This was originally written for a Smut University assignment, and then edited for inclusion in the Fandom Fights Hurricane Sandy compilation. Thanks to all who donated, and to Alexandria for organizing this important fundraiser.

I owe enormous gratitude to my lovely beta, Writingbabe, for sharing her substantial editing skills. I don't know what I'd do without her, but I do know that my fics would be far worse off. My deepest thanks also to my preader, Iris_Elli, who made many great suggestions, and whose insights helped me improve this final version.

This is angstier and more lemony than what I normally write. Thanks for giving it a chance.

The door to Newton's Pub swung open behind Edward, sailing away from his grasp on loose hinges, same as always. He recognized it as the first true sign of his return to Forks.

He came here to look for Bella. There was no other reason besides the desire to drink. But the two were intertwined: he wanted to see Bella even though he knew it was a desperate idea, and because of that, he wanted to be drunk.

The plain truth was that he'd been using again for awhile, except his drugs of choice now were his memories. Every thought of Bella hustled his blood through his veins at a keening pace; every fact about her was stashed away for later use – things like her address, or where she might be tonight.

Edward walked through the narrow hall that led to the bar and the dance floor, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the blue light that flooded most of the large space. Old habits die hard, and his attention was immediately drawn to the bar, looking for what was most significant, for what his heart had yearned for over the better part of a year.

He was sure he had a good chance of finding her here. Newton's had been their favorite place. It was where they met, where they hung out; and while it was true that it was also the only pub in Forks, he still looked at as their own - as if no one else had a right to be there, or could only be there with his permission.

He slunk down on a stool that was close to the back entrance. Riley, the bartender, was working the middle of the bar before he moved down to Edward's end. A flash of recognition turned into surprise.

"Edward, my man! You're back!" Riley reached his hand across the bar and grasped Edward's firmly. "The usual?"

"Thanks, man. Yeah, an IPA sounds good." Edward glanced to his right, and then turned back to Riley just in time to see him look nervously over his shoulder. Sure enough, at the opposite end, there was a cluster of people laughing and drinking, and Edward caught sight of someone with long brown hair: familiar, tantalizing, and female.

She was pressed against a man whom Edward knew as Garrett, one of many who worked in the timber industry. That didn't matter, though. It could have been anyone and Edward would have felt the same, because the woman attached to his side was Bella. Garrett had his arm around her possessively.

Everything contracted around him as Edward curled his fists in desperation and fury. She didn't notice him, didn't detect his hot-blooded gaze, though Riley saw it. Nervously, the bartender gave Edward the side-eye.

"You okay?"

"Yeah," Edward said flatly. "Forget about the beer. I'm outta here."

There was no mistaking the look of relief on Riley's face. "Right. Listen, you need anything else?" But the question was useless, spoken to the air. Edward had slipped off the barstool and was gone.

Another ten seconds and he would have hurled himself at them, tearing Bella away and probably beating the crap out of the guy who was standing where Edward so badly wanted to be. But in keeping with other changes he'd made to his life, he forced himself to stay calm. Confronting her would do more damage than it was worth, so he left, deciding to wait where he hoped he could be alone with Bella later on.

He drove until he found Elk Road, a short side street off the main drag. As he made a quick right, he turned off the lights and parked at the end of the block past his destination, where the car could hide in the consuming black shadows of a Pacific Northwest night.

In about an hour, Bella's trucked pulled into her driveway. She jumped out and slammed the cab's door, then unlocked and entered her apartment.


Relief washed over him like a wave off LaPush. She hadn't brought Garrett home with her. He couldn't account for the hour that lapsed from the time he left the bar and Bella returned, but he refused to worry about that. She was home, and he was going to make sure she knew he was back. For her.

Edward gave her about 15 minutes before he opened the car door and walked down the road, his steps soft despite his determined stride. He rapped on the door, never looking down; staring straight at the peephole and waiting for the moment she would appear.

Footsteps. Silence, then the slick slide of the deadbolt.

The door opened, and Bella wore a puzzled frown that transformed into complete shock. "Edward?"

He leaned on the door frame. "Bella." His gaze, those green eyes that could be blazing or tender…he looked at her as if he hadn't been gone the last six months. As if he'd just shown up at her door after a late shift.

For an unguarded moment, her face showed relief, but then she remembered the sharp stab of his desertion, and her features hardened.

"You have a lot of nerve coming here." She moved to close the door, but Edward swiftly put his hand on it and shoved it back open.

"Bella, listen to me."

She choked out a harsh laugh. "Listen to you? I've been waiting for months to hear from you. You disappear into thin air and now you think you can just-"

"Let me explain." He noticed she wasn't moving. That was good. She hadn't invited him in yet, but she hadn't pushed him out, either.

She stood in the doorway, swaying slightly as the memories of Edward trickled loose. She didn't respond to his words, just turned and walked back into the apartment. He trailed behind her, his gaze on her ass the entire time.

Bella stopped and turned as they reached the kitchen table. "I had no idea you were back."

"I came back for you."

Bella reeled almost as if he'd pushed her. "With no phone call? No message? Not even a fucking e-mail?" Her eyes were suddenly ringed with tears. "You never made any effort to contact me, and you just show up?"

"Why were you with that guy?" Edward demanded, dodging her questions to ask the one that wouldn't let him go.

"What guy?"

"Garrett. The one at the pub."

She glared at him in disbelief. "You followed me to the bar? You were at Newton's?"

"I went looking for you." He edged closer, his intense gaze never leaving her face. Bella felt the heat behind it, a flare that reached out to her skin and sank through, igniting her. She watched his mouth; the lush red lips that had kissed her beyond reason and explored every inch of her body. That time was over, or so she'd believed. This much was certain: it had been months since she'd known any part of his touch.

"You could have just called."

"I wanted to see you."

"Why didn't you-"

"I needed to see you." Edward could stand it no longer. He reached out and drew his fingertips across her face, tracing from her cheek to her chin. "I missed you."

She ducked away, a scowl marring her pretty face. "Yeah, so much you couldn't pick up the damn phone the whole time you were gone."

"I left for you."

She stared, incredulous. "What? What the hell kind of lie is that?"

"I had to go. I was going to get a better job and then send for you - call you - to ask you to come and be with me in Tacoma." Better she should think that than know the truth: that her father, who had always hated Edward and viewed him as a dead-end for his daughter, found out Edward had a short prison record for possession and distribution. Edward hadn't mustered the courage to tell Bella yet, so Chief Swan said he'd do it for him…unless Edward left her.

It was about the worst decision he'd made in his life, second only to the one where he'd agreed to hold some drugs for James. But he'd been released from prison with a record of good behavior. He found work in a lumber mill, and met Bella. Their connection gave him a greater high than he'd had from anything else, and in the short time they were together her love kept him on the straight and narrow.

He repaid her by believing her father's words that Bella deserved more, and by slinking out of town without telling her the truth. When he couldn't stand being away from her another second, he came back to Forks, hoping to go home, get his job back, and more than anything, be with Bella again.

Now Edward was angry – angry at himself, at Charlie Swan, at everything that brought him to this point; and right now all that anger was coming out directly at her, for having the nerve to live her life and go out with another man after he'd left her. With a sharp inhale he lowered his head and scowled.

"What?" For a moment, Bella looked frightened.

"Are you with him?"

"With who?" He was standing so close she could smell him, all light spice and cold air. It made her unable to think.

He thought she was playing coy. That pissed him off even more. "Garrett. Are you with him?" A pause. "Are you over me?"

The weight of the question hung between them, and Bella's heart sank with its burden. She wanted to tell him the truth, and she didn't want to give him anything.

Bella had just about decided to move away from Forks and resurface in Seattle or even Portland, to start over and leave behind every reminder of a love that had consumed her all the more fully, it seemed, for the brief time it lasted. Now here he was with expectations that she couldn't fathom, because he'd left her with nothing except an enormous hole where she'd once let him in. She walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer, then rummaged through a drawer for a bottle opener. Edward watched, unmoving, as the tie around her robe loosened.

"Was I supposed to wait for you?" Bella turned to face him with every intention of being defiant. The sight of him standing in her kitchen, his tee shirt snug across his chest and his hips shifting as he angled himself toward her, pulled her dangerously close to where she'd always been with Edward: helpless and unable to resist. She took a long drink from the bottle.

He stayed silent for a moment, distracted by her ripe lips, which were wet from the beer. "I thought you loved me," he finally said. He raised his hands until his palms were almost up, then let them fall to his side.

Bella almost dropped her bottle. "And I thought you loved me!" she shouted. "You left without a word! You come back and show up on my doorstep…goddamn it, Edward, you still haven't told me what happened. That story about a job is bullshit."

"I will. I promise." A pleading tone crept into his voice as he moved straight for her, like a shark. "This is the truth: I came back because I couldn't stay away." He slowed until he was right against her, pinning her. She grabbed the edge of the counter, her robe puckering out and revealing the old tee shirt she'd put on for sleep.

"I love you. I never stopped. Believe it." Edward's voice fell even lower, taking Bella down with it. "I think about you all the time. At night…God, I can't fucking stand it."

She squeezed her eyes shut, steeling herself against the kiss she knew was coming. It was too hard to look at him when he was so close. Edward's face was all need, naked and aching; and seeing it for even seconds would disarm the anger that was her only defense.

He tilted his chin and pressed his lips to hers. "Open for me," he hissed against her mouth.

With a sharp exhale she complied, meeting his tongue with her own. Bella had ached for him, and it was like nothing to fall right back into it…but then, she was damned if she'd let him on her this easy.

She pulled back, slipping out of his arms. "You can't…" Her voice trailed off. "No, Edward." She pushed him away, taking advantage of his surprise. "Fuck this. And fuck you." Always leery of his hold on her, she wasn't surprised at the devastation she felt when he left. How could she trust him now?

Without even thinking, she walked down the hall to her bedroom – the worst direction she could take, under the circumstances, but it was a small apartment, and her options were few. There was nowhere to hide.

Edward flew after her and caught her elbow. "Don't walk away."

She yanked herself out of his grip. "Don't tell me what to do."

He grabbed her by the waist and pushed her against the wall. "I've fucking waited for months to see you again." His kiss was even more heated and demanding. Bella whimpered, feeling the twin pain of missing him and of having him back. She nipped at his lip, keeping her teeth on him for just long enough, wanting him to know how much he'd hurt her.

He pressed his hips against hers, the heavy denim of his jeans rubbing against her thin boyshorts. She felt his cock straining against the material, prominent, right there between her legs. She could push him back, could tell him to leave if only she could manage to pull herself away from him.

Tears welled up again, stinging and impossible to stop. She pulled at his hair, that soft, thick copper thatch she loved. "You left…You went away," she sobbed.

He eased up, pulling his hips away slightly. "I could never stay away. You knew I'd be back."

"I didn't," she whispered.

"I did come back," he repeated. "I can't be apart from you." His hands were everywhere now, caressing and demanding, squeezing her ass. "Bella. Bella, beautiful girl, my baby, my love, my Bella," he chanted softly, his head bowed.

Frustration – sexual, emotional - enveloped her like an itchy blanket, and Bella moaned in defeat. She unzipped Edward's jeans and pushed them down past his hips, just enough for her hands to get in. She thrust past his briefs, a ragged sigh escaping her lips as her hand grasped his cock. Edward groaned, laying his head in the crook of her neck.

"Touch me. God, I missed you," he whispered, his lips moving urgently along her skin, sucking and biting.

Bella stroked his cock, her movements erratic with his jeans and underwear still in the way. She shoved at his pants again, thwarted when she couldn't push them down any further.

Edward lifted her so her legs wrapped right around his waist and walked them both to her room. Once they were at the bed, he set her back on her feet and peeled her robe away, leaving her to stand in front of him in her tee shirt and underpants. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a framed photo on Bella's dresser, taken by a friend when they were hiking in Olympic National Park. They were laughing and happy, not giving a shit about anyone or anything except themselves. She'd kept it on her dresser all this time.

Bella turned slightly to follow his line of vision. Her face crumpled when she saw what he was staring at. It was too much to compare that moment with this one. She remembered everything about the happiness that was so unexpectedly fleeting. Confusion, uncertainty, hurt, anguish…each day without Edward got progressively worse. She'd swore she'd never forgive him. She knew she could never forget him.

Enraged, she took a swing at him, but he'd seen her fists tighten and knew it was coming. He ducked out of the way, and she caught nothing but air. With an ungraceful twist, Bella lost her balance and fell back on the bed, splayed and surprised.

Edward grabbed her foot near the heel. He lowered his head and trailed his mouth up her leg, sometime kissing, sometimes flicking his tongue along her skin. With a slow pass of his hand, he stroked her thigh, then skimmed down to her foot before setting it gently on the bed.

"Fuck," she whispered, and just like that, she gave in completely.

Bella sat up and yanked his jeans down, this time using all her strength; and Edward kicked his shoes off and finally removed his pants. She pulled his tee shirt over his head, making him lose his balance so he tumbled forward. He grabbed at her shirt, and before she could lift her arms, he fisted the material at the back and tore it in half.

Panting hard, they paused for a few seconds, gauging the hunger in each other's eyes. Bella reached again through cotton and elastic, tugging at his cock, feeling the smoothness and enjoying the thick ridge at the top. Edward moaned, throwing his head back and almost getting lost in the sensation before pushing her onto her back again. Without a word, he pulled off her boyshorts and tossed them to a corner of the room.

He pressed her knees further apart and moved himself between them on the bed. Leaning on his right elbow, he stroked her stomach, then trailed his hand over the small, feminine rise at the top of her legs. He moved lower, his fingers slowly dragging through her lips.

"So beautiful," Edward murmured. "So sweet. Baby, you're so wet. And I want to know, do you still taste so good?" He pushed her knees further out and bowed his head, tickling his tongue up and down her length. For a moment he stopped and circled around her opening without entering, then licked back up in one smooth caress, playing her right where she was most sensitive.

Bella arched her neck as her chest lifted in response, a guttural cry rising from deep within. Her legs tightened as Edward continued softly stroking her. He closed his eyes and groaned, feeling her swell under his mouth, the evidence of her arousal as undeniable as his own.

He remembered every level of her sensitivity as it increased before she would come. He could stay a few seconds ahead of her when he knew she was about to tip over, then tease her until he knew she couldn't take it. When she moved to catch his tongue where she wanted it, he circled over her clit with small, tender movements, like a final aria.

Her moans became breathy words. "Oh…oh, God…oh, yes," she whispered. She arched off the bed with one final cry and shifted away from him, unable to bear his mouth on her as her orgasm subsided.

Edward kissed the inside of her thighs gently. "Does Garrett," he whispered, his voice catching, "does Garrett do that for you?"

Bella said nothing, her arm flung over her face. He had claimed her again as surely as if he'd seared his name on her most tender skin. A tear escaped and slid down the side of her face. She turned toward her pillow, as if to wipe it away, or maybe just to hide it.

Her silence told him everything he wanted to hear.

Edward rose up, his hands roaming her body until his face was level with her breasts. "I missed this. I missed these," he murmured, kissing all around them before his mouth, breathy and humid, hovered over a nipple. "I missed you." He swirled his tongue over and around it, then tugged just hard enough before soothing it and repeating with her other breast.

Another moan escaped from Bella's throat. Each sound was involuntary, a reaction to Edward's every touch, lick, and suck. He moved further up her body, his cock sliding along the sensitive place between her legs where his tongue had expertly worked her. In no time, he would enter her, Bella knew, and she was long past taking a stand. All she wanted was to feel him inside her again.

He shifted so he was balanced on one hand and then grabbed his cock, stopping just before he pushed inside her. Edward looked up at her, his eyes boring into hers as he slowly moved in, pulled back, then moved all the way in. His breath was ragged.

"This is us," he said, panting. "Only me and you. Always."

Bella nodded before the sensations took her away. He was unhurried at first, and then his movements grew harder, less languid. Like a reflex, her legs came up and wrapped around his waist. Bella tilted her hips just enough to capture him more deeply, and she recognized the familiar buildup each time Edward thrust back into her. It didn't matter whether she'd had one lover or a thousand. None of them would ever feel like this.

There was that soaring sensation as her whole lower body sang with each movement, and her eyes widened when she cried out again. As her own orgasm ebbed, Edward's movements intensified until he stopped, moaning, pulling back a little; then slamming into her one last time; hard, hard, so hard, so close, so that every inch of skin was flush with hers outside of where they were joined. He buried his face in her neck and sank down on top of her body, his arms sliding behind her so they encircled and held her, as if he was afraid she would just up and leave.

Bella relaxed her legs but didn't let them fall; she kept them loosely bound around him, her heels stroking up and down the backs of his legs. She noticed he was shaking.

Suddenly, his trembling became sobs that were muffled against her skin. It was more than she could bear, and she closed her eyes to stem her own rising tears. She held him as if steadying him could stall the pain that would get worse tonight. There were so many questions…and none of them could be answered with more sex, as tempting as that might be. The hard part started now.

Thank you for reading!