Author's note: This work will be a series of drabbles, mostly out of order I suspect. I'll try to set a time line to follow at some point, but these will so far all take place in the days after Beau is changed. Be sure to read "Life After Death" as well - these drabbles with been the same vein!

R/R is you like!


Day Four of Forever:


Night was well underway in the rainy town of Forks, with only one home on the outskirts of town still glowing against the dark backdrop. The residents of the home passed through the sleepless night as they always had for the last few decades - finding solace in each other's company and various preoccupations.

Just past two am, Beau, the newest addition to the Cullen household, found himself in the garage watching as his brother Royal restored his newest pet project, an inconspicuous Civic. It wasn't the most exciting project, something Royal sighed over continuously, but it gave them something to do together as the car was intended to be Beau's welcome to the family gift.

When Archie had first proposed the idea to rebuild Beau a vehicle, he had thought it too large of a present - on top of being unnecessary; with only a few days under his belt as a vampire, Beau really wasn't planning on going anywhere any time soon. But Archie has insisted, saying that getting your first Cullen-mobile was a right of passage. Surprisingly, it had been Royal who had convinced him to go along with it. Beau didn't know if Royal was doing this simply out of his own desire to fix up a new car - apparently he was the resident mechanic and autophile - or because he actually wanted to welcome Beau into the fold of brotherhood. But either way, having Royal want to something for him had been such an unusual moment in their relationship that Beau felt he could not turn it down.

And so Beau found himself sitting in the family's detached garage every few hours or so across the past few days, either getting lectured about the parts Royal was putting in for him or acting as a jack when needed.

In this session, the blonde was attempting to fill Beau's head with the engine specs of the vehicle, perhaps in an effort to get him more warmed towards the prospect of having his own car again, but most of the conversation went well over his head, even with his new enhanced brain. All he really needed to know it that it would drive better than his truck ever had, which was not a hard need to fill.

Royal expelled loudly as Beau shrugged off what he took to be another important aspect of the Civic that he hadn't fully comprehended. "Really, Beau? You don't think it's impressive that I managed to fit such a power engine into this car? Two days ago this was basically scrap medal and now it's drag racing worthy!"

Beau startled. "Why would I be drag racing it?"

"You wouldn't be," his brother replied impatiently. "Because I would kill you after all the work I've done. But the point still remains that you could."

"Oh. Well that's cool then."

Royal muttered something too quick even for vampire ears, but Beau assumed it was something about him being ungrateful and he immediately felt guilty.

"Sorry, Royal. I really am excited to see the finished project, honest, but I've never been a car guy. I was raised by a scatterbrained single mom, remember?" He explained weakly. "There were some things I just never picked up on. I couldn't even change a tire until a year ago when necessity kinda dictated I figure it out or stay stranded three hours from home." If Beau's admission placated Royal, he gave no acknowledgement of it except to peek his perfect face out from under the hood of the car at him for a second before returning to work.

They - meaning really just Royal - worked in companionable silence for the better part of the next hour, stopping only when the sound of the returning hunting party distracted them out of the project.

Royal picked up a rag from the ground and began to wipe his hands, his eyebrow raised expectantly. "To be continued. Now go intercept Edythe before my highly opinionated sister decides to march in here and try to direct my work. Again." The threat in his words was evident. But of course by the time he said her name Beau was already half way back into the house, eager to welcome her back from her hunting trip with Archie and Jessamine.

Since finding him in Phoenix he could count on one hand the number of hours they had spent apart, but it was still far too many for either of them to be comfortable with. Part of it being that Beau as a newborn had to be constantly watched, naturally, but the larger part of it was that they simply could not bare to be away from each other for too long. Beau had worried first about the codependency but Archie had eased his mind by explaining that vampires bond largely for life and that separation in the beginning of that process was extremely difficult for every pairing.

While usually solitary creatures, Beau had learned, once mated, vampires were pretty much glued to the hip. It was why nomadic vampires usually traveled in mated pairs or mated pairs with one unmated being, apparently, like Joss's coven. Groups as large as theirs were largely unheard of, save for the Denali coven or the Volturi of Italy, though even in the case of the second group all but the main three were usually transitory. Jessamine said it had to do with with physiology - those with the normal diet were instinctually closer to small grouped animals like bears, and so aggression often grew when the groups became too big. A pack can have only one head and squabbles were likely to break out as individuals sought out power. It was a lesson in dominance, she had explain to Beau, and too many leaders created chaos in the ranks. The reason why the Cullens were the exception to the rule seemed to be that their animal diet allowed them a higher level of function, something more similar to humans. They were able to acquiesce largely to Carine's leadership - though occasionally butting heads on some key issues like Beau had seen when planning his escape to Arizona - without much fanfare. It was also because they trusted her to make the important choices and do what was best for the family, so a coup was not likely in their future, Jessamine had stated with a dry laugh.

Two figures were in view suddenly on the other ride of the river. Archie and Jessamine, hold hands as they leapt over the bend lightly. Beau frowned as his eyes searched for Edythe's lovely face and shock of bronze hair; she was the fastest and always beat the others home, not wanting to spend anymore time away from Beau than necessary. Archie looked up at him then, tilting his head back, indicating that she was right behind them. He was probably telling Beau to be patient from the slight smirk on his face.

She appeared then, so suddenly and with such speed that she easily overtook her siblings, beating them to the back entrance of the house. Beau went to wrap his arms around her but was blocked by the box she held to her body. He was shocked to notice it smelled somewhat like him, almost like a watered down version. He understood her delay at once; she must have stopped by Charlie's house to pick up some of his things.

This wasn't very surprising as Archie had done something similar earlier in the same day, finding an old ring of Beau's grandmothers that was essential to a proposal the two had been working out, unbeknownst to Edythe herself. Archie had asked Beau if he had any other items that Charlie wouldn't notice were missing that he had wanted him to snag but Beau had turned him down, knowing there wouldn't be a lot of things he had needed now that the Cullens provided for him. Besides, Archie had seen that Charlie and Renee would be packing up his things after the funeral in a few days and would bring Edythe a box of his old books anyway, which were the only things Beau would have thought to ask for.

Edythe held out the box to him with a tiny smile on her pink lips. He looked at her curiously as he took it. It was light, even by human standards, making Beau think it was most likely clothes.

She lead the way upstairs at inhuman speed with him quick on her heels, following her into her room - their room now. It was still hard for Beau to think of it that way, still hard to believe a lot of it, actually. Just a few weeks ago this had all seemed beyond an impossibility so accepting the fact that he was living with the woman he loved and was planning to ask for her hand was difficult to comprehend most of the time. He kept expecting to wake up and realize this had all been a delusion from Joss's venom. But until that happened he was over the moon to enjoy this bliss while it lasted.

They crossed the threshold of the shared room together, Beau closing the door behind him more out of habit than actually wanting privacy. Edythe folded herself neatly onto the couch, the only real piece of furniture in the room besides her immense CD shelf that took up most of the wall opposite the window. Looking around the room you saw a lot of Edythe's personality, but very little of Beau's; the only hint that he now called this room his own was his half of clothing lined up in the joint closet. Eleanor had promised to bring one of Carine's bookshelves in here for when Charlie dropped off his old books though. Beau was actually looking forward to seeing a piece of himself reflected in the space other than the impersonal high-end clothes Archie and Earnest had donated to him. Maybe that would make this feel more real.

Archie had offered to clear out a room for Beau across from Edythe's, but he hadn't seen the point since he had no real possessions and spent most of his time with Edythe anyway. His new adoptive siblings liked to poke fun at him for having moved in with his girlfriend (the phrase was the best equivalent to their situation now, he supposed) but he did his best to take it in stride. At least he could no longer flush with embarrassment, something he was immensely grateful for. Edythe was less amused by their comments and nearly tackled Eleanor through the glass wall after a comment about them "living in sin". The others learned to toe the line with the smallest Cullen after that.

Beau wasn't sure if it was out of embarrassment or just being uncomfortable with sharing her space that prompted Edythe's ire and he had been too much of a coward to ask. Edythe hadn't seemed to mind that when Earnest asked where he could store Beau's makeshift ensemble Archie had lead him to her room nor had she encouraged Beau to take Archie up on his original offer for his own quarters, but it could have just been her being polite. On one hand, she really seemed to enjoy having Beau here all the time now and they did spend as much of their free time together as possible. But maybe this was because she was still feeling guilty for everything he had gone through the past few days, up to and including his death essentially.

Jessamine had pulled him aside before the hunting trip today and told him the guilt Edythe was harboring was staggering, warning him that she was dangerously close to having some sort of break down. The expression on her face further emphasized the urgency of her words, making Beau panic.

He had tried everything he could think of to try to ease those feelings of Edythe's but it had all fallen on deaf ears. For some reason Beau saying that he didn't harbor any ill will towards her seemed to mean nothing; Archie had already told him the only way to make Edythe feel better about this was going to involve having her face Charlie but Beau wasn't quite sold on the idea. He couldn't help but think that having Edythe at such close range to his mourning father's thoughts would only make the situation worse, but his personal psychic was insistent that this was the only way - all they needed for the plan was a letter... And a pair of rings.

Beau shook off that train of thought, paranoid despite knowing she still couldn't read his mind; whenever he thought about his various schemes to ask Edythe to marry him, Royal said he got a stupidly happy look in his face and Beau didn't want to tip her off before the plan was in motion. Surprising a mindreader was the kind of thing you had to plan very carefully.

Instead, he focused on placing the box on ground in front of where Edythe sat expectantly. He kneeled on the floor and opened the flaps, her eyes mysteriously dark despite her recent feeding as she observed his every move. Ignoring the intense scrutiny, Beau began to rifle through the box's contents.

The first thing he found was his favorite pull over hoodie, the one he had worn the morning after Edythe stayed with him. Just underneath it was - Beau had to laugh - the pig shirt Edythe hadn't cared for. It probably needed to be washed but he was suddenly grateful to have at least a few pieces of his own clothing here. Beau grinned up at Edythe, pulling the hoodie and t-shirt into his lap.

Under the hoodie was a photo album, one of many his mother had made for him during her scrapbooking phase. Mostly it was pictures of his very early years - Charlie even made an appearance in several of the shots. It startled Beau that she had picked out this one out of the four he had stored in the back of his closet; this had always been his favorite, wrapped in a dark red fabric Renee had pilfered from an old prom dress she no longer fit in. He ran his fingers along the spine of the book, mindful of the his newfound strength, paying close attention to not damage it. Beau thought of flipping the book open to scroll through the familiar photos, but thought better of it when he noticed the blank look on Edythe's face. A trip down human memory lane was not going to do much to ease her guilt, after all. He slowly put the album down on the golden carpet, leaning forward to kiss her lightly on the lips. She accepted his gratitude with a ghost of a smile, gesturing back at the box for him to keep going.

With no idea what other treasure the box could hold but curious to find out, Beau dove back in. At first he felt nothing but the bottom of the cardboard. Disappointed, he slid his finger tips along to the other corner, eventually coming across what felt like a thin piece of paper. He picked it up without difficulty despite it being no bigger than a business card. Beau looked at it, confused to find it blank, but flipped it over to see two words on the other side in now familiar, elegant hand writing. He knew where she had found this - he had looked at it twice a day since he found it in his truck, each time hastily shoving it back under his pillow after he was done admiring Edythe's handwriting.

"You kept it," she whispered almost shyly.

Beau shrugged, feeling a little self conscious. "It was concrete proof that I hadn't imagined you." He held it up. "I could look at this and know you were real."

She laughed quietly. "I don't think you could have imagined up someone like me."

"You are very right," Beau answered, his voice low and rich. He leaned into another kiss, deeper this time, which she responded with in kind. When she pulled away he scooted around the box, wanting to be closer to her. Beau turned around, pressing his back against the couch between her legs and leaning his head back to see her from below. "Thank you for this, Edythe. Really."

She shrugged, wrapping her arms around his shoulders, cradling him. "These were trinkets. Archie assured me your father would never notice they were missing."

"I appreciate the gesture regardless." He turned his head to the side, kissing her exposed knee from under her dark blue dress. "How was hunting with Arch and Jess?"

"Uneventful." Her fingers wove through his hair, marveling at the texture to each curl. For his part, Beau was just enjoying her feather light touch. "Archie was oddly quiet, however. He seemed preoccupied translating the Constitution into Latin for some reason. Might you have any clue why that was?"

Beau simply shrugged, not confident in his ability to convincingly lie to her verbally. Apparently Archie's plan for keeping Edythe out of his thoughts about the proposal involved reviving a dead language.

Edythe didn't seem to buy his ignorance on the subject, but did not pressed him. Instead she seemed to be drawing shapes through his hair, across his skin. He was acutely aware of her touch, of her breathing too steadily, of the way she shifted every so often in a practiced way though she felt no discomfort. Beau wondered how he could have ever thought she was human; he knew he was far more perceptive now then he had been before the transformation, but it seemed ludicrous that anyone could be fooled. She was too perfect, too still even in her movements. Her chest rose and fell in a continuous and predictable way - Beau could count time on her breaths. Maybe it was simply because she hadn't been human in so long while Beau had just recently turned that he saw through her fa├žade. Still, he would have to relearn from her to do the little human-like things that had once been second nature, things like blinking and remembering to make sound when he moved. Eventually he wouldn't have to think about those things, he would just do them out of habit like she did - but he hoped he'd be more believable.

"What are you smirking about?" Edythe asked then, staring down at him, her hair fanning out into a wavy curtain around them.

"Just watching you," he replied honestly, though not explaining the other aspect of his observations. "I like watching you. I think I understand now why you wanted to watch me sleep - it's kind of fascinating."

She moved her hands to cup his cheeks, pinching them lightly. "You were much more entertaining."

Beau raised one of his eyebrows. "You mean the sleep-talking? Cause you know that's the one reason I'm glad I'll never need to sleep again."

"But I liked listening you to, unfiltered, unrestricted. It was like I was finally looking into your head."

"Even if you were really looking into my head, all you would see is you." He reached out and brushed her hair from her eyes. "I don't think you're vain enough to enjoy that as much as you think you would."

She wrinkled her nose. "No, I supposed not."

"Well there you go."

"But just once I'd like to see how you see me."

"A goddess," he answered maybe too honestly.

She shook her head. "You are quite absurd."

"Hey, you wanted unfiltered. That was 100% undiluted Beaufort Swan."

"I know, that's what makes you absurd."

"I thought that was what made me an idiot."

Edythe frowned. "I thought you had forgiven me for that."

He had, of course, but he still found her outburst from them comical - it wasn't every day that a vampire born in the Victorian Era called him an idiot. "That depends - do you still think I'm an idiot?"

She appeared to be thinking about it, tapping her chin as if deep in concentration. "Not so much," Edythe finally conceded with a wicked smile.

Beau exhaled in faux relief. "Phew! Good, I'd hate to think you're stuck with someone you think is an idiot forever."

Her smile failed. "I'm not stuck with you, Beau."

He froze, all traces of mirth gone out the window. In a flash of white he was beside her on the sofa, his arm around her. "It was a joke, sorry. A bad one."

She didn't respond at first, just leaned into him. In that moment she seemed so far away that he felt he might never reach her. This was something she did every so often, he had realized. Edythe would suddenly turn self-reflective at some prompting and become unreachable in her musings. In these moments Beau would have given anything to read her mind, to follow her chain of thought. He wanted to know how she thought and why to better understand her and fill in some of those missing pieces that made her who she was. Who was she when she was unfiltered? What did Edythe think about knowing no one could hear her thoughts?

The idea fascinated Beau, though Jessamine had told him that Edythe's train of thought usually turned inwardly tormented and wasn't a pretty sight. She had had a lot of baggage following her over the years, the blonde had explained slowly as she mulled over her sister's complex emotions, and had had too many nights to revel in them.

Beau reached out to Edythe, seeking her hand as he tried to imagine what was swirling though her head.

"I used to think forever was an impossible concept," Edythe finally spoke. Her tone was detached yet somehow managed to also sound sorrowful. "But now that I've long outlived what what have been a natural timeline in a world without rampant disease, I'm closer to staring it in the face. And it's terrifying to wrap my head around it." She looked at him, her face impassive, giving away nothing. "Forever has no end, Beau, no relief. It simply is and always will be. Humans use that word so lightly, unable to even partially grasp it's meaning. Nothing lasts forever - except us."

Beau took her hand then and she wrapped both of hers around his in answer. He took a second to gather his thoughts before responding, not wanting to appear flippant about something she clearly spent a lot of time thinking about. "Forever still is far off for me, a horizon we are headed towards. But I find that prospect exciting. That's probably because of my youth, though," he admitted apologetically. "But right now I can't imagine not being excited about having forever to learn everything I've ever wanted, to try new experiences, to travel... And to love you." A wide smile split his face. "I get to love you forever, Edythe, and that'll always be something to get excited about."

Edythe sighed, not as taken with the idea as he was. "And your parents, who love you? They get to spend the rest of their small portion of forever wishing they could tell you how they miss you, Beau. It's a trade off, and an imbalanced one at that."

Beau would not be deterred by the sharp reminder. "I won't pretend that isn't a painful thought, Edythe, but you're only looking at this in regards to what I've lost."

"You always had me," she argued listlessly. "And you would not have had to lose me to keep them, that is the difference."

But Beau could only picture a world where he had stayed human and aged and aged until he simply couldn't age anymore and died. Meanwhile Edythe would have stayed perfectly still and perfectly 17 forever, watching as he faded into oblivion. And then what would she had done with her forever, alone? They would have become separated without being joined in the various ways they could now - as man and wife, as a family, as best friends... as lovers. All lost.

He shook his head gently, looking into her sad eyes. "I could have never really had you," he breathed out deeply. "Not in every way I wanted you."

She held his gaze for what felt like hours, her face oddly blank again thought clearly she was thinking a million miles an hour. And then she was in his lap and she was kissing him before he could register it.

But it wasn't the type of kiss he was used to. This was raw desire, frenzied. Not a first kiss or a last kiss, but a desperate, I-need-you kiss that broke every single rule that Edythe had set up. Her lips were oddly warm, heated from the rush of venom surging through her flesh, and she tasted like fire. There was no sweetness in this kiss but that didn't make it any less passionate.

Beau gasped against her mouth, forgetting he no longer needed to breath - and it was a good thing that was the case. Edythe wasn't pulling away this time. She was gripping him closer as if to devour him. Her tongue snaked across his teeth sending a shockwave through his whole body, awaking something primal inside him. Somewhere in the back of his mind a warning light was going off, telling him to be careful to not hurt her, warning him to go slow, but it felt too natural to be here with like this was her. Instinctual, something he didn't need to think about at all. It was like how breathing had once been. He knew the right amount of pressure to make her feel pleasure, the right amount of strength to grip her with to not harm her. His arms encapsulated her creating a cage, binding her to him with his desire.

Finding him willing, she used her whole body to press him into the back of the sofa. Her finger wrapped around locks of his hair, pulling none-too gently. It didn't hurt but prompted him to open his mouth wider and give her more to explore. A growl buzzed through his chest as her cupped her supple thighs, pulling her from her sitting position until she was on her knees, hovering over him, kissing him from above. One of her hands skimmed along his jawline, tracing his features with her nails, carving her touch into him in a way he would never forget. He roamed hungrily across the expanse of skin under her dress, memorizing a hot trail along her inner thigh. She sighed his name against his mouth before taking his lower lip between her teeth, light enough that she wouldn't scar him but with enough strength to show that she could.

This was a hunger Beau could not name easily, too different from his thirst to be on the same plane, but just as wild. Just as fierce. This was a hunger that could not simply be satisfied, he realized; it would always be there now that Edythe had awaken it, lurking on the edge of his thoughts. It made his vision white hot, his hands clench for something fleshy to bury themselves in. It was lust in its most beastly form.

When their eyes met he saw her own hunger reflected in her pitch black eyes. This was not a want, but a need every bit as crucial of satiating their bloodlust.

She pinned him down, a movement so small and fast that even with his new eyes Beau almost missed it. He was laying on his back now, watching she she straddled him suggestively. Her hair was more wild than usual, curling at the tips and fanning across her face until she combed it back sexily. His hands were on her hips where her dress had completely rode up exposing more of her flesh than he had even seen. He did not get to enjoy the view for long, however; Edythe lowered her body to his, winding her hands down his body aggressively at first, but slower as she came to the sliver of skin peeking out from where his shirt and jeans met. And like she was suddenly self conscious, her hands stilled there, touching just enough of his skin for an electrical current to surge between them, but not enough. Definitely not enough.

Though her hands stilled, her kisses did not. Her lips were dragging over his collar and then up to his jugular over and over again, a purring sound reverberating from her body to his. And then she was moving her hips.

Beau's eyes shot open - when had he closed them? - as he felt her press her body as close to his as possible. For though they were connected, there was something disjointed about it. Maybe it was her hands, still stalled just a over his belt loops, or maybe it was the repetitious and earnest way her lips followed the path along his neck, but suddenly he knew she was in a loop not unlike her breathing cycle. Even the way her hips moved, so serpentine that it had to be practiced, spoke to her state of mind. It was not at all unlike the periodic shifting of her frame that was programmed into her routine in 30 second intervals when she was sitting.

Beau felt sick. And on some level angry.

It took every ounce of strength Beau had to will his body to shut down, but somehow he did it. It helped knowing now that she was clearly pushing herself through this display. Logic over rid sexual frustration.

Edythe continued to kiss his neck and writhe her body against his, however, and he knew he would never be able to get his thoughts together if she kept that up. As gently as he could, Beau gathered her wrists in his hands, lifting her away and into a sitting position. It wasn't the safest view, with her dress still bunched up to expose black silk panties, but it would do.

Her head tilted in confusion as she halted all movement. "Why did you...?"

Beau cleared his throat and ignored how every fiber of his being was screaming at him to let her keep going. "I need to ask something and it's kinda hard to focus on anything else when you're, ya know, doing that stuff." He let out a deep breath. "Edythe, be straight with me - is this really what you want?"

"Of course," she answered a little too quickly. "I love you, Beau, and I want to be with you."

Those words were enough to slacken his grip and nearly break his resolve. "Yeah I get that, but I've got to ask. Is this what you want right now, as in this moment? Are you trying to do all this because you think we are ready now or is this a thing where you're being overly accommodating because of the whole Joss-dying-vampire thing? Cause that's kinda what it feels like."

Her eyebrows pulled together. "Is this not what you want?"

He rolled his eyes. "I'm a seventeen year old guy - of course this is what I want. But that wasn't my question."

"I want you, Beau. I want to be together."

"Really? Cause it kinda seems like you're trying to use sex as a bargaining chip in a sorry-you-can-never-talk-to-your-family-again-but-I'll-give-you-sex-to-make-up-for-it way," he muttered, forcing himself to maintain eye contact. His rush of anger was at least taking the wind out of his sails, so to speak, letting him think more clearly. "Cause I could have sworn you had kinda put the breaks to this early on, Edythe."

Edythe looked hurt at that, but wasn't relenting. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe the barriers that used to exist between us before are now a nonissue? And maybe I'm ready to act on that?"

Beau raised an eyebrow. "But are you? Are you actually ready?"

"Yes." But she couldn't look him in the eyes.

Beau sat up slowly. He didn't feel angry anymore, but maybe a little disappointed. "You can tell me how you actually feel, you know."

Her mouth was a tight line. "I'm not lying."

"But you're not saying everything either. Out with it." She didn't respond, suddenly finding the stereo across the room very interesting. "Okay, fine, don't tell me." Edythe's head shot towards him then, shocked, never having heard him use such a harsh tone with her.

He felt bad for letting his frustration color his words but couldn't contain it anymore. Edythe was more guarded than ever with him; withdrawing into herself to drown in her guilt, holding back her real feelings in lieu of trying to give Beau whatever he wanted, doing her best to highlight the things she felt he was being cheated out of so she could go on making herself the villain. Beau was sick of it. The cycle of self-torment and going out of her way to make amend for perceived wrongs had to stop.

"I don't want you to do this because it's something I want," he said evenly. "That's the opposite of what I want."

"But I do want you, Beau. Honestly I do."

"But not like this."

Edythe chewed on her words. "Maybe not exactly. There was a certain way things were done... Before."

He nodded. "When you were human."

"Yes. But those rules are archaic." She shrugged her shoulders. "They aren't really applicable in this century."

"Except they could be, in our case." Beau knew that Edythe was well aware of the fact that he had never been with anyone before, though she had never said what that meant for them. In his mind, it was not only one more thing they had in common, but one more experience they could share together.

"It's really not the end of the world," she reiterated, her voice a little sharp. "It's not like my parents are alive to monitor my modesty."

"But you are," he stated obviously. "And that world was your world, was a part of you and still is in some aspect." Beau shrugged. "I mean, I kind of get it. It's not the same now, especially for guys, but society hasn't changed that much when it comes to its attitude about premarital sex."

"Virginity is just a construct. It doesn't mean anything."

"It does to you."

"And what about you?" she questioned suddenly, trying to turn the conversation away from her own value system. "You waited."

She was right, or course, but Beau didn't see it as waiting so much as never having the desire to act on. He couldn't act upon feelings of lust when they hadn't existed before. "There was no one I wanted before," he repeated from a previous conversation in another life. "It wasn't so much a choice as non applicable. I wasn't waiting for the right time, just the right person, even if I didn't know it then." As he said the words, he realized how true they were. He was far from a prude in his attitude towards sex - Renee had always been pretty upfront about everything, just asking him to be safe when he went down that road - and had clearly not acted simply out of lack of want.

She looked away, her voice small. "What if I said timing doesn't matter to me either, not anymore."

"I wouldn't believe you. Because we wouldn't be having this conversation if it didn't."

"Doesn't waiting for something as trivial as a wedding night seem absurd?" Edythe easily freed herself for Beau's hold, her arms finding themselves around his neck again as she pressed her body dangerously close to his. "I won't make you wait anymore. Please, let me do this for you."

Beau shook his head, determined. "This isn't something you do for someone else, like a favor, Edythe."

"But I want to, too."

"But for the wrong reasons," he replied gently. "You're trying to concede on this because you feel guilty. And because you love me, sure, but that doesn't change the fact that this isn't how this is supposed to be. You want to wait." It wasn't a question.

Edythe didn't say anything, but her silence was her answer.

"I agreed to let you set the pace, remember?"

"That was before, when it was dangerous," she reminded him.

Beau shrugged. "Regardless. We are going to do this right."

"So you think this is wrong?"

"Stop putting words in my mouth, will you? I'm saying I want to do right by you. If we were to go through with this just for my sake, it wouldn't be honest. I respect what you want, Edythe."

"What if I don't know what I want?" she challenged.

But Beau could only laugh. "If there is one thing you are not, it's irresolute. Once you decide on something you are incredibly stubborn. Seriously, that might be your real gift." He was trying to break up the tension but it wasn't really working. Edythe still looked crestfallen. He slid his arm under her legs, closing them together as he pulled her into a more comfortable sitting position across his lap, pulling her dress back around her thighs. "Just let it go, okay? We will pretend this never happen."

Her bottom lip puffed out a bit before she turned her into him, hiding her features. "I just thought it would make you feel better about everything," she mumbled into his chest.

"There you go again, making decisions for me, deciding I'm miserable. Far from it, honestly."

"You doesn't make any sense, you realize."

"Because I'm happy being with you?"

"Yes, because at the same time you're also sad being away from your family and friends."

"I can have more than two emotions, you know. I can be happy and sad. Isn't that how these things works?" She sighed, sounding defeated. He continued, ignoring her. "With good comes bad and viseversa. Balance and whatnot."

She peeked up at him with a sarcastic little smile. "I never took you as a follower of Daoism."

"My mom's yogi phase latest a surprisingly long time. I think the yin/yang concept helped her come to peace with a string of bad break ups she went though when she was into new-age hippie guys. She finally gave up the belief in karma when the last guy she dated from her sunrise yoga class snuck out in the middle of he night with her wallet and three days worth of Chinese takeout leftovers. And then racked up $1800 dollars worth of charges at the local strip bar."

Edythe looked at him like she was trying to decided if she should laugh at that or not, partially incredulous. When giggles finally started bubbling through her entire body, all of her tension went with them. Her laughter was infectious and Beau found himself grinning.

Her laughter eventually died down and she snuggled back against his chest with a thoughtful look. "You're really okay with waiting? Even though it's stupid and probably a moot point anyway since we're already shacking up together?"

The phrasing threw him for a second. "Do people actually call it that?"

She waved her hand dismissively. "Shacking up, living in sin - same idea, different decade. Don't change the subject."

Beau shrugged his shoulders. "It doesn't make a difference to me. I've got the right person so the when of it isn't as pressing."

Edythe made a face. "Maybe your gift really is self control."

He frowned. "That would pretty disappointing, actually. I like to think I'm just taking your lesson of mind over matter in a different direction."

"Either way, just as long as you understand the implications of agreeing to this." She was giving him one last out, a chance to take it back. He would be lying if he said he wasn't tempted, but no - Edythe's feelings were more important than temporary gradification.

"I'm not going to change my mind," he promised, taking her hand an bringing it to his lips as if to seal his promise. "I'm following you lead. You set the pace and draw the line - I'll behave." It wasn't a hard promise to make, knowing the plans he had in the works anyway. It wasn't like he was planning on making her wait long to make his commitment to her clear.

It was just a matter of the right timing.