AN: Sorry for the extremely long wait. Mea culpa.

Huge thanks as always to nowforruin, Lulu M5, and smexy4smarties for being the amazing, fabulous awesomesauce people that they are.

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Chapter Three: Nearí̱ Gynaíka

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I'm not that kind of girl. You know, the one who sits around chatting with her friends—mostly because I've never had any.

I've always been different, separate.

So when I felt like I finally belonged somewhere, I knew it was too good to last.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

I'd moved in with my dad, so I wouldn't have to hear my mom and new step-dad humping like bunnies all the time. I was happy for her when she met Phil, but I really didn't want to hear just how happy she was.

A girl can only take so much, and I'd reached my limit when I walked in on them one afternoon on the kitchen table, where I had eaten my breakfast that very morning. I did not want to think about my mom having sex while I'm enjoying my bowl of Cheerios.

So, for my own sanity, off I went.

Charlie's cool, I guess. Besides spending a few weeks with him here and there and getting presents when he had our most recent address, I haven't really gotten to know him.

He's always tried to be a good dad; he just hasn't had much of a chance. Renée didn't really let him. I think she was afraid that I would choose him over her. At least his child support always got deposited into our account on time. I knew that wasn't true for a lot of other kids.

Living with him is kinda weird. He tries, but it's awkward, just like the half-assed hugs he's been trying to dole out to me. I think he's still surprised to see me when he comes through his front door, like he needs a moment to remember why I'm here. He lived by himself for so long. I get the feeling that I'm invading his space, so I try to stay out of his way. He's barely home; it's not too hard.

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That very first day of school, I saw him He was pretty hard to ignore. He's ridiculously pretty—unfairly so—and he doesn't even notice. He seems like the kind of kid who doesn't realize just how lucky he is, with his perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect face. I know the type. There were a lot of guys like that back home, and they all made fun of me because I preferred a book to their chest-thumping antics. Give me Mr. Darcy any day over one of these clowns. Me not Jane.

When he scrunches up his nose like I smell bad and ignores me when I say hi, my suspicions are confirmed. He's just like them. I'm not surprised. He acts like he's too good to sit beside me, and as soon as he can, he's out the door, probably so he won't be seen walking near me.

Asshole.

But, damn, he is pretty.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

Forks is pretty much exactly how I expected it to be: quiet, small, wet, green. Way, way too green. Blindingly so.

It's stifling how the trees are constantly closing in on me. I can't escape them. They're always here, and they're slowly, silently, trying to reclaim what was always theirs. I don't blame them.

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the desert. It has its own stark beauty that not everyone sees. All of the lush landscapes here with the mountains, and the clouds, and the ocean are painfully obvious. Yeah, it's pretty, so what? It's too easy.

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He hates me so much that he disappeared for a week. The rest of his family is still here, so it's not like they went on one of those group camping trips that they're famous for.

And then he's back. Unfortunately I act like a star-struck teeny-bopper, and I can't stop staring. He must have feel my eyes on him because Jessica tells me he's looking right back. I get embarrassed at being caught and try to look at anyone but him. He's the only one I want to see, so I ended up staring down my sandwich.

In class, he's all polite, pretending like I didn't repulse him at first glance.

He starts an actual conversation with me, and before I realize it, I've told him more about myself then I've told anybody, ever. It's scary.

When the bell rings, he's the first one out the door, again.

I thought I had misjudged him, but I guess not.

Whatever.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

Starting over at a new school is hard. At least I've had a lot of experience at it. I don't think I've ever been at any one school for more than two years.

We used to move around all the time. Mom would find a new job, a new boyfriend, or a new state, and off we'd go. When I was younger, it was a fun adventure, but as I got older, I became resentful of our gypsy lifestyle.

If I had made friends, they were just one more thing to leave behind. After I lost my third best friend in as many years, I had stopped trying. It was easier that way.

I learned not to speak up, not to raise my hand and to keep quiet. Hopefully that way, people would leave me alone.

Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't.

I've been pushed into lockers, tripped in hallways, had my books taken from me and destroyed. People suck, especially teenagers with something to prove.

Left to my own devices, I did all right. I studied a lot because I had no distractions in the form of friends, and as long as no one broadcasted my grades, I was left alone, mostly.

Mom asked me to try and make some friends here. She knows that I didn't have any in Phoenix and thinks a fresh start would be good for me.

I think she forgot just how small this place is.

The entire high school's population is half the size of my grade back home, and they've all known each other since before they were born. If I thought about it hard enough, I'm pretty certain I could name every person in all of my classes.

And since I'm the first new student at this school in years, people won't leave me alone.

I really wish they would.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

I almost died.

He saved me. I don't know how, and he won't say.

He doesn't say anything at all to me for six weeks.

Sometimes I think he should have just let me die instead.

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Phone calls with Renée can be painful. She begs to hear what I've been up to, but I don't have anything to say. At least, nothing that I think is of interest. I went to school. I came home. I read a book. That's my life, one boring day at a time.

She's my best friend by default, but I don't really want to hear all of the particulars of her exploits, which I get in detail.

She's a great friend, but not such a great parent.

I was worried when she started dating Phil. I started packing my bags in advance of yet another big move. Surprisingly, he turned out to be good for her. Despite his jock-persona, he's really a good guy, and he keeps her grounded. Something I was only able to do half the time.

And I already know how "happy" he makes her.

Ugh.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

Mike Newton is Forks.

He's plain, simple, small town easy.

And I'm so not interested.

Whereas, Edward is anything but.

I don't know what he is, whatever—wherever—he is; I want to be there too.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

Motherfucker.

He saved me, again.

I swear I'm not usually this fragile.

He's changing me.

I'm not certain I like it.

I feel weak, foolish, so much less-than when he's around.

But he also makes me feel like I'm special, loved, wanted. I've never felt like that before.

My heart beats faster; my skin hums.

And he knows it.

I repeat, motherfucker.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

I didn't want anything to happen to them, the perfect family, so I decided to sacrifice myself. I'm only human, and besides it was going to happen sooner or later.

I didn't expect them to find me. I was ready to fade away. I didn't except him to save me. I think it might have been better if he didn't. I get the feeling that maybe he feels the same way.

That hurts me more than all of the broken bones.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

Alice takes care of me after Phoenix. It makes me uncomfortable at first. Her body is perfect and mine is so flawed, so ugly, so . . . human. It's embarrassing.

No wonder he doesn't want to do more than kiss me. Why would he want me when he could have sparkly, hard, god-like perfection?

Charlie dotes on her so much it makes me a bit uncomfortable. I wonder how he'd react if he found out her true identity. I won't tell him. I'd like to have him around for a while longer.

She puts me in a dress that costs more than my first year at college will for reasons I'm unclear on. Then he comes to my door, looking amazing in a tuxedo, and I'm just me. My face is covered in make-up, and I feel like the world's most incompetent drag queen in this get-up. The cast doesn't help.

He whisks me away is his car, and, for a brief moment, I feel like a queen, the girl kind.

Is tonight the night? The night that I get to become perfect too?

Of course not.

Once again, I'm reminded of how I'm not good enough, how he doesn't want me, how I'm never going to be like him.

I'd hoped that he'd want to be with me forever, like he says he does, but this just proves to me that he's changed his mind.

I wish I was strong enough to walk away, but I'm not.

It's like I don't have a choice anymore.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

I've read my Brontës and Austens until they fell apart in my hands. I've focused on Juliet and Ophelia until all the other characters disappeared into the background. I thought I knew about love and its distant sister, obsession.

I was wrong.

He was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thought in my head when I went to bed. Even when I was asleep, he starred in all of my dreams. I was a walking, talking cliché, just like I'd been reading about for years. It took all of my concentration to focus on anything but him, and that only worked for a short while before my one-track mind went off and running again.

I loved it.

I hated it.

I wanted him to feel the same way.

He didn't.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

The summer is the best one I'd ever had. Life becomes a bizarre version of some campy teen movie. I'm thinking of calling it "Me and My Vamps." Catchy, no?

I spend as much time as I can at the Cullens'. Esme jokes that I've become her fifth kid, I'm over so much. She begins to stock the fridge with my favorite snacks, and while I still feel embarrassed and guilty that I'm the only one who ever eats them, I'm grateful for her thoughtfulness. She tries her hand at cooking some more, and it's nice to feel taken care of. While I love my mom, I was usually the one doing the care-taking with Renée.

I've been inserted into the Cullen fold, as it were. Esme looks at me with the same tenderness she uses for all of her "children," Emmett becomes the brother I never had, Alice calls me sister, and Carlisle, though he tries to hide it, becomes almost as concerned for my safety as Edward does.

I am loved and cared for in this unlikely house in the middle of the forest.

It feels like home.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

Alice and I become so close that we begin to finish each others' sentences. I have never been able to do that with anyone. I love that I finally have someone in my life who gets me. It makes me sad that it's taken so long to find her. Despite being born almost ninety years apart, we understand each other, which is more than I can say for Edward.

Edward. He remains an enigma for me. Al says that's part of his charm, and while I cannot deny that I also can't help but feel like he's holding me off. He says it's for my own good, and Al tells me to "wait it out," that eventually he'll see the light.

I don't know what to think anymore, to be honest. I feel powerless in my attachment to him, to all of them really, so I linger on, hoping that Al is right, that if I hold out just a bit longer, all will be revealed.

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

I know something's going on. He's always been distant, but after throwing myself at him all summer, he's farther away than ever.

He wouldn't let me initiate contact, unbutton my shirt or get too close to his skin. He says it's because he doesn't think he'd be able to control himself, but I don't think that's it. If he really wanted me, I'm sure he could figure something out.

He doesn't think I notice him reacting to my all-too-human behavior, but I do. I see him wrinkling his nose, rolling his eyes, becoming impatient. He's disgusted with me.

I think he's finally realized what I am, and what a horrible mistake he's made. Alice says it isn't so, but I don't think I can trust her either.

When I'm around them, I get the feeling that everyone's in on the same joke except for me.

Maybe I'm the joke?

iiiIIIiiiIIIiii

It's all over.

He's gone.

And I'm left in the forest, all alone.

If only the trees could swallow me up.

He's stripped me of everything I am.

I'm nothing without him, now.

Nothing.

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AN: Sorry for the epically long wait for this ending. If anyone is still reading this, thank you.

If you've also read A Man of Few Words, you might be interested to know that I've signed up to be a contributor for the Fandom for Sexual Assault Awareness fundraiser (http (:/) fandom4saa (.) wordpress (.) com). I'm offering a Charlie drabble of your very own for anyone who donates $25US or more to this very important cause. Questions? PM me.

Again, thank you so much for taking this very long trip with me. I hope you enjoyed it..

xoxo,

M