Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all character names. This plot belongs to the author, IReen H.

No copyright infringement is intended or expected. Respect.

A/N: Thank you to everyone for your well-wishes! I am very nervous! But excited!

Unbeta'd and roughly written.

Word Prompt: Deadline

Dialogue Flex: "Just one more," she said.

Using the provided snippet of dialogue, explore what comes to mind, be it a scene, a thought, or something else.

Edward leans back in his chair, waiting for everyone to finish responding to his question, What two things do you need to survive? He knows what his answer would be. Music and a gun. One must always, always have a gun. Whether or not you use it.

He's glad he doesn't have to answer this question.

Bella finishes first, turning her paper face down and smiling at him. He's realizing just how much he likes her smile, more and more, each time he sees it. It's pure, without artifice, without intent. A happy girl just being happy.

He wonders what his own smile looks like.

Bella could tell him. An unhappy man surprised to find that his smile is genuine.

Victoria lets out a sound of exasperation, pushing a thick mess of hair back off her forehead as she looks down at her paper. "Oh!" She starts writing, a grin splitting her face. "I'm making it easy for you, Edward."

He smirks. "Thank you, Vic."

"No problem, Nube."

Edward runs his hand over his right eye. "Nube, huh?"

"Just for tonight. Okay, who's reading?"

Lauren holds her pen up in the air. All the papers get pushed her way. Except Jake's. He's keying out a text on his phone. He looks up, his chair scraping against the tile as he slides it back from the table. "Sorry guys. I gotta go."

"Just one more question," Bella says, reaching out and putting a hand against his arm. Her wedding ring is a ruby, brilliant despite its small size, it sparkles at Edward from her finger.

"I've put it off as long as I can. And I think Paul is doing more damage than good, at this point."

"Okay. Hey guys, pause the game while I walk him out?" Bella asks, pulling their coats from the hook and handing Jake his.

"Yep. I need to visit the laboratory anyway. Gotta make some experiments in the porcelain beaker. Be right back."

"Gross," Jess says as Victoria prances down the hall.

Edward stands, finding his own coat, pulling it on and fingering his pack of cigarettes. He steps out the back slider, into the damp night air.

"I wish you didn't have to go," comes to his ears from right around the corner.

"Yeah, me too, Stuff. But I've got a deadline." Jake's voice. Weary.

"You just got the Porsche last week. You have a deadline already?"

"Dimitri wants this one by the end of the month. He's going to pay."

"I don't care that he's going to pay, Jake. I'm starting to really-"

"Really what, Bella? Because this is the way it is. He says he'll go easy after this one, I have to trust that he means it."

"We have to trust? You can't just say no?"

Their voices fade as they walk away from the house. Edward sucks his cigarette, flicking ash over the rail, wondering at Dimitri's game.

He's glad the conversation is gone when Victoria slides the door open behind him, firing up her own cigarette.

"Hey," she says.

He nods.

"So, think you can work with these people?"

"It's a good group."

"It is that. I'll be asking them about you once you leave. Just so you know. I hire by committee. But, I think they like you. I think Lauren really likes you."

Edward smiles sheepishly. An engine turns over. Jake's Roadster.

"You don't talk too much. That can be a good quality in a bartender. Provided you work in a sappy joint where people need to spill their guts to anyone who will listen. Port Vic is like that sometimes. On the weekdays. The weekends jump, but the weekdays… we get a lot of working stiffs, you know? People just winding down before they face their families."

"That's fine."

Victoria sticks her cigarette in her lips, squinting one eye against the smoke as she zips the front of her sweater and tucks her hair into the hood.

"You have about a month to get acclimated before I leave for my honeymoon. It'll be you and Bella and Lauren. Jess'll be gone by then. November is fairly average, but that's a small crew for a slammin' bar. That means good tips, provided you can move your ass. It'll be crazy. But Bella will be there. She can handle anything."

Can she?

"She'll be in charge?"

"She's already in charge. I mean, I'm in-charge, in-charge. But she's your boss, too. Don't forget."

He blows smoke out into the night. "I won't."

"So tell me how you make a whiskey sour."

"Whiskey or bourbon, sugar syrup, lemon juice. Shaken. With a cherry."

She grounds her cigarette out in an ashtray, nodding. "Good. A gimlet?"

"Gin and lime."

Victoria makes a face and says, "Blech." She turns towards the door, the light shining on her fair skin, her smile. "Bella's back."

Victoria pulls the slider open, slipping back inside and closing it.

Edward field strips his cigarette and pockets the butt, watching as Bella pulls a beer from the cooler. Victoria joins her and they share some quiet words. Bella shakes her head, a crease between her brows.

He knows that the light shining inside will reflect the room back at them, so he leans against the railing and watches them both openly.

It's like moon and sun in the same sky. Victoria vivid and bright. Bella, dark, with enigmatic appeal. He saw what she wrote as her answer to his question. The two things necessary for her survival are her husband and her son. Jake and Sam.

He's betting Jake's answer would have been similar.