Viola, how can I thank you? For this alone, you provided Longfellow with ease, which was no small feat. Much love and huge kisses to you!

Disclaimer: Twilight and all that other stuff belongs to Miss SM. This little story and twist on the tale is mine.

~~I'd really like it if you listened to Death Cab's Bixby Canyon Bridge while you read this. http://www(DOT)youtube(DOT)com(FORWARD SLASH)watch?v=4St1fiq2F8I~~


Vivid

Circa 2066

Forks, Washington

Edward

It was the opposite of vivid, the way Bella's corporeal body burned out, sizzling like the flame of a candle between two moist fingertips. Her incandescent soul remained faintly, flickering wisps of smoke from an extinguished wick.

I would follow Bella, leave this earth, traipse across blacked out space that was the immediate stopping of existence before I found her, from icy-cold death to sun-filled meeting.

I carried her to our bed, holding her tenderly one last time before arranging her arms, her legs, smoothing out her hair just so. Though I still observed her body with the keen eyes of a husband, the dearth of Bella within it was obscenely distressing. Even having prepared for this moment, her utter lack of existence made a fallen man of me!

Racked by pain that had no tangible beginning or end, eaten by the resurgence of guilt that I could have stopped this all, ceased her aging, thrown a blow to her ever dying just by turning Bella into vampire!

Gagging at the thought, I sobbed tearlessly into my hands, in danger of digging my fingers through the compressed caverns of my cheeks. My open mouth made a scream, but no sound emerged. Instead it sat huge like penance in my throat, a thing I attempted to retch out.

I remembered the fine crosshatch of skin at the nape of her neck, and the way she hummed when I stroked her there in passing. My head fell to her soft belly. It met me with resistance. Rigor was setting in. Rotting would be fast on its heels. "Oh God, Bella! What did I do?" I cried into the nothing air, an atmosphere devoid of my lover. I'd never felt so completely alone, not even upon waking, without my mother and father, as a bloodthirsty ghoul.

Night, then morning, then noon. Another dusk, dawn, midday. I never moved from my resting place, and wished I could die just where I was.

Devastated.

She was gone. For two days, Bella had egressed.

It was too long, far too fucking long.

I had one task to take care of before I went to her.

At the edge of the meadow, we'd cleared a large square of earth, razed it, planted it up with perennials, shrubs and fledgling trees. It was here I buried Bella. Amidst blooming flowers and leafy pines, I lowered her casket into the ground. Inside, she slept. On her hand were my mother's ring and her wedding band. She was otherwise unadorned. With one last look at her face, peaceful in repose, I had closed the lid with the gentlest touch after I pressed my lips to hers.

Now she was cold as me.

Sweeping my hand upon the hard wood of the box, I said one more goodbye to that body I had adored, but not to her spirit.

Endeavoring to be strong, I lifted her down into the hole.

Topside, I clawed soil, shredded petals, tore at the grass. This small ceremony of me and her was nearly worse than the moment I had felt her heart still. Bleak and broken, I found my voice and put words to the lullaby I'd composed for Bella so very long ago, as I'd promised her.

But my faith faltered. I was neither as courageous nor as durable as I'd believed.

Until I read the epitaph on her gravestone from my hunched over position above the open grave.

Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.

Standing on shaking legs, I leant over to lay a pristine, perfumed trumpet lily sideways across her coffin, watching the pollen mote out. Rising, I picked the small leather satchel from my trouser pocket. Unloosing the clinched sinew, I shook the contents into my palm. From my grasp I watched the golden grains rain down over the dark polished wood. Gold dust sprinkled over her, merging with the ochre giftof the lily, making the whole thing shimmer.

Hours later, maybe it was days, I finally left her graveside.

Bella's body was beneath the strata of loam, but her being was waiting for me.

As were Emmett and Jasper.

Emmett knew what to do with my ashen pile; scatter it far and wide so the cinders could never commingle again. But for my chest, steel-like skin and unshatterable bones that held space for my heart. The heart that belonged to Bella though it had never known rhythm in her presence. Those particles were to be locked tight in a coffin of the same build and size as Bella's.

When choosing our inscriptions, Bella mine and me hers, it was so simple. There was no other choice, there never was…with us.

Seated next to her headstone, mine would read:

He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning, gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened through into action.

I had told them not to come to me, having bid them goodbye at Bella's bedside. Carlisle, Esme. Alice and Rosalie. Peter and Charlotte. I could cope with no more grief, no more silent keening. Everything that needed to be said, had been…for near-on two hundred years. Bella and I had held hands that day of their leaving us to our final solitude. Our solidarity a staunch thing. Now a master at my mind reading ability, I shut out thoughts, focused on words alone. Resigned, the gathered no longer opined. But the mourning would not be denied. Less than speeches, more caresses and loving touches, we each sought a degree of closure that left such a gaping wide hole in the fabric of our family I wondered if it would ever heal.

Yet I had to believe it would.

Their agony was clear. Turning over their faces, plowing up their eyes, tilling their lips into craven facsimiles of smiles. Trying not to bereave before time. Bella graciously, lovingly, accepted each word and hug and lingering stroke upon her magisterially aged flesh. All the while, she alone of all of us had tears of warm salt tracking down her face, dampening the collar of her shirt, wetting my hand as I clasped her to me over her collar bone.

Sister, daughter; brother, son.

I could have stopped this.

"You would never have loved me any other way, Edward," Bella had silenced me, as if inhabiting my head, as husbands and wives were prone to do after so much time together.

Firm and bold and still strong and vibrant, she clasped my cheeks while I feared for the papery porcelain skin of her palms on my perma-flesh, "We will see them hence."

I nodded an affirmation that found justice over her lips, "I will find you again."

As a family, we would congregate. Eventually. In a millennia or two. Of that I was certain…we did have souls, otherwise I would never have let Bella live, and die, as a mortal woman. I had to trust that now.

Unable to do this thing by myself, I turned to euthanasia by vampire. Only by my brothers' hands. Emmett and Jasper were strong enough to kill me, men enough to allow me this, and filled with such complete filial devotion that though they would scream and cry non-tears like a crocodile, they would not fail me.

I needed them to understand this was not the end.

With new resilience, a racing of anticipation, a weird current tensed my thighs…she was so close!

They waited in Bella's and my bedroom. I would die where she had. Dirty from my toil, I showered one last time.

Cleaned and ready, clear-eyed and craving finality, I joined them.

There were no more words I could utter but this, "I owe you." Looking each in the eye as I embraced them, weighty sobriety dimmed my giddiness at seeing Bella again. A small half-smile was upon my lips, quivering and unformed until I thought of my wife.

Filling out, my smile widened my mouth, our eternity was so close!

"I'm ready," I nodded to my brothers, trying to ignore the hesitation of their movements.

"I love you."

Those were my final words.

Neither of them spoke as they set about the gruesome work of dismembering me so I could return to my one love; with their faces harrowed, hearts bleeding, eyes sobbing dryly, hands clenched into talons that tore me apart.

I swallowed my screams, followed the peaceful sleepy hypnosis Jasper arched over the room, enclosing us three in an umbrella of death and tranquility so at odds with my maiming at their hands.

It was true what they said. Not the tunnel vision and blinding white light. But the shutter-flash-shutter of a life in reverse through a 35MM lens. It was not my years I watched, but Bella's. Every little thing, each nuance and laugh, every angered moment, years of walking, talking, reading, eating, hand holding. Days and nights and decades of love making, fucking, the titillating moments of le petit mort taking me to my own demise.

A seamless shift from there to here.

The pronounced silence was…astounding.

Where was she?

Oh God! Where was Bella?

Instant terror horrified me more than my own death! Was this simply more Purgatory? I'd hoped to easily come to her, believed too readily. Dashed to my knees with crushing misery, I sank in upon myself.

Bereft, estranged, it took something akin to the growling wash of minutes for me to understand this fatality was so final it took me back to where I had been when I was truly seventeen. In the hospital ward, infirm with influenza. That day when I should have died completely but was instead made a living monument to the boy I had been.

So I could meet the love of my infinity almost nine decades later.

Foreign wetness sprang to my eyes as I gulped deep breaths down into my chest that filled fully with oxygen. The film of tears I had forgotten the feel of momentarily blinded me, until the slick fat drops spilled out and over my cheeks and into my mouth, and I tasted saltiness that was vaguely familiar, if I reached down far enough.

This liquid was saline and saliva. Not venom.

This pounding was my heart. Not a desiccated organ.

This warmth, spreading, coursing, speeding, escalating was my blood. Not the empty filthy veins of yore.

Ultimate ending had given me human body.

I inhaled and shook and tried to stand upon weakened legs but was pressed back down by a body blanketing my back.

Oh, thank you, Thank You!

She was here!

Grazing her hand up my shoulder, over my neck, stroking my Adam's apple that shunted with my weeping, Bella's fingers on me were no longer incinerating. Her hand held power, and I felt her fingertips dent my skin whereas before they had bounced off.

"Edward," she gasped, stealing forward to settle in my lap, "You're blushing!"

My face heated again, and I ducked into her hair, her neck, her flesh that never again would be such an obstacle to my twinned lusts.

Her voice was undeveloped as her body that rocked upon me, with me, in commune. This was not the beloved woman I had interred, but Bella of old! Returned to her eighteenth year, she was spring, flowers, bare feet and summer sunshine! Not the honeyed, majestic, queenly woman I had just let go.

Clear and ringing, gauzy and hazy, Bella bloomed in my arms when I reclined away to stare in amazement, meeting her equally incredulous look.

Oh so fucking clear and real and now!

"You're a man!" She laughed brilliantly, and that pure sound made the curtain of time that veiled us flutter out and then settle back again over us.

Our lips were starving between words. Your eyes are ivy. Your skin is the same as mine. Where have you been? How long did it take me? It doesn't matter, an eternity is but a blink of the eye, I always felt you close.

You glow.

You have blood inside of you.

You're an angel.

I missed you.

I missed you.

We're the same.

I shifted slowly and dragged Bella across me.

This isn't the same.

Gasps and clutching and clothing disintegrated and never even existed.

No, it's not.

I can't hurt you.

You never did.

The hemisphere of her near womanly lips made a smile over my own young man's mouth. Of innocence and knowledge, virtuous as the young lady I had courted against my will, artless as the woman I'd been blessed to know for more time than I was owed.

Restlessly swelteringly, unbearably needful, Bella was on me, I was in her! My moan was just that. No hiss, growl or snarl.

Her wet and heat was unencumbered by the hint of blood. The anxiety for her tiny frame against my formidable hips, erection, and thrusts melted like the formerly arctic plains of my physique.

With arms that would not break her, and lips that could not crush or mold or form, hands that finally met resistance, I clutched Bella, grappled with her, slowly and sensually and archaically and primitively followed our deaths with a connubial rite of passage that made a mockery of anything anyone else had ever known!

Atoned, I was a man.

And we would never die again.

Her grace was not new. The swirl and swivel of slick heat over me felt insanely insatiable! God, her breasts! Our hearts both beat faster than Father Time could fathom, and I could kiss, lick, suck, pluck every bit of Bella without fear of goring her!

Most inexplicably, the reactions of my body were ten million times more potent than they'd been as a vampire.

To hold her, love her, touch her as a human…it was everything I had ever wanted, and all my imaginings held not a single sand of truth to the reality!

Stars simply extinguished. Time justly stopped. My body was human. And I had little control.

With her posterior making handfuls under my palms, I pulled Bella one more time over me, arced up into her, came as she writhed and pulsed and pounded and cried!

I held her as hard as I wanted, with no fear for bruises or broken bones and watched, languidly, the swivel of her hips rounding down and tearing up my shaft.

"Bella, I-"

She hushed me with one finger to my mouth, begging silence and no apologies, hands on my wide chest, and I fucking felt her weight! Her hair lashed me, and stung. Leaning forward, Bella dove up and down and our nipples met, held, touched and tautened, and I was about to become unglued again!

She sat straight up on my lap, on my cock. So I was far too deep inside. Hair in fists, breasts topped by pink, the rasps of my mouth littered all over her tits and hips, waist and neck, she was a work of art.

Riding me as if we'd never made love, Bella slowed. Sank. And saturated me with the most glorious groan.

I pulled her nipples to my mouth and guided her down to my chest, my shoulder. Legs locked, hips still rocked in slow motion. Sweat sat over both our bodies.

Pulling her like a cover around me, I slid our bodies together.

My man.

My woman. My wife.

Husband.

This was after life.

Time had shed its essence

It held no meaning, not that it ever had for us. But it instead of the morbid crawl of near ninety years before Bella, in lieu of the fast tripping of the clock and calendar during my swift sixty with Bella, this was a cloud, a coil, a light dusting, a fragment and its whole, a feather freed from wing floating down, down, dipping, down. Pushed up up flying. Never to Alpha, never to Omega. Floating, but being. Untethered, but knowing. Every touch lasted forever, because there was no such thing as time. There was nothing but now.

In this endless stratosphere, all I saw was Bella. Every permutation of her had remained a steel-stamped image in my memory. Always starting and ending with us here. Around our love for the length of eons was every place we'd ever been. It was real and it wasn't rational; memory, existence, everything just was.

After life.

Youth, newness, us, the same, but primitive and civilized. Tried and true.

A time warp.

A fine walk.

A divine being, together.

Crossing space just once I whispered to Alice, "We live yet."

Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.

He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning, gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened through into action.



~Thoughts? A fresh supply of Kleenex?~

This is done. Thank you so much for reading something I really never imagined anyone wanting. However, the response to it in my Challenge oneshots was enough to make me want to post it again.

Happy New Year! Be safe, be happy, do what you love.

Bella and Edward's tombstone quotes are from Longfellow's

Evangeline.

A Tale of Arcadie

Again, I cannot possibly thank Vi enough for those thoughts.

If you get the chance, please vote for the Shimmers and the Twi 25 Challenge. And check out my new bitter, bitten, blighted, blissful oneshot, Surrender.

And we may be doing some very funny Gone With the Wind and Alice (Mel's Diner) round robins to welcome 2010. That's me and my babes. They wrote me one for my 36th birthday and it's torqued, hilarious and hold onto your hotties hot! Please read and review: http://www(DOT)fanfiction(DOT)net(SLASH)s(SLASH)5621886(SLASH)1(SLASH)Happy_Birthday_Bella_Round_Robin_Collaboration or go to my faves for Happy Birthday, Bella.