Author's Note: No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is an update. Sorry I've taken so long; I promised myself I wasn't going to be that author that stopped updating halfway through a story. I've just been busy, and to be honest, lost interest in this story. But I found it. So no worries.
Disclaimer: I do not own, only play. These are Stephanie Meyer's characters.
Moon, full circle, hanging in the sky. It was dull and big and boring and hidden from all the lights of the city. It followed their car down the streets, always on their left side, never leaving. It might have single-handedly been the only consistent thing in Bella's life. That, and perhaps Gossip Girl.
Her fingers dabbled in the girl's hair, straight and bronze. Alice's small shoulders slumped over on Bella's knees, her head resting on Bella's lap. A sigh was released and Bella wasn't sure if it was Alice's or her own but it filled the whole back seat and became the mood for the rest of the ride.
While combing her friend's hair, Bella absently kept her eyes out the window. She avoided meeting the eyes in the rearview mirror, which she was almost sure of were trying to meet hers. And as every second, every minute, somehow seemed shorter, it was a surprise when the car had stopped and she was in front of her dorm building.
There was a T.V in a cage hanging up in the corner wall. A news channel was on, something neutral, something with words paneling the bottom screen, something for background noise.
Knees crossed, arms crossed, tucked to her chest, Bella waited silently in the holding lobby. Frequently, when she would see officers walk by her and thinking one of them may be dealing with Alice's case, Bella would motion to stand only to falter back down into her seat when the officer would pass her by. Disappear through a door in the back. A door that said "Personnel Only".
She'd pay attention who walked in and out of the front doors. She half expected to see wild things, crazy things; things that would frighten her. Perhaps a drug dealer aggressively trying to escape handcuffs. Perhaps a homeless man, half dressed, being dragged by the clothes he did have. But no such activity took place and Bella wasn't sure if she was calmed by the idea or not.
Eventually, when a man stalked in; a man who stood out from the rest, stalked in, it brought the brunette to her feet and she went to him. And because 'keeping it casual' seemed moot at this point, he went about his high tempered comments and questions immediately.
"I was worried when you called. Are you okay? Where is she?"
Bella just focused the doughy parts of his mouth; his speech coming out in a rushed and hushed voice. She gave herself a minute before answering.
"Yeah," monotone and brusque, she continued, "They're holding her in the back until she can post bail."
A look was exchanged between the two before anything was said; the T.V. still playing in the back.
"How much is her bail?" Edward Cullen asked in a concise tone.
The girl danced in her spot for a second, bouncing her leg. She felt embarrassed.
Actually, she felt as if she would throw up.
Slowly, he rubbed the sides of his mouth, down his chin, before looking from the back door to her again. He noticed her face went pale.
"$1,000," he mimicked her, "What was her charge?"
"This was stupid, I'm sorry for calling you," Bella started, "I shouldn't have dragged you—"
He motioned closer to her, ignoring her fidgeting state. He tried to pry away the attention the two were now getting from the other bystanders in the room. He asked her again.
"Bella, what was the fucking charge?" He didn't ask this way because he was mad. He asked this way because it was like pulling teeth with Bella. Always. There were some things that never seemed to change.
She wiped at her face, not looking at him. "Public urination."
A beat. "Are you kidding me?"
She shook her head.
When she didn't say anything else, Edward figured a further explanation was not in the cards for him and he thought about just talking with an officer himself. He glazed over her exhausted stature, the way she clutched onto her jacket, and her drifty facial expressions. Again, he let out another sigh while stroking his cheek.
Edward asked out of slight pity. "Well, are you going to tell me why or is Alice?" When Bella still didn't answer, he tried another angle. "Bella, what are you expecting from me?"
In all honesty, Bella was expecting him to pay the $1,000, as ludicrous as that sounded. It was an awful request of him and she knew it. Alice knew it.
Her throat became rusty with her words. "I'm sorry. I really shouldn't have called you. I just—I don't have the money and Alice doesn't have the money and I can't call her parents right now and I didn't know what else to do."
It was a quick touch of the shoulder but it was gone before it was even there, really, and Edward gestured for her to just calm the fuck down in easier and more appropriate words but this phrase was all that was screaming at her from inside his head. Another sigh was released and fluttered onto her face, and this too, had a calming effect that put Bella back into a less detrimental state.
"Stop. It's fine. I just need to know why Alice was charged."
Bella eyed the hand that touched her, finding it to be nondescript in every way possible. Then she exhaled deliberately before mumbling out the words "She was taking a pregnancy test."
Edward didn't ask why.
He didn't ask as they all left the police station, or in the car on the way to the girls' dorms, or even as they stepped out and Bella mouthed a small thank you.
Alice did this too and then walked ahead of Bella, finding the embarrassment of what had happened too overbearing to think about anything else. However, Edward stopped Bella from following her friend, asking if he could talk with her for a moment. Bella motioned for Alice to go on without her.
He asked her to get into the passenger seat and so she did.
When he turned off the car and listened as the engine went out, the silence grew stronger even though the background noise of the city grew louder. And even though all of it was just sound, the two of them could feel it on their skin.
It was uncomfortable.
"Thank you, again. Alice said she's going to pay you back."
Edward's lips fell into a tight line across his face. "That's not necessary."
"It wouldn't be financially responsible if she didn't."
His laugh was faint and hollow. "She has enough loans as it is."
When Bella didn't say anything back, she really felt the silence bore through and rip holes into their conversation. Taking it as the signal to leave, she reached for her door handle and opted out to leave.
But Edward cleared his throat. "I appreciate that it was me you called."
Her hand slid off the handle slowly, shutting the door back closed.
"To be honest," Bella sighed, combing back her hair, "I didn't know who else to call."
He looked to her, allowing his eyes to graze her plain face. "Is it because I have money?"
Bella didn't lie. "Yes."
"Is it also because you still trust me?"
Again, Bella didn't choose to lie. There was no reason to. "I don't know."
Edward didn't push things, and he let her leave at her own time, which she chose quite shortly after her reply. She offered him a smile and said good night before exiting his car and disappearing into the building.
There was no way to tell if he had dug an even deeper hole for himself but he concluded that some things, still, do never change.
The roommates didn't talk about the elephant sized situation. They didn't care to even acknowledge that it was weighing in on their tiny dorm room and swallowing them whole every time they entered through the door.
Alice still wasn't talking to Rose and Bella still wasn't talking to Rose and Rose still wasn't talking to Leah and it seemed that everyone still wasn't talking to everyone. Averting the cause of the situation almost seemed worse than averting the situation itself.
Occasionally, Bella found herself studying places elsewhere; not even campus based. She'd go to Promontory Point Park and sit on the grass with her books and laptop and found the space liberating in ways the library, or basically, anywhere else, didn't. Nightfall would come sooner than she would think and she would stare at the star-soaked lake and start feeling very sad about things.
She'd look at her short, bare nails and feel sad and she'd look at her jeans and feel sad and she'd pull a brown strand down between her eyes, passed her nose, and feel sad and mostly, she'd think of Edward and feel sad.
Alice never wanted to talk about her pregnancy scare or why she had done the stupid thing she had done and Bella supposed that it had something to do with her fight with Rose. But once, while sitting atop their individual beds, Bella had looked over at Alice and saw her crying.
"What was it like?" And this question could have meant a lot of things; Bella asking with its purpose being open. What was it like being overweight? What was it like after the weight loss? What was it like being with a guy for the first time? What was it like when you thought you were pregnant? What was it like being in jail? What was it like feeling excluded from people? What was it like now?
Alice looked up with her eyes melting on her face. "It was scary." And perhaps this had answered all of those.
Rose had ran into Leah at the library. It was a mutual passing; both girls acknowledging the other, statements written behind eyes but no actual words being expressed by either.
In slow motion, though, it would be Leah's thumb pressing into the thigh of her jeans and her nose curling around Rose's perfume in the air. And it would be Rose's slant eye roll that followed Leah's hair strands against a window and Rose's tongue bruising the inside of her own cheek. And more odd movements from both of them but lost under the reality of their fast-paced escapes.
But nothing was really ever simple anymore and both girls pretended they were strangers until they disappeared from sight. Then both would spend countless hours thinking back to direct descriptions of the other. They would play the 'what if's and 'but only's and 'maybe so's and never come to a complete conclusion.
Because Rose was still in love with Leah.
And Leah—Leah was still making excuses.
Edward's apartment was cold because the day was hot and Edward hated the heat. He was sitting on his bed the way children do and Bella was sitting the way adults do and both of them weren't speaking but this silence wasn't harsh.
They were facing one another with that certain distance that made one question how close in relation to each other they really were. Even Bella didn't know that answer but she figured this was her doing as she had been the one to press pause first.
She knew exactly what she looked like. She knew exactly what Edward was examining on her face, on her body; she knew what he was paying attention to and what he wasn't.
She had on mascara but nothing else. She had on Alice's tights and sweater and nothing else.
She didn't have on her face piercings and she didn't have on her platform shoes and if she pretended hard enough she didn't have on her tattoos either because her clothes covered them up.
Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Bella's train of thought was lost on its track and slammed against her brain. She almost spit the words out loud but Edward's face stopped her. He read sorrow mixed with confusion mixed with anxiety. Perhaps he had thoughts screaming at him too.
I like you. I like you. I like you. Bella covered her mouth sub-consciously to fight herself.
Edward touched his chin like there may have been something there, and when there was nothing, his eyes traced shapes in Bella's cheeks.
"It was hard being with you. People stared and I wasn't used to it. And I think it was the fact that they were staring at me more than they were staring at you that I didn't like," Edward started off slowly, "My parents have claws in me because I let them."
Bella said nothing, letting herself fill with air before letting it all back out.
"I really liked everything about you. Your hair and style—you were sexy and edgy and I think it made me think I was sexy and edgy." The blush on his cheeks reddened. "But I didn't invite you to the party not just because my father said not to. I didn't because I thought you didn't belong there. And I'm sorry I feel that way."
It didn't go unnoticed that his use of the word 'feel' remained in the present tense.
"And I'm not going to lie. I was relieved. Brown hair, no makeup… jeans—it's… better. But I missed you instantly. I missed you. I miss you."
Edward's hand cupped her neck, bringing her face under his breath. Feeling the heat from his own skin brush on hers; it ate her like it was alive and hungry.
"I crave you," he whispered into her jaw; his lips moving against the soft tuff of her skin. "You don't even know how important you are." He resisted her mouth, letting his touch linger only on her chin and cheek. He pulled back only an inch so he could see her eyes.
"Tell me. Why are you still dressing like this? You've proved your point." With his other hand, he rubbed it against her jean-clad knee.
Her swallow hanging in her throat, Bella branded herself to his question, searching for every possible way to answer it. It took her a while before she could.
"I wanted to see what it felt like."
And… I feel sad.
"Do you like me now?" She chose to ask him.
Edward's fingers gently trailed along the tip of her spine, rolling over her shoulder, and to her neck again where he kept his thumb over her cheek apple. It puckered at him.
"Do you prefer me now?"
"I prefer you any way."
Bella remained silent.
"I'm sorry," he whispered to her, "I'm really sorry."
This time it finally felt real.
Rose's knuckles sparked sunsets across her hands. They hurt too but she continued to hammer them against the door. Finally, a petite girl opened the door and offered a surprised yet demeaning look towards the guest.
"Bella's not here," Alice stated with a bored expression. It was the first thing she had said to Rose in over a couple of weeks.
"Bella's not who I'm looking for," Rose replied. Her grimace was delayed but appropriate to how she felt. Clutching the door frame in hopes Alice wouldn't close the door on her, she motioned to come inside.
Alice only complied after some thought and left the door open as she disappeared back into the room.
"Bella once told me you're good with factorials."
The small girl stopped at her desk, turning to Rose with confusion of her blunt comment. She made a face and crossed her arms over her chest.
"I need help or I'm not going to pass this final," Rose continued.
Again, Alice was caught off guard and a bit—for the lack of a more stimulating word—frustrated.
"After everything, you're asking for my help? I don't want to help you."
Out of anger, Alice was about to push the blonde back out into the hallway before Rose sighed and submissively threw her hands up.
"I know. And I've offered my apology a few times and you won't accept. So I'm offering you something different. In exchange for your help."
Half interested, Alice rolled her eyes. "Yes?"
A laugh almost escaped her lips but it was before Alice had realized Rose wasn't joking.
It took half a second before Alice came up with a price. "$1,000."
"I'm being serious here, Alice."
"I am too. $1,000."
Shoving her bag further up her shoulder, Rose rolled her eyes and turned to leave.
"Screw you, Alice. I'm trying to fix things."
The statement left a spoiled smell in the air; Alice everted back quickly.
"By trying to buy me out? FYI, Rose, that's not how forgiveness works."
"Please, you wouldn't know forgiveness if it slapped you in the face."
Both girls dropped eye contact, leaving the quiet to build in size. Finally, Alice dropped her hands to her sides in a resigned state. She was finished with the conversation.
"Just leave, please."
Without turning to face her, Rose bit her lip. "I said I was sorry and I am sorry." And then she left the room.
She walked down the hallway, about to enter the stairwell in mission for her room when Alice trotted after her and stopped her on the steps.
"I overheard Leah and her friends talking yesterday," Alice said.
"One of her friends asked Leah if she knew you. Leah said no, and laughed."
Rose's eyes went glassy, her hand teetering on the railing. "Why are you telling me this?" her voice broke.
Alice mimicked Rose's earlier expression and grimaced. "Because if it was me, I would want to know."
Rose wasn't so sure.
Bella left the apartment, tucking her hair behind her ears as she kissed Edward gently. Platonically. Like a kiss she once gave Rose on New Year's. A kiss she once gave to her grandmother who was in the hospital for surgery. A kiss she once gave to her diary after she spent an hour writing in it. A kiss she once gave to the sidewalk after she fell off her bike and her face hit the cement. A kiss she once gave to her finger when she got a paper cut and licked the blood off. A kiss she once gave to her wrist when she was mixing cake frosting on Christmas and some got on her skin.
But Edward wondered how long it was going to take for her to give him a kiss like she loved him.
Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? Edward's thoughts were screaming too; but he didn't let them out.
A huge thanks goes out to all that have stuck with this story. And again, my apology couldn't be more sincere. I promise to keep this updated regularly.
And for those who are fans of The Walking Dead, I wrote a one-shot so you should go check that out.
Hope all is well :)