you know what they say about musicians
(they're good with their hands) - part one
Genre: Edward/Bella; AU/AH/smut with a glorified plot
Rating: M, for adult language, horny teenagers, and eventually lemons.
Beta: vampskies *heart*
Summary: Musicians are supposed to be good with their hands. And whattayaknow, Edward's a musician.
This was written as a present for Jenn/dictums on LJ. I love her SFM and you better too.
Musicians were supposed to be good with their hands.
At least, that's what Jessica kept telling her.
What does that even mean, though? she thought, fidgeting in her seat and trying to make sense of the numbers and confusing Greek symbols on the board.
Just because somebody could play the piano didn't mean they were exceptionally proficient at… other instances of hand-eye coordination. It was a very objectifying statement about musicians actually, and Bella would take no part in it. No part in it at all.
She sighed and twirled her pen, peeking off to the right exactly three seats forward to discreetly stare at Edward Cullen's graceful fingers.
There was a possibility she was fixated.
There was just something about his hands—large palms and long fingers, the way he moved them so intentionally across the keys of the piano during band practice. The way he played, losing himself into the music, the ebbing and coming of each note…
She snapped her attention back to her scattered nonsensical notes.
Yes, he was definitely good with his hands.
She couldn't even read music.
Written in little letters below the clefts and notes, Bella had scribbled shameful B's and A's and G's. Sometimes she'd memorize complete pages of music just to avoid the obvious embarrassment.
She played violin and not very well at all, which was why she was surprised to be dubbed a band geek—maybe it was her spastic nature and the normality of her nose found hidden deep in some book. And also probably because she had to lug around that slim black case, that hard uncomfortable tether over her shoulder. Along with her bag of books, recreational and not, and sheets of music, she fell a lot and most people had gotten used to it.
Violins are to bands as books are to geeks and all those analogies.
Edward Cullen on the other hand—Edward Cullen was another species altogether.
She'd laughed when she first saw him—who wouldn't?—but apparently she was terribly wrong about her first assessment, because Jessica had swooned.
So maybe she had laughed to cover up the instant insecurity (he'd never want me back) she felt about his stunning physique and blah blah blah. So he was nice-looking. Oh gosh, whom was she kidding? He was absolutely gorgeous and haunted her every fantasy.
He was quiet—abnormally quiet and abnormally beautiful, like a statue that somehow moved and breathed and rarely smiled.
But he did smile sometimes—she'd seen it—his head bowed over the trilling keys and his eyes closed to all else.
He had a penchant for crisp solid color button downs folded up to his elbows (better for playing, she assumed) and light thermals. In the spring he wore faded t-shirts and jeans, his bronze hair always mussed by sleep and his emerald eyes always distant and vivid and beautiful. (She was calling a man's eyes beautiful so she knew she must have it bad.)
He was the center of attention no matter what lengths he went to blend into the crowd and shadows, and Bella liked to think she related. She wasn't beautiful or gorgeous or ethereally stunning, but she was shy and clumsy, and it drew unwanted attention, too. (She was grasping at straws for some kind of connection, she knew.)
In terms of high school hierarchy, Edward would have it made if he took advantage of the fluttering eyelashes sent his way, and yet the only thing he seemed to pay attention to was his music.
Bella couldn't blame a man for being passionate, she'd just always wondered what it would be like if his passion were for her.
Along with the entirety of the female population, she was sure.
Edward Cullen had a problem.
He had many problems—like the test for history eighth period he'd neglected to study for, and Chopin's Polonaise #7 in A Flat, and an annoying meddling little sister appropriately named Alice. (She was very curious and seemed to have gotten shorter over the years.)
But most of all Edward Cullen's problem was Isabella Swan.
The problem was he was quite… taken with her? obsessed? a bit too concerned with trying to discern the outline of her bra beneath her shirt and the exact color of her big auburn doe eyes? It was something like that, to be sure.
For the past two years, ever since he'd entered this godforsaken school building in this godforsaken town and witnessed her petite curving form bending over to collect Beethoven sheet music in a pair of pretty little shorts, it had been something like that.
It had been the shorts. And the legs. And her surprised eyes flicking up to his and keeping him there for a few seconds too long.
His first thought after seeing Bella Swan had been: I need to know this girl. Well actually it had been Holy fuck, but that was beside the point.
He'd almost said to hello to her, that first day in English. She'd been smiling indulgently at some average blond rambling a mile a minute about junior prom (he hadn't gone, by the way) and he'd been hovering at the seat beside her, unsure if he had the guts to sit down.
Jessica—now he knew her name—had sent him surreptitious glances he ignored, and Bella had, in turn, flat-out ignored him.
The teacher had strolled in not long after and assigned seats.
So he spent all of junior year memorizing the dips and hues and turns of her back, and each passing day dragged out into months, and saying "hello," became more difficult than disarming a bomb in the last ten seconds before the big boom.
Now it was senior year, and it was May, and he was pathetic.
All he cared about, he told his sister, was getting into Juilliard, so he had no time for girls and dates. (And that was true, even though he had already gotten into Juilliard last month when he flew out east to audition.) To be honest, he was a bit freaked out she was so concerned with his love life, and was beginning to suspect she thought he might be gay.
He couldn't very well offer up that story about the time Bella existed at all in his presence and he spent half the time thinking about what she tasted like and half the time playing Mozart in his head to limit the amount of blood rushing to his groin as evidence of his sexual preferences. Or he could, but that would be even more embarrassing.
He was at a stalemate, perpetuated by his own stubbornness and anxiety.
And he had the gall to call himself a man.
Band practice was, obviously, his favorite time of day for precisely two reasons.
One, he could spend time and then time after perfecting and teaching his fingers the sense memory of Mozart's and Debussy's and all the great composers' compositions. He had spent what seemed like an eternity in this spot, breaking his wrists for a shot at Juilliard, and now it seemed more of a home than his actual room. He could sit on the black bench for days and let his music speak for his silence, let it filter through him in words no one else could understand.
Two, for exactly two hours and a half, Bella Swan sat in the string section with her hand-me-down violin and looked absolutely unendingly fuckable.
And today was no different.
Today might be a little different, because she had found it necessary to take out those little shorts again.
He watched from beneath lowered lids as he pretended to study his sheet music (which was a joke, because he knew Ode to Joy by Beethoven like the back of his hand) and tried to keep his breath even.
The cuffs were fraying and tickling the tops of her thighs, and her long hair was down and touching her waist. He watched the curve of her smile and the animation of her hands as she explained something trivial to Angela Weber while packing up her things, her knees knocking together to some unheard beat.
She was wearing a pale blue tank top and he could tell her bra was an ivory white from the straps.
He licked his lips and this time turned to the piano, his fingers finding their place to play the composition softly. The tempo was off, a bit too fast like his pounding heartbeat. He should just say hello.
Hello never hurt anyone. She was a friendly girl. Everyone in this school adored her for one reason or another, despite her clumsiness and her stuttering and her frightening habit of always getting injured. She was intelligent and beautiful and soon he'd be going to Juilliard and she'd be going… he didn't even know where, and then he wouldn't ever get to say hello to her, let alone take off her clothes and make her beg for him to do certain things he—well, hey there—definitely should not be thinking about during band practice.
He missed a note due to his growing problem and immediately switched to something by Mozart, the complicated keys occupying his wandering thoughts.
That was until a pair of shorts sat next to him.
A few misplaced pounds created a short unappealing symphony, and he snapped his gaze to Bella's small tentative smile.
"Sorry, I uhm… hi," she said very quietly.
He blinked. How eloquent of him.
"I didn't mean to…" she trailed off, and looked somewhere off to the side, her hands clutching the bench on either side of her… distracting… body.
She was even more stunning up close.
"Uhm, Edward, I was—I'm Bella, if you didn't…" Her eyes dragged over his, her cheeks automatically filling with blush. He felt the intense nearly insuppressible urge to kiss the pink dots. "We have math together, right?"
"Yes," he answered, somehow.
"Jessica, I mean… she's great, but she's not…" His eyes dropped to her magenta lips, her small tongue pronouncing syllables, and one hand lifting to gesture nervously.
He wasn't quite sure what she was talking about and he was also quite sure he wasn't really concerned about it, either.
"What I'm saying is I'm sort of failing and Mr. Farbman told me that I should ask you to tutor me." She finally got to the point, and that's when she licked her lips, tucking the tip around the bottom curve and then behind her teeth. "He said you'd get extra credit," she added, her eyes wide and anxious, waiting for a reaction. It was probably a sin, he thought, that she didn't know how sexy she was. "Is there something in my teeth?"
Shit. He looked straight ahead. "No."
"Oh," she said simply. An excruciating pause passed, one in which he wondered if he had forgotten every other word in the English language besides 'yes' and 'no.' "Well… no to my teeth or no to the tutoring?"
It was time to piece together a sentence. Subject, verb, object. Something. Anything.
"To the teeth," he managed.
"And the tutoring?"
Tutoring Bella. Being around Bella. Talking to Bella. Sitting next to Bella.
"It's no pressure. If you don't have time," she said in a rush of unsure words.
"I'll tutor you."
She let out a relieved exhale, one that directed his attention to her chest. He swallowed (more like gulped) and found her brown eyes, gleaming with the strength of a small thankful smile. "Thanks," she whispered.
He was probably going to end up sexually assaulting her over a trigonometry problem. He just knew it.
It was ironic that Edward Cullen was going to tutor her in the class she was failing mostly because of him.
It's not that she didn't pay attention; she did. She took as comprehensive notes as she could while admiring the angle of his shoulders and the hint of muscle below his shirt. His hands, the outline of his lips.
She paid attention.
When she told Jessica in passing during lunch the next day exactly what her plans were after band practice five to whenever, Jessica had been kind enough to point this out to her. She'd also been kind enough to ask if Bella expected to land Edward Cullen in jeans and a hoodie.
She highly resented that.
She neglected to let Jessica know that it didn't matter what she wore—she was plain and that was that. If Edward's usual countenance were any indication of his feelings (carnal, friendly, or more fittingly robotic) towards her, she had nothing to worry about in that department. It didn't matter if she met up with Edward after school today in nothing but hooker boots, he would probably stare at her with that same inconceivably blank look that he always did.
He was asexual. Or she was extremely unattractive. It could be either one, she decided, and because she didn't have the healthiest self-image when superimposed on someone with devastatingly fortunate genes like Edward Cullen, she was inclined to think the worst.
Instead she had heaved a sigh and Jessica had rolled her eyes and changed to the topic to which dress she should wear on her date with Mike Newton tonight.
Jessica was quite a frivolous person, Bella knew that, but she wasn't a bad friend either, even if she rolled her eyes a lot. Bella actually appreciated the constant reminder that she was over-thinking things, and sometimes Jessica needed a kick in the butt to shut up and save herself the trouble of losing a few friends by running her mouth.
It wasn't an ideal friendship, but Bella loved Jessica like she loved a sister, if she had one. They wouldn't be friends if they didn't have the uncanny ability to balance the other out, and like sisters, sometimes Bella wanted to pull her hair out and tattle to the nearest available grown-up that Jessica was being a bitch to her.
But still—it balanced out.
That was why when Bella saw the patented Jessica-eye-roll, she knew it was time to talk about if Jessica looked better in pink or magenta and forget, for at least the remainder of the day, that Edward Cullen was staring at her and had in fact been staring at her the entirety of lunch.
As it turned out, he'd gotten over the staring thing by the time band practice had started, and she sat in front of the piano, idly plucking and tuning her strings with such intense concentration one would assume Bella honestly cared that her E-string was just so.
Edward, as usual, played Mozart to warm up. (Warming up with Mozart for high school band—yeah, it didn't make sense to her either.) The whole situation with him playing the piano with those hands didn't actually help the situation at all, considering after fifteen minutes of peeking at his hunched back and half-lidded eyes and working fingers, she was too busy rubbing her thighs together to care at all if her violin strings were even there to begin with.
It was probably a good thing that he'd stopped staring—there was only so much Bella could take. Plus she was sure that at precisely five, when she would try to casually confront him about their tutoring date, she would have plenty more ammunition, even if he was quite exanimate for a human being.
"Are you ready to work on some numbers?" she asked during said moment of reckoning.
The piano was hard against her hip as she leaned against it with a hesitant smile. Angela and the rest of the band were talking and laughing behind them, slowly filtering out from the auditorium and ready to get the hell out of school, finally.
Edward hadn't moved—in fact, his hands hadn't even left the piano, but his intense blank stare was on her, and by god if that wasn't doing things to her body, than she didn't know what was.
She heard Jessica's voice inside her head. It sounded something like, Just fuck him and get it over with. Maybe you'll stop talking about him so much, okay? (Jessica had actually said that once, so Bella wasn't surprised.)
"Of course," he responded with all the warmth of the Arctic Ocean, which was still quite cold, even if the polar ice caps were melting.
She wasn't quite sure what to do or how to respond besides opening her books on top of the piano and standing while he injected her with all of his great knowledge about angles and cosines.
But then he scooted over on the bench and she plopped down next to him. "Are we just going to do this here?" she asked, ignoring the implications of doing and here.
"If you don't mind," he said politely, and played a few random keys. She watched, transfixed, as he tested out a strain of some composition she had never heard, sure fingers following the music.
There was no way she would learn anything like this.
"I have to practice," he explained. His voice had dropped low, as if the passion of his music had brought a little part of him to life. "What are you having trouble with? We'll go over what to cover first."
"Oh, uhm…" She sighed and clutched her textbook to her chest, eyes trailing up his fingers to his wrists, tracing the blue veins in his arms and the wrinkled, folded cotton of his black button-down. If she had thought for a moment that concentrating on his parted lips and hard curving jaw would help with her attention problem, she would have been wrong. "…everything, really," she professed with a small laugh. Edward didn't respond, which was discouraging. He probably thought she was stupid. "Well, mostly the last two sections," she rushed to clarify. "The tests have been cumulative, so…"
"So you'd like me just to teach you everything I know?" he inquired.
"Uhm, well, not everything, but…" She paused and thought about that for a moment. "Well yes, just about everything."
His lips, so still, tilted upwards into a knowing smile, his fingers dancing. "Have you ever played the piano, Bella?"
She held her breath, cherishing the way he pronounced her name, his tongue lingering on the elle and breaking off into that soft uh. "No," she managed to answer, shaking her head. "Strings," she reminded him.
"Mm," he hummed. "Would you like me to teach you?"
Yes, her mind accepted immediately, despite wondering why and worrying about passing mathematics. Her vocal chords had other plans. "Uhm. What about math?"
His smile grew, uncovering a glimpse of white teeth and crinkling the skin around his eyes. It was by far the most adorable smile she had ever seen. "I'd rather teach you something I enjoy," he answered, and then suddenly he stopped playing.
There was a deep silence and he turned that small smile towards her, the light in his eyes gentle and something else… something else that stirred every molecule in her body down to its core.
She was very aware how close he was to her, and how small the bench was, and the warm temperature of his body radiating into hers, and she wanted nothing more than to reach out and have him.
"I guess I'd rather learn something interesting," she conceded. "We could… work on math after?"
"Of course," he said, and turned back to the keys.
"It's funny," she laughed, finally relaxing. "We haven't spoken once before this, I don't think."
His smile turned wry, amused, and secretive. "I don't speak to that many people."
"That's true." She bit her lip and stroked the keys in front of her softly, carefully.
"You're already doing it wrong," Edward chastised her, and she was expecting she would do it wrong, but suddenly those hands she fantasized about were over hers, warm and solid and leading the pads of her fingerprints to the right keys. Her teeth sunk deeper and she leaned towards him instinctively, greedily breathing in the clean scent of his laundry detergent and some sweet musky scent that must be all Edward.
Her nose nearly collided with his shoulder, but she hovered there anyway, her cheeks blazing.
"Like this," he showed her, his voice breathy. "B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. And the sharps… A, C, D… F, G, A, C."
"Oh," she sighed.
He moved one of his arms around her, his palm flattening at her lower back. She sucked in air and felt her lashes flutter, her eyes flashing over to Edward's stare.
"Got it?" he whispered, his fingers curling at her back. A rush of pleasure paralyzed her; her fingers smashed the keys accidentally and she flinched.
Edward chuckled and she blushed. "Oh. Oops." She cursed inwardly, trying to remember to breathe when his other hand curled around her small wrist.
"Keep them up," he continued, raising the delicate curve. "Repeat the notes for me, Bella."
"Oh…" Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. "A Sharp, B, C, C Sharp, D, D Sharp…" she began, playing each one. "E, F… F Sharp, G, G Sharp, A, A Sharp, B, C, C Sharp… right?"
"You were listening," he said, pleased.
Bella smiled. "I also know how to play the Jaws theme," she said proudly.
"Cute," he smirked.
It shouldn't have made her blush so hard, but it did. "Heh, what's—what's next?" she stuttered.
"Maybe some math would be a good idea," he said, and she looked over, her breath stopping at his proximity, the way her shoulder was nestled into his chest but not touching it, his bent head and parted lips inches from hers.
She didn't want to do any math. Or learn any piano, for that matter.
"Oh—okay," she nodded.
Her skin was humming and his eyes were so green and dark and fixated on her. She was shaking lightly from holding herself back—from ignoring the natural instinct press up against him and fit her lips with his. It would be so easy…
He opened his mouth as if to say something but stopped for a long moment, his tongue finally darting out to lick his lips.
"You brought your textbook?"
"Oh! Oh, yes," she jumped up and grabbed it from the top of the piano, banging her knee in the process with a sharp hiss. Ungracefully, she fell to the seat, trying to pretend he hadn't seen her be such a complete idiot. "I have it! I have it."
"Is your knee okay?"
"What?" She opened the book and flipped absently through the pages. "What knee?"
NEXT PART SOON!