Author's Note: Written for the Weathering Heights Challenge at the livejournal community Partofhim. Prompts were Rihanna's "Umbrella" and the picture of fireworks and lightning. Go check out more great fic! Thanks Beverly for the beta work :)
for what it's worth
When the sun shines we'll shine together
Told you I'd be here forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath, I'm gonna stick it out 'til the end
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
- Rihanna, "Umbrella"
Every year, Forks had a Fourth of July celebration which usually involved gallons of lemonade and heaving tables full of hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie. Charlie loved it, and I'll admit, while I liked pie, I only ever went because it meant a lot to him – and these days, I'd do anything to appease him.
To say he's unhappy about my upcoming marriage to Edward would be one thing; to say he's disappointed in me is something else entirely. It would be hard to pinpoint just one source of disappointment – they ranged from my own immaturity to Edward's audacity at playing so freely with my heart.
These past few months have been hard, as I tried not to think about the Volturi and my eventual separation from this mortal coil, and its effect on Charlie and Renee…I really didn't need my father's disapproval on top of it all. Renee's cautious enthusiasm was troublesome enough.
Edward planned on accompanying me to the picnic this year. He was intent on making sure I experienced everything a human being possibly could, up to and including stuffing myself full of good old American cuisine.
But this was not all about me, however – there were fireworks to watch. Every Fourth of July, Forks very nearly goes bankrupt buying explosives to shoot into the air, not to mention trying to wrangle the proper fire equipment to make it safe for the viewing public. The result was a spectacle worth of awe for humans and vampires alike, and it seems the men of my future family all really like explosions in the sky.
"Eternity or not, there's nothing better than a good pyrotechnic display," Edward pointed out one day, an observation Emmett quickly agreed with.
"It's a basic principle of life, Bella," my future brother-in-law said. "Men like speed and danger, and fireworks have both."
"So do women," Rosalie added, giving her husband a sly wink. Though we hadn't really spoken since her sudden storytelling in Edward's bedroom that night, she was making the effort to be around me more – which seemed as much of a gesture of friendship that I'd possibly get from her.
"At least I don't have to go alone," I said with a happy sigh, nestling myself back into Edward's strong arms.
My engagement had telephones ringing all over Forks, and everyone wanted to look at my ring and ask me questions. While they'd be twice as bad when Edward was around, I was counting on him to dazzle our way through awkward encounters.
"Only if it's overcast," he pointed out, ruining my mood. Because if it was sunny, that meant no Edward and if it were cloudy, no fireworks. I couldn't possibly win.
"I'm sure we could figure something out," Edward said once he saw my pout. "It's not that hard to find fireworks."
But – lucky me – the morning of July Fourth was overcast, with threats of torrential downpours. Forks was accustomed to this freakish weather, though, and by the time I went downstairs (after quality time with Edward and without his shirt) Charlie was already gone. The note he left told me I could find him on Main Street, and I knew he was probably trying to charm some pie from a willing citizen hours before the judging actually began.
As I studied the scrap of paper, I tried not to think about how this may be the very last time I'd be at any sort of huge public gathering for the foreseeable future. While the reason for my banishment was logical – who would trust a newborn vampire around well-fed humans? – it was yet another reminder of the change that would soon occur.
Thankfully, a knock on the front door prevented me from contemplating my anticipated yet discomforting future for much longer.
"Why do you always knock?"
Hands in his pocket, Edward shrugged. "Manners, Bella," he said with a smile. "It pays to be a gentleman."
"Your mother raised you right," I said, throwing my arms around him and kissing his cheek. "Are you ready for this party?"
"Hmmm." He held me tighter to him, brushing my forehead with his lips. "We don't have to go."
As much as I enjoyed the suggestion, I knew it was nothing more than words. We would still go to the picnic despite whatever protestations I had about wanting to stay here with him. We'd been testing the limits of his self-control for the past few weeks in preparation for our wedding, and while we'd gotten far, there were limits to what Edward felt comfortable doing, both in terms of his own moral beliefs and his vampire nature.
"We should," I said, ending the moment. Edward kissed me quickly, a kiss which I felt all the way down to my toes, then took my hand and led me to the still-running Volvo parked in the driveway.
As I expected, Fork's Main Street "Historic" district was full of people, food, and decorations equivalent to the GDP of a small island.
"It's like patriotism threw up," I pointed out, and Edward laughed.
"You should have seen it back when I was young," he said. "I don't remember much but if anything stands out it's the colors red, white, and blue."
There's nothing I could ever say when he talked about his past because, while Edward could be detached, I was curious, having actually gone to the trouble of checking out books on the Great War from Forks Public Library and hiding them in the kitchen – the one place neither Edward nor Charlie would look. I didn't know why it was important that I hid them; just that it was something private, for me, to understand where Edward came from.
"Bella?" Edward tugged on my hand, and I snapped myself out of whatever daze I was in.
"Just thinking," I said. Luckily, I didn't have to explain in any more detail, because Mrs. Stanley and Jessica were headed right for us, to ogle my engagement ring and press us for questions about the wedding.
Edward smiled as usual, dazzling them with his charm, but Jessica and her mother were interested in other things besides Edward: what would I be wearing? And my bridesmaids? Flowers? Music?
"Um," I started, not entirely sure how much I wanted to divulge.
"Actually," a new voice said, entering the conversation, "its bad luck to tell the groom about the dress before the wedding, isn't it?"
Alice, along with the rest of the Cullens, had arrived to save the day – as always. The Stanley ladies didn't know what to say beyond that, their natural aversions to the Cullens kicking in, and soon they left us in merciful peace. I wasn't sure how long it would last, but I was thankful nonetheless.
"I don't know why we've never come before," Emmett commented suddenly, taking a look around. "It's sort of fun."
"It was sunny last year," Alice said with a smile. "Look, games!"
"Carnival games – and a test of strength, Emmett," Jasper added, a look of interest on his face that mirrored Emmett's own.
"Be fair," Esme warned.
"Always, Mom," Emmett replied with a smile as he and Jasper headed in the direction of the booths. Rosalie followed with a sigh, and Alice squeezed my hand before skipping off in that direction as well.
"She's excited," Edward leaned over to tell me. "She's going to bring home a very large stuffed bear." He put his arm around my waist. "Now, let's go get you some food."
While Esme and Carlisle found a seat at a picnic table, Edward piled two plates high with hamburgers and hot dogs. He balanced the plates, and several soda cans and chip bags, as we weaved among the crowd to find where the rest of the Cullens were seated.
All throughout lunch, people stopped to say hello to their beloved Dr. Cullen – including, surprisingly, Charlie.
"How were the pies this year?" I asked, spying a glob of cherry in the middle of his uniform tie.
"I wouldn't know," he said, feigning ignorant, but when I pointed my index finger at the scene of the crime, he shrugged.
"Did you catch the parade?" he asked, changing the subject.
"No, but I'm sure I didn't miss anything," I said.
"Now really, Bella," Charlie responded. "There's nothing wrong with a parade."
He looked up, then, as someone shouted his name.
"Apparently the fireworks are here," he said. "I'll see you around."
"Can't wait," I said. "Edward really likes fireworks."
With some amount of hesitation, he brushed a kiss against my head and I was reminded, once again, of my choice and the toll it would take on those I loved.
"See ya, Dad," I said, trying to sound light. I watched as he said goodbye to Carlisle and Esme, and headed into the crowd.
"Enjoying your lunch?" Edward asked, reaching for my hand across the table. His fingers played with my engagement ring as he spoke, turning the diamond from side to side.
"Yes," I said, focusing on the way the diamond sparkled in the light – matching the other diamond on my bracelet…
"We better see what the others are up to," he said. "After all, Alice can't be the only one leaving here with a large stuffed grizzly, can she?"
It started slowly: a few drops falling on picnic tables and onto the top of our heads.
Edward had barely won me a silly cartoon lion when the rain started to come down, distracting Emmett from his goal (three tin can pyramids in a row). His frustration tripled at the realization that Jasper had won more stuffed animals than he.
"Let's get to shelter," Edward said, grabbing my hand. His siblings didn't move, not seeming to mind the rain at all. The crowd around us was also moving, rushing towards nearby shops, picnic shelters, and any place that had some sort of covering.
Edward, though, was quicker and smarter: flinging me over his shoulder, he took off at his normal speed, and before I could even blink, we were safely indoors.
Very indoors – not just under an awning or on a porch, but inside some room which looked like a –
"Are we in someone's kitchen?" I asked, and then noticed the industrial stove and steel countertops. A restaurant kitchen, or maybe a shop.
"You had no problem with grand theft auto, so I thought a little breaking and entering wouldn't hurt," Edward said with that same crooked smile that made my heart flip every time. "Luckily for us, this building is currently unoccupied."
"Lucky for us," I said, taking another look around. A thin layer of dust lay on the stovetop and the room was dark and cold, the wind blowing in from the open door left in our wake.
There was a clap of thunder, and I signed, leaning against a counter. "Way to give me all the human experiences I need. Grand theft auto, breaking and entering, countless life-or-death situations...let's hope my vampire life is utterly boring."
Edward didn't respond, and, worried I said something to offend him, I looked up.
Edward's eyes had never left me, and I had a feeling I had spilled ketchup down the front of my white shirt. It wasn't until I looked down, of course, that I realized it was quite the opposite.
My white shirt was thoroughly soaked and that, combined with the rain, had made me quite cold.
"Bella," Edward said, his voice lower than usual, and I remember how tempting he always told me I was when soaking wet. The pieces – my shirt, my smell, and all the liberties we had been taking with each other since the announcement of our engagement – fell together suddenly.
I was so going to take advantage of this.
I scooted backwards until the small of my back hit something solid and then I pulled myself up onto the counter. My legs dangled off the side, kicking the wooden cabinets.
"Edward," I said quietly.
He stayed across the room, hands balled into fists at his side. The rain grew in intensity outside.
Edward tried – very hard, I assume, even for that unflinching self-control – to not let his eyes drift anywhere south of my neck, but occasionally his eyes would fall and snap back up again, looking partly mortified and totally intrigued. No, hungry. For what, I wasn't entirely sure, but I was more than willing to risk fate.
"I can't smell that good," I said with a boldness I didn't even know I possessed.
"You can't possibly imagine," Edward said with a smile.
"Which part of me do you want more?" I asked, remembering his constant desire for both my body and my blood. "Or is it always both?"
Edward looked away, out the window. "It's always both," he said, "but I think the man in me is winning."
"Come closer," I told him. He wasn't the only one feeling any sort of conflict; the rain had soaked his shirt and it clung to every muscle on his frame, making me remember our stolen moments this morning. I was desperate to touch him again.
"Edward," I said, "just get over here."
"Remember how you wanted me to have all those human experiences?" I asked.
"Yes," he swallowed.
"I can't think of anything more human than risking public displays of affection," I told him. "Just get over here now or else I'll leave and go out in the rain and fall down and break my leg or something." I felt bad for the idle threat but just looking at him made me want to combust.
"You can't possibly be serious," he answered, looking appalled. I wasn't, but I also wasn't going to sit here with him in close proximity not touching me. I scooted forward on the countertop, as if I was going to stand. With lightning speed, he was beside me, hands on the cool tile beneath me and his face inches from mine.
"Bella," he whispered, and I leaned closer, brushing my nose against his collarbone. He placed his hands on either side of my hips, leaning forward to trace his lips from my temple to my chin.
I shivered at his touch, and immediately he pulled away, thinking my reaction to be something it most certainly wasn't.
"I'm sorry," he said, apologizing for the coldness of his skin. I wrapped my legs around his hips and pulled him back to me.
"Don't apologize – yet," I said, as our bodies aligned. I felt breathless, always, with him so close to me, and there was nothing better than this – or when he wrapped his arms around me again. He angled my head up to kiss me, pressing his body firmly against mine, and I gasped for air. The intensity of Edward's kisses had increased since we committed to trying before our wedding night, and while it was a welcome change, it made it harder to stick to some sort of schedule.
I broke the kiss and tugged at his shirt. "Off. Now," I said, fumbling with buttons.
"Bella," he started, but I interrupted and said, "Honestly, how much trouble can we get into in a public place?"
"Vacant," he said, "vacant not public," but I continued to unbutton his shirt.
"They'll come looking for us once the rain ends," I said. "Especially Charlie."
Edward sighed, and I slipped the shirt off his shoulders. His hands were on my waist, pushing my own shirt upwards. I allowed him to pull off the wet garment, exposing my skin to the coldness of the air and Edward's chest. But I wasn't complaining – instead, I was enjoying the feeling of hot and cold and Edward's lips lowered to my neck, then shoulder, tracing my bra straps with his mouth while pressing intently against me. I bit my lip to keep from moaning.
He lowered the bra strap down one arm, and pulled his head back. There was a question in his look, and just as I was about to nod, he whirled around, and I found my face resting between his shoulder blades.
I froze, afraid that someone else had come after me – the Volturi? Another newborn? Edward's posture did not relax, and I placed my hands on his waist. He felt tense.
"Couldn't you have knocked?" he asked, and I heard laughter from the doorway.
"Where's the fun in that?" Emmett asked.
Edward was blocking me from his siblings, not some evil vampire out to destroy me. He was just…protecting me. From embarrassment? Or exposure?
I couldn't stop from blushing, feeling my entire body turn red. "So I guess the rain has stopped?" I asked in a vain attempt to keep myself from dying of shame -- you can't become a vampire if you're already dead, after all.
"The sun's out," Alice said. "Maybe there will be fireworks after all."
"We'll meet you outside," Edward said, remaining still, and I knew he would not move until they were gone.
When the coast was clear, he retrieved our shirts. I slipped it over my head, feeling the cool heaviness of damp fabric sticking to my back. Once Edward had buttoned his shirt, he stopped in front of me. He traced my cheek with one hand, and leaned down to kiss me softly.
"Are you absolutely sure you don't want to go to Vegas?" he asked. I laughed, kissing him back.
"Alice would kill us."
"No. She'd just be supremely disappointed and hold it over us for all of eternity," Edward said, running his hands across my back. "But such a small price to pay for unlimited, uninterrupted time with you…"
"Soon," I said, kissing below his jaw. As much as I wanted to run off and get married, I knew I didn't have to rush things. I'd have forever to spend with Edward. I could endure interruptions for the time being.
"Soon," Edward replied. "But now – pie."
We sat on the bleachers of the Forks High athletic field with the rest of the town, waiting impatiently for the first sound, the first glimpse, of fireworks. I leaned into Edward with his arms across my chest, his lips pressing against my neck, my cheek, my temple. I could stay like this forever and knew that, one day, I would.
"I thought you said there would be fireworks," Edward said to Alice teasingly, and she stuck out her tongue over her shoulder.
"I said maybe," she replied. "Learn some patience."
At this, it was all Jasper and Emmett could do to stifle their laughter, but just as Edward prepared to hit them, the first spark shot up and exploded in the sky. I watched in awe as all of the Cullen boys looked skyward, enraptured by the firework display.
"While there's no substitute for human experiences," Edward said, pulling me closer, "some things are pretty much the same, aren't they?"
I thought back to the abandoned kitchen, and the feeling of his body against mine. I would never not want to be with Edward – I knew that. Human or not, the only experiences I ever wanted were with him.
"Maybe you're right," I whispered back. "Some things never change."