A/N: thanks to breath-of-twilight for asking me to be in this countdown! And kudos to her for cleaning up my hot mess of a one-shot! Hope you all enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or these characters!


Title: Waiting in the Wings

Prompt: bow 'n' arrow

Late January in Forks, Washington wasn't exactly the most exciting time of the year. A few weeks had passed since winter break, and the day-to-day routine of high school was starting to become mundane again.

Edward wandered through the halls, heading to the cafeteria for lunch. He was never without a gaggle of people around him, but lately, his façade of being the carefree, bad boy was becoming daunting.

"Jasper," Bella whined from beside Edward. "I want a smoke before we eat lunch."

Jasper was one of Edward's best friends, and Bella was his girlfriend. Edward's other best friend, Emmett, was dating the school's head cheerleader, Rosalie. They were Forks High School's elite group, and everyone knew it.

Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper, and Bella were the only people that Edward cared to associate with, but they always seemed to be surrounded by leeches that wanted to be known just by being near them.

"Bella, we smoked before school, you need to chill the fuck out," Jasper snapped. Bella shrank back, but her eyes crested with fire.

Edward had a hard time watching Jasper and Bella together. When Bella started attending school with them over four years ago, she was instantly accepted into their small group. Edward had seen Bella first, as his parents were best friends with Bella's father, the Chief of Police in their tiny town. Edward made his intentions public in their group, but Jasper claimed it was love at first sight when he first laid eyes on Bella. Edward reluctantly conceded, thinking that their relationship wouldn't last much longer than a few weeks and then he could swoop in and brush Bella off her feet. It didn't happen like that though; and now, four years later, they were still together.

Edward was never short on dates, but he had grown tired of the girls at their school and lately had taken to dating older women that had already graduated high school. His good looks, tall stature, and strong physique had him looking much older than eighteen.

"I'll go smoke with you, B," Edward offered. Her eyes lit up as she attached herself to Edward's side.

"What the fuck, E," Jasper hissed.

"Shut it, Jasper. It's lunchtime, we can leave if we want," Edward barked, leading Bella out to his car.

"Why do you put up with his shit, B?" Edward asked as they rocketed out of the parking lot. Edward's 1969 Camaro didn't protest when his foot punched the accelerator.

"You better watch your speed in town, my dad will have you pulled over in two seconds," Bella warned him, avoiding his question. Edward chuckled, downshifted, and chirped the tires before heading up an old logging road.

"You deserve better, Bella," Edward murmured as he killed the ignition. He'd pulled into a little alcove, where they frequented at lunch, so they could smoke in peace.

"Old habits die hard," she replied and sucked at the bowl Edward had passed her.

"You want something to eat?" Edward asked her, pulling a sandwich out of his backpack.

"Did Esme make that?" Bella asked, her eyes sparkling in delight. Edward nodded with a smirk, and Bella wasted no time diving across the bench seat towards the sandwich.

"Hey," Edward exclaimed as Bella ripped a healthy bite from the sandwich.

"I'm hungry," Bella mumbled around the food in her mouth.

"You should've stayed with Jasper and eaten then," Edward scolded her playfully.

"Bite me, Cullen," Bella hissed in return, her eyes narrowed mischievously.

"Bear it, Swan, and I will," Edward replied, his voice growing deep and husky. Bella squeaked in surprise as their eyes locked. She bit the corner of her lip and he growled, lunging for her mouth.

"Edward," Bella whined. "I can't."

"Dump him," Edward demanded, resting his forehead against her chest and panting lightly.

"It's not that easy," she said sadly.

"It is," he huffed, pulling away. "You walk up to him and say, 'Jasper, we're through. I'm madly in love with your best friend, Edward.' Then we can announce it to the entire school that we're dating," Edward joked, desperately trying to lighten the tension.

She swallowed harshly and looked down at her hands in her lap.

"I saw you first," Edward whispered, reaching out and tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

"Why do you have to make this so hard?" Bella questioned him.

"I'm not trying to," he uttered.

"Should we head back?" Bella asked quietly. Edward nodded and fired up the ignition.

. . . .

"Took you long enough," Jasper growled as Edward and Bella strolled into the cafeteria with five minutes to spare. "Did you even eat?" he hissed at Bella.

"I shared Edward's sandwich," Bella said shrugging. "Esme makes the best sandwiches."

"There's a new girl starting," Rosalie piped up, taking the attention off of Edward and Bella.

"When?" Bella asked her.

"Tomorrow," Rose answered. "Her name is Alice Brandon. Her dad is taking over as General Manager of Washington First National Bank," she supplied. Rosalie's father was the only lawyer in town and worked as the bank's attorney. Since Forks was so small, the news of a new executive in town traveled fast.

"I hope she's not a bitch," Emmett sang cheerfully.

"I guess we'll find out tomorrow," Edward said dismissively.

"I'm sure she'll be fine," Bella replied, narrowing her eyes at Edward's dismissive tone.

"Should we have a get together tomorrow night to welcome her?" Rosalie asked.

"We can do it at my house," Emmett offered. "Mom and Dad are out of town this weekend."

"Sweet, I'll have Henry get some beer for us," Rose said, referring to her older brother.

"Sounds like a plan," Emmett agreed.

Edward rolled his eyes and was out of his seat before the bell rang signaling the end of lunch. He wasn't entirely certain that he wanted to party with the new chick in town. His gut told him that she wouldn't be any different from the other girls at their school.

. . . .

Edward felt that his gut was right about Alice Brandon. After spending forty minutes listening to her drone on about fashion, the Hollywood Elite, and shopping during lunch, he knew she was no different from the banal girls he was surrounded by every day.

He did notice that Jasper had taken an interest in Alice, and Bella had detected it as well. She wore a mask of indifference during lunch, but he could see the hurt she tried to bury. As much as he didn't want Bella to hurt, he also couldn't help the hope that was blossoming within him.

By seven that evening, Emmett's house was teeming with several of their peers from school, and Edward had never been more bored. He tried to stick close to Bella, as Jasper seemed to be otherwise occupied with Alice. To anyone else, Bella would have looked to be the normal drunk teenager, but Edward knew different. She was hurting and avoiding Jasper at all costs.

"Fuck you, Lauren," Bella snarled, pulling Edward from his thoughts.

"I'm just saying, Bella, that Jasper seems pretty taken with Alice. You may finally have some competition," Lauren simpered with a smug smile.

Bella lunged for Lauren, but didn't get far as Edward caught her around the waist and hoisted her up.

"Let me go," she growled.

"We're going outside to get some air," Edward told her. "Lauren, get the fuck away from her and keep your goddamn thoughts to yourself."

"What the fuck, Edward," Bella seethed once he'd finally set her down outside. The January air was cold and her breath puffed out in little white clouds as she panted.

"You'll thank me later once you sober up," Edward informed her.

She glared at him, but as the seconds ticked by, she visibly deflated, her anger turning to deep sadness.

"It's okay," he whispered.

"No, it's not," she whimpered. "Why is this happening now?"

"I don't know, but he's a fucking idiot, Bella."

"I feel like such a fool," she admitted, her head hanging low as she leaned against the house.

"You have absolutely nothing to feel foolish about," Edward informed her gently, pulling her into a tender embrace. She clung to him as sobs shook her body. "Do you want me to take you home?"

"Bella, what…the fuck?" Jasper growled, rounding the corner of the house and almost bumping into Edward and Bella.

"Leave her alone, Jasper. You've done enough tonight," Edward warned him.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Jasper hissed.

"It means that while you were busy with Alice, your girlfriend was trying to defend your relationship to Lauren," Edward retorted.

Jasper stepped back as if he'd been physically slapped. "Can't Bella speak for herself?"

"Why, Jasper?" Bella croaked.

"I don't understand the question, Bella," Jasper responded stiffly.

"I want to know why, after four years, are you just throwing this away for a new piece of ass," Bella barked, motioning between them.

"What makes you think that I'm throwing our relationship away?" Jasper exclaimed, clearly exasperated with the situation. "Did Edward plant that idea in your head?" he growled, his narrowed eyes bouncing between Edward and Bella.

"Shut the fuck up, Jasper. I didn't say shit to her. She's made her assumptions all on her own, without any help from me." Edward took a step towards Jasper, unconsciously shielding Bella.

"I can't deal with this tonight," Bella interrupted them. "I'm going home."

"B," Jasper whispered. "I'm sorry if you think I'm spending too much time with Alice. I just wanted her to feel welcomed."

"Whatever, Jasper," Bella said, shaking her head and walking down the driveway.

"Aren't you going to give her a ride?" Edward asked, exasperated.

"She lives one block away, Edward," Jasper replied. "You go walk her ass home. I'm done dealing with her fucked up emotions tonight."

"Fuck, Jasper. Go ahead and hang out with Alice; I'll make sure your girlfriend gets home okay," Edward snapped then ran down the driveway to catch up with Bella.

"Bella," Edward panted. "Let me walk you home."

"Thanks, E," she whispered dejectedly.

"I'm sure everything will be okay," Edward tried to reassure her falsely. He wasn't sure what the hell was going on with Jasper, but he wanted to give him a swift kick to the balls.

"It's not, Edward. I knew this was going to happen sooner or later," she mumbled as they walked up her driveway.

"Try to get some sleep, Bella," he said softly. "Tomorrow is another day."

"Thanks," she whimpered and threw her arms around his neck, squeezing briefly before abruptly pulling away.

"Call me if you need me, Bella. I mean it," Edward demanded while brushing a few strands of hair away from her eyes.

"I will," she murmured.

"Now I'm going to go kick Jasper's ass," Edward mumbled to himself once Bella had entered her house.

Once he'd returned to the party, he was glad to see that most of the people had departed, probably because Rosalie's brother hadn't bought alcohol for everyone. Edward searched around the house until he found his friends splashing in Emmett's indoor pool. Raucous laughter bounced off the walls as Rose sat perched on Emmett's shoulders. His blood ran cold though once he realized that Alice took up the same position on Jasper's shoulders.

"Edward," Emmett bellowed, "come join us."

Jasper's face paled slightly, but Alice jerked towards Rose, momentarily distracting Jasper.

"No thanks, I'm going to head home," Edward replied, his voice dripping with malice. It took every ounce of his willpower to leave and not yank Jasper out of the pool and beat the shit out of him. Unbeknownst to Jasper, he was going to be paid a visit the next day.

. . . .

Monday morning dawned dreary in Forks, and Edward's attitude was sullen as he hadn't been successful at contacting Jasper over the remainder of the weekend. He had hoped he was able to corner him at some point today. Alternately, he hadn't spoken to Bella over the weekend either, and that worried him as she usually contacted him at least once to smoke.

He passed her locker and sighed as her head was down, shoulders slumped in. Her hair hung around her face blocking her out from the rest of the world.

"Hey, beautiful," Edward cooed as he leaned against the locker next to hers.

Slowly, she raised her red-rimmed eyes and gazed at Edward.

"B," he whispered.

"He didn't pick me up for school this morning, Edward," she cried. "Charlie had to drop me off."

"Why didn't you call me?" Edward asked, his tone pleading gently.

"I…I couldn't. You can't fight my battles, Edward," she suspired. "I'll see you in gym," she said, offering him a phony smile, slamming her locker, and trudging down the hallway.

Edward shook his head and proceeded to his English class. The morning sped by, despite the amount of homework he'd been assigned. The time had approached for physical education, and Edward was not looking forward to it. His gym period was shared with Jasper and Bella.

He walked into the locker room and quickly changed into his shorts and t-shirt before entering the gymnasium and taking a seat on the bleachers. Bella sat down beside him moments later, her tiny shorts hugging her ass and her t-shirt snug in all the right places. He quickly averted his eyes as she pulled her hair into a high ponytail.

Jasper jogged over and sat next to her with no fanfare or explanation of his actions this morning. Edward knew that this was the first and only class Bella and Jasper had together aside from lunch. He was certain that they hadn't spoken since Friday night at the party and his heart sank to his stomach as he watched Jasper whisper in Bella's ear. The color slowly started blossoming on her cheeks, and at that point, Edward couldn't take it anymore. He rose from his seat and went to his place at the center of the gym as their teacher had instructed.

They were learning about archery today, and Edward was keen to take his mind away from the girl he couldn't stop thinking about and his soon-to-be ex-best friend. He was confident that Jasper was spewing bullshit to bring Bella back to his side, and he wasn't pleased with the fact that she would probably buy it.

Edward was so caught up in his bow and arrows that he didn't notice the commotion on the other side of the gym until he heard Bella scream out of frustration. He looked up and saw her in a skirmish with Jasper and Alice. Edward dropped his bow down to his side and walked quickly across the gym.

"He's my boyfriend," Bella spat. "Why can't you back the fuck off?"

"I'm just trying to be friendly," Alice replied deviously with a smirk.

"Bullshit," Bella breathed. "Stay away from him."

"Ladies," Jasper tried to intervene and calm the estrogen flowing from the girls. "Let's not fight about this."

Edward approached Jasper's side and elbowed him harshly. "Shut up," Edward mouthed, eyeing the two girls.

"If I see you lay one skanky finger on him, you'll be sorry," Bella growled.

"May the best woman win," Alice stated confidently and strutted across the gym towards the girl's locker room.

"What the fuck, Bella," Jasper snapped. "She's just trying to be nice."

"You're so fucking blind, Jasper," Bella barked. "She wants you, and it's more than obvious that you want her. So why the fuck are you stringing me along?"

"Bella, baby," Jasper pleaded. "I'm sorry, okay, I said I was sorry. Can't we just move past this?"

"Fuck you, Jasper," Bella bit out and stormed towards the locker rooms.

Edward opened his mouth to insert his two cents, but the instructor called the end of class and told them to hit the locker room to change.

As Edward exited into the hallway from the locker room, Bella pulled him aside. "Can we please go smoke?" she begged.

"Absolutely," Edward agreed and fished his keys out of his pocket then led her to the parking lot.

"I don't want to talk about it," Bella said as they pulled into their alcove. Edward packed the bowl and lit it up as he nodded.

"That's fine, but you know that I'm here if you need me, right?" She nodded and hit the bowl before handing it back to Edward.

"Why aren't you dating?" Bella asked abruptly. "I feel like you're always in the wings just waiting for me. That sounds so conceited," she admitted with a snort. "Why the fuck would you be waiting for me?"

"I'm waiting for you because I saw you first," Edward declared quietly. "I've been waiting years for Jasper to fuck up," Edward confessed sheepishly. "It's not that I don't date, Bella. I just don't advertise it, and I'm not interested in any girls at our school except one, and right now she's unavailable to me."

"You're too sweet, Edward. Too sweet for me."

"I'm not enough for you, Bella," he said quietly.

. . . .

January bled into February as the days started to get a bit longer. Jasper and Bella had patched things up and were limping along in their relationship. Alice seemed content to flirting obnoxiously with every male in schoo,l and that, in turn, made Jasper think twice about her. Edward wasn't sure why Bella was still with Jasper, but he knew she had her reasons. As much as it pained him to admit it, they did have a history that wasn't easily forgotten.

Valentine's Day was upon them and Edward made plans with Maggie, a girl that he'd met through his father at the hospital. She was a freshman in community college at Port Angeles and she was volunteering at the hospital. Edward was attracted to her, but the few times they'd been out so far, he felt as if they didn't have much in common.

Presently, the school week was over and Edward was headed to Port Angeles to take Maggie on a date. He surmised that dinner and a movie would suffice for a Valentine's Day date. As they took their seats at the only Italian restaurant in Port Angeles, Edward stiffened briefly as he saw a blonde head in the corner. Not being able to see the person's face, though, he continued with the conversation he and Maggie had been having about his college plans.

"I'm just saying," Maggie whined. "If you go to the community college in Port Angeles next year, maybe we can get an apartment together."

Just as Edward opened his mouth to respond, the blonde head in the corner stood and turned towards Edward's table. Edward's heart thumped into his throat as he eyed Jasper helping Alice with her coat. He knew that Jasper and Bella had plans tonight. He couldn't understand why Jasper would be here with Alice when he should have been with Bella.

"Excuse me, Maggie," Edward said gently. "I need to make a phone call real quick." Maggie nodded as Edward hurried to the hallway that led to the bathrooms and pulled out his phone to dial Bella. The line rang and rang until her voicemail picked up causing Edward to huff in irritation and leave her a desperate message.

He returned to the table feeling nervous and unsure of what he should do. In his heart, he knew something wasn't right.

"Maggie, I'm really sorry, but I'm going to have to skip the movie tonight. Something has come up and one of my good friend's is in trouble."

"It's okay Edward. I have an exam that I really should study for," Maggie sighed, looking dejected.

"I promise to take a rain check," Edward offered her as he threw some bills down on the table and jetted out of the restaurant towards his car. It wasn't like him not to accompany a date to her front door and he knew that leaving Maggie as he did wasn't proper, but he couldn't find it in himself to care when his gut was telling him to find Bella.

He rocketed back towards Forks and drove by Bella's house first. It was completely dark, and the Chief's cruiser wasn't in the driveway, so he drove onto the only other place in Forks where a date would take place, The Diner.

As soon as he directed his car into the parking lot at The Diner, he saw her, standing outside under the awning, shivering and staring off into space.

"Bella," he called as he jumped out of the car. She didn't respond. "Bella," he called again as he approached her. He could see now her eyes were bloodshot and the shivers were causing her entire body to tremble.

"Come on," he sighed and pulled her towards his car. Once she was situated, he returned to the driver's seat and reached into the back to grab a sweatshirt for her.

"Please put this on," he begged, as her gaze remained locked to the front of the diner. Blindly, she reached for the sweatshirt and quickly wrapped herself into it.

"I don't want to go home," she croaked.

"You can come to my house," he offered. "My parents are in Seattle for the night."

She nodded, and Edward started the short drive to his home. Once they arrived, he led Bella into the kitchen and put on the teakettle so the water would boil. He wasn't sure if he wanted to avoid the conversation of what had transpired during her evening or not.

"He called me ten minutes before he was supposed to meet me and cancelled," she said hoarsely. "I broke up with him over the phone. I was so mad, Edward. How could I stay with him when he's done nothing but embarrass me for the past month?"

"I think it's hard to let go of something so familiar. You've been dating for four years, Bella. Breaking up isn't something to take lightly," Edward said, hoping he was offering her some comfort. He returned to the boiling kettle and fixed two mugs of tea for them.

"How did you know where I was?" she asked, sipping the tea. The shivers were slowly dying down as the tea warmed her body.

"It was just a guess," Edward shrugged.

"Didn't you have a date tonight?"

He hesitated with his answer, not wanting to admit that he'd seen Alice and Jasper in Port Angeles.

"Edward," she probed. "What happened?"

"I saw Jasper and Alice at the Italian restaurant in Port Angeles," he disclosed softly.

Bella remained silent as tears streamed down her face. He knew that hearing that would be hard for Bella, and thankfully, they only had a few months left before they graduated and went off to college, then she wouldn't have to encounter Jasper and Alice again.

"Make me forget," she whispered breathily.

"What?"

"Make me forget, Edward. Help me feel something beside this pain, this rejection."

He wasn't sure of what she was asking, but he knew what her intentions were as soon as her lips touched hers.

"Bella," he gasped, pulling away. "Not like this, baby."

"Please," she pleaded, desperation lacing her tone. "I'm so tired of thinking about Jasper and that skank. I'm tired of mulling over my failed relationship while he is having a grand time out with his new girl. I need you, Edward. I need you now more than ever."

It was impossible for him to deny her when she was begging as she was. He didn't want her to regret it, but Edward had it in his head that this could be the only chance he got with her. He didn't want to let it slip through his fingers.

"Give me five minutes," he breathed into her ear and pressed his lips against her neck. She nodded and he raced up to his room to light some candles and clean things up a bit. He made sure his bed was tidy, and then raced back downstairs to retrieve her.

"Edward," she gasped as she entered his room. "I don't need candles."

"I want this to be special for you, Bella."

"It already is," she whispered and pressed her lips to his once again. He threw all of his hesitations out the window and melted into the feeling of her tongue and mouth mingling with his own.

"You're so beautiful," he murmured as he coaxed her out of her clothes. He shed his own clothes and walked her backwards to the bed. Her skin was so soft, and his lips paid homage to every inch he could reach.

"So perfect," he mumbled, his lips caressing one nipple while his other hand tended to her opposite breast.

"Edward," she cried out, sensitive and besieged with his ministrations. "Please, I need you," she implored breathlessly.

Edward nodded and nipped at the skin below her ear before retrieving a condom and rolling it down his length. She gasped as he slowly entered her slick heat.

"You were made just for me," he groaned as he seated himself inside her. "You fit me like a glove."

"Edward," she whispered and pulled him into a kiss. Their hips rocked together as their lips remained locked in a passionate embrace.

His fingers explored her feminine curves as she explored the muscular planes of his chest, their eyes never roaming too far from each other. Edward wanted to drink her in and memorize this moment for the rest of his life.

"Fuck, baby, I'm not going to last much longer," Edward ground out.

"Me either, please, harder," she begged.

He obeyed, and moments later, they followed each other over the precipice. Panting and spent, they collapsed upon each other. Hands wandered and sleepy eyes drooped as the candles burned until they extinguished on their own.

"Stay with me tonight," Edward commanded. Bella nodded sleepily and curled into his side.

"Thank you," she whispered. "I never…I didn't know it could feel like that."

"Me either," he agreed. "I think I should be thanking you, though. You're the one that begged me to stick my dick in you," he joked.

"Edward," she gasped and lifted her head to glare at him, but ended up giggling. He smirked and gave her a salacious wink.

"Are you still going to UCLA next year?" Bella asked him quietly.

"Yep," he replied rubbing her back gently.

"That's where I'm going too," she confessed.

"Really?" he breathed in surprise. She nodded against his chest.

"I think I knew that Jasper and I weren't going to last, but ultimately I didn't want to be without you, Edward. You've become by best friend and now…well I'm hoping maybe we can become more."

"I'm okay with that," he agreed happily. "I'm more than okay with that."