The Worst Part, Jacob/Bella
Jacob thinks maybe the worst part is Bella's skin.
He doesn't even feel right calling it that, because it remembers nothing of the soft, smooth pelt that humans wear.
It's more like a shell now, a solid sugar casing, sickly sweet and cold with cold inside.
Sometimes he forgets his horror, just finds it amazing, confounding, the way it moves for him, shifting impossibly like bone stretching around him, letting him in and pulling her lips in a slow smile.
But he'll ache again when it's over, when he burns and the fire inside her doesn't reach her cheeks.
When someone is constantly half-naked around you, you get used to it, you sort of stop seeing it really.
Jacob's torso was a russet blur to Bella, something her eyes rarely focussed on.
But suddenly, on this too-hot Sunday afternoon, her back pressed up against the cool stone wall while Jacob worked on the rabbit, she was having a lot of trouble concentrating on her book.
Slick, almost shiny, a ghost of sweat… Soft ripples under smooth, thick, dark, rich... Tight over his shoulders when he stretches forward and –
Her cheeks flushed horribly when he caught her staring.
Cloudless skies were few and far between in Denali, and Tanya liked to take advantage of the privacy of their grounds to enjoy the sun's peculiar, delicious warmth.
She liked to stroll through the roses bushes, inhale the subtle scent of camellia, lift her face, hands reaching up into the bright sky, close her eyes and sway gracefully.
She liked to do all of this naked.
When the Cullens came she found she favored the soft grass under the library window.
Edward looked up from his book, watched agape as she shimmered and twirled, pale hair spilling between her breasts.
Quil had been around plenty of kids – siblings, cousins etc – but he'd never really noticed the impossible tenderness of their skin.
He noticed everything about Claire.
Her skin was rich and dark like his, like just about everybody's on the Reservation, but it was so soft when he touched his calloused fingers to her little sleeping face, so unbelievably soft, like she was held together by clouds.
He made the mistake of pondering his new discovery while he was out running one night. The paedophile gags started up, didn't stop till Claire was old enough to get them.
Flawless, Alice, Bella, Rosalie
"You know what's good about being a vampire?"
Alice leaned forward, touched a tiny sponge carefully to Bella's cheek.
Bella smiled. "Getting to spend eternity with Edward?"
Rosalie snorted, then quickly busied herself with her hair, examined her form thoughtfully in the mirror.
Alice kept dabbing at Bella's skin, eyes narrowed in concentration. "Nope. Well I guess for Mrs-Edward-Cullen-to-be yes. But I was thinking more along the lines of no more blemishes. Ever."
"Mm, I admit I do envy your supernaturally flawless complexions."
Alice grinned. "Screw Clearasil, we owe it all to a little venom."
"Speak for yourself," Rosalie muttered.
Science I, Jacob/Bella
Bella fell back on the bed, panting, rolled over immediately into Jacob's arms.
Her eyes widened as her hands pressed against his chest.
"Oh my God Jake, how can your skin be this hot without, like, little fires breaking out? It's insane."
He kissed her, grinning around a sigh when their lips parted. "I guess that's what you do to me."
Bella giggled, got up. "Yeah it's all down to me. Nothing to do with you being a dog."
His indignant Hey was lost on her as she skipped out the door stark naked, calling back "I wanna try something."
Science II, Jacob/Bella
Bella juggled an ice-cube hand to hand.
Jacob chuckled, pressed his palm to his forehead. "Oh Bells. Seriously?"
Her lips stretched in a wicked smile as she climbed onto the bed.
"I wanna see how quickly your skin melts it. In the name of science."
Jake smirked as she placed the ice-cube on his collarbone. "Okay honey, anything for science."
He closed his eyes, she bit her lip, the ice made a messy descent.
He opened one eye when it slid burning-cold over his navel.
"If that doesn't melt before it gets all the way down, you're in trouble."
Different, Jacob/Leah, Jacob/Bella
Her skin is so different from Bella's. It's one of the many ways in which they are polar opposites and Jacob is glad of it, because it makes this feel less like a poor substitute and more like something.
Leah is all red-brown smoothness, stretching unbroken under his eyes from the nape of her neck to the small of her back, over the subtle curve of her buttocks and down to the soles of her feet, rough from running in and out of the wolf.
Bella's skin is lily-white, and she only gives him small patches, few and far between.
Fair, Leah, Emily
When Leah and Emily were twelve they started buying Seventeen. The irony was not lost on their parents.
Sue raised an eyebrow when she saw them raiding the fridge, found them giggling in the bathroom later, their faces smeared with some awful honey and oatmeal concoction, balancing cucumber slices on their eyes.
A few years later Emily graduated to sweet-smelling creams. Leah moved on to Clearasil and muttering It's not fair.
Emily's skin is still flawless, but only on one side.
Even through all the hurt and resentment, Leah flinches at the scars, thinks to herself No, that's not fair.
Jacob used to love the sight of Bella's hand in his, especially on those rare occasions when she'd let him twine his fingers between hers, their skin plaited messily together – dark, light, dark, light.
He had always loved the contrast of them – how he was so much taller he had to lift her off the ground for a hug, how she'd shiver when he was burning up, and most of all, the perfect mismatch of their hands clasped tight.
Now when her hand brushed his – icy, unbreakable and whiter than ever – the sight made his gut churn.
Bella traces the silver half-moon on Jasper's cheek, curious topaz eyes following her fingertip.
"It's so strange how I could never see these before. You looked completely perfect back then." She grins, following a spidery line down to his collarbone. "Brand new."
Jasper's mouth twitches in a smile. "And yet, you seem to like me better now, ugly as I am."
"Not ugly," she murmurs, fingers exploring his pale chest, slipping over the impossible creases in his marble skin, some neat, some jagged and raw.
She kisses the tangled mess of scars along his abdomen, sighs.
"Not ugly at all."
"Bella, what does this feel like to you?"
She hid her grin in Edward's bare shoulder. "Do you want under-my-fingers feel or, you know...?"
He chuckled. "Under-your-fingers please."
Bella ran her hand lightly over his chest again. "It feels very smooth, and sort of silky, but hard too, cold, like polished stone maybe."
Edward sighed and when he spoke his heavy voice clutched at Bella's heart. "Cold stone. That can't be very pleasant."
She tilted her head back, made sure he saw her wicked smile before she pressed her lips to his jaw. "And yet, it really, really is."
The band of skin underneath the gold on her third finger is probably pale on pale.
The sun hasn't touched it in weeks.
Jacob thinks to himself how Bella could be naked before him, delicate shoulders, soft breasts and the gentle curve of her hip… she could be smiling sweet, bare under his eyes but for that diamond ring, and he'd still crave the little circle of skin underneath it.
He wishes he'd paid more attention to it when he'd had the chance, memorized her left hand unmarked and free, free to be his maybe, perhaps, someday, he had hoped.
Exhibition, Sam/Leah, Sam/Emily
Leah showed up at prom alone in a backless, short, white dress that practically glowed in the dark and showed off obscene amounts of her rich, dark skin.
To his horror, Sam found himself fighting off the urge to wrap his suit jacket around her all night, flinched when every guy's eyes dropped in awe from the nape of her neck to the small of her back.
Fuck. No. All I see is Emily. That's how it works.
He looked down as they swayed chastely on the dance floor, smiled at the perfect sweetness of her, his imprint, his love.