Follow Me Inside

Four knocks. Each sharp, staccato rap sent a jolt of recognition down his aching spine. He knew instantly who was on the other side of his door.

There were no lights on. He didn't need them; he'd lived in this shithole second floor apartment for eight years, knew every mark on the walls, every cigarette burn on his old couch, every piece of mismatched furniture that hid the stains on the beige carpet. Only slivers of amber light from the street lamp outside illuminated his way to the door, the streaks gracing his floor, distorted with slashes of relentless rain as it raced toward the earth.

His gut wrenched as he considered why she would be showing up here at this late hour, undoubtedly drenched from rain since the woman rarely drove from her place three blocks away, and all without calling first. If she had called, he knew she wouldn't have knocked first.

Long, slender fingers grasped the doorknob tightly, jerking the door open with a rough tug from where the aged wood always stuck against the frame.

At the sight of her weary brown eyes another rush of anxiety shot through him.

"Bella, what's wrong?" he asked quickly as he stepped aside, letting her in as his eyes swept over her wet clothes, jeans rain-darkened, and her slim black sweater clinging to her slight form.

"I didn't want to be in that empty apartment," she murmured, running a hand through her damp hair in an effort to compose her dishevelment. "It's just... been a long day. I'm okay, Edward."

"No, you're not." He spoke the words quietly; both of them knew he didn't mean to spark an argument. Both, however, also knew it was the truth and they'd be too tired to hash it out.

"I wanted a drink. Didn't want to do it alone since... last time." Bella didn't look him in the eye as she said it, opting to turn her back toward him and pad her way to the kitchen.

"You won't find any," he said, following her silently. A rueful smile quirked at one corner of his mouth as he watched her. "You cleaned me out last week, babe."

She sighed, finally turning toward him and leaning tiredly against the counter. Her brown gaze locked on his green eyes, trying to convey how little she wanted him to turn down her next request.

He took her expression in carefully, seeing something he didn't like gleaming from those endless orbs.

"Something else then," she said quietly.

He knew what she meant immediately. His jaw tensed and his eyes dropped to the floor. "No."

"Please." The word was whispered, hopeless. She didn't really expect him to give in. "You know I've never asked before."

"You've never done it before, Bella," he replied, his low voice sharply edged. "I don't know how you'd handle it." He lifted his eyes to meet hers, the silent imploring he saw within them already tearing his willpower to shreds.

"You can dish it out to your customers, take a nice helping for yourself, even, and you can't just humor me once?" Her voice didn't carry the malice she'd intended, and instead sounded withered. It was a double standard that she'd allowed for years, and she knew it was unfair to call him on it so late.

He swallowed, recognizing the tone in her voice as rejection. She didn't realize why he had to turn her down, and it tore him up that she took it this way. She never asked anything of him, and the first time in their sordid three year relationship that she did, he had to deny her.

"Bella..." the sound was defeated, not at all the way he wanted to deliver his argument.

"Edward, I keep seeing him," she interrupted, her grosgrain voice hoarse and desperate. "Every goddamn time I walk in that bedroom. The bloodstain on the floor is still there. I keep thinking he's there, waiting for me, hiding behind the door..."

Her voice faded, and his heart clenched painfully. "I shouldn't have let you go home that night."

"Don't. Don't do that, Edward. You didn't know. I didn't know. It was just... unfortunate."

He shook his head, angrily, his eyes cast downward once more. Unfortunate. That didn't begin to summarize it. He'd stayed with her the entire week she'd been in the hospital, the bruises on her skin and the blood that soaked through the bandages picking apart his soul in large, painful increments every time he'd looked at her. It was almost two months ago now, and neither of them had emotionally recovered. It was foolish to think they ever would.

"Just once," she whispered when he didn't answer. "You'll be with me. I'll be fine."

It would be a lie, black and poisonous, to deny that he'd considered sharing such an experience with her. He'd never ask her, though, and now that she was shocking him with this request, he knew he was fighting a losing battle against his better judgment.

"Babe, if something were to go wrong..."

"It won't," she interrupted again, taking silent steps toward him. "You'll keep me safe."

The words brushed against his neck in a warm breath, and he lifted his eyes to find her now standing beside him, her eyes dark and intent on his.

His hand rose, brushing through her damp hair before settling on the back of her neck and pulling her close. His lips brushed hers gently, his eyes closing as he drew that succulent lower tier between his, a kiss of his acquiescence.

Once they separated, he breathed his reply against her parted lips, "Come to the bedroom."

Not waiting for a response, he took her hand and led the way, closing the door behind them and gently pushing her to the edge of his bed. Their hands released, and his bare feet shuffled to the nightstand, turning on the bedside lamp and then opening the drawer.

Once the contents were in hand, he closed the drawer and drew in a slow breath to calm his nerves. He heard a rusting on his bed, her shoes being kicked off, and he turned to see her now sitting with her knees drawn up in the middle of the mattress, her lower lip drawn between her teeth.

The pouch in hand, he slid onto the bed on his knees, and gestured with a finger for her to get closer. She immediately obliged and inched forward, her legs on either side of his knees.

"Are you sure?" He'd only ask once.

She nodded only once in turn, her expression serene, intended to reassure. She wanted this with him, just once, and if she showed any sign of doubt or fear, she knew he'd put a stop to it.

Edward nodded as well and unzipped the pouch, sitting back on his feet. His fingers found the rubber strip, and he used his free hand to pull her arm toward him. Like a professional, he quickly wrapped the band tightly just above her elbow and tapped the skin near the crease until a vein appeared, thick and pulsing beneath the milky luminescence of her skin.

Less than a minute later, he had a clean syringe ready to go, and his eyes locked on hers. Silently, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers, letting her taste his remorse, his fear, and all of the affection he felt for her. She would know what it meant.

In their three years together, he'd never said the words, and she'd said them only a handful of times. He knew she probably wished to hear them, but she knew how he felt, in spite of his hesitation to verbalize it. She had to. His every action attested to the words, and for the first time, he was giving into selfishness—would she doubt it now? Or would this solidify her confidence in the way he felt about her?

She'd asked for it, that much was true, but he'd given in, driven by his own irrational desire to share this kind of release with her, a dark longing to which he'd never wanted to give voice. There was too much that could go wrong with this, and it terrified him to think about each possible outcome. He just hoped that she knew, in this one lingering kiss, everything that he felt, every part of his turmoil, and the cavalcade of emotion that constructed it. It was a tiny death, and an affirmation of her place with him all on its own.

Bella absorbed the kiss and reciprocated. She knew what he meant to say with this action, and she drank it in gratefully. Never would she push him to speak the words aloud, and despite the doubts that seeped into her mind from time to time at his lack of communication, she knew the truth. He'd been nothing but respectful and adoring to her in their torrid three years. He'd never let anyone else as close.

The kiss broke with all the speed of a glacier, and he indulged in one last gaze into her lucid eyes before he finally looked down and gently pushed the needle into her vein.

Her gasp was the only noise for several seconds, every moment ticking away loudly in his ears as he pressed the plunger. He wasn't giving her much. If he was going to give this fantasy life, he was going to take every measure he could to ensure that they would both come out of it alive and unchanged.

The first step was done. Pulling the needle from her skin, he tossed the used syringe onto the nightstand to be disposed of later, then watched her carefully as he untied the band from her arm.

Bella kept her eyes on his, uncertain if he was just going to watch her or if he'd join her. They both knew it was a risk, of course, should something happen to one of them—more likely her since she was the least experienced—but she'd come here with the intention of asking him to do this with her. Even if he'd been stocked with liquor, she still would have asked. Tonight, she'd felt more alone than she ever had, and needed to establish a connection, even if it was only to be chemically induced. "Now you."

He didn't hesitate to fulfill her whispered demand, relinquishing the last tethers of his conscience he'd clung to that told him this was a dangerous road he was taking her down. But the truth was that he wanted nothing more than to share this plastic paradise with her, to feel what she felt and let her take from him whatever she wanted, for once unfettered and unfiltered.

Filling another clean syringe, he turned his back to her for better access to the light, and made quick work of tying off his own arm. In another series of seconds, he was shooting his vein with a dose that was twice the volume hers had been. He was practiced; it took more than it used to when he'd taken his first step down this twisted path, and he knew it would only increase in steady intervals. Until what, Edward? When do you hit your limit? He shook off the unwanted thought.

Bella crept up behind him, marveling at the precision with which he administered his own dose. She knew he did it on a relatively regular basis, though never when he knew she'd be around, but this was the first time she'd seen it before her own eyes. She supposed she should find it disturbing just how smoothly he did this, but there was something undeniably erotic about watching his capable hands. She leaned forward to kiss his shoulder in a wordless show of morbid admiration, and to remind him that she was still there with him.

Withdrawing the needle slowly, he felt her lips place a featherlight kiss to his shoulder, and he flicked the needle onto the nightstand, as well as the rubber strip, then rose from the bed.

Hand outstretched, he turned to her and took the hand she offered in turn, pulling her to her feet before him. Slowly, he sunk to his knees on the floor, bringing her down, as well.

They sat close, she between his legs, and he between hers, her ankles locked behind the small of his back as they waited.

He kept his eyes on hers, knowing that she had no idea what to expect, but it wouldn't be long before he saw the change in her pupils. He pleaded inwardly, to whom he didn't know, that this would not be the last time that he'd look at her, and she'd look at him. He prayed that it wouldn't sour what they had, though he knew deep down that things could be better between them, and he hadn't done a fantastic job of assuring her what she meant to him.

Yet she stayed. She had to know. Bella was a proud woman; she wouldn't come back to his arms night after night if she didn't think he cared.

But then, this was the pinnacle of self-destruction, wasn't it? And he was leading her through it with little resistance. Those were his chemicals in her veins, his poison that was sending a glaze over her eyes until they were nothing more than obsidian pools, and parting her lips as she drew in a euphoric breath.

She closed her eyes once only to open them again and feel a surge of vertigo, or at least what felt like vertigo, as it washed through her veins and made her head light. There was intense clarity, so much so that she was startled by it. Edward's vivid green irises were focused intently on her and she gave him a warm smile, her eyes fixed on his lips, so finely shaped and soft looking, and she had to steal quick kiss just to remind herself that they felt just as they appeared. Her heart was starting to beat hard and loud, the sound amplified in her ears like rapid claps of thunder, but she assumed that it was a common side effect.

Just like that, her kiss ebbed away the doubt as his own vision began to blur and then sharpen in unsteady fluctuation, color brightening, and bliss sweeping over his skin to leave a dull fire in its wake. The first wave nearly took his breath away, intensified by the sight of the woman in his arms, every facet of her adoring eyes, and the streaks of gold and scarlet in her hair that shone in the yellow light of his lamp.

Exquisite.

"You okay?" he asked through the haze.

"I'm... fine," she said, her tone reflecting amazement at such a simple revelation. She'd hadn't quite expected the transition to be so fluid. She felt better than fine; she felt deliciously delirious.

He smiled lazily at her response, aware that it would be more intense for her than it was for him, new as she was to this side of his life. The side you worked hard to keep her from.

His gaze fell to her lips, plush and inviting, and they were moving closer to him, silently begging. He gave no fight as her kiss graced his gasping lips. The sensation was warm, wonderfully searing, and he instinctively pushed harder into the kiss, aching to feel more of this heat. She reciprocated in kind, her arms locking around his neck as she arched against him, the hunger between their bodies suddenly palpable.

She felt it, too. Her hands unclasped themselves and she pushed back, just enough to let her hands slide between them, pulling at the hem of his shirt and pulling it over his head as their kiss broke.

Her movements were rushed, fingers shaking, and he understood the feeling well. His own body was desperate to feel hers, every silken inch of that alabaster skin, and all the warmth it provided. His hands returned the favor to her sweater, peeling the damp material from her body and tossing it haphazardly aside.

She wore nothing underneath, and he hissed as he impulsively pulled her hard against him, another wave washing over him as he felt the dampness of her rain-drenched skin warming instantly with fervor, one extreme to its polar opposite.

He tucked his legs under him, keeping her body close as he gently lowered her to the floor on her back, his lips making a trail of licks, kisses, and nips down her neck and collarbone, to the darkened peaks of her breasts.

There was a world of difference from when his lips had touched her just minutes before they'd begun. Her senses were now on high alert, overactive and sensitive to every touch and flavor, and it made her tingle. She could almost imagine it visually as she felt the path of that tingle, making its way through her lips and down to the back of her neck, down her spine and through her flushed skin.

The moans and breaths that reverberated in her throat and tickled his skin sent another burst of flames through his veins, and his hands slid down her body until they reached the waistband of her jeans. Within seconds, they were undone and every remaining inch of fabric was sliding down her hips and off of her body, his fingers accomplished at this task, unhindered by the toxins in his bloodstream. He'd made these movements, the savory act of undressing this woman, hundreds of times, and he found the drugs only heightened his senses, the intimacy of disrobing her in itself almost too much to bear.

He was hard, pulsating, straining, and his torture increased tenfold when he felt her delicate hands unfastening his jeans and pushing every fabric obstruction down his own hips. He helped her with a hand, his other supporting his weight just beside her head, until there was no longer any barrier between them.

Her sudden need made her shake all the way through to her core, and the incessant pounding of her heart seemed to whisper pleas for release in her ears. Her body shifted closer, her legs coiling up, thighs pressing into either side of him. She uttered his name in a silken question. There was no sense in trying to hide the begging that came with the sound. Coherent thought was too far elsewhere to make her care. She wanted him closer still, and her hips tilting up to him in muted desperation made that patently clear.

His eyes locked on hers, his own image reflected in her pupils, and he saw the desperation, the desire, the ache, every word he'd never said to her staring back at him. He didn't recognize himself; he'd never seen his own face as he looked at her, and it was then he knew that he'd never needed to say the words. It was there, clear as day, brilliant in contrast to the mask he wore among the rest of the world.

She knew he how deeply she was embedded in his very soul.

"Bella," he breathed, her name so sweet on his lips, pouring from him like honey.

"Please," was all she said, her eyes conveying just how clearly she read his thoughts.

They needn't waste any time, no warming precursor necessary; he could feel how slick she was as he pressed his hips forward, his velvet flesh probing tentatively into her. He could smell her, taste her longing on her skin as he kissed her lips once more with his eyes open.

She locked her gaze with his as he kissed her, wanting every possible connection he would give in this moment, in soul and in sex, with lips and with eyes.

Without another moment's hesitation, he eased into her, sucking in a hard breath against her mouth as he absorbed the sensation of her texture. He groaned as he felt every ridge that lined her walls like it was the first time, slippery and hot, stretched tautly around him, contracting and convulsing sporadically at the welcome invasion.

A whimper drifted from her like a sob, something passing between them that was deeper than physical, a nearly tangible force of the unspoken entity that claimed them both. They were nothing but tingling nerve endings and liquid muscles, her body taking his into her until there was nothing left to separate one from the other.

There were no distinguishable lines from where she ended and he began, and he started to imagine what they looked like locked together in that moment.

She could see it clearly as well, her arms wrapping around his form, lips melded to one another, the expressions on their faces enraptured from the bliss of their initial union. She watched as she slid her legs around his hips, pulling him so deeply inside that she meant to claim him completely, and he grasped her thigh with a hand to affirm her hold on him. She felt the moan rise in from deep in her chest and escape, only to be caught against his lips and nullified, unheard by no one but the two of them.

This was so different than how she was used to feeling him. The intensity of the act was as potent as ever, but there was something far less inhibited, something far more certain, and she let herself believe that he belonged to her entirely right then; heart, mind, and body. He felt perfect inside of her.

With rough, imprecise movement, he began to rock his hips, sliding out and then back in, over and over and over, committing every sound and sensation to memory. The intensity was overwhelming, his nerves on fire, flames licking at his skin and enveloping them both until they melted together.

It would be abhorrent to say it now, not only as they made love, but to utter such phrases in chemical haze; he could easily shatter everything he'd sought to build with her these past years. The words formed in his mouth and died on his lips, bitten back by his last thread of control.

Instead he shut his eyes tightly, forcing back the rush of emotion that filled his eyes and made him dizzy, breathing hard against her neck as he bowed his head beside hers.

His name spilled off her lips as her nails bit into the sweat-slick flesh of his back, tension mounting with the subtlety of a freight train deep within her. Never had he been deeper inside, never had he appeared so exposed to her, as though she could sense every emotion and thought like it rolled off of him and poured onto her.

Never had she been so sure of her place in his life than right then. Never, never, no matter what happened after tonight, would she think this night was a mistake. Her breath was his, his heartbeat was hers, and they were indistinguishable from the other. So tightly they clung to each other as they moved together that it felt as though they'd die if their bodies parted, rocking more frantically to maintain this twisted cyclone of codependency. They were each other's life support for this moment; a moment that could have been only seconds, or could have been three nights already—neither of them had the capacity just then to see outside of this invisible cocoon they'd built themselves, and time ceased to matter.

"Oh, fuck," she rasped, pushing herself urgently against him, nearly lifting herself from the floor to meet his thrusts, taking everything he gave her. She was racing toward their paper utopia with no intention to stop, this need too inexplicably dire.

Sounds tore from his throat as he approached the edge with her, unintelligible words and feral growls, moans and sharp intakes of oxygen. Suddenly, there was nothing more important than feeling her draw tight and shatter around him, testifying her need for him. He couldn't say the words to her, but unfairly wanted her to proclaim her conviction in the most carnal of ways, for him alone. He craved the flavor of the validation only she could grant him.

He pushed himself upright to grasp her hips and draw her to him hard as he gave in return.

"Let it go, baby," he murmured, his eyelids open to slivers as he gazed down at her flushed body, his ears soaking in the sound of his flesh slapping hers, giving a beat to the music of her moans as they built toward crescendo. "That's right. Let it go."

Her senses flared, overwrought with stimuli, and she stopped breathing as her muscles began to tense until they trembled beneath her skin. She felt him inside her, nearly tearing her in half as he drove himself inside again and again. She felt his gaze bore into her, feeding off the way her body responded to him and the devotion she made no effort to hide glimmering in her eyes. She heard the collision of his skin against hers, and the symphony of their moans and breaths as they mingled in a frenzied song.

"Say it, Bella," he breathed shakily, drawing her attention to his lips with a snap. "Tell me."

The plea in his voice and the unexpected torment in his eyes undid her, and she cried out, the sound broken and unhinged as she let tears sting her eyes. Her body convulsed as pleasure ripped through her with a force she was sure would break her.

"I love you," she gasped, the words thick in her throat, choking her.

He expelled a strangled groan in reply, his body stilling as he gave in, tattered and uncontrolled by the effect of her words. He shuddered as he spilled his seed into her, sucking in air as though he hadn't drawn breath for several minutes.

The room fell silent then, their eyes locked, and he stayed rigidly still. He didn't want to move yet, inexplicably terrified that her heart would stop once he separated from her. It was only moment ago that he'd been certain that he was her lifeline and she was his, and to sever it would surely mean the end of them both.

Instead, he lowered himself to her again, elbows at the sides of her head atop the fan of cinnamon waves beneath her. He pressed his lips to hers, his eyes closed this time, his kiss flavored with an agonized apology that he couldn't give her the words he'd forced from her. To say so now would be no better for the fragility of this new state in their relationship than it had been minutes ago.

Three years. Three fucking years too late. Would she ever be allowed to believe it?

He pressed himself against her as he broke from her lips and buried his face in her neck, hiding from her the shame and regret that whipped through him, as venomous as the drugs in his veins.

"It's okay," she mumbled against his ear, her hands weaving through his dampened bronze locks. "I know, baby, I know."

"Thank you," he whispered, his throat constricting painfully at the beauty of her forgiveness. One day, things would be different. One day he'd stop killing himself and everything he touched. "Thank you."


First, big thanks to my beta, TwilightMomofTwo, once again, for keeping my head level and correcting all my shit.

The problem that we both have here... it's probably not believable that they'd be so coherent, and capable of such physical acts, at that, while on some chemical. I know, and I accept. I have chosen not to assign a name to the chemical for this reason; I know someone is likely to call me on the fallacy of what one's functionality would be under the influence of certain drugs, so... I leave it to the imagination. Maybe it's something entirely fictitious. Don't get hung up... just go with it. I can't really say what inspired this, but I know that it doesn't work without all the elements involved.

Anyway! I only intend for this to be a one-shot, but there's always a chance I'll be inspired in the future to write the entire story leading up to this point, and perhaps the conclusion. Yeah, I hinted around at a lot of other stuff, so we'll see, I guess. I have trouble, though, writing characters that are really this screwed up. I guess this is just how I purge my own inner demons from time to time.

Back to WGWT, I go!