Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns everything Twilight related. No copyright infringement is intended and there is no financial gain by myself in this story. The original characters, plot, and setting are the property of the author, NTJB. Please do not reproduce this story without the express permission of the author.

A/N: Hi :(

Thank you readers. Thank you prereaders and my lovely beta. Thank you.


Chapter 38- "Swans will fly"

November 21, 2010

Jacob hadn't been kidding when he said he'd be in the studio all day and night until Thanksgiving. I'd barely had a chance to chat with him over the last few days. Instead, I got texts reminding me that we'd go to a movie on the 21st no matter what I was doing. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows was in theaters and he had a tiny window of opportunity to watch it with me. His producers were Potter fans, too. Plus, he was going back home the next day- "we" according to him- and didn't wanna see it in Port Angeles when he could see it in the gigantic IMAX theater in Times Square.

Jake: The tickets are HOW MUCH?!

1:10 p.m., November 19, 2010

Me: 20. The seats are really nice though.

1:10 p.m., November 19, 2010

Jake: Seats? The tix better come with butterbeer & a wand. Movie tix should NOT cost 20 bux.

1:31 p.m., November 19, 2010

Me: We don't have to see it in the IMAX theater tho.

1:32 p.m., November 19, 2010

Jake: Oh yeah we do.

1:49 p.m. November 19, 2010

Me: OK, what about if we see a matinee?

1:50 p.m., November 19, 2010

Jake: Now THATS What Im talkin bout. And don't worry. I'm buying

2:10 p.m., November 19, 2010

Me: No you don't have to. I can manage.

2:10 p.m., November 19, 2010

Jake: No u cant. I got u. I'll call u with my CC # tmrw. About to get in the booth.

2:58 p.m. November 19, 2010

Me: Okay.

3:00 p.m., November 19, 2010

Jake: ur up for going out again right? Ur better?

3:30 p.m. November 19, 2010

Me: Yeah, I'm fine. I'm better.

3:30 p.m., November 19, 2010

Jake was busy with his CD. He was so busy, he only slept in his hotel once. He told me the couches at the studio were better than the ones at home. And yet, even with little sleep and even less time, he still sent me texts to ask how I was doing and scheduled a movie date with me today.

I hadn't heard from Edward since Ben had called late Thursday night. He might have been in trouble over the last three days because I hadn't heard from Ben either, even though I left both of them messages. This brought on more dreaded sleepless nights.

I woke up this morning, glad to get my mind off him and on to those wizards. As I warmed the chicken soup Jake had bought me, I thought it was time to tell him everything- about Alice and Edward. He was my best friend; he'd understand. It was that simple with him. I made things so complicated by lying. I reacted like Edward would have. I couldn't do that to Jake. He'd get it. He cared.

I'd share everything but the bruises.

I was so hungry. I tapped my spoon against the counter, glaring at the neon green numbers of the microwave, anxious to hear the ding. At thirty seconds, my phone played "Tremble" beside me; Beethoven only played for Edward now. On the screen, "Ben C." appeared.

"Hi, Ben."

"Good news! Edward's back." He sounded like the world had been lifted off of his shoulders.

"Good." I sighed. "That's good." I was relieved he hadn't gotten hurt, but this fleeting emotion was replaced by confusion. He blocked my number. He didn't come back to me first.

"Hello? Didn't you hear me? I didn't just save $5 on your car insurance. I told you Edward's back."

"Yeah, and I told you that's great. Did you need anything else?"

"You're not as relieved as I thought. Did you already know?"

"No, Ben. I haven't spoken to him since last week. He's alright, isn't he?" The ding of the microwave was heavy in my stuffy kitchen. When I clicked open the door, steam hit my face, forcing me to back away. It was too hot. The microwave at the penthouse would've warmed it just right.

"If you call the hell he's been through the last few months 'alright,' yeah."

Scrubbing my cheeks with my knuckles, I asked, "So he didn't even tell you why he was gone for three days?"

"No, he just showed up at rehearsal last night, brooding and moody as fuck like he always is. It adds to his performance, lucky for him. Hell, lucky for me. His understudy's a hack who mumbles his lines like he's on Valium."

"Do you think it had to do with Carlisle, and he didn't wanna say?"

"No, he talks to me about his dad all the time."

"Well, good for you!" As if I needed to hear how Edward confided in him more than me right now. Perching the phone between my shoulder and cheek, I grabbed a hand towel.

"Whoa, what's your problem? You on your period or what?"

"Oh, shut the fuck up!" I dropped the towel on the counter to grab the phone again. "I have a problem? I'm not the one who went AWOL. You should ask your friend what his problem is."

Ben sighed. "Well, that's why I'm calling you."

I pulled the piping hot bowl out, placing it carefully on the counter. "You thought I'd know his problem?" I was close to screeching and toned down my voice. "He's never talked to me, even when we were living together."

"He's been really stressed. Cut him some slack. Don't you think he deserves it after everything?"

"I know, Ben. Dammit!" I stabbed my bowl with my spoon, the thick liquid splashing against the sides. "I know I was wrong, and that he's hurting. But he never lets me help him, and he treats me like I'm the enemy."

"I told you he doesn't forgive liars, didn't I?"

"It wasn't malicious, Ben. Unlike that other woman in his life, I'm not a goddamn bully."

"Don't get me started on that ho. She's like a gnat pumped full of super gnat powers. Can't get rid of her."

"Jesus Christ! She is playing Maggie?"

"It's hell, Bella. I'd prefer eating the tar that Prego makes for the rest of my life to playing opposite her in this play!"

"Then kick her out. Fuck!" The scent of the soup made my stomach roll, and I turned away, walking toward the fridge.

"It's complicated," he said slowly.

"You don't know how much I hate that godforsaken phrase! Explain it."

"Where do you get off?" His voice exploded from the receiver. "I don't have to explain myself to you."

"Rah! You know this is bad for you and Edward. You gotta get rid of her, Ben."

"It's not possible right now."

"You're gonna regret it. You already do, don't you?"

He groaned. "With every line exchanged, I regret it. But it's what I have to suffer through for this role of a lifetime. Anyway, thanks for your help."

Back at my counter, I stared at my soup. It wasn't as steamy anymore. In a couple more minutes, it would be ready.

"But I didn't help, did I? You're still as clueless as to why he left as you were when you called."

"It's all good. I'll drag it out of him tonight. Bye, Bella."

After he hung up, I glanced down at the wisps of steam rising, flung the spoon into the sink, and put the bowl back into the fridge.

How could he just leave without a word to anyone? To me? I thought I meant more to him. After everything he told me and everything I willingly accepted from him, he dropped me like I was garbage, again. To top his effed up behavior even more, he was working with Jane after he swore he'd never let her play Maggie. He should've known better.

Why was I even thinking about a man who blocked me on his cell? He was fine and I did enough worrying for the both of us. Meanwhile, he never even noted how much weight I'd lost.

Then again, I never pointed out his weight loss, either.

Around ten, the intercom for the door downstairs buzzed, irritating my ears. As I dragged my feet to my front door, I hoped it wasn't Jake and hoped it was Edward. Then again, Jake would've called me if he were coming. This intercom seldom worked. It was a miracle it worked this morning.

I pressed the top white button. "Hello?" I pressed the bottom white button to hear the response.

"UPS. Please come down for your delivery," a woman's voice snapped through the airwaves.

I cocked my eyebrow. What could it be? In September, my packages were delivered to my door. Why didn't she come up this time? And who was this package from?

"Coming down, now." I pressed the black button to open the door for her.

I found the plastic-haired woman from my birthday standing outside when I got to the door. She was chewing gum, popping bubbles between her teeth.

"Bella Swan?" She was standing in front of about two huge boxes, nearly as tall as she was.

I nodded, peeking over her shoulder at the box behind her back. Upon closer inspection of the postage on the side, I read, "Edward Cullen 880 5th Ave. PHE New York, NY 10065."

My fingers became numb, and my heartbeat raced as she handed me the electronic signature device and asked me to sign with the most benign look on her face.

"I have to take these up to my apartment, huh?" I asked, pressing the plastic pen hard to the device. Both were sticky. After giving them back to her, I rubbed my hands on the back of my jeans.

She blew a tiny bubble with her painted eyebrows raised. "Yeah. Good luck with that." Abruptly, she turned around and walked to her truck, which was double parked down the street.

I stared down the boxes. I had a hunch that she wouldn't deliver anything else from 880 because this looked to be everything I had brought with me to the penthouse last June.

My stomach lurched, hunger pangs wracking my body. I pushed both boxes into the lobby, which zapped all of my energy. I couldn't leave these boxes here because they'd get stolen in twenty minutes.

After a couple of minutes, I took a deep breath, rubbing my hands on the front of my jeans this time. Then, one by one, flight by flight, I dragged the boxes up to the fifth floor. By the time I kicked them to my door, it was 11:00. I had to leave to meet Jake soon.

I unlocked the door and pulled them inside my living room. All the muscles that hadn't ached in the last couple of days ached once more.

I shook the hoodie at the collar to cool me down a bit. Wiping my brow, I stared down the boxes again.

"It's okay, Bella." I didn't want what was in there to be in there, but there was no way anything else could be there.

When I opened the box closest to me, seeing everything from my pillows to my old shampoo, I dropped onto my living room floor and breathed.

I could smell him. Even on my clothes, I smelled him.

Here he was, but wasn't. Bits of him were in my hands, but not the man. After grabbing a pillow and breathing him in for a couple of minutes, I tossed it back in the box. It didn't belong here. It belonged in the penthouse. I wouldn't use any of this stuff until they were back where they belonged.

An hour later, I hurried to the AMC theater to meet Jake. It was eleven a.m., and there was already a line for the 12:30 show. He got us a good spot, though. When I spotted him leaning against the wall on the third floor, I called out his name. As he waved me over, "Tremble" began to play on my hip. It wasn't Ben this time.

From:"Facebook"

To:"Bella Swan"

Subject: Erik sent you a message from Facebook.

Bella! Dammit where are you?

"You aren't one of those losers who eats, sleeps, and shits with their phones, are you?" Jake asked, pulling at my hood. Edward had sent all of my clothes but wearing them was like hammering nails into a coffin. This stranger's hood, hand-washed and "Mountain Fresh," would suffice.

I stepped out of Jake's reach, pulling it back up before it could fall again. He rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, I guess I am. Deal." I opened my Facebook app and saw twenty notifications and a couple of messages. "What the hell?"

Jake snatched the phone from me.

"Hey!"

"I don't have to remind you how long I've been waiting to see this movie, do I? No interruptions, Bells." He slid the phone into his coat pocket.

"I won't turn it on while the movie's playing. Come on, give it back."

When the first few chords for "Tremble" played again, he immediately pulled it out, pressed the button at the top and slid his finger across the screen to turn it off.

"Jake!" I folded my arms across my chest and tapped my foot expectantly. He folded his arms, pumped his biceps, and furrowed his eyebrows. He had his intimidating stance that worked on everyone else but me and he knew it, so he dropped his hands into his coat pockets.

"Bella, you can clobber me all you want. I told you, nothing's gonna stop me from watching this movie." He was whining like a little baby.

"I swear to God if you don't give me my phone-"

"Idle threats. Good stuff, Bells. I'll go get some snacks." He backed away for the escalator. "Sour Patch Kids and nachos, right?"

A part of me wanted chocolate, a huge part. Then again, the chocolate here wouldn't be the same. So instead, I said, "You're never gonna hear the end of this, Black. Ever."

As he ran down the escalator like a frightened puppy, I rubbed my head through the hood. He was gonna get it. He needed to understand we weren't in high school anymore. What got my gears grinding, though, was Erik's message. Why did he want to know where I was? I sure as hell didn't want to know where either he or Alice were.

When Jake came back, he had only a large popcorn and a couple bottles of water tucked in his right arm.

"We're sharing this. Everything else cost as much as a tank of gas."

"Alright fine," I said, pulling out one of the bottles. "And you're giving my phone back. That's final, Jake."

"You're right. I am..."

I held my right palm up.

"After the movie." He chomped on some popcorn, then offered the huge bag to me. "Want some?"

I shook my head, and he shrugged.

"You ever gonna show me your haircut?"

"Maybe. Maybe not."

"You've been so annoying with all your little secrets." Just as his whine hit my ears, the line began to move. We had about a hundred people ahead of us, so I couldn't dodge this question.

"I know. I'm sorry. It's a long story, like I told you." I rubbed my neck at the tender spot where Edward had left me his love. It had faded from the intense purple hue it had been the last few days. Now, it was a sickly yellow color, as were the rest of my bruises, and I hated it. The yellow brought me back to me. I wanted the crimson and the eggplant and the onyx back.

"It's that friend of yours, isn't it?"

"What?" I blanched, my heart skipping a beat. Luckily, Jake was focused on his popcorn and missed my reaction. I took a deep breath as he looked up at me. "What friend?"

"That Brandon chick? The one who was in all those pictures with you for Halloween?"

"Oh."

"She's cute. Kinda like Megan Fox."

I snorted. "You're not exactly her type. Don't think she'd fall for you."

"Why not? I'm a good guy. Single. About to be richer than Lebron James."

"That's the thing. She's not into guys. Not now anyways."

Staring ahead, he had the goofiest smile with a daydream playing in his dark brown eyes. "A lesbian. Hot! Now, I definitely definitely gotta meet her."

"So gross."

"You two ever get it on? I want in on that action."

I shook my head, revolted. "Not happening. I'm never speaking to her again."

"Hold up." He turned to face me. "Did you two date and break up? Is this the 'long story'?" He dragged out the word "long."

The people ahead of us turned around and stared at me up and down. In my oversized hoodie and jeans, I did look pretty butch. I gave them the finger to go along with their assumptions and they turned around again.

"Thanks for embarrassing me like that."

"They don't care." Jake bumped my shoulder with his. "So, you went out with a girl, huh? Was she a good kisser?"

I poked his right shoulder, hitting muscle. "Jake, I did not date Alice. For fuck's sakes, if you wanna get it on with a couple lesbos, 8th Avenue's right around the corner," I said, pointing my thumb behind me.

"Why would I wanna do it with a couple strangers when I can do it with you two for free?"

I groaned, and he hooted in the most obnoxious way. I had forgotten how young he was, and so insensitive. Such a guy.

"Alright look," he said, finally wiping that stupid grin off his face. "I just wanna understand why you've been so weird since I came back. If it's not school, and it's not this girl, what is it?"

I blushed furiously, which made him nod and made me blush even more. "Please, let's not get into it now."

"Look at you. You're blushing. And before, when I mentioned 'a friend,' you were as white as a snowy owl." Damn, he caught that. "Why didn't you tell me you were a lesbian?"

Hugging myself, I looked up at him through my lashes. "Let's just watch some pubescent wizards fight or whatever and forget everything for the next couple hours. I'll tell you as soon as it's over."

"I'd be honored to have a lesbian as a friend. I've never had one before."

"Mmm hmm, yeah. You still don't, Jake."

We got inside shortly after that agreement and watched the film in silence. And while I found the film enjoyable, it got a bit dull after they apparated* from the Ministry. For the next hour, I thought about how I'd explain Alice and Edward to Jake.

"Remember that guy at that play we saw last May? Yeah, we're dating."

Except what Edward and I had didn't really classify as dating. And he wasn't my boyfriend. He was so much more. He also didn't trust me as far as he could throw me.

"Remember that guy at that play we saw last May? Yeah, we're, like together, but not together together."

And Alice?

"Yeah, we're friends, but not too close... Even though she saved my life, has been buying my clothes, food, and paying my bills for the last three months."

Jake was gonna ask so many more questions that I didn't know the answers to. And he would probably assume the worst of Edward, which was undeserved. Jake just wouldn't get it.

After the credits rolled, he jumped out of his seat, giddy. At least one of us was excited.

"That was good. We should see it again when we get home."

"Subtle, Jake." I got up and stretched. "I told you I'm not going."

"Why not? It's not like you have to be anywhere else... right?"

I huffed. Even though the theater was emptying out, I felt trapped.

"Alright, movie's over. Give me my phone."

"Not till you tell me why you're acting like this."

"Those were not the conditions we discussed."

Jake shook his hands as if he were about to get into a boxing ring with me. "I just made it the condition. Tell me what's up."

"You're so obnoxious!" I reached into his pocket where the phone was, but he immediately slapped my hand away. When he held it up, my wrist looked like a straw in his hand. He shook his head.

"Now you're not playing fair." Jake fished his pocket for the phone and waved it in the air.

"Please give it back. Please?"

He tapped his chin with his index finger. "Hmm, your desperation is quite telling, Bella. You got naughty texts in here with your girlfriend?"

I screwed my face up, my heart pounding in my chest. "Please Jake."

He raised it in the air, way out of my reach even if I jumped, and turned it on.

"Excuse me," someone with a Jamaican accent said behind me. Over my shoulder, I saw a tall black skinny guy with glasses holding up a carpet sweeper in his hands.

"Let's go, Jake." When I looked back up at him, he lowered his arm, the bright backlight of the iPhone's screen disappearing in his coat pocket. As we made our way down the steps and into the hall, I watched him pull it out again.

"This is really embarrassing," I said with a laugh that sounded false even to me. "I don't have anything smutty in there, especially not for a girl."

"I guess I'll see for myself." He had the most smug look on his face as he raised my phone high above his head again. Slack-jawed, I watched as he scrolled through my home menu.

"Oh, looks like you've been popular in the last three hours. Five voicemails, thirty emails and ten texts. Didn't know you were so cool now, Bells."

"Jake-" I tried pulling his arm down, but it was like pulling a branch off of a tree.

"Ah, okay first text..." His smirk was debilitating. "A fair maiden named Jessica," he said in this terrible British accent. "She says, and I quoteth, 'Turn on the news. Alice is all over the news.'" Jake went back into his regular voice. "You got famous friends and didn't tell me?"

"Are you gonna read every single one of my texts or-"

"Maybe." He shrugged, sliding his finger across the screen to the next text. "Next one is from a dude. Ah, booty call, Bells?"

Oh God.

When he cleared his throat, I jumped up and hooked my hands over his bicep, trying to pull his arm down with my body weight. He just tossed the phone over into his right hand and laughed and laughed. Jake's laugh was infectious most times. In this moment, its mocking tone hit me like a barrel of oil. I let go to land on my feet, but I punched him in the stomach and pinched his side right afterward.

"Hey, that tickles," Jake said with a giggle. Then, "Oh, this is a longer one." His delighted dark brown eyes moved from left to right. "He's pissed at you." Jake chuckled right when he got to the end. "Mad he didn't get a booty call last night?" Then, he went on to the next text.

"You're invading my privacy. This is, like, against the law."

"Yeah, maybe if you're CIA..." He said this absently as he read through another text.

Since August, Edward never sent me a text message. Who was the guy? Still Erik?

"What are you reading? Jake, I never get this many notifications. Something's going on."

"Wow." He scratched his forehead. "You're right. Something is going on."

"What? What is it?"

"According to Erik," he began, and I screwed my face up, perplexed. What did he want? "Your friend Alice got into something bad last night. He doesn't say what it is, though."

"What do you mean, bad?"

He gulped. "I don't know. He doesn't say anything else." As soon as he dropped his hand, I jumped up and ripped the phone out of it. Jake rubbed his chin with the back of his hand. Standing back, he looked as if he were calculating something in his head. His eyes were on overdrive.

"What? Did you see something else?"

He nodded, forming his right hand into a fist.

"What the hell's going on?" I groaned. Skimming through all my recent texts, I found a bunch from Erik and the one from Jessica. Of course Edward didn't text me. Jessica's was the earliest one. The other nine were from Erik and they were all as angry as Jake had hinted at earlier:

Erik: Things are so fucked up, and it's all because of you! If anything happens to Alice, I will make your life a living hell!

2:15 p.m.

They all read like that, except for one. In his first text, sent an hour and a half ago, he sounded confused.

Erik: 'Swans will fly' Why would Alice write that in her status B?

1:10 p.m.

"Who the fuck are these people?" Jake asked. "One of those texts sounded like that Alice chick was gonna come after you."

I turned away from him, feeling my hands become numb and my heart race. I rubbed the back of my neck. "I don't know. I don't know."

I closed the text message app and opened my emails. Jake said I had thirty, but it was up to forty, now. They were all Facebook messages or notifications from a bunch of people I didn't even know.

"Is this why you didn't wanna show me your phone?" Jake asked through his teeth. "Alice is trying to kill you?"

"No, she's not homicidal. Everything's fine." I opened my Facebook app and saw dozens of notifications and messages. But the latest posting on my wall right at the top made me gasp.

"What is it? Bella!"

The phone slipped from my hands, and Jake caught it before it could hit the floor.

"I can't..." I couldn't say out loud what I had read.

Tia Pascano

Bitch!

November 21, 2010 8:33 a.m.

Daughter of Editor in Chief of The New Yorker, Alice Brandon, rushed to hospital.

By Charlotte Hicks

"She was the nicest girl whenever I saw her in the hallway. We don't know how this could've happened to her," said JJ Jenks, a neighbor. "Always so happy."

Late last night, 21 year old Alice Brandon was rushed to Beth Israel Medical Center after she was found unconscious by a close friend in her Bedford St. apartment. Police will not release any more information about her condition, although reports have circulated that drugs may have been found on the premises.

Esme Evanson could not be reached for comment.

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A/N:

*Apparate- To Apparate is to transport oneself from one place to another by dissapparating and reapparating, coined from the Latin 'appareo', meaning to appear.

Bye :(