The Jukebox contest
Song choice: On Bended Knee by Boyz II Men
Word Count: 3707
Summary: As Edward tries to deal with the aftermath of Bella leaving, his world crumbles around him. Will he finally get up to courage to tell her how he feels? Written for the Jukebox contest. AH.
Disclaimer: Do not own these characters, I just make them do crazy things.
AN: I blame LyricalKris for me entering this contest, but I thank her for betaing this for me. Writing this was a serious departure for me from the normal writing I'm used to. Hope you guys enjoy!
"Dude, get up. Come on, man."
There was no knock as Emmett barged into the apartment unannounced. Edward could hear his friend's large footsteps echoing off of the hardwood floor, and he pulled the blanket over his head, burrowing down in the bed a little further. A few seconds later, the door to the bedroom flew open.
"Edward, shit man." Edward heard rustling as Emmett spoke again. "Hey, Jasper, it's me. Yeah, I'm here...I'm pretty sure he's the giant lump I'm looking at on the bed…Yeah…Ok…No, I haven't even looked in the fridge…Yup…See you soon. Bye." There was another small rustle, then the bed began to shake. The blanket that was protecting Edward was forcefully ripped from him, taking with it the warmth and security. "Get up."
Edward groaned and looked up at Emmett. The two shared a brief look before Emmett turned quickly and threw open the curtains, drenching the room in sunlight. Edward instantly recoiled, making sure the light never touched his skin. It was too warm and Edward didn't deserve that kind of light. Not now.
"Seriously, man. This place is a mess. When was the last time Leah was here?"
Leah was, or had been, their housekeeper. But she hadn't been there since right after…
Right after Bella left.
The thought alone caused Edward to fold in on himself. He wondered if he could somehow zap Emmett away with his mind. Just as he was trying to figure out how, two strong hands gripped him and yanked his body out of the bed. Edward stumbled as his feet hit the cold, hardwood floor. His hands flew out, holding onto the other man as he gathered his footing.
"What the hell, Emmett?" Edward grumbled, pushing away and rubbing his arms as if cold. Without waiting for an answer, he walked out of the room and into the kitchen, stepping over empty pizza boxes and left over fast food that was strewn around the apartment floor. Edward reached into the nearest cabinet, grabbing the first glass he could reach and filling it with water. He said a quick prayer that when he turned around, Emmett would be gone.
Emmett was still there. Sitting at the small dining room table.
~Can we go back to the days our love was strong
"They're banana pancakes!" Bella presented in her ta-da voice.
Edward looked at the plate in front of him, then back up at his wife. "Bella, love, I don't know what these are, but they sure aren't banana pancakes. And why is it shaped like the Loch Ness monster?"
"It's a music note!" Bella exclaimed, exasperated as she plopped down in the chair across from him.
Edward smiled, his eyes sparkling. "You made me musical note pancakes?"
She nodded. "It's your first day. I wanted to make you something special."
Edward leaned over and placed a gentle kiss against her red lips. His wife responded readily, reaching up and wrapping her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss. Edward allowed himself this small indulgence before breaking the connection, though he didn't pull away. They stayed that way for a minute, foreheads resting against each other with small smiles on their faces.
Many said that they married too soon - too young. But at 23, Edward knew that he would never want to be with any other woman but Bella. Who else would make their husband musical pancakes on the day he was to begin teaching music at the local elementary school?
"They're going to get cold," Bella whispered.
Edward brushed hair off her face. "I'm sure they'll still taste delicious." With another smile, he grabbed his fork and shoveled a bite into his mouth. He paused, then began chewing slowly, trying very carefully to hold in his reaction. However, Bella was too observant.
"They're horrible, aren't they?"
"No, they're delicious," Edward replied with his mouth full. Bella gave him a look of disbelief, reaching over him with her fork and grabbing a piece before he could stop her.
"Oh my God, that's disgusting!" she shouted, not even bothering to swallow, just spitting the food into her napkin.
"Honey, it's not that bad," Edward lied. Unfortunately, he'd always been a bad liar.
Bella gave him a look of disbelief. "Edward, they actually taste like the Loch Ness monster."
Edward struggled to hold back his laughter. "And do you actually know what the Loch Ness monster tastes like? Because if you do, I think that's a conversation we should have had before we got married."
Bella tried to look upset, but her resolve crumbled as Edward began pouting. His lower lip jutted out and actually quivered as he moved closer to her. She turned her head away, stubbornly trying to hold out. Edward placed his chin on her shoulder and whimpered.
"Oh, God," Bella finally exclaimed, caving in. "You're like a freaking puppy."
"But you love me," Edward said matter-of-factly.
Bella sighed. "I do."
~Can somebody tell me how to get things back the way they used to be~
"When was the last time you ate?"
Edward blinked, coming back to the present. "What?"
"Food, Edward. When was the last time you had it?"
Edward ran his hand through his hair, looking around the kitchen. His eyes roamed over the burnt skillet from when he tried to make a grilled cheese sandwich two nights ago, then moved to the empty Chinese boxes that lined the sink. Golden Wok now knew his voice and had the order to his door within ten minutes. The kitchen was no longer used for cooking; now it was just a dumping ground for waste – a landfill almost.
"Um, I don't know. Yesterday, maybe. What are you doing here, Emmett?"
"Seriously?" Emmett got up from the table and began opening and closing cabinets. "No one has heard from you in over a week. Despite what you think, there are people who actually care about you." Emmett slammed the last cabinet shut. "There's nothing here."
"I haven't made it to the store," Edward replied, sitting down on one of the stools.
"You haven't made it anywhere," Emmett muttered, but Edward still heard him. He chose to ignore the snide comment as he did most of the time lately. A few soft bangs later and Emmett produced the ingredients for a grilled cheese sandwich. Within minutes, he had a plate in front of Edward. Almost robotically, Edward picked up the sandwich and took a bite. It tasted like ash in his mouth.
"Look, Edward," the stool next to him scraped against the floor as Emmett slid it back, sitting down. "It's been almost two months. Now, I'm not saying that you should be all sunshine and daises, but -"
"But what?" Edward all but shouted, banging his fist on the bar. "Just pretend like nothing happened? That's easy for you to say; you still have a wife."
Emmett recoiled as if he'd been slapped. "No, man, that's…that's not what I'm saying at all. But you can't spend your life hiding here in your box. That's not what she would want."
"She left!" Edward roared, standing up so abruptly that the stool was knocked to the ground. The anger that was so easily kept at bay when no one was around was creeping out and mixing with the pain, intertwining with each other so it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. Edward was grabbing at anything within reach, expelling the object from his grasp as quickly as it was acquired. Emmett said and did nothing, just watched as his best friend destroyed another part of the luxurious apartment. This was the most alive anyone had seen him in weeks. When the energy seemed to evaporate, Edward slid down the wall opposite of the kitchen, his hands gripping the carpet underneath.
"She left. And I did nothing. I just let it happen. I did nothing to stop it. It's my fault," Edward rambled, shaking his head back and forth. His words became whispers and then faded all together, leaving silence once again.
Emmett slowly stood up and walked over to the crumpled man, crouching down before him. "You did nothing wrong, Edward. Fucked up shit just happens." Edward looked up and Emmett's heart broke for his friend at the look of pain and loss that was there. "Have you tried talking to her?"
Edward looked away, the answer obvious in his reaction. Of course, he hadn't tried talking to her. He was a coward. Plain and simple. A shrill ring pierced through the air, and Emmett reached in his pocket, pulling out his phone. He spoke quickly, his voice getting more agitated the longer he talked to the other person. With a sigh of annoyance, he disconnected the call and looked back at Edward.
"I have to go. I don't want to, but this can't wait."
"Go," Edward said, still not looking at him.
"I don't want to leave you like this. Not without knowing…" he trailed off.
"That I'll be okay?" Edward said almost sarcastically.
Emmett stood up, not really knowing what else to do. He was never good with this kind of stuff. He just knew that it killed him to see his friend this way. "Yeah, well, Jasper's going to come by later tonight. I'll make sure he brings you some food." Edward did something that slightly resembled a nod. Emmett paused but didn't really know what to say, so after a heartbeat, he walked to the door. "Go talk to her, Edward."
Edward didn't know how long he sat there, only that his legs had begun to cramp and fall asleep. Wincing, he pushed himself up and off the wall. The grilled cheese that Emmett had made for him still sat on the bar, one bite missing. He knew that he should probably eat, but the thought just made his stomach roll, so he left it there and headed back to the bedroom.
He tried to keep his gaze straight ahead, but his eyes seemed to have a mind of their own as they shifted to the right, making sure to pass over every picture of Bella that still remained ending on their wedding picture. Bella's beautiful face smiled out at him, laughter on her face. He closed his eyes, squeezing them shut. This proved to be a bad idea when his knee collided with the coffee table. But Edward hardly noticed. Just one pain replacing another.
When his hand touched on the doorframe to the room, he slowly opened his eyes back up. They immediately fell on the bed.
~Can we go back to the days our love was strong
"Oh my God! Where did this storm come from?" Bella laughed, running into the apartment with Edward on her heels, the bottom of her wedding dress gathered in her hands.
They were both drenched, dripping water behind them from the downpour that caught them by surprise as they walked just the short distance from the limo to the building's door. The young couple was laughing together, both highly amused at the current situation. Of course it would rain on their wedding night. Bella shivered, her body trying to adjust to the sudden temperature change.
"Well, I guess it's a good thing our flight doesn't leave until tomorrow," Edward laughed, taking off his tuxedo jacket.
"My dress is ruined!" Bella looked down at her white dress, trying to smooth away the moisture.
Edward reached out and wrapped his arms around her. "Then it's a good thing you're only going to wear it this once."
The grin that met his warmed Edward's heart. "We're married." He nodded, lowering his face until his nose brushed lightly against hers. "We did it." They shared a chaste kiss before Bella pulled away. "And now, I'm going to take a warm shower and put on some dry clothes."
Edward was ready to protest; Bella had taken no less than two steps towards the bathroom when the room was instantly thrown into darkness. Bella cried out in surprise, and Edward tripped over his recently discarded shoe. Lightening crashed outside, illuminating the room long enough for the two of them to find each other. The panoramic window view of the city was a main selling point for Edward when he picked out the apartment, and it was their only source of light at the moment. A loud roar of thunder followed, and Bella's hand found his. He knew that although his wife loved rain, thunderstorms happening when they were this high up tended to frighten her a little. He pulled her close, her shivering body shaking against his. His wife; he liked the sound of that.
"Are you scared, love?" he whispered playfully in her ear.
"No," she answered stubbornly before jumping when another flash of lightening hit.
He chuckled. "Well, then I guess I'm just going to have to think of something to distract you." His lips trailed kisses down her exposed neck, tasting the rain that was still lingering there. He turned her in his arms ever so slowly, their skin never disconnecting. Bella was always beautiful to him, but standing there just shadowed in the night, she was breathtaking. He couldn't believe how lucky he was that she was here, that she had said yes to his spontaneous marriage proposal. When her lips met his, he knew that there would never be another woman for him, in this or any other lifetime.
Careful not to knock her legs against anything, Edward picked up his wife and carried her bridal style to the bedroom. He stealthily moved around the cardboard boxes from all the unpacking they still hadn't done and deposited her gently at the foot of the bed. With a sweet smile on her face, she stepped back, her hands going to the back of her gown. Slowly, she unzipped her gown, letting it pool at her feet and stepped out of it. Bella stood before him in a white lace corset and matching underwear. She smiled, scooting herself back on the bed until she was in the center. There, she looked at her husband expectantly. Edward laughed to himself as he began to disrobe. His clothes joined hers on the floor and he crawled up the bed.
They took their time removing the last articles of clothing, both knowing there was no rush. Edward made sure to place kisses on every inch of Bella's skin, showing her through his touch how much he adored her. Bella responded in kind, reciprocating every action Edward initiated. This was not the first time they had made love, but this was the first time as husband and wife.
Afterward, they lay in each others' arms, playfully arguing over childrens' names as the rain drowned out the outside world.
~Can somebody tell me how to get things back the way they used to be~
Edward blinked, bringing himself back to the present. Emmett was right. He had to go talk to her.
He went through the motions of getting ready – shower, brushing hair and teeth, putting on actual clothes that weren't of the pajama variety. The closer Edward got to actually leaving the apartment, the heavier his heart got. In his mind, he was already talking himself out of it, running over all the things that could go wrong. He couldn't screw this up. Deep down he knew that this was probably the most important thing he would ever do, and that was what scared him the most.
Digging in the drawer next to the bed, he removed something that he had kept hidden there and shoved it in his pocket. Taking one last look around, Edward grabbed his coat off the hook by the door and stepped out into the hallway for the first time since…well, the first time in awhile. He stood stoically in the elevator, one hand clasped over the other in front of him, as the floors ticked by. Scotty, the doorman, did a double take at the sight of Edward, having not seen him in awhile. Sadness lingered in his eyes, but the friendly old man bustled around, opening the door and offering to pull up a car. Edward politely refused, stating that he would much rather walk. The man smiled back, commenting on what a beautiful day for a walk it was. However, Edward knew that if he took the car, he may never actually have the courage to get out.
As he walked, he wondered if he should bring flowers. Was that the appropriate thing to do?
Turning a corner, he looked around. Did he even know where he was going? Bells sounded to his right, coming from the church, signaling evening mass. He paused, staring up at the church where they had said their "I do's" and, with a heavy heart, knew where he had to go. He knew where she would be waiting.
~Can you tell me how a perfect love goes wrong
The sky overhead was perfect, light blue with not a cloud in sight. It was like it was mocking him, being so perfect when everything had fallen apart – was still falling apart. A slight breeze blew from the north as Edward stood in the soft grass, crumpled pieces of paper in hand. He raised them, trying to furiously smooth out the wrinkles. He chuckled wryly as he stood in front of Bella. He wondered if Emmett had told her he was coming. Probably. It seemed like something their good friend would have done. A sharp pang hit him where his heart lie and he couldn't believe it had taken him this long to come and talk to her. There was so much he wanted to say, so much he wanted to know, that he couldn't even sort out where to begin.
"I didn't want to forget what I was going to say," he explained, gesturing to the paper. "You always told me that I should write things down. You were right, of course. Just please, let me get this out." Taking a deep breath, he readied himself. "I don't really understand what happened, where we went so wrong with everything." He paused, looking up. He could feel his chest constricting, making it harder to breathe.
"Bella, the night…the night it happened. You thought I didn't remember. I know that's why you left early. But I did. It was all I could think about all week. Ask anyone. Hell, I think I annoyed Emmett so much he was ready to punch me. It was our anniversary, baby. How could you honestly think that I forgot?" His fist tightened around the paper, crushing it tightly.
"You were always so stubborn. Why did you have to be so stubborn? Why couldn't you have just waited for me?" Edward tilted his head back, squinting against the sun. He willed himself not to be angry, especially since the anger was misplaced. Bella didn't deserve any of this. This was not why he came here.
"I wrote this about a week after that night – the night you left me. And I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, baby, that it took this long for me to come here." He raised the letter up in front of him, smoothing it down once again. Taking another deep breath, he read.
"Isabella, from the first moment that I saw you, I knew that I had to make you mine. Nothing else mattered in that moment except that you were supposed to be with me. I knew, without a doubt, that you were made especially for me. So with this knowledge, I pursued you. I pursued you for weeks trying to convince you that I was worth your time. Who knew it would be Emmett who would convince you?" He let out a little laugh at the fond memory. There were many reasons why Emmett was the best man at their wedding.
"Then there's the day you agreed to marry me: fresh out of college, neither of us employed yet. You always joked that you were just with me for my family's money, but I knew better. The way you looked that day, the way you looked at me, I'll never forget it. I see it when I close my eyes at night. I see you every night, Bella. And it's so real, and I'm happy. And just for a moment, a second in time, everything's perfect. It's back the way it's supposed to be. Then I wake up. And I'm faced with the reality that you're still gone." Quiet tears had begun to form in Edward's eyes, but he ignored them, holding steady to the task that he set before him. He would finish this, even if it killed him.
"I remember the nights where we would stay up until dawn discussing our...future," he choked on the word, followed by a sharp intake of breath. "We had names picked out for our children. Heck, even our grandchildren. But all that's gone now. And I said it before, I'm so sorry. I love you so much. So much that it hurts me and I don't want the pain to go away because that would mean you're really gone."
Edward collapsed then, the weight of his loss bearing down on him as he fell to his knees. Ignoring the moisture from the grass that was seeping through his pants, he lifted his head to the sky. He closed his eyes against the glare, tears flowing freely down his face.
"I just – I need," he tried to speak, but nothing was coming out. Nothing was making sense. "God, I just need a reason. I just…I just want to go back. Just tell me how we can go back."
Edward wrapped his arms around his waist, doubling over. Sobs racked his body as he struggled to gain control over his breathing. He didn't know how long he stayed that way, broken before his love. Days could have passed for all he knew. But he just stayed there, waiting until every last tear had fallen, until he felt like there was nothing else within him. Finally, he took a deep breath and pushed himself up. Not bothering to wipe his face, he just stared straight ahead at where his wife was. It was almost as if a silent conversation was happening between the two. After a few moments, he nodded. Reaching forward, he placed the crumpled letter underneath a small rock so that it lay at the base of the headstone.
And that was when Edward Cullen finally said goodbye.