Thank you to ShearEnvy, bashfulfan and roglows for being wonderful.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

I wake up gasping, like I haven't taken a breath in minutes. My chest hurts and my face is wet with tears. My nightmares are silent, so I'm surprised when I see Edward sitting on the floor by my bed. Usually no one comes. He wipes at his cheeks, his other palm pressed against mine, warm fingers that don't let go. I've never seen him cry, not even when he broke his arm skateboarding last summer.

"What are your bad dreams about?" I ask in a whisper.

It takes him a long time to answer, but he does. He tells me about his older sister's husband hitting her and how distant his father is. He tells me how he worries that he won't ever get out of this neighborhood; that he'll end up selling weed with Jasper and living a block from where we grew up his whole life.

I tell him about how I hear my parents fighting and how Emmett won't acknowledge it. I tell him I don't understand why I was the lucky one that didn't get abducted.

"I've never been that scared in my whole life," he says. His knuckles are still healing. I run my fingers lightly over them. He watches our hands, his skin rough against mine.

"I never said thank you."

He shakes his head. "You didn't need to."

We sit in silence for a while.

We talk for the rest of the night, him with his back against my nightstand and me laying at the edge of my bed, our faces close so we can hear each other whisper. When the sun starts to rise, he moves closer.

"Have you had your first kiss?" he asks. I shake my head, my chin resting on my arm.

I don't move a muscle as he leans in, pausing to tell me to close my eyes. It's sweet and short, but if there was any doubt I'm in love with him it disappears the second our lips touch.

The next morning over breakfast, it's like it never happened except when my parents have a tense conversation at the table. Emmett just eats like he doesn't hear it but Edward meets my eyes long enough that I know he's acknowledging the night before.

I'm hopeful the next night but less so as the days, then weeks, go by and he doesn't show up in my room again.

After a while I'm sure I dreamed it.

Emmett doesn't wake me up, but I can hear him downstairs laughing. Curiosity finally gets me out of bed and I walk into the kitchen to find him with Jasper and Rosalie, rehashing the night.

Jasper looks like shit and he's got a joint tucked behind his right ear. Rosalie looks pretty, even hungover with makeup smudged under her eyes. Emmett's at the stove with his back to me.

"Morning," I say, heading for the fridge. Before Emmett can start asking me questions about my night, I act offensively. "Was my brother giving you a footrub last night?" I ask Rose, pulling out the orange juice.

Her jaw drops open, then closes. She glances at Emmett, whose cheeks are red.

"Oh shit," Jasper says, drawing the words out and looking between the two of them.

"Because when I got home, you were both passed out on the couch and he was holding your feet. It was actually kind of sweet."

"Nothing happened," both of them say, but not with the vehemence I've come to expect from their relationship.

Jasper and I raise our eyebrows at each other while Rose and Emmett pretend to be absorbed in their food.

Jasper tells us about his night, puking off a balcony and passing out in Tanya's parents bed. Neither of these things surprise me.

Edward doesn't show. I guess I expected him to be here, like he would be as anxious to see me as I am to see him.

After Jasper and Rose leave, I spread my homework out on my bed but don't even pretend I can concentrate. I get out my Discman and go back to my favorite album and my favorite song. Kurt Cobain's voice contains every feeling I have, so I let it do the work, not letting myself think.

My mom brings home dinner, popping her head in my door to let me know it's time to eat. I turn down the music just enough so I can hear her.

"Edward's here, so if you want to get anything to eat you'd better get down there," she says as she walks away.

I sit up in bed, yanking my headphones off. Sure enough, I hear Edward's voice downstairs.

I'm a mess, so I twist my hair up in a bun and throw on a clean t-shirt.

When I walk into the kitchen, he looks up. His smile is slight but it's there. My heart pounds.

"Are there any egg rolls left?" I ask. It's a familiar point of contention between me and my brother.

"Nope." I swat him on the back of the head. "What? I was starving."

"Sorry. So was I. Ben called in sick so I worked all day," Edward says, his way of explaining why he took so long. I give him a small smile.

I'm suddenly too nervous to eat. My mom takes a cream cheese wonton and eats it while she tells us about her weekend. I pretend to eat my beef with broccoli and try to look casual.

Through the entire meal I wait for him to say something, to confess to Emmett. They talk about football, work and the weather. By the time they get to the weather I'm ready to kill Edward. And when he gets up from the table... I give up hope.

My mom pats his shoulder as he walks to the back door.

"Bella. Trash," she says, handing me the bag. For once, I don't complain. Edward holds the door open, telling Emmett he'll see him tomorrow.

He tries to take the bag from me but I ignore him, making it all the way to the trash can and trying to lift it in. I struggle for a minute before he grabs it, dropping it in like it weighs nothing.

"I'm sorry," he says. I cross my arms against the chill.

"I thought…" I don't finish. I feel stupid now, like I should have known this would happen.

"I'll tell him. I just need a little time to figure out how."

He's sincere. I look back at the house. No one seems to be watching. "So until then you're going to sneak into my room in the middle of the night?"

"I shouldn't have done that." He sounds serious.

I choose honesty. "I haven't been able to think about anything else."

It doesn't surprise me that he doesn't answer, but he does smile.

I start walking backwards toward the house, looking him over. He looks as boyish as ever, his hands shoved in his pockets. There's stubble on his face and his hair is perfectly messy.

"If you do knock, I'll let you in," I say.

He smiles, shaking his head. "You're trouble."

I turn and walk back into the house, forcing myself not to turn back.

Tanya is in the same lunch period as me. She's sitting a few tables away from me and Rose, tears on her cheeks as she spins the story of how Edward broke up with her. We can hear snippets of her explanation of how Mike Newton took advantage of her.

Rose rolls her eyes. "High school is so tragic."

I shrug and she narrows her eyes.

"What's going on with you?"

Swallowing hard, I look down, realizing too late that I'm totally acting weird. "Why?"

"You look...tired." I get the feeling it's not the word she originally chose.

Edward didn't show up last night but he called just as I was getting into bed, pretending he was calling for Em. We talked for two hours. I've been fighting my eyelids all morning.

"I couldn't sleep," I say, hoping it's enough of an explanation.

"You have, like, crazy bags under your eyes."

I roll them. "Thanks."

She grins.

"Jasper wants to smoke a joint after school. Edward said he's down before he goes to work."

"Sure. Whatever."

"Edward can give us a ride home, then."

I decide to fuck with her a little, even though she swears nothing happened. "Are you sure you don't want to stay and watch Emmett's practice?"

"Ugh. Football. No way." Like before, her words lack their usual venom.

I grin at her and she sticks her middle finger up at me. "Bitch."

Sometimes I actually do like to stay and watch Emmett practice, working on my homework in the stands if it's not too cold. I love to be there for the moment when the sun sets and they flip on the stadium lights, the players' breath coming out in white puffs. Every now and then Emmett will look up at me between plays, raising a hand up in the air. It's the time that I feel most affection from him, even though we're too far away to speak to each other.

It hits me that next year I won't have those moments with him. I won't have any of them here, actually. The thought of a year without Emmett, Edward and Jasper feels empty.

The rest of the day passes quickly. Maybe it's just exhaustion but by the end of the day I'm officially in a funk. It takes me longer than usual to pack up my school books. The buses are gone and Edward is pulled up in front of the school when I walk out. I get into the backseat next to Rose, dropping my bag on the floor. Jasper lights the joint as we pull away, passing it to Edward, who takes it without looking.

He looks at me in the rearview mirror as he exhales. I'm the first to look away. Rosalie is giving us a rundown of her day and Jasper tells a story I barely hear. Edward laughs and I suddenly want out of this car. I feel a loneliness that I shouldn't feel among my best friends. When she tries to hand me the joint I shake my head.

We pull up to Rose's house first. She frowns, touching my arm before she gets out. "You okay?"

I nod and she accepts it.

Jasper's next, drizzling eye drops and popping gum as we pull up to his house. He walks with one hand holding up his baggy jeans. I think half of his problems with his parents would disappear if he'd wear pants that fit.

I get into the front seat, clicking my seat belt into place. The whole drive I can see him glancing at me out of the corner of my eye. He pulls over a block from my house, turning to face me.

"What's up?" he asks. He's not asking in a small talk kind of way.

Before I answer I take a minute to really think about what's bothering me.

"Tanya was sitting in the caf crying over you at lunch today."

He brings both hands up to run his fingers through his hair. I recognize frustration but I'm not willing to suppress my own.

"You've gone out with a lot of girls. I get that. I don't expect you to apologize for it." Even though I say it, a little part of me kind of wants him to. "But how do you think it makes me feel that you want to keep this a secret?"

"I explained why. I just need time to figure out how to tell Emmett."

"How long will that take?"

He doesn't answer fast enough.

"Maybe we should just forget about it." The second it's out of my mouth I feel awful.

He sighs. "Emmett cares about you more than you may know, Bella." There's a lot he's not saying. Like that Emmett will be mad...and he's afraid that it will hurt their friendship. My mood darkens further.

"So you're saying...we should forget about it."

He's quiet. I open the car door and get out, pausing when he says my name.

"Your bag," he says, nodding to the back seat.

I wait until I get to my room to cry. This time I don't need a song to find feeling.

Emmett pokes his head in the door when he gets home from practice. My mom is working a night shift. "You didn't start dinner?" he asks, before he sees my face. He steps in.

Despite the last few days, I don't cry very often and if I do it's not in front of Emmett. I sit up, using my palms to dry my face. He must have showered at school. He's wearing a sweatsuit plastered with the school's mascot.

Without saying anything, he sits on my bed, still not getting very close to me. "What's wrong?"

"Do you ever wish…" I get choked up and have to wait until I can speak again. "...everything could be like when we were kids again?"

When I look up at my brother I see a familiar pain. He rarely lets it show.

He holds his arm out and after a moment of hesitation, I slide forward so it's around my shoulders. The gesture makes me cry harder. We've never done this. Never really mourned our losses together, though we suffered the same ones.

When I calm down he rubs my back a few times and lets me go. I grab a tissue off of my nightstand and blow my nose. His eyes look a little red.

"How 'bout I make grilled cheese?"

I smile. It's what my mom always makes us when we had a bad day.

In the kitchen he cooks while I sit at the breakfast nook, my chin resting on my knees. He tells me about football practice, the blocks he made and his predictions for their next game. I listen, but mostly I watch him, wishing I had known the whole time that I was supposed to be memorizing all of this; that I had realized it wouldn't last forever.

Edward doesn't call that night. He doesn't show up.

I decide to really try to forget about it.

I race Emmett to the phone, smiling smugly at him when I get there first. He rolls his eyes and goes back to his room. I know he's hoping it's Rose. He finally sucked it up and asked her out on a date. He's bringing her to an Italian restaurant tonight. I'm truly happy for them.


"Bella?" My dad's voice inspires something different in me than it used to.

"Hey Dad," I say, twisting the cord around my finger.

Emmett comes out of his room with his giant football bag over his shoulder. He's got a Saturday practice. He nods at me, in one gesture acknowledging that it's our dad and that he doesn't want to talk to him. I give Em something approximating a smile.

My dad and I engage in the obligatory small talk before he gets down to business.

"I wanted to talk to you about Sue."


My heart sinks. "I'm going to propose."

"Oh wow," I say, hoping it sounds sincere enough. I can't help thinking about how my mom and Emmett will react to the news.

"I was hoping we could reschedule next weekend."

I was supposed to stay at his condo.

"I already told your mother. She said she'd tell Emmett…" he fades off. He doesn't often bring Em up to me. I sense his sadness about it.

"Congratulations, Dad. I really like Sue." It's not a lie.

"Could we see you the weekend after next?"

"Definitely." I make my voice strong.

We say our goodbyes and I hang up the phone, taking a minute to think through the conversation. I wonder if Emmett already knows.

I've spent the last three weeks trying not to think about Edward. Now I want to forget about this, too.

There's one person I know I can count on to keep my mind occupied. I pick up the phone and dial.

Jasper was wrong. Whiskey and grape soda do not taste good together.

"Aren't you Emmett's little sister?" a girl asks, chewing a piece of gum like a cow.

She and a redhead exchange a look I'm all too familiar with.

"Yeah," I answer, my tone flat.

"Tell him I said hi," she says. I don't know her name and don't ask.

"I'm going to go...get another drink." I stand, wandering into the kitchen. This is a typical, disgusting boy house. The guys who live here were seniors last year. If the kitchen is any indication, all they've done since they graduated is drink beer and eat pizza.

I left Emmett a note but it's getting late and I bet he's starting to worry. I find Aro. He sells weed to most everyone in our high school. He and Jasper are well acquainted.

"Can I use your phone?" I have to talk loud to be heard over the music.

He shakes his head. "Marcus spent the utility money at the strip club." He laughs and I grimace. "Your brother know you're here?"

"Sort of. He's the one I need to call."

Jasper's telling a story to a group of people behind us. He's already faded, his movements wild and his voice louder than it should be. When he spots me, he hands me a blunt. I hit it and cough.

"There's a payphone up the street," Aro says. He looks around at the crowd in his house. "I don't mean to sound like your dad but it's getting late and it's about to get rowdy. Em would trip if he knew you were here."

I don't disagree and I even feel bad about it but I take another sip off the nasty drink in my hand. I must be high because I'm smiling.

"He's on a date with Rosalie," I tell Aro.

"Lucky bastard," Aro says, grinning.

Jasper throws an arm over my shoulders and tells a dirty joke that makes me laugh. He hands me the blunt again.

I laugh a lot. Jasper stays with me the whole night. Alice shows up but only to show off her new boyfriend. After she leaves, Jasper's emotional, telling me and the two girls I shunned earlier in the night about how he fucking loves Alice and thinks she's the coolest girl he's ever met. Eventually I declare the girls my new best friends. We play beer pong. I smoke a cigarette and like each time I do, I hate it. It makes my eyes water. We dance to music from a tinny boombox in the kitchen.

By the time Edward shows up I'm wasted. I yell his name from across the room and, when he approaches, I stand on my toes to plant a kiss on his lips. He doesn't let go of my waist but he doesn't kiss me back.

"Time to go, kid," he says.

I take a step back. "Kid?" I ask.

"You don't want your brother showing up here. Let's go." He nods toward the door.

I don't think Jasper notices that Edward is here. I kick his foot and he holds up a hand but he keeps making out with a girl wearing a pink tube top. I look around the party and see a few people passed out. The crowd has thinned considerably.

"What time is it?" I ask.

"Three," Edward says.

"In the morning?" Reality crashes into me and I spin around looking around for my coat. Edward holds it out so I can put it on. We spend ten minutes looking for my purse and find it on top of the microwave in the kitchen. I laugh when I discover it there.

"I don't know what happened. I was having fun," I explain as I follow him to his car. I know I'm smiling and shouldn't be, but can't help it. He opens my car door for me and shuts it. It's not until he gets in and we drive away that I realize he's pissed off. His jaw is clenched.

"Pull over," I say.

He does.

"Are you sick?" he asks, looking at me.

I shake my head, leaning over to kiss him. He backs out of my reach and I shift back to my side of the car.

"I don't get it. You get with all these girls but-"

He finally snaps. "Just because I don't talk about it doesn't mean I bang every girl you see me with. I didn't sleep with Tanya."

We sit in silence. My head is clouded and I shake it, trying to form a linear thought. Only one floats through the haze. "I think tomorrow I'm going to feel really stupid about this."

I'm vaguely aware that I shouldn't have said that out loud.

He pulls back onto the road and we don't say anything else until he pulls up in the alley. I can see the kitchen light is on. Emmett will be waiting up, I'm sure. I'm lucky my mom isn't home. "You're always driving me around, taking care of me. Why?"

I want him to say something sweet. I want to kiss him again.

He sighs. "You should go inside."

I slam the door behind me like a pouty little kid. He waits for me to get inside before he pulls away all the same.

I get a lecture that would be a whole lot more effective if I wasn't drunk. I tell Emmett as much and go to bed without even taking my shoes off.

As I'm passing out I'm vaguely aware of Emmett coming into my room. I hear him set a glass of water on my nightstand.

Something tells me tomorrow is going to be rough.

One chapter left. Missing you already.