All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer, everything else is mine.
Thank you Midnight Cougar for beta'ing!
I stared at the phone debating if I should do it. Edward forbade me to swim alone again after what happened, so I needed someone around until I was better, but was Benjamin really the right person? Especially since my feelings for Edward were growing at such a rapid rate, and given our past – mine and Benjamin's – should I be reaching out to him?
Edward had expressed so much emotion in the hospital, and when we got home, like he was really afraid to lose me. It shocked me so much that later that night I crawled into bed with him. Strange decision, but I felt the need to be close to him. Like I couldn't sleep without touching him.
When I opened the door he was awake, something I'd been afraid of, but he just watched me as I slid under the covers with him. An overwhelming feeling of serenity came over me when I laid my head on his bare chest, my hand resting over his heart. An emotion, a sense of security and peace washed over me. I'd found where I was supposed to be, my new home. Edward was home.
And I finally realized I wasn't alone anymore.
I knew then; Edward was everything.
When we woke the next morning he was wrapped around me as much as I was him. we were a cocoon of warmth and comfort to one another. His alarm went off and we both stretched, but didn't want to leave the bed and each other. Eventually Edward had to get ready for work, he gave me a kiss before heading out the door. I flopped back down on to his bed and snuggled into his pillow, falling back to sleep, surrounded by his scent, for a few more hours.
Today was different; I was up and ready to swim. With a deep breath I picked up the phone and dialed a number I hadn't called in a year.
"Hello?" the familiar voice of Benjamin answered.
"Hi, it's Bella."
There was a strange noise like the phone dropped before he was back on the line. "Bella, hi. What's going on?"
"I, umm, was wondering if you wanted to swim with me… I can't swim alone, as we found out the other day, and I need a partner; at least for the next several weeks."
"Yeah, yeah…I can do that. When, uh, when do you want to, umm, do that?"
Over the next few minutes we figured out a schedule of times to meet for the next few weeks that were close to times he was already there for swim practice. The conversation got awkward after that, we hadn't spoken in so long after all. Hell, we never officially broke up, it was just kinda a given with my mental state at the time.
We met at the pool two hours later, the first time in three days I'd gone swimming and I was itching to get in the water. I always felt good after a swim, and I knew it was helping with my healing.
Benjamin was waiting for me as I walked out, his dark eyes flying to me as I exited the locker room. He pushed off of the wall, his bronze skin was dry, but his jet black hair was still damp from his own practice.
"Hey," he said smiling. "How are you doing?"
"Good," I replied, fidgeting with my cap and goggles, tossing my towel on a nearby chair. "Thanks again…for the other day, and for doing this for me."
"No problem. I'm just glad to, well, see you talking again, and swimming. You look, uh, much better, Bella."
I smiled, he was always so sweet. "I never stopped swimming, except the first four or five months."
His eyes widened. "Then why…"
"I've never had a problem until the other day. I think it's this place. Too many memories here."
He nodded in understanding. "We don't have to do it here; there are other pools we can use."
"Yeah, I know, but I think it would be good for me."
Conversation stopped there, the awkwardness filling the space between us until there was suddenly no space at all. Benjamin stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into his bare chest for a tight hug. The arms were familiar and warm, and I relaxed a little into that comfort. However, they didn't hold the sway and magnitude that Edward's did.
"I've missed you, Bella. So much," he admitted softly, pulling back and locking eyes with me. "I'm sorry, so very sorry."
"I wasn't strong enough to help you after your parents died," he replied, sadness lacing his tone. I couldn't help but cringe at the words, my chest tightening and the pain creeping in. "I tried to talk to you, but you were so far gone, broken. For months you just wasted away and there was nothing I could do."
"For months I left you," I whispered, swallowing hard. "Don't feel bad, please. You're right, I was so far gone. I'm sorry, Benjamin, that I put you through that."
He shook his head. "Doesn't matter. What matters is that you're getting better. Maybe we can…" he trailed off, his fingers running up and down my forearm, confusion crossing his face. He looked down and my eyes followed down to the thin white lines in my skin. "I should have been there. I knew something was wrong when you didn't come back from Christmas break."
"I don't even remember… I don't remember much from the past year," I admitted, pulling back from him slowly. I didn't even remember how I got the scars on my arm. Every time I looked at them at home and tried to ask Edward, the question got caught in my throat at the expression on his face. Pain and terror filled the space between us and I couldn't bring myself to start up what was obviously a difficult topic of conversation.
With I sigh I raised my head and almost bumped into Benjamin. He was so close, hands on my upper arms, bodies close, and his face inches from mine.
"I never stopped," he whispered.
"Never stopped what?"
"Loving you." He leaned down, his lips closing in on mine.
Panic set in and I turned my head before stepping back. Loving me was bad, because I didn't love him, not anymore. I was pretty sure I was falling in love with Edward.
"I'm sorry," I began in a whisper. "Really I am, but I'm not her anymore…your girlfriend. I think she died with them. As you said, I'm broken. Busted in two. Fucked up beyond repair. You should move on, because I don't think I can be what you need again. Your friend, yes but not more."
I turned to look back at him, pain etched in his expression, but he nodded in understanding.
"I'm so sorry," I said again, reaching up and cupping his face. "You were so good to me, always, but I just can't go back there. I'm sorry, Benny."
"Me too," he replied and smiled at the nickname I'd given him long ago, then he cleared his throat. "So, umm, you should get swimming."
"Yeah. Thanks again…for doing this."
He shook his head. "It's no problem, really. The last thing I want is to feel the pain I did when I found you last week face down in a still pool."
I grimaced at the image he portrayed. If Edward knew he'd probably spin off into a panic attack. Maybe he'd already envisioned it and that was why he'd burst into the hospital room with such hysteria.
Visions swirled in my head as I swam, but when I tilted my head to take a breath I could see the blurry image of Benjamin sitting with his feet in the water, watching. It helped to calm down everything in my head, knowing he was there. He didn't know it, but just sitting there helped more than any drug I was on. His presence was reassuring, comforting.
After swimming laps for about an hour, I was exhausted; my body not used to being pushed for so long. Along with losing weight, I'd also lost stamina and muscle needed for competitive swimming.
Benjamin handed me a towel as I got out of the water. "Not bad form, but your lap times have really decreased."
"Yeah, I'm not in the best shape," I replied as I ran the towel around my body.
"Are you trying to join the team again?" he asked, pulling out a drink from a cooler I hadn't noticed and handing it to me.
I greedily gulped down the Powerade before replying, "I'm hoping to."
He shook his head. "I don't know. Right now, your times are at the bottom. Your body's in some pretty bad physical shape. You need to start eating again, and I mean a lot, and train every day to get anywhere close to where you used to be."
"I don't have to be number one again, just part of something."
He nodded. "If you're serious, I can talk to Coach. Tryouts begin in three weeks, that's not a lot of time."
"Thanks, but I want to talk to Coach myself," I replied, letting out a sigh. I hadn't been one for conversation in a year. In fact, besides Edward or Irina, my time with Benjamin that day was the most I'd spoken to anyone in a long time.
"I'll do anything you need to help you, you know that, right?" he questioned, hand beneath my chin, lifting it up so my eyes met his.
"Just knowing there is someone with me, who supports me and cares for me, helps more than you can imagine," I told him. "Thank you."
His expression softened, fingers caressing my cheek.
"I meant it, you know. I'm here for you, whatever you need, Bella, and I'll be waiting for you to get better. I'm not giving up hope for us."
A few minutes later I was on my bike heading home, thinking as I rode. Benjamin had surprised me with his declarations. I'd assumed he'd gotten over me like most teenage boys would have. They usually didn't have the patience to deal with a comatose girlfriend and move on.
It was almost six when I locked my bike up in the parking garage and headed to the elevator. As I rode in, I noticed Edward's car in his parking spot. My insides lit up and I was practically bouncing to get to the elevator. A need to kiss him, to feel his arms around me, erupted, startling me a bit, but not deterring my mission to get to him.