ENTRY #77 - AH

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

Pen Name(s):
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Title: The Man Who Drove Away
Picture Prompt Number: 15
Pairing: Edward, Emmett
Rating: T
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 6456
Summary:
In forty-eight seconds, he went from being the golden boy to a killer. Forty-eight seconds, and then he drove away.
Warnings and Disclaimer:
I do not own the rights to The Twilight Saga©, and make no profit off this fanfiction. All rights are reserved to Stephenie Meyer. I have taken liberties
regarding therapy - all made up. Includes character death.

oOo

On a warm summer day, a man drove his car on a long stretched road. He was the only one driving there that day, and his foot fell comfortably on the accelerator; the speed of his newly acquired car going higher and higher. Forty-eight seconds from when he passed the Welcome to Forks-sign, he would become a killer. In forty-eight single seconds he would go from being a college graduate, a gentleman, the local doctor's son, and devote boyfriend, to lose his best friend, his girlfriend, and be shunned from the society of which he grew up in.

Forty-eight seconds can change a lot.

But most importantly, it's the decisions we make that creates the situations we end up in.

Think about it. Because you woke up early one morning, you looked your best for a job interview, and got there early. The employer noticed, and the other person who was there to be interviewed came late. You showed up early, and you got the job. At a company function, you met your spouse. You both had high-paying jobs, and because of that, you were able to pay for your children's high education. One became a doctor. The other an artist.

The doctor went on to marry the woman of his dreams, and had one son. And because the doctor had grown up having everything he could possibly want, he passed that on to his own son.

The decisions we make affect other people.

It took two seconds for Edward Cullen to realize that. To really understand.

In forty-eight seconds a girl would die, and Edward Cullen would never be able to do anything for the rest of his life without thinking about the girl who would never have the chance to do the things she dreamed of.

oOo

"How are you feeling today, Edward?"

It was a very generic and over-used question, but it was one his therapist used a lot. Dr. King had a firm belief that discussing feelings first laid the ground for the rest of their sessions, and so every Thursday at one p.m., Edward would sit in a light-lit room, frowning at the question.

"The same as always. Horrible," he replied bitterly. Always bitterly. He sat on the couch, a ghastly yellow color, holding a matching pillow over his stomach. It was something they had talked about before: his protective stance, and Dr. King raised her brow at him. He removed it with a huff.

"Better. Worse. I don't really know. I feel empty most days. But today… it's her birthday. So."

"It's been more than a year, Edward. What do you think about that?"

"That's it's been a year? It still feels like yesterday. I still-"

"You still have the dreams?"

"Mhm. I really don't get why you won't prescribe me some pills. It would make my life so much better."

Dr. King sighed and took off her reading glasses, holding them in her left hand, and a pen in the other, balancing her note pad on her knee. "We've been over this before, Edward. Pills won't fix your problems. Besides, we wouldn't want you to grow a habit, would we?"

Thinking of the hundreds of dollars he had used on pain-killers, Edward shook his head 'no'. But it wasn't just that he couldn't afford it - after his father discovered that Edward was getting under-the-table prescriptions from his co-worker, Dr. Cullen had cut off his son from all parental funds. Now all he had left were students loans, which he was paying to his parents. After all, it was they who had paid for his education.

No, the thought of spiraling out of financial control put a damper on the need for pills.

"No. I guess not. I just… I hate dreaming about her. I hate seeing her everywhere I go and thinking that she'll never get to experience life."

It was their second month of therapy, and this was the first time he had ever broached this subject himself. Already then did Dr. King consider it a large step for him.

"How so? What things?"

"Well… Like the other day I was at this bar with some co-workers, and… I just got to thinking that she never got to do that. She was just sixteen, ya know? She was a nice girl, and from what I know she had never tasted alcohol or been out. She was a nice girl."

He took in a big breath of air, feeling his eyes sting with the impending tears forming in his eyes. "Emmett was always talking about how she was this really sweet girl. His baby sister and all. I guess all big brothers act like that with their kid sisters. I wouldn't know… But. I just feel so terrible sometimes, because I feel what hurts the most is not being able to see him anymore. We were best friends, and… Yeah."

"No, Edward, go on. This is good. You're talking about it. Tell me about Emmett - you've never talked much about him before."

"Well. Okay. We met in High School, when they moved to Forks from Seattle, and we just hit it off. He was this dork who wore glasses and knew all the answers on tests. I don't know why I liked him, really, I used to bully kids like that. But he stood up to me. On the first day of school I made some comment about him having all the answers but one: how to… uh, please a woman."

His cheeks reddened a little. Saying that aloud to Dr. King didn't feel right, especially not when she wasn't that bad looking. A little on the heavy side, a little older, but the woman had curves men dream about, and long blonde hair that would look amazing spread across his pillow. But he couldn't think about things like that. Not then.

"He basically turned around and made a crack about my - uhm - penis. Saying I wouldn't be able to even if I knew how. Normally I would've punched him, but instead I just laughed. And, after that…we were best friends."

"How old was she then?"

"Uh, seven, I think. I remember the first time I met her. She was wearing this white dress covered in dirt. She never liked dressing up much."

"Did you interact a lot?"

"No. I mean, she was just a little girl. We didn't have time to do things with her. I think I can count the number of times I've actually talked to her on one hand. I didn't know anything about her. I just. I knew she was there, who she was. But other than that, she-"

-was nothing to me.

He finished the sentence in his mind, disgusted with himself for thinking it.

"She was what, Edward?" Dr. King urged, practically over the moon that her patient was finally opening up about his feelings. The two months she had seen Edward Cullen, a total of eight one-hour sessions, she had always been the one to broach the subjects, but had never gotten much out of him. The main contents of his patient-file were police reports and newspaper articles, and she actually looked forward to putting some real notes in it.

"She was…she was just Emmett's little sister. She was a little annoying, but cute. I don't mean attractive-cute, but cute in the way that it was cute when she blushed around me. I mean, I guess she had a crush on me or something, but I kinda brushed it off," he rambled. "She was just there. When I was at his place playing video games, or when I'd pick him up, she was always just there. Standing in a corner or something."

"How long has it been since you talked to Emmett last?"

Here, Edward paused for a long time. He sat on the yellow couch in silence, and then he picked up the pillow and placed it on his lap, holding it in a deadly grip.

Interesting, Dr. King thought to herself.

"Would you like to tell me why you seem more uncomfortable talking about losing your friend, than killing his little sister?"

Fuck, she thought then. She realized immediately she'd phrased that incredibly wrong, and Edward's flaming rage was proof of that.

"Fuck you," he snarled, and pushed himself off the couch, before storming out the door.

oOo

The car was a black Audi, a very expensive car for a twenty-three year old to own, in most eyes. But it was a late graduation gift, and the man had no trouble showing it off, even if no one were watching. The stretch was familiar to him - a road he had driven a hundred times before - and it was without worry that he put it in fifth and broke the speed limit.

Forty-eight seconds later, he would curse the car. Curse his father. Curse himself.

It took him forty-eight seconds to drive what most cars would use two minutes on.

"Speed-devil." That was the nick-name he had earned from his high school friends, not to mention the local police. From the moment he had gotten his license, he had felt a need for speed. The highway was his Nirvana.

But heaven can so easily be turned to a hell, if you make the wrong move.

The stereo was blasting out his favorite song, and the windows were rolled down. His shirt sleeves rolled up. With one hand on the wheel, and the other propped up on the door, Edward Cullen drove by the welcome-sign with no care in the world.

Forty-eight seconds later, a crash and a crack ruined his fondness for the car, his friendship, and later on the relationship to his girlfriend, and his parents.

He saw her a little too late, was a little too startled, and forty-eight seconds after entering his childhood town, his life was ruined.

oOo

The phone rang. "Mr. Cullen, there's a call for you on line two."

"Tell them I'm busy."

"It's your mother."

Edward sighed. "Put her through."

He pushed himself upright in his chair, feeling like his mother would admonish him if she knew he was slouching. Then he picked up the phone, inhaled heavily, and said, "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Hello, honey. How are you?" his mother's light soprano voice chimed through the phone. She was the only family connection he really had left, considering his father refused to talk to him. Understandable. But the almost daily phone-calls from his mother were a little annoying, although he appreciated the sentiment.

"I'm good mom. Just busy at work like usual. How about you? I thought you had a gardening club or…something, today?"

"Book circle, hon. I swear, you never listen. Never did," she admonished, but the comment was one he took close to heart.

Pay attention, right? That was something his dad had always told him when he was a teenager. Pay attention to the road. Pay attention in class. Pay attention in life.

"Edward?" his mother said then, cautiously. Already then, he knew it had something to do with his father; over the last year his mother had gotten the habit to lower her voice when her husband was the topic - whether or not he was even at home.

"I was wondering if you've talked to your father?"

"No. Why?"

She sighed, and Edward became worried.

"It's his birthday coming up… and I was hoping he'd called you to invite you to the dinner party."

His father, the local doctor, loving husband, and devote father, had not. Edward looked at his calendar, and saw that, indeed, it was his father's birthday in just three days. The day was circled in red, but he hadn't noticed. Between therapy, work, and running to clear his mind, he didn't have much time to think about others. Not even himself.

It was something Dr. King had tried to talk about in their earliest session, but talking about sex - when Dr. King looked the way she did - was nearly impossible. It under spurred on thought he didn't need, nor wanted, near her. He wanted to hate the woman, but couldn't.

"No, mom. He hasn't. Listen," he said and ruffled some papers, trying to make it sound like he was in a hurry. "I have to go to a meeting right now, but I'll send something. Okay mom? I love you, bye."

After he hung up, he turned off his phone.

He sat back in his chair.

And tried not to cry.

oOo

Five seconds before he became a killer, the sun shone through the trees at the exact wrong time and place, blinding the man. With his foot still on the accelerator, he reached for the shades in the passenger seat. There laid his phone, and taking his eyes off the road for five seconds, he picked it up to check it.

No messages.

The time showed 2:46pm - and he had been driving for four hours. That morning he had woken up at seven, packed up the rest of his things in his rental, gone for a jog, showered, eaten, and then he had carried everything out to the car. Three boxes stacked in the backseat, suit-bags and back-packs stacked in the trunk, and a bottle of water in the cup-holder.

He had left Seattle that morning with a smile on his face, but wished he'd never left just hours later.

Forty-eight seconds upon entering Forks, he became a killer.

Five seconds was the time it took for him to take his eyes off the road, and hit a girl at a deadly speed.

oOo

After a month of boycotting Dr. King, ignoring her secretary's phone calls and emails, his father called. Or rather, left a message on his phone at a time it was universally known Edward did not have his phone with him.

Between five and six pm on a Wednesday night, while Edward was out running, his father called and said, "I received a call from Dr. King saying you're not showing up for the sessions. Start showing up, or I swear to God… Edward. Go to therapy. You need it. If you don't, don't ever bother calling this house again."

It was a brutal message, but Edward understood the reasoning behind it somewhat. During his medical induced state of five months, lying, and abusing sedatives, he had broken his father's trust to a point where their relationship almost seemed unredeemable. After that, he had been given two options: therapy, or nothing.

Just nothing.

No contact. No money. Nothing.

Even if he was cut off now, he still had his job to rely on, but even Edward understood what he needed was talking out his aggression and confusion, even if he was reluctant to do so. He had seen in his mother's pleading eyes and his father's disappointed expression, that it was his only solution.

So the next day, he showed up as usual at Dr. King's office, sitting in the waiting room. The secretary, a dark and petite girl with a bob, eyed him warily. Perhaps it was after last time's brute exit, or the fact that he had snapped at her the first time she called to reschedule. Either way, he kept his head down.

"I'll see you again next week, James," he heard Dr. King say from the now open door, and looked up to see a short bald man shake her hand, smiling, and then leave.

"Edward. Come in."

He stood up and crossed the room, still keeping his head down as he passed the secretary. On the couch, the pillow went to his stomach immediately, but Dr. King did not comment. Instead, she took her usual position - crossed legs with notepad balancing on top, pen in hand, and the other arm propped up on the arm of the chair. The glasses stayed on.

"First off Edward, I have to apologize for last time. It was terribly unprofessional to phrase myself like that, and I want you to know that there is no judgment in this room."

"Why not?" he blurted.

"Why not, what?" she frowned.

"Why don't you judge me? I killed a girl. Killed her. Literally took her life. Why shouldn't you judge me? Everyone else does."

"Edward," she sighed. "What we have is a professional and unbiased relationship. My job is to listen, ask, and help you deal with your issues. It's not my place to judge anyone, for anything. If I wanted to judge, I'd call myself God."

Edward snorted, and Dr. King smiled - pleased to have eased the tension.

"Now. Last time we left off talking about Emmett - how you became friends - but how about you tell me more about your relationship after the incident?"

Edward closed up immediately, but thinking of his parents - desperate to get back on their good graces - he removed the pillow, inhaled deeply, and started talking.

"After… when I'd turned myself in, I saw him at the police station. He was crying… I'd never seen him cry. It just wasn't our thing. And he was so angry and sad and fucked up at the same time. He looked worse than me… and that's saying something. And he was big, ya know? He used to be this stick thin little kid I'd beat at arm wrestling, but he bulked up a little when he went away for college. I don't mean he was this giant, but he was strong. I didn't beat him in arm wrestling anymore. And he was standing there. I could see him through the open door to the interrogation room… and…"

"And what, Edward?" Dr. King asked, scribbling furiously on her notepad.

"I just saw it. Twenty feet away from me, I saw it on his face that he hated me. Fucking hated me. I just… he was my best friend. He knew fucking everything about me, and none of that mattered anymore. I killed his sister, and that was it. There's no forgiveness for murderers," he finished solemnly.

"I miss him. He was… there's no one like him. When I went to the funeral, he hit me. And I let him."

"Why did you let him punch you?"

"I guess," he started. "I guess it felt good? I mean. It hurt. Like hell. And it surprised me. But it felt good because, right there and then, I guess I thought he could punch his hatred out of himself, and he'd forgive me. Instead, when they managed to drag him off me, he didn't look at me. He turned his back on me, and hasn't talked to me since. It's been a year… A horrible year."

"Is that why you started abusing sedatives, because it took away the pain?"

"Yes. No. I -," He stopped to take a breath and gather his thoughts, unsure of the answer himself. After the accident, the trial, and his five months in jail, he'd come out of the penitentiary with broken ribs and several cuts. Though he'd denied ever being attacked by fellow convicts - or guards, for that matter - he hadn't say no to the sedatives. At first they were just to numb the pain, but along the slippery road, he had found himself paying off his father's coworker, just so he didn't have to feel anything.

"Yes," he said then, and left it at that.

And later that evening, when Edward went by a drugstore to get Nyquil for an on-coming cold he felt brewing inside his chest, he looked longingly at the display of prescription drugs behind the counter.

oOo

June 2nd.

Four hours.

Forty-eight seconds.

Five seconds.

One split second of impact.

What about the decisions leading up to that?

The man in the car was supposed to leave the day before, but because his girlfriend insisted they'd go out that night, he didn't. Why did she insist? Because she was insecure after finding porn sites bookmarked on his computer earlier that week, and thought she'd seduce him to make him forget about finding satisfaction other places.

Before that, she had been in a series of bad relationships, and her trust issues had already taken its toll on their current bond.

Before that.

Before that…

Decisions lead up to the present, and in the present, the man in the car made all the wrong decisions.

The windshield cracked.

The car dented.

He stepped on the brake after the hit.

Shocked.

His heart thumping furiously.

Then it took him two seconds before his actions sunk in, and opened the door.

oOo

"Thanks," Edward mumbled to the penguin-dressed waiter, and shot back a glass of champagne. It was bitter and disgusting, but it didn't take him long to find a new glass. Across the room, his mother shot him a stern look, and he simply nursed the drink from then on, taking little sips.

The chatter around him was boring to the brink of dying, and every time he turned around, there was a new group of people more than willing to include him in their even more boring conversation. Talk about medical conferences, who slept with which nurse, that rookie who messed up with the hospital board, and the promotions they deserved instead of the people who got them.

Doctors are truly the blandest, and most boring people when they take off their stethoscopes.

It was November, and he was home for Thanksgiving for the annual party his mother threw. All of his father's coworkers would come over for drinks and buffet-food the day before Thanksgiving, and talk and dance all night long.

His mother had insisted he'd come home, much to his dismay, and he had relented in the end. He still hadn't talked to his father, and the tension in the air was - to say the least - thick.

Worse was, he'd tried to call Emmett on his arrival, but the second his best friend had heard Edward's voice, he'd hung up.

Feeling tired and drunk, Edward walked up to his mother and gave her a peck on the cheek, promising to be on time the next day; they had plans to bake pumpkin pie together, a long standing tradition.

"You're leaving already?"

"I'm just tired mom. It was a long drive."

She frowned. "Bu-"

She was cut off. Edward's father walked up to them, looking impeccable in his suit - not even the receding hair line or the slight stomach ruined the image of the prestigious small-town doctor. "Leaving already? I hope you're not driving, we all know what happens when you're behind the wheel."

His words stung, and people who stood close enough to hear even cringed at the stabbing tone of Dr. Cullen's voice.

"I'll order a cab," Edward replied, with a bowed head. He wasn't brave enough to look his father in the eye. Feelings of being a disappointment and a failure washed over him, and without saying goodbye, he brushed past his mother, never looking up.

He stood outside in the cold and waited for the taxi to arrive, and the hole in his chest seemed to become bigger and bigger, hollowing him from the inside out. He was but a shell of himself, dressed in a long black coat and khaki pants, resembling a ghost of the vibrant and happy-go-lucky guy he used to be.

Alone.

For over a year, he had felt isolated from the world.

When he was arrested, Edward had pleaded guilty for manslaughter, but had only been appointed five months in jail due to his clean record and confession. It was clear to everyone that he felt remorse for his actions, and the case had never made it to court, despite his mother's wished to rid him of all charges. He knew he deserved to be incarcerated, but what waited for him inside the walls of Washington State Penitentiary exceeded his wildest dreams.

Fights.

Drug-dealing.

Gangs.

He had kept to himself, but didn't escape the occasional fight with thugs who wanted to make him their bitch.

And then the pain and isolation piled up, when his girlfriend came for her one and only visit - and broke up with him.

The cab arrived, and at the hotel where he was staying, Edward laid in bed and couldn't sleep.

The session with Dr. King the previous week gnawed on his mind.

"Will you go to see him?" she asked.

"He hates me…is there even a point?"

"Have you ever really tried to clear the air? Talking it out? And phone-calls don't count, Edward."

He didn't say anything, and it was clear Edward had never really put his heart into trying to salvage his friendship with Emmett. Instead, he had hid behind half-attempts of calling, and dreaded bumping into him when he would go home the next week.

"No."

"Why not?" she inquired, and eyed the yellow pillow covering Edward's stomach. It went away. Edward inhaled deeply, and looked up at his therapist with watery eyes.

"Because I left her there."

oOo

The man who used forty-eight seconds on a two-minute drive sat in the driving seat with a thumping heart. It felt like a heart-attack, and his head swirled. He was nauseated. Scared. The adrenaline pumping through him did not come from a thrill, and it was not a rush he could have used to lift a car off a baby.

No.

Because the five seconds it took him to be distracted, the split second it took him to see the girl and run her over, caused his entire life to flash before his eyes. Twenty second after hitting the brake and coming to an abrupt stop, he was still breathing hard.

He opened the door.

Stepped out onto the road.

And looked back.

Ten slow steps.

At first sight, the girl looked to be sleeping - but her chest did not move. Blood still seeped from her nose and mouth, and her head lay in a pool of red. Her arms were in awkward angles, and the man's stomach twisted when realizing they were broken. Her legs were worse. Later it would be revealed that the knee-caps were completely crushed, but at the time the girl's killer looked down on her, he could only see blood and open flesh.

It became too much, and he rushed to the side of the road and emptied his stomach.

Dread washed over him.

On his hands and knees, Edward Cullen closed his eyes and started praying, chanting over and over again, "Wake up, wake up… Come on Edward, this is a dream. Just wake up. Fucking wake up!"

But this nightmare had come to life, and it was in confusion, fear, and a heavy heart that Edward Cullen stepped back to his crushed car, and started the engine.

oOo

When the sun rose on Thanksgiving, Edward was already up and dressed. He had his black dress pants on and a blue shirt. But it was only six am, and he sat down on the bed feeling at a loss of what to do. His mother didn't expect him for several hours, although he knew she would be up already, cleaning the house and preparing the turkey.

His stomach rumbled, so he decided to go to the diner down the road.

The air outside was fresh and crisp, carrying a hint of rain in the wind, but the sky was only a light grey.

Edward put on his jacket, and walked down the empty road.

The bell rang when he opened the door, and the people inside looked up. They froze. Their eyes immediately filled up with distaste, and they eyed him as he walked up to the counter.

"What can I get you?" the waitress asked, relenting, when he sat down on the stool.

"Uhm, coffee. Black," he mumbled. He could feel their eyes on him, but tried to ignore it until they went back to talking among themselves.

The feeling of being a public enemy had never been as high as then. At the funeral, he had been too full of grief and remorse to notice how the crowd looked at him and whispered. Too focused on Emmett to notice the unanimous voice which screamed "murderer!"

The minutes ticked by, and the waitress never returned to Edward, not even when his cup became empty. He let out a heavy breath and laid down a few dollars on the counter. Without looking at the patrons staring at his back, he left.

It was a bitter feeling, leaving the diner. For some reason he knew he wouldn't go back, and that hurt, because that is where Edward and Emmett had spent their free time as teenagers. That's where Edward went up to Alice Brandon and asked her out for prom, and where Emmett was dumped by Angela Webber. It was where they would go when they skipped class, and talked smack about each other. In the corner booth, they had once sat in silence when Alice had kissed Emmett, and their friendship had been put to the test.

All had been forgiven.

But there was no forgiveness left in that place.

Lost and forlorn, Edward wandered the small town, keeping his head down.

For hours, he just walked, and it wasn't until he was there that Edward realized he had gone back to the scene of his crime.

His shirt was damp.

His face slightly red.

And his eyes watered.

He could still remember so clearly the feeling he had felt when he realized he had not just killed a girl, but his best friend's sister.

She had been out for a run, with ear-buds filling her head with music. Her iPod had smashed on the ground when he had hit her. Her bare legs scratched up and bleeding. The road was empty as always. On Thanksgiving, no one drove into Forks - or few did. Most people were at home, helping with dinner and baking pies.

No one thought twice about the stretch of road where Edward Cullen had killed a girl.

"She'll never eat turkey again," he said to himself. It was one of the most random things he had thought, but it was true. Little things like turkey, prom, and snow… they were things she'd never get to experience again.

Because he made the wrong move. He didn't pay attention. He was reckless.

Maybe if he had skipped his own routine run, she wouldn't have been dead. Maybe if his ex-girlfriend hadn't been insecure, Emmett's little sister could have been at home, helping their mom stuff the turkey. Mashing potatoes. Something.

Then he noticed something he had never seen before. A trail. Split up by the road, a patch not broader than one foot, stretched from one end of the forest and into the other. It's the trail the girl had used the day she died, and without thinking, Edward started walking.

The forest surrounding the town of Forks was used for limber production, and was to this day one of the most profited limber sites in the state of Washington. But driving towards the town, the trees on either side of the road was untouched. The trees had never been cut, and the old oaks stretched towards the graying sky, casting shadows.

For thirty minutes, Edward walked and stumbled over roots and stones, stopping to listen to the sound of branches breaking under the feet of critters. A small creek ran loudly, the sound of water echoed on the tree trunks. The sun disappeared, and the sky began to open up.

As the first drop of rain fell onto Edward's shoulder, the forest began to open, and fifty feet away he saw a clearing. He sped, despite knowing where the trail would end. Subconsciously he had known for a while, but it wasn't until he stepped foot on the McCarty's lawn, that it really hit him.

He stood by the tree line, and stared at the house of his former best friend.

His eyes fixed on the man sitting on the porch, who inhaled from a newly lit smoke. He blew it out as a circle, but it was ruined by the rain which now fell with full force. Edward's shirt was soaked, and a stray thought entered his mind, picturing his mother's abhorred face if she would see him like this.

"Emmett?" he called out. For a second, it didn't seem like Emmett had heard him…that the rain had completely muffled his voice, but then he looked up.

Then he stood up.

And walked into the rain.

In just three steps, Emmett's shirt was soaked as well, but it didn't stop him from striding across the lawn. His chest heaved with furious breaths, and his fists clenched. Edward stood stoic, an apology on the top of his tongue, when Emmett yet again knocked him to the ground.

Edward landed on the grass, but stayed down. His head spun, but he tried to prepare himself for the next blow.

It never came.

Emmett looked down on him, and waited for him to stand up. When he did, he punched Edward again. He hit him in the nose this time, and blood started seeping. Pain shot through him, but he remained standing.

Then Emmett dropped his fist, and just looked at Edward.

Staring.

"Why are you here?"

"I don't know," Edward replied. It was a lie though. He was putting his heart into his actions, just as Dr. King had wanted him to. "That's a lie. I came to… to apologize. We never talked, Emmett."

His voice was pleading, and Emmett couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Their friendship had lasted almost a decade, and during that time, Edward had never shown himself vulnerable. This image of him - soaked, slouched shoulders, and pleading eyes - was foreign to Emmett.

"Because I don't want to talk to you," Emmett replied, but with a low and cracking voice. "You killed my sister, Edward. What can I possibly have to say to you?"

"If you don't want to talk, can't you just listen? We used to be friends. Don't you owe me that?"

"I don't owe you shit, Edward," he snapped. "Any depth I ever had to you died with my sister!"

Edward sighed, realizing it was fruitless to argue. The Alice Brandon-card was without merit now.

"Can you just hear me out?"

Emmett relented, and took a step back. "Fine. You have three minutes."

Edward finally had the chance to save his lost friendship, but in that moment, he also knew there was nothing he could say to make Emmett forgive him.

"Have you thought about what you will say to him?"

The yellow pillow was nowhere near Edward, and Dr. King prided herself in his breakthrough. Not only had he started to dig into his own emotions and thoughts, but he was letting them show. His cheeks were wet with tears, and even though Edward hated crying - especially in front of women - he did nothing to stop them. They flowed. Running like a river.

"Yes and no. I'll apologize… explain what happened."

"How do you think he'll react?"

"Hit me. Most likely. He's not a violent person, but…when it comes to his family, Emmett will do anything. I remember this one time, right before we went away for college. Someone had pushed her or something - his sister - and Emmett scared the kid who did it to death."

"So you don't think he'll forgive you?"

"It's a long-shot. I can't lie. I don't have anything to say but 'I'm sorry'."

Edward looked up at his friend, and felt lost. Resigned. There was nothing left to say. Nothing left to salvage. He straightened his back, and looked Emmett straight in the eye.

"I would do anything to take back that day. I can't sleep, dream, eat… I can't function without thinking about her, and how there is no forgiveness for me. I am so, so sorry. I never meant to hurt her. It was an accident. A terrible accident I can't take back, no matter how much I wish I could. And…" He let out a defeated breath. "And I know you can't forgive me for killing your sister, but I hope - I don't know - you'll stop hating me some day."

Both men started shivering. The rain had completely penetrated their clothes, and standing outside the refuge of the tree branches, there was nothing to do but take the harsh drops on their bodies.

Seconds went by slowly, just as the wind started to pick up.

"I don't know if I can, Edward…" Emmett mumbled, but couldn't look Edward in the eye. Instead he looked at his feet. "You left her there. That's the worst thing. Maybe I could have let it all go if you'd stayed. But you left her there! I can never forgive you for that."

"I wish I could take it back," Edward pleaded, his tears mixing with the raindrops on his face. "I was disoriented and panicked. I wish… I'm so sorry, Emmett."

"Saying you're sorry won't bring her back."

And with those words, it was confirmed. Their friendship would never be healed. The crack was too big, and had bled too much. Betrayal and distrust had separated them, and the ghost of Emmett's little sister represented the hate which kept them apart.

Drying his tears, Edward only nodded, and turned around, leaving his former best friend behind - another ghost of the past.

oOo

On a clear and beautiful summer day, a man left behind his city apartment to come home for the summer. With his life packed up into boxes and bags, he set off onto the four hours which would forever change his existence.

A two-minute drive only took forty-eight seconds.

His foot was planted on the accelerator.

The sun shone and blinded him.

Had he kept his eyes on the road the five seconds it took him to get distracted, me most likely would have seen the girl who emerged from the forest. But he was busy checking his phone, smiling a little as he read a text from his best friend, which he hadn't noticed.

C u soon.

He never got to put his shades on. When he looked up, the girl was already right in front of the new car.

Her head hit the windshield before his foot ever touched brake.

Leading up to that point, the man had made many not-so-good choices. But none of them compared to the action he made after killing his best friend's sister.

Forty-eight.

Five.

One split second.

Two minutes.

…and three minutes after entering his childhood town, Edward Cullen became the man who drove away.