Tattward & Inkella One-Shot Contest

Title: Vanilla and Chrome

Your pen name: theladyingrey42

Characters: Bella and Edward

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, Bella or Edward. I do own one pint of strawberry ice cream and a fucking sugar cone.

To see other entries in the Tattward & Inkella Contest, please visit the C2 page:

A/N: Yes, I am now officially a Tattward whore. Thank goodness the deadline is here and I'm limited to only three. Otherwise I could keep going forever.

This particular Tattward/Pierceward is dedicated to Bri in atonement for all the angst I've been throwing at what probably should have been a lighthearted contest. Hope he's at least a little bit of what you'd hoped he might be.

His mouth is taffy-pink cream and rose-red flesh and chrome. The lips part wetly, silver loops flashing almost white in the afternoon sun, as the warm fleshy muscle of his tongue sweeps past them. Metal clicks on metal clicks on teeth, percussive licking of bars and loops and steel. He envelopes his mouth around the cold sticky sweet, the bar in his tongue scraping strawberry chunks against the cone.

I am obsessed with Chrome's mouth.

He takes another licking bite, little drips of strawberry ice cream clinging to the spiderbites on his lower lip as he pulses the very tip of his tongue against the glob of melting pink. He smiles and dabs at his lips before I can wrap mine around them, then raises his cone in farewell and goes.

I don't even know his name. So I call him Chrome.

Every day, it goes like this: Chrome parts himself from the freaks around Stage Two and lopes up to my cart, the heavy chain around his sagging jeans sounding out his presence in the crowd. He orders a double scoop of strawberry on a sugar cone. I reach my hand into the searing cold of the moving freezer, warm fingers coiled around the scoop the way I'd like to wrap them around his cock. My pussy throbs as he leans closer, the heat of his chest stronger than the heat of the sun. The muscles in my bicep clench as I roll up each scoop, pressing them strongly to the cone. I wrap it all up in a napkin, and hold it out so his calloused fingers have to touch my own to get the cone. He holds another long and pretty hand beneath his mouth - dear God his fucking mouth - to catch the drips of melting cream. And then he bites. And then he leaves.

And I watch him walk away.


Chrome first appeared on the fairgrounds at the end of May, when the summer concerts started heating up. I'd caught the occasional glance of him in the distance, tousled hair gleaming reddish-bronze in the setting sun. At that point I'd been pushing my cart around the tired loops of the fairgrounds every summer for three years, wiping sweat off my neck and flirting with clowns.

The air was thick with early summer heat, malaise in my bones and in the waves of heat coming of the pavement and in the clouds. I walked around in a stupor, too tired to ring my bell or fight off the children desperate for something sweet.

When I found his big green eyes in front of me, his mouth asking a question my ears couldn't bring themselves to hear, a breeze blew across my neck and cooled the sweat off my still-pale brow.

"What?" What have you been doing all my life?

"Which flavor is the fucking best?" he grinned. The smooth lines of his face twisted softly into arcs and I understood for the first time the point of spider bites as the one side of his lips tilted up. There was something familiar about his voice. Like I'd been waiting for it without knowing whose it was. Like I'd heard it in a dream.

"They're all delicious." Just like you. "The question is which one suits you."

I stared at him, taking in the steel bar above his brow, the line of helix studs along the curl of one ear, the swirls of green and black ink around his neck dipping down below his shirt.

And then I looked deeper.

I saw the hope and longing in his eyes and the calloused pads of his long fingers and the curve of his spine, arching outwards while his shoulders hunched in and down. I saw how smooth skin met metal, how pale flesh turned to curling ink. His being breathed let me in, keep me out, let me in, keep me out.

I lifted a single fingertip to the chrome-colored line along his brow and swept it all along the arc of hair as his breathing slowed. Inhale let me in exhale keep me out."Defenses," I whispered, "in chrome." My fingers drifted to the pale, unaltered flesh of his cheek, across the stubbled line of his flexing jaw, "Strength in flesh. Classic on the surface," I slowly pulled my gaze and fingers down to the curls of ink above his collar, "with chunks of something real just underneath."

I opened the freezer and placed a tester spoon inside. I pulled it out, my fingers shaking, and held it before his lips. His hand rose to mine to steady it and guided me up into his open mouth. I saw the metal in his tongue as it flicked out, pulling the lump of melting cold between his lips as they closed on my twisted knuckles.

"Strawberry," I whispered. "Three dollars."

He gulped and found his wallet as I made him a double scoop.


After that first day, he starts coming by every day. And soon I find reasons to come to him.

He hangs around Stage Two, where there seems to always be work to be done. I circle my cart in a slow and lazy pattern around his body, pulling me invisibly toward him even when I'm the entire length of the midway away. I smile at strangers and make cones for children. I lean my hand against the little vent that breathes cool air against my fevered skin when no one's looking as the blistering sun creeps across the sky. I stare at the mis-matched Chuck Taylors on my feet. But mostly I watch him.

I like to watch Chrome while he's at work. He hauls equipment around the stage in a slow but steady pattern, confidence radiating out from his pores. I like to watch the way his lightly muscled arms pull and flex as he pushes speakers and unpacks crates, the swirls of ink on the edges of his shirt peeking out when he thinks no one is looking and uses the cotton to wipe his brow.

I like watching his hands.

Chrome's hands are long and slender, rough and strong. He can sit for hours shuffling around wires and tuning guitars. When his fingers curl around the neck of a guitar I imagine that it's me, that he's holding me on his lap and making me sound out all the notes my body was born to play.

When he takes a break he squats among the giant amplifiers, staring off into the distance and pulling on a cigarette. His hands make sparking arcs through the hazy air, shuffling through his hair and pulling the cigarette up from his side into his wet red mouth, then down to the ground, tapping away the flecks of ash. He rests the filter end sometimes against the twin metal hoops on his lip and stares.

And I wonder what he sees.


I go home each day to the same malaise and fatigue I used to feel crushing me with every step at the park, only it's less now. Less now that my days are spent watching Chrome. I pull out brushes and ink and let the all-consuming black seep into and along white pages, pushing and pulling their dripping lines until they form the shape of his mouth. I wonder who he is and where he goes and what he'll do at the end of the season. Usually it's all I can do to hold on until classes start up again, longing for lecture halls and the smell of lithography and turpentine and friends.

I hum to myself all the songs about summer as I draw, my brush dipping time and again into water turned grey with ink. I think about all the carefree days and feckless loves inside those songs and sigh against the brush inside my hand. Summers have never been like that for me.

Each year, at the close of the semester, I watch the people I know fly home, their faces bent into smiles as they speak of endless hazy twilights spent with families and lovers. Each year I put my books away and drive my car to the gates of the state fair and walk around and around making ice cream cones, and then come home to my apartment alone.

After all, I have nowhere else to go.


Chrome never has anything much to say to me. He waves hello with a crooked smile, shielding his pulsing green eyes from the sun with his outstretched hand. He tells me his order every time, as if I don't already have the lid on the strawberry open as soon as I see him coming. He thanks me with a grin and a lick and a fountain between my legs and that's the end of my ability to keep up my end of our lack of conversation. So he goes.

Only one day he doesn't. One day he lopes up, his big long strides eating up the sun-baked pavement and before I can even lay my hands on my scoop he puts his fingers on my wrist to stop me. Holy fuck he's never touched me before. The silver bar clicks against his teeth as he draws his lips up into a ladykiller smile.

He's so close I can feel him breathe.

"I've been thinking about what flavor suits you." His voice is liquid velvet, or maybe a scoop of peppermint swirl left out to melt in August at noon. His long fingers push my auburn hair away from my face, the loose strands sticky and clinging in the afternoon heat. He rubs lightly against my temples, slick with sweat, and down my neck and to the curve on my ribs where my chest swells into breasts. "I think you're vanilla. With chocolate syrup."

"Vanilla?" My voice is quaking and his hand is still molten skin against my wrist.

"Vanilla," he croons with certainty.

"Isn't - isn't vanilla code for boring?"

"Not on you it isn't." His breath is hot on my ear, the force of every word pushing his bottom lip against my skin. I feel the tug of the metal in his lip running over my sweating neck as he pulls his face down and inhales. "Vanilla is fucking perfect. It's creamy and ivory and soft." The tips of his fingers leave my wrist to trace up the bare skin of my arms. "Vanilla laced with chocolate. Innocence tied up in sex all twisted as one." His lips softly part along my skin and I feel them just above my collar bone, soft and wet. "You could never be boring," he breathes, pulling his lips from my skin. "Do you mind if I call you that? Vanilla?"

I keep my body perfectly still, the invisible hairs on my neck and shoulder tensing in anticipation of the return of his touch. It never comes.

So I slowly nod my head and make his cone.

Shakily I reach for my scoop and a cone and lift the lid on my cart. His hands fall away to his sides but his chest is still breathing in waves of heat against my back. I lean down into the freezing cold and feel my ass scrape against his hips and suddenly I can feel him as he groans. I push back into his jeans, into the long line of his arousal, and I draw my body slowly up and turn.

There's a drip of melting ice cream on my palm. I take it to his lips and press it firmly to the flesh. He darts out his tongue and licks it away.

When his eyes close I push him backwards and press the ice cream into his hands. He never told me what he wanted so I give him what I think he deserves to have. One scoop of strawberry topped with one of vanilla. I reach up behind me without looking to find the bottle of syrup and squeeze it slowly over the top, letting it fall in a dripping stream over his ice cream and his hands.

He leans in closer as he takes it and whispers in my ear, "You see, Vanilla? Not a single fucking thing that was boring about that."

I run my eyes again along the shape of his mouth wrapped around what he's given me for a name, pondering the tiny holes and the gleam of piercing metal. I doubt myself and push an inch or two away, closing my eyes. "If you say so, Chrome."

When I open my eyes he's gone.


That night I eat vanilla ice cream on my couch and play old songs from seven years ago, surrounded with memories of first loves lost and all the ghosts of things I didn't feel when I should have felt them. The music is aching and harsh, a deep male voice stretched out into a trembling growl around lyrics that sing like sex over the most delicate piano. I sing along, my throat burning with the agony in the song.

And as I sing, I work.

I cover a canvas in acrylic paint tinted black and smear ivory gobs along its surface, working it in with the palms of my hands. I work it over with a palette knife, flecks and swirls of black and ivory flying everywhere as I sculpt the paint like skin and bone. I let the music in my lungs flow through me and through my hands and into the work. The notes in the air become the shadows of eyes, the glint of metal, the tug of desire. A face begins to emerge in ivory and acrylic and ink.

I prop the canvas up in a corner of the room and fall asleep on the couch, feeling his eyes watching me the whole night through.


He comes to my cart late the next day, just when I'm beginning to think he isn't coming at all. And then I hear the clanking of his chain.

"Two scoops of strawberry," he begins, before we say the rest together: "on a fucking sugar cone." I can't help but giggle as I open the cart.

"Where'd you run off to yesterday, Chrome?" I ask, my face guarded behind my hair and the clouds of cold rising up from the freezer's maw.

"I had some things I needed to do."

I pull his cone up with me as I stand and hand it to him, closing my eyes just a little against the pleasure of his fingers brushing mine. He gives me three dollars, stuffing his wallet back into his jeans. I watch his mouth envelop the sticky sweet, but for once he doesn't walk away.

"What are you doing here, Vanilla?"

"You mean why do I work here?"

His tongue licks his lips and they're coated in taffy pink cream. "Uh-huh."

"I'm paying my way through school. It keeps me busy for the summers, when everyone's away."

"Who the fuck is everyone?" That licking is getting distracting.

"Friends and…" I stop myself before I can say family. There's no family left anymore. I shrug, "friends."

"What do you do when you're not here?"

I dream about the bar in your tongue?

"Not much," I shift my eyes away.

I feel his stare and his hand on my wrist where the speckles of black and ivory from the day before still line my flesh; they stand slightly raised against the spindly purple veins. "What's that?" His touch is sticky and I want it everywhere.

"Paint. Nothing."

"Redecorating, Vanilla?"

"Portraits." Portraits of your mouth.

I dart my eyes up to see his eyebrow skeptically raised. "Could I see them someday?"

I nod and start to push my cart away.


"And what about you? What are you doing here?" I ask as he leans against a wall. It's another sticky day, made stickier with sugar melting on his lips in the sun.

It's his turn to shrug and look at the ground "Any place is as good as another when you're running away."

It's hard to imagine Chrome running away.

"What are you running from, Chrome?" He doesn't answer and looks away. "Chrome?"

His eyes are liquid green, grass and un-mowed lawns and leaves in spring. "The same thing we all are. The past." He smiles and turns away.

The past. And, apparently, me.


It's raining on a Saturday and the children have just about all gone home. The few that still remain have their parents desperately pulling them under awnings or into the funhouse, and it's me near Stage Two alone. I stand, half in and half out of the misting wet as the drops grow fatter and stronger. They pelt my hair and my shoulders and I let the lines of water run down my soaking skin. My shirt sticks to my breasts and there's no one who wants to buy ice cream and I'm thinking about going home.

Until I hear the clanking of a chain against wet denim.

I let him think he's sneaking up on me, keeping my back turned as I rest my melting hips against the cart. He is a fire in the howling wind, a desert in my mouth through the falling drops of rain.

"Vanilla?" he purrs, his lips playing with my ear.

""Yes, Chrome?"

"How did you know it was me?"

"I have a lodestone in my pocket and it always points North. Except when you're around." My voice is husky and low, the nervous humor lost in my want and need. I slowly turn and find him inches from my chest. The rain has slicked his hair into black locks swept flat across his forehead and the cloth of his t-shirt clings to the light muscles of his chest. I feel my mouth agape, drinking in both him and the falling rain.

He laughs out loud, but it comes out sounding strained. I watch the bar in his eyebrow twitching upward as rivulets of water pour down his face. "Are you trying to say that I'm magnetic?"

I fix my eye on the row of studs in his ear and the tiny droplets hanging from the posts. "Does that explain why I'm attracted to you?"

He growls low in his throat and leans in closer, "Only if there's metal running inside of you?"

I scan the area for watching eyes in the rain. Seeing none I take the warm weight of his hand in mine and press it first to my ear. Hidden beneath the soaking sheets of my hair he finds the long bar of the industrial and again he moans. I take him lower to my belly and run his fingers across the ring that's in my navel, lifting up the wet edges of my shirt that are plastered to my skin. He lets his hand remain inside my grasp but begins to trace lines across metal and flesh as he looks down at me through dripping lashes.

Until I take him higher. I hold his emerald eyes and pull his hand along my ribs to the swelling of my breast and watch as his gaze grows wider. I roll his fingers over the horseshoe in my nipple over my bra, teasing the balls on each end. I drop my arms to the handle of my cart and arch my back up into him as his hands begin to roam.

"Fuck," he whispers. "Vanilla spiked with vodka." I moan as he flicks the metal in my breast. "What's your fucking name, Vanilla?"

"Bella. But you can call me Vanilla any time." He releases my breast and kisses my neck, his hips dangerously close to mine. "Chrome?" I croak.

"Edward. It's Edward." He drops his mouth onto mine in the rain. I feel it warm and soft, the metal cool and hard as water pours across our skin. He's twisting, teasing, tasting and the rain is falling in my eyes and in my mouth as I drink him in. I lick the spiderbites in his lip, savoring the taste of chrome and feel of his tongue darting out to meet mine. I take him into my mouth and feel his body lean me strongly against the cart, his hardness against my belly as his hands slide up my arms.

"You taste like metal, Edward."

"And Bella, you taste like strawberries."


We stand in the rain for what seems like hours, the fairground deserted and silent in the pouring grey. His mouth sucks me in, our tongues against each other, faintly pressing and pulling. He fucks my mouth with the metal bar, clacking on both our teeth as I clench my thighs tighter against his jeans and lift myself to perch atop the handle of my cart. The rod in his jeans pulses against me as I pull him in, circling my ankles around his waist and drifting my hands over the studs in his ear.

He pulls me into his arms and lifts me, my pussy pressed against him through our clothes as I pulse and writhe. He pushes me up against the wall of the stage and his hands are on my breasts beneath my shirt. I feel the rough edge of his nail against the place where metal meets flesh as he scrapes them around my nipple, pushing the cup of my soaking bra to the side. His mouth on my neck makes sucking sounds against the pounding of the rain as water drips from his hair and onto my chest.

"I've wanted to fuck you against this wall since the first day I saw you," he groans against my ear, the thrusting of his body against mine ever more insistent and my body is tensing and we're still dressed.

"I've been dreaming of your mouth," I lick the spiderbites again and run my tongue in circles over the tip of his. "Do it, Chrome. Take me right here, right now."

He groans and lifts me higher against him, pulling me away from the wall with my legs still wrapped around him and his mouth still moving urgently in mine. He staggers a few feet over to the side of the stage and behind a tarp, only to slam me back into the other side of the wall we had just been grinding on.

The only light beneath the stage is what filters in from the edges of tarps and the cracks in the floorboards. As my eyes adjust, I can just make out his panting form in the dim. It's drier, but just barely, the thundering drops of rain on the other side of the wall resounding hard inside my head with the beat of his fingers on my breast. The air is thick and damp and musty and hot and I feel like I'm swimming, the pressure of Chrome's mouth stealing all the oxygen from my brain.

I break the kiss to gasp for breath and his mouth is on my neck, his open lips playing across the slick and sweaty skin as his hand moves down to my breast. I feel his thumb working again on my nipple ring and whimper. His hands are warm on the skin of my stomach as he peels the shirt away, my back losing contact with the wall as I arch it to let him pull it up and over my head, leaving me in just my bra and shorts. His fingers move roughly across my back, searching for the clasp and flicking it open with ease.

The cups fall onto his chest, the straps going slack as his kisses continue lower, down my neck and over the raised line of my collar bone to the tip of my shoulder, his nose pushing the slip of satin away. His chest leaves mine for an instant as I pull my arms from the straps, flicking the bra away to leave my top half naked before him. He stares at me, licking his lips and letting the bar clack again and again against his teeth. His mouth is on my breast in an instant, his hips pressed against the seam of my shorts and I push myself hard against the bulge to hear him moan. The hoops on his lip tease the horseshoe in my nipple as he pulls the white flesh of my peak into his mouth. He darts lower, the bar in his tongue playing against the metal and I am awash in sensation, hot mouth, cold steel and flicking chrome. My hands are tangled in his soaking hair, holding him to my body as my hips pulse again against the hardness in his jeans.

"You see how hard you make me, Vanilla?" he growls against my breast, unwrapping my thighs from his waist and bending us down to let my feet touch the ground.

"Yes," I pant, as he flicks my nipple ring with his tongue again.

He has my shorts unbuttoned and half pushed down my hips before I even realize it. I kick free of them, standing beneath the stage in only a pair of black lace panties and Chucks. I flush, embarrassed, as he runs his nose along the skin of my side, kissing lightly everywhere he goes, until his teeth snag the trace of lace at my hip and begin tugging it down. He runs his tongue along the crest of my hipbone as soon as it is exposed, my breath hitching at the sharp pressure of the little steel ball at the end of the bar against my skin. Rough fingers continue pulling down the damp lace as he whispers "Vanilla" into the dark curls of hair above my pussy.

I open my eyes when I feel his breath pulsing against my center. His green eyes are staring up at me, glazed with lust as he dips his tongue between the folds and glances the wet flesh and metal along my clit as I scream.

His lips are back on my mouth and my hands are fumbling with his jeans as I step out of the panties, letting them fall to the floor. I release each button of his jeans before they fall noisily, the heavy metal chain smashing on the ground with a clanging thud. Free of his jeans, I feel his erection pushed hard against my naked hips through the thin fabric of his boxers.

"What do you want, Vanilla?" he moans into my mouth, his hand finding the wet flesh between my legs, and I gasp as he slips a finger inside.

"I want you to fuck me against this wall."

In an instant his boxers are around his knees and I stare at the full length of his naked cock, twitching before me. A glint of something silver catches my eye as I run my hand along the vein that throbs along the underside, twisting over the tip to find hot metal in my hands. Our eyes meet as I ghost my fingers along the piercing, teasing the ball at the tip as he groans.

I slide down the wall, his hands twisting in my hair, until I'm level with him. I explore with my hands and eyes for a moment, entranced and terrified by the loop of metal emerging from the underside of his cock. I taste it with the tip of my tongue and he groans, pulling roughly at my hair to try to lift me back up to standing, but I refuse to budge. I take the head into my mouth, dropping my hands to try to unlace my shoes, and then he is grabbing me firmly, bodily lifting me back up to his mouth. He kisses me hard, growling, "Fucking leave them on."

For all the seriousness in the room I actually giggle. "You want to fuck me in Chucks?"

"Vanilla, I have never wanted anything more."

He digs into the pile of denim on the ground and finds a foil square, ripping it open and rolling the latex down along his length. He pushes it against me again as his hands circle beneath my bottom to lift me so that I am trapped between his hips and hands and the door.

We kiss hard and rough as he pushes into me, sliding in with one long thrust. My lips push away from his, my head falling back against the wall and my neck straining as I arch my back, taking him in. Then I bury my face in his shoulder and whisper, "Chrome." He pulls back and pushes in again, even deeper this time as I wrap my legs around his waist, the rubber soles of my Chucks pressed tight against his ass, trying to push him harder inside me. I gasp into his skin as I feel a little sharpness with every thrust, the piercing delicious in my wet skin, mixing pleasure with pain and want and lust.

His pubic bone presses against my clit with every thrust and it isn't long before my entire world is exploding, my body clenching tight around his length as my teeth sink into his skin and I cry out. He comes just after, his cock pulsing inside me, the word Vanilla falling against my ear again and again and again.

We stand there against the wall for untold minutes, the only sounds the rasping of our breaths and the slacking rain. His head still rests in the crook of my neck as I try to slow my breathing, willing my body to come back down while it's still wrapped around him. Everything inside of me is humming, and I've never felt so light before.

Slowly, my heart begins to steady and I uncurl my aching thighs from his body. He pulls out of me with a throaty groan and bends his knees to let my feet touch down.

He kisses up my neck to reach my lips and darts his tongue into my mouth again slowly, all the urgency gone. After a few soft kisses he pulls away, cleaning himself up and pulling his jeans back up to his waist. I bend down to retrieve my own clothes from the pile on the floor, pulling up my shorts and panties first. I turn away from him to continue dressing, suddenly embarrassed at my nakedness, as he stands near the edge of the tarp, already fully clothed. When I wrap my bra around my torso I feel his warm hands behind me, securing the clasp deftly and kissing the base of my neck.

"You're fucking beautiful, Vanilla." I feel his thick hands run down the lines of ink on the back of my shoulder, but know it's too dark for him to see the image properly. I realize I never got his shirt off and never saw his ink and I may never get to. And my heart is suddenly sad.

I turn to kiss him again and pull the still-wet fabric of my shirt over my head. I reach my hand up to his cheek, trailing down across his jawline and whisper, "So are you."

He looks away.

We emerge eventually into the misting dim outside. He walks me back to my cart and I feel an overwhelming sadness falling down around me, and I can't explain the heaviness in my spine as I ready myself for him to turn away.

But instead of turning away he pulls me into him, his arms cold and loose around my ribs. As he stares into my eyes, I sense a certain distance behind them, and somehow I already feel more alone. "Bella…" he starts, my real name falling heavy off his metal tongue.

I look down at the ground and bite my own lip bitterly, waiting for the words to come. "Just spit it out, Chrome." I'd intended the words to come out filled with venom, but they are shaking. Lost.

I feel his fingertip under my chin, pulling my face up. Without letting go of my eyes, he bends and brushes his lips against mine softly, trailing them up across my cheek, and I feel them pick up a trace of wet where I hadn't even realized I'd shed a tear. His mouth makes a slow whisper in my ear, "Don't regret me, Bella."

My heart flushes and I place a kiss below his own ear, "I don't, Edward. I couldn't. I-"

"Come to the show tonight," he whispers. His breath is hot against my neck.

"What? Why?"

"Will you come tonight, Vanilla? Say you'll come."

With his arms wrapped around me, I know I couldn't say no to anything. And so I nod. And watch him with dread in my heart as he finally walks away.


The rain eases up before the show. I arrive in clean, dry clothes, my hair in a messy bun that shows the metal in my ear. Expectation rises hot to the top of my throat, paired with spiraling fear. As my searching gaze keeps coming up empty, the fear mixes hard with the dread I'd felt as he walked away.

Chrome told me once that he was running. Perhaps he's running still.

I drink a beer, leaning against a supporting beam that holds up the awning over the writhing hipsters who sing along with every verse. My toes keep time in my best black Chucks as I sweep the crowd again and again, the loneliness creeping over my shoulders and my hands growing impenetrably cold.

As lonely tears fall silently down my cheek, I wonder to myself what he's been hiding beneath the ink and chrome, and wonder if it's just as well that apparently I'll never know. I wonder why he asked me to come tonight only to leave me standing here alone.

By the time the final encore is through I am feeling like such a fool.

The crowd disperses but I can't seem to get my feet to move. I dawdle at the edges, looking for a flash of steel and green below long bronze hair among the lingering hipsters and the roadies dismantling the show. But there's nothing there. When even the roadies start to thin out I decide it's time to go.

I drop the bottle from my fourth or fifth beer in a trashcan and begin to walk away when I hear music in the distance. Soft notes, low and somber, twisting in the air and wrapping themselves around my ears like a whispering touch.

Chrome is at the piano on the stage. His messy hair is even more disheveled than usual, low and unruly in his dark green eyes. There is a cigarette between his lips and in the darkness it glows orange, illuminating his face as he puffs in and out, his eyes never straying from the keys.

He's so beautiful. And my stomach twists to wonder if he's mine.

I walk to him entranced, my hips lightly swaying with alcohol and longing. I sit myself down beside him, straddling the bench and pressing my knee against his back, the other leg entangled with his as it moves across the pedals. The hands that I have dreamed about dance languidly across the ivory keys. Black and white. Vanilla and chocolate. His lips are strawberry and chrome and fire.

I tease one hand along his back, letting it dance across the thin black shirt that drapes across his muscles. My fingertips make spiderweb kisses, glancing over his frame the way that his dance across the keys. With my other hand I touch where I have always longed to touch. I watch myself tangle my fingers softly in his mess of hair, along the sharp edges of his ear and down his eyebrow and finally to his lips. They're soft and hard, flesh and steel, spit and chrome.

I take the cigarette from his mouth and place it in mine. I take the long last drag, tasting him inside the smoke, all sex and sweet and sadness, and exhale it into the damp cool night without a single cough.

His lips form circles and his voice is a rough caress. I've never heard Chrome sing before. And now I never want to hear anything else. My mind tells me again that I've heard this voice, liquid sex and barbed wire, twisted crescendos and pain. I feel like it was meant for me, that it came to me once in a dream.

I ran so long I didn't know myself
I built up armor and chain

I guess I should know better now
Than to risk this pain again

I would kiss you in the rain
Your body soft and cold

Vanilla rain
Could you be mine to hold?

His hands pause on the keys as I press my palm against his jaw to turn him toward me. My lips find his in a trembling kiss. This is no smashing together of mouths like it was in the rain. This is soft. This is strong. This is everything.

His lips part gently beneath mine and I breathe into his cheek, "What are you running from, Chrome?"

He shrugs and turns away to continue playing. "The past. Myself."

I lean in to kiss his cheek and then his ear. He whispers, "Everything."

He closes his eyes and lets his head slump, the music still pouring out, hauntingly still. "I got so fucked up, Vanilla. I've been running for so long."

"Edward," I whisper, and the music stops, his hands perched over the keys, silent and still. "You don't have to run anymore if you don't want to."

He turns to face me, his hips straddling the bench. I feel his hands slowly moving across my face, along the bar in my ear and my mouth and the lids of my eyes. We kiss, our lips painfully soft, our noses lightly touching. "Take me home with you, Bella," he whispers between kisses. "Please."

At last I know he means more than just one sweaty night.

I let a tear fall from my eyes, the old fears returning. "I don't have one, Edward."

He bundles me up inside his arms and whispers, "Wherever we go will be home." He kisses me softly, "Will you take me home with you, Bella?"

I smile against his mouth. "Okay."


We leave the lights on as we fall onto my bed together. Our love-making is nothing like the frenzied fuck of the afternoon, a month and a half of sexual tension all released in a blinding whirl of thrusts against a dusty wall. It is slow, as our lips move over each other, drinking each other in.

I undress him slowly, reverently. Beginning with the thing I never got to earlier. Beginning with his shirt. I pull it softly from his skin, running my hands over his flesh before lifting the fabric over his head and leaving him bare. I let my lips part in awe as my hands travel the swirling lines of ink and the tight ridges of his muscle and the pale skin in between.

The tattoo begins as leaves. All along the left side of his collar bone, the leaves stand out in brilliant green, nearly the color of his eyes. They expand out, all the way to his shoulder, gently wrapping around before stopping where the sleeves of his t-shirt would normally fall. My fingers trace their twisting shapes and his every breath is like a breath of wind, pulling the branches to gently sway. The leaves give way to a sturdy trunk beneath his pecs, running the length of his abdomen, before dissolving into strong and vibrant roots that play teasingly into the earth of his hips, pausing just before the tantalizing V.

On the left side, at least.

On the right side, the tree begins to die.

I run my hands again along the swaths of living green before letting my fingers fall into the other half of the tree. The leaves shrivel and twist, fading to orange and then brown and then grey until the only things left on his opposite shoulder are desiccated branches twisting out like skeletal hands. The trunk on the right is weak and sad, grey and black and run through with knots. The roots hang limply down along his hip, a weak, thin mass of pointless lines devoid of life.

An image of a boy leans up against the trunk on the side of the tree that has died. He sits on dead grass, his head pointed down, his frame thin and weak and lost. I run my hand along the tortured line of the little boy's spine and whisper, "Edward." The real Edward gently nods. I kiss the picture of the boy. And then I kiss the man.

He has been watching me guardedly the long moments my eyes have lingered on his skin, and as I take him up in yet another slow and passionate embrace I feel relief fall out of his lungs and into the tenderness of his kiss. "You're beautiful," I tell him, my fingers feeling their way across the image of dead branches near his neck. "Even the parts that feel broken. They're beautiful."

As our mouths part over and over I feel his own rough hands moving on my skin. He lifts my shirt in one smooth motion and I reach around to remove my bra. He regards my naked breasts, feeling them softly with one hand as the other caresses down my side. He turns me in his lap and lets his hands fall across the back of my shoulder. I feel his fingers moving over the twisting vines, over the fall of flowers, stopping just above the bottom of my shoulder blades. And the three candles.

"Who were they?" he asks. I feel the point of his nail twist along the inky lines of dripping wax.

I can't answer. I can only turn my face into his chest, silently grateful when he lets me be.

We find each other's nakedness in smooth motions. I unlaced his combat boots one by one and set them gently on the floor before drawing down his pants and boxers. I take his rigid length softly in my mouth, tasting him, running my tongue over the metal at the tip and sinking my lips down over him again. When he begins to moan I release him and climb back up his body to lie beside him.

Our lips part across each other. He kisses his way down my torso and pulls the rest of my clothes away. His lips caress my ankles as he eases off my shoes. And then he pulls me on top of him.

I hover over him for long minutes, my eyes tracing down every inch of him. As I straddle his hips, I pull both his hands into mine, the fingers entwined. I let our hands press back into the bed on both sides of his head as I sink myself down onto him slowly. Patiently. Our eyes and hands remain connected as he slides inside. We rock together, my hips making circles as they slide up and down in a slow and aching dance. Our breaths remain deep as they grow louder, pushing toward release in tremulous increments, a glowing ache in the tightly coiled nerves deep within my sex.

When I finally fall over the edge I wrap my lips around his mouth, kissing him soft and whispering his real name. He follows me moments later in a trembling cry of "Bella."

He raises one set of intertwined hands to rub his finger down my cheek before pulling them to his lips.

I fall asleep beside him, my shoulders and back pressed tight across his tattooed chest.


I wake up in the dark and feel an unfamiliar aching absence in my bed. I shake the sleep from my eyes and wonder deep in the pit of my stomach, after so much time alone, how absence could possibly feel new.

A dim sliver of light shines through the crack in the bedroom door. I follow it, padding silently into the hall to find Edward standing naked in the living room, a pint of strawberry ice cream and a spoon in his hands, as he stares absently into a corner.

Shit. I'd forgotten to clean that up.

I walk up quietly to where he stands, admiring the muscles of his back and ass before I press myself against him. I raise myself up onto tiptoes to look over his shoulder as I wind one arm around his waist and the other around the broken branches of his chest. I steel myself for his reaction as he continues staring, kissing my temple without breaking his gaze.

In front of him are two canvasses. I follow his eyes to see the one that echoes the ink on my back, a twisting web of green leaves and vines around flowers and candles in red and black and flame. His eyes flicker across it in recognition as I rest my head against his neck.

"You designed that?" I nod against his back. "You're fucking talented, Vanilla. Way too talented to be pushing a fucking ice cream cart around."

I shrug my shoulders and rake my fingers through the trail of hair beneath his navel. "I've heard you sing. You're too talented to be lugging speakers around."

He does not comment before turning his head to see the other canvas. A face with haunted eyes and flecks of metal pulls itself out of a ground of black and ivory and ink, and I wince to wonder what he must think.

He lifts a spoonful of melting pink to my lips and I take it in, the cold sweet a relief against my nervous throat. He returns the spoon to the container and takes another bite himself.

"Is that really how you see me?" he mutters, the sound ragged and torn.

I don't answer. I take the pint of ice cream and put it down, turning him to face me. He will not meet my eyes, keeping his gaze cast down as his fingers run their way across my hip. I ask quietly, "Will you ever tell me what made your tree die?"

"Will you ever tell me what your candles mean?"

Our eyes meet for an instant before they slowly turn away. We both know no answers will come tonight. His tongue clicks quickly against his teeth before his mouth forms the words, "Does it matter?"

I rub my hands across the twisted branches and ask the question of myself. I ponder what it would mean to turn away from him for want of knowledge of his past and feel a tug inside my chest, begging me to wrap my arms around him tighter.

I pull him into me, my hands in the softness of his hair as I press my face into his neck. "No, Edward, it doesn't." He lifts his face to look at me. "After all, this is your home."

When he kisses me, his mouth is strawberry ice cream and chrome.

Lots of unresolved questions in this one-shot, I know. But I kind of like it open-ended, with the emphasis on the fact that they've forgiven each other their pasts, no matter what they might be. I feel like this could turn into something longer. PM/review and tell me if you agree.