This was my piece for the Fandom for LLS compilation. I'm so happy about all the money that was raised for that wonderful cause. Thank you to all that have donated.
Title: When I Was Yours
Author's Name: CullensTwiMistress
Summary: This smoky bar is like all the others, except when I see you walk in my fingers falter on the strings, and for a brief moment I wonder if you're actually here to see me. ExB; AH; Hurt/Comfort/Romance.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the Bruno Mars song that inspired some of this, but I do own the plot.
Beta'd by Midnight Cougar
"You ready, Edward?" Peter calls out from the left side of the stage, as Rosalie finishes her set and thanks the audience.
I nod, licking my lips and taking a sip from my beer. The guitar feels heavy in my hand, same as it always does before a set, even after years of playing.
I close my eyes, clearing my head when the crowd cheers for Rose as she exits the stage.
The stage lights go off and the house music comes on while I set up. It's warm in here, the air heavy from the lights and humid from all the bodies writhing inside the club.
Looking out into the crowd, I don't really see anyone. I know they're there. I can hear people, or more like chattering and loud whispers, over some pretty lame Britney Spears remix. In spite of this sad fact, the energy in the room is intoxicating. They are here for me. Well, some of them are, at least. I'm not stupid enough to think they're all here just for me. Some are here to enjoy Rose's soulful, bluesy voice and some are here because it's Saturday night and this is Forks.
Let's face it; the options are limited when it comes to finding something to do.
Stretching my neck from side to side, feeling it crack and loosening up, I look off to the bar where Felix gives me the signal, letting me know that I'm on in a few. I nod in acknowledgement, closing my eyes and adjusting the mic. It's not so much that I'm nervous; it's more of a rush of adrenaline that I need to hone in order to feel the crowd and give as much as I get. Feeding off their energy, I mentally prepare to walk out in front of them.
Fidgeting with the knobs, I get the guitar frequency adjusted right with the amp, just in time for the house music to stop and the stage lights to turn on.
"How are we doing tonight?" Greeting them seems to quiet them down to a dull roar, as well as rev them up as their eyes turn to me in anticipation.
I love it.
Looking over them, there are a few faces I recognize, and I smile, lifting my beer and taking a swig before putting it back down on the stool next to me. They yell and cheer me on, boosting the adrenaline and forcing it through my veins.
Like an addict, I get high and strum my guitar once, garnering their attention before swinging the strap over my shoulder and adjusting it. The first few notes send them into a frenzy and every sound, note and beat after that is received with an astounding mixture of quiet anticipation and loud cheer, as couples make their way to the dance floor and others drink while stomping their feet to the beat.
It's a full house tonight, like every other Saturday night at Jake's. My set lasts an hour and I eagerly belt out one solid, classic hit after another; bantering with the audience in between songs.
Feet tapping and fingers strum, eyes roam and lips move. It's typical. Exciting, yet the same.
My voice drifts around the room, reverberating against the walls and bouncing off the floor. I smirk as I watch a pretty blond mouth the words along with me. For a brief second I give her my attention and she winks thinking she has a chance. She doesn't.
The warmth from the overhead lights is almost overwhelming, but I'm able to shrug it off by losing myself in another song. Softer this time, my voice wraps around smooth lyrics that always remind me of a different time. A song that I always play at the end of my set.
It's been a great night, everything going on as planned, each song being cheered more than the last.
Until you walk in, reminding me of everything I lost to get here and why I sing this song.
September 2003 - Senior Year
"Yo, Edward!" Emmett bellows through the quad. He's my new neighbor and the only guy I know here. He seems nice, but he's pretty loud. I'm not used to that.
"Hi, Emmett. Can I help you with something?" I tuck my backpack over my shoulder and push up my glasses, sweeping the hair away from my face in the process. It's too long again, but at least this way I don't have to deal with fighting it in the morning. It always looks like crap when it's short.
"Just letting you know that you can sit with us at lunch time, all right? I'll introduce you to the group." Emmett pats my shoulder, and I flinch as his large hand makes contact with my frail body. I need to bulk up, but no matter what I do, it seems like I'll always be this skinny. Mom says I'm lucky. I'm a guy, so I don't think I am.
I find my classes easily and keep to myself. When biology comes around, I'm seated next to a pretty girl.
She happens to be you.
You avert your eyes, as do I. You look like the popular type, and from experience I don't usually mesh well with that sort of crowd.
Except for Emmett, but once he figures out what a nerd I am, he'll ditch me, I'm sure.
Class goes by quickly, and you, whose name I learn is Isabella, don't speak to me. It's better this way, I doubt you'd want me as a friend, anyway.
When lunch rolls around, I forego the cafeteria, and hide out in the library. It's safer there and I'm not ready for the prying eyes that usually accompany being the new kid. Dad says we're done moving around. I have a hard time believing that, but Mom is insistent this time that she won't move anywhere else for a while.
Moving during senior year is the worst thing that could have happened to me, but given that I didn't have too many friends at my last school, due to the fact I'd only been there six months, I suppose it's not that bad.
My fingers drum quietly over the table and my sandwich tastes bland while I once again get lost in a book. It doesn't matter which book; they're all the same. Science fiction with a hint of mystery. I haven't grown out of my Scooby Doo phase. Maybe someday I will.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" A soft voice alerts me that I'm not alone and I look up, mouth full and glasses sliding down my nose. "I didn't introduce myself earlier," you say, and I'm automatically transfixed.
Nodding, I swallow my food and wipe my mouth. "I'm sorry ... yeah ... erm, sure."
"I'm Bella," you say as you sit across from me. "Banner always gets in a tizzy if we talk in class. Emmett said you were supposed to sit with us. When you didn't show up, I figured you'd be here."
You're so pretty. Your smile is disarming and you look truly open, honest and, best of all, nice.
I fell in love with you that day.
"I didn't feel comfortable ... crowds." I shrug. My voice is quiet and I look around a little; paranoid and waiting for the inevitable. It never comes. You're there to talk to me, and from that day on, you make sure to be around at lunch. Some days, we eat alone just the two of us in the library; other days we eat with Emmett and his friends. It's all so very different from what I'm used to, and I feel like I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it doesn't.
You become a good friend to me. We have a lot in common and we're able to talk about anything and everything. You like it when I babble on about my travels, and I like hearing the stories about your dad and the things you say are boring.
You're so fascinating to me, and I wish I had the balls to tell you how I feel.
Because the kindness you've shown me has made my heart fall hard and the crush I have on you even harder to deny.
I'm not sure when it is that your feelings for me start to change, but after a few months of joking around and your constant support while I battle my insecurities and trust issues, you kiss me.
I'm stunned at first, and you pull back telling me you're sorry.
"What ... what does that mean, Bella?" I ask quietly. We're in my parents' basement doing homework. Well, you're doing homework, while I'm playing the guitar. I'm at one end of the sofa and you're at the other.
You love to hear me play and sometimes, I even sing for you. You look so happy when I do, so I don't say no. It's just the two of us, anyway, and I can never say no to you.
"I just ... Edward, I like you." You shrug and turn from me, your cheeks blazing. I would never have thought you liked me like that.
"You like me?" I ask, because I'm pretty sure I didn't hear that right. But my lips still tingle from the kiss you placed there earlier, while I was leaning over you to pick up my guitar pic.
You smile. "Yeah, I like you. God, Edward, why do you think I hang out with you?"
I shrug. "We're friends." You frown and look away. I don't like it so I man up and clarify quietly, "I like you, too."
You turn to me, and I can't help but lean your way when you put your hand on my arm. "Can I ... can we do that again?"
The hope in your eyes as you smile, licking your lips as though you're anticipating this, makes my heart soar and beat fast. "I've never kissed a girl, Bella," I say softly as I lean in and bring my lips to yours.
Your soft moan is my undoing and instinct kicks in. I quickly wrap my arms around your small frame and pull back a little only to tilt my head and kiss you again.
It feels like we've been doing this forever as you open your mouth to me and suck my bottom lip between your teeth. My entire body is going to combust, I swear. My heart hammers out of my chest and my dick presses against your hip. You don't seem to mind any of it as you push on my chest and straddle my lap right there on my mom's ratty old sofa.
That's a first of many kisses we share and once my mom finds out we're more than friends, she doesn't allow us to study alone in the basement anymore. I don't blame her though; lord only knows how far we'd go with things if left alone together. You can't keep your hands off me, and as much as I try, I can't stop touching you either.
Thankfully though, she isn't always there and we go out alone on dates together. Your friends become my friends and we all get along pretty well. My paranoia and sense of self-preservation quell down to a dull whisper, and for the first time in a long time I feel like a normal kid.
A little after the New Year, my cousin Alice and her mom move to Forks because Alice's dad left them and my aunt wants to be closer to her family - my mother. This means that we stay here permanently because Mom would surely castrate Dad if he makes us move again.
All in all, my senior year is actually pleasant. I have a girlfriend who loves me, and for the first time in my life, I have close friends. I'm still insecure about a lot of things, but I have you by my side, which makes me feel like the luckiest bastard around.
Eventually, things become more between us and when it feels right, we sleep together. You're my first and I know I'm not your first. I'm okay with that because, for some reason, I get the idea that I'll at least be your last.
That night, you're the epitome of what a loving partner should be. You make sure we're both into it, and I mean, I'm a seventeen-year-old boy, of course I'm into it, but you make sure that I don't feel like I'm letting you down.
We fool around at first and I make you cry out in ecstasy, which always makes me feel like the king of the world. Once we get down to business and I'm finally inside you, your loving words and encouragement when I only last about a minute, make the whole embarrassing debacle bearable.
When we do it again later that night, it's a lot better.
I have no regrets about experiencing any of that with you. You tell me you wish I could have been your first too, but we agree that it was probably better this way. At least one of us knew what to do.
During the last semester of senior year, we go to prom together. We're inseparable. It feels as though we'll always be together, but something nags at me when we start talking about our futures. I've lived everywhere in the world, traveling with my father while he was in the military. You've never left Forks and you want to travel. I don't want to come between you and your dreams, but I'm also selfish enough to keep from saying anything until the very end.
In the meantime, word travels around school that I can play the guitar and I start playing my music more with other people around. You love it and you say you love me. I love you too, so much that it hurts to know that I'm not going with you to NYU.
I know I won't survive without you, so I slowly start shutting down.
Somehow, our relationship gets pushed aside and without even noticing it, you start slipping away. I'm not sure how this happens. I know it's all my fault, and I think I'm doing this to make things easier on you. It's not like I set out to do it, but we're always arguing, and I finally break up with you a week before you leave for New York.
I tell myself it's for the best. I'm doing this for you. You don't need me to drag you down. I'm going to UW to get a music degree, while you're heading across the country to become a teacher.
You deserve better than a musician as a husband and that's what hardens me to the fact you're not there anymore.
By the time I'm able to process what I've done, it's too late and you're gone.
Our friends are pretty pissed at me, but Emmett seems to get it and sticks around. Your dad hates my guts, and I don't blame him.
I spend the next four years shutting myself off to other people. I concentrate on my studies and earn that degree.
I date a little bit, and with a roommate like Emmett, I start to buff up. My insecurities are still there lingering underneath the surface, but somehow once I'm on stage, I'm able to push them aside and move past everything I've lived through.
Getting rid of the glasses feels weird, even weirder is getting a haircut after being told by Alice that the "grunge" look is out.
The chick that cuts my hair, Angela, asks me out and becomes the only other girlfriend I've ever had.
She's sweet and everything I should want, but with you in the back of my mind, I'm unable to give myself fully to her. She notices and breaks up with me a year later.
My heart doesn't ache when she leaves; I think it's still broken from losing you.
It's you. I'd recognize those big, brown eyes anywhere; deep pools that sucked me in ten years ago, back when I was new in town and you were the nice, popular girl that opened up and wanted to be my friend.
I don't know why you're here tonight. I haven't seen you since that summer when I broke your heart and shattered mine.
I've loved you unconditionally every day since and haven't stopped kicking my own ass for letting you go.
My voice falters and my fingers miss a string, but I quickly recover once your eyes meet mine and recognition registers in your features.
You haven't changed your appearance, but I have.
The last time you saw me, I had long scraggly hair and glasses. Time has been good to me and I'd like to think that you like what you see. It's not as if you didn't like it before, of course, but I'm more secure in who I've become. I remember how sweet you were, always reassuring me that you were mine. If only I would have believed you, maybe I wouldn't have let you go.
I was insecure and shy, and I loved you too much to drag you down with me. My insecurities would have done nothing but tear us apart. You had to move on and go off to the Big Apple to take that scholarship. I didn't want to ruin that for you. Your parents weren't rich and you needed an education. I wasn't selfish enough to keep you.
I've since gained confidence and a certain peace within myself that I wouldn't have had if you'd stuck around. I went my own way; found my own muse. I became a teacher too, Bella. We have that in common now. I love the kids I teach, and on the weekend Jake lets me headline the open mic night.
And up until now, I've done nothing but wish you'd come in and see what you made happen. This is all you, Bella. I had to let you go, to realize what I wanted for myself.
You were always so damn protective of me. Always defending me to everyone. You loved me and I screwed it up because I was afraid.
I'm not afraid anymore, Bella.
With my eyes still on yours, I sing the last verse to what used to be our song. I then thank my audience for coming to see me. These people who are my friends, acquaintances and co-workers, all know who I am and what I've become. I'm happy here now.
I find you near the bar and tap your shoulder. "Bella?"
You turn and look up at me, eyes watery and smile a mile wide. It's like time stands still as you take me in. "Edward?"
I resist the urge to touch you, hold you, because if I do I'll never let you go, and Lord knows I know nothing about you. Not like I used to. "What? How?"
I can't believe you're here. My eyes wander all over your face, taking in each dimple and freckle. You haven't changed much. You're still as beautiful as ever, if not more. Your hair is longer than what it used to be, but I figure you've had many haircuts since you left for college.
My fingers itch to touch you. I want to hug you and see if you still fit, tucked under my chin. I want to bury my face in your hair and see if it still smells the same. I've missed you so much, it's messed me up for anyone else. You ruined me, but I have never hated you for it.
"I just got back. I missed my dad ... I wanted to come home," you explain with a trembling smile as a single tear makes its way down your cheek.
"Don't cry, Bella." I wipe the tear off your cheek and resist kissing you. I want to hold you more than anything. It's like time stops and I can't believe you're right here. My fingers burn where they've touched your skin; they ache to touch you again to see if you're real.
You close your eyes and step off your bar stool. "Edward, I ..." When you look up, my heart stops. I see something in your eyes; something that was there when we were together.
My heart flutters and I can't believe how lucky I am that you're really here this time. I'm not imagining this. It's not a dream, and if it is, I never want to wake up.
"Come with me?" I ask, and I'm prepared to argue until you agree. I need to talk to you. I need to tell you everything.
You nod and take my hand in yours. "Okay."
Still riding my adrenaline high, I'm stunned that I haven't had to fight you on this. You were always so opinionated. "My place okay?"
I watch your face carefully; I don't want you to do something you don't want to.
"Yeah, that's fine." Your voice is sure and steady. Your smile returns and you look almost ... hopeful.
I don't give you a choice when I guide you to my car after picking up my guitar backstage.
The ride home is short, and I watch out the corner of my eye as you fidget with your purse. "Don't be nervous."
I pull up into the driveway and park the car in the garage, then lead the way inside the house.
"It's a little messy. Sorry, it's just me and Sophie and she's not really the type to pick up after herself." When I look up and see the look on your face, what I've just said registers and I add, "Sophie's my cat."
You nod and relax as I take your coat and hang it on the hook by the door. "Don't be so nervous, Bella. It's just me."
"I'm not ... I mean, I know. It's just ... I didn't expect to see you there ... like that." You fidget again and this time, I don't hesitate to take your hand in mine.
"I've been singing in that bar for the last five years. Every Saturday without missing a beat." I squeeze your fingers reassuringly.
You look up, searching my face. It's almost as if you don't believe I'm here. Strange thing is I really think I'm dreaming, too. This is too good to be true.
"Alice never said ... She was supposed to meet me there," you say, frowning.
I smirk, shaking my head. My cousin is anything but subtle. "She knew I was there, Bella."
You gasp, clearly annoyed. "But I asked ..."
"You asked about me?" I grin as my heart soars.
"Edward, I've asked about you every time I called her. She's never said ... She didn't even tell me you lived in Forks."
"Alice ... I'll throttle her. I've been here for the last five years or so," I explain and take your hand, threading our fingers together. They still fit. Perfectly.
You look down at our joined hands. "And your music? She's never ... I would have come back earlier, Edward."
"I'm a music teacher." Your eyes meet mine. "You inspired me." A grin tugs at my lips. I can't remember being any happier.
"I've been away ... Africa ... Europe ... I've been everywhere, trying to find ... a life. But, my life is here," you admit, the last part coming out in a murmur.
"You're here to stay?" Your parents will be thrilled. Charlie still gives me the stink eye for breaking up with you. I'm not sure they know I did it for your own good.
You nod. "I'm Forks High School's newest English teacher."
You smile, then we both do.
I lean forward and press my lips to yours. I can't even control myself. Not after this long being without you.
I should have kept you. I should have given you flowers and cherished you. I should have done so much more than toss you aside like I did, but in the end, we both got what we needed.
Your tongue greets mine, mingling. Your breathing is just as off as mine is, and I'm transported back to ten years ago when you kissed me in my parents' basement for the first time.
"Stay," I say, pulling back and running my nose down your throat and kissing that spot below your ear. "Please, stay."
My confidence soars as you wrap your arms around my neck and pull me against you, putting your lips to mine again. This time, we both lose ourselves in this kiss. It's as if time stops and it's just you and me.
"I don't want to go anywhere, Edward. I don't want to be with anyone else," you say and wipe a tear from your cheek. "I had a hard time forgiving you, but once I understood, I lived. I did everything I wanted to do, but now I want you, if you'll have me."
I bury my face in your neck and inhale the still familiar smell of your shampoo, grateful it never changed. "Stay with me. Tonight. Always. Don't go away. Ever again." I kiss you and pull you against me. "Don't ever leave me again. I promise; I'll never let you go, Bella."
You smile and kiss me. "I want us to have a second chance. I didn't come here expecting this, but I want to see if we can have that again."
"You have it all wrong, Bella. I'm the one who's never been able to really let you go. I've never been happier than when I was yours."