Your pen name: ***
Your beta's name: ***
Your story name: Time Heals
Song that inspired you: Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper
Summary: Bella's twenty-fifth high school reunion brings her back to Forks to face the memories and the man she left behind so long ago
Pairing: Edward and Bella
Disclaimer:Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
Nervous. Petrified. Nauseous. Anxious.
Take your pick. Because I was feeling all of those things as I walked into the gym that I hadn't seen in, well, 25 years, I suppose.
Funny, because those were probably the same feelings I experienced the first time I'd ever stepped foot into this room. It's strange how even after 25 years this place can still make me feel like the shy and quiet new girl at Forks High School. I despised feeling so out of sorts the first time around. Reliving those emotions as a successful and capable adult just made me feel plain silly.
I knew this was going to be hard and it had taken a lot of coaxing by my best friend and my dad to get me here tonight, but here I am.
Alice's reasons were simple, if not somewhat sentimental. She thought that it would be a shame not to have this experience to finally put a cap on those high school years. She said that reunions were about coming full circle and being able to link who you were to who you are now. She also thought we'd get a kick out of finding out which men were now fat and balding and which women were filled with Botox.
My father, on the other hand, had very practical reasons for why he thought I should come tonight. He thought that since I was moving back to the area in a few weeks, coming here tonight and seeing a lot of these people who I grew up with and would now be living amongst again would ease the transition.
I begrudgingly agreed with them both.
"Hey! I was beginning to think you were going to back out on me." I looked over and saw the soft smile of my best friend, and I knew that even though Alice had begged and pleaded for me to come here tonight, she would've understood if I hadn't shown up. In fact, she's probably one of the only people who could really get it. She knew all about him, after all.
"No, I just had to make sure the munchkin was okay before I left the house. You know how she can be about her bedtime stories," I said with a slight eye-roll but a smile nonetheless. Even though it was sometimes hard to get my daughter to sleep with how excited she got during story time, I could definitely understand her love of books.
I had the same love as a child, and it only grew with age. It's what led me to being an editor and was one of the reasons I was able to come back home after all these years–for better or for worse.
At the mention of Haley, Alice visibly brightened up. "Oh! I can't wait to see her! It's been so long and I know she's gotten so big!"
"Well you can come over and see her tomorrow morning, since you promised to treat me to breakfast if I can get through this night."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. But that was only if you promised not to be a Debby Downer and tried to actually enjoy tonight!"
"I promise to try, Alice. It's not like I want to be miserable. I'm just…nervous, is all."
At my statement, the understanding appeared in her face once again, and instead of saying anything else she just grabbed my hand and led me further into the gym and into a mix of memories and emotions that I wasn't quite sure I was prepared for.
Oh sure, I got up and mingled at the punch bowl, where I found out that Mike Newton and Jessica Stanley had married and had five children. He was running his parents sporting goods store and Jessica was working as a bank teller. I also walked around and looked at the collages they had up of our class throughout those four years of high school. It was there that I found out that Tanya Denali had won the Botox award, not surprisingly. Apparently, she was married to some unknown Seahawks player and running a sex toy shop. Again, not surprisingly.
However, while Alice took pleasure in dancing and being the social butterfly that she is, I preferred to sit back and take in my surroundings. For as nervous as I'd been in the beginning, after an hour of being here, I could honestly say that things were going better than I had expected. Although Jessica annoyed me to pieces in school and Mike only talked to me when he wanted to look down my shirt, I was happy to get to see them now. Jessica seemed a lot calmer and, from what I'd heard and seen, Mike appeared to be an adoring husband and father. I guess it's true what they say – people really change after high school. But, then again, Tanya seemed just as vapid as ever, as she adjusted her fake boobs that matched her perma-grin face. So, maybe not everyone changes. But, overall, it seemed like time had done everyone some good.
However, I couldn't deny the fact that sitting here and being surrounded by all the people present made me just curious about the people who weren't there yet. One in particular.
Although he was the reason I'd told myself I didn't want to come, deep down I was terrified that he wouldn't come tonight and that I wouldn't have this opportunity to be reintroduced to him. While I knew I'd see him sooner or later since I was moving back into town, seeing him in this controlled and planned setting at least allowed for some comfort. Now I was dreading the fact that our first encounter in years would happen at the grocery store. Just thinking about that made me think about how random yet worthwhile our first ever encounter had been all those years ago…
"So, I'll come get you right after school lets out, okay kiddo?"
"Sure, Dad. I'll see you then."
"Alright, have a good day Bells." I could tell by my dad's tone that he was worried about me, so I tried to put on a brave face as I stepped out of his new Chevrolet Caprice and made my way into the school. When I begged him to drive mom's car to drop me off at school instead of the police cruiser he'd just received through work, he didn't quite understand my reasoning. It took my mom gently explaining to him that the first day at a new school would be hard enough without me arriving in a cop car for him to relent. I was happy that I didn't have to hurt his feelings by telling him how I didn't need the embarrassment of being labeled as the "chief's kid" to follow me so early in my introduction to the student of Forks.
My mom had taken me school shopping over the weekend, so I was at least confident about my looks. But even the love I had for my fuchsia stirrup pants and my black off-the-shoulder shirt belted at the waist couldn't calm the butterflies in my stomach.
If it wasn't bad enough that I was starting the school year in a new place a couple of weeks late, I was also coming in during my sophomore year. I could already sense the stares I was getting, and I hadn't even made it to the front door yet.
As I entered the building, I immediately made my way to the front office to receive my schedule and head to class. As I introduced myself to the secretary and tried to explain who I was, I heard the bell over the door jingle and the sound of rushing feet signal the approach of someone behind me.
"Sorry I'm late, Mrs. Cope. I know I was supposed to make the winter formal announcement this morning, but my car wouldn't start and then it started to rain – as usual, and…Oh, I'm sorry. Didn't see you there. Didn't mean to cut in line."
It took everything in me to work up the nerve and the voice to reply, because as I turned around and saw the guy standing before me, I was momentarily stunned.
Over the Summer, Mom had allowed me to go see Risky Business with a few friends, even though Dad wasn't thrilled about the title and thought the subject matter might be a little too risqué for someone my age. But after I whined about the fact that I soon would be leaving all my friends, they let me go. After I saw the movie, a day didn't go by where I didn't swoon over the hotness that was Tom Cruise. He was just the perfect guy, in my opinion.
The guy standing in front of me might soon steal those honors, though.
My silence must've been deafening and lasted longer than I anticipated, because he laughed slightly while sticking his hand out. "Hi, I'm Edward Cullen. I've never met you before. First day?"
I finally found my voice and was able to get out, "Yeah. I'm Bella. My family and I just moved here."
"Oh! Bella Swan? Your dad's the new Chief of Police, right?" At the look of horror on my face Edward's slight laugh turned into a full on chuckle. "Sorry. Don't mean to sound like a stalker or anything. It's just that word gets around in a small town."
"It's cool. I figured. Just hoping I can lie low and not be known as the cop's daughter for a little while longer, you know?"
"Oh, I totally understand. My dad is the Mayor, so I get it."
I had completely forgotten where we were or what we were supposed to be doing, when Mrs. Cope interrupted our budding conversation.
"Well, since it seems like you two are getting along and Ms. Swan is new here, why don't you show her to her first class, Mr. Cullen? I believe you both have English with Mr. Berty right now, correct?"
"Oh no! I don't want to be a bother!" I stuttered out. How embarrassing; the school secretary had to find me my first friend!
"No, it's cool. I wouldn't mind at all. Besides, I can give you the 411 on this place," he said with a wink and a smile that made my heart stop.
I could barely get out a shy "okay" as we walked towards our class. Although I was completely focused on Edward and what he was telling me about the school, I couldn't help but notice the looks I was receiving from the larger female population. Edward must be kind of a big deal.
As we walked, I asked him about the winter formal announcement he mentioned in the office. He told me that it was a dance they had to kick off the second half of the school year after Christmas break, but that planning for it began the first week of October, so he needed to announce committee positions. It was clear by the way he talked that it was a big deal for the school, and he seemed totally amped about it. When we entered the class –and after the humiliation of having to introduce myself to the entire class – Edward led me to a seat beside him.
And beside him I stayed for most of the day.
Besides P.E. and History, we had all the same classes, to which he graciously shuttled me throughout the day. At first I thought he was just being nice; playing student ambassador because he had to or because he felt obligated. I can imagine being a Mayor's son often times put him at the public's disposal when he didn't want to be. However, when I told him he didn't have to stick around, he just smiled at me and said "I never do anything I don't want to, and that includes befriending people. I like you Bella, so just chill." Sensing that he was telling the truth, I did just that.
I went to lunch with him, and there I met a very perky girl named Alice who looked like she could be the love child of Madonna and Boy George. I quickly learned she was Edward's cousin and that she was addicted to music and fashion. Her musical and fashion choices more than her family affiliation was the reason we hit it off so well. Her boyfriend, Jasper, had a twin sister named Rosalie, who could only be described as the most perfect example of a 'Betty' there ever was. I found out later that Rosalie was dating Alice's older brother, Emmett, who was away at college. Rosalie seemed a little like an airhead, but she was nice enough so it didn't really bother me much.
Over the next couple of months, I settled into school well. Alice quickly became a regular at my house, and I started to ride to school with Edward most days now. Our friendship had grown and I had quickly learned that it wasn't just his looks that made him so attractive. He was smart and kind, yet funny and laid back. It was clear why all the girls wanted him; I just couldn't believe he wanted to spend most of his time with me.
While we were riding to school the week before Christmas break, Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." started playing on the radio, and I laughed as Edward sang along – loudly.
"What's so funny, Swan? You don't like my voice?"
"Ummm, your talking voice is just fine. It's your singing voice that could use a little work!" I stated, and soon burst into a fit of giggles at the hurt expression on his face.
"Geez, Bella. Nice way to burn me; especially when I'm trying to serenade you over here."
"Oh really? I didn't know that was your goal; I'm sorry."
"Well of course it's my goal. What other pretty young thing do I spend all my time with but you?" he asked with a sly glance in my direction.
I couldn't help but shrug my shoulders and blush as I looked away from Edward and out of my window. Even though Edward and I spent all of our time together had begun flirting recently, I was still rendered speechless when he showed interest in me that way. Over the past few months it became clear to me that I wanted Edward in my life as more than a friend, but I certainly wasn't going to initiate that conversation. I'd rather have him as a friend than as nothing at all, and I was afraid that a little flirting wasn't enough to make him seriously think about a romantic relationship with me.
A few weeks later Edward and I were in his basement opening our Christmas presents for one another the day after Christmas. We'd decided that since the Christmas day would be spent with family, we'd meet up today in order to spend some part of the holidays together. We'd already done a group Secret Santa exchange with our friends before we left school, but we wanted to do something with just the two of us as well. We'd decided on a maximum gift amount of $20, and I was surprised by how easy it had been to shop for him. I didn't know if it was because Edward was fairly straight forward, or if I just knew him incredibly well by now, but it was a good feeling. I'd gotten him an "I Love my Rubik's Cube" mug, with symbols instead of words since I was one of very few people who knew how much of a dork he was and how much he loved that thing. I had also gotten him some music composition paper, which I hoped would get some use considering his love of piano.
When it was Edward's turn to give me my gifts, he looked visibly nervous. "So, I know how much you love Cyndi Lauper, and although I don't get it – at all – I knew you'd want this, so, here," he managed to get out as he handed my gift to me. Sure enough, after I got past the poor wrapping job I saw that Edward had gotten me Cyndi's She's So Unusual album.
"Oh Edward! Thank you! I love it!" I gushed. It was true; when "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was released as a single, I sang it at least 10 times a day and I'd begged Edward to take me to purchase the single in Port Angeles. I vowed that as soon as possible, I'd get the entire album. It seemed like Edward had taken care of that for me.
"Well, I'm glad you like it. Umm, I hope you like your second present just as much." As I looked up at the hesitant expression on his face, I saw that he held something else in his hand. After taking a deep breath, he opened his palm and revealed a small sprig of mistletoe.
At first I thought he was joking, but as I saw the intense look he gave me, I knew that wasn't the case. As excitement combined with confusion passed through me, he licked his lips and spoke. "Bella, I've been trying to work up the nerve for months to tell you that, well, I think you're amazing, and I want to see if we can be more than friends. What do you say?"
I didn't say anything. I'd finally gotten confirmation that he felt the same way I did, and I decided to be bold and skip words altogether. Instead, I leaned in and placed my lips against his. I can tell that I surprised him, but that seemed to only last for a second. I felt him smile slightly, and then press his soft lips to mine with more pressure. His lips were cold since we'd just recently turned on the fire place, but I relished the tingle that spread through my body because of it. Maybe it wasn't the temperature of his lips though; maybe it was just him. We sat in that basement for hours kissing, mistletoe and presents forgotten.
After that night, we spent as much time as possible during our break together. Alice made fun of us and claimed that all of our time was spent scamming on one another. And although a lot of our time spent together we were attached at the mouth, we enjoyed simply being together. We'd sit in my room and listen to my album constantly, usually the song "Time After Time". Edward didn't understand why I loved it so much; he thought it was sad and depressing, especially since we were in a new and fairly happy relationship. I didn't see it that way, though, and I relished in the times we listened to it as I rested my head on his chest and he played with my hair.
We returned to school during the first week of January, and to say mine and Edward's coupling seemed to be a big deal would've been understatement. Most of the guys gave Edward good-natured teasing for being off the market, but they seemed to be pretty cool about it. The girls, however, acted like I'd stolen something from them. I was glad to have friends like Alice and Rosalie during that time, because neither one of them hesitated to tell a girl to "bite me" if they said something rude about me. Mostly, I ignored it and things calmed down rather quickly when it became clear that Edward wasn't going to leave me for any of them.
The winter formal happened the last week of January, and I was swept up in the excitement along with everyone else. The girls and I went to Port Angeles to get dresses, and the guys had pooled their money so that we could get a limo. It took everything I had in me to convince Edward that a Member's Only jacket was not dressy enough for the occasion, but it was worth it when I saw him all dressed up the night of the dance.
We had an amazing time laughing and partying with our friends. I mostly sat at the table and gossiped with the girls since I wasn't much of a dancer, but it was beyond amusing to watch the guys dance and act silly with their friends. The only time I did hit the dance floor was when "Time After Time" filtered through the speakers, and I looked over to see Edward approaching me with a mischievous smile on his face.
"Can I have this dance, Swan?" he asked with a deep, chivalrous bow. I laughed as I accepted his hand and followed him onto the dance floor.
"Why do I have the feeling that you were behind this?" I questioned, as we started to sway to the music. He knew I hated to dance. But he also knew how much I loved this song.
"Well, I'm sure they would've played it at some time during the night anyway. I just asked if they could play it now so that I could take a spin around the dance floor with my P.Y.T."
I laughed and shook my head at how playful he was being, but I loved it all the same. So, I simply laid my head on his chest as we danced slowly.
Sometimes you picture me
I'm walking too far ahead
you're calling to me, I can't hear
what you've said
Then you say go slow
I fall behind
the second hand unwinds
if you're lost you can look, and you will find me
time after time
if you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting
time after time
"I still don't get your love of this song. I mean, it really kills the mood," Edward whispered into my ear.
"You have to listen with more than just your ears. The songs saying that no matter what happens between two people, or no matter where life takes them separately, they'll always be there for one another. They'll always come back to what matters – each other."
Edward looked down at me for a long moment with something I couldn't identify in his eyes before he said, "Well, I guess I can't hate something with that kind of message, can I?"
"No. You can't. Now shush and hold me tighter." He laughed and did just that.
Neither one of us ever said it, but after that night it felt like something had changed between us. It seemed like that night had cemented us as a collective and not just two friends who were testing the waters. We established a togetherness that was so natural and effortless; I could barely remember a time that it was different.
When the end came almost four years later, there were no dramatics and no one was to blame. Sure, we had the occasional fight here and there, but overall, our relationship was easy. It was comfortable and safe; we were friendly as much as we were romantic, and that worked well for us. That's not to say we lacked passion – quite the opposite. Edward ended up being my first everything, and all of those acts just brought us closer together and solidified our connection.
Like most people, time and space were the nails in our coffin and brought about the end to our relationship. After almost three years together, Edward and I were preparing to graduate high school and head off to college. It turns out that the first class I'd ever had at Forks – my English class – had fostered a love of literature and writing in me that bloomed steadily over the years. I'd gotten a writing composition scholarship for U.C., Berkeley and was planning to look into a future in publishing. Over the years Edward's love of music and composing had flourished as well, and he was accepting a spot at Julliard in the fall.
We were in love, and we didn't want to say goodbye, even if it might be the best idea. Instead, we decided to try a long-distance relationship. It worked for a while, and we were loyal and honest with one another. But things started to change, slowly but surely. Phone calls became shorter, and then they became letters. Letters started to come few and far between, and soon we were connecting through phone calls with other people; catching up with one another's lives instead of really being a part of them. When we both came home for winter break, it was amongst tears and a heated embrace that we decided it was best to let one another go and see what the future might bring.
That was the last time I'd felt Edward's lips against mine and it was the first time I cried while listening to my favorite song.
"Well if it isn't my P.Y.T." The voice that pulled me out of my thoughts of the past almost makes my heart stop. I'd spent so much time worrying over what I'd say if I saw him tonight, and here he is, standing behind me.
As I turned around, the first thing I noticed was his smile. It was exactly the same as I remembered. His eyes and mouth crinkled a little more than I remembered, but everything else was the same. That piercing gaze, those soft lips; it was all taking me back.
Once again, he'd rendered me speechless, and once again, he laughed and offered me his hand.
"It's so good to see you again, Bella. You look great. How've you been?"
I finally pulled it together and accepted his hand, which pulled me into a comforting embrace. "I'm good; really good. Although, I'm not sure the "Y" applies to me anymore, I'm certainly not very young anymore. It's great to see you as well, though. How've you been?"
Because of our connection through Alice and our other friends, I wasn't completely out of the loop of what Edward had been up to. He'd been one of the most successful students in his Julliard class and he'd gone on to compose music for a number of artists on the radio and a number of film scores. He loved New York and had been there for years until his father fell ill last spring with the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. He decided that he could do the same work from any place, as long as he was willing to travel when necessary. When it came to his family, Edward was willing to do anything. He'd never gotten married nor had any kids, so his family in Forks was everything. I heard from Alice that he had a place in Seattle that housed an office, but he spent most of his time at the house with his folks.
"I've been okay. Mostly just trying to be there for my parents. Dad's seen some great doctors so things are okay now, but I'm just trying to prepare myself and be there for mom. How about you? A little birdie told me you were moving back home?"
"Yeah. I decided I wanted to start writing the books and not just publish them, so I got a part-time editing job in Seattle that will pay the bills while I work on my first novel. I also wanted to be closer to home, so that my daughter could be closer to her grandparents. I think it's just what we need, after the divorce."
Just like I wasn't unaware of the happenings in Edward's life, I knew he was somewhat familiar with mine. I'd been happily married and had Haley with a man I met seven years ago. Jacob was funny and suave; all things you had to be as a publicist. I recently found out that he was also a cheating bastard. He was man enough to admit his faults, so our divorce was fairly easy. He didn't even put up a fight when I told him I wanted to move; he agreed to me having full custody as well. Jacob said he was willing to fly out to see Haley, and I was willing to bring her to him every once in a while.
"Yeah; Charlie told me he and Renee are really happy to have you guys around. I'm happy you'll be closer, too. I've missed you, over the years."
I didn't really know what to say to that. Not because I didn't feel the same, but because of exactly the opposite. If I was being honest with myself, I know that I was so worried about coming here tonight because I was terrified of the feelings I still held for this man. It's somewhat sad to say, but finding out that the father of my child had cheated on me didn't hurt as much as not having Edward around. I'd missed him too.
Before I could utter those words, though, other words began to seep into my consciousness. It seemed as if we both recognized what song was playing at the same time, because we both laughed a little.
"Well, I know this used to be your favorite song. Do you want to dance with me, Bella?"
"Yeah. I'd love to," I stated as confidently as I could as I stood up to follow him onto the dance floor. As I placed my head on his chest, I was reminded of that winter formal, and a moment just like this when we were facing the start of a relationship, and not reeling from the past remnants of one.
after my picture fades and darkness has
turned to gray
watching through windows, you're wondering
if I'm OK
secrets stolen from deep inside
the drum beats out of time
if you're lost
you said go slow
I fall behind
the second hand unwinds
"Did you mean it, back then?" Edward asked softly while looking down at me.
"Did I mean what?"
"Did you mean what you said about the lyrics of this song? About what you thought they meant for two people?"
As I looked up at him and saw the same intensity and love that drew me in over two decades ago, I knew that there was no other answer but the truth. There was no other way to be but brave.
"Yeah. I meant it."
"Good. I think, after all this time, I finally believe it."
Nothing else was said as we held each other close. We forgot the past, we relished in the present, and we hoped for the future.
Endnote: Thank you for reading. Please leave a review and then check out all the other fantastic entries. Voting begins 11/1/11.