ENTRY #73 - AH

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

Pen Name(s):

Twitter or Facebook:

Title: Temporal Winds

Picture Prompt Number: 28

Pairing: BellaXSeth

Rating: T

Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 8626

Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): When one thing leads to another, Bella Swan is left broken, with no one to hold her together except her brother. When even her brother starts to drift away, will the one person who still cares be able to hold Bella together?

Warnings and Disclaimer: Character death, light swearing, and a general dark atmosphere

X~*~X~*~X~*~X

Temporal Winds

X~*~X~*~X~*~X

The temporal winds never stop

They bring pain

They bring sorrow

And yet through all the grief and misery,

They bring happiness

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

~*~(Bella POV)~*~

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

I hesitantly opened my eyes as the sun gently lapped at my eyelids through the window. As I lay in my bed, all of the events of the night before came rushing back to me…

"You're really leaving me for Victoria, Edward!"

"You don't choose who you fall in love with, remember Bella? You told me the same phrase before you asked me out the first time."

"Don't these last two years mean anything to you Edward? I mean, Alice and I were already starting to make plans for our wedding!"

"I'm sorry Bella, but I don't love you anymore- I love Victoria."

Tears gathered at the corners of my eyes- his final words to me would forever be ingrained into my soul.

"Bella?" my brother called from the other side of my door. Apparently the tears that threatened to fall had fallen, and had been falling for quite some time.

"W-what Alec?" I asked weakly.

"Can I come in?"

"Sure…"

As Alec opened my door, I took in his appearance. His long dark brown hair was swept to one side and tangle free. He had apparently been awake for a while yet, as he was already wearing his signature black double breasted trench coat and dark wash jeans. "What's wrong sister?" he asked as he took in my appearance, which I could only assume included red, puffy eyes, disheveled hair, and me looking like an overall wreck.

"E-Edward…He-he…" I choked through my sobs which were increasing in strength the longer they were drawn out.

"What did Edward do?" Alec sat down next to me, resting carefully on my bed, and wrapped a protective arm around me. I subconsciously leaned into my brother's chest- having always found comfort there, more so than anyone could ever provide.

"He-he s-said that h-e d-didn't l-l-love me any-any-anymore!" I cried, my natural waterworks beginning to pump out more water.

"It's okay sister" Alec wrapped his other arm around me, hugging me into his chest just like he used to do when we were in elementary school and someone pushed me down "he didn't deserve you…You deserve someone who loves you back…"

"But I loved him!" I wailed.

I don't know how long I cried into my brother's chest, but I do know that eventually I cried myself into sleep's embrace.

When I finally woke up again a few hours later, the doorbell rang. I reluctantly got out of the warm hug of my blankets to look out my window, which overlooked the doorway on the outside. A man in a police uniform was standing stoically behind the mahogany barrier. My father is the chief of police in a small town called Forks Washington. The only real reason we are on most maps now is because an author- Stephanie Meyer, wrote a popular vampire series that's set here. I wonder why Noah's here? I mean Dad left last night.

Alec opened the door, and Noah started talking to Alec, a stern yet sad expression adorn on his face. Alec stopped the conversation once he caught a glimpse of me watching through my window. Alec went into the house, Noah following before I heard Alec called out "Stay in your room until I say you can come out Bells!".

"Why?"

"Just trust me!"

I could barely hear Alec and Noah's hushed voices through my door as I curled back up on my bed. I tried to ignore the conversation that wasn't meant for my ears, honestly I did, but my curiosity got the best of me. I've never quite understood the expression 'Curiosity killed the cat', that is until now.

As I gently nudged my door open and crept down the hardwood hallway towards the stairs, the conversation became clearer and clearer. Being cautious to avoid the squeaky boards, I crouched at the top of the stairs, just barely out of my brother's and Noah's sights. Their conversation came as clear as the water that comes from our tap.

"I'm so sorry Alec- I know that this must be hard for you…"

"It's not me I'm worried about" Alec's voice sounded strained, as if he was in pain or on the verge of crying. What could Noah say that would bring my older brother so close to tears? "I'm worried about Bella. How am I going to tell her?" Tell me what? "This is the exact same way our mother died two years ago. The driver didn't even survive the crash…that lucky bastard. Dad would've put him through hell is he survived…"

Tears started to gather at the corner of my eyes- the wounds left behind by my mother's death were still relatively fresh to me- I just ignored it the best I could by distracting myself with Edward, and now he's gone…

"This must be really hard for you Alec, but she needs to know" I need to know what? "that Charlie was killed in a collision with a drunk driver."

It couldn't be. How could Charlie- my dad die? He was always so careful, and cared for us, and gave us all the love he could, and tried to keep us from thinking about mom's death, and he supported my decision to date Edward, and he tried to make himself happy by dating someone he loved as much as mom when her husband died, and- and…

Trails of tears started flowing down my cheeks. How could Charlie be dead? He never did anything wrong- he always made sure that Alec and I were happy, even before himself…

"Bella?" Alec's sorrowful voice asked. I sunk to my knees- not caring that I was now sobbing on one of the old squeaky boards. My knees must've been visible, because the next thing I knew, Alec was at my side. "I told you to stay in your room Bella." Alec said as he returned his arms to their natural places around my shaking form.

"A- Alec, is it really true?" I managed in between sobs.

"Yes Bella, it is…"

My tears got increasingly violent as the thought slowly sunk in- our father was in fact dead.

"How about I treat you kids to some dinner?" Noah proposed after a long while.

We both nodded and proceeded to our individual rooms to change.

Neither of us were thinking as we pulled clothes from our closets, and I ended up wearing black jeans, a dark navy blouse, and a black sweatshirt while Alec was also wearing black jeans, a dark green shirt, and his usual black double breasted trench coat.

Our solemn procession drifted out our front door, Alec locking the door absent- mindedly on our way out, before we got into the back of Noah's cruiser and went to some restaurant that Alec and I couldn't focus enough to bother remembering the name of.

I don't remember where we went. The food (what I had of it) tasted bland, and both Alec and I barely touched our entrees.

Once we got home, we both fell asleep in Charlie's bed- something we hadn't done for at least fourteen years.

~*~X~*~

The sun's rays sailed through the open window, just to rest across my sleeping face. I slightly stirred, and slowly began to open my eyes.

The first thing I noticed, was that there was another person in my bed, then it all came back to me- I wasn't in my bed at all, I was in Charlie's with my brother!

The previous day's revelations came shooting back to me as I blinked the sleep from my eyes.

Tears started to form at the corners of my eyes as my brother started to stir. I threw my arms around his bare chest, jostling him awake in the process. Alec had muscle, but it was all lean- nothing like a bodybuilder's. His pectorals were clearly defined, as were his six- pack abs and lats. His biceps weren't huge by any means, but they weren't exactly small either. He wasn't buff by any means, but he was perfect in the eyes of so many, including me.

"Bella?" Alec asked, surprised that he was roused from his slumber by my hugging him.

"Is it all true Alec? Please tell me that this is all just some sick nightmare…" I mumbled into his chest, tears threatening to spill.

"I'm sorry Bella- this isn't some nightmare, how I wish it was, but it isn't. Dad is gone- he's with mom now."

The tears that I had been struggling so hard to hold back fell at that moment. It's all true- Dad's gone, Mom's gone, and Edward's gone. Both of my parents and my boyfriend are all gone.

"Shh Bella, shh… We'll find a way through this…" Alec ran his fingers through my hair, just like mom used to do when I was upset. When mom died, both Charlie and Alec took it pretty hard, while I preoccupied myself with my exboyfriend.

We both went through our normal morning routine, before dragging ourselves to school.

The staff had heard of Charlie's death yesterday on the news, and suggested that we both take the week off- take time to grieve. Heck, who didn't know of Charlie's death? Forks is such a small town that word spreads pretty quickly when something like this happens… Alec and I both knew that grieving would only serve to make it worse on us- more time to revel in the good memories, where one person is missing, and always will be missing.

When Alec and I both got home that night, I started a fire in a bucket outside. I tossed any and all pictures of Edward into the inferno- I couldn't even look at them without crying. Being dumped by my boyfriend followed immediatly by the death of my father was going to wreck havoc my health.

I grieve differently from Alec- he just exerts sadness, while I completely shut myself off from the entire outside world. When my mother died two years ago, I was dubbed 'Zombella' by most of the senior class- my classmates and closest friends. Not that I blame them, from what Alec told me, I was acting like a zombie.

After my dabble in pyrotechnics, Alec and I prepared a small and simple dinner of a salad and a couple of chicken breasts before the phone rang.

"Hello?" I spoke into the mouthpiece as I picked up the phone.

"Bella? Is that you darling?" A masculine alto came through the earpiece.

"Uncle Aro? Could you hold on a second, let me get Alec."

"Of course Bella dear. You always were a… fragile urn when it came to emotional matters." I winced at my uncles' comment. My uncle and cousins never liked me, or Alec for that mater. My aunt was really one of the pitiful handful of our living relatives who truly cared about Alec and I.

"Alec, Uncle Aro's on the phone!" I beckoned my brother towards the phone, where he put it on speaker.

"Hello uncle Aro."

"Ah Alec- my favorite cousin" Both Alec and I huffed at that "We are greatly remorseful for your loss, and my wife has even agreed to help with the funeral arrangements! Isn't that splendid? We'll be landing early tomorrow morning, I hope you're as excited as we are!" Our uncle disconnected the call.

"More like coming to torment us..." I muttered.

"I'm sorry." Alec mumbled.

"What are you sorry for Alec? Cousins Jane, Demetri and Felix are all jerks…"

"You don't get it Bella. Both Demetri and Felix spent hours at the gym to get their muscular definition, and I've never lifted a weight in my entire life! And Jane" Alec shivered "She just wants to jump me. Trust me- she's tried."

"It's not your fault that you look good naturally, or that Jane finds you attractive…"

"Come on Bella- let's go to sleep."

I changed into a plain white t- shirt and a pair of old, worn sweats, while Alec stripped down to his boxers and pulled on a pair of his sleep pants. We both climbed into or father's bed and fell asleep flush against each other- our bodies formed around the other.

Alec and I were both awoken by the incessant ringing of our door bell.

"Who in the bloody hell would be ringing our door bell in the bloody morning?" Alec groaned as we urged ourselves out of the warm caress of our father's bed.

We stumbled towards the door, Alec not bothering to pull a shirt on, and unlocked the front door before opening it.

Loll and behold, our Aunt Heidi was standing in the doorway, taking in Alec's sparsely clothed form.

"I- if this isn't a good time then I can always come back later…" she said, taking an awkward step back "Aro said that you two wouldn't mine me coming over to help with the preparations as soon as we landed…"

"No no, it's fine aunt Heidi. The school will understand if we have to take a few days off." Alec replied.

After making a pot of coffee, we got to work arranging the funeral, and burial dates. Alec and I both wanted them to be on the same day- so we could hopefully get over all this sadness quicker.

Our aunt was very understanding when it came to our emotions about the mater, especially mine. Both of our parents were taken by the same reason, and on top of that I was just fresh out of a break- up.

It was about noon when she had to go, leaving us with the promise that she would help us find formal clothing for the funeral the following day.

"I don't think I will be able to take all this Alec…" I whined, tears already threatening to spill for the twelfth time that day.

"I'll be there to support you Bella, just let all of your emotions out…"

"Thanks Alec… I love you."

"I love you too, Bella."

~*~X~*~

The day of our father's funeral came just as fast as the day of our mother's.

Aunt Heidi not only found formal dress for both Alec and I- she bought us formal dress. Well, with Aro being a highly successful lawyer, I suppose she would have the money to spend on this type of thing.

Alec and I stood by the guest book, Alec keeping our hands locked together as each new guest offered their condolences. We decided to have an open funeral, as most of Forks loved Charlie, and we thought they all deserved to say their final goodbyes.

The last people to arrive were a woman from the neighboring reservation, and her two kids followed by Billy Black, and his son- Jacob. Jake and I go way back- back to when both of our mothers were still alive.

I couldn't hold back my tears any longer as Jacob offered his condolences.

Alec nodded to the clergy who was going to open the funeral, and she nodded before walking to the center of the makeshift stage.

"We are all joined here today to revel in the memory of Charles Martin Swan, who died three days ago while returning to his home when his car was hit by a drunk driver…"

The funeral drug on and on, each eulogy adding to the tears that were building up.

When it came time for Billy to speak, I couldn't handle it any more- I had to get away, and get some time to myself. I wriggled my hand out of Alec's grip and dashed out the door, Alec staring understandingly after me.

Somehow, I ended up back at our house, sitting on the damp porch pitifully- the tears cascading out of my eyes.

I stayed like that for about an hour, before Alec and my aunt came back from the funeral.

"Come on Bella, we need to change." Alec spoke gently as he lead me upstairs, where our aunt had laid our clothing.

I trudged out of my room wearing a long black gown and a black sweatshirt that was pulled over my shoulders, a lone black ribbon woven into my hair. Alec was wearing a fitted black dress shirt, a black blazer, and black pants. I was wearing shiny black two inch heels, while Alec's black dress shoes were a duller black- more or less having the appearance of worn leather.

Alec glanced at me one time before helping me down the stairs, guiding me into our aunt's rental car.

The ride to the cemetery was silent, the sadness brewing in the air. I fought tears the whole ceremony, and they broke free of their prison once Charlie's casket was lowered into the ground.

Everyone received a single white rose to toss into the hole, before the casket was covered and the headstone placed.

Alec and I were the first ones to approach the gap in the ground, my tears flowing freely and Alec's resistance was weakening.

I tossed my rose in the hole haphazardly, the rose doing flips every which way, while Alec simply gently released his, the rose settling gently atop the closed casket.

As soon as everyone's roses were contained in the crevasse in the ground, they started to replace the dirt above the casket.

I couldn't stand to see my father buried. As my tears came on stronger, I ran. I ran from my own father's funeral. There was no destination in my mind- just getting away from all of the sadness that was corrugated around that one location. I felt bad about leaving Alec behind to take the grunt of everyone's grief, but I just couldn't take any more of their heartfelt condolences- they all hurt too much, each any every comment about how sorry they were for our loss was like getting slapped in the face. I just couldn't take it anymore.

As I ran, I stumbled a few times in my heels, before I finally reached my destination- the end of an old dock. This isn't just any dock though- it was Charlie's favorite fishing spot; he would bring Alec and I along sometimes when Billy would bring Jake and Harry would bring Seth.

I slipped out of my heels, and sat down on the end of the dock, dangling my feet over the edge, wondering why my feet would bring me here. There were so many good memories that were made here, but all of those sweet memories turned sour because one important member is missing, and always will be missing.

I gazed down at the dirty water- it was a rich brown today, just like any other day- always brown. I was almost glad that it wasn't blue- as I am certain that seeing any form of blue now would increase the severity of my imoending depression.

Being as lost in my thoughts as I was, I didn't notice the footsteps crossing the dock behind me.

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

~*~(Seth POV)~*~

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

"SETH!" My sister screeeched from downstairs, rousing me from my sleep.

"Good god Leah, what could be so important that you had to wake me up…" I moaned as I pulled my covers over my head.

"Get your ass down here right now!"

Moaning, I slowly crawled out of my bed, and slid a plain white t-shirt over my head before trudging down the stairs into the living room. I didn't think that Leah or mom would appreciate seeing me half naked this morning.

I was half- shocked by the sight I saw- Leah had a comforting arm around mom, who was broken down into tears. Really, the only difference between this scene and when dad died was that when dad died, this entire scene was being played out in a hospital lobby.

"What happened?"

Leah- my sister nodded towards the paper.

As I got closer to the open paper, I noticed that it was opened to the obituary page. I quickly scanned through the individual obituaries, looking for any name that seemed familiar. My eyes settled on one name 'Charles Martin Swan'. How do I know that name? Wait… isn't that the other person that dad used to go fishing with on the weekends along with Billy? Didn't he have two kids? I remember them vaguely from when our dads would drag us along- Jake, Charlie's kids and I.

Come to think of it, hasn't he been over a lot since dad died? Weren't he and mom starting to go out?

I skimmed through the small paragraph… Killed by a drunk driver? Wasn't his wife killed that way? This can't be easy on his kids…

"Seth?" Leah's voice broke through my trace- like state.

"W- what?"

"We are going to the funeral."

"But aren't those things usually private?"

"Bella and Alec decided to make it a public funeral and burial; give the rest of the town a chance to say their goodbyes."

"Who?"

"Bella and Alec." Leah caught my questioning stare "Charlie's kids…"

"Oh… them." Bella always was a little different- she didn't mind our fishing trips, even though she was the only girl there every time. Come to think of it, she was always sitting close to her brother, especially after her mother died.

"The funeral's in a few days Seth. Billy offered to take you out to look for some formal clothing with Jake- they're going out later today."

"That's nice."

"Go get dressed Seth- they're going to be here in about ten minutes."

"Thanks Leah…"

"No problem little brother."

I went back to my room and got dressed before reclaiming the paper, to read my father's friend's obituary.

Charles Martin Swan

Charles 'Charlie' Swan died on February sixth, two- thousand twelve at the hands of a drunk driver. Thirty- eight year- old Charlie was pronounced dead at the scene.

Charlie leaves behind two wonderful children, and we hope you will wish them the best at Charlie's public funeral on Wednesday, February eighth.

As the chief of the Forks police department, Charlie put his life on the line many times defending the people of Forks, and no one would have ever guessed that he would suffer the same fate as his early wife- Renee Swan.

We beseech you to help support his two children in any way you can.

The doorbell rang, and knowing that it was my ride, I went to answer it.

"Hey Seth." Jacob Black greeted as soon as I opened the door. Jake is Billy's son, and was just about as close to Bella as her own brother is.

"Hi Jake."

"Ready to go?"

"Yep."

I followed Jake to his dad's truck, where Billy sat waiting.

"Hello Seth."

"Hi Billy." I couldn't help notice Billy's bloodshot eyes- apparently he'd been crying too.

The drive to Port Angeles was agonizingly slow, as our sadness filled the inside of the truck's cabin. Jacob and I both rented simple black suits at the first rental shop we could find, and started the long drive back to La Push.

My mother spent the entire day on the couch, either crying or sleeping. Leah and I both never knew that she felt for Charlie as much as she did, or we would've given them some more space whenever he came over or they planned a date.

Billy and Jake came over for dinner, and us kids took the initiative and cooked a casserole for us all to share while the adults reveled in their sadness together. By the time Billy had gathered himself up enough to leave, both he and mom were so emotionally drained that almost as soon as the words 'Let's go Jake' were out of his mouth, he was passed out in his wheelchair.

I helped Jake move his father to one of our couches. While Leah positioned mom in a more horizontal position in our loveseat.

Leah and I dug out the air mattress, and set it up in my room, tossing Jake some spare blankets and pillows.

Everyone in the house fell into an uneasy sleep, the grief hanging heavily in the air.

When we got up the next day, our parents were somehow even worse than the day before- they had gotten into what remained of our dad's beer stash, and he always kept a big stash. I had never seen my mom drink before, but when we got around to making breakfast, she had already downed at least four cans.

Jake took Billy home after he had passed out drunk, and my mom had fallen into unconsciousness not too long after Billy.

Leah and I took the time to pick out our mother's best Sunday dress, and find Leah's outfit for the burial the following day.

~*~X~*~

We arrived at Charlie's funeral dressed in our best semi-formal attire.

Due of both of our parent's hangovers, we were the last ones to arrive at the funeral home.

Both Bella and Alec were standing by the ledger when we walked in, hands intertwined, and eyes bloodshot. What else would you expect? They both lost their last parent!

Jake started talking to Bella as we all signed in the ledger and miraculously found empty chairs at a lone table.

As the eulogies continued, Bella's face fell further and further down while Alec's remained relatively stoic, but it was obvious that he was trying to stay strong for his little sister.

In the middle of a particularly emotional eulogy from Billy, Bella dashed from the funeral home, but not before the tears that had been threatening to spill overflowed their banks. Everyone looked after Bella with sympathy in their eyes.

After Alec said a few words, the eulogies came to a close, and everyone started gravitating either toward the food, or Alec.

The people started clearing out- leaving to change into their black formals for the burial later that day.

My mother, Leah and I started towards Alec, before watching as a blonde with her hair pulled into a tight bun jumped him.

"Alec honey! I'm so sorry about Charlie- we all know how much you two loved him…"

"Jane…" Alec sighed as he pushed the women off him "Bella was dumped the day our dad died…"

"I'm so sorry Alec… I know how hard it must be for you- you know, getting over a break up and all…"

"Jane." Jane assaulted Alec with another hug "I'm not the one getting over a break- up. Bella is."

"Oh…" Jane met Alec's gaze "Well you're still single, right Alec?"

"Yeah, but…"

"Then why don't we go somewhere?" Jane started feathering her fingers down Alec's chest.

Alec looked around desperately, before meeting my eyes and sending me a forlorn gaze.

"Hey Alec." I started as I lead my family towards a pathetic- looking Alec "Is this your girlfriend?"

"Hey Seth." I'm surprised that he remembers me "No, this isn't my girlfriend, she's my cousin- Jane." Alec shoved his touchy-feely cousin away from him.

"How could you say that Alec? We are going to get married as soon as I graduate next year!" Jane screamed at Alec, capturing the curious gazes of everyone who was still present in the funeral home, including the gazes of two high school age kids, and who appeared to be their parents, who were talking to a few of the remaining guests.

"I think we should go heck on your sister now Alec" the woman suggested as she approached us.

"See you later Seth?" Alec asked as he started to move towards the door.

"Yep. Wouldn't miss it."

"Kay."

I looked at my sister, who was staring after Alec like he was the most beautiful person in the world.

"Lee? What's wrong?"

"Wow…"

"Leah?"

"Hm? What Seth?"

"Great…" I mumbled. Leah's in love with another guy she barely knows. We all know how well that ended up for her last time…

We all went back to our house to change for the burial in a couple hours.

"Seth, start getting ready." Mom told me as soon as we walked in the door.

"But the burial's not for two and a half more hours…" I whined.

"It will take you that long to get your suit on. Trust me."

"What about Leah?"

"She's already getting dressed." I looked around, and Leah was nowhere to be found.

"Damnit Leah. Why can't you be here to support me once in a while?"

"Go get dressed Seth."

I trudged up to my room, and slowly removed the pieces of my suit from their hanger. I slowly changed into the formal dress.

I haven't been as dressed up as I am now since my dad's burial.

"Let me fix your tie Seth." My mom said as I walked downstairs.

"But mom…"

"Just let me do it Seth."

I reluctantly approached my mother, and she fiddled with my bowtie. She was wearing a simple black dress that was cut so long it almost swept the ground. I was wearing a black suit with a black dress shirt underneath.

"How do I look mom?" Leah asked as she descended the stairs.

My mom looked around me "You look lovely darling."

I turned to look at Leah. She was wearing a strapless black dress that ended just below her knees. A translucent black scarf was draped over her shoulders, and she had a lot of make-up on. I mean a lot of make-up Black heels were adorn on her feet.

"Seth! You made me mess up your tie!" my mom scolded.

"Sorry mom…"

Once mom fixed my tie again, we left for the cemetery.

Alec and Bella were the center of attention when we arrived, but as soon as the ceremony started, they tried to move away from as many people as they could.

As Charlie's coffin was being hoisted into the crevasse that would forever be his resting place, white roses were given to everyone.

Bella and Alec stood at the side of the hole, and Bella leaned into Alec's chest as she haphazardly threw her rose into the grave. I noticed Jane's scowl at Bella's action. Alec muttered something before he calmly tossed his rose on top of his father's coffin, joining his sister's.

One by one everyone dropped their roses into Charlie's grave.

When the final rose hit the pile, dirt started being shoveled over the mound of white with a touch of green.

Bella broke into tears and ran off while Alec was swamped with people giving him their condolences for what I'm sure to be at least the fourth time since his father's death.

I looked after Bella, then made the conscious decision to follow Bella- make sure she didn't get hurt.

As I jogged after Bella, who was running surprisingly well despite wearing heels, I couldn't help but notice the familiar surroundings.

When she finally slowed down, she walked out onto a dock- the dock were my dad taught me how to fish, the dock where we all fished together, the dock that Charlie, Billy and dad built when all of our mothers were pregnant with us.

Bella slipped out of her heels before swinging her feet over the lip of the dock, looking out at the horizon.

I slowly walked towards her, doing nothing to try to mask the tapping of my dress shoes against the old wood of the dock.

~*~X~*~

I slipped out of my shoes before settling on the dock next to Bella. Looking out at the muddy water, I said "I know what you must be going through…" I looked to the bright blue sky "After all, I lost my dad a few years ago, but I learned to cope with the pain."

Bella turned her head toward me, which I picked up out of the corner of my eye "how could you not feel the pain every day?"

"I'm not saying it didn't hurt- it did, a lot, but…" I turned to meet her gaze "I just learned to focus on the good things in life, you know like friends and family… You're lucky." I turned my head to smile at her.

Bella gave me a questioning look.

"You have an older brother who cares about you and your wellbeing. When my dad died, Leah blamed it all on me, and as a result made my life miserable for a few months."

"That must've been… bad."

"Yeah- it was as close to hell as you could get, without actually going of course."

"Do I- do I know you?"

"You should, well I shouldn't blame you for not remembering- we haven't gone fishing for at least three years now…"

"Seth?"

"Yep." I grinned as Bella looked me up and down.

"Jake said you'd grown up, but Seth… you're handsome…"

"Thanks Bella, you know time's done you well too."

Bella blushed and turned away.

"It's nothing to be embarrassed about Bella, I mean…"

"Bella!" Alec's voice called out.

"Joy, overprotective big brother's here." I groaned.

Bella giggled like a young school girl as the sound of Alec's approach came closer.

"Come on Bella, calm down!" I hissed "We don't want Alec thinking that we were doing anything fishy…"

Bella just started laughing harder.

"Bella?" Alec questioned as he came down the dock.

"Hey Alec." I tried to greet as inconspicuously as possible.

"What were you two doing?" Alec demanded, eyes focused on Bella's red face.

"N- nothing…" Bella stuttered.

"If it were nothing, then you wouldn't be blushing Bella…" Alec crossed his arms "Unless… You didn't Seth!"

"I didn't what?" I questioned, honestly not knowing what on earth Alec was talking about.

"Please tell me you weren't hitting on my sister Seth…"

"Why would I hit on Bella? That would be like I'm only being nice to her because your dad died…"

Bella started crying again.

"Seth!"

"I'm sorry!"

Alec glared at me, rage evident in his eyes and fist drawn back.

"Alec stop!"

Alec and I both looked at Bella in confusion, Alec's fist slowly dropping.

"He didn't mean anything by that, and… I know the difference between genuine kindness and feigned kindness…" She mumbled.

"Seth?" my mom's voice drifted towards us.

"Here mom!" I yelled back.

My mother's figure slowly came into view, before she came down the dock, her heels clicking on the weathered cedar.

"Hello Alec, Bella."

Alec nodded back "Mrs. Clearwater."

"I thought I told you that you two could call me Sue?"

"Uh… Oh yeah… Sorry Sue…"

"It's nothing. Anyways, would you two like to stay with us for now? I mean we have a spare bedroom and you two probably don't want to stay at your house, at least not for the time being…"

"Thanks Sue… That really means a lot to us…" Tears were pooling at the corners of Alec's eyes, and Bella was leaning into my chest, already in tears.

I slowly wrapped my arms around her shaking body and pulled her closer.

The way Bella feels against my body- it just feels so natural…

~*~X~*~

"Seth, breakfast's ready!"

I slowly opened my eyes, and rolled out from underneath my blankets. I pulled on a random shirt that I picked up off the floor as I walked out my door, running into someone.

"Sorry…" I started as I pulled my head through the hole, to see Alec instead of Leah or mom. All of the events from the previous day came flowing back to me- the funeral, Charlie's burial, talking to Bella on the dock, mom offering for them to stay with us…

"No prob Seth, I know that the whole 'living with other people' thing is new to you…"

"No Alec, I should've remembered that there were other people- non family people, staying here too…"

"SETH!" Leah's scream echoed, soon followed by Bella's.

"ALEC!"

"WE'RE COMING!" We both yelled back. Alec and I both ran down the stairs, to see everyone seated around the kitchen table, only two empty chairs left, both of which had plates filled with bacon, toast and scrambled eggs.

We both sat down in the chairs, and reveled in the soft breakfast time conversation.

After breakfast, we planned on going to the Swan's house, to get Alec's and Bella's clothes, and anything else they wanted.

We piled into my mother's car- we were going to drive Bella's truck back with us too. Mom was driving, and Leah was in the front seat. Bella, Alec and I were squished in the backseat, in that order.

When we got to the Swan household, Bella was leaning into Alec's chest, tears already starting to gather in the corners of her eyes. Lucky guy…

"I need to pack too Bella…" Alec told her once the car stopped moving.

"B- but"

"I'll stay with you Bella." I volunteered. Not that I mean to brag, but my chest can't be all that different from Alec's, I mean we were both gifted with natural, lean muscle…

"T- thanks Seth…" Bella mumbled, gathering herself enough to get out her door.

I crawled out my door, Alec following behind me. I noticed Leah staring at Alec as he got out of the car. Then again, Leah was glancing at Alec a lot during breakfast too…

Alec walked up to the front door, and lifted a blue flower pot that contained a withering plant, and produced a key which he slid into the lock, the door drifting open.

We walked into the dark house. Even though the house hasn't been lived in for just a single day, it gave a dark and foreboding vibe, almost as if someone was murdered here.

There was a note propped up on the coffee table. Alec picked it up and glanced over it before stuffing it into his pocket.

I followed Bella into her room, where she produced a garbage bag, and started stuffing her clothes into it.

"Need any help?"

"If you could pack my books…" Bella nodded towards a cardboard box half- full of books next to a half- full bookshelf.

"Okay."

We went for a while just doing our separate tasks, until Bella attempted to drag her bag of clothes (Which was topped off with pillows) towards her door, struggling all the way.

"Let me help you with that…" I said, taking the bag from her.

"Thanks Seth…"

"Want it in your truck?"

Bella nodded.

I carried the black bag out to her truck, before gently tossing it into the back. When I reentered Bella's room, she was hunched over something, crying.

As I rushed to Bella's side, I caught a glimpse of what caused her to break out in tears again- a picture of all of us, Charlie, dad, Billy, Jake, Alec, Bella and I on the dock, each of us holding a fish, except Bella, who was grinning like a maniac.

I slowly pried the picture from Bella's grip, and set it back on her nightstand.

"Come on Bella, let's finish packing your books…"

Once we finished packing Bella's favorite books, we carried the box out to mom's car, then went back in. Alec was already done packing, and everyone was waiting in the living room.

"So who's going to drive Bella's truck?" Mom started.

"I am." Bella struggled to say.

"No you aren't." Alec responded "You can't drive in your state of mind; if you do you'll end up killing yourself."

"B- but…"

"Leah can drive you." Mom said.

I caught the distraught look that shot across Leah's face when mom volunteered her to drive Bella. "I'll drive her." I volunteered, Leah shooting me a look of thanks.

Alec, Leah and mom left for home, leaving me with Bella, alone in the empty house.

"So…" I broke the almost uncomfortable silence "Where are your car keys?"

"Here" Bella retrieved a set of keys from a bowl by the door, tossing them at me.

I caught the keys and led her out to her truck, and drove her back to our house in a comfortable, yet sad, silence.

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

~*~(Bella's POV)~*~

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

I curled into a ball again as I saw Harry's old fishing pole. Harry was one of Charlie's best friends…

People at school have started calling me 'Zombella' again, and no matter how much Alec much tries to stop the name calling, there's nothing he can do. But I can't blame him, after all, he fell for Leah- they're dating now. Because of that, I can't find the comfort in Alec's chest as I once used to. It almost feels wrong to do that, almost as if I'm taking what belongs to someone else, but Seth…

Being with Seth just feels so natural- he makes me feel wanted. When I'm with him, it almost feels like the void in my heart fills- disappears even… It's as easy as breathing.

Even though I was so sad on that dock the day of Charlie's funeral, I felt so much better the moment Seth started talking with me… At first I was just wondering how such a perfect clone of Alec could exist, but as I got to know him again, I stopped counting similarities and found more and more differences. For one, Seth isn't my brother, and while they both have about the same build, Alec's shoulders are just a bit wider.

As the months passed, we all fell into a regular pattern- Sue and I would make breakfast and meet Leah at the table, leaving both Leah and I to yell for Alec and Seth to come downstairs at the same time.

Then Alec and I would drive to Forks High, and Seth and Leah would go to La Push High. Once school was out, we would all go back to the Clearwater's, and Alec and Leah would disappear while Seth would try to keep me from becoming a human waterfall. Somehow, we would both manage to get our homework done between my frequent spontaneous outbursts of tears.

But I'm really starting to get better- everyone's sad looks really aren't affecting me as badly as they used to.

Graduation couldn't come fast enough- now I can finally get away from all of the nicknames…

"Did you even hear a thing I said?" Alec's voice broke me out of my trance.

"Hm? What Alec?"

"I said, our cousins are coming here for grad."

"Great."

"We can't just push them away Bella- after all, how many times do you graduate high school?"

"I know Alec, it's just... Felix and Demetri both hate us so much, and Jane hates me for being related to you…"

"We don't have to stand them for long Bella, just until we go to some grad party. Aunt Heidi promised me that she would see us when we got back from the party, then they would leave the next day. "

"At least we'll be able to talk to Aunt Heidi one more time…"

The days flew by, finals running past at the speed of sound, graduation approaching quickly. Seth helped me through my depressive scenes, every single one, as Alec wasn't around as much as he used to be.

When graduation was finally just a single day away, Seth stayed with me while Alec was god- knows- where with Leah.

"It's okay Bella…" Seth tried to soothe.

"N-no Seth…" I cried "D-dad sh-should b-be here a-a-and m-mom…"

"Bella…" Seth pulled me into his embrace, just like d-dad u-used to… My natural waterworks became increasingly violent.

I must've cried myself to sleep, because when I next opened my eyes, my head was in Seth's lap, and Seth was passed out on the couch, incessant laughter coming from across the room.

As I groggily willed my eyes open I noticed Leah, almost doubled over in laughter, and Alec, sending Seth a gaze that if looks could kill, Seth would be nothing more than a small speck on the couch.

All I remember after that is slowly waking up in Seth's lap to the nose scrunching scent of burning sugar, Seth stirring not too long after I awoke.

"What is that awful smell?"

"I think it's your sister's horrible cooking Seth."

"Leah's trying to cook? Good god- kill us now!"

"I heard that Seth!"

"You can't argue with him Leah- you spilt the maple syrup in the pan and insisted that it would double as oil…" Alec's hushed voice commented.

"Really Leah!" Seth and I both responded, my response more of a question while Seth's was more of a groan.

"Bella and Alec are graduating in a few hours, and you can't even make them breakfast Leah?"

"If you're so critical of my cooking, then I'd love to see you try Seth!"

"At least anything I made wouldn't burn in the pan!"

"Will you two just shut up!" Alec yelled, probably rousing Sue from her slumber.

"What are you burning in the frying pan down there Leah!" Sue shouted from her room upstairs.

"Thanks for having faith in me mom!" Leah shouted back.

"Told you she would know you were cooking…" Alec mumbled as Seth and I wandered into the kitchen.

"Good god Leah, what did you do?" Seth wailed, noticing the black mess that Leah was trying to hurriedly scrub out of the scalding pan, only succeeding in getting the sponge stuck in the black sticky goo.

After Sue and I made breakfast, with no help from Leah, Alec and I went to get ready for the graduation ceremony.

We went to where our gowns and caps were hanging side by side, as all of them were hanging in alphabetical order.

After the ugly yellow cloaks were draped on our bodies, we all walked to our seats while the combined freshman- sophomore- junior orchestra and band played whatever it was that they were playing.

The music stopped, and the principal gave a short speech, and introduced our valedictorian- my brother, who walked up to the podium and began his speech.

"We all have our own lives to live, and we each need to make the decisions that affect it ourselves. On this long road we call life, there are many mountains and valleys, and we will get many bumps and bruises from this rough road. Each experience we have on this road will make us stronger, molding us into the people we will be in the far future. The person that we will become is not already decided for us- we can change the old as many times as we have to, there's no end to the changes we can make. We could take the wrong road and get lost somewhere, fall in love" Alec send a glance in Leah's direction, and an audible huff came from the crowd, obviously from Jane "But nothing can change who we are- our core values… nothing. No matter where we go in life, we will always be ourselves. Through trials and tribulations are where character develops, and those trials help to mold us into the people we will one day be."

Applause engulfed the entire auditorium as Alec came back to his seat next to me.

The principal then began to read off names, and a continuous round of clapping echoed until we all left the auditorium. Alec ran off to find Leah after we dropped our stuff off in his car, me following closely behind, knowing that Seth would be where Leah was.

As our family came into view, I froze in shock.

Jane was clinging to Seth, her tongue shoved down his throat and her hand creeping down his chest.

Tears gathered in my eyes as I ran. I faintly heard Seth calling for me, but I ignored it choosing instead to push my legs even harder.

I ran, my legs deciding to choose where my destination would be, the destination being the old dock that symbolized the friendship between our fathers. I collapsed on the old wood, curling into a ball, the tears now flowing freely.

I had no idea just how close I had grown to Seth- all of the small things he did for me, like packing my backpack for me in the morning, or setting my alarm clock when I forgot. All of those little things that showed he cared- all of the things Alec used to do before dad died…

"Seth…" I managed through my tears.

I don't know when it happened, but I fell in love with Seth Clearwater.

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

~*~(Seth POV)~*~

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~

I was honestly shocked when I woke up with Bella's head in my lap.

I also never knew that Leah didn't know the difference between maple syrup and oil, or the fact that Leah didn't know that hot sugar plus a sponge equals a stuck sponge.

We arrived in the auditorium and took our seats, and sat through the whole ceremony. Alec's speech was very well written, and I knew that Leah helped him write it.

When we all exited the auditorium, we waited for Bella and Alec to find their way towards us, when I was ambushed by some short blonde. She jumped me and shoved her tongue into my mouth, which was opened in protest. Her hands started trailing down my chest when I caught sight of Bella. She dashed off- I knew she was crying.

I shoved the blonde off me, and called for Bella. She didn't respond.

I sent Alec a sorrowful gaze before running after Bella, not needing to be right behind her- I knew where she was running, it was the place she would always be when she was really upset- the dock.

When I arrived at the end of the dock, I saw a crumpled heap of crying Bella lying in the middle of the weathered dock.

"Seth…" she mumbled through her tears.

I stood still in shock for a few moments, before slowly crossing the dock to get to her.

"Bella…" I mumbled, gathering her up so that her head was above her feet.

"Y-you k-k-kissed J-Jane." She sobbed.

"She ambushed me Bella!"

"W-why should I-I believe y-you S-Seth…?"

"Why would I kiss anyone willingly? I-I love you…" I really can't believe I just said that.

"A-as a si-sibling…"

"No Bella, not just like that… I'm in love with you."

"B-but you and Jane…" I cut her off by catching her lips with my own.

When I pulled away, I asked "Do you believe me now?"

She gently nodded, and I moved us to the end of the dock, our bare feet hanging off the end of the old cedar dock, where I think everything started for me- the day when she ran from Charlie's burial and I chased after her…

It's funny how everything comes in a full circle- where you began is where you end, life throws all sorts of twists at you…

Charlie's untimely death, Alec and Leah hitting it off, and me falling for Bella…

So many things have happened in this past year, and yet through all this sadness, we've found happiness.

A gentle breeze stirred the light brown water beneath our feet, and caused the water reeds to sway. The grass around the dock produced a light swishing sound as the stalks were blown by the wind. A single cloud marred the darkening sky, which was still illuminated an orange-scarlet by the light of the setting sun.

Two silhouettes stood out amongst the colorful sky, one being me and the other being Bella. Bella leaned into my chest, me draping my arm around her. We watched the sun slowly disappearing over the horizon, perfectly content with the situation.

Bella looked up at me, and said the words that nearly made me melt right on the spot.

"I love you too, Seth…"

~*~X~*~X~*~X~*~