I don't own Twilight (well, actually I do own a copy of the DVD).

Lead Sails (And a Paper Anchor) – Atreyu

Withering away, a shrinking violet dies
So full of life, these lights have dried me out
Into the sea, I needed a drink
I never thought this would consume me whole…

-Chapter 1: La Louche-




I stared at the glass as the water trickled through the slotted spoon. The liquid melted the sugar cube, dripping slowly into the viscous green liquid below. Each drop of ice-cold water sent a white haze rippling outward to the edges of the glass, slowly completing the transition from transparent peridot green to the milkiest jade. Appropriately, it represented the spreading cloudiness in my soul. Each day it became thicker, like a cataract, until I didn't even recognize myself.

I sat alone at a table in the crowded bar, the same as every other night, swirling the glass as the last of the water dripped through. Staring into the expanding cloud, I ignored the chaos around me. I was still; everything around me vibrated with energy. Numb and fuzzy, I longed for the lucidity that would place me on an equal playing field with the world. I hated myself for this. Hated that I needed this to feel like I wasn't one of many background instruments in the score of life. Hated that I could no longer release the thoughts boiling inside of me without chemically altering my psyche. The words that had flowed out of me so easily in years before now refused to come forth without a little greasing of the hinges.

Hell, who was I kidding? I was so ruled by the ritual, by La Louche, that writing barely mattered anymore. I could have had it prepared for me behind the bar, but the ritual was as completely necessary to me as the drink itself. The wave of calm that washed over me during those few minutes of watching the transformation from clear green magic to hazy wonder was indescribable. It was only eclipsed by the feeling of electric clarity that followed the commencement of my nightly dance with the Green Fairy. It was that feeling I now lived for.

Quite simply, I felt alive with the first swallow. I was the smartest, most creative being on the planet. The most outgoing, the most beautiful, and the most entertaining person in the room. I was confident and fearless. At first, I'd loved the feeling; now I hated it. It wasn't me. Unaltered, I was shy, quiet, fading into the background as if I was clothed in the most efficient camouflage. I hated this too. I was a paradox, both halves of myself working to cancel out the other. If my life continued on this path, I would eventually cease to exist. Unfortunately, that thought wasn't enough to stop me.

My ritual complete, I held the drink to my lips, ignoring the slight tremor in my hand as I held the glass. I paused to inhale the fragrance of anise and herbs, feeling a tiny, electric tingle flow down my spine in response. The first time I tried absinthe, I'd been repulsed by the scent. Now it caused saliva to flood my mouth. My brain immediately realized what was coming as soon as it detected the scent. I knew that the liquor should be savored, but tonight I didn't care. I couldn't stomach the fuzziness anymore. Greedily, I swallowed the entire glass in one gulp, immediately signaling the waitress to bring me the another glass.

I prepared the second drink as clarity slowly began to seep into my body. The electrifying warmth slowly spread from my stomach outward. I was staring into the milky celadon liquid when I heard a honey-smooth voice behind me.

"Would you like some company?" His voice was like homemade ice cream on a hot summer night – sweet and satisfying. I turned my head to stare at him; his beauty rendered me incapable of speech even while dancing with the Green Fairy. Every hair on my body prickled with awareness. His green eyes looked into mine with intensity, reminding me of the absinthe in my glass before it met the ice-cold water. They were so clear and jewel green, almost catlike. I was captivated and I couldn't look away. I wanted to sink into him and lose myself until both of us were clouded together like absinthe and water, impossible to separate.

He was Michelangelo's David and DaVinci's Mona Lisa rolled into one; the combination of mystery and beauty almost painful to view. His features were even and sharp, with heavy brows slashing over deep set eyes. He was saved from feminine beauty by the slight crookedness of his nose, as if it had been broken at one time. The shock of coppery brown hair on his head was untamed, and his eyes shimmered with a green brilliance that rivaled the beauty of the first shoots of green leaves after the stark white of a snowy winter. I looked away, his intense regard burning me like an ant under a magnifying glass.

"If you'd like," I answered, one corner of my mouth kicking up in a slight smile. I turned my attention back to the now opaque liquid in my glass. He sat down inches from my side, his proximity warming my body through the short distance that separated us.

"My name is Edward," he said softly, but there was no mistaking the air of confidence radiating from him.

"Bella. Pleasure to meet you," I answered, sneaking a peek through my eyelashes. I held out my hand in greeting. He took it, enfolding my hand in his much larger one and squeezing firmly before releasing it. I reached for my second glass, trying valiantly to control my shaky hand, not sure if it was due to his presence or to the fact that I'd only consumed one drink so far this evening. His eyes flicked down to watch me. I knew he couldn't miss the trembling, and I wondered what he thought of it. Heat flooded my cheeks as I considered the two options, but both made me equally ashamed. I raised the glass to my lips, downing the contents of this drink just as quickly as I had the first. Closing my eyes, I felt the fire slide down my throat as I lowered my hand to the table. He placed his hand over mine as I set down the heavy tumber, forcing me to look at him.

"Come with me?" he asked in a low voice, grabbing me by the hand and leading me to what I assumed was the service corridor. I leaned against the wall for balance; it seemed even the Green Fairy wasn't enough to keep me upright in the presence of this man. My vision was centered solely on Edward, and I greedily drank in every detail, from his firm, toned chest to his narrow hips and solid legs. He leaned forward and placed his lips at my ear. "I've watched you here every night," he whispered in my ear. He pulled back slightly and I remained silent, drowning in his gaze. His sandalwood and citrus scent enveloped me, warm and crisp even over the stale scent of the bar.

His long, elegant fingers rose up to caress my cheek, leaving a streak of fire in their path. I turned my cheek into his palm, trying to capture more of his warmth. My chest rose and fell steadily with the increased tempo of my breathing. Edward stepped closer, crowding my frame with his larger body.

"You watch me? Why would you?" I whispered softly. I wondered how I'd missed seeing him here. I wouldn't have forgotten a face like his.

"You're so beautiful. You're here every night, looking so sad and lost… I'm going to save you."

I instantly bristled at his implication. Of course, I knew better than anyone else how badly damaged I was, but that didn't mean that I needed this beautiful man to point it out to me.

"What makes you think I need to be saved?" I asked stiffly. I pushed against his chest abruptly, needing space between us so I could think clearly. He stepped back and dropped his hand. It wasn't far enough, but I sensed that he wasn't willing to move any farther away. His eyes bored into mine, pinning me with a stare that was entirely too perceptive. I knew he could see the sickness in my soul, the tendrils of darkness that spread through every part of me. Unable to stand looking at him anymore, I turned quickly to walk away, but he caught my wrist and roughly pressed it against the wall behind me, once again caging me with his body.

"Maybe because I see you here every night, staring into a glass after glass of absinthe like a zombie," he growled angrily. "Because I see how your hand shakes like a leaf before you get your fix. Because your eyes look so lost right now, like you know there's no saving you." His voice cracked; that sharp, bottle-green gaze conveying the pain he felt at that realization. He shut his eyes and shook his head slightly before looking at me again. I remained motionless, my eyes stinging with the burn of unshed tears. I would not cry in front of this self-righteous stranger, no matter how much his soul called to mine. Drawing upon my anger, I tried desperately to rebuild the wall he'd so easily cracked.

"What, so you're stalking me?" I spat. "You might think I need saving, but I think you need professional help. Stalking isn't exactly acceptable to mainstream society either."

His brows drew together, eyes flaring with anger, jaws flexing. A vein in his forehead stood out slightly as he took a deep breath, those eyes boring into me. I could feel his chest expand against mine – we were that tightly pressed together.

"You think I'm not ashamed of the way I've watched you? You think I didn't feel like a creep, sitting in the shadows and waiting for just one glimpse of you? I came to you tonight because I can't stand watching you kill yourself any longer," he said, his voice low and rough. "I feel very… protective of you. And I'm so goddamn tired of trying to stay away."

I sucked in a breath to reply, but his lips crushed mine before I could form any words. It wasn't a gentle kiss; the intensity of the emotion coursing through both of us too great for that. I knew I was making a giant mistake by not pulling away, but the electricity I could feel at the touch of his lips to mine was too powerful for me to fight. I couldn't think of anything else but the slide of his lips against mine, the taste of his tongue as it filled my mouth. He sucked my bottom lip into his mouth, pulling strongly and nipping with his teeth before diving back in to deepen the kiss once more. One hand still held my wrist pressed against the wall, the other curved around to the small of my back, pressing my hips against his.

I trailed my free hand up over his hard chest, grazing the hot flesh of his neck and jaw before sliding my fingers up into his hair. Making a fist in the bronze strands, I let my nails graze his scalp, tugging his hair roughly. He growled against my lips, never pausing in his assault on my mouth. I licked his lower lip, reveling in the soft texture and exciting taste. Urged on by some primal instinct I didn't know I had, I bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, the coppery tang only adding to his flavor of spice and sin. He pulled away suddenly, the desire in his gaze triggering a rush of moisture lower, between my thighs.

Blood beaded on his lip where I'd bitten it and I watched, almost hypnotized, as the tip of his tongue slowly licked it away. We were both breathing heavily, each breath causing my nipples to brush against his chest. The fabric of my bra was suddenly too rough on the sensitive peaks, and I wanted nothing more than to feel them brushing against his bare chest.

"Come with me," he said again. This time it wasn't a request. I found myself being pulled down the corridor by the wrist he still held captive. We weren't heading back toward the main room of the bar, but to a bank of elevators at the opposite end of the hallway.

I was afraid to speak, afraid the sound of my own voice would break me out of the sexual haze he'd woven around me. As much as I knew this was a bad idea, I wanted this. He pulled me into the elevator and had me pressed back against the wall as soon as the doors closed.

His eyes searched mine, and when he finally spoke, it was low and rough. "I'm going to show you why you're worth saving." He ducked his head down and placed his hot mouth at the sensitive juncture between my neck and shoulder, his teeth closing firmly on the sensitive skin, before soothing it with his tongue. I knew he was marking me and I didn't care; I wanted to be marked by him, wanted his marks all over my body, wanted to be reminded that even though I was worthless to everyone else, I meant something to this man.

Framing his face with my hands, I relished in the feel of the rough stubble against my palms. I took his lips in an incendiary kiss, thrusting my tongue into his mouth, not waiting for an invitation. He returned my kiss eagerly, taking over, hungrily licking and sucking. I closed my eyes, concentrating only on the feel of our lips moving together.

Vaguely, I heard the elevator door open; he slid his palms under my skirt to squeeze my ass gently as he lifted me up against him. I hitched my legs around his waist and threw my arms around his shoulders, my palms pressing against his shoulder blades through the soft leather of his jacket. He walked out of the elevator, but I still couldn't be bothered to open my eyes. I didn't care where we were going, as long as we were there soon. When he pulled away from the kiss and halted, I opened my eyes to look around, noticing that we were in an elegantly furnished bedroom. A large king-sized bed was the focus of the room, an ocean of cream colored fabric that stood out against the stone colored walls and black iron headboard.

"You live here?" I asked, turning my head back to look at him. His lips were swollen and wet from my kisses, his eyes hooded and dark.

"I own the building." I waited for him to say more, but he remained silent, staring at me. Reaching behind with one hand, he slipped the ballet flats off my feet before slowly lowering me to the plush carpet. I could feel every inch of him as our bodies brushed together. I looked down, feeling too exposed at the intensity of his gaze. "Look at me," he whispered, raising my chin with his hand. "You need to know that you matter to someone else." His eyes burned with impossible emotions.

Emotions that shouldn't have been there when we'd only just met.

"You don't even know me." My voice was almost inaudible. My heartbeat sped up in panic as I recognized the look in his eyes, marveling that I could make someone feel something so strongly. I didn't want him to care about me. It was dangerous. I didn't want to matter to anyone else, because I only ended up poisoning everything I came in contact with. But even more dangerous were my feelings about this stranger. He called to me, pulled me out of the depths of the hole I'd dug for myself with such precision.

"I want to know you, so much. Just let me. Let me…" He kissed me again, and this time it wasn't frantic or rough. It was sweet and tender, bringing tears to my eyes. But I didn't want tender or sweet. I couldn't handle that depth of emotion now. I wanted to forget about everything but physical sensation, to lose myself in the pleasure he offered without thinking about anything else. Wanting to break the spell that had us caught, I clutched his shirt collar, ripping it open and sending buttons flying in every direction. My hands slid both the ruined shirt and his jacket off his shoulders; he shrugged and sent them both falling to the floor. I broke the kiss, eyes lowering to take in his naked chest.

Fine dark hair trailed between his pecs, fading away to nearly nothing, before picking back up again below his navel and disappearing beneath his belt buckle. I followed the path with my hands, trailing my fingertips over the ridges of his abdomen before hooking them into his waistband and tugging him in the direction of the bed. He grasped my waist, his fingers burning me where they brushed the strip of skin between my shirt and waistband. I raised my arms, giving him permission to remove my blouse. He did, making sure his hands didn't lose contact with my body the entire time. Once my hands were free, I reached for his belt buckle and made quick work of opening his jeans.

I reached inside and curled my hand around his impressive erection. It was thick and hard, soft skin stretching over iron. He groaned and thrust into my palm as I stroked him, fisting his hands into my hair and pulling my mouth to his. His tongue touched my lips a split second before our mouths met and I eagerly welcomed him in. Warm, deft hands slid down my back to the clasp of my bra; it fell away, his callused palms cupping my breasts and squeezing. I moaned into his mouth as he pinched my nipples between his thumbs and forefingers, twisting them gently. Lower, I stroked him one more time before pulling away to push my skirt and panties off my hips, leaving them on the floor next to the bed.

Climbing onto the soft mattress, I laid back in the middle of the bed, enjoying the way his jaw tensed as his eyes roamed my body, taking in my naked form. After a moment, he sat on the side of the mattress, removing his shoes and socks before sliding his jeans and boxers slowly down his legs.

His attention never wavering, he crawled on all fours toward me, reminding me of a lion stalking its prey. He held my gaze the entire time, letting me know that I wasn't getting away. I didn't want to escape, not from this. When his eyes were level with mine, he laid half on top of me, propping himself up on his elbow. He wedged his leg between mine, pressing it tightly to the apex of my thighs. Raising my lips to his, I wrapped my arms around him, letting my hands roam the firm muscles of his strong back as we kissed.

He placed his hand on my chest, fingers spread wide, and slowly drew it down between my breasts to my belly, leaving tingling heat in his wake. My muscles jumped in response as he stroked across my lower stomach. He used his thigh to spread my legs wide, dipping the tips of his fingers over skin that was wet and sensitive with want. I felt him trace my outer lips slowly, up and down, again and again. His mouth left mine, planting a trail of hot, openmouthed kisses down my neck, dragging his tongue across my collarbone before slowly moving down to the curve of my breast. I squirmed against his hand and clutched him tightly to me, trying to find some kind of relief from his light touch.

"Edward, please…" I moaned. My voice was rough, as if I'd just woken up. "Touch me."

"I am touching you," he said softly against my flesh, his hot breath raising goose bumps along my breast. He continued that maddening stroke between my legs, spreading around my wetness but never touching the place I needed him the most.

"Touch me more." I was pleading with him now. I couldn't take much more of his teasing.

"You need a lesson in patience," he chuckled. He rubbed his nose along the swell of my breast, grazing my nipple and inhaling deeply. "You're so soft…you smell so fucking good…" Looking up at me, those eyes bright and burning, he captured the taut peak with his mouth. He drew on it strongly, gaze never wavering from mine, his cheeks slightly hollowed with suction. I closed my eyes and let my head fall back on the pillow, moving my hands to clutch at his head as his tongue flickered softly over my nipple.

"Fuck patience!" I panted, reaching down to grip his cock, squeezing firmly. I brushed my thumb over the round head, feeling the drop of pre-cum beaded there. He sucked in a harsh breath and growled against my nipple, but he still refused to touch me like I needed him to. I tightened my grip faintly and stroked him from hilt to tip, up and down, until he thrust into my hand. Letting my fingers wander lower, I cupped his balls in my hand, lightly scraping my fingernails over the soft skin before returning to his shaft to begin again, stroking him with a lighter touch this time. He released my nipple with a final flick of his tongue and rested his forehead between my breasts.

"Fuck, Bella… You're killing me," he ground out.

A tiny, amused smile crossed my lips. "Now who needs patience?" My amusement was short lived, however, changing to blinding pleasure as he finally decided to quit playing with me. He swiped his thumb through my lips, gathering moisture before pressing it firmly to my clit and rubbing in tiny circles. Two fingers slipped inside me, and he began a deep, slow rhythm.

"Is this what you wanted?" he said against my lips, breath mingling with mine. "Does that feel good, baby?" I didn't get a chance to answer because he crushed his lips to mine, thrusting his tongue in perfect counterpart to his fingers. In no time at all, I was hovering on the edge of release. I kissed a path across his jaw, pausing to draw his earlobe into my mouth.

"Edward, I'm so close," I gasped.

"I'll take care of you, baby." He increased the pressure on my clit and quickened the pace of his movements, curving his fingers forward to reach a new spot inside me. I arched my back, sending his fingers even deeper inside me. "Let me make you come, Bella," he whispered. The pleasure built and built until it was almost painful and then it broke, the orgasm rushing over me in wave after wave of clenching bliss. I moaned loudly, too caught up in sensation to be self-conscious.

As I came down, I opened my eyes to find him staring at me, his hand gently stroking my belly as I recovered. He stared at me as if I was precious to him, and I felt a pang of discomfort. I was completely bare in front of him, physically and emotionally.

I couldn't let that happen; I couldn't let myself care about him. I'd only end up hurting him.

This was about sex, nothing more, and I had to make sure he knew it. My hand was still wrapped around his dick, and I resumed caressing him, stroking him harder and faster than before. His eyelids dropped shut and he released a breath that was half moan, half growl.

"I want you now, Edward." I pulled at his back, trying to get him to surrender more of his weight to me. He shifted the knee that was in between my legs, pushing them wide open and coming up onto his knees between them. With one final squeeze, I released him and let my eyes wander over his body, taking in the delicious sight of his torso, finally fixing on his cock. I licked my lips at the sight, letting him know I appreciated the view. He stared at my lips as I did it; and that seemed to be his breaking point. Leaning forward, he grabbed my wrists and transferred them to one large hand before pressing them to the pillow above my head. I was pinned, caught, and the feeling of helplessness was extremely arousing.

"What do you want, Bella? Tell me, do you want me inside you?" he breathed at my ear. "Do you want me to fuck you?" He dipped his tongue in my ear, gently caressing the shell with the tip before catching my earlobe between his teeth. My nipples contracted at the contact and a shiver ran down my spine, causing me to arch against his chest. He hooked his hand beneath my knee, hitching it in the crook of his elbow as he settled between my legs. I could feel the head of his erection pressing against me, but he moved no further. "Look at me. Tell me what you want," he commanded.

Eyes still closed, I whispered, "Edward, please…"

"Baby, look at me." His voice had softened. "Say it."

I met his eyes, which had darkened to deep green with his lust. He nudged against me gently, the tip of him barely penetrating, letting me feel what it could be like if I would only say the words. I was desperate, like I hadn't even reached release minutes before.

"Fuck me, Edward," I whispered, hoping it was enough for him, and to my utter relief, it was. He pushed inside with one strong thrust, seating himself to the hilt inside me. My eyes fluttered shut at the sensation. I'd never felt so full. He wasn't gentle, and I met his hips with hard thrusts of my own. He buried his face in my neck, moaning deep in his throat as he quickened his pace.

"God, you feel incredible," he groaned, taking me desperately, hard and fast, like he'd die without this. I was convinced I'd die without this as well. I felt myself nearing orgasm once more, but I hovered on the brink, unable to get that last bit of stimulation to topple over the edge. Edward seemed to sense how close I was and released my wrists, reaching down to caress my clit with the tip of his finger. He shifted my leg up over his shoulder, planting his hand near my waist and raising himself up so he could look down at me as he thrust even deeper inside me.

"I want to watch you come. I want you to see that you're mine," he said roughly, out of breath from his exertions. I looked straight down to where we were joined, and the combination of feeling and seeing his finger and cock caressing me was too much. My inner muscles clenched in another orgasm and I stared at him, my mouth opening in a silent scream as it pulsed over me again and again.

When my muscles stopped contracting around him, he let me lower my leg from his shoulder. I wrapped both legs around his waist, digging my heels into the small of his back as he lowered his full weight onto me and began to move again in hard, deep lunges. He wrapped one arm under my lower back, pressing me tighter against him, while the other cupped the back of my skull, holding me in place for his thrusts. I gripped his back, holding him as tightly as he held me. His movements became erratic, punctuated with moans and soft, desperate grunts as he reached his peak. His eyes never left mine as he thrust one final time and then stiffened as he groaned, pulsing inside me. He collapsed, burying his face in my neck, breathing hard.

He rolled us both to our sides, still inside me, one hand stroking lazily up and down my back as we recovered. I was pleasantly drifting off to sleep when he spoke, so softly that I might have imagined it.

"I'll save you, Bella. I promise."

I stayed still, feigning sleep, not indicating that I'd heard him. For some reason, that statement didn't bother me as much as it had before. He'd changed something in me tonight, somehow. As I finally drifted off to sleep, I realized three things: first, I'd been withering away, dying, until tonight. Second, there was a part of me that wanted desperately to continue on that path. Third, there was part of me that just might want to be saved...and I wanted Edward to save me.