of our situation was catching up with her. We were, after all, practically strangers and she was all alone and at my mercy. I knew I should've broken Emmett and Rose apart in the car. Their extreme PDA must have had her thinking that my family and I were a bunch of deviants.
And now you're sounding like a girl, my annoying inner monologue piped in. Scratch that, you are a girl. My inner monologue tended to be a bit mean.
Ignoring the bullying masculinity within me, I turned my head slightly and murmured, "Bella, are you okay?" I gave her arm a gentle squeeze despite my fears and doubts. "You don't look so good."
"Elevators," she croaked out. "Not a fan." A likely story, considering the terrified little squeak she had given in the parking garage, but I still wasn't convinced.
Before I could give the situation another thought, the elevator chimed, signaling our arrival at the top floor. The others started to file out, and I noticed that Bella was hesitating at the entrance, confirming my earlier suspicions that she was about to make a run for it. Thankfully my over-eager little sister grabbed Bella's arm and tugged her into the crowded and stylish apartment.
"Nice place, huh?" Alice asked brightly, looking imploringly at Bella.
Although Bella responded with a weak smile and a nod, I could tell she didn't share the sentiments. She looked like she was about to puke all over the shiny tiled floors. "So, you're friends with the owner?" Bella asked, her voice quivering slightly.
This was not good. This girl was obviously about to flee from my existence and I was sure that I would die if I couldn't have her.
"Yes, we go way back. Oh, there he is now!" Alice waved to someone, who I assumed was her friend James, and gestured him to us.
I hadn't thought it possible, but Bella went even more pale. She didn't turn around to face our host when he spoke.
"Alice, darling, I'm so glad you could make it." James was not exactly what I had expected when Alice had spoken about her "friend James" from her short-lived stint in Art School. Trust Alice to make friends with an older, golden-haired, barefooted, obviously sculpted Adonis. I imagined him as one of their nude models and suppressed a tiny shudder.
"And I brought friends," Alice announced, turning Bella around to face James. "This is Bella. Bella, this is James, our host for the rest of the evening."
It was only a split second, but it was enough. The strange flash in James' eyes and the blatant fear in Bella's told me that no introductions were necessary with these two.
"Aren't you a sore sight for sore eyes?" James sneered, reaffirming my sickening suspicion. He paused for a long moment, examining Bella like he was about to pounce or do something similarly violent. "Bella and I are actually very well acquainted."
My heart and stomach seemed to drop into my shoes. Bella's face looked as horrified as I was sure mine was at that exact moment.
The question was tumbling from my mouth before I could even contemplate whether I wanted to know the answer or not. "How do you two know each other?"
I looked expectantly between the two of them, although I had mentally answered the question for myself before either of them could.
This must be one of Bella's famous assholes.
"We have mutual acquaintances," Bella answered quickly, her gaze shifting pointedly to James.
Not exactly the answer I was anticipating, but the look that passed between them was far more telling than Bella's verbal response.
"I have never known you to be one of so few words, Bella dear," James commented with a strange lilt in his voice. I didn't know the dude well enough to be sure, but his tone was almost threatening. The caveman within me started to growl. It did not approve of this challenge upon its woman.
"Small world, isn't it?" I had intended it to sound at least partially intimidating, but it came out more suspicious than dangerous. Obviously I had been hiding my inner caveman a little too deep to be at all effective in real world situations.
"The smallest," Bella replied quickly, grabbing onto my arm and tugging me away with a surprising amount of force. "I don't know about you, but I could really use a drink. Edward, won't you step out of character for a moment to be a gentleman and get me one?"
I should have been used to Bella's constant insults, but they still managed to cut me in a kind of S&M way that I was starting to like a little too much. I opened my mouth to vocalize my outraged protest, but she smiled this genuine, dazzling, utterly surprising smile that derailed me long enough to be carried off into the crowd with Emmett and Jasper following in tow.
"Dude, I understand that the two of us are whipped," Emmett said, gesturing to Jasper as we made our way toward the ultra-modern bar that had been set up on the far end of the room, "but what's your excuse?"
I rolled my eyes in exasperation. "They're called manners," I emphasized with a pointed look at the two of them. "You should learn some."
"What are these so-called 'manners'?" Jasper chimed in, curling his fingers into air quotes, his tone laced with faux suspicion. "And since when are you in possession of any?"
"Shut the fuck up," I mumbled, falling into line at the bar behind a few fellow partygoers.
"Dude, 'shut the fuck up' is like 'I know you are but what am I' for grown ups," Emmett declared, shaking his head disapprovingly.
"Or the 'you're rubber and I'm glue' of the comebackless," Jasper quipped with exaggerated pity in his expression.
"Why do I ever let the two of you in a room together? You're like Fred and George on crack." It slipped out before I could stop it.
Yes, I was a Harry Potter fan. And no way was I going to give Bella the satisfaction of knowing it.
"Seriously, dude. You need to stop with the Harry Potter references or I'm going to go all Voldemort on your ass," Emmett warned, tapping an imaginary wand against his palm.
"Indeed," Jasper added, folding his arms menacingly over his chest. "The lame misuse of Harry Potter characters in idle conversation is a crime punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban."
"Dementors prey on that kind of pathetic commentary," Emmett concluded matter-of-factly.
"Obviously the hypocrisy of this entire conversation is lost on the both of you," I deadpanned.
They stood shaking, barely containing their gleeful giggling at my badly disguised irritation. I decided to deflect the conversation with alcohol.
"Champagne for the ladies?" I grabbed a couple of already-filled glasses from the bar and stuffed them into Jasper and Emmett's hands, followed by a beer each.
"Hell yes." Jasper smiled, eyeing the champagne like it was some kind of magical potion. "This stuff is like jet fuel for Alice's libido."
"Dude!" Emmett and I cried out at once. "I thought we've been over this," Emmett added. "You don't mention doing the nasty with our sister and we don't string you up by the balls."
Jasper rolled his eyes but didn't say anything further. Sure, we were bros, but Emmett's palm was the size of a human head and Jasper knew there was always the distinct possibility of being crushed like a bug, so he desisted with the gross factor.
"Excuse me, sir," came a voice from behind us. We turned and saw two tall, skinny and tanned guys staring at Emmett like they were about to erupt into a swooning fit. "You're not... who we think you are... are you?" the slightly shorter of the two asked, his hand absentmindedly stroking Emmett's bicep like he was trying to figure out if it was real or not.
Emmett raised his eyebrow apprehensively and shot a withering look at the spot the where the guy's hand was resting. He bravely persisted with the stroking.
The second of the two grabbed his friend's wrist and smiled apologetically. "What my colleague meant to ask was, are you El Principé Rana? We are huge fans." His eyes shone with sweet excitement that, unfortunately, did little to lessen the creep factor.
Lucky for these two, Emmett ran on compliments and tacos, and he perked up instantly at their recognition.
"Why yes," he replied, his voice lowering and his eyebrow rising to suave superhero-level, "yes, I am."
I was surprised when the two guys didn't start an actual squealing episode. Instead, they introduced themselves as Embry and Jared, and launched into a very involved run-down of the season's matches and statistics, commenting on Emmett's technique and apparent attention to detail.
I zoned out and found myself searching for Bella from across the room. I scanned the crowd for a moment and caught a glimpse of her furry hat in a darkened corner. She was talking to James, their heads bowed together, their bodies close. Too close. The caveman beat his chest. I was continually finding less reason to silence him.
I was momentarily distracted by Jasper slipping into my view. He headed toward Alice, who appeared to be making awkward conversation with Rose. He handed Alice the glass of champagne and rested his hand on her ass as she took a sip. He whispered something in her ear and I shuddered as my mind attempted to imagine the atrocities he was no doubt proposing to her. She giggled and grabbed his hand. I swear there was a dust cloud, they disappeared so fast.
Emmett was still chattering excitedly with his newly formed fan club, but I could tell that Rose was getting really impatient, really fast. She liked to be taken care of, and leaving her unattended at a strange party was bound to have catastrophic consequences for Emmett in particular.
"Dude." I nudged Emmett with my shoulder to get his attention. "You should probably get that drink to Rose. It looks like she's gonna blow any second now." I nudged him with a little more force when he didn't acknowledge my suggestion.
Of course, I was only looking out for Emmett. Couldn't have Rose annoyed at him, now could we? This had nothing to do with the fact that there was now a huge dude draped over Bella. Absolutely nothing to do with the caveman who now appeared to be beating against my chest.
"Okay, okay," Emmett finally conceded when I gave him a swift kick to the shin. "Geez, I didn't know you were this fearful of Rosie's wrath."
"Terrified," I mumbled as we made our way to Rose, who coincidentally did appear to be on the verge of a tantrum.
I, however, could barely keep my eyes off Bella, who was looking up at the monster of a guy beside her with what I could only assume was adoration. I tried to make my feet move to follow Emmett and his groupies in Bella's direction, but my mind-body link seemed to be malfunctioning severely.
I was surprised when Rosalie, of all people, tugged on my sleeve. "Don't want to keep your girl waiting, do ya, Eddie?"
Those were a lot more words than Rose ever spoke to me in succession, moving this evening into the undisputed position of weirdest night of my life. I swallowed heavily and finally found myself moving forward.
As I approached the group of people, I heard Bella's voice exclaiming, "Yes, I had it with a side of 'shut the fuck up or I'll kick you in the Cracker Jacks,' Janet."
Awesome, even her threats weren't exclusive to me. How special I felt.
Her eyes met mine and I held the glass out to her. "I wasn't sure what you wanted, so I got you pre-emptive midnight champagne," I said, finding my feet wanting to go closer and run away simultaneously, and ending up shuffling like a drunken penguin. My hopes that Bella hadn't noticed were dashed when she smiled a pitying smile and shook her head slightly.
I took a swig of my beer and stuck my free hand into the pocket of my jeans for fear of punching my stupid self in the face as punishment for my constant behavioral dysfunction.
"This boy has Bella written all over him," an unfamiliar voice announced suddenly. Bella's cheeks were set alight in response to the comment. I hadn't realized that she was that embarrassed to be seen with me.
"This is the knight in shining Volvo who saved a poor, abandoned girl on New Year's Eve. Edward, this is Jacob, the bane of my existence." She rolled her eyes and gestured vaguely between the two of us.
Realization slowly began to dawn on me as I gave the guy a proper once over. His skin was caramel brown and his dark hair did that shaggy thing that girls always went crazy over. It pained me to admit that his grin was quite spectacular. "Wait, is this Jake? Your best friend, Jake?" If this was the caliber of dude she kept around, I was severely screwed.
Bella's eyes flashed with warning. I realized that the whole car accident thing may not have come up yet and felt a little bad for opening the door on the topic.
"Is this the one-" Emmett began, ever incapable of passing up an opportunity to stir up some kind of trouble.
Bella let out a loud, maniacal kind of laugh that stopped the conversation in its tracks. Her expression had taken on a wild quality and her fist was clenched around the stem of her champagne glass like she was about to crush it. "Ummmm, Jake, could I speak to you alone for a moment?" she asked, shooting me and Emmett a look that could have caused our blood to freeze in our veins.
"If you're trying to hit me up for some more of that meth you seem to be using, you're out of luck, Belly Welly." Jake's eyes were wide and an expression of obvious enjoyment was dancing over his face.
"Are you coming or not, assface?" she demanded.
Jake obviously knew better than to resist her any longer and stepped away from beside James to follow a huffing Bella down a short hallway.
"Awkward," Emmett sing-songed, breaking the tense silence.
"What was that all about?" James asked suspiciously, his brow heavy with concern.
"Bells is probably finally ready to profess her undying love to Jakey-poo," Jared answered with a laugh at the end.
"What?" I burst out. Or rather, the caveman demanded in a rage.
"Everyone who knows Bella is well aware that she's had a hard-on for Jake ever since they were yay high," Embry explained, indicating the height of an obviously pre-pubescent Bella. "Well, I don't think Jake was ever yay high, but still."
"Too bad for her Jake-" Jared continued, but his voice was drowned out by the Tarzan-like call to action within me.
I practically ran in the direction Bella and Jake had disappeared to and violently flung open the first door in the hallway, to find Jasper zipping up his pants and my sister smoothing down her dress.
"Motherfucker!" I cried out, losing my determined momentum for a moment.
"I wish people would stop calling me that," Jasper said acrimoniously, grabbing his jacket from the pile on the bed and pulling it on. "Alice very obviously isn't anyone's mother."
"This... I... ugh," I said, backing out of the doorway and stumbling down the hallway once more.
When I reached the next door, I decided to pause for a moment, not wanting a repeat of my previous experience. I listened for a moment, only vaguely acknowledging that I had turned into a creeper. I could hear soft voices on the other side, but couldn't make out what they were saying above the distant thump of music. I found myself quietly pushing the door open, solidifying my newfound stalker status.
"You're my girl," Jake was saying, his tone tender. "If anyone's going to ruin my things, it might as well be you."
"You're such a generous friend," Bella replied, her voice softer and gentler than I'd ever heard it.
"I know, you don't deserve me." I felt the caveman sink pathetically to its knees as Jake bent down and pressed his lips to Bella's. I slumped forward slightly, causing the door to creak and Bella and Jake to turn to me abruptly, still wrapped up in their embrace.
I couldn't stand it another minute. Finally, after all this time, I had found a girl who didn't bore me. Who actually made me feel something besides the constant, predictable numbness. The first fucking time I let my guard down... and this happens.
"I…" I managed to croak. "Yeah… I'm leaving." I turned and walked determinedly away from them. I heard Bella calling out to me but I didn't break my stride. The hallway was swimming in front of me, rage and crippling disappointment distorting everything around me.
I vaguely recognized familiar faces in my peripheral vision, but I wouldn't let them deter me. I knew that I was dangerously close to some sort of outburst and I needed to get out of there before I caused a scene.
I felt a violent tug on my sleeve. "Will you just stop?" Bella asked breathlessly.
"Do you mind? I was leaving." My tone was harsh but indignant. I could just never get it right.
"What the fuck is your problem?" Bella demanded.
It took every shred of self restraint not to yell when I responded. "I don't have a fucking problem. I'm just leaving. You found your friends, my job is done."
"So, now I'm a fucking job?"
"No, but you are a fucking piece of work," I spat back so suddenly it caught me by surprise.
It all came tumbling out then. Everything that I had been thinking but denying. Every insecurity and neuroticism that I worked so hard at keeping at bay. "Since we arrived here, all you've been doing is macking on guys in dark corners. I don't know what kind of sick situation you have going on here, but I don't think I need to be dragged into it."
"Can you please translate? I don't speak psycho." Bella was practically screeching now. So much for not causing a scene.
"Listen, I'm a one girl kinda guy. And, yes, I've experimented before, but I'm not really into threeways so much. So, if you want to be with those guys, fine by me. But I won't have any part of it." Wow. I didn't know where that had come from, but I cursed the part of my brain that had "overshare" as an automatic reaction to confrontation.
"Experimented?" she asked, distracted from her screeching for a moment. "Threeway? I think you need to give that imagination of yours a rest."
Thank you, verbal diarrhea, for going there, I thought angrily. This argument had taken a turn for the weird but I couldn't seem to salvage it, so I powered on. "I'm not blind," I seethed.
"But you are stupid," she hissed. "Jacob is my best friend. My gay best friend. James is his boyfriend."
Huh? How did I not notice that? I wondered, my mind swimming with confusion.
You were too busy being a paranoid loser to notice.
Well, thanks for clarifying that now, stupid, unreliable subconscious mind.
"So, what was up with all the whispering and kissing?" I asked, frustrated and exhausted with the miscommunication and misunderstanding.
"I told Jake about totaling his car. We were reconciling, douchebag." She emphasized the last word by punching me the shoulder. The girl had freakish upper body strength
"Again with the hitting," I complained, rubbing my arm.
"Pansy," she spat.
"Abuser," I retaliated.
We sized each other up for another moment before my stubborn mind decided it still wasn't done with the interrogation. "What about James? You two looked mighty cozy?"
"That is none of your business," she responded, straightening up and jutting her chin out proudly.
"Right." I nodded slowly. So, that's how it was going to be. "I'm over this. I'm leaving." I turned on my heel and started in the direction of the elevator again. Obviously I was developing a flair for dramatic exits.
She yanked on my sleeve yet again. "Can you stop trying to storm off for one fucking minute?"
"Can you tell me one real thing about you?"
I didn't even know why I had chosen that particular question to ask, but it seemed to work. Bella let out a tiny gasp in surprise. Only when she took a tentative step back did I realize how close we had been standing. Her expression was filled with naked vulnerability. She said nothing.
"Exactly what I thought." I whispered viciously. This entire night had been a game to her. I had just been the unfortunate loser who had fallen for it.
"You don't know a fucking thing!" She seemed completely bewildered, but I didn't relent.
"Yes, I don't know a thing because you don't tell me anything." It felt strange to have the upper hand for once. Seeing Bella cornered in this way made my throat feel uncomfortably tight. Even in the middle of this argument I couldn't help but be concerned about her. I was terrified of seeing her hurt, and I could tell by her expression that I was doing just that.
"What would you like to know?" she asked, getting right in my face, her voice a dangerous murmur. "Would you like to know how I've been in love with my gay best friend since I knew what love was? Or how I got drunk and slept with his boyfriend in an attempt to somehow be with him by proxy? Or how I've been so ashamed since then, I've been letting his boyfriend manipulate me into staying away from them for fear of him telling on me? Is that fucked up enough for you?"
I let this newly acquired knowledge digest for a split second. All I could think was how perfectly imperfect this girl was, how every new layer intrigued me more than the one before. My anger and frustration and indignation melted away and all that remained was want.
"Yes," I replied, my face mere inches from hers.
Somewhere in another world, a crowd of people was counting down to something mildly important. It might as well have been a countdown to the apocalypse for all I cared. The only thing I knew was that my lips were on a collision course for Bella's, and that I wouldn't let anything stop it from happening.
"You don't want this much crazy in your life." Bella's voice was the only sound in my universe.
"Who says I don't like 'em crazy?" I grazed my fingertips against her cheek.
"You're insane." Her exhale was nothing more than a quivering sigh.
"I know," I said, wrapping my arm around her neck and finding perfection in our kiss.
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A/N: Happy New Year everyone :) Here's to hoping that we all find our very own awkward Edwards without having to crash any cars this year.