Disclaimer: Twilight is the intellectual property of Stephanie Meyer. I am merely playing with her characters to create new art under the guidelines set out by Fair Use. I am in no way profiting from the following. Also any associated lyrics belong to their respective authors as noted.
Part 1: Young Adult
Chapter 1: Homesick
"It's tearin' up my heart when I'm with you
But when we are apart I feel it too
and no matter what I do I feel the pain with or without you"
-Tearin Up My Heart by *NSYNC
Bella Swan looked around at her eleven by twelve space where she would be living the next nine months, with a break in December, and she didn't know what to think.
Should I feel homesick? But I don't even really have a home. Forks hasn't felt like home for a while…
She shuddered a bit at how her life in Forks became so unbearable in high school before quickly dismissing the associated feelings.
"So Bells, I guess this is it," her father, Charlie, said digging his hands deep into his pockets and leaning back on his heels. His eyes were focused on the beige rug Bella's yet to be introduced roommate must have purchased.
Charlie never was good with anything emotional and Bella knew well enough to not push him beyond what he was capable of, which to be honest wasn't much. Not to say Charlie wasn't a good father, he just didn't know what he should do, always judging and over thinking each action.
Should I buy her things for her room, or would she want to pick them out herself?
Should I make her dinner, although I'm not much of a cook, so should I just order pizza? Maybe she doesn't like pizza, so should I just wait for her to tell me she's hungry?
But, Bella understood. She learned to understand. It wasn't necessary for him take her to a Daddy Daughter dance, Thursday nights at the diner were good enough for her. She knew he cared for her, loved her even. He just couldn't always show it.
Bella knew her father was going to miss her and the sentiment was returned. She reminisced cooking meals to keep him from picking up some fast food after work. She would miss sitting in the living room while he watched Sports Center and she worked on her Calculus homework. Just as Charlie wondered if he was doing the right thing, Bella wondered herself if she was being a good enough daughter.
Should I call to see if he's coming home soon or just put the leftovers in the fridge?
Should I tell him that I'm going to the library after school or will he not even notice?
It was a far cry from a perfect father-daughter dynamic, but it was theirs and she was going to miss it.
I guess I still have awkward phone calls to look forward to.
"I guess this is it," she sighed echoing Charlie's earlier adage.
"Thanks again for helping me move Dad. I appreciate it," Bella said as she slowly approached him, intending to initiate an inevitable stiff embrace.
"Anytime," he choked a bit and Bella was overcome by the emotion in his eyes. There was a bit of a glazing effect, but she noticed his resolve harden before a single tear could actually form.
"You be safe. Don't hesitate to use the pepper spray. You can never be too careful. I know how college boys –"
"Dad we've been over this, I'll be careful," Bella quickly ended another conversation about potential rapists.
Bella was amused that Charlie could barely utter the word sex in front of her, let alone condoms or birth control, but when it came down to the motives and statistics of date rape and stranger danger, the guy was more articulate than a trained thespian.
"And calling every once in awhile would be nice too," he blushed a bit at the admittance of his disconsolateness over her absence.
"Of course. You're going to be begging me to come back to school in December so you can have the bachelor pad back to yourself again," she cheekily teased him.
"And don't go throwing any wild parties in your bath robe. I don't think Mrs. Cope would appreciate all the ruckus."
Charlie couldn't help but laugh at the Hugh Hephner image Bella was crafting and how Mrs. Cope, their annoying and testy seventy-six year old neighbor, would react. It was farfetched and hilarious.
"I promise Bells. No crazy parties. The Chief of Police does have a reputation to uphold after all," he said puffing out his chest in show. Bella played along and rolled her eyes at his antics. It was how you were supposed to act, right?
"I'll miss you baby girl," he whispered against her forehead as he leaned in for a final goodbye.
Soon after folding up the receipts for all of their recent purchases and promising to call once his flight landed back in Seattle, Charlie was out the door and Bella was left sitting on a new purple comforter in her college dorm room – alone.
Her roommate, a girl by the name of Rosalie Hale, had all of her essential belongings arranged neatly on her side of the room. Bella filled in her half with a few objects that paled in comparison to Rosalie's. She could just tell that she was in over her head. She noticed fine jewelry, beautiful handcrafted fabrics, and many items that she had noticed in the windows of the more expensive stores at the mall today.
I mean really, who needs a seventy-five dollar small vanity mirror?
Rosalie Hale, apparently.
Bella knew this was an aspect of Saint Raphael University that she would have to adjust to – all the wealth. It was a prestigious private university tucked away into an affluent suburb of Chicago with a tuition rate to match. She remembered on her initial visit here, Charlie asked as they toured with a group of other prospective high school students if she really wanted to go to school with a bunch of WASPS. Bella insisted not everyone was that way – except her roommate apparently. Besides there were some rich people who lived near Forks, or at least used to, she unsuccessfully tried to convince him.
After an evening of failed, pointless, and excruciatingly pathetic activities with the other girls living on her floor, Bella found herself alone again in her dorm room with only the terrible memories of the fire prevention and safe sex instructional videos from a few hours before. She didn't understand how she was supposed to retain that candles too near any drapes could cripple a room to ash in a matter of minutes if the narrator looked like a pedophile from the 1970s. The stache didn't work on anyone but Charlie, and even then it sometimes grossed her out when bits of Harry Clearwater's fish fry would get trapped in it. Needless to say, her first twelve hours at St. Raphael's were turning out to be some of the most pathetic of her life to date.
She didn't know where this funk she was in was coming from. This was college after all, the time to go out and have new experiences, meet new people, put yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to discover who you really are. But Bella didn't have the courage or motivation to do any of that, even though she knew she should.
The truth behind her cowardice was, she was certain, that she inherited Charlie's social ineptness. She squirmed when showed attention and her posture didn't exude confidence, or heaven forbid even sex appeal, rather she tended to curl within herself and intentionally blend into the background. This wasn't to say she pegged herself as one of those "emo" kids in high school. She didn't dwell on the emptiness she felt her first day of high school after she left with Renee to move to Phoenix and then back to Forks only a year later to find him gone as well. Instead, the emptiness was compartmentalized, only to manifest itself in tears and stomach aches that one week a month and she lost herself in her obsession of books, film, and music providing for a richer internal cultural experience than an external one with her peers.
It didn't help that Bella was picky with who she associated with and in a school where there are only 100 people in your graduating class, that was almost social suicide.
She was the Chief's daughter so hanging out with the popular crowd headed up by Lauren Mallory and Tyler Crawley who drank, smoked pot, and committed misdemeanors on the weekends was out of the question. She knew being caught defacing the old water tower on the grounds of the abandoned air force base would have given Charlie a coronary.
She reflected a bit deeper and realized that all of the activities of the different social circles would have given him premature heart complications. There were the film nerds who Bella initially tried to acclimate with, but their love of NC-17 movies made the prudish Bella a bit uncomfortable. She accepted that it was art, but she didn't need to see an aging Marlon Brando's ass, she'd take your word for it.
Amongst a sea of other segregated social interests, all of which were in some form unappealing to her, only one person was left, Angela Weber. She was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister and devoted girlfriend to Ben Cheney. The last bit left Bella to spend a lot more time on her own after her junior year causing her on again, off again friendship with Jacob Black to flourish.
She was tempted to call her two friends or at least see if she could work the Skype thing on her computer and correspond that way, but that would be defeat, she told herself.
Don't cave. As soon as classes start and you can throw yourself into your schoolwork, things will be fine. The first day is weird for a lot of people.
The mantra kept playing in her head as she stripped down to her underwear (the humidity was unbearable even with the cool breeze off Lake Michigan), grabbed her moleskin journal and battered copy of Something Childish and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield, and climbed underneath her sheets.
The story of two young and devoted lovers was one of her favorites, if not for the reason that she always thought of him. It reminded her of his mother, Esme, who had given it to her with the intent on fostering her love and breadth of literature. She always showed an exceptional amount of kindness towards Bella, that although Bella knew her mother showed affection towards her in her own way, Esme Cullen definitely left her to resent some of Renee's own ineptness.
But above all, the story reminded her of Edward. In Bella's mind, Edward and her were two star-crossed lovers. Starting out as best friends, they would reunite after being forcibly separated only for Edward to truly realize how much he loved Bella. They would consummate their love over and over again, wed each other in holy matrimony, make beautiful red haired and green-eyed babies, and whisper sweet adorations into each other's ears until they took their last breath together.
That was the life Bella dreamed about safely each night, yearning to see him again with her entire being, yet knowing that it was as improbable as Charlie cooking something that didn't come out of a can or the freezer. That provided her with the comfort to continue to dream so evocatively. If these dreams were never to come true then she could make them as salacious and utopian as she wanted.
"You promise to IM every day after school so I know if Lauren Mallory and Tyler Crawley have broken up yet?" Bella asked in jest, but also in some seriousness. She was deeply concerned that if Tyler ever broke up with Lauren then Edward would be the next boy in her long line of conquests.
"How about I IM you every day after school and tell you how Tyler Crawley ate a handful of worms on a dare as if he were on Fear Factor? Angela can keep you updated on all of that relationship shit." He spat at Bella's concern of Tyler Crawley. He saw the way he looked at her at Ben Cheney's graduation party and he didn't like it at all. No one should have seen Bella in a bikini except for Edward. He knew that if she wasn't moving to Phoenix this summer after all, Crawley would have pounced on her that very day.
She felt scolded by his brusque tone and noticed how he mentioned to avoid addressing Lauren all together, instead focusing on his deep and sudden disdain for Tyler. Sure Bella and Edward were close, they always had been, but their relationship was becoming incredibly one sided and Bella was more than aware of it. There was no way that he would ever feel as deeply for her as she did for him, even if they were only thirteen.
"Bella, I promise to talk to you everyday. I promise to write you a really long letter all about how much I miss eating your chocolate pudding cup at lunch everyday. I promise to email you every time Emmett does something stupid. I promise to IM you everyday after school. And I promise to call you after Friends so you can tell me your latest Ross and Rachel theory." Edward emphatically assured her as he pulled her in for a hug.
"Now you're just mocking me," Bella whined as her mouth turned downward. It was times like these that he felt more like an annoying brother instead of the boy her thirteen year old heart was irrevocably in love with.
"I mean every word of it…except the Ross and Rachel part. You know how much I hate that show," he said with a smirk that she could feel against her temple.
"Fine. You better do everything else though." She said with a large smile on her face and Edward welcomed that he was the one to put that expression on his Bella's face even if he would miss her tremendously.
"Are you sure that your dad won't let you come live with us? Who am I going to have for a friend in high school? Have you seen Mean Girls? High school's vicious," he teased slightly, but really was hoping that his parents could end up adopting her or force the judge to change her parent's custody arrangement.
Bella had always been in his class, since first grade when they both started at the same school, not like there were many other options in a town the size of Forks. Those eight years were everything to Edward. Now he didn't know how to function through church masses and spelling bees and food fights without her.
This really, really sucked.
But Bella just laughed at his whining and the pout on his lips dropped even farther down his chin.
"Edward, you are the only guy I know that would make a reference to Mean Girls! How many times have you seen it? 10? 15? 20?" Bella persisted.
"It's only been five, ok? Let it go," he replied petulantly, crossing his arms over his chest and slinking further down the bench beneath the Gazebo in his backyard.
At that point in time Edward thought it was good riddance to Bella Swan.
Bella still couldn't fathom why Edward had seen the movie so many times. Her hormones and naivety not fully understanding all of the reasons why boys were attracted to girls and why the Christmas Pageant scene always made him squirm in his seat.
"I'll miss you, you know? Not just your pudding cup." he whispered sadly and just loud enough so she could hear.
"I'll miss you too. Not just your Dad's gnocchi," Bella responded equally morose and trying very hard not to shed a tear.
The two young teenagers, who still hadn't fully hit puberty yet and weren't quite finished with their *NSYNC stages, Bella wanting to marry one and Edward wanting to look like one, were a sorry sight for sore eyes. They both were staring at the ground beneath them, grouchy frowns on their faces and wondering how in the world they were going to survive without the other.
"Shit!" came a muffled groan that shook Bella out of her slumber. She looked over to her ancient digital alarm clock and saw that it was only half after ten, still early for a college student like her to have fallen asleep. What had awoken her wasn't necessarily the sudden and unforeseen expletive, but that the voice it had come from was masculine. It sounded like a deeper kin to the voice that made an appearance in her dreams every night. Suddenly she forgot how to breathe.
When the fluorescent overhead light flickered on and Bella was able to wipe away the beginnings of the crust that comes with lethargy, her face focused in on the couple in the doorway with complete and undoubted confirmation at who they were while theirs was a bit more wavering.
"I'm sorry I didn't mean to wake you," the tall blonde bombshell, who Bella immediately deduced to be Rosalie Hale, her roommate, apologized.
"It's only 10:30pm, I was expecting you to still be up."
"Really, it's OK. Don't worry about it. I was expecting to still be up too. I must have dozed off," Bella mumbled, timid in the presence of this seemingly self-assured and image of perfect femininity and the tall beefy man next to her, who Bella refused to look at in dread of her suspicions being confirmed.
"Um, well I'm Rosalie and this is my boyfriend Emmett," Rosalie remembered her stately Conneticut manners as Emmett looked confusedly at the girl with a sheet pulled all the way up to her chin.
"Hi. I'm Bella," she murmured wondering if the intense look on Emmett's face meant that he recognized her. Part of her desperately wished that he would so that he could tell Edward and they could finally see one another again, but the most overwhelming part of her was terrified of that very option and that she may even desire it.
"Bella…" he mumbled her name several times knowing there was something familiar about this –
"Bella Swan! From Forks!" he exclaimed.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!
"You two know one another? How is that even fucking possible?" Rosalie began fuming, tempted to stomp her foot like a five year old whose favorite toy was just taken away.
"Fuck! How are you?" Emmett bellowed barreling up to her lofted bed and picked her up like a kid with a large, dimpled grin covering his face. It was infectious, and despite feeling distraught and terrified of what this all meant, Bella couldn't help but return his good humor, at least an outward display of it.
Between her small frame and his athletic strength it was an easy enough task to pick her out of her bed and toss her around like the five year old he remembered. His excitement from seeing one of his childhood acquaintances kept him from realizing that the light bed sheet had fallen from her grasp as he twirled her around in his arms and set her on her feet in just her white cotton bra and Power Ranger undies.
Realization of Bella's less than respectable state fell like a lead balloon in the small room and she couldn't remember the last time she blushed so hard, it was sometime yesterday. After a moment of looking at Emmett's blanching expression and Rosalie's pointed stare she quickly picked up the tossed sheet and wrapped it securely around her body.
"It looks like Emmett and I disturbed you more than I thought. We'll step outside for a sec while you freshen up," Rosalie raised her head a bit higher, straightened her spine a bit more, and grabbed her dumb-struck boyfriend slamming the old creaking wooden door behind her.
Bella grabbed the nearest clothing items and threw them on in just enough time before Rosalie made her way back in sans Emmett. Bella was more than disappointed for she was actually now looking forward to seeing Emmett since he displayed quite a fondness for seeing her. She could only hope his brother would be the same and that he wouldn't mention her choice of underwear ever again. The unbidden thought that he might tell him landed in her head like an atomic bomb. At the first thought of it she sat straight up to fix and tame her hair. She knew she was a lost cause, but what if Emmett told his brother that he saw her? That she was nothing special? That she was just as awkward as she was in middle school?
"Maybe we should just start again?" Rosalie asked in a much kinder voice than she had used a moment earlier. She was from Connecticut after all, she could play the game of socialization better than any of these Midwesterners or West Coasters for that matter.
"I'm Rosalie Hale."
"Bella Swan. It's nice to finally meet you."
"Likewise. It's nice to actually meet a person I have heard so little about, yet has made such an impact on the Cullen family."
Bella would have blushed at the last part, but couldn't react further from the shock of Rosalie's statement.
"Um, I'm not exactly sure what – "
"Emmett just filled me in a bit back there."
"Oh…what exactly did he tell you?"
"Just that you and Edward grew up together, were fairly close, that sort of stuff."
Bella remained silent, getting her overactive imagination caught up in all kinds of scenarios Emmett must have relayed to Rosalie about her relation to the Cullens.
She's just a good friend of the family's. She followed Edward around like a lost puppy. She moved away to Phoenix then we moved to Chicago and never spoke to her again.
Christ, she hoped he said it differently than that!
"Do you want to tell me how you know the Cullens? Do I have it wrong?" Rosalie asked with much too enthusiasm and curiosity than she should have.
"I think I need to shower."
It was 2:02 am and Bella's first class started in a little over eight hours, but she couldn't sleep – she didn't want to sleep. She wanted to spring out of bed and run to Edward's room so she could run her hands through his bronze hair, feel his perfectly shaped lips, and look into his emerald eyes. She didn't want to be pretending to sleep in her uncomfortable twin bed knowing that he was sleeping in the building next door. He was two hundred yards away from her at most.
After all these years…
"Bella, I swear to God if you don't go to sleep, don't be surprised if you get smothered by a pillow," Rosalie growled at her.
"I'm sorry Rosalie. I didn't know I was making that much noise," Bella whispered back, successfully scolded and feeling guilty for wanting to ask a million questions more about the four by six glossy prom picture Emmett helped Rosalie hang on the wall – Edward's prom picture.
"Is your insomnia because of him?" Rosalie sighed, internally cursing Edward for being a pain in her ass even when he wasn't around. If she looked like shit on her first day of classes he was going to pay.
"Really, Rosalie I'm sorry for keeping you up," Bella apologized in order to equivocate the questioning that was bound to ensue, but by the time the words came out Rosalie already had her Tiffany lamp turned on and both girls were sitting up facing each other on their newly installed loft that Drs. Hale had paid for.
"Look, let's just clear all this crap out now so I can hopefully get a few hours in," Rosalie took a deep and annoyed breath preparing to explain inane and superficial details of what Edward was like now. She could just picture Bella asking stupid and wistful questions like, "what's he like now?" "was he popular?" "is he just as dreamy as ever?" Rosalie couldn't help but be a bit facetious.
"What's the deal with you and the Cullens?" Rosalie skipped straight to the issue at hand with no evasion.
"First you and Emmett embrace each other like long lost brother and sister. Then you escape into the shower and dodge all of my questions with shoulder shrugs and clipped yes and no answers. If you're going to bring the issue up like that you have to spill. Now."
Bella chewed on her bottom lip. It wasn't that she wanted to intentionally hide things from Rosalie, she just didn't know how much to reveal without sounding like an obsessed stalker and hopelessly and pathetically in love girl who would never be loved in return. Maybe she really was a theatre kid deep inside, the melodrama seemed to weighing pretty thick lately.
"Bella…" Rosalie egged on. She wanted answers now, damn it! If only for her own curiosity.
"Well…so…as you know before the Cullens moved to Chicago –"
"Lake Forest, where they live. The suburb."
"Oh, yeah, before they moved there, they used to live in Forks where I'm from."
"I thought you said you lived in a rural small town," Rosalie interrupted, not being able to picture in a million years Esme sitting in some greasy spoon diner. How would that family go from a low middle class town to the affluence of one of Chicago's wealthiest suburban towns?
"Well, yeah I am."
"Please, don't take this the wrong way, but I just can't picture the Cullen family in a town like that."
Bella couldn't help but feel a small sting at Rosalie's intonation. Her insecurities over whether or not she was good enough for Edward now, not sophisticated enough, cultured enough, pretty enough, were unlocking with each insinuation at the Cullen's superior status.
"Sure, it was a small town, but Port Angeles which is larger is nearby, not to say the Cullens didn't stand out. They did. I think Esme was the most posh person to ever grace that soil. Everyone loved the parties and events she hosted for local organizations."
"They still do," Rosalie nodded in agreement.
"Anyways they lived in Forks and Edward and I just became friends. It was so long ago I don't really remember how it happened, but my earliest memory is that I wanted to play blocks with the boys in kindergarten and not house or whatever it was that the girls were doing and none of the boys would let me. It was the age of cooties after all, but Edward was the only one who offered for me to play with him," Bella cringed at the ridiculousness of the story. She was falling into the trap she was afraid of – telling Rosalie too much.
"He was a loner, always keeping to himself. He was so insecure that it was difficult for him to make friends. I always thought a lot of it had to do with his adoption, but he never complained or said a word about it…" Bella trailed off quietly thinking about how this must have tormented Edward. He hardly spoke a word about being adopted. She couldn't even recall him using the phrase "birth parents" before. Any time she brought it up he just said that Esme and Carlisle were the only parents he had.
Rosalie saw Bella's distant and contemplative look and remembered all the times she talked with Emmett about his own adoption. They helped each other deal with their past demons so much and Emmett was always so cute how he tried to act tough and mighty to mask his sensitive heart that he graciously shared with her. She smiled at the thought, a sharp contrast to Bella's pensive frown.
"Then I moved away the summer before Edward and I were slated to start high school. After a year in Phoenix I moved back to Forks, but they had already left for Chicago. I never saw him again," Bella breathed out matter of factly.
Rosalie wasn't buying the façade.
She never would have guessed that the Edward she knew would ever be friends with this girl. Sure she was nice and sweet and despite being extremely annoying at the moment, Rosalie did fancy her, but she seemed too good for Edward. She wasn't suppose to be tainted by the guy who pranced about breaking girls hearts, using them, just to crawl back to Tanya and get drunk or stoned again. From the reverence in Bella's voice when she talked about him, Rosalie knew she must have been the first girl, which made her heart break for Bella and want Edward's balls in a vise that much more than a usual day.
"Tell me what you know about him," Bella asked to distract the attention from her. She was done talking. She wanted to listen now.
"What do you want to know? You probably know him better than I do," Rosalie shrugged off the question. She couldn't tell Bella what she really knew about him. It would break the poor girl's heart even more and it wasn't her story to tell. Bella held him up so high on this pedestal of his uncorrupted pre-asshole self; Rosalie didn't want to be the one to smash that fantasy.
"Does he have a girlfriend?" Bella said in small and timid voice once she could find it and stop her heaving masked as coughing.
"Well there is Tanya. They dated in high school. I think now it's just a casual thing. I mean they both go to school here, but Tanya is a year older than him and I have a hard time believing that she would want to be exclusive. It goes against her nature. Plus, I wouldn't put it past Edward –" Rosalie caught herself before she said too much. She didn't want to be the bearer of bad news.
"Put what past Edward?" Bella pounced on the unfinished thought.
To grab the first piece of ass that comes his way, Rosalie wanted to say but settled for something with a bit more decorum.
"It's just that Edward hasn't been in a monogamous relationship for awhile. That's all."
"Edward Cullen, right?" Bella asked astonished.
She couldn't get over that this description of this crass and vulgar guy was her Edward.
"The one and only."
She couldn't believe it.
"He never talked about me, did he?" Bella was feeling scared and tired now that the weight of reality was pressing on her. He had forgotten about her. When he sent his last letter he sent away his last will to hold onto her. That's when the tears came unbidden.
"Oh Bella!" Rosalie gasped and stealthily maneuvered their adjoined lofted beds and got into Bella's to hold her as presumptuous as it was.
"I'm having lunch with Emmett tomorrow, do you want to come? He'd love to see you again."
Bella froze. She couldn't see Emmett if Edward was around. She wasn't ready to see him, to face him. If Edward didn't want her, she had to make sure she didn't want him either.
"I'm not ready to see him."
Rosalie knew whom she was referring to.
"OK. Good night then Bella. And call me Rose."
"Good night Rose."
A/N: Well I hope you all enjoyed the first look into this story! The first part of the story switches between Bella and Edward's childhood and time in college. Please let me know your thoughts or any other musings filling your pretty heads. Until next time lovelies.