A/N: I'd like to thank my outstanding beta, Bethaboo, who encouraged me, and in fact insisted that I could indeed write fluff.
This is in dedication to justaskalice, who requested a one shot based on the song "Someone to Fall Back On" by the incredible Jason Robert Brown. It's a beautiful song, and everyone should check it out. You can find a gorgeous version performed by Jeff Theiss at:
http: / / www . youtube . com / watch?v=sbUkjd-xtbw (remove the spaces)
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, or "Someone to Fall Back On". Stephanie Meyer and Jason Robert Brown do, respectively.
I looked into the mossy green eyes in front of me, and wondered how to phrase what I had come to realize needed to be said.
"Your life is so full right now," of your ego "and I'm not sure I have the strength to follow where it's headed," which, if I don't end this relationship right now, will involve me jamming something sharp into my temple in order to avoid having to listen to you talk about yourself anymore.
"But Bella, I thought we were meant to be. We've been dating for months. How would it look for me to be freshly single the week before Homecoming?"
I was done staying with him to avoid bruising his ego. To be honest, I wasn't sure if there was anything to him apart from his image. When we first started dating, I thought there was substance beneath the cocky exterior. He was the star quarterback for Forks High School, and, to be fair, we actually won with him leading the team. But, of course he had to keep up appearances.
He made me feel special. He was always taking me to dinner and buying me flowers. He always opened doors for me and was a complete gentleman. If I was sick, he'd bring me my assignments, and show up with soup at my door. But when we arrived at dinner, he never had all that much to talk about besides how his practices or games were going. He brought me roses, even though I told him they made me sneeze and that I loved daffodils. When he brought me soup, he'd hand me the bag, and my assignments, and leave before I could get him sick, because he always had a big game coming up.
Was it so much to ask to have a boyfriend who legitimately cared how I was more than how I looked as an accessory on his arm?
"You know that there are dozens of girls that want to go out with you. You're the most popular guy in school. You're smart, captain of the football team, and gorgeous. You'll find someone. I know you will." That's right, Bella. Placate him. Soothe the ego.
"But she won't be you." It didn't escape my attention that he wasn't asking me not to go because he loved me, but because of my status.
"You can find someone better. I know Jessica Stanley would go out with you. Or even Alice Brandon. They're both cheerleaders, too. You know they can keep up with your game schedule and they're already part of your group of friends. I think this will be for the best."
That wasn't a lie. I really did think he'd be better off with one of them. I'd always suspected that Alice had a thing for him, anyways, but respected me too much to make a play for him.
"I don't want to lose you, Bella."
"I know, Jasper. But we'll always be friends, if you want."
"Yeah, Bella. We'll be friends." I gave him a small smile, and a one-armed hug before I turned around, got in my truck, and started driving.
I meant that, too. Jasper Whitlock wasn't a bad guy. He was caught up in the stereotypical high school bullshit, but he wasn't mean. He'd make a great friend—someone to have good times with, and relax with.
The thing was… I was smart. I may have been the student body president, but I also was at the top of my class. If I maintained my GPA, I was a shoe-in for valedictorian come June. And when you pour yourself into your studies like that, you can't help but read a lot of books.
The books I read always told stories of great romances, and epic journeys. Some were tragedies, where one person could not live without the other, like in Romeo and Juliet. The stories that I found the most poignant were the ones that spoke of a different kind of love.
In Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Fitzwilliam Darcy is cold and misunderstood, but through his actions, Elizabeth Bennett realizes that she has misjudged him. He supports her, even when she doesn't know that it is him that does so. Hell, he doesn't even take credit for paying off Wickham to marry Lydia.
I wanted a man who could love me when I was at my best, and support me when I was at my worst. I wanted someone who would take me to dinner and make me laugh. I wanted someone to bring me daffodils. I wanted someone who would bring me soup, and snuggle under a blanket with me while we watched a stupid movie. I just wanted someone to be… there for me.
The realist in me did realize that I was in high school, and so I settled for what looked right from the outside. I guess that's how Jasper and I started dating in the first place.
As it turned out, I was spot-on about my Alice Brandon theory. I probably should have been offended that she didn't even wait 48 hours before she asked Jasper out, but I simply couldn't find the emotion to actually care. I wanted Jasper to be happy, and I had clearly already come to the conclusion that I wasn't going to be the one to make him.
Weeks came and went, as did Homecoming. They won the game, and I didn't go to the dance. I think I may have been the only person who opted not to go. Well, maybe me and Edward Cullen. I don't think he attended a single dance in his four years at this school.
Edward was such an enigma. He was undeniably attractive; he had messy bronze hair, green eyes, and really beautiful features. He was tall, and lean, but managed to look like he had enough muscle tone to avoid being lanky. The boy really was gorgeous. I think he was intelligent, too. He just didn't talk to anyone.
He always was writing in his journal. For months, I used to dream up stories I thought he was writing. He was writing about a British prince who could give the commoner he fell in love with diamonds and islands. He told tales of vampires that sparkled in the sun (well, maybe they didn't sparkle, because that would just be silly). He wrote of soldiers lost in war, and the people they left behind. He wove stories of saints who helped the less fortunate, and helped cure ills.
After the third month of watching him scribble, I realized that I had just been coming up with some really cool plots for stories, but had no actual idea of what the hell went through Edward's head. For all I knew, he was writing poems about a man who loved cheese and raised alpacas. Edward always seemed so private, and I figured asking him about his journal might make him angry or scare the shit out of him. Neither was a desirable outcome, so I just let him be.
Now that I was thinking about it, I guessed this was why he never went to dances either. He'd have to talk to people and maybe even touch them, so I guess he'd avoid them at all costs. Total personal space invasion.
A loud shout of "Bella!" next to my ear called my attention to the fact that I had been sitting at the lunch table, completely zoning out, and thinking about Edward Cullen and his journal of cheese-loving alpaca farming poems. Whoops.
I snapped my attention to Emmett McCarty, Jasper's best friend, who had just deafened me in my left ear with his booming voice. Jasper and I had remained friends after all, so the friends I'd made through him never had cause to choose sides and jump ship. "Inside voices, Emmett. I think the librarian just shushed you, thinking you were in the next building with her," I shot at him. Jesus fuck, he was loud.
He laughed, and smiled good-naturedly before answering with his own snark. "Well, I wouldn't have had to shout if you answered to your name at a normal volume. We've been trying to get your attention for the last five minutes, but you were off in Bellaville where we were apparently not invited."
"Okay. I'll admit I may have been zoned out a bit. What is it that demanded my immediate attention?"
"Talent show is tomorrow night. Alice and Rosalie are doing some dance routine, and we were talking about attending to support them. It seems to mean a lot to them. You in?"
Well, let's consider this for a moment. Alice was dating my ex-boyfriend, and Rose and I weren't exactly friends. Sure, we hung in the same circle, but it was because she was dating Jasper's best friend, and we sort of were forced into social interaction. She was stunning, and, like many beautiful people, was vapid and self-centered. If she wasn't as intelligent as she was, I would have made no effort, but we did have a form of intellectual respect that allowed us to spend time together without much of a problem.
Did that mean that I wanted to attend some lame high school talent show to support her? No. Would I because it was important to Emmett and Jasper, and I was a good enough friend to go for them? Yes.
Fuck. My. Life. I guess I was going to the Forks High School Annual Talent Show. Let me put on my excited face, I thought as I smiled at Emmett and agreed to a night of stereotypical high school "fun".
The school's auditorium was amazingly full the night of the Talent Show. To be honest, I was sort of amazed that there were enough people in Forks to fill the place up. However the miracle occurred, Emmett, Jasper, Alice, Rose, Jessica, Mike Newton, Tyler Crowley, Lauren Mallory, Angela Weber, Ben Cheney, and myself sat in a tight group in the middle seats of three rows of the auditorium. There were no shitty seats for the Forks High Elite.
Eric Yorkie was acting as the emcee for the show, and greeted the crowd with a large smile, and mild humor. He wasn't my brand of funny, but he was more entertaining than Mr. Moran, our drama teacher with the world's most sleep-inducing monotone.
The first act was three kids from my fourth period Physics class, who played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in three-part harmony on glass bottles filled with water. It may have been nerdy as hell, but it was a pretty creative musical instrument. I sure as hell had never seen anything like it.
There were a couple skits, including one rendition of Monty Python's "Parrot Sketch". I was actually in awe of the fact that there was someone else in Forks who actually knew who Monty Python were, nevermind find them funny.
Alice and Rosalie danced to The Pussycat Doll's "Don't Cha?"—It was rather appropriate considering the pair. I'd be lying if I said the dance was anything less than hot and sexy. The girls certainly knew how to shake what God gave them. I guess that's what four years of being high school cheerleaders taught you, after all.
There were a couple of high school garage bands who decided to channel their inner Nirvana and Green Days. They ended up sounding more like Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem from "The Muppet Show", with the exception that Animal kept better time than either of their drummers.
Finally, Eric announced that the evening was just about over. He announced Mike Newton as the performer. When the faculty pianist began playing the opening refrain to "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", I was justifiably confused. Wasn't this a girl's song? I mean, I might not be up on musical theatre, but I did know that guys didn't usually sing this number… right?
Though his performance was actually more enjoyable than I would have otherwise thought, my suspicions were confirmed. "I'll sing to him, each spring to him, and worship the trousers that cling to him," Mike sung.
Definitely meant for a female vocalist. Despite the fact that he took a touching song and turned it into either an odd "coming out" declaration, or a bad homophobic joke, Mike had a decent singing voice. Who the fuck knew?
The song finally ended, and Mike exited the stage. Eric came back out, and began wrapping up the evening. I had survived the Talent Show. Thank God I'd never have to do that again. "Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to support the talented performers of Forks High School! We hope you all enjoyed the show." The audience started gathering their belongings, likely in hopes of fleeing the scene as quickly as possible. "We actually have one more act for you tonight, and I think we've saved the best for last."
I was seriously considering just leaving. I wasn't really interested in hearing another craptastic performance of some high school musician who thought they were something special. Besides, my ass was asleep, and I was hungry. I was starting to gather my stuff subtly before Eric began to speak once more.
"I'd like to introduce Edward Cullen, who will be performing an original composition for voice and piano."
Edward Cullen composed music? Well, really, he played the piano and sang? He refused to speak to anyone in four years at this school, but he can get up in front of the whole damn town and perform? This I had to see.
The lights dimmed, until a single spotlight shone on the center of the stage, where Edward sat in front of a grand piano. He was wearing dark jeans and a hunter green button-down with the sleeves pushed up to the elbows. He had clearly made no effort to tame his crazy hair, and I was impressed that it didn't hang over his eyes when he bent over the keyboard.
He took in a deep breath, and spoke into the microphone that was positioned near his mouth to pick up his vocals. "Hi. I'm Edward Cullen, and I wrote this to be my 'swan song' to unrequited high school love." He chuckled lightly, and shook his head lightly. "It's called 'Someone to Fall Back On,' and I really hope you enjoy it. Thanks."
He closed his eyes, and began to tap the keys lightly enough to not produce a sound, as if he was hearing the music before he let it out.
The melody began, a simple arpeggiation with his right hand, and soft chords with his left hand. It was pretty enough. Then, he opened his mouth and began to sing.
His voice was rich and full, deep with a steady vibrato. He seemed to clearly have taken lessons at some point. The melody was flowing, punctuated as if in conversation with his own mind. Or maybe like a letter to someone who wasn't listening. The words, however, completely captivated. Even as the piano accompaniment became more complex, I was entranced by the lyrics.
"I'll never be
A knight in armor,
With a sword in hand,
Or a kamikaze fighter;
Don't count on me
To storm the barricades
And take a stand,
Or hold my ground;
You'll never see
Any scars or wounds-
I don't walk on coals,
I don't walk on water;
I am no prince,
I am no saint,
I am not anyone's wildest dream,
But I can stand behind
And be someone to fall back on."
The sweeping line of the piano continued through to the next verse, despite the honest declaration of the words. As the next verse began, the piano's melody got more complicated, and I was fascinated that he could play such an intricate tune while singing.
You're bruised and beaten down
And I'm the one
Who's looking for a favor.
You don't believe me
But the things I have
Are the things you need.
You look at me
Like I don't make sense,
Like a waste of time,
Like it serves no purpose-
I am no prince,
I am no saint,
And if that's what you believe you need
You're wrong—you don't need much,
You need someone to fall back on…"
Edward began to rock on the piano bench, as the words he sang became more insistent. He was trying to convince someone that he really could be what they needed. I caught myself foolishly thinking that I'd give him the chance to be anything he wanted.
"And I'll be that:
I'll take your side.
If I'm the only one,
I'm used to that.
I've been alone,
I'd rather be
The half of us,
The least of you,
The best of me.
And I will be
I'll be your saint,
I will go crashing through fences
In your name. I will, I swear-
I'll be someone to fall back on!
I'll be the one who waits,
And for as long as you'll let me,
I will be the one you need.
I'll be someone to fall back on:
The one you believe you need
I'll be—I'll be
Someone to fall back on.
Someone to fall back on."
The song ended as quietly as it had begun, with quiet notes played on the piano, almost as if nothing he had sang had existed. He had made his plea, and was content to becoming the silent Edward that we had all become so accustomed to. I knew that I could never see him without remembering his rich baritone asking for his love to put their faith in him. To simply see him.
The song had ended almost a minute before, and the audience still sat in a stunned silence. We were all afraid to taint the air that still echoed with the beautiful song. Edward blew out a sharp breath that was audible through his microphone. The sound seemed to break whatever chance the audience was in, and everyone erupted in wild applause and cheers. The audience jumped to their feet in ovation, as Edward seemed startled at the reaction, and looked out at us with wide eyes, and his mouth slightly ajar.
"Thanks, everyone," he murmured into the mic, and left the stage. The applause lasted for minutes after his departure.
I had waited as long as I could manage inconspicuously to wait to speak to Edward after the Talent Show was over. Our group had talked to a couple of the performers as they flooded outside the auditorium's doors. I tried to spot him in the emerging crowd, but couldn't seem to locate him.
When Jasper and Emmett suggested heading out to the diner for dessert to celebrate Alice and Rose's performance, I couldn't think of a legitimate reason to stick around without admitting the truth.
It wasn't until after the weekend passed and Monday morning rolled around that I found the chance to talk to Edward. He was in my first period English class, so I made sure I arrived in school a bit early. Once I had parked my car, I quickly made my way to my classroom to wait for Edward.
We didn't have assigned seats, but everyone tended to sit in the same seats. Instead of sitting in the middle of the room like I usually did, I sat in the back corner, next to the desk Edward generally occupied, and waited for him to arrive.
I didn't have to wait too long, as Edward generally arrived in class a bit early. He had been looking for something in his backpack when he stepped through the door, but when he looked up and noticed me sitting in the chair next to him, he froze. His eyes widened, his eyebrows lifted, and his mouth opened slightly in surprise. After a few long moments, he shook his head slightly and walked over to take his normal seat.
"Hey Edward," I said softly. It was as if I thought he were a horse that would get spooked if spoken to too loudly. In retrospect, that might have been a bit idiotic.
"Hi, Bella. Did you have a good weekend?" Edward replied, with a timid smile on his mouth.
"I did, actually," I replied. I paused a moment before I started talking again. "I, uh…I was at the Talent Show," I stated. Way to state the obvious, Bella.
"Yeah, I saw you in the audience. Did you enjoy it?"
"Well, apart from Mike's gender-confused rendition of a musical theatre classic, and a couple great cameos from Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem -without the steady beats of Animal on drums- I thought it was actually kind of good."
Edward had cocked an eyebrow, and was just sort of staring at me. I thought about what I had said, and immediately blushed. Since when did I blush? When you decided that word vomit was a better choice than complimenting the shy boy.
Before I could start to turn away in embarrassment, Edward did the unthinkable. He tossed his head back, and laughed his pretty little ass off.
"Sorry!" Edward exclaimed through his guffaws. "Really, I'm sorry. You just haven't spoken to me –ever- and that's what you decide to go with when you do?"
"Hey! You asked what I thought of the Talent Show. It was sort of terrifying from the get go, with two exceptions," I pointed out defensively. I think I even crossed my arms over my chest and huffed like a five-year-old who didn't get to empty out the box of cereal just to get the prize at the bottom.
Edward took a few moments to get his chuckles under control. He cleared his throat lightly, and asked, "What were the exceptions?"
"Well, playing 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' on glass bottles was fairly genius. I'm not entirely sure how they came up with the idea, but it was pretty damn innovative."
Edward interjected before I could continue. "Actually, yeah. I agree. That was pretty clever of them."
"It was. Nerdy, but cool. And I have to say that the song you wrote? The one you played? It was probably the best thing I've ever heard."
Edward's eyes flashed with some emotion, but it was gone before I could discern what it was. "You really liked it?"
"God, yes. It was beautiful… and I seriously feel like a terrible person, because I've gone to school with you for four years, but didn't know that you played the piano, or that you had such an incredible voice. How could I have not known that?" I asked, as much to myself as to him.
"Well, I don't really advertise it, and I've never really played anything in front of anyone before."
"It was really gorgeous. You shouldn't hide talent like that. It was so moving. Whoever you wrote that for is seriously lucky."
Edward cocked his head to the side, and I could sense his mild disbelief. He clearly was not used to getting such praise. "You really think so?"
I smiled at him. "I do. I've dated enough so-called princes to wish I could find someone to count on like you described."
"I know you have," he said. His eyes widened slightly at his words, and I could see him slightly panic.
I could see that he was going to say something else, but I was more interested in what he had said. "What do you mean, you know I have?"
Edward took a deep breath and held it for a moment before letting it out slowly. "Bella, I've known you for four years. You're the most popular girl in our school. We all know who you've dated."
I looked at him. I got the distinct impression that he disapproved of my choice in men. "This is the first time we've spoken, Edward. I don't think you can really say you know me, or really what my boyfriends were like."
"You may not have spoken to me, but that doesn't mean I haven't listened to you enough to get to know you."
"What could you possibly know about me, Edward?"
"I know that you are smart, but don't flaunt your intelligence. I know that you like Tootsie Pops, but don't like Tootsie Rolls. By the way, that's sort of odd. I know that you are fairly sarcastic, and I'm not entirely convinced you know how much of your internal monologue is spoken under your breath. I know you are blunt and honest, and have a huge heart. You always want to give to everyone, without thinking about yourself.
"I also know that you have dated Jasper Whitlock, who is all about being the captain of the football team and having the perfect set of friends and image. I know that you didn't love him, and that no matter how perfect he seemed, his ego always came before giving you anything you needed. I know you don't care about appearances like he did, and that you deserve to be with someone who could actually treat you right."
I blinked a few times. I opened my mouth to speak, but couldn't force my vocal chords to actually vibrate. I shook my head a couple times. I could not comprehend what Edward Cullen had just said to me. I also couldn't get past the knowledge that this was probably the most he'd ever said to anyone.
"How do you know all that? And…why do you know all that?" Brilliant response, Bella. Quick thinking.
"I know all that because I've been watching you for years. You always seemed sort of confused whenever you looked at me, like you couldn't figure me out, but decided I wasn't worth the effort it took to ask. But I always wanted to know more about you. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, so I was listening when everyone else was talking."
"Really?" I asked. I seriously needed to come up with more clever responses and questions. Shy Edward Cullen was looking verbose in comparison to me.
"Yes, really. I wrote that song, so maybe you'd actually see me standing in front of you. You've been looking for someone in the wrong places."
"I haven't really been looking for any…" I trailed off as his words finally registered in my mind. "You wrote that song…for me?"
"Yes, I did. I've had the biggest crush on you for years, and you never saw me. I just thought that maybe if I told you how I felt, you'd give me a chance."
"Oh my God," I said. I paused to gather my thoughts. He opened his mouth to speak, but I held up my hand to let him know I just needed a moment. "I always wondered about you. I did see you, and I thought you were worth the effort to get to know, but I always thought you didn't want to. You never spoke to me, and were always writing in your journal about cheese and alpacas."
Oh God. I just told him about my crazy cheese and alpaca theory.
To my horror, he threw his head back and laughed again. "Cheese? Alpacas? I have a composition notebook, where I write down all the songs that come into my head. Some lyrics are in there, too, but, honestly, there is no cheese or no alpacas. Where did you get that idea?"
"I just always saw you writing and started making up possibilities of what your stories were about. The cheese and alpacas were a bit out there, I'll admit. But I really had given up when I came up with that one."
"Okay. You're a bit crazy. That'll go on my Bella list," Edward said, still laughing lightly.
"Enough about my insanity. Let's get back to the song. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard, and I wanted it to be about me when you were playing it."
"I'm glad you liked it, Bella. It means more to me than you'll ever know."
"Well, it meant a lot to me." I took a deep breath before I pushed the next sentence out. "Can you really be the guy in the song? Someone to fall back on?"
Edward's smile softened, and his eyes were bright and warm. "I'd really like to try. Give me a chance, Bella?"
I smiled back at him. "Yeah. I think I might like that."
A/N: This was my first foray into the world of fluff (and the non-crackfic oneshot), as well as my first real Bella/ Edward pairing. I hope it was up to snuff and made you smile.
If you want to hear my Mike Newton's performance of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", you can check out Samuel Barnett's performance from "The History Boys". http : / / www . youtube . com / watch?v=D8_u8rlRsTU (again, remove the spaces.)