Disclaimer: I don't own anything. It all belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: This story should take place between Twilight and New Moon. Bella jumped off a cliff into rampant waters in the second book. Let's pretend she couldn't swim before that :) This is a oneshot, guys. It's very unlikely that I will continue.
Phobia (noun) – a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.
It was a term I learned when I was seven, a word constantly used with 'water' on my part and a name parents applied in my defense whenever I was invited to a pool party. I stopped going to pool parties after my very first one, where I was deliberately pushed into the water by a kid who was too stupid to realize there was a reason why I wasn't 'having fun.'
I didn't go because I wanted fun, nor did I have any desire to waste my time with a bunch of strangers and wet kids who couldn't keep their hands to themselves. I went because of Renee, who dragged me over despite my constant pleas and strong resistance.
Why, you ask?
The birthday boy's mother was a good friend of hers, and if I didn't go, what would she think? To raise a child who was rude and spoiled? To have a friend who has a child that was rude and spoiled?
Even at seven, I swear I had to have been older than my own mom.
I had friends, just to prove I wasn't such a loner. They weren't exactly the type of friends you would call 'great,' but they were there, and they were company, even if they couldn't be trusted with my secrets like best friends were there for.
There was just one problem when they were all around one small pool.
I couldn't swim.
I never bothered to learn, and when my disinterest in swimming converted to utter fear, no way in hell was I ever going within a hundred feet of another pool again. Or lake or river or whatever body of water that exceeded three feet.
It was a secret I kept throughout the years; not because I was embarrassed of this incapacity, especially when the maturity in humans continued growing after age seven. I had to keep it to myself if I wanted to prevent any offers to learn.
And this was exactly what I didn't do when Alice forced it out of me.
"You're scared of the water?" She repeated what I just stated five seconds ago, and to think I wanted her to echo my words was absolutely ridiculous.
Alice was always the most talkative and enthusiastic of anyone I have known, but now it was becoming an increasingly wonderful idea to plaster duck tape over my mouth.
"I didn't say that," I told her. Obviously it was a lie, and a terrible one at that, but I was willing to go at the greatest heights to take back my confession. "I said I didn't like the water."
"Don't you dare lie to me. Do you really think you get away with your awful acting ability?" She laughed, and I couldn't help but agree. She had a point, much to my dismay. "The Isabella Swan? Famous for kissing a bloodsucking vampire at first glance?"
"Alice." Her name escaped as an irritated hiss, mixed in with a tint of regret and shame. Edward was a gentleman, someone who refused to have sex until marriage and was willing to dry me of my own blood. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't have kissedhim that day in the cafeteria.
"Sorry. That was mean," she said, but I could make out that slight grin barely visible to the human eye. I was experienced with Alice's playful nature, possessing a mindful of her tricks.
She was up to something and I didn't like it.
"Can you swim?" she asked a few minutes later. I dragged my eyes away from the window to look at her, her small figure making its way by my side. The bed slumped when she sat down and it was then that I actually took in her question.
Hesitation streamed through my veins like a deadly plague, and out of two antidotes, there was only one that would be able to cure it. The other would merely strengthen the disease. It was an unusual comparison, but I was truly debating with a side that argued well.
Should I tell her?
"No," I admitted, and for the first time in seventeen years, I was ashamed of it.
Here was a gorgeous, talented vampire who was perfect in any way and could do just about anything. And here was me – Bella Swan – whose clumsiness already added a great amount of imperfections to my pale being.
It felt nice to say it out loud, particularly with someone I considered a best friend, something I didn't have my entire life. But it was only temporary, and this little bit of pride I had wasn't enough to compete.
My thoughts were filled with an infinite number of insults which were soon interrupted when I sensed someone grab my hand. It was cold like the rest of her body, like the rest of the vampires, and it was more than an act of pity as I had previously thought it to be.
I locked gazes with the girl who was simply showing a sign of affection and understanding, allowing the thoughts to vanish along with the shame. And she handed me a soft grin, but I could still see it – the taunting glow in her eyes.
"Well, we'll just have to fix that, won't we?"
I hated her.
I absolutely, fully, completely abhorred her.
I swear to God, if vampires could be killed as easily as humans, she would've been dead by now. And it can serve as both my revenge and a way to get myself out of this.
I could – ugh.
"Bella, your squirming isn't going to do you any good. You might as well let me carry you before you hurt yourself," Alice recommended.
We were about ten minutes into the forest by then, me hauling along because the person I hated just happened to be a vampire, and vampires don't even have to try to catch you if you decide to run.
Alice wasn't any different.
"You know what? Let me get hurt. I might not be able to do anything, but just wait until Edward finds out," I told her miserably. Thinking about it made me smile, easing the moderately chilly winds to a more comfortable temperature for the time being. I didn't have to pay attention to my surroundings when I did.
"Your boyfriend's not exactly the scary type," she responded. I scowled at her as she slowed her pace so I could catch up, though my anger was directed more toward her comment. "Or manly, for that matter."
I arched an eyebrow in her direction, struggling to compose myself without laughing. "What do you know about manly?"
"Oh, Bella." She began walking slightly faster, the sarcasm evident in her tone when she said, "You mean you never noticed? I've been a man this whole time."
I stifled a giggle at her remark, yet I didn't have a witty one myself to balance it out. What was I supposed to say? You're definitely not a man?
Yeah. That could work.
And she'd think I was probably seducing her with my eyes.
I could hear the sound of rushing water closing in on me as we approached a small creek, and this alone forced my heart to surpass the normal rate. I traced the path to a lake in the distance, which turned into a few feet all too quickly.
I wasn't an expert in math, but the water didn't look to be three feet.
"Alright. Take off your clothes," Alice demanded. I snapped out of my trance the moment she spoke, but I still wasn't certain if I heard her correctly.
"Excuse me?" I stuttered. I knew I had to have been blushing if the temperature was suddenly increasing.
"You know what I mean, Bella," she said and laughed. "You have a bathing suit under all of that, right?"
"Uh…" I swallowed. Hard. "Define bathing suit…"
She eyed me, disbelief written on her expression. "You knew I'd be teaching you how to swim and you didn't bring a swim suit?"
"It… didn't cross my mind," I replied honestly. How could she expect me to remember? I haven't been anywhere public to bathe since I was a child. Hell, I didn't even know if I owned one.
Alice didn't appear to be angry, though, which was a relief itself. In fact, I found it a bit off that she held a look that told me she had another idea.
"Doesn't matter," she said. There was smirk – or was I imagining it? – tugging on the side of her lips. "You can swim in your undergarments."
I felt the air being punched out of my lungs, leaving me breathless, nervous, and even more nervous if she was able to hear the uneven sputtering deriving from my chest.
"Are you kidding, Alice?" I snapped. "I don't even want to be here in the first place."
It was true. Never in a million years would I have ever considered the possibility of 'attempting' to have another go at this. I was merely seconds away from drowning the last time it happened, and if it weren't for some guy who was standing by me at the time I was pushed, I would be dead.
I couldn't do this.
"Would you rather be naked?"
"No!" I added quickly, maybe a bit too urgently. I was blushing like mad at that point, arms tangled around my chest in a somewhat protective matter.
Alice seeing me completely nude was… unnerving. And I couldn't fathom the reason why when she had already seen me exposed plenty of times after the incident with James. I didn't think I needed help in the shower until I nearly slipped twice the first time, and my fear in breaking another leg urged me to call her.
"Okay, then." She pointed a finger at me, a teasing glint playing her features. "Strip."
I must've consumed some kind of drug that morning if I actually did what I was told. Naturally, it helped when Alice turned her back to me and I to her, though it still didn't soothe the continuous wrenching occurring in my stomach.
I felt like I was going to vomit.
I shrugged out of my shorts in one swift movement, taking my time with my t-shirt as it clung around my shoulders. I kicked the clothes aside and, again, felt the need to detest my body despite there being no reflection to look at. I didn't need to when I woke up every morning cringing at the bathroom mirror, and that was when I was entirely undressed.
I was already opposed to the crappy bra I had on that didn't even match my underwear.
The sun's rays bore down on me, which I didn't embrace. The gleams could break right through the atmosphere and I'd still be as white – sarcastically speaking, of course. I used the extra time to watch Alice from the corner of my eye, and just a glimpse of bare flesh made me look again.
She was in a bikini, I noticed, which, unlike me, hugged her figure perfectly. The way she gracefully walked across a foot of water was endearing and pleasant, like any other day that I had to endure with someone who can take perfect strides without a single error.
But it was different now. Still graceful and elegant as always, yet something about Alice's saunter sent a shiver down my spine, coursing through my body like a current sparking with potential flames, ready to ignite. I couldn't stop the length of time my gaze lingered on her waist, where her faultless curves were simply enhanced by the bikini hugging her hips.
I couldn't prevent the countless goggling fixated on her chest, where, when she turned at a certain angle, I obtained a clear view of her breasts, taunting me from where I stood in a manner that shouldn't be happening.
"Are you ready?" she questioned before I could compose myself, but I knew it was too late. She was aware of my observation. I could tell by the sly grin she had on, and if there was anything else that could possibly make this moment any more awkward, it was Alice's own regard of my body.
I blocked out the unusual optimism that maybe I was at least somewhat appealing for a human and took a deep breath, slowly trudging my way over to the shallower portion of the lake. The thundering of my heart only grew to a maximum point, practically deafening my ears with a roaring pulse.
"I can't," I whimpered. I was following her as the water began to transcend beyond my limit, and it was seriously starting to freak me out.
"I'm not going to let you drown, Bella," Alice promised, once again taking hold of my hand. "You could fall four hundred feet in the air and I can still save you."
"Somehow, Alice, your confidence isn't very assuring." I wish I was lying when I said every single bone in my body trembled in fear, and I was literally breathing what little air I could in deep pants and gasps. This was quite pathetic considering the water hadn't even reached my knees yet and I was just about pass out if my blood could possibly pump any quicker.
"You alright?" I heard Alice ask. My response was anything but straightforward, wide eyes planted directly over rising water and a nod that even a blind man could distinguish as a lie.
We came to a halt by the time I was surrounded from my chest and down, when I finally took note of the transparency seen through my soaked bra. I was taken aback by the lack of fear triggered from what I was supposed to be afraid of because all too soon, I quickly relinquished it, panic ascending as attempts to cover my breasts failed.
I was too obvious.
"The first step before you actually learn how to move is floating. It should make you more comfortable with the water, but you have to trust me." A sly wink toward my way was all it took to know that she was aware.
"W-what a-are you doing?" I stammered and shifted uncomfortably when Alice reached out for my arm. I was fine the way I was at that point. Standing still without anyone to touch me and set off the paranoia again.
"Helping you," was Alice's reply. I studied her for a long moment, the gentleness in her tone passing by as a sign of encouragement. When I nodded my head, the fear subsided and along came the presumption that she was going to target my arm once more.
But that presumption was wrong.
An icy sensation surged its way down the hinds of my legs, practically erupting into a thousand prickling needles in the exact spot Alice's hands were located.
My voice was no longer available when I tried to speak. Instead, it came out as more of a choked gasp as her slim fingers slowly traced my ribcage, lingering there until I literally couldn't breathe. I couldn't feel the water anymore. There were only her arms, shimmering silently beneath the dimming sunlight; arms that embraced me from behind, belonging to the girl whose slender figure pressed up against my back and emitting a subtle shiver.
"You really need to relax, Bella," Alice said softly, breath brushing against my ear. "You're tense."
I closed my eyes and tried to think of something other than the way Alice held me, breasts compressing against my back, chin resting on my shoulder and releasing her mind-blowing scent, hands gradually slithering around my thighs…
I maintained this stance for exactly ten seconds before I jerked my hips forward within contact, chest rising and falling as soon as the potential fire lit up the freezing trails Alice left behind. It was a blaze raging within my core, merely following the movements of her fingers as she gently circled the tender skin.
I couldn't think. My mind was a puddle of mud ready to split apart and disappear, because as soon as I felt her brush pass the fabric of my panties, just the slightest amount of friction was enough to extract a moan from my lips.
"Alice, what –" I gasped, but she shushed me before I could finish.
I refrained from saying anything else.
I allowed myself to sink into the comfort of Alice's arms, leaning back into her curved frame, which was different. Feminine. And I enjoyed it; the feeling of being embraced as a show for affection, and the fingers that continued to tease me.
Play with me.
It wasn't long before I was pulled out of the water, one arm wrapped around my legs and the other lying straight across my back, pushing me up so I was facing the sky.
"Ready for lesson two?" she asked, topaz eyes meeting mine as she playfully nudged my jaw with her nose, a smile forming against my neck.
I didn't think twice about nodding.