A/N: This is for my dear sweet Chloe Masen, her laptop crashed on her and we are trying to find a way to get her back up and running cause to be honest I can't live without her stories! I just can't! A big thanks to Twistar Junkie, she beta'd this with way too much on her plate already, so I want to send her a huge amount of love for that!
I hope you enjoy it!
I sat in stunned silence. In fact, the last two days have been one large blur.
First, Edward got called away on assignment. He couldn't tell us what or where, but I knew it was an important one for him. I could see it in his eyes as he left. In the way he said goodbye to all of his family. I saw the sadness in his eyes.
And to be honest, it surprised me. I expected him to tell me that we weren't going to work. Then, when he showed up, it seemed he had changed his mind at some point during the night. I was thrilled.
I wanted Edward in my life. Every single decision I had made after I left him in Forks had not work out. I wanted to go back and correct my mistake. I wanted him back, not just because of the mistakes, but because he was what I had wanted all along. I was just too stupid to realize it and too stubborn to admit it.
The young woman in me thought that I had to sever ties with my old life in order to gain a new one. Little did I know how wrong I was. The only people that still cared for me in any way were those that I tried to leave behind. My friends and family in Forks.
Edward was scared to trust me, I knew he was. I didn't blame him, I would be scared too. I just had to find a way to prove to him that I was being honest this time. For the first time in about ten years, I was honest with myself. I didn't care what others wanted, what was good for my career, what I should want or any of those useless notions. I went with my gut and laid all my cards on the table.
Esme laid her hand on my arm, her patient smile greeted me when I snapped out of my memories and turned to look at her. "You doing okay?" My heart hurt that her son was lost, missing, and yet she was worried if I was doing okay. I pulled her into a hug. I didn't know if it was for her or me, but either way, we took comfort in each other. Both of our eyes filled with tears, but we refused to let them fall. We chose to be strong, to believe that he was fine.
Several days earlier…
I had no immediate assignments, so I took a few extra days and stayed in Forks. I tried to tell everyone else that it was because I was enjoying catching up with everyone, but deep down inside, I knew it was because I felt closer to Edward here. I could imagine him in each spot I passed on the streets, I could remember the times we had spent here together, and I had yearned for more of that since he was gone from me.
We were sat at the table for Sunday dinner at Carlisle and Esme's house. Charlie had to work the second shift and wouldn't be home, so Alice convinced me to stay and eat with them. It didn't take much begging from her; I wanted to be here.
It worried me that Edward had not texted or called me. But a part of me just chastised myself for being too clingy. He was at work, he had a job to do, and there was no way he could spend all of his time with me. I pushed the feelings aside and enjoyed the dinner.
Until we heard the knock on the door.
It sounded different, and it felt different than a normal knock. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I knew something was wrong, and since Edward was the only person not with us, I immediately sensed it was about him.
Carlisle answered the door and ushered in the two uniformed officers. Both were decked out in full Army dress uniforms; this seemed strange to all of us. The looks exchanged spoke of our confusion. The officers asked us to sit and we all did without question. We wanted to know the reason for their visit.
"Mr. Cullen, my name is Major Ron Wilson. I'm with the U.S. Army and we're here to speak to you about your son, Edward Cullen." Esme gasped and Carlisle took her hand in his. All eyes were glued to these two men that now sat in the living room with us. "He was on assignment with the Army unit that went in to retrieve Saddam Hussein. He was several hours behind the troops and didn't arrive until we had him in custody. The site was secured and we allowed several civilians in the area to document the scene. When they were finished, we flew them out by helicopter. Our hopes were to get them out quickly and back to the safety of our base." I glanced from face to face in the room and they all wore the same shocked, scared facial expression I could feel resided on my face. I wanted to scream at him to hurry the hell up and tell us what happened, but it seemed the wrong thing to do so I sat quietly. "The helicopter was fired at and took a direct hit. It went down. We have several groups out looking for the crew and civilians, but as of right now, your son is missing." Esme began to cry and Carlisle pulled her close to him.
Jasper and Emmett held Alice and Rose, as well. They each launched into questions and I tried to listen to them. I tried to piece together the things that everyone said, but I couldn't. I left the room and quietly climbed the stairs. I made my way to Edward's old bedroom and climbed in the bed. I held his pillow to my face and breathed in his scent.
I lay in his bed and cried. I had wasted so much time, and now, it may not be mine to take back again. I felt Rose and Alice slip in the bed with me. We all remained silent, each of us caught up in our own bubble of memories.
The next several days were a blur. I called work and let them know that, for the time being, I was going to stay in Forks. I explained what happened and they told me to take my time. I knew my bank account would suffer, but right now I didn't care about things as trivial as that. I cared about getting Edward back.
Carlisle went into work, but the rest of us hung around the house. We tried to find things to occupy our minds, but nothing really worked. Each time the phone would ring or a knock would sound against the door, we would all freeze. It was a heart stopping moment to say the least. We all prayed that it was not the news we feared the most.
The two gentlemen from the Army stayed with us for the most part. They advised us what could and could not be said to the local media. They handled phone calls and coordinated all the new info that came in. Their presence was a constant reminder, a constant source of worry. What would we do if the news we didn't want to hear came? How would we cope with that info? I prayed that I didn't have to figure that out in the near future. I prayed that Edward would come home and never put any of us through that scenario.
I stayed in Edward's room. When the stress became too much, I would retreat to the third floor and wander around his room. I would look over his albums of pictures. Pictures of all of us in school from the years, and then the photos he took in the beginning of his professional career. I looked through the stacks of framed pictures he had stored in his closet. I tried to imagine what he would see, think or feel when he took the pictures. I read through the journals that he wrote after we broke up. After I'd left him behind with very little explanation.
I read of his heartbreak, of his plans for us, and how it affected him. I read it in his words, saw his pain, and felt his heartbreak. I realized the trauma I put him through with that one simple action, and now I might not get to take it back or make it right.
A small knock on Edward's door made me sit up and place the journal under his pillows. Esme walked in to sit with me. She looked older, just around the eyes where you could see the worry lines. I hoped that she was holding up okay; I never even thought to ask her, I was so focused on my own sadness.
"Hey, how are you?" I asked her.
"Could be better." We both chuckled at her attempt at humor. "I came to see how you are, actually. I know this has to be hard." She smoothed my hair away from my face.
"I just hate the turn of events. I hate that I can't go back and take it all away, that I can't make it all okay." I wiped at a tear that fell down my face. "Not that taking it all back would make this whole situation easier. In fact, it would make it harder, but I would still like him to know how I feel. Anything to give him something to hold onto, to keep him alive. You know?" I asked.
"He knows, sweetie, he does. Edward thinks a lot, and he knows that he cares for you and you care for him. He will hold onto that, so don't you worry." Esme's sweet words enveloped me, and I prayed she was right.
Exactly thirty-six hours later we got a call. They had found Edward and the rest of the press crew. A few minor injuries were received during the crash, but the troops that were with them kept them safe. They were all a little dehydrated and sick from being in the elements, but they were fine. They were scheduled to fly to Frankfurt, Germany, then to JFK airport in New York. We could meet them at JFK. They would be admitted for a few days, and then debriefed. It would take about ten days before they would be released to come home.
News about their disappearance had already hit the press and since Edward had uploaded his photos before he went missing, he was getting even more publicity. His shots were amazing; he had detailed all aspects of life there and how it was affected by Saddam and his rule. Of course, it was used to garner more publicity for Time. They also did a large article on Edward and featured several of the other famous photos he had taken over his career. Each of the press representatives had been featured. It was the easiest to feature Edward however, because of his photos. One of the others was a news reporter and that was a bit harder to translate into a printed article. The same thing went for the cameraman, so, it was natural that Edward became the face of the bunch. I was okay with that, to me he deserved the most press. All of his work became instantly recognized and Garrett had received numerous offers for him, once he was home and rested.
I just wanted to get to him. I needed to see him and touch him. I needed to tell him that I was sorry and how much I loved him. How much I had always loved him, but had been too stubborn to admit it. I knew that now, and I hoped that the fact that it took me almost losing him to realize that didn't come across as a negative in his mind.
We boarded the flight for New York. Esme had to tell the Major that was with us that we were engaged, so that I would be allowed to go with them. It was a family only kind of thing, so Esme told them I was almost family. I hoped that Edward didn't mind the lie. It almost made me chuckle to think of it. Me…engaged to Edward…without his knowledge. I think it was the fact that I was on my way to see him that made me giddy, not the actual lie that Esme told. Either way, I was happy!
When we arrived, we were directed to a large room. They would allow Edward and the others in to see their families first, then we would go across the hall to a room where they could give a statement and answer questions for a short time.
We all milled about as we waited. The wait was so nerve-wracking. I was almost in tears when the door opened and they walked in.
Edward was thinner, he looked frail like he had been sick, his skin was sun burnt, and his lips were dry and cracked. But he was beautiful. His dad and mom ran to him and both engulfed him in a large hug. Then Alice, Rose, Emmett, and Jasper took over. I stood back, off to the side. It seemed like the crowd parted and left an empty path between Edward and I. We both stood and took each other in. My feet were rooted to their spot, and it seemed like forever before he started to move towards me. His face split into a large smile as he almost ran the short distance to me.
"Oh God, Bella. I missed you," he cried into my shoulder, and I cried into his. The emotions were too much to hold in, and it seemed foolish to let them out now since he was safe in my arms, but I couldn't hold them in. I held Edward and we cried together, both with tears of relief and joy.
Later that night, when all of the press was over and we headed back to his house, we had a few quiet moments to talk in the car.
"Are you tired?" I asked.
"Yes and no, I can't wait to get home and take a hot shower. To sleep in my bed, to wear my clothes." He gave me a slight smile, and I wondered what else he thought, but was afraid to say out loud.
"Everyone is thrilled to have you back home, especially your mom and dad. It's been hard on them, the not knowing." His fingers wove themselves in between my own and his warmth immediately soothed me. It took away all the residual worry and anxiety that was left over with him gone.
"Everyone? You included?" His face was filled with hesitation.
"Me the most. I can't even tell you how much I missed you and all the things I realized while you were gone." He leaned in and gave me sweet kiss.
"I want to talk about all those things, but it looks like we might have to wait a little while longer, okay?" His hand tightened around mine. I looked out the windows and realized we were surrounded.
The streets were lined with people when we made it back to Forks. We slowed down and Edward leaned out to wave and thank the people there. The mayor put together an official parade and all for him; it was just the people showing him how glad they were he was home. It brought me to tears, this was what living in a small town is all about…the love and support that was shown to one another in times of need. It made me want this again, to live here, to be a part of this camaraderie and to feel like I belong somewhere.
It was like a bolt of lightning. I wanted a family, a home, and a small town to raise my kids in. I want it all…with Edward. No one else, no more playing around, no guessing, I knew without a doubt that he was the one, he always had been. I was just too young and too stupid to realize it.
When I thought of all the time I had wasted for us, I started to cry. At that exact moment, Edward stuck his head back inside the car. "Oh, Bella, what's wrong? I'm here, I'm fine now; I swear it!"
I delicately wiped the snot off of my nose and tried to stem the tears that fell. "It's not that, Edward, I'm just so stupid, and I wasted so many years for us. We could have been together all this time, and yet, I threw it away because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I followed Lauren and Jessica's example and look where it got me…all alone for all this time. I should have been smart enough to do things my own way and not follow them. Hell, I hated them!" I cried even more, for all the lost time. Edward just chuckled and pulled me close to his body.
"Baby, don't cry. It's never for nothing. Who's to say that if we had stayed together that we would still be together now? We needed that time to grow and decide what we wanted, now that we know…well, it will make things so much better between us, right?"
I was stunned, I never expected him to feel the same way. Especially based on how he acted when we parted last time. I expected him to be wishy-washy, on the fence, torn, not sure….never did I expect this confident, sure man that sat beside me. My mouth gaped open, and I blinked several times. I furiously thought to get something out, something intelligent to say.
Edward just laughed at me, kissed my temple and used his left hand to close my mouth for me. "Keep that closed, sweet Bella. I would hate to put that to use here in this car with all those people standing right outside."
Needless to say, it fell right back open with that remark. Edward pulled me close again and laughed at my expression. This was the boy I remembered, the one that stole my heart with his playful banter and sharp wit. This was the person I longed for all those years, and I would be damned if I let him- get away this time.
E/N: So they are back together now, are you happy about that? I am! I have a little more for you, it will post soon:)
Till next time...