A/N: I do not own Twilight, or any of its characters, it all belongs to Stephenie Meyer!

Thank you as always to bookbag, my glamourous, crop-wielding beta who whips each chapter out of me with a tireless arm. *stings*

She wrote us such a wonderful outtake. Have you read and reviewed it yet? It's called Denying Difference, and it's in my favourite stories.

Thank you gutterfairy for pre reading, and for joining bookbag and I in the Realm of No Wrong. Your swipe pass and permanent residency paperwork is in the mail.

Thanks to everyone for waiting so patiently.

Some things should not be rushed, as you soon will find out.


Chapter Fourteen: Alchemy

al·che·my (noun)

1 : a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life
2 : a power or process of transforming something common into something special
3 : an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting

The shadows on the ground edged towards dawn, dark receding like a tide and filmy light hinting at the horizon, as two snowy grey doves perched on the stone windowsill beneath the dull golden square. Pressed together against the cold, they stared unseeing into the world that lay below, their tiny ticking hearts concealed under a negligible layer of feathers.

There was no movement or sound to pique their interest and they sat impassively, living ornaments on the mantelpiece underneath the curtains that would soon begin to glow bronze when the first strands of light broke through into the iron-grey sky.

Each was mirrored in the other's eye.

A hunched black crow watched them as it gripped the mildewed cracked stone spout on the corner of the roof. Its ruffling feathers shone blue in the first weak rays and it observed with onyx eyes and cruel, carved beak. It turned its head, coldly robotic, and released its hold to effortlessly wheel wide onto the pair, animating them at last as they scattered in opposite directions.

The crow was startled by its own jagged reflection as it reached with its claws, and it swerved sharply, its beak striking the pane, the resounding tap the only sound to break the tranquillity of the sleeping gardens and stones.

It retreated to its solitary perch to wait for the weak warm oblivion of sun. The doves clung together beneath the eaves.

On the other side of this layer of gold and glass, the sound broke Bella's eye contact, causing her eyes to flash to the window and allowing the breath Edward had been holding to leave his body in a low, controlled hiss.

He watched her brow crease and he drew in another lungful of air, tasting her scent as she turned back to him and he braced for the weight of her eyes again. She was swaying slightly, her knees either side of his thighs, her dress riding up in ways he wished he was in the mood to appreciate. She gripped his collarbone through the layers of cloth, her hand heavy, like she was pushing him down.

The sharp edges of his teeth were pressed together, and the muscles of his jaw locked. Air was too trivial; his lungs were denied the satisfaction as the silence stretched. As if suspended a thousand feet below a glassed surface of water, he felt the pressure in his bones, the weight pressing down upon his head and shoulders, and he resisted the urge to reach up to her.

And the urge was strong. The tiny pricks of light in the gem facets of her eyes, topaz, obsidian, made him want to strike upwards, reach towards the surface, anchor or be anchored. To make her see, to make her choose him. But instead he forced himself to wait to be pulled to the surface.

Or be pushed further down.

Bella slowly looked over Edward's face, his face a pained taut mask. She squinted slightly as she studied him, wondering who he really was, how someone she thought she knew was slipping further away. She didn't like it. If she didn't know Edward, then who did she know? Certainly not herself.

She absently picked up his hand which lay upturned and gently curled on the bed. She frowned softly at his weathered palm, life line, heart line, fate line, all deep and running close, stamped on his skin before he was born.

Which was the fate line? She could never remember. Esme would be able to tell her which it was.
"You carry a map," Esme had once said, her beautiful eyes sombre as she tapped Bella's palm. "It's with you all the time, so you always know which path to choose."

She squinted in the half light, resisting the urge to turn over her hand and compare hers with Edward's.

She traced along the lines until they converged beneath her fingertip. She leaned sideways to turn off the lamp; it was hurting her eyes, revealing too much. The room darkened into soft, dull pewter, and she was glad to be cloaked in the cold light.

She realised he wasn't breathing and a piercing sadness filled her, smothering her irritation with him, and she lowered her head to drop a kiss to his palm. She felt his body swell, the intake of his breath deep and desperate. She smoothed her hands over his, her fingertips tracing the tight cords of the tendons in his forearms as she lowered herself down slowly onto his lap; no longer trusting her knees to hold her.

Photographs and words ran through her veins like white ribbons, black butterflies.

He sat passively, not reaching for her, his lip caught in his teeth, a crease deepening on his brow.

She realised he was waiting for her to speak. He seemed expectant- waiting for some sort of signal, or choice? What could she possibly say to him?

She closed her eyes and shied away from the word choice, the fine wire of guilt twisting as the word Michael blinked like a Vegas neon sign in the distance. She turned away from it to examine a forbidden shadowed path lined with a broken fence, a wall smothered in vines, a door with a rusted metal lock that hinted at ruin, or rapture.

Down this path, laid between cracked stones was another word.

Power.

She trod gingerly over the word in her mind, her twisted dress shielding her skin from his, and she was grateful for privacy.

She felt his body beneath her, the muscle and blunt-sharp bone and the weight of his body pressing into the mattress. She attempted to tug her dress down her thighs, noticing his gaze flicker down, her breath catching at the restraint in his eyes that warred with a spark of animal interest deep in the forest depths.

He caught her glance, and stubbornly flexed his jaw and looked away. She was surprised by her stab of irritation, and she narrowed her eyes as she considered him.

To have a key in her palm was one thing; to use it was another.

What she was not prepared for was the drop of adrenalin boosting her blood.

Poison, elixir, she leaned forward to whisper in his ear, testing the lock.

"What am I going to do with it?"

His body hardened, and his eyes clouded.

"It seems I can do whatever I want with it." She rested her brow against his, an unremembered habit from their childhood, as she settled herself more comfortably on his lap. She rested her wrists on the collar of the debris that was once a shirt, gratified to feel the evidence of his increasing arousal beneath her, hating herself for doing this but unable to stop.

"I've got it all right here." Experimentally, she hovered her parted lips near his. His tongue licked his bottom lip, his mouth opening, bathing her with his sweet breath.

"Ah-ah," she chided softly. "You can't kiss me until I kiss you first." She pulled back from him just in time, before the image of kissing him while he was asleep kicked the tripwire of her memory, a smile playing at the edges of her lips as she stretched languidly.

His expression blackened dangerously but he remained obstinately still. As she leaned closer to breathe his mint and heat, she could see his hands slowly fisting on the blankets by his sides from the corner of her eye.

"Admit it," she said, allowing her hair to fall forward as she put her face into his neck, one fraction of an inch away from skin contact, "You don't control this." She pulled back. "I control this."

He scowled at her. "You're pushing your luck."

She raised her eyebrows at his flash of temper. "I'm just trying to understand what you've given me, seeing as though you won't explain to me." She paused, considering.

"I want answers."

She leaned back in his lap slightly to shake her hair back, unhooking her earrings and tossing them carelessly on his bedside table, stroking his hardness with the back of her thigh. At his growled intake of breath, her stomach flipped.

"There's one answer right there. One you can't lie about." She raised an eyebrow in amusement.

"You're being cruel to me," he said crisply. "I'm not a toy." His mouth lifted at the corner as he spoke and she realised he was using her words from the previous day against her.

"You don't like the taste of your own medicine, do you?" She returned, straightening his collar.

He smiled at her tart wordplay, teeth glinting in the dull steely light. She fought the urge to leap back as he rested his head back against the headboard.

She was playing a dangerous game. His expression was feline as he stretched against her in return.

"Let me rephrase. I'm not the kind of toy you can just throw away when you're bored." His eyes dropped to her mouth.

"I will be your favourite toy." He leaned forwards slightly, scenting her tangled hair. "I want to sleep in your bed, and be taken wherever you go."

His husky, teasing voice was doing sinful wet things to her underwear, and she steeled herself against the naughty innocence in his eyes as he whispered, "Or maybe I'd take you wherever I go."

He scorched his eyes over her again, appraising her ripe curves.

"I'll take you on every surface imaginable," he added as he tucked his hands into his pockets nonchalantly, the texture of his pants against his sensitised fingertips almost too much to bear.

"You threw me away whenever you got bored," she muttered resentfully, shying away from his words, suddenly ill equipped to play this game. She moved to climb off his lap, but he slid one hand from his pocket and laid a single fingertip on her bare knee.

"I was careless with you when we were younger." He caught her eye. "But I've learned my lesson. I'm not going to make the same mistakes again."

Her attention was caught by his damaged flesh revealed as he reached up to run his hand through his hair.
She glared. "You're trying to distract me, anyway."

"It's working," he said confidently, noticing the press of her nipples through her dress, his mouth suddenly dry.

"You always try to distract me when I get too close to things," she pointed out, dropping one hand to the damaged skin on his side. "Edward, how did you do this?"

He sighed and closed his eyes for a long time, tired and weakened from opening himself so wide.

"IED." he finally said in a monotone. At her frown, he clarified. "Roadside bomb."

She picked up his hand again as he said those words and unthinkingly pressed it against her own ribcage. She brushed aside his jacket and shirt to trace the scar, bending to study it in the dim light, able to feel each puckered point where a thread had held him closed.

"When?" She ticked each stitch off, trying to number them but losing count as his breath ghosted her neck.

He was arcing away from her exploration, but pressing his hand more firmly against her, his heat branding her skin through her dress.

"About seven months ago. My second stint in Afghanistan." He softly pinched her, tracing the faint frame of her bones under the warm brown dress.

"I was out doing some routine shots of personnel, walking the roadside with some other guys, and it blew as one of our vehicles went past ahead of us." He was glad she was leaning forward, reaching around him to trace the scar back to almost his spine, a half embrace. He didn't want to have to make his eyes look like something else.

"It was hidden in an animal carcass," he added conversationally as she leaned more heavily against him, still ticking off each stitch. "There was rotting meat everywhere."

"You weren't unconscious?" She smoothed her finger along it, its texture oddly tickling her fingertip as she did so. She leaned back to look him in the eye, her expression solemn. He realised she was inwardly shaking as she pressed her finger against him.

"Not straight away," he managed finally, a memory fleeting in his eye, the same memory behind hers as she remembered the photograph she had seen, his hand, blood.

"And you never told Esme and Carlisle." She said it as fact, and he avoided her gaze to study the way her dress had concertinaed up her body with an absorbed expression.

"Ma was in heavy treatment. There was no need for them to know." He paused, tugged downwards on the hem, wondering if the air was too chill, but knowing the reason for her violent shiver.

He calmed her under the guise of smoothing her dress. "Someone died that day. Me getting sliced open was nothing compared to that."

Nausea trickled through her. "You could have died." She locked eyes with him again. "Who did they call when it happened?"

He studied the blanket beside his leg. "My agent." He said stiffly.

"Edward," she gasped, grasping his lapel and shaking him gently. "You should have called me." She leaned her temple against his again, her heart suddenly filling her body, choking her throat. Alone, always alone.

He shrugged noncommittally but his eyelashes flickered briefly against hers, tangling.

The atmosphere suddenly blistered as she pulled back slightly to stare at him, her mind reeling. The irises of his eyes seemed to suddenly layer from willow into darkest moss, and she realised that their mouths were almost touching; as he spoke she felt them brush, feather light.

"Was it agony?" She ran her hand down his jaw, down to the base of his neck.

He could have died…. She would have died.

"I've had worse," he said, his face twisting at the echo in her mind, and her stomach compressed with guilt.

He hated feeling her guilt and pity. He shook his head at her crossly and batted her hand away from his skin.

"I feel terrible that I didn't know," she confessed, and his mouth twisted sourly, a frown beginning to slide into place.

"I couldn't have known," she added, slightly defensively. "I'm not a mind reader. I'm sorry I didn't know. But how could I have? Any news of you comes from Esme. Without her, I'd have nothing of you."

She instantly wished the words back as they both raised their eyes to the ceiling involuntarily, her cheeks burning, her toes curling in the excruciating silence that ensued.

"You'll always know as much as you want to know," he said cryptically, and she glanced at his mouth. "You guessed my laptop password, after all." He narrowed his eyes and she felt his fingers flex against the pulse point in her wrist.

"I wonder what that means for us," he added thoughtfully, seemingly talking to himself.

Her face was a picture of sorrow and torment as she closed her eyes, hopelessly confused, unable to ask him directly. The answers had too much power. The stakes were too high, and she had no time to rein in her chaos.

"Tell me," he whispered as he laid his cheek against hers, rocking her a little as she dropped forward onto him. "You must tell me." She felt his arms rise to wrap around her. "What are you thinking?"

The thoughts tangled and she had no hope of controlling them; her heart heavy as her mind reeled.

All those photographs of me. The photographs of war. They are the same thing. I have been walking wounded. I am so tired, so very tired, I just need some place to lay down my head…

She inexplicably thought of a man returning from war, walking down a long dappled road, praying that things could be as perfect and gold and pure as his tired heart remembered. Cotton sheets drying on the line he passed, each footstep significant and like a mistake being put right.

Just for an instant, a world was captured, and for some reason it was her own face she saw, glowing with love for this man returning to her.

"There's no point denying this," she whispered shakily, relief and fear splicing through her. "I can see there's no choice."

"You need to choose now," he breathed as she lifted her eyes, her final decision reached. "It won't count unless you kiss me first."

As she leaned against him, her cheek rubbing against his, the brown sugar grit of his stubble sliding over the peach of her cheekbone, she thought, I already did.

Bella's memory of kissing him while he slept caused a flicker in the dark of his eyes.

The glint of the diamond lying on her bedside table down the hall was caught in her tear as she leaned forward, and kissed him for the second time that day.

The shock of her lips on his caused each to inhale sharply, finally bringing Edward gasping to the surface as Bella slanted her mouth over his to deepen the kiss.

The control she kept on herself disintegrated and suddenly the hot sharp fangs of lust were snapping at her heels and she was desperate, soothing and punishing him with every kiss; her tongue sliding alongside his, the sharp scrape of his teeth on her lips.

He blazed beneath her, her lust a spark, his blood gasoline, and the jolt that rocked through his body lifted her momentarily off the bed. He dragged his legs up, bending his knees, causing her to tip even further forward onto his hard torso and she put out her hands to brace herself against the headboard.

He changed the angle of the kiss, his tongue rough and hot silk, moving against hers before retreating again, causing her to groan and seek it out. A flare of irritation lit in the dark recesses of her mind; he was controlling this even as he lay prone beneath her.

She abruptly ended the kiss and dragged her mouth to his ear, pressing her bottom lip against the lobe as she whispered in his ear again.

"You're mine right now." Her undertone was harsh, and goose bumps rose on his arms. "Stop trying to control this, because it's mine to control."

She pushed on his chest like she was pushing open a door. So this is what your side of the wall is like, she thought wildly, appraising his face with eyes that he had never seen before; stark possession, an almost painful desolation. I've been here before.

She looks like me, Edward thought as she dropped her mouth to his again.

The flashbulb pop of lust in his eyes as she lowered her head made her kiss rough. Her fingers began to sink into the hair at his nape as she tilted his head, her thumbs against the pulse points pounding at his jaw. The spike in speed as she slowly scraped her teeth along his bottom lip made her smile, and achingly slowly, deliberately, she sucked it into her mouth a little, slippery slick, mirror-smooth and perfect.

The press of his erection against her inner thigh felt hard enough to bruise her flesh, and she welcomed the blunt pain; felt an answering echo in her own body.

He tasted of every memory she'd ever had; layered, rich, faint and strong, familiar and odd memories she couldn't properly remember. She slowed the kiss to a languid exploration, bewildered that anything could affect her so intensely, flickering images behind her eyelids, her heart deafening her ears.

She deserted his mouth to return to his ear, breathing hot against it, making him groan and raise his hands to her bare thighs, gripping her flesh as she kissed her way from the thin, soft skin behind his ear to the heated base of his throat, licking at the unseen networks of veins and blood that ran deep and kept him in her world.

The thought of his heart ever stopping was enough to send a knife of panic stabbing into her, and she returned her mouth to his, kissing him wildly now, harder, teeth softly clinking as she breathed him, the familiar burn of tears behind her eyelids and wet between her thighs.

You must never die, she thought, you must always live.

The room, which had steadily been growing lighter, darkened slightly, a cloud veiling the pale new sun. It was as though the shadows and ghosts of all those who had walked the Earth before them had pressed their hands to the outsides of the walls of this room.

All those who had loved, and lived, and died.

Bella let out a broken sob as she pressed against him, frustrated that she couldn't get close enough, her hand reaching down again to stroke feverishly at his damaged side, wishing it was her own scar instead of his.

She began raking his jacket and shirt off down his back, and he leaned forward helpfully, his hands becoming tangled. The memory of his hot, wet phone sex threats made her pause, and she felt her cheeks dimpling in an evil smile as she released him, letting him sit tangled, his hands trapped at the small of his back.

He refused to struggle. He forced himself to submit.

She looked over him, her eyes now black and opaque, running and twisting her hands lightly over his torso, collarbone to waist, nape to sternum, the heat, the line of hair disappearing down and out of sight, the definition in his stomach and the deep V of muscle that made her lips tingle to kiss it. She licked her lips and ran her finger along it. He moved to free his wrists but she shook her head as she stroked down his chest.

Down lower, towards his straining arousal.

He suddenly rose up, twisting, getting to his knees, causing her to slither off his lap. He shook the cloth from his wrists and they knelt in front of each other in the centre of the bed, panting. He ran his hands down her curves, his fingers spreading over her hips before scraping at the dress on her thighs.

"If this happens, nothing will be the same," he warned her, wrapping the hem of her dress several times around his hand, pulling her closer, his eyes glittering feverishly. He paused, studying her face, noting the pink glow layering over her skin.

"I know," she whispered, raising her arms as she felt the cool air slide upwards, the thick fabric obscuring her vision before it was tossed across the room.

"It might not be gentle." He breathed against her shoulder, and she shivered as he began gathering her hair lazily on top of her head. She wore matching underwear, plain black cotton, and for a split second she felt inadequate, regretful she was not in lace or silk. She'd slept in her dress, and smelt of his bed, not perfume.

Warmth tinged her cheeks as he looked her over slowly, his artist's eyes appraising her, taking in her cream curves, one eye narrowing as if he was composing a portrait.

"I know," she said again, louder this time, and they both wobbled against each other, as if at sea.

"I'll go slow for as long as I can…." he muttered, his fist in her hair tugging to tilt her head, leaning in to bite a sharp and softened trail down the side of her neck, "It's not going to be easy. You're so sexy." His wrist shook slightly as he slid his hand through her hair to cradle her head as it grew heavy from pleasure.

Each delicate press of his teeth, the vibrations of his voice, made her shudder, and he paused at the base of her neck, opening his mouth to suck deeply, causing quivering sensations to echo in her body.

Taking a deep breath, he wrapped his arm around her waist and pressed their torsos together.

It was the most skin contact they had ever had and the shock was as potent as a burn.

He released her neck from his lips as he breathed out through his mouth onto her wet skin and leaned back to look at her face.

I'm burning, I think. She wanted to look down at their joined skin, but could not break the eye contact. He was trembling, and the zing in her nerve endings was too much to bear; the light hair on his body tantalising her white skin. How she would survive him stroking the tiny sweet ache between her thighs, she did not know.

His pupils dilated to leave only a thin ring of green, and she braced.

His arm slipped down, behind her knees, scooping her legs out from under her, and she felt the cool mattress against her back as his calloused palm cradled her neck. She reached for him, the loss of his skin against hers too great. He braced himself over her on one forearm, threading his fingers in her hair, dragging his chest lightly over her teasingly, causing her nipples to twist in response.

He lowered his mouth to hers, forcing her lips to slow as he tasted her need, quenching and igniting her desire with every slow slide of his tongue against hers, always leaving her wanting.

Flicker, flare, flame.

She arched under his lips as he tortured her softly, his mouth travelling to her jaw, holding his tongue flat against her pulse before descending lower, his fingers toying idly with the straps to her bra as he decorated her collarbones with reverent kisses, cooling the flesh with his breath.

Bella attempted to shrug off the strap, but he shook his head at her impatience, holding her still with long fingers.

"Slow," he ordered silkily.

"Faster," she countered breathlessly, and he shook his head.

"I've waited so long, why would I rush now?" Only the tremor in his forearm gave him away. Was she rushing forwards, trying to keep a step ahead of her guilt? Was that the strange flavour in her mind?

Bella closed her eyes, the increasing glow of the room under her eyelids, the passing of time as thick as honey as he meticulously ran his rough tongue down the outside of her arm, along to bite the inside of her elbow, to kiss each fingertip. She reflexively curled her hand, and groaned aloud when she felt him open his mouth, her bare ring finger sliding in.

He pushed up to brace over her again, sucking deeply, the answering pulse in her clitoris making him smile and swirl his tongue around her fingertip, the action unmistakably possessive as he pressed his teeth around the base of her finger. He pulled her hand from his mouth at her hollow gasp and touched the sharp tip of his canine tooth against her fingertip.

As one strap slipped to her arm, seemingly of its own volition, he slid his knee in between hers. She turned her head to the square fireball of the window at the other side of the room, the sun finally filtering through properly, turning the air to champagne.

She shuddered as he spoke. "Like a little bomb," he commented, his voice thick with amusement as he pressed his open mouth over her thudding heart. "Let's make you explode."

She flinched at his choice of words and reached her arm out to his scar, and he shook his head, returning his mouth to hers.

He caught her pout with his teeth, infinitely gentle, catching her broken sigh.

"Don't be sad for me," he breathed into her mouth. "Barely a scratch."

He replaced his teeth with his tongue, and kissed her once, lightly, his mouth opening her lips but not delving deeper.

He tasted the dark need in her blood. But he could still taste the sorrow she felt, as she worried over his side.

To distract her, he nudged the deep valley between her breasts with his nose, his chin scratching lightly. She smelled of… caramel… or white… fruit… or……apple blossom… he remembered jolting awake at dawn in a tent, the march of army boots alarmingly close to his head, certain he had caught her scent on his thin pillow, desperately turning his face into it.

Then he realised- She smelled like his sheets. Finally.

He growled, the peppermint of his breath further scenting her skin as he softly pressed kisses along the rounded flesh above the black bra, his cock throbbing in time to the desperate whimpers deep in her throat. Wincing at how uncomfortable the confines of his pants were, he shifted slightly, rubbing his ache against her leg as he rolled down her bra.

It was the first time he'd seen her breasts; not from want of trying during their teenage years. As he studied the white and the pink, surprisingly lush, he realised how inadequate his imagination truly was. She lay quivering beneath him, the trust in her eyes making him swallow a groan as he lowered his head to kiss her chin and commence the long, slow journey down her neck, to her heart, and beyond.

Each time she thought he would kiss her nipple, he kissed just shy of it. He smiled as he felt each flare of anticipation, each wilting of disappointment fluttering under her skin. She reached down into his hair, tugging lightly, but he merely gathered her wrists and held them above her head effortlessly in one hand.

The need to take control echoed back through her mind, and she attempted to struggle free from his hold, wanting to push him over onto his back.

"You control everything I do," he said into the crease below her right breast, annoyed with the underwire of her bra and the faint mark it had left on her skin. "You always have."

How?

"By being you." Finally, he licked a thick path upwards, and swirled his tongue around her puckered nipple, her breath catching in her lungs as the sensitised nerve endings struggled to report the sensations to her fevered brain.

Wet, hot, kiss, suck, slow, slow, slow.

"Surely you see now that all you have to do is live." He was scraping delicately with his teeth so gently she wasn't sure if she was imagining it. He nipped a little harder, to prove that she hadn't, smiling. "With me," he added.

"I don't even know where you live," Bella said, and he paused, his mouth still. He was not breathing.

Suddenly, he was kissing again. Her skin felt so sensitive, she was sure she could feel the contours of his fingerprints against her, the lines on his palms. The hand that wasn't holding her wrists had drifted up slowly, drawing webs of sensation across her stomach and ribs, before he delved his fingers deep into the plush warmth between her breasts.

"Can I live here?" he asked softly, his mouth leaving her to press against her heart again, cupping her other breast, gently twisting and rubbing the tip with his fingers, his calloused skin creating the perfect friction. "Can this be my home?"

A thin cord of energy seemed to connect her nipple to her clitoris, and he laughed under his breath, the sound pure sex.

"I don't know what this means to you," she managed to say as he slid down and drew her nipple deeper into his mouth. She finally found enough fortitude to look down at him. The sight of his mouth closed over her breast, was enough to make her groan out loud, and he looked up at her through thick lashes, releasing her with a rough lick.

"You know everything now," he said softly as he dragged himself up to kiss her mouth again, craving the taste of her mouth each time he stopped. "You have to make the choice."

"What choice?" she said, thinking she had already made it; then realising what he meant.

Michael. Fiancé. Michael. A single frame, Michael's face, flashed through her mind. The guilt kicked her stomach like a mule.

Edward made an inhuman noise as he struggled with himself, forced his hand to deliberately loosen her wrists. Not trusting himself, he let her go altogether, fisting his hands on the pillow either side of her face.

"Don't even think his name. Not now. Not while you're here with me, like this."

He panted for a moment against her hair, the jealousy a venom pervading his bones, the urge to possess her in every way almost blinding him. That someone else had ever touched her….that she promised herself to another….

He swallowed, trying to clear his head, knowing in a sick moment of clarity that he would do anything, no matter how desperate or depraved, to keep her. He would crawl, or worse. The knowledge terrified and empowered him.

He didn't know what this said about him, but his cock grew impossibly harder.

He returned his mouth to her body, rougher this time, covering every inch of her shoulders and throat with tiny sucking kisses.

"It's me," he said angrily against her, sliding down, kneeling over her, giving her a glorious view of his broad shoulders, surprisingly sunkissed, muscles flexing beneath faint freckles. Long, strong spine. Narrow waist cut off by his black suit pants. Powerful arms and curving scar.

He scraped his teeth against her ribs at the corresponding place his own scar was, sharp enough to make her suck in a breath. He retraced the red line tenderly with his lips, making her squirm.

"It's me, and only me." He continued raggedly, sliding an arm up behind her to unclip her bra with an impressive snapping motion. He'd obviously had a lot of practice, she thought worriedly as he slipped the straps from her and flung it at the bookcase.

She covered herself, suddenly shy, and he rolled his eyes at her, tapping her hands away as he pushed up to kneel upright over her, blocking out the almost blinding sunrise light filtering in through the window behind him. He made her think of pagan gods, fallen angels, abandoned demons. He snagged one side of her black briefs and began to tug, pausing when he saw the chill of panic in her eye.

"What's wrong?" He asked gently, his brow creased in concern as he lifted her foot, his mouth on her ankle, his thumb pressing into the arch rhythmically, making her eyelids droop in pleasure.

"It's happening so soon," she managed. She was utterly overwhelmed; she doubted her heart would withstand this.

"It's been twenty six years. How much more build up do you need?" He seemed to rein himself back in, and released her underwear with a faint snap.

He pressed his tongue to her ankle, and began slowly licking up her leg. He nipped her knee, smiling at her squeak, and kissed up her thigh, the air chilling the line he left. He paused at the cotton.

"How many more miles?"

He looked up at her, the black band in his white teeth, and she shuddered at the sheer eroticism.

He bit hard into the cloth and dragged downwards, his hands going to the waistband of his pants. His breathing was heavy now, scorching her legs. He wrestled the complicated suit pants open, freeing himself, kicking them off as he ran his hands up and down her thighs, continuing with his rhetorical questioning as he slid his fingers up towards her heat.

"How many more nights do I need to be apart from you?"

He was finally naked, and the sight of his body was beyond any gasping erotic nightmare she had jolted awake from over the years. His stomach muscles flexed as he heard her mental gasp as she caught sight of his cock. Beautiful she thought. Big, she amended, and he snorted with laughter.

He swirled his fingers lightly around her clit, causing her to bow up off the bed at the swift spark of ecstasy. Shaking his head, smirking faintly, he pushed her down flat with a palm between her breasts.

"You are mine," he repeated relentlessly, over and over, as he feathered his fingertips over her, addicted to the shortening of her breath, the dark sweep of eyelashes quivering against her cheek.

"I'll do what I have to do to keep you…" at this, he paused, stilled his fingers, enjoying her groan of disappointment and her shifting hips.

He didn't miss the flash in her eyes as he spoke these words.

"You've always loved how I can't control myself when you're concerned," he said, circling again, enjoying the lift of her hips in response and the pink blush sweeping across her breasts.

"I'm such a caveman." He said almost inaudibly in a sarcastic drawl. She whimpered, and he felt the tremor of fear run through her.

"Don't be afraid of it," he said, sliding a finger into her, twisting softly.

"Accept it. Don't you know I'd kill for you?"

"That's what I'm afraid of," she managed to pant.

He worked slowly, methodically, in and out of her, adding a second finger, stroking the g spot she hadn't known existed. She made an embarrassingly wanton sound and bit her lip to remind herself not to get louder.

"You're always the picture of control. But I'm going to change that." He pressed the base of his thumb against her again, and she couldn't help but think of his finger on a camera's button. He would push her over, capture her.

She freefell towards orgasm until he caught her, shaking his head. "Not yet." He warned.

She lay trembling, eyes unfocused, not noticing his wicked smile as he said, "Okay, now", and twisted his fingers once, pressing against the small patch of rough flesh inside her.

Bella shattered against his palm, grasping wildly at something, anything, to anchor her to the bed. The pulsing tremors gradually subsided and she was dimly aware of how ragged his own breathing was. She felt an empty craving at once as he slowly tugged his fingers; her flesh unwilling to let him go. He wrenched open his bedside drawer, tearing open a black square of foil with his teeth, the devilish glint in his eye making her shiver.

"Do you buy anything that isn't black?" She managed between the hot breaths that wracked her lungs.

He paused as he considered this. "It all matches my black, black heart," he said lightly. She held her hand out for it, and he passed it to her with a question in his eyes.

"My turn," she whispered, closing it in her fist, and used what strength she had left to push him over.

She crawled up over him, bracing her trembling arms on either side of his face as he watched with eyes more bronze than green. The light seemed to shimmer with filaments of amber.

She could not know, but Edward saw. Her eyes were not brown; in this ancient Aztec light, they were gold.

She mirrored his previous actions, and nibbled slowly down his neck, her hair trailing over him as light as sea foam, her body softly moving backwards and forth, a tide of passion.

"Bella-" he whispered hoarsely as she closed her mouth over his heart.

"I don't believe for a second that this is black," she responded softly as she kissed the hot flesh, feeling the strong relentless pounding, and she only realised she had wept a tear when she tasted salt. "It's so lost….. but never black."

Had she been told three days ago that she could make him shake, she would never have believed it. But as she trailed her mouth down lower, his muscles trembled under her lips.

"It has a scar, but I'll kiss it better," she said almost inaudibly against his side, kissing the line that fate had laid down; proof that he was meant to remain, walking this Earth. She moved to slide lower, but he put a hand in her hair, encouraging her upwards to kiss him, a surge of desperation cresting, drenching them both, and they began tussling softly, each trying to roll the other over. She caught his wrist and he raised his eyebrow, deftly removing the foil square from her palm.

She was no match for him, and as he wrapped his legs around hers and pressed her down, he kissed her eyes. She arched beneath him, rubbing against him as he reached between them. "Hurry," she begged, and he crawled up between her thighs when he was ready, smoothing one hand down her leg, hitching it up onto his hip.

"Slow," he muttered huskily, the look in his eye making her muscles clench in anticipation.

She felt him pressing against her and upgraded her initial observation to huge. She reached up to cradle his jaw, pulling him down for a kiss.

His voice was velvet against her lips. "How many can make you feel this way, but me?"

She gasped as he pressed against her, her heat and the wet inviting him in. His nostrils flared but he only pushed in slightly, giving her time to adjust, and he watched her eyelids flutter closed with a feeling akin to worship.

"Look at me," he whispered, sinking in further, glancing to check his progress. Only half way, and she was tighter than anything.

Her eyes opened, and his heart flipped as he heard the answer to all his questions before her mouth could form the sound.

"None."

"Correct answer," he groaned, holding still, waiting for her body to adjust, for his heart to stop.

"Talk to me, talk to me," he muttered as he closed his eyes, desperate for distraction to stop him from thrusting hard, reaching unseeing for her hands, linking his fingers with hers. "You are so incredibly tight."

How many others do you have this connection with? Her thought rang clear, soaked with possessiveness. He looked down into her eyes, the tiny thorn of jealousy in her thoughts spurring him, making his blood heat.

"None," he echoed her as he began to thrust lazily, each thrust knocking her breath from her lungs, reaching up his hand to twist it in her hair, rubbing his roughened knuckle against her bottom lip.

"Is that good?" he asked breathlessly. His fingers slid up under her arched back to slide across her damp skin, down her spine.

"You – tell – me" she responded, the heavy ridge of his cock's head rubbing where she needed it, a new urgency building. She hooked her leg more firmly around his hip. He eased back, still rocking at a leisurely pace, frowning in concentration. She realised he was listening to her mind, and she grasped at his waist in frustration, wanting to see what he kept simmering beneath.

Lose it. Show me.

He wrapped his arm around her waist and slammed hard into her once, his mouth lifting in a lopsided smile. "Like that?" He eased back, each slow deliberate thrust the most beautiful torment.

No, you're still in control.

He repeated the forceful motion, reaching one hand down to feel her, vice tight.

"I don't want to be too rough," he whispered raggedly, toying with her clit as he continued with his slow thrusts. "I need to make this last."

I don't know if this is the last time, he thought, committing every glint of light in her eyes to memory, dropping his face into her neck when the emotion cut too deep.

You're thinking too much. Maybe you don't want me that badly-

He thrust harder involuntarily at this thought.

"No one will ever want you more than I do." He leaned forward to press his teeth against her neck.

Are you going to fuck me properly? Are you going to make me yours?

He slammed hard into her, wishing she had said those ridiculously hot words out loud. She let out a gasp of triumph. That was how she needed it.

You can be slow and gentle another time. Right now, I want it harder.

His breath burned her neck as he increased his pace, still holding back slightly.

You think I'm yours?

He thrust so hard he lifted her off the bed, the furious grunt in the back of his throat thrilling her. "I know it."

He pulled out almost entirely, before plunging in again, to the hilt.

"You will never again do this with anyone else," He bit out as he caught her eye, his face savage, hard, almost pain. "You are mine."

Show me.

She closed her eyes as he lost control. He gathered her up, sliding her ankle up to his neck to deepen and intensify the sensation. He panted open mouthed against her calf and his grinding hips brought her to the edge again, sending her effortlessly shimmering into sensation.

"Two," he muttered, biting the inside of his mouth as the echo of her pleasure hit his bloodstream.

He increased his pace steadily, putting out a hand to grip the headboard, swallowing moans at how good she felt, how right this was. He fought to slow his movements, his lungs straining.

When her thought filtered through, he paused. "What?"

You're mine.

His hips snapped forwards involuntarily. She smiled. The force and the wild look in his eye was intense, and she wrapped her hand around the nape of his neck.

"You think I'm yours? You're actually mine," she panted between his hard thrusts.

"I own you, and you're terrified of that," she said into the shell of his ear.

Her eyes widened as she realised she was going to come again; the tightening pleasure turning in smaller and smaller spirals, and as he rested his cheek against hers, she could hear him saying something as the unbearable friction between their bodies became too much, and the volcanic pleasure blasted through her, eclipsing anything she had ever thought was pleasure, turning every transient memory of past physical pleasure to ash.

Her cry of surprise reverberated in her throat, along with the words of course, of course, that trailed unbidden through her consciousness as she splintered in pleasure, her body convulsing, her muscles wringing him, her hands grasping the sheets, his hair.

Her eyes drifted shut as she felt the endless velvet whips flay her flesh; heavy satisfaction settling into her bones.

He was speaking cryptic strange black and velvet words, urgent against her neck, his breath burning her ear and she fluttered her hand up to press against his mouth. He pressed his lips tenderly against her fingers, even as he pressed harder and deeper still.

You have been mine, all along. Give in to me.

He caught her eye, seeing his own faint reflection, and she caught him as he fractured.

His body shook with passion and exhaustion as he braced himself over her, the lifetime of yearning and lust blasting through him like a storm, a death, a bomb. Lightening strikes and every colour but black. The fathomless beauty of her heart; the only good thing he had ever wanted. Life was nothing if she could not be captured, and in this instant, he was held in the perfect palm of her hand.

She felt him convulsing endlessly, the guttural sound in his throat making her tighten around him in response, making him quiver, and as she reached up to touch his fevered face, she whispered, "Are you okay?"

Bella felt his tear drop upon her cheek, where it mingled with the silvered tracks already running down her neck, and she closed her eyes as he dipped his head to kiss the salt.

In this strange, private war that had been waged since the moment they realised they were separate people, there were no victors, there were no survivors. Each was slain, exhausted bodies upon the white flag of sheets.

As their breathing slowed, and they cautiously took inventory, each was acutely aware that the path they had chosen had always been mapped, but that there was no shelter from the mercurial elements that always advanced relentlessly upon Forks. They lay, bare and shivering, and Edward laid his face upon her heart, willing her to walk towards him, not to turn back and leave him alone.

In Bella's bedroom down the hall, her silenced cell phone again glowed to life.

Light bright and insistent, flashing over and over, it was the word Michael.


A/N: Reviews are better than gold to me. Please make me rich. And besides, reviewers make better lovers.