Title: The Edge
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Stephanie Meyer. I'm just borrowing them.
Bella leaned against the side of Alice's Porsche and tipped her head back, allowing her eyes to close as she basked in the feeling of sunlight warming her face. She didn't get a chance to luxuriate in the sun much anymore, but on the driveway of the Cullen's house, surrounded by forest, she didn't have to worry about prying eyes and was able to sparkle freely.
"I always did like shiny things."
Bella's lips curved up into a smile at the sound of Alice's voice, and she tipped her head forward and opened her eyes to find her lover grinning at her.
"You must have been so easy to please as a child," Bella commented, holding her hand out to Alice. A wash of warmth shot through her when Alice took her hand and stepped closer, and Bella couldn't help but marvel once again at the effect Alice had on her.
Alice smiled and shrugged.
"Probably," she drawled playfully. "I'm pretty easy to please now, too," she continued leaning forward to brush her lips against Bella's softly.
"Oh, I don't know," Bella breathed out, her lips curling up into an impish smile as Alice continued to lightly dust her lips with kisses. "You made me work pretty hard last night."
Alice purred softly at the memory, and the next time her lips brushed against Bella's the touch was more focused and heated.
Alice's hands began to wander and Bella pulled back from the raven-haired beauties lips and swatted her on the arm.
"Stop it," Bella murmured, rubbing Alice's arm gently as the tiny woman pouted adorably. "Dad's coming."
"Ugh, fine," Alice grumbled taking a step back from Bella, as Charlie's loud footsteps began to register with her too. She and Charlie had just become friends again, and as much as she wanted to continue feeling up Bella, she wanted to stay on his good side more. It had been nice, being able to joke around with Charlie again, being able to hold Bella's hand around him and kiss her cheek without him glaring at her and making her feel like the love child of Lizzy Borden and Hitler. Despite her general giddiness, she was a patient person, but the tension between herself and Charlie had been fraying her nerves and she was happy that things had pretty much returned to normal between them.
"Don't be such a cranky pants," Bella murmured affectionately, moving to pinch Alice's cheek but just missing as her lover dodged away from the touch.
"I'm not even wearing pants," Alice muttered crankily, before her eyebrows knitted together in a look of intense concentration. She sighed. "I don't think that came out quite right," she murmured a second later, making Bella smile widely.
"Actually that sounded just about right. For later," Bella promised, letting Alice off without teasing this time.
"Promises, promises," Alice sighed meeting Bella's eyes. "I'm so happy you always keep yours," she continued grinning, and then she leaned forward and pressed her lips lightly against Bella's neck.
Bella rolled her eyes at Alice even as her lips curved up in a smile, and she shifted so that she could snake her hand around Alice's waist and draw her lover against her slightly larger frame. Even though she was taller than Alice, before she had been turned she had always just naturally found herself curling into Alice's embrace, being held by Alice instead of the other way around. Even though Alice was smaller, she had been stronger and Bella had enjoyed being wrapped up, secure and safe in Alice's arms. Since becoming a vampire herself however, she had discovered that it was very pleasant to wrap Alice's small frame up in her arms, to encircle her waist and hold her and know that she could protect her, that she could be strong for Alice as well.
Alice breathed in deeply, contently and let herself relax fully against Bella, knowing that her lover would hold her up.
"This was a good Christmas," Alice said softly, her eyes tracking back over to the house, tracing over its angles and planes as a soft smile touched her lips, "And a very good beginning to the New Year."
"Hmm," Bella murmured, tightening her arms around Alice.
It really had been a very good Christmas. Many wonderful and amazing things had happened the previous year, but many very painful and difficult things had happened as well. Bella wouldn't have changed anything that had happened, and she knew that Alice wouldn't have wished for anything to change either. But, the road they had been walking had not always been easy and she was happy that things were beginning to settle down, and that previous wounds were beginning to heal.
"We could stay a few days longer," Bella said softly, burying her nose in Alice's hair. "I could take Dad to Forks and be back today."
As Alice had predicted, Jasper – and Kate – had shown up for the family's New Years celebrations. Alice hadn't said anything about his arrival in the days leading up to it, but Bella knew that she had been nervous despite the fact that her visions had seemed to indicate that everything would go well. So, when Jasper and Alice had finally found themselves face to face after the rest of the family had greeted him, Bella had been relieved and incredibly happy to see him smile at Alice warmly before quickly walking over to her and wrapping her in a big hug that had actually lifted her feet off of the floor.
The hours that followed their reunion had been hectic, filled with music, and games and excited conversation as the full household caught up with other and enjoyed each others company. After the countdown – and the popping of a bottle of champagne that only Charlie had been able to enjoy – Alice and Jasper had slipped away from the others to go for a walk and talk. When they returned, Alice was happy, and tranquil in a way that would have brought tears to Bella's eyes if she were still able to cry, and when they retired to their room later that night, they had rung the New Year in together with a peacefulness that had eluded them for a long time.
"It's fine," Alice said, lifting her head slightly so that she could look at Bella as she spoke. "Really," she added seeing Bella begin to gear up to protest. "It's been nice seeing everyone, but I'm looking forward to some time alone with you too," she continued, her voice dropping a little and taking on a raspy quality that made Bella shiver. "Edward's staying, Jasper will be around much more in the future," she went on with a certainty that let Bella knew she had seen it come to pass. "And Jake will pout for eons if you don't go see him before we leave like you promised you would. We don't need to change our plans."
"But you've only just seen each other again and …"
"Bella," Alice breathed out.
"I just don't want to rush you. I mean …"
"Bella," Alice interjected again, smirking a little this time. "It's better if we go. Things are better now, but there's no reason to pretend it's not a little bit awkward. Jasper would like everyone to get a chance to know Kate better without everyone glancing at me, or you, or Edward every few seconds."
"Oh," Bella murmured. "Oh," she repeated nodding her head. "Right," she muttered. "Wait! I want to get to know Kate too."
"We're immortal," Alice said, smiling serenely. Bella still reacted to things as a human did, always concerned with time as if it was a finite, limited thing, which of course for her, it no longer was. It would take years, however, decades before Bella really came to understand that they had all of the time in the world. They could take their time and let things happen when they were meant to happen. "You'll have time to get to know her better, and so will I. But, it's better for now if the four of us aren't living together. With Jasper's talent, and mine, it's a bit much at the moment."
Bella's eyebrows scrunched together as she tried to put together Alice's meaning, and then her eyes widened in surprise.
"Oh. My. God. Alice!" Bella exclaimed in a completely scandalized tone. "Last night … did he … could he … ew! Oh my god! Alice!" Bella shuddered. "That is not alright."
Alice sighed and looked down at the ground. "It was only for a moment," Alice replied shuffling her feet. "Normally, I mean with Rose and Emmett, and Esme and Carlisle, they're usually far enough away that he doesn't pick anything up. But he's more attuned to me and … he strengthened his blocks as soon as he realized, but it's probably better for there to be a lot of space between us at night for a while. Like states, and even continents, of space until …"
"You're less attuned to each other," Bella finished, shifting uncomfortably.
Alice nodded, looking a little uncomfortable herself. A second later Bella stiffened behind Alice, and Alice sighed knowing that Bella had remembered the other part of what she had said earlier.
"Have you seen them? In your visions?" Bella asked, remembering that Alice had said that her talent made things a little uncomfortable as well.
She was torn between being scandalized at the idea that Alice could have porn sent straight into her brain, and being amused at the idea that Alice could have porn sent straight into her brain.
Alice shuffled her feet and sighed deeply. "Nothing like what you're thinking," she muttered, staring at Bella for a moment. She had seen the look on Bella's face and knew exactly what she was thinking. "But more than I need to, want to, or should know," she continued crinkling her nose.
"Ugh, that's so … awkward," Bella declared.
"I know," Alice sighed. "I know," she continued in a piteous tone of voice. "Distance is our friend right now."
"Oh my god," Bella breathed out shaking her head, as some of the tension that had come into her body during their conversation began to fade. "I'm so glad we're leaving in a few minutes. I don't think I'd be able to make eye contact with Jasper without dying of mortification after this."
"Oh, you wouldn't die. Trust me," Alice said dryly. "If that was possible, I would have died this morning."
Bella bit down on her bottom lip and marshaled all of her willpower to stop herself from giggling.
"That must have been an interesting conversation," the brunette commented, unable to stop her body from shaking a little with suppressed laughter.
"That's one way of putting it," Alice muttered beginning to suspect that Bella was starting to find the situation amusing instead of debilitatingly awkward. "And I can feel you shaking."
"Sorry," Bella murmured.
"Yeah alright," Alice muttered a little peevishly though she decided to let it go. It was kind of funny, she supposed … as long as you weren't her or Jasper. Unfortunately, she was her, which meant that she wasn't able to have more than an academic understanding of the hilarity of the situation.
"Poor baby," Bella whispered, pressing a kiss against Alice's temple, and then her cheek, before finally letting her lips meet her lovers. "I promise, when we get to Esme Island I'll kiss everything better."
Alice smiled as Bella nuzzled her, and relaxed into the brunette's embrace.
"If you keep teasing me so mercilessly, there's going to need to be an Alice Island before you get to kiss anything again," Alice grumbled good-naturedly, not even the least bit offended when Bella guffawed at the insinuation that Alice would be able to keep her hands off of her.
"Really," Bella drawled once her small bout of laughter was under control. "I thought you liked it when I tease you," she continued, her fingers moving from resting over top of Alice's jacket to slip beneath it, and then her shirt.
"There's good teasing, and there's bad teasing," Alice replied, her voice hitching as Bella's cool fingers made contact with the slightly warmer flesh of her stomach.
"I thought this was good teasing," Bella breathed out, her tongue just brushing the shell of Alice's ear.
"Good on Esme Island," Alice rasped. "Very bad when Charlie is at the front door."
Bella groaned and drew her hand out of Alice's shirt as she blinked rapidly, trying to focus her senses. Charlie always did have the worst timing ever. In fact she was beginning to think that he had some sort of supernatural "Father-Sense" that helped him appear just when she was about to get her swerve on.
"Charlie Swan," Bella sighed, "Father, police chief, sports enthusiast, recreational fisherman … cock-blocker. Let's give him a round of applause ladies and gentlemen."
Alice laughed and grabbed Bella's hand, holding it firmly in hers as she moved to lean against the car beside Bella.
A soft smile was still painting Alice's face a few minutes later when Charlie finally joined them at the car.
"You girls ready to go?" Charlie asked, smiling at the sight of the two of them resting against the side of the car hand in hand.
"Sure thing Charles in charge," Alice replied grinning, "I'll drive!" she declared happily, releasing Bella's hand and then reaching around her girlfriend to yank the car keys out of her other one. Bella smiled and shook her head, and Charlie paled and clutched at the frame of the car for support.
"Uh," Charlie began uncertainly.
He hated it when Alice drove. She always went way too fast, and then laughed uproariously, like they were watching an episode of 30 Rock, when he begged her to slow down. Bella drove too fast as well, but she made an effort to try and stay as close to the speed limit as she could without it feeling to her like a tortoise was out pacing her.
"Don't worry, Charlie Brown," Alice said opening up her door and slipping into the driver's seat. "I'll stay within fifty miles per hour of speed limit, Scout's honor."
Charlie blinked and then looked beside him to Bella who had the passenger side door open and was about to climb into small backseat of the car.
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Charlie asked, not feeling better at all.
"Yeah, I think so," Bella responded smiling. "Don't worry," she said, turning to place her hand on her father's shoulder once she had gotten her smile under control. "I promise you, I won't let her do the 'Look, no hands!' trick."
Charlie stared at Bella for a second, and then knitted his hands together in consternation. "Was that supposed to make me feel better?" he asked a second later, his voice raising.
Bella smiled brightly, and then reached out and patted Charlie's shoulder before slipping into the back of the car.
Charlie sighed. He knew that was being expertly teased, and that if complained again the two of them would only team up and mock him at the same time, instead of the kind-hearted individual assaults they had just launched. Charlie resigned himself to enduring Alice's 'driving', and sighing softly once more, he slipped into the car as well.
Bella stretched herself out in the back, a soft smile playing on her lips as Alice told Charlie to buckle up like he was a three year old, which prompted Charlie to glare at her until Alice held up her hands and muttered, "Alright, alright". Charlie then buckled himself in, and as Bella strapped herself in as well, even though crashing wouldn't do much more than bruise her – even at the speeds Alice drove.
As she watched, Charlie began to poke at Alice's radio trying to figure out how to turn it to any Classic Rock station he could find. Unfortunately for him, the stereo system in the Porsche was brand new and state of the art, and he kept on skipping forward on the CD Alice had in the player instead of scanning radio stations.
Bella leaned back against the seat, and laced her hands behind her head as she watched Alice talk Charlie through how to operate the stereo system, a content smile tugging at her lips as Charlie nodded studiously at Alice's gentle instructions. A few minutes later, Charlie seemed to have mastered the system, and the Porsche filled with the sound of Stairway to Heaven. Charlie looked over at Alice and smiled, his head automatically nodding in time with the guitar. Alice grinned at him and joined in.
A few moments later, Alice began to back the car out of the driveway, words tumbling rapidly from her mouth as she started to tell Charlie about seeing Led Zeppelin in concert in Detroit in the 70s.
Bella smiled and turned her head towards the window contently, letting the sun warm her face and the sound of Alice's voice lulled her into a peaceful haze. She wasn't paying full attention to the story, but she didn't need to be. She had heard it before and remembered all of the details. All she wanted to do was just bask in the gentle and soothing rhythm of Alice's voice.
Long eyelashes fluttered as Bella's eyes closed. She shifted for a moment in the seat until she was completely comfortable and then settled back down again, utterly relaxed and blissfully happy. It hadn't always been an easy ride and her situation was more than a little unconventional, but hers was a good life and she wouldn't have changed anything for the world.
Thank you all for taking this long, crazy ride with me. This was the longest, most ambitious story I've ever undertaken, and I couldn't have done it without your encouraging words and support.