Author's Notes:

Hello, and welcome to The Sound of Silence. Just a few important notes before you begin:

Because Bella is deaf in this fic, it presents a certain challenge when writing dialogue. So that things do not become too confusing, I have provided a key you can refer to when reading each chapter. This key will be posted in the author's notes at the beginning of every chapter.


*When characters are speaking out loud, quotes will be used.

*When characters are signing with their hands, italics will be used. (Italics will be used in other places as well, i.e. to emphasize certain words/phrases. Please keep that in mind.)

*When characters are communicating via iPad or e-mail, bold will be used.

*Bella's conversations with others, signing and writing, will ALWAYS be encased in *stars*.

*Edward's conversations with Bella, signing and writing, will remain unmarked.

*Any other characters that sign in a chapter will have their conversations encased in {brackets}.

I hope this isn't too confusing. It should make much more sense as you go along.

Finally, I just want to say that this fic is written in its entirety with the exception of the final three chapters. I plan to post one chapter a week through its completion.

Many thanks to azure0610 who has graciously agreed to beta another story for me. Also, thanks to aerobee82 and JenEsme for pre-reading.

This story will be told entirely from EPOV.

All the usual disclaimers apply. This story is rated M for a reason.

Chapter 1: Life as I Know It

Life was pretty good. I had just come from what most of my classmates considered a particularly grueling Organic Chemistry exam, but I was fairly certain I'd aced it. I better have. I'd only sacrificed all of Thanksgiving break to study for it. I wasn't entirely happy about that. I wondered why I'd even bothered flying home to Chicago. I may as well have just remained here, in sunny Florida, locked away in my apartment studying. The weather would have been a hell of a lot less depressing, that's for sure. But my kid sister Alice wouldn't have been very happy with me. She'd all but begged me to come home, citing the fact that we hadn't seen each other since the beginning of August. She was right, and I couldn't say no to her. She was more than just my sister, she was my best friend.

Of course, we hadn't been able to visit much over my five day break. I'd had my nose stuffed inside my textbook for practically the entire time. I wondered what my professor had been thinking when he scheduled an exam for the Monday after Thanksgiving, anyway. I mean, who in the hell waits to give an exam until after Thanksgiving break? It was cruel and unusual punishment, in my opinion, inflicted upon helpless undergrads by their snickering professor. He probably derived a great deal of satisfaction out of depriving us of our mini vacation, figuring he was doing us a favor by preparing us for the rigors of medical school where we would surely not have time to fool with holidays.

Lucky for me, in roughly four weeks time I'd be through with Organic Chemistry. In fact, I'd be finished with all but three of the courses necessary to graduate with a pre-med degree. That wasn't the only degree I'd graduate from the University of South Florida with in June. I was a double major, music and medicine, and I'd be graduating with a degree in piano performance, too. Completing a double major had, admittedly, been very rough. It would take me six years to graduate college as opposed to the traditional four most others completed it in. But it had been worth it to me. I'd received a full scholarship to USF, based upon my willingness to study music. When a university offers to pay all of your undergraduate fees in exchange for your participation in their music program, it's a hard deal to pass up.

As I strolled along the sidewalk, I found myself absently whistling along to Schubert's Impromptu in A Flat. It was a favorite of mine, and also happened to be one of the pieces I was currently working on for my upcoming piano performance exam. I was heading back to my apartment now to grab an early lunch, but I'd be returning to campus later in the day to spend several hours practicing before heading to my Comparative Anatomy class. Compared to Organic Chemistry, Comparative Anatomy was a breeze. In fact, I'd found most of my pre-med classes to be relatively easy. Unlike high school, I'd actually taken college seriously, and I'd be graduating Magna Cum Laude, with a near perfect GPA. This distinction had earned me admittance into USF's medical school. I'd received the letter in the mail when I returned home from Chicago late yesterday evening. Like I said… life really was good. I was pretty sure I had it all figured out. My path was set before me - a bright future, mine for the taking.

My cell phone vibrated in my pants pocket, and I pulled it out, switching the ringer on before answering the phone.

"What's up?" I said, greeting my roommate and best friend of four years, Emmett McCarty.

"Not much, man. I was just wondering if you felt like stopping by the store on your way home."

"What the hell," I said. It was almost eleven in the morning, and I was pretty sure Emmett was just now getting up. He'd managed to schedule all his classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, which meant the rest of the week he was afforded the privilege of sleeping in. I wasn't so lucky. I had advanced music theory at 8 a.m. all three of those days, which meant I had to roll out of bed no later than 7:45 in order to make it to class by eight. That was one of the benefits of living directly across the street from campus. I didn't require much transit time.

"Help a brother out," Emmett laughed. "I'm fucking hungry, and the milk's gone sour."

"So get in your car and drive to the store," I laughed, not hesitating to point out the obvious solution to his problem.

"That would require that I actually get out of bed," Emmett volleyed back.

I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Honestly, I wasn't sure how Emmett did it. He partied hard, often not returning to our apartment until the early hours of the morning. As a senior Mechanical Engineering major, you'd think he would need to spend more time studying. Then again, he had his wicked smart girlfriend, Rosalie, to help him out. She was a Mechanical Engineering major, too. I briefly wondered why I had never been so lucky as to find a study partner like her. Probably because I knew I'd never get any sort of productive studying done if I did, I reasoned.

I had to say, though, if I had to pinpoint a single disappointment over my nearly six years spent at USF, it would have to be my less than enviable love life. It's not that I didn't date, or that I didn't have any opportunities to enter into a relationship. I did date; my problem was continuing the relationship past the first date. A select few women I'd actually dated for a month or two, more for the sex than anything else, but as soon as I felt the girl start to form any sort of emotional attachment, I bolted. I supposed it was for the better. As a double major, I really didn't have time to deal with all the drama a relationship usually entailed. Still, at 22, there was a part of me that wondered if I wasn't ready to try and find something more. Alice had Jasper, Emmett had Rosalie. Me? I was all alone.

"Hey, Edward, you still there?"

"Sorry, bro. Got lost in thought there for a moment," I said, laughing at myself. I needed to stop with this introspective crap.

"So, are you going to pick up the milk or not?"

"Yeah, I'll get it," I said, changing course and heading in the direction of the little convenience store located on campus. "But only if you agree to cook dinner," I added as a condition.

Emmett was a wicked good cook. He was a self-appointed grill master, and our apartment was a gathering point of sorts for nearly all the college students in our complex. Tampa's well tempered weather meant it was possible to grill out year round, and on any given night, you could find a group of us throwing back beers and devouring some of Emmett's two pound burgers on our terrace.

"I've got a better offer," Emmett countered. "Rose thought that the four of us could go out for Mexican tonight, maybe grab a movie afterwards."

I groaned out loud, immediately wary of where this conversation was headed.

"The four of us? As in…"

"As in you, me, Rose and Tanya," Emmett interrupted while laughing out loud. "Who else would I be talking about?"

"Emmett," I warned. "I'm not sure that's the best idea. We all just went out last week. I don't really want to give Tanya the wrong idea."

I knew I had to be very careful with this situation. Tanya was Rosalie's younger sister. She'd transferred to USF this past summer, after spending two years at a community college. She was cute and all, and fairly good company too. But she was caught up in sorority life and the thrill of attending a major university for the first time. For all intents and purposes, her college years were just beginning whereas mine were coming to an end. Well, in the undergrad sense, anyway. I was set to attend med school next fall, but I didn't consider that college.

"Edward, when in the hell are you going to wake up and notice how fuck hot that girl is?" Emmett asked, forgoing tact. Not that he had much, anyway.

"There is something seriously wrong with you referring to your girlfriend's sister as fuck hot," I replied.

"Rose's words, not mine," he shot back by way of defense.

"Whatever. This has bad idea written all over it. You know my drill. One date, two dates – tops, a casual fuck from time to time and I'm over it. I'm not really interested in incurring the wrath of Rosalie when things don't work out with her baby sister."

"You won't even give her a chance, Edward," Emmett said, sounding a little bit annoyed.

Good. I was slightly annoyed myself.

"She's really great, and for whatever reason, she thinks you're some sort of Greek Adonis, or some shit like that. She's totally into you."

"How can she possibly be into me?" I wondered out loud. "We've never gone out together alone. She doesn't really know me."

"Well, maybe you should do something about that. Ask her out on a proper date - just the two of you. Take her to Burn's or something."

"Hell no," I ground out. "That's akin to declaring a relationship status. No man in their right mind takes a casual acquaintance out to a several hundred dollar dinner," I reasoned.

"All right, all right," Emmett sighed. "Point taken. But what harm can come from dinner at Tia's? It will be the four of us. That hardly counts as a romantic date."

"Fine," I finally agreed, growing tired of this conversation. It seemed important to Emmett that we all go out, and for that reason alone I agreed to go. "Dinner only, though. I'm not particularly keen on sitting in a dark theater with her. That's asking for trouble."

"Dinner and dancing in Ybor City," Emmett counter offered.

"Dinner and Fat Tuesday's," I shot back, wanting to avoid any situation that may involve bumping and grinding with Tanya. A bar was a much safer bet.

"Deal!" Emmett agreed, seeming pleased with my suggestion. "I'm not sure why I didn't think of that myself. We could even call a cab, afterwards."

Calling a cab was common practice for college students wanting to have more than a couple of drinks. Ybor City was a short ride from campus, and if you piled three or four people inside, the cost was minimal.

"Nah, I'll be the designated driver," I said, shooting down his idea, and I was pretty sure I could hear Emmett pout.

"What fun is there in that?" he complained.

"Actually, hopefully not much," I pointed out as a matter of fact. "Maybe if Tanya sees how boring I really am, she'll settle her interests on someone else."

"Edward," Emmett said, clearly frustrated. "What's your problem? If it's really that big of a deal I'll just tell the girls you're busy. There's no sense in going out if you're going to act like an uptight asshole."

I hesitated for a moment, considering if that might be the better choice. But I didn't want to upset Emmett, or Rose for that matter. And Tanya was a nice enough girl - I just didn't want her getting the wrong idea. But maybe Emmett was right. It was just a casual dinner, after all.

"No, no, it's okay," I said. "I'll do it, and I promise not to be an uptight asshole," I laughed. "Just, don't leave me hanging if she gets any ideas, okay?"
"Don't worry, pansy. I've got your ass covered," Emmett laughed. "See you in a few," he added before hanging up.

I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as I slipped my phone back into my pocket. I supposed I was acting a little bit uptight. Normally, I wasn't as cautious when it came to girls. I liked to go out and have fun as much as anybody else, but I wanted to tread carefully with Rosalie's sister. I hoped to live with Emmett again next year, and he and Rose were a pretty sure thing. It would make things incredibly awkward if Tanya and I had a falling out, hence my desire to keep our relationship platonic. I decided to make the best of it tonight, however. I'd just be extra careful not to send her any mixed signals.

The convenience store was located in the center of campus, which also happened to be on my way home. I darted inside to purchase the milk, and five minutes later I was once again traversing the familiar route to my apartment. I traveled the same route, three days a week - a route that happened to take me by the College of Behavioral Sciences. I didn't normally pay the building much attention. More often than not, I was plugged in, focusing mainly on my music and not on my surroundings. But today was different. My iPhone remained in my pocket, and as I walked past the building, I noticed a girl, struggling to balance an incredibly large number of books in her left arm while attempting to open the door to the building with her right. Even from where I stood, several yards away, I could see she wouldn't be successful.

"Hey!" I called to her. "Would you like some help?" I started to walk toward her, expecting her to acknowledge my offer, but instead, she continued to try and pry open the door.

"Hey!" I called out again. "Let me get that for you!" I picked up my pace, realizing that this stubborn girl intended to open the door on her own. There was no way she could manage, though. Her books would surely fall to the ground.

"Please, let me get that for you," I said as I jogged up behind her. I reached around her, intending to pull open the door, but then the unexpected happened. One moment the girl was standing in front of me, carefully balancing her books, the next she was flat on her ass on the ground, all her books scattered about.

"Shit! I'm sorry," I said in a panic while turning to offer her my hand, and I was momentarily taken aback as I did. The girl was fucking gorgeous. Her eyes were a deep shade of brown and her mouth was delicate and small. At the same time, I was certain I'd never seen lips as full as hers. And the entirety of her face… it was so expressive, in a manner in which words just couldn't describe. I was momentarily struck dumb, and apparently so was she, because she just sat there, saying nothing, staring up at me in embarrassment and shock.

"Let me help you up," I said, shaking myself from my stupor. She squinted, her eyes trained on my lips as I spoke, but still, she said nothing. And then there was a rush of air as the doors to the building burst open, and we weren't alone anymore.

"Bella!" A voice cried out from behind me, and suddenly the gorgeous girl had a name. An apt name at that, I thought as a man moved past me in a rush. The man was huge. I was what most would consider a tall guy; I was six foot one. But this guy had to be over six foot four. He had long, black hair that fell past his shoulders, and rust colored skin which easily identified him as Native American. Arriving at Bella's side, I watched as his hands started moving wildly about. I was confused at first, uncertain as to what he was doing, but then I saw Bella's hands move in return, and suddenly it all made sense.

This girl… Bella… was deaf.

She hadn't heard me when I'd approached her from behind, and I must have startled her when I reached around her to open the door. This was the reason she'd stumbled to the ground. I felt bad for my mistake, but there was no way I could have known that she was deaf. I wanted to apologize for scaring her, but I didn't know how. I had no means by which to communicate with her. Instead, I stood off to the side, utterly fascinated by the movement of her hands as she signed to her friend. When she was through, he helped her to her feet before turning to face me.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people like that," he said in a clipped tone. I was surprised by his attitude, and immediately went on the defensive.

"Hey," I said, leveling my eyes at him. "I was only trying to help. I didn't know she was deaf."

Bella's friend continued to glare at me, and it suddenly struck me that maybe this guy was more than just her friend. He seemed awfully upset with me for something that was truly an honest mistake. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Bella watching the two of us intently, and suddenly, her right hand came up, moving up and down in a sweeping motion near her friend's shoulder. He briefly glanced in her direction, his eyes easily following her hands as she once again signed something to him. I found myself becoming frustrated with my inability to follow the conversation and was just about to step away when Bella's hand reached out to lightly tap my arm. I froze, having not expected her to touch me, and my eyes slowly moved to meet hers.

When Bella saw that she had my undivided attention, her hand formed a fist and traveled directly over her heart. There, it circled slowly in place several times before rising towards her face. I was vaguely aware of my own heart racing wildly in my chest as her fingers hovered near to her lips, and then, her arm fell forward from a vertical to a horizontal position before moving slowly to her side. It was embarrassing – the fact that I couldn't tear my eyes away from her, and we stood there, staring at each other for a moment before Bella's friend started to pull her over to where her books lay scattered about the ground. I wanted to help pick them up, but I was pretty sure my help would not be welcome, at least not by him, and I didn't want to cause any more trouble. Instead, I slowly raised my hand in the air, waving it back and forth in a universal gesture Bella was sure to understand before slowly stepping away. She waved back, and smiled shyly at me before I turned and walked away.


Chapters will be shorter this time around, but will increase in word count as the fic progresses.

I will be rewriting The Preacher's Son and plan to begin posting this story again when The Sound of Silence finishes posting.

Thank you for reading!

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For those of you who have yet to discover the awesomeness that is aerobee82's Antiques Roadshow, check it out! It's a truly wonderful fic full of lots of good laughs and an incredibly endearing vampward that will turn all your preconceived ideas of Edward on end. Check it out!