Edward stared at the journals and envelope, phone still in hand and ready to call 911. His mind was reeling as he wondered what was inside – a suicide note perhaps. And why on earth was Bella Swan giving him seven journals? What could he possibly do with them?

"What do I do in a situation like this?" he wondered aloud. Couldn't these be used as evidence? The police might need them while investigating her suicide…

"But what if there's something about me in them?"

His desire to know and urge to hide his part in Bella's past from strangers overtook him, and he swept them up in his arms. Looking around the closet for anything to put them in, he noticed a black back pack with a Nike symbol on it – it looked familiar to him, and soon dawned on him as to why.

A clatter of objects falling to the ground and a frustrated scream soon following after was heard on the drill pad in front of the ROTC building. Edward halted, as he had assumed he was all alone. Looking around, he saw a girl he recognized as Bella Swan on her knees and gathering books and papers into her arms.

"Is everything okay?" Edward called out as he approached her. She looked up, her eyes brimming with tears, and then quickly looked down, a blush crawling onto her cheeks.

Edward Cullen was the ROTC golden boy – attractive, fit, intelligent, and by far the best armed driller and cadet in the whole battalion. Even if he was only a sophomore, nobody messed with him. Bella Swan, a new cadet, heard so much about him, and word on the street was she was like the female Edward. People were expecting big things from her in ROTC, which was why she felt so humiliated being caught breaking down by him of all people.

"I'm fine," she told him inaudibly, "just having a book bag malfunction." Her eyes shifted over to the well-used purple back pack that now had a big gaping hole in the bottom.

Edward bent down, helping her pick up and organize the rest of her materials still scattered about. "I don't think that's the only reason why you're crying," he whispered.

Bella was stunned for a moment, just staring into his shockingly green eyes. They looked sincere and caring, probing for more information. She uncomfortably pulled her sleeve down, and then haughtily replied, "Maybe it's not but I don't see why it matters."

Edward was taken aback by the response – he never spoke to the girl directly, but Bella was said to be kind, and while she was outgoing and demanded respect, she was never unnecessarily rude. Confused by why it was bothering him so much, he looked down at the journal in his hands.

"This is yours, I believe," he mumbled lamely, extending it to her.

Her eyes widened in shock to see what he was holding and she snatched it from him hastily, holding it close to her chest.

"Uhmm…are you sure everything is okay?" he asked, concern truly taking up his emotions. Something was off here, she was not acting like the stellar cadet she was made up to be.

"It doesn't really matter. But thank you. For helping me out, I mean." Bella said the words sincerely, feeling guilty for how she had treated him when he was just being nice.

"Any time. And here," he reached around, removing his back pack from its place on his back and emptying it of its academic contents, "Take mine."

She stared at the object in his hands in wonder, growing curious about the boy in front of her. "I couldn't take your bag. Don't you need it?"

"It's from last year, and I have a new one at home. Besides, I'm going to be leaving school early today so it's not like it'll be a big deal for me to carry my stuff around – I'll just be able to work on my muscles," Edward assured her, shoving the offering into her lap and adding a wink at the end.

Dazed by his behavior, Bella gingerly placed the notebook she reacted so strangely to earlier by her knees and placed her books and papers into the bag.

"Thank you. Would you like me to bring it back tomorrow?" she asked softly.

"No, do not worry about it! It's yours to keep," he told her, taking her hand that was shockingly cold and helping her up.

"Okay, well thank you again. I'll see you around, Edward."

"Yeah, see ya, Bella."

That had been Edward's first encounter with Bella Swan. Yes, he had seen her in the mornings for PT and during the unarmed drill practices, but he never paid any mind. She was just some freshman girl, and although at the time everyone expected her to be some hot shot cadet, she was also bubbly and loud and a freshman, just adding into the mix of why he never intended to befriend her.

Of course, that day changed everything. He had seen a side of Bella Swan that he didn't think many knew was there. Of course, it was just a matter of luck, as he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time) and witnessed her unguarded, but there was something about her that made him feel obligated to talk to her.

It took him a while to do it, but he did eventually talk to and befriend his own personal mystery, all because of the back pack in his hands.

He stared at it, questioning if that day was a blessing or a curse, then moved down, placing the journals and the note in it. Reaching for his phone once more that now laid on the ground, he dialed the three numbers, his heart heavy in his chest.

"911, what's the emergency?"

"The Redbrick Apartments on Hollowed Oak Street, number 203. The inhabitant has committed suicide," Edward said slowly, as if testing the words to see how they tasted on his tongue.

They were like vinegar.

Shocked, the operator asked for some details, then dispatched officers and EMS.

"Take care, sweetie," she told him, obviously concerned. Edward's currently stoic heart warmed some, as he was reminded by this lady of the former school secretary Mrs. Cope. He hung up, holding Bella's lifeless hand and waiting for the police to arrive.

I failed you, Bella, and I'm sorry.

*Time Lapse*

"So why were you the one to discover Isabella Swan?" the official looking investigator named Sam asked.

"Bella," Edward corrected him automatically.

"Pardon?" he looked taken aback by that response and searched Edward's broken and torn eyes for answers.

This guy is a wreck, the poor kid. He can't be more than 20 years old…and the poor girl. So beautiful, attending college out of state – I hate getting calls like this, Sam thought with sincerity, his heart breaking at the situation.

"She prefers…preferred…to be called Bella. And we met up for coffee today, before it happened…" Edward trailed off, thinking back to all the things he wish he had done differently during that exchange, wishing he hadn't emailed her at all.

"Did something happen that acted as a catalyst to this?"

Edward's eyes burned with such intensity and pain when Sam asked the question. Yes, something did happen – Bella was let down. Her heart took its final beating. She lost her will to live. She kissed him, and it was the best kiss of his life, but Edward's head told him it wasn't right.

"I'm going to take that as a yes."

Edward still did not respond, only clenching his hands into fists and shutting his eyes against the tears. A blind man could've seen the pain he was in.

"Did you love her, Edward?" Sam asked softly, understanding what it was he was going through.

Yes.

"I care about her," he responded brokenly, no longer fighting the tears, but letting them plunge off of his face and into his shaking hands.

"Edward, I am not going to ask for details as I can see this is hurting you, but if you ever need to talk – not as a confident in Bella's case but just to let it out – you can always look me up in the phone book. Believe it or not, I know what you're going through. But for now, go home, wash up, take a nap – we'll make the necessary phone calls."

Edward smiled at Sam's kindness although the emotions in his eyes contradicted it.

"Thank you, Sam, I'm glad you're the detective on this case."

"Of course, but one more thing – what's in the bag?" Sam asked. It was protocol to know these things, and could have to possibly be confiscated as evidence.

"Bella's journals – they were in the closet when…" he didn't complete that thought. "There was an envelope that was addressed to me. I honestly don't know if I am going to read them or not or why they were left for me, but she wanted me to have them. Bella has her reasoning, and knowing her it's probably strange and backwards and will make no sense whatsoever, but she'll try to explain it anyways. She always does," Edward smiled fondly at his description of the quirky girl.

The one who is dead now, Edward.

He visibly grimaced, and Sam noticed. He should be taking them from Edward, at least for now, but somehow he knew that what was in there was too personal and only meant for the eyes of Bella and Edward. He could sense there was a story behind the pair, and it was not his job to intrude.

If Edward ever decides to divulge their secrets about their relationship, whatever they may be, that's his decision to make. I only hope he's okay, Sam thought, truly concerned about this. He knew he shouldn't be, but he felt such a connection with the kid. After what happened with Leah…

Sam knew what Edward was going to need to move on, and reading those journals on his own time was one of them. Whatever was in there was going to hurt him, but in the long run heal whatever wounds he's tending.

"Take a break for a while, kid. You need some time, okay? And seriously, man, don't be afraid to look me up. I know what you're going through, and I also know a good therapist if you ever need one."

Edward looked at the man in front of him, sensing he was telling the truth when he said he knew what he was going through. His curiosity peaked a little bit, but he was too emotionally drained to give it further thought.

"Thank you again, Sam. I might take you up on that offer. Uhmm, can you please tell her parents to give me a call sometime? I want to be able to help with the funeral arrangements… And also let them know I'll make the calls to the gang – they'll know what I'm talking about."

Sam internally shook his head at his request, knowing Edward was going to mask his pain for the time being to help everyone else.

He really doesn't deserve this at all.

"Will do, Edward. Take care," Sam assured him, watching as he walked out the door.

Edward had the bag slung over one shoulder as he trudged back to the coffee shop to find his car. He barely noticed the cold or the rest of the world around him, only focusing on the next step.

That's what I need to do, he thought, focus on the next step. But I don't know where that will lead me.

Reaching his car, he got in; setting the bag in the passenger seat, then slumped down laying his head on the wheel. He should be screaming, crying, breaking down, cussing out the world, but he wasn't. He was numb. There was a void in him, an elephant in the room, but he felt nothing.

Putting his keys in the ignition, he drove home to Forks, watching Port Angeles fade behind him, preparing himself for what he'd have to do.

Picking up his phone once on the high way, he dialed a familiar number. It rang once, twice, and half way through the third ring the wind chime voice of Bella's best friend throughout high school answered with a breathless, "Hello?"

"Alice," Edward said flatly, "is everyone in town tonight?"

"Edward? Yeah, they are – is everything okay?"

"Something has happened. I know it is short notice, but can we all meet up?"

"Okay, I'll let them all know," Alice's voice was apprehensive as she pondered what could have Edward this way. There was only one time in her life she remembered ever hearing his voice sound like that.

Oh no.

"What time?" she asked, fervor slowly trickling into her voice.

"Seven o'clock if that's okay," he responded, hoping four hours would be enough time for him to figure out what to say.

"We'll be there," she told him, hanging up. No details were further needed then that, she knew where they'd be going.

Edward's phone dropped onto the floor and he didn't bother to pick it up. All he could think of was the golden brown eyes that would haunt his dreams tonight – and every night after that.

"Bella," he whispered to no one.

A/N: I'm not too sure how I feel about this chapter. It is necessary to understand the history behind Bella, Edward, and their friends a bit more, as well as it is a catalyst to future event s in the story
Sam will play a prominent role in the story, just so you know, while other key characters such as Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper will be less important (but still there).
What do you think?
Reviews aren't necessary, but much appreciated.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and Happy Holidays to everyone else!

PS – I'm updating quite frequently, but I don't think anyone ever really minds that. xP
I might be gone for a few days, though, so I'm uploading all the chapters I have now, and publishing them when I want to. I kind of felt like just publishing this one, though, as it is for the most part a filler and a way to introduce new characters.