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Push Me, Pull Me

Summary:
"Stop." Her voice quiet, but the word reverberates throughout the entire room. New Moon AU - After three months, Edward realizes that he can no longer stay away from Bella. But Bella is not so quick to forgive and forget. No matter how much they wish they could... things can't just go back to the way things were.


Notes:
This was just an idea I had - what if there was no cliff diving, no Volterra? What if it was just Edward coming home one day, and Bella reacting angrily rather than happily? Thank you to cinnamon_kisses and angel423 for the beta. Written for my twilight_tables prompt Empty Spaces over at LJ.


1. Push Me, Pull Me

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 1961   Review this Chapter

Like a cloud dropping rain
I'm discarding all thought
I'll dry up, leaving puddles on the ground
I'm like an opening band for the sun
Push me, pull me
I've had enough, said enough, felt enough
I'm fine

- Push Me, Pull Me – Pearl Jam

--

It’s sunny the day that Edward comes home.

Bella thinks this is sort of ironic. In all of her dreams, the weather had been rainy, the sky grey and heavy with dark clouds.

She’s lying on her bed staring at the ceiling, her eyes open and blank. Her mind is an empty space, no thoughts or images crossing the threshold into her conscious. She’s better off thinking of nothing. Nothing is better than thinking of him.

She hears footsteps along the floor, softer than Charlie’s boots, but he could be barefoot. She doesn’t move.

The bed shifts and she feels the cool, hard weight of a body next to her. She closes her eyes as a cold hand brushes against her face. Oh. She’d tried so hard to keep the dreams away. The nightmares were always so much worse after the she dreamt of him.

“Bella,” his voice is smooth, velvet, and she lets out a shaky breath. “Bella, open your eyes.”

“Please,” she whispers, squeezing her eyes shut tighter. “Please, go away. It will hurt less later if you just go away.

“Bella, sweetheart, please open your eyes. You’re not dreaming.” He cups her face in both of his hands. “I’m here. I’m home. I came back. For you.”

Her eyes unclench and she opens them slowly. She stares up at him and tries to convince herself that his ebony eyes, his alabaster skin, his perfect face, all aren’t a mirage.

“Edward?” She whispers shakily, reaching out her fingers to touch his face, then pulling her hand back. “Are- are you really here?”

“Yes, Bella. I’m back.” She sits up slowly as he continues. “I couldn’t stay away from you anymore, knowing that I’d hurt you the way that I did. Bella… I love you.” Her breath catches in her throat. “I’ve always loved you. I’m so sorry I left you the way I did, but at the time, it seemed like the only way to keep you safe. Bella, I-“

“Stop.” Her voice is quiet, but the word reverberates throughout the entire room.

Edward stares at her, startled. “What?”

“Stop. Please, just… stop.” She stands and holds her head in her hands, her back to him. “Three months, Edward. Three months alone. Three months of constantly reliving everything that you said to me on the day that you left, of thinking that you didn’t love me, and now you come back here whispering sweet nothings into my ear and expect me to believe that-”

"What I said to you that day was a lie, Bella!" Edward says, desperately.

"And that makes it even worse!" She cries, whirling to face him. Tears sting her eyes and she fights the urge to wipe them away. She is tired of crying over him. "That only makes this harder. Knowing that you lied about - about not loving me and playing human and making a clean break, and spending the past three months convinced that you told me the truth. I can't sort the truth from the lies anymore, Edward!" She drops her eyes to the floor and her voice drops to a whisper. "How do I know you're not lying to me now?"

The question is meant to be a statement and as such, silence is her only response. Edward's eyes are pained, haunted by the things he has done to her, but Bella can't take back the things she has said. She won't. He needs to hear every word.

"I guess... you can't," he says finally, quietly, as if not sure how their reunion could have taken such a drastic turn. He takes a step towards her and slowly reaches out his hand. "I guess you're just going to have to trust me."

"That's just the problem, Edward," Bella says, and her eyes rise to meet his. She stares at him from across the room. "I don't know if I can."

Edward's hand falls limply back to his side. Bella watches as his face transforms, going cool and detached, shutting out whatever emotions he is feeling so that she can't see. "I should go, then," he says, and she nods.

"Yes. For now, you should."

Edward turns and gracefully steps out of her window. Bella forces her feet to move slowly across the room, finally allowing the tears to fall, and watches his shadow fade into the woods in the distance.

--

She is surprised to find him sitting on her bed when she arrives home from work the next night. She is tired and worn out and really, all she wants to do is go to sleep, even if that means she’ll have to deal with the nightmares.

“I thought about what you said,” he says softly, his eyes cast down at the floor. He raises his eyes and her breath catches as his dark gaze meets hers. “I thought about you, too, while I was gone,” he says, and she gets the feeling he isn’t talking about the past twenty-four hours. “Every day. Every moment, I was thinking of nothing but you.”

He stands up slowly, seeming to simply have the need to move. She steps into the room and gingerly sits down on her bed. This time, she’d at least let him say his piece. “You were constantly behind my eyelids every time I closed my eyes. I’m sure if I could sleep, I would have only dreamt of you.”

“I dream about you,” she says quietly, her voice barely a whisper. “Every night.”

Edward stares back at her, his eyes wary. He leans against her dresser and folds his arms against his chest. “Pleasant dreams, I hope.”

But Bella shakes her head. “I haven’t had any pleasant dreams since you…” Her voice trails off and she drops her gaze to the floor. They are both silent.

“Do you want me to stay?” Edward says finally, taking a step towards her.

Bella raises her eyes to meet his, ebony, dark, but even now, she is not afraid. Even now, he draws her in. She closes her eyes and takes a shuddering breath. “I don’t know,” she answers honestly. “Part of me wants you to stay. Part of me wants you to hold me and chase the nightmares away, but a part of me just wants you to-“ Her voice chokes off at the end, and her lip trembles as she takes in his still, stiff form against her dresser.

What feels like an eternity passes but it’s really just a single beat before Edward moves towards her window, his back towards her. “I’ll go,” he says quietly, his shoulders tense, his voice coming out slightly strangled. Bella is shocked; she’d expected him to stay, no matter what she said she wanted.

She is still undecided as to what she wants when he jumps out her window. She makes no move to stop him.

--

She isn't surprised when she awakens to find him watching her sleep.

"You came back," she murmurs, sitting up slowly to get a better look at him. He is sitting in her rocking chair, beautiful, perfect, and she catches herself staring before she can stop, ensnared by the look in his eyes when he glances at her. It's a look she doesn't understand, not anymore. She thinks she used to, once.

He nods. "I didn't expect you to see me."

"Do you not want me to see you?"

"No, Bella, I want very much for you to see me," he says, and Bella sits up straighter, really staring at him now. She doesn't think she's ever seen him look so...weary. His eyes are dark, blacker than she's ever seen them, the dark circles underneath prominent against his pale skin.

Maybe she wasn't the only one affected by their separation after all.

"I just didn't think that you wanted to see me," he finishes, his voice so quiet that she has to strain to hear the words.

Bella shifts the covers off of her legs and slowly pads across the room. She crouches down in front of him and hesitantly places her hands over his in his lap. He meets her eyes instantly.

"Edward," she hesitates. She has never been as eloquent as he is; saying this is going to take some fumbling for the right words. "It's not that I don't want to see you. The thing I hoped for the most these past few months was that you would come back to me and say exactly what you did, but..." She exhales, her breath shaking. "Every action has consequences. Even this. Especially this. You're just going to have to give me time to adjust. As much as I would love for us to be able to..." She shakes her head. "We can't just go back to the way things were."

Edward nods, his eyes on the floor, not meeting hers.

“Hey,” she says quietly, raising his chin so she can stare into his eyes again. “Stay with me until I fall asleep. Then, go hunting.” She cracks a watery smile. “Bag a couple of mountain lions for me.”

He laughs quietly.

Bella slips back between the covers and closes her eyes. She knows that Edward will stay in her rocking chair, watching over her until she falls asleep. She also knows her dreams will still be filled with terror, even with him there.

She wishes he could still chase her demons away.

--

She gets her grey, cloudy sky three days later.

Edward has not been back since that night she awakened to find him at her bedside. Bella isn’t sure if she should feel upset or relieved. She decides that she is somewhere in the middle.

The rain begins to fall suddenly, a torrential downpour that drenches everything in sight, but Bella finds herself restless and unable to keep still. One minute, she is staring out her window at the blurry, green landscape, the next, she is pulling on her shoes and her jacket and heading out to her truck.

She has no idea of her destination; her foot on the gas and her hands on the steering wheel seem to have a mind of their own, but she decides that her subconscious must know something that she doesn’t. She pulls the car over at the end of the road and walks straight into the woods, letting her feet be her only guide.

It isn’t until she is standing at the edge of the meadow - their meadow, hers and Edward’s – three hours later that she finally understands.

Ignoring the still-falling rain, Bella steps into the center of the meadow, raises her eyes to the sky and closes her eyes.

She feels Edward before she sees him. She can’t say, exactly, how she’d known he was there. He hadn’t made a sound or said a word. Maybe she had felt his eyes on her back, seeming to watch her every move. Maybe that slight whisper on the wind had been something else after all.

Or maybe she is just fooling herself, and her entire being is still so completely attuned to Edward Cullen that even with her human senses, she could find him in a crowded room, or in a completely deserted meadow with her eyes closed.

Bella hesitantly reaches out her hand and when Edward’s fingers twine with hers, she smiles. Maybe things can never go back to the way things were. That doesn’t mean that they can’t start working towards something better.