A/N: These character have chosen to remain silent for months. I won't give up on them, however. So, here I am!

Special thanks to Ocsickgirl VampLuvr for reccing this over on Facebook, to WitchyVampireGirl for throwing around ideas with me, and to cejsmom for always having words of encouragement when it comes to this one. :)

Chloe Masen, this chapter is for you. And so is this Edward. Hehe.

More at the end!

- N.

Chapter Song: I Hate Everything About You by Three Days Grace

Characters Belong to SM and publicly recognizable faces and places belong to their rightful owners. The crazy kids these things do is all on me.

Chapter 4 –Favors

"Edward?" His eyes traveled up the length of the woman standing in front of him until they settled on her face. She was tall and slightly pudgy, with short dark brown hair and wide blue-green eyes. Rectangular shaped black glasses framed her face, making her look several years older than he assumed she was and giving her the professional appearance she no doubt desired.

"Yeah," he mumbled, standing and shoving his hands in his pockets.

"My name is Emily Tanner. Please, follow me," she said with a smile, turning and heading back down the hallway she came from. She led him into a small office, closing the door behind them and gesturing to a comfortable looking loveseat in the corner. "Take a seat. Would you like anything to drink? I have coffee, tea, and water."

"I'm not thirsty."

Emily sank down on the armchair across from him and reached for a clipboard that sat on the coffee table. "Carlisle filled out all of the required paperwork, but I do need your signature on the informed consent. Would you mind reading this over and signing where it's highlighted in orange?" Edward took the clipboard from her and stared down at it.

"What if I don't want to sign it?" he muttered defiantly. Emily simply leaned back in her chair and placed her hands in her lap.

"Then don't. Keep in mind however, I can't work without your signature, and if I can't work then Mr. McCarty will press assault charges."

He narrowed his eyes and shook his head, scrawling his name where it was required and dropping the clipboard back down on the table. "Happy now?"

"Appreciative, yes. Do you want to tell me a bit about yourself?"

"If I didn't want to sign the paper, why the fuck would I want to tell you anything about me?"

"You're paying for the next fifty minutes." Emily crossed one leg over the other and looked at him over the top of her glasses. "How you choose to spend your time is up to you, but I think it would be beneficial for us to start by getting to know one another."

"I'm not paying for shit."

She cracked a small, knowing smile. "You might want to double check with Carlisle on that."

"What the…" Edward's words trailed off as it dawned on him. The trust fund. "That's my trust fund, not his. What the fuck does he think he's doing?"

"When do you turn eighteen, Edward?"

"Why does that matter?"

"Well, your trust fund is technically under the control of your legal guardian until then." Emily uncrossed her legs and leaned forward in her chair.

"But my parents put that money away for me. Well, for my brother and me. It's not for Carlisle to use as he chooses."

"True, but it was your actions that landed you here, right?"

Edward crossed his arms over his chest and glared out the window.

"Accountability is one area we need to work on I see." She scrawled a few notes on the legal pad that sat next to her.

Edward turned his attention back to the therapist and narrowed his eyes. "I have no problem taking accountability," he hissed. "Did I punch Emmett McCarty in the face? Yes, I did. Did I embarrass my aunt and uncle in front of all their uptight, snooty friends? Yes, I did. Do I feel guilty about it? Not one bit. Would I do it again if I had the chance? Hell yeah I would."

"Why did you punch Emmett?"

"C'mon, doc. I'm sure Carlisle gave you all the dirty details."

"I'm not a doctor and no he didn't." She picked up her mug of tea and took a sip. "Your uncle gave me the bare bones information; you punched a kid and you needed to enter therapy to avoid having charges pressed against you. The details are yours to share with me."

Edward looked down at his hands, picking at the skin around his thumb until it started to bleed. He grabbed a tissue off the coffee table and wrapped it around his finger. "He made some bullshit comment about my mother."

"And your first reaction was to hit him?"

"What would your first reaction be if some cocky prep school fuck had shit to say about your dead mother?"

Emily shifted awkwardly in her chair. "I'm sorry about your mother, Edward. That pain is still fresh for you, isn't it?"

He sat up and rested his elbows on his knees. "Fresh for me?" He balled his hands into fists and glared at her. "Let me enlighten you about my 'fresh' pain. Both of my parents were killed in a car accident in July. I had the pleasure of making the trip to the morgue and IDing their bodies."

"Edward, I'm-"

"If that wasn't bad enough," he continued, cutting her off, "my entire life was uprooted when my brother and I were packed up and shipped to Chicago, only to be enrolled in some stuck up, white collar prep school. Fresh pain is just the tip of the fucking ice berg, and now I get to sit here for an hour every week listening to you blather on about what's wrong with me."

"I'm not here to 'blather on about what's wrong with you'," she said, making air quotes with her fingers. "I prefer to approach therapy from a systemic framework."

He stared blankly at her. "In English please?"

"Your actions are ultimately your responsibility, but there are always outside factors that influence how we respond to situations. The systems we operate in – our family system, our friendship systems, our school system – can have a great impact on how we learn to handle different situations and how we conduct ourselves."

"And I'm supposed to care about systemic bullshit because…?"

The corner of Emily's mouth tugged up in a smile. "I'll worry about the systemic bullshit. You just show up here every week with an open mind, okay?"

"In my world, an open mind equates to vulnerability. You want me to come in here and bare my soul to you? You want me to tell you all about the kids at school and what goes on at home? You want me to get real deep and shed a few tears? Well, guess what; getting any of those things to come out would require complete and utter trust in you, and I doubt that's ever going to happen. If living here has taught me anything it's that you can't trust anyone, even your own blood."

"Apprehension is normal when faced with a new situation, Edward." Her level of patience irritated him. Most of the adults he knew would have given up and sent him on his way by now. Emily wasn't budging, however. Note to self: Employ a new strategy to irritate the therapist next time, Edward thought. "Trust is earned, not dished out. I'm prepared to earn your trust, Edward, but you need to be prepared to let me do that as well. Otherwise this is never going to work." The timer she had set at the beginning of the appointment went off and Edward felt a layer of anxiety melt away.

"There's nothing quite as sweet as the sound of time you don't want to spend being up." He pushed himself up and shoved his hands in the pockets of his jacket. "Am I free to go now?"

Emily nodded. "Same time, same place next week?"

"Do I really have a choice?"

"You always have a choice. It's just a matter of deciding the best way to exercise it."

Edward looked down at his beat up Doc Martens boots and sighed. "Later, doc."

"It's Emily. Have a nice week, Edward."

Carlisle's Lexus was parked next to the curb when Edward emerged from the building. He slid wordlessly into the passenger seat and slammed the door.

"How did it go?" Sunlight streamed through the window as Carlisle pulled out into traffic.

He shrugged. "It was a waste of time."

"You can't keep approaching life with that kind of attitude, Edward. It will get you nowhere and make you nothing but miserable."

Edward sat in silence, staring out the window and ignoring his uncle's words of wisdom. When they reached the fringes of their neighborhood, he glanced over at the older man and made a request. "Can you drop me off at the Black's house?"

Carlisle's eyes widened in surprise. "Sam and Leah Black?" Edward nodded. "How did you become acquainted with them?"

"Jacob and I are friends."

His uncle took the information in for a moment and then smiled. "I've known Sam and Leah for a long time. They're good people. I haven't had much interaction with Jacob, but he seems like a good enough kid."

"I like him a lot better than I like the crowd Jasper's hanging out with."

Carlisle sighed. "Truth be told, I wasn't particularly thrilled when I heard who his friends are."

"Why don't you say something to him? You're the fucking adult in the house."

"He'll be an adult in a few months, just like you. As long as he doesn't give me a reason to have a discussion about it, then I won't."

"I don't get it," Edward said, shaking his head in amazement. "If you don't like Emmett McCarty then why am I stuck in therapy?"

"You're stuck in therapy because you punched Emmett McCarty, and his father is a big enough asshole to try and do something about it. My disliking someone has no bearing on how they chose to conduct themselves after an incident like the one you had."

Edward regretted saying anything and scrambled to change the subject. The conversation was starting to sound too much like the one with his therapist, and he didn't want that shit carrying over into his day. "Am I ever going to get another car?"

Carlisle pulled to a stop in front of the Black's home and cut the engine. "You're really asking me this question?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Edward, you just started counseling to avoid domestic assault charges being brought against you. Do you think that type of behavior makes Esme or me want to run out and buy you a new vehicle?"

"It doesn't have to be new. And it doesn't have to be some fancy shit like a Range Rover either. I'm not like the rest of the materialistic fucks in your circle."

"Please watch your language." Carlisle focused his attention on the street in front of them. Edward was about to give up and get out when his uncle finally spoke. "I'm willing to make a deal."

"Oh, God…"

"You take your therapy seriously; you attend your sessions each week, you open up to Emily, and you genuinely try to turn things around. If you can do that for three months then we can talk about getting you a car."

"Three months?" He groaned and ran a hand through his already overly messy hair.

"Three months will pass in the blink of an eye, Edward. You'd have new wheels just in time for Christmas."

As much as it irritated him, Edward knew he wasn't in any position to beg. He sighed and grabbed the passenger door handle. "Deal."

"I expect you home by eleven since it's a school night." He waved his hand over his shoulder, acknowledging his uncle's words and giving him a silent goodbye.

Pulling his leather jacket tighter around himself, Edward made his way up the front walk to the door of the Black home. As he raised his hand to knock on the elaborate wooden door, Edward wondered how he could convince his therapist that he was truly invested and trying to make changes.

Time to brush up on your acting skills, Cullen. It's the only way you're going to make it through and get out of this place.

IYoK

One month of therapy hadn't changed the way Edward felt about Emmett or improved his attitude toward Chicago. It had helped him perfect his acting skills, however, and that was enough to keep him going.

"So, how's the shrinkage going?" Jacob's voice was gravely and sleep-filled.

Edward slammed his locker shut and spun around, leaning against it and crossing his arms over his chest. "Fan-fucking-tastic."

"Are you airing all your dirty laundry and unpacking your psychological woes? Or whatever the fuck it is you do there?"

"Shut up, Jake." Jessica clamped her hand over her boyfriend's mouth and rolled her eyes. "In all seriousness, how is it going?"

"In all seriousness, I could give two shits less about being there or how it's going."

"You give two shits less about what?" Lauren sidled up next to Edward, looping her arm through his and resting her cheek against the cool leather of his jacket. One goddamn blowjob and a few good finger fucks and now we're a couple? Give me a fucking break, he thought disgustedly.

"Therapy," Jessica explained. "Really Edward, it might not hurt to care just a bit."

"I'm there because McCarty has a big mouth and his dad is a prick. I just need to keep showing up until my birthday and then it won't matter."

Jessica bit her lip, trying to decide how to best phrase her next sentence. "I know you're still mad, and I know that Emmett was in the wrong, but don't you think it would be nice to have someone to talk about the accident with?" She continued quickly when she saw the look in Edward's eyes. "You know, someone to dump your guts to? Someone who could help you sort through all your feelings and find a way to heal so you can be the Edward you were before Chicago?"

He shrugged. "I'll never be the Edward I was before Chicago again."

"You don't know that though," she insisted.

"You're right, I don't know." Irritation saturated his words. "Can we just drop this now? I get enough pro-psycho babble bullshit at home. I don't need it at school too."

"I guess that answers my earlier question." Jake laughed and took a few steps back, colliding with Emmett in the process.

"Watch what you're doing, grease monkey."

"Maybe you should watch where the fuck you're going," Edward spit out, pushing himself off the wall and shrugging Lauren off of his arm.

"Edward Cullen, always looking for trouble."

"Emmett McCarty, always talking shit."

"I'd be careful if I was you." Emmett dropped his backpack and rolled up his sleeves.

Edward took two steps forward. "Careful of what? Your yuppie father and his collection of stiff neck attorneys?"

"It was pure luck that got you off the hook last time." Emmett jutted his chin out and smirked. "Hit me again. Or are you too much of a pussy to do it?"

Edward dropped his own bag and started to pull his fist back, but Jessica grabbed his elbow. "Don't. He's not worth it."

His temper was flaring, just like it always did when McCarty came around. Edward reached down and grabbed his bag, shaking Jess's hand off and storming down the hall.

"There's always next time, Cullen," Emmett belted out. Edward simply raised both hands over his head and flipped Emmett a double bird.

"Why do you let him get to you like that?" Mike Newton asked, picking Emmett's bag up and handing it to him.

"Why do you always have to play the peacemaker? Jesus Christ, you're as bad as Alice."

Mike shrugged. "I just think all this high school rivalry shit is stupid. We're out of here in eight months. Why waste your senior year being so hostile?"

"I'm not hostile. I just don't like arrogant assholes that show up and think they own the fucking school."

"Cullen isn't arrogant at all. In fact, he's fairly self-depreciating. There's a vast difference."

"Whatever. Why the hell are you defending him?" The two boys headed toward the stairs.

"I'm not defending anyone. I'm over this clique bullshit. I just want to graduate and be done with it."

"This 'clique bullshit' got you your girlfriend, not to mention your friends and reputation," Emmett pointed out. He stopped in front of his calculus classroom and locked eyes with Mike. "I hope you're not getting soft on us, Newton. I'd hate to see you spend your senior year with no friends like your buddy Cullen."

"I have to get to class." Mike stuck his fist out, waiting for Emmett to bump his against it. Getting no response, he simply shrugged and started to walk away. "See you in the court," he called over his shoulder.

Emmett rolled his eyes and pulled his phone out, punching a quick text in for Rosalie.

Newton is walking on thin ice. I'll tell you more in chem.

Straightening his shoulders, he ducked into the classroom and grinned at his buddies.

Making life a living hell for Edward Cullen was officially his mission for the remaining eight months of the school year.

And if Newton had to go down with him, well, that was just the way it would go.

IYoK

Bella twisted her fingers in front of her face, inspecting the chipped polish that covered her bitten-down nails. Dark Envy was the name of the color, and she couldn't help but laugh internally at the irony of it. Plenty of people were envious of her, but she would never wish her life on a single one of them.

"Good Morning ladies and gentlemen." Mr. Molina stood and grabbed a stack of packets from the corner of his desk. "As your syllabus mentioned, there is an ongoing semester-long project that you'll be working on in this class. Since we have no lab today, I'd like to go over the expectations and let you get started with your partners."

Excited whispers filled the air as the students started asking one another who they were going to work with. "Not so fast," Mr. Molina said, holding up one hand and silencing the room. "I'm sure you're all capable of selecting a good partner, but I've taken the liberty of doing that for you." He began moving around the room and distributing the packets. "For this assignment you'll each be working with your current lab partner."

Edward groaned and ran his fingers through his hair. "This is fucking perfect."

"Is there a problem, Mr. Cullen?" The teacher came to a stop in front of their table and dropped two packets down on the granite top. "We haven't even discussed the assignment yet."

Edward shook his head and grabbed a packet. "No, sir."

"Good." Mr. Molina made his way back to the front of the room and took a seat behind his desk. "Please take a moment to read through the information before we start discussing."

"Is the idea of working on a project with me really that bad?" Bella hissed.

"The idea of doing anything with you is really that bad. The fact that it's school related just adds an extra layer of misery to it."

"You know what they say; misery loves company."

"Not in this case."

"What are you so afraid of?"

Edward turned to look at her, narrowing his eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"That's the only rational explanation I can come up with for your behavior."

"My behavior doesn't concern you."

"It does when you make it your personal mission to avoid me like I have the plague."

Edward smirked. "I wonder what your all-American boyfriend would think if he knew my behavior meant so much to you."

"Don't worry, my 'all-American' boyfriend would never view you as competition."

"Ms. Swan?" She looked up at the teacher. "Since you're so interested in socializing, can you please tell us about the lab you'll be working on?"

Bella looked down at the packet in front of her. "Life's a Ball?"

Mr. Molina nodded. "Go on."

"For this assignment, you will create a set of polymer bouncing balls using variations of the ingredients listed on the next page," she read. "You will then perform a series of experiments with the balls and write a fifteen page paper discussing your findings."

"Very good," Mr. Molina said. "Half of you will work on this project. Mr. McCarty, can you please tell us about the lab you and Ms. Hale will be working on?"

As Emmett started to read about how the other half of the class would be making soap, Bella let herself glance over at her perpetually disgruntled lab partner. Despite the fact that they'd spent an hour together every morning for four weeks, she'd never taken a truly good look at Edward's facial features. Long eyelashes paved the way to prominent cheekbones, which transitioned into a strong, defined jaw line. His disheveled hair looked soft, and Bella had to clench her fingers against her palm to keep from reaching out and running them through it. Her eyes moved down his neck and over his arm, stopping when they reached the leather cuff on his wrist. She cocked her head to the side in an attempt to get a better look at the design etched into it, but Edward pulled the sleeve of his jacket down to cover it and moved his arm under the table.

"If you took a picture it might last you longer. Better yet, you could add it to your spank bank; right next to the image of that All-American boyfriend."

"Fuck you," Bella spit out. She regretted the words when she saw humor sparkle in his eyes. The satisfied smirk that had settled itself on his face told her she'd given him the exact reaction he wanted.

Edward shoved the packet into his notebook. "Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll pass. I prefer girls whose brains match their beauty."

She opened her mouth to reply, but Mr. Molina's voice stopped her. "Please note the first part of this assignment is due a week from Friday. This project will require a substantial amount of work outside of the classroom if you plan on getting a good grade. Love your partner or hate them, you better get used to spending time with them."

Edward looked over at her and smirked again. "Ready to get your first F, princess?" With that he stood and gathered his things, making a beeline for the door and disappearing from the classroom before Bella could even process what he'd just said.

IYoK

Lauren's mouth was going a mile a minute, but all Edward could think about were Bella's lips.

On Monday he'd left class before those lips could form a retort to his disparaging comments.

On Tuesday he smoked a joint with Jacob while watching those lips shout out cheerleading calls from a distance.

On Wednesday he'd seen those lips lift in a laugh when Leah Clearwater tripped over her too-long shoelaces and tossed her books all over the hallway.

On Thursday those lips had somehow managed to avoid him all day, and on Friday he'd seem them curl into a beautiful snarl when she cursed him out for declining her invitation to work on their chemistry project that weekend.

Bella Swan irritated the shit out of him. Her designer handbags, flirty giggles, and idiotic flock of friends drove Edward crazy. Despite this, he hadn't been able to get the image of her staring at his wrist cuff out of his head. Her pretty, peach colored lips had been pursed in contemplation at that moment.

I wouldn't mind seeing her lips pursed elsewhere. Edward shook his head at grimaced at the thought. The only good thing about Bella Swan was her looks, and those could only get her so far. When it came down to it she seemed like nothing but a miserable person; just like the company she chose to keep.

"Edward? Are you even listening?" His attention was brought back to the present when the lips sitting across from him stopped moving and formed a scowl.

"Sorry, I was just thinking about this chemistry project and how it's going to kick my ass," he lied.

"You've been zoned out since I picked you up. Do you even want to be here?"

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Truth be told, Edward didn't want to be there. When Lauren suggested they go to dinner and possibly a movie, he wanted to tell her no on the spot. She was a nice girl; she was fun to party with sometimes, and unlike most of the females at St. Vincent's, Lauren accepted him for who he was without making a big fuss or asking any questions.

She wasn't girlfriend material, however, and Edward got the feeling that was the role she expected to play in his life.

He'd agreed to hang out with her only after he discovered that Jacob and Jessica planned on spending the weekend at her grandmother's house in Michigan. It was a douche bag thing of him to do - to get Lauren's hopes up when in reality she was his last resort. He couldn't help it, though. Dinner with Lauren ranked above spending a night at home with Carlisle and Esme.

"There's a lot on my mind." He poked his fork into the pile of cold spaghetti that sat in front of him, careful not to bring his eyes up to meet hers.

"Then talk to me!" Lauren exclaimed, throwing her hands up and rolling her eyes.

Edward narrowed his. "Talk to you about what, exactly?"

"Whatever's on your mind," she answered, pulling the end off of a breadstick and popping it in her mouth. "The weather, school, the bonfire we didn't get invited to tonight … talk to me about anything, Edward. Just stop staring off into space like I don't even exist."

"Bonfire?"

She nodded. "Homecoming is next weekend. It's Saint Vincent's tradition for the cheerleaders to host a bonfire at one of the beaches. Of course if you don't sit in the court at lunch then you certainly aren't invited."

"Sounds lame to me," Edward remarked.

"I bet your brother is down there."

"And your point is?"

She shrugged. "It's just not fair that he gets an automatic pass into their inner circle and you get tossed to the wayside."

Edward narrowed his eyes once more. "What makes you think I would want a pass to their 'inner circle'?"

Lauren fidgeted uncomfortably beneath his glare. "I never said you did." She looked over his shoulder and held her hand in the air, signaling for the waitress to bring over their check. "Just forget I mentioned anything. Did you want to go to the movie?"

Edward leaned back in his chair and let out a sigh. Lauren was driving him crazy, but the night was still young. Plus you'll be in a movie theater, he thought to himself. At least she can't keep talking while you're there.

"Sure, I'm in."

Two hours later Edward couldn't wait to get home. Dinner had saved him from feeling obligated to buy popcorn and candy at the theater, and Drive was a decent enough film, but he couldn't take anymore of the awkwardness that came with spending time alone with Lauren. When she pulled her car to a stop in front of his aunt and uncle's home, Edward was ready to jump out and bolt across the lawn.

"I'm not sure what's bothering you, but I hope the weekend makes it better," she offered.

"Doubtful." Edward grabbed the door handle and glanced over at her. He'd been a dick without even trying for most of the night, and part of him felt bad for doing so. In the month he'd known her they'd engaged in some not-so-innocent activities, and he knew that Lauren saw them as something bigger than they were. He owed her some cordial behavior; especially since he'd done nothing to dispel the impression he'd left her with. "Thanks for hanging out tonight."

The smile she wore when picking him up earlier returned to Lauren's face. "Of course. I'll see you on Monday."

Edward nodded and climbed out, nudging the car door closed with his elbow and grabbing his keys. Darkness greeted him when he entered the house, leaving him feeling both shocked and relieved. It was only a little after eleven, so he assumed his aunt and uncle had somewhere to be the next morning.

He was in the kitchen digging through the freezer when his phone buzzed.

Hey man. Call me. Please? – J.

Edward rolled his eyes and closed the message. Since starting therapy, Edward had spoken to his brother a total of four times, and never on the phone. Their conversations usually took place in the kitchen before school, and barely scratched the surface of any one topic.

He pulled out the carton of chocolate chip cookie dough Edy's that Maria had managed to sneak in for him and grabbed a spoon. Perching himself on a stool at the breakfast bar, Edward shoveled some of the sugary sweet dessert into his mouth and sighed in contentment. Simple things like having his favorite ice cream readily available on a Friday night hadn't seemed quite as important in Seattle.

Buzzzzz.

"For fucks sakes," he muttered, grabbing his phone and opening another message from Jasper.

C'mon Edward, please? It's kind of an emergency. – J.

Sighing, he gave in. Things between them were strained enough that Edward didn't think Jasper would pull out the emergency card if it wasn't serious.

"Hey!" Loud music played in the background and Jasper sounded out of breath. The bonfire, Edward realized. I sure as fuck hope he's not going to try and invite me.

"What's up?"

"Hang on a second," Jasper shouted. A minute later the background noise died down and his brother lowered his voice. "I need your help with something."

Edward snorted. "You need my help? What about your army of drones? Where are they when you need them?"

"I know things aren't great between us right now," he continued, ignoring Edward's sarcasm, "but I promise you I wouldn't call if there was someone else to do this."

Edward cocked one eyebrow and put his spoon down. "Do what?"

"I can't tell you right now," Jasper explained. "I need you to meet me at Belmont Harbor."

"Where the fuck is that? And how am I supposed to get there?"

"It's north of Lincoln Park on Lake Shore. The turnoff is just past the tennis courts. You have James's number, right?"

"Yeah."

"Carlisle said we could call him any time."

Edward stood up and put the lid back on his ice cream. "You owe me."

"That would require us to start speaking regularly again."

"And that would require you to admit that you've been brainwashed and ditch the jock jam."

"And that, dear brother, is why we're stuck at this never ending impasse."

"I'll call you when I see the tennis courts." Edward clicked his phone off and put the ice cream away. He ran a hand through his hair and thought about calling James. He preferred to keep people out of his business, and he was sure his brother would say the same, especially if it was something that could get the two of them into trouble. Edward looked around the kitchen, stopping when his eyes came to rest on his uncle's key rack. Three long strides took him across the room, and before he could think about the potential consequences of his actions, Edward grabbed the keys to his uncle's Lexus and headed out the door.

Under ordinary circumstances Edward wouldn't dare take someone's car, especially not Carlisle's. He was in enough hot water as it was, and he had no doubt this uncle would add an extra layer of punishment to his already almost-unbearable sentence if he got caught. The garage wasn't connected to the house, however, and this made taking the Lexus easier and more appealing.

Once he was a block away, Edward punched the name of the harbor into the built-in GPS and started his journey. As planned, he called Jasper when he passed the tennis courts.

"Where are you?"

"Down by the pier. Alice is waiting for you by the road."

"Alice? What does she have to do with this?"

Jasper sighed. "You'll see," he said, hanging up.

Edward spotted the short brunette moments later. He pulled the car off to the side of the road and cut the engine.

"Oh, Edward, I'm so glad you came!" Alice exclaimed, throwing her arms around his chest. He immediately stiffened and patted her back awkwardly.

"Where's Jasper?"

Alice looked up at him and Edward frowned. Her eyes were red and puffy and mascara streaks covered her cheeks. She pointed towards the water. "Down on the pier."

Edward looked in the direction she gestured, squinting his eyes until he could see his brother's silhouette. He started off down the grassy hill, shaking his head in confusion as he drew closer. "What the hell…"

"I'm sorry, man. I didn't know what else to do," Jasper explained when Edward was within hearing range. A mixture of anger and confusion filled his chest when looked down at his brother's feet.

Bella Swan was sprawled out on the wooden planks. He couldn't tell if she'd fallen or if she was placed there, but her legs were curled together to the side while her torso and head faced the start night sky. She had one arm pinned beneath her back and the other lay flat beside her. Her hair was a tangled mess and the side of her shirt was ripped. Even though it was dark, Edward could make out the slight rise and fall of her chest with each breath she took.

"What the hell is this?"

"She got real fucked up and passed out at the party," Alice explained.

"How did she get over here?"

"Emmett." Edward's head shot up at his brother's words. "Rose thought it was too much of a downer to let her lay in the sand where everyone else was, so she had Emmett carry her over here."

Edward's blood boiled. He wasn't Bella's biggest fan, but nobody deserved to be treated that way, especially by friends. "What did they plan on doing? Leaving her here until she woke up tomorrow morning?"

Alice nodded. "They've done it to people before, but never Bella. She doesn't usually get this fucked up."

"How much did she drink?"

"I have no idea, but according to Rose she took a few Ambien before the drinking started."

"Christ…" Edward's voice trailed off and he fisted his hair in his hands. "So what the fuck am I supposed to do? I've got Carlisle's car, I can't exactly take her to the hospital."

"You've got Carlisle's car?" Jasper looked around his brother to where the Lexus was parked. "That's ballsy, Edward. He'll kill you if he finds out you took it."

"Yeah, well, I thought you were in trouble. If I'd of known you were going to ask me to play rescue ranger for her I wouldn't have bothered coming."

"Why do you think I wouldn't tell you what was going on?"

Edward kicked the toe of his shoe against a wooden plank and looked over at Alice. "You'll need to give me her address so I don't take her to the wrong house."

"No!" she exclaimed. "I mean we can't take her home. Her mom will have her head if she sees her like this."

"Maybe her mom needs to have her head," Jasper pointed out. "She's clearly got a problem."

"There's more to it than that," Alice explained. She looked back and forth between the two brothers with pleading eyes. "It's not my place to tell you anything, but please believe me that taking her home would do more damage than good at this point."

"We'll take her to your house then," Jasper said.

"She can't come to my house, Jazz. We wouldn't even get her in the door and my mom would be on the phone with Renee."

Edward rolled his eyes. "So where do you propose we take her?"

Alice bit her lip and thought for a moment. "Can she stay at your place tonight?"

"What?" The two brothers asked in unison.

"Please? It's only for one night, and I know you have plenty of space. I'll get up early tomorrow and come and get her, and then I can take her home and it will be like nothing ever happened."

"I can't believe you'd drag me down here for his," Edward spit out, glaring at his brother and balling his fists at his sides.

"I already told you, if there was anyone else for me to call I would."

"Well, find someone else, cause I'm not going to do any favors for the girl who calls Rosalie Hale her best friend." Edward turned and started for the car. Light footsteps followed behind him and he felt a hand tugging at the back of his coat.

"Please, Edward," Alice pleaded. He stopped and sighed, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. When he opened them she stood in front of him with tears spilling down her cheeks.

A million different thoughts swam in his head. He had no idea how Carlisle or Esme would feel about him and Jasper sneaking a girl into the house for the night. He wasn't sure if they knew the Swan family, or how they felt about them. It was their home, and as defiant as Edward could be, he felt like a certain amount of respect was necessary while staying there.

Then there was the fact that Bella was nothing but a self-centered, condescending bitch. She ran with the crowd that loved to hate him, and had stood by and watched on numerous occasions while her friends verbally accosted him. He was sure she took part in badmouthing him to his brother, and god only knows what kind of shit she had to say about the friends he chose to keep. She wasn't a good person and he didn't feel like she deserved help from anyone, especially him.

Edward was a good person, however, even if he presented a tough exterior to those around him. Despite the bitterness he felt toward Bella Swan and the narcissistic group of assholes she hung out with, he knew he couldn't leave her lying there on a pier in the middle of the night.

"You owe me."

"Thank you so much!" Alice looked like she was going to give him a hug, but Edward shook his head.

"Tell Jasper to bring her to the car."

Alice took off back down the hill while Edward got in the Lexus and started the engine.

What the fuck are you thinking Cullen? The small voice inside his head wouldn't stop.

What. The. Fuck?

IYoK

"What room should we put her in?"

"I don't know. It's not like we have a ton of options."

"Well we need to figure something out. I don't think I can hold her for much longer." Jasper adjusted Bella's position in his arms and groaned.

"What if they find her in the morning?"

"Why would they find her?"

Edward shrugged. "I don't know. Knowing our luck Esme will lose something and have to look through all of the guest rooms to find it or some stupid shit like that."

"You are way too analytical."

"I'm trying to cover both of our asses here, Jasper. We wouldn't be in this fucking situation if your friends weren't such a stand up group of individuals."

Jasper sighed. "Can we figure this out instead of fighting?"

"The guest rooms are out, the couch is out, so I guess that leaves our rooms. Well, your room to be specific."

"My room? She can't stay in my room, Edward!"

"Why not?"

"Her best friend is my girlfriend," Jasper pointed out. "It would be completely awkward and wrong on so many levels to have her stay in my room."

"Not if you slept on the couch," Edward argued.

"Someone has to stay with her."

"She's a big girl, Jasper. I think she'll be just fine sleeping by herself."

"Had she not taken Ambien and drank alcohol on top of that I'd agree with you. In the interest of her safety she needs someone to stay with her."

Edward ran a hand through his hair and rolled his eyes. If they kept their debate going they would wake his aunt and uncle up. "Fine, put her in my fucking room."

"Are you sure?"

"Do I have a choice? It's not like we can throw her in the bed with Carlisle and Esme."

Jasper's eyes filled with relief. He walked the ten steps to Edward's room and nudged the door open with his foot, crossing the space and gently placing Bella on one side of the bed. "Is this okay?"

"It's fine," Edward spat out, rolling his eyes and tugging nervously at his hair once more. "I'm not going to be able to sleep anyway."

"Should I get her some pajamas?"

"Fuck that. She can sleep in her clothes. I think we've extended enough charity in her direction for one night."

"Okay." Jasper shuffled from foot to foot awkwardly. "Alice should be by around nine tomorrow."

"Yep." Edward crossed the room and pulled a spare blanket from his closet, setting it on the empty side of the bed.

"Thank you, Edward." He looked up and met his brother's gaze. "I know there's a lot going on, things are fucked up, and you don't have any good reason to trust me. But I do appreciate this. I know Alice does as well."

Edward felt his cheeks heat up in embarrassment. He didn't do well with compliments, especially when they came from someone he was conflicting with. "Goodnight, Jasper."

"Night, Edward."

As soon as Jasper left, Edward turned and surveyed the sight on his bed. He kneeled down and tugged at the zipper on Bella's boots, not wanting to risk the chance of her kicking him with them in the morning. Her skirt had ridden up when Jasper laid her down, exposing her long legs. His eyes roamed over her ivory skin, stopping when he saw the large cuts on the inside of her thighs. He resisted the urge to reach out and run his fingertips over them, and stood and covered her with his comforter instead.

Keeping all of his clothes on, Edward flipped off the lights and got on his side of the bed, propping the pillows up on the headboard and leaning his back against them. Bella shifted, rolling onto her side so she was facing him. He looked down at her, noticing her flushed cheeks and the pucker on her peachy lips. She looked so beautiful in that moment, with her hair fanned out around her and innocence covering her face. Edward cocked his head to the side and reached his hand out, tucking several stray strands of hair behind her ear and marveling at how soft her skin felt.

At the same time, he could see signs of exhaustion beneath her eyes and lines of worry etched into her features. Thoughts of the cuts he'd seen invaded his mind, and he wondered why a girl so young and who seemed to have everything would resort to such drastic behaviors.

The wheels started turning in his head, and for a minute he wondered if Mike Newton was the cause of her need to cut herself. Or perhaps it was her parents, or one of her not-so-stellar friends?

He shook his head, stopping his train of thought and reprimanding himself for even going there. This was Bella Swan. He hated her, she hated him, and neither was remotely interested in knowing about the other one's life. Her scars didn't matter anymore to him than his well being mattered to her.

He flipped over on his side, scooting as close to the edge of the bed as possible and fixing his eyes on the bedroom wall.

Sleep would inevitably take him, but not before Edward could promise himself never to extend courtesy to or do a favor for Bella Swan again.


A/N: Just a little heads up I want to give everyone reading this: I'm approaching the end of the long and winding road known as graduate school. As such, I have a large (70 pages) clinical competency paper that I'm writing, and an even larger (150 pages) portfolio that I'll be assembling over the summer. On top of that I work 40 hours a week and I will be interning 24 hours a week through July. Needless to say I'm a wee bit busy.

My other WIP, Hot Commodity, is nearing completion, but I also have an original fiction story I've got going that I hope to have published in June. So I might not have as much time as I'd like to work on this particular story. Now, that doesn't at all mean I won't work on. I will be piecing the next chapters together slowly but surely, but I can't guarantee any update schedules.

Thanks to everyone who has stuck around. I know it's been MONTHS, and I feel awful for that, but the show will go on.

Until next time...

xo