Summary: For two years, Bella's had a cotton candy romance going on with her taciturn best friend. In her head. So after catching bits and pieces of Edward's unusual upbringing, Bella pays a visit to Alaska. AH
A/N: This story is filled with bad descriptions (definitely), unrequited love (maybe) and dead rats (certainly). It's short, eyeroll-y and very facepalm-y. Don't judge. Much. Don't look for much depth, either, unless you want to land on sand expecting an ocean underneath.
"Like you could ever—"
Not a crack or the sound of ice breaking predicts his vanishing. Freezing water splashes on her pants, Edward's head pops above water, spitting and coughing, and immediately, she lies on her stomach, head directed at him. He's gasping and choking. The weight of his bag pulls him down, but he throws elbows on the ice. Red-faced, wide-eyed and panting, he looks her straight in the eye.
She struggles but manages to back away, crawling and leaving a pattern on the snow, watching him as he tries to lift himself back on ice. For a split second, he raises his chest on the ice, but ice shatters beneath him. He coughs water.
"Let go of your bag!"
Wind whistles in her ears. She unwraps her scarf and ties a knot in the end while he tears off his hiking bag and hoists it on the ice. It dins where the bag falls, and Edward sinks under water. He sputters. Bella wraps the scarf around her arm and throws the other end at Edward, but, ignoring her effort, he continues his attempts at hoisting himself on the ice.
"Don't be stupid," he replies, wheezing. "You're too light."
"Fuck you," she says. "Take it! Take a piece of ice and see if it sticks to the snow. Hold on."
Numb from the shock of freezing water, he complies, and with her help, manages to lift his shoulder and right leg on the ice. Flailing with his left one, he pulls himself fully on the snowy ice, crawls away from the hole and spreads out his limbs. He's hyperventilating. She's careful as she crawls closer to check on him. He's dripping wet and shivering, but he seems remarkably alert when she turns his face to look at him. His lips are a pale, bluish color as he blinks at her.
"I'm alright," he says, panting as he turns his head to watch the sky. "Just let me rest."
"No," she whispers, urgent when she takes off her mitten and feels the cold bite her fingers. When she places her palm flat against his wet cheek, he closes his eyes. "We need to go back to the tent. Just follow me. Don't let go of my scarf."
She strokes his face with her bare hand. "Do as I say."
"So bossy," he lets out, shivering, but when his lips tug into a small smile, she hides her hand in her mitten and kisses his cheek. He looks at her like he's hallucinating.
After four minutes of being exposed to the wind and snow, numb and confused, Edward steps in the tent after her. Frantic, she tears off his semi-wet, semi-frozen clothes, and he watches her, disorientated. His breaths are quick and shallow, lips blue, hands shaking. His teeth chatter. His violent shivering and wordless observing makes her tear off his clothes faster, and when he's in his boxer briefs, pale and quivering, she throws her sleeping bag inside his and pulls down both zippers.
"Lie down," she says, throwing off her own clothes as she places an Esbit solid fuel cube on an aluminum folding stand and starts melting snow. Meanwhile, she drags her own bag next to Edward and strips to her underwear. More than ever, she is glad for her athleticism. She has body heat to offer him.
His gaze is distant when she crouches next to him, wraps a scarf around his feet, and fills two bottles with warm water. She's decisive and quick, and when she's done, she sits on Edward's lower stomach and pulls the zippers up halfway.
"Drink this," she says, offering him a thermos filled sweetened warm tea. He takes a few gulps, grimacing, and lies back down. She pulls the zippers all the way up, tucks two warm bottles on his sides and under his arms. She lies on him, chest to chest, hugging him. He's freezing against her warmth. When his shivering becomes more violent, she slides one bottle lower, pours out the content of her bag and takes his temperature.
It's ninety four point five.
"Borderline stage two, Edward," she says against his ear. Any lower, and he'd need medical attention.
She sets her legs on either side of his hips which tautens their sleeping bags, and presses her chest against his as tightly as she can. She pokes and rubs his face, and when he opens his eyes, he looks at her with tenderness she's sure she's imagining. His cheekbones feel freezing, and when she presses her cheek flat against his short beard, breathing in his ear, she's sure he's boiling because no human could feel this cold. It's the kind of freezing when you start to confuse heat and cold, and if she is confusing it, his sense of hot and cold must've gone haywire.
She focuses on his rapid heartbeat to divert her attention, but then suddenly, his arms are on her back, and flat palms, although freezing and probably numb as ever, slide up and down her spine. His shivering grows more violent.