I started this a long time ago then abandoned it for other stories. When I saw that TwiFandom News had a monthly contest called Badass Babes, I dusted it off and submitted it. I'm honoured to share the third place public vote with Noncanonqueen's wonderful story Fight for Love. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest and helped run it.
Many thanks to Beachcomberlc for her beta magic.
It was bitingly cold that night. The night a damsel in distress was rescued from an evil troll by a kind passerby. Everyone was bundled in heavy coats and thick scarves. There were tams, knit hats and hoods covering almost every head. Save one, but I'll get to that bit soon.
The subway car was not quite full. There were one or two seats left, but a few people elected to stand, in fear of touching strangers. Public transit can be quite uncomfortable for many people. Especially when most clothing is cold and wet this time of year. Quite often, I find the people on public transit to be cold and wet as well, their personalities at least. Not all of them; there are some really lovely kind people who ride the city rails daily. And I'm not just counting myself in that group, either. But if you consider a cross section of the city, I think you'll find a disproportionate number of assholes in the subway system over the good-hearted ones.
Anyway, to the story. Here I was, on my annual pre-Christmas trip downtown with my Gran. This is something she and I have done since I was four. Gran never learned to drive a car. She always said there was no point when she lived in a great big city. Everything she needed was either within walking distance or she could take a bus, streetcar or a train. Gramps could drive, and he would dust off the old Buick for longer trips, say outside of the city or on a visit to another town. Gran sold the car after Gramps died. An antique car dealer bought it. Her former financial advisor very condescendingly asked what she was going to do with the money from the sale, because a little lady like her should have a solid financial plan if she has no man to look out for her. He was a real piece of work; old-fashioned and very proudly sexist. Gran told him she was going to spend it on tattoos and gigolos, then she fired him. He called my father and tried to keep his job, but my father hung up on him. They reported him to his superiors and last we heard, he'd 'retired' from his job. Gran bought a magnum of champagne and the whole family toasted the news.
Gran lives in her own condo midtown. She's best friends with the neighbours on either side of her. One couple is newly married and loudly trying for a child. Gran eggs them on from time to time for fun. Something about the construction of the building, she can hear them much better than they can hear her. On the other side are Sam and his boyfriend, Embry. Gran calls them her boys. They help her out with a few small tasks here and there when Dad is busy. Her boys are quickly becoming a part of our family. Gran has invited them for Christmas dinner. I'm glad she has them. I worry when I'm away at school, but I sleep better knowing they are there for her. Sam is a dentist, so he works steady hours, and Embry is his hygienist. They've been together for three years.
Now, I'm not gay, but I envy what they have. Embry is the same age as me, twenty-seven, and has his life together. I sometimes feel like I'm going to be a student for the rest of my life. I want a home, a career and most importantly, someone special with whom I can share my life. I want someone I can wrap my arms around, hold against my body, and rest my chin in her hair. I want pantyhose drying in the shower and two toothbrushes by the sink. I want to come home to a charred dinner because my love got too caught up in a book to notice the passing of time. I want cold toes on the back of my calves shocking me out of my sleep. I need someone who understands that librarians can be hot and cool; we are know-it-alls and knowledge is fucking sexy. I want a lover and eventually, a wife. I want a woman who will call me on my shit and pad my ego, all in the same conversation. I want. But I'm having trouble finding this perfect girl.
I'm the eldest of four, all boys. When Mum was labouring with Jasper, Gran took four-year-old me to see a matinee performance of The Nutcracker. I liked it as much as a four-year-old boy could. The rats scared me a bit, but I liked the sword fights and the ice cream after. The music wasn't too bad, but I really didn't care for the frilly dancers. Gran decided to make a tradition of it. We go every year, just us two. She has other events she takes Jasper, Emmett, or Carlisle to; one special for each of us. Even as sullen and sour teenagers we went, dressed in itchy suits and pinchy shoes. No bitching or whining allowed.
So, here we are, Gran and I, riding the subway on our way back from the theatre. I took Gran out for dinner after the performance this year and she talked me through some of my troubles. For a woman who has never held a paying job, she is very helpful with career advice. I'm feeling a little out of place on the subway in my black suit and my dad's long wool coat. Everyone else is wearing ski jackets and jeans. Most of the men wear heavy brown boots, and here I am in my grandfather's old-fashioned black rubber galoshes. My gran insisted I borrow them to save my dress shoes from the salt and ice. Gran is decked out in an ankle-length gown with heavy beading and a thick wool cloak. She's wearing those ugly and aptly named Ugg boots Emmett and his girlfriend Rosalie bought her for Christmas last year. I get the manly joy of carrying her slipper bag with her dress shoes in it. I'd be happier if said bag wasn't pink with purple rhinestones and frills. We look like we're from a different era, one of horse-drawn carriages and civility. Not the hustle and bustle, no-eye-contact world we are in now. Gran and I manage to snag the last two empty seats in our car. We have a long trip back to my parents' place on the edge of the subway system, so I'm glad not to have to stand for the duration of the ride.
Three stops later, Gran and I are deep in conversation about one of the dancers in the show. She stumbled and cried for part of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. She was not one of the principal dancers, but still, she was noticeable. Gran and I made up stories as to why she was so upset. Gran's suppositions were running much more romantic than mine. Horrible news about a loved one just before curtain versus an ingrown toenail. Gran always says I need more fantasy in my life. I closed my eyes in laughter at her comments about me, knowing she wasn't wrong.
When I opened them again, I looked down at the floor of the train car and saw a pair of very high-heeled shoes and pale ankles. I let my eyes roam up, past trim, pale calves to knees with just a hint of childhood scarring. Creamy thighs, long creamy thighs, far more creamy thigh than one normally sees in the subway on a snowy Saturday night in early December. Upon closer inspection, because hey, I am a red-blooded male, the creamy thighs are mottled slightly with pinky-purple splotches from the cold. At the highest point, just below where creamy thighs should meet short curls, a red velvet dress begins. I want to run my thumb along the edge where the two meet. To feel both cold, creamy skin and luxurious velvet with the same digit. The contrast of textures, the juxtaposition of expectation and the thrill of the unknown garner and strangle my attention. Until the sharp elbow and hissing whisper of my grandmother broke through.
"Get up and give the girl your seat, Edward," she tells me in no uncertain terms, shocking me back to life. I stand, mumbling an apology to both the young lady and my Gran for being less than a gentleman. Somehow, with the shuffling of seats, I ended up on the other side of the car from Gran. I had to peek over the stocky gent who stood in front of her to get a wee glimpse of the young lady. She had her hands in her lap, one holding the other. Seated, her hem still allowed for lots of bare leg to be seen. Her hair was down, soft waves tumbling across her bare shoulders. The dress, in addition to being quite short, seemed to be near topless as well. It was one of those laced-up-tight undergarment-looking dresses. Like a corset. Her hair moved with the motion of the train and the swell of both breasts could be seen as her hair swayed. Two thoughts keep running through my head on repeat. Damn, she looks hot and Shit, she must be cold. I felt like a prick for objectifying her, so I turned my attention to the other passengers. She didn't need me ogling her. I smiled down at Gran, but she was intent on watching the man directly in front of her. He was openly leering at the girl until he caught Gran's scornful eye.
The stocky man harrumphed and moved to the side, more in front of the girl, giving me enough room to go over and stand nearer to Gran. The young lady sat with her head down. The rotund gent lunged a bit with the movement of the train, and I guess stepped on the girl's foot. She raised her head and sweetly apologized to him. I did notice she was very pretty, as well as polite. By all rights, he should have apologized to her, but he took her apology as an opening to begin speaking to her.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself?" he blurted with a snarl and loud enough to catch the attention of everyone nearby. He looked expectantly at Gran as if she'd join in his harassment. She gave him no joy.
"I beg your pardon?" The young lady asked. She tucked her hair back behind her ear on one side and sat up at little straighter. To her credit, she looked him in the eye; she didn't back down, cower or try to cover up.
"Look at you, dressed like that in public. You should be ashamed. What would your mother and father say if they saw you? You should have some self-respect when you dress yourself. You look like a whore."
The poor girl didn't say anything, but blushed the same colour as her lovely, but tiny dress. She flushed a bright, bright red from the roots of her long brown hair to the tops of her peachy breasts, instantly.
"Excuse me." A voice I knew well and loved, piped up. While still holding the grab rail with one hand, I covered my eyes with the other. The people around had no idea what was about to befall them, what this man had just unleashed.
"She can wear whatever she likes and it's none of your fucking business. Who the hell are you to comment? You ugly bastard. I think she looks lovely and a damn sight better than you in that worn-out old suit.. And even if she was wearing pasties and a garter belt with a sign that said Free-for-all on her coochie-coo, it wouldn't be any of your damn business. Now, fuck off home to your bored wife, asshole."
Half the car erupted in giggles, a few clapped. Some were offended by Gran's choice of language, but didn't dare say anything to her so they grumbled under their breath. The lout galumphed off to the other end of the car. The young lady looked at Gran and threw her arms around her, folding her in a big hug. Gran patted the girl on the shoulder and there there'd her. I must have looked like an idiot with my mouth hanging open, but I couldn't believe what Gran had just said. I knew she had a vast vocabulary, but not quite that current of one. She smirked at me and winked.
"At my advanced age, Edward, I'm allowed to speak my mind and damn the consequences. I like being a, what's that term you kids use now? A badass? Yes, I think that suits. I'm a badass."
The young lady raised her head from Gran's shoulder and thanked her.
Gran insisted we get off at the next station and take the girl out for a coffee. I offered the young beauty my coat and she accepted it with a broad smile. It was worth the chill just to see that smile.
Her name was Isabella, but she asked that we call her Bella. She was attending a costume party with her boyfriend. The dress had a long velvet coat that went with it, but the party was warm, so Bella left that part in some bedroom with everyone else's coats. She swore up and down that she never dressed like this, this tight or revealing, but her fellow suggested it for the theme of the party, some sort of Steampunk thing. Bella worked in a pediatrician's office; dressing up wasn't something she did often. She said she was quite boring usually, a good book and a glass of wine were her idea of a nice night.
The party was dull, more his friends and co-workers than hers, so Bella found herself bored. She looked for her boyfriend, but couldn't find him. She went into the bedroom to get her cell phone, only to find her boyfriend of three years lying on the pile of coats with his boss's penis down his throat.
"For a moment, before I got angry, I was relieved. I knew something wasn't right between James and I, but I thought it was my fault somehow. I guess not, now. I stared at them for a bit then ran out of the room. I didn't notice I'd neglected my coat and boots until I reached the subway. I'm just so glad I had a bit of change in my pocket for the fare."
Gran held Bella's hand and hung on her every word. She insisted I take them home to my parents' house after coffee. My mother fussed over Bella as well, lending her some slacks and a cardigan. The evening concluded with me driving my father's car back to where the party was held to fetch Bella's coat, boots, phone and house keys. She came with me. James was still there, he cried and begged for her to listen to him. Bella ignored him, but I found I could not. I didn't hit him, although I wanted to; I didn't think Bella would appreciate that. I did growl at him to find somewhere else to sleep for the weekend. Knowing Gran and the rest of my family, Bella would be moved out of her apartment within hours the next day. The only choice would be if she stayed with Gran or my parents before she found a new place.
I offered to stay on her couch for the night when I walked her to her door, but she declined my offer.
"Your Gran is my new hero, Edward. I think I may love her. Your whole family has been just lovely. I can't thank you enough. I've never been a damsel in distress, but you've all become my knights in shining armour." Then she put her hands on my shoulders, lifted herself up and kissed my cheek. I turned my head and kissed her properly. Deep, true, steal-your-breath-away kissed her as if my soul, my very life depended on it. She wound her arms around my shoulders and clung to me like a barnacle.
I'm a smart fellow. I'm intelligent and educated. I'm months away from graduating with my master's degree in American Literature. I've read thousands of books. Never in all my studies have I ever read and believed in the power of first, true love. But that kiss; that night I fell in love with Isabella Swan.
Bella attended Christmas dinner with our family, Sam and Embry. I kissed her properly for the first time on New Year's Eve. We were engaged by St. Patrick's Day. The wedding is this Christmas.
James is not invited.
AN: Thank you for reading.