What is this? An update after almost a year? Well... all I can say is, it's well past time. Just don't get too excited- I have an announcement.
This chapter is a consolation prize. It's not the continuation of the story as I had pictured it, but a year in the fandom has made me a bit wiser and has re-shaped my priorities a bit. Therefore you are receiving the original (un-beta'd) epilogue to "Need You Now" and this will be the end of the road for this story. Below is a copy of a note I've placed back at the beginning of chapter one for new readers. However for the eleven of you who had this on alert, this is also a special thank you for all of your support and I hope you enjoy this last few moments with these characters.
Epic Author's Note (please read):
This was my first published attempt at fanfiction. I'd become hopelessly addicted to New Moon AU's in late 2009 and my favorite at the time, a little unfinished fic called "The Past Comes Back to Bite You" by sillybella, had me practically salivating for a conclusion. A little research gave me every reason to believe that TPCB2BY would never be completed (a fact I still believe to be true more than a year later) and that fact drove me batty enough to try and write my own ending.
Soon after I began writing my "fanfic or a fanfic", I realized that it wouldn't be right for me to share or post my version of the end of TPCB2BY without sillybella's permission. So I tried to get that permission. After failing in my attempts to contact her, I eventually decided to take the basic idea and re-work it independent of TPCB2BY. Unfortunately, I don't think I quite succeeded in that endeavor and the result was this bit of drabble. Need You Now is, unfortunately, a forced attempted to salvage some of my writing –writing that I am very proud of, but do not have permission to share. Additionally, "Need You Now" still leans heavily on sillybella's story ideas and I'm ashamed that it has been posted for so long without me acknowledging that fact.
For those reasons, I plan to pull this story at some point in the near future. When I do so, one of two things will happen: One, I will either get permission and post my conclusion to The Past Comes Back to Bite You and that story will replace this. A second possibility is that I will re-work this story completely and remove the elements that should, and do, belong to another fanfiction author.
I realize this may be upsetting to the few readers who had this on alert, but I promise not to pull is until I have a plan in place to reinvent or re-work it. However, I won't exhaust myself trying to fix something that is better left alone. Thank you to all of you who reviewed, favorite'd, and supported me when I first joined the fanfiction community! You guys and gals are the reason I kept writing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot of Twilight are the property of Stephenie Meyer. The original characters and plot of The Past Comes Back to Bite You are the property of fanfiction author, "sillybella". No copyright infringement or disrespect is intended.
"Stop that, it tickles," I giggled.
"Hmm..." I heard Edward lean towards me and felt his nose skim down my bare side in place of his cold fingers, from my hips to just below my arm and back down again. He inhaled deeply and placed a chaste kiss there on my hip. "Better?" He asked.
"Mm-hmm," I sighed. My eyes were closed but I could tell he was smiling, a sharp contrast to the face he had when I woke up this morning. We were lying on our sides, heads on opposite sides of the bed. I had one arm stretched out above me, while the other lazily cradled my head. It was easier being next to perfection with my eyes closed, though I was missing my view of Edward.
The sun had just dipped below the horizon, and the sea and sky were still ablaze with the boldest colors of a perfect twilight in the tropics. Though this time of day had once made Edward sad, I hoped he had found more to enjoy in it in recent years. I slowly opened my eyes and looked towards my feet, searching for the beauty of his perfect smile. Instead, I was met with the return of his scowl.
He was staring hard at my hips again and the one or two tiny bruises he'd left there last night.
I rolled my eyes. "Stop it."
"Stop THAT. Right there. You're doing it again. Stop it." I reached for his face, cupping his cheek and he kissed my palm before laying back onto the mattress he had carried outside to place on the beach for us. It was a little gossamer tented paradise for us to watch the sunset from. The evening was perfect as we lay under the steadily darkening sky, surrounded by the sounds of the surf and covered only by a soft cotton sheet that barely separated our bodies. I wasn't about to let him ruin this for either of us.
"Edward..." I warned, sitting up ever so slightly. "I'm fine, they don't hurt. Please? You've lived with me for almost five years now. We both know the kitchen table can do more damage to me than that."
Unexpectedly, he rolled back to his side and smiled at me. Not just any smile either, it was one of his famous crooked smiles that made me catch my breath. My heart fluttered and my cheeks flushed as he chuckled quietly and sat up to look me over.
"You know, I think you're right. The kitchen table has inflicted more than its fair share of damage to your glorious body. It may have to be punished for that. " He leaned over and began peppering my hips and ribs with kisses. One for each tiny bruise. "Still, I need to keep my fingers to myself."
It took a moment for me to get my lungs to cooperate so that I could speak. "You had better not keep those fingers to yourself, or I'll have to do the same." I threatened. "And I might just decide to keep my lips to myself, too." I upped the ante, knowing that he would call my bluff.
"Oh, I don't think so." He laughed and before my eyes could detect any movement, he flipped himself around so that he was now nose to nose with me. He nudged my nose with his once, then twice. The second time he opened his mouth and his bottom lip grazed the tip of my nose while his breath washed over me. "I think that I can manage to make love to you without gouging my fingers into your body, Mrs. Cullen. You can still have the rest of me."
He teased my lips with his for a moment letting me catch my already stuttering breath and then kissed me tenderly and reverently. As we kissed, my eyes filled with tears. Tears that were the overflow of my heart and the sheer ache I felt in my chest at the amount of love I felt from him.
He gently kissed them away and looked at me with concern. "What is it, Bella?"
I swallowed and left out a shaky breath and smiled.
"I will never get used to that, to this." I lifted my left hand and indicated the hefty ring that would permanently reside on there. "You will always be a miracle to me. I'm so happy, I can't help but..." My tears fell freely again. I bit my lip and tried in vain to keep from outright crying.
"Me too." He whispered and leaned his forehead to mine. He pulled me fully beneath him, his arms wrapped around and beneath my back while our legs lay tangled together.
We stayed swaddled together like that for a long time until the moonlight was our only source of illumination. I found Edward's eyes in the dark and wondered the same thing he asked me so many times a day.
"What are you thinking about?" I asked eagerly.
"You," he answered.
"Hmm. Well, what were you thinking about when you were staring at my hips earlier?" I lifted my chin and kissed him softly.
"Honestly?" He asked, kissing me back.
"I was wrestling with God." He stated so simply, like it was the most normal thing.
"Explain?" I asked and ran my fingers through his tousled hair.
"Well, I was wrestling with him, afraid that I will have to admit that he does exist. He has to, it would be impossible for him not to exist. And, if in fact God does exist, then I'd have to revere him and thank him. I was struggling to fully accept that, and then to ask His forgiveness for ever denying He existed in the first place."
I looked at Edward in disbelief and some strong sense of hope surged through my body, a feeling like none I'd known before. I smiled and stared at him for a moment longer. I had to know, "Why?"
"Because He created you," Edward answered, nuzzling down into my hair and whispering his words into my ear, like a prayer. "Because I am beginning to believe that you were made for me."
"I've always believed that."
He sighed. "I don't know if it's possible for even God to have the kind of compassion and mercy it would take to create one such as you, for one such as me. But something this miraculous cannot be an accident or even left up to fate. This was designed. This is a miracle." His voice cracked with emotion and his unnecessary breaths grew fast and unsteady alongside my own. He trembled against me and looked as though he could cry if it were possible. Pressing in closer to me, he tightened his grip until I had to gasp for air. I looked up into his eyes to find a fire I knew well.
It was need. It was love. It was worship.
He moved his mouth over mine and hesitated for a moment, gauging his own strength and control before letting his need for me and my need for him collide together in the one of the oldest acts of worship under creation.
Several hours, and several acts of worship later, I shivered when the cooler nighttime air combined with the sea breeze and the sheen of sweat that covered my body. Edward kindly found our sheets and blankets and shook them free of sand and salt before returning with them to wrap me in an Egyptian cotton cocoon. I sighed and snuggled into his side. He wrapped his arms around me and let out a little contented sigh of his own.
"How did I get so lucky?" he asked, his fingers twirling a strand of my hair.
"I was thinking the same thing," I giggled softly.
"No, really Bella. How after everything, after so many years, after all that was done? How could you give me your heart back and then your hand?" he asked, kissing my wedding ring.
"Because they've always been yours. A thousand universes could collide, but I believe with my whole heart that I've always been, and always will be, yours."
"Are you ready for this, my love? Are you really sure this is what you want?" he asked, suddenly seeming so afraid.
"Am I. On both accounts. Masen will be on tour surfing all year and then he'll be finishing college. He thinks we're off to live in Beijing for your job, so he won't expect to see us often. We'll do Skype and let Alice work her magic with my make-up and hair so he will just think I'm getting older."
"You may be able to see him in a few years. We can hope for that."
"Yes, we can. But he can't know the truth. That's the one thing that we've all agreed on. He has to stay safe."
"We'll never be able to go back to Forks again either," Edward reminded me.
"I know, but it doesn't matter. With my father gone and my son a world traveler now, there's nothing left for me there. My home is with you."
"You love me more than I deserve. More than any one person deserves."
"You deserve to be happy. And so do I. We've had enough troubles to last us several lifetimes. I want to spend the next few of them just loving you."
Edward hummed and kissed me thoroughly.
"What was that for?" I asked when he pulled away.
He held me closely, his face grim. "Masen. Bella, someday he'll grow old and die. I don't know if I can bear to see you go through that. I'm afraid you'll resent me for allowing you to give up so much for me."
"You're not allowing me to do anything. This is my choice. And when my son's life is over someday... it will be as it should be. It will hurt like hell and I'll miss him forever, but I finally understand."
"What do you understand?"
"What it is to love someone that much. How it was you were able to let me go. I know now that it doesn't mean you loved me any less. I don't love my son any less just because I don't want to take him into this life with me. In fact, I love him too much to do that to him. So I get it. I understand."
Edward and I stared at each other until I could see that he knew I was speaking the truth. I smiled as much as could and opened up to him in a way I hadn't done yet. I'd avoided talking to much about it because Masen was the only reason Edward had left not to change me. And it was time that he knew how I was dealing with the issue of my son.
"Letting Masen go is the most loving thing I can do for him, just as you once felt letting me go was the best way to love me. And I've come to a place where I feel peace in that. It will hurt when the time comes, but I will take comfort in the things that I can. Like the fact that I will never grow sick or become dependent on him. I'll be able to look out for him and be there when he needs me, financially or otherwise. I'll be able to watch from afar when he starts his own life, a family, a home, a career on dry land."
Edward chuckled at my joke.
"Well, he can't surf forever."
"Very true. Go on. What else?" Edward asked, a smile like the sun on his perfect face.
"I'll be able to take care of him when he grows old and frail. I'll be able to watch my grandchildren grow, and if we're lucky, their grandchildren. I'll always have him in my heart and remember the day he was born and the day I decided to keep him. I'll remember him fishing with Charlie, and playing football with Jake, and I'll most especially remember the day that he met you and the way he sat across the kitchen table from you and asked if you were his biological father. I'll remember how he didn't believe that you weren't, but he told you to take care of me anyway. And how he told you that he knew you'd come back for me someday. I don't even know where that came from, but I'll never forget it. And it will be enough. Enough for ten thousand lifetimes."
"I love you Isabella Marie Swan. Enough for ten thousand lifetimes. I'll help you remember. I swear to you."
"I love you too. And it's Cullen," I said through a teary smile. Edward quirked his brow. "You said Isabella Marie Swan. It's Cullen now."
"No hyphen?" he teased, remembering no doubt an earlier discussion on the subject.
"No hyphen. In my heart I've been a Cullen since the day you brought me home. I love your family, I love you. No hyphen."
"That suites me just fine, Mrs. Cullen," he smiled.
"Besides, I figure in fifty years when we all need new identities, you can just be Mr. Swan and take my name for a change," I teased.
He made a face. "I think my upbringing will make that a difficult concept to adjust to. Maybe in another hundred years or so I'll be willing to consider it."
I smiled. "How 'bout I give you two hundred years to get used to the idea?"
"I'll take it," he purred, kissing the spot behind my ear and then rolling until he was above me. "When would you like this two hundred years to start?" He kissed my neck and I felt his tongue poke out along my jugular for the briefest moment. I swallowed heavily.
"Well..." I started, my breaths coming faster as he repeated the same action on the other side. "You said I'll want to do for a while is slaughter the whole town, right?"
"Mm-hmm," Edward hummed in my ear, pulling the sheet that was between us away so he could climb under the covers with me.
"So maybe in a few weeks? Before my fortieth birthday, of course. I'm already enough of a pedo... oooohhh, Edward," I gasped as he slid a hand down my body and moved one of my legs to the side to make room for his body between my hips.
"Well," he said in between kisses as he settled himself against me. "I'm technically one-hundred and twenty five. If you're a pedophile, what does that make me?"
"I don't know, very talented?" I asked breathlessly as he went back to laving my body with his tongue and caressing me with his incredible hands. "And damn sexy for your age?"
He chuckled a little and pulled back to look at me. He took my hands in his and threaded our fingers together above my head. "I don't want to hear you talk about your age again while we're here, okay? We're on our honeymoon. You have the rest of eternity to fuss about your age. But..." he said, pausing to lower his head until our lips were mere millimeters apart. "I think you'll come to realize that nobody cares how old you are when you're as beautiful, sexy and alluring as you already are. I'm slightly afraid of how utterly glorious you'll be when you are immortal, my love."
"You're afraid of that?" I whispered, my lips brushing his as I spoke.
He smiled and kissed me languidly before answering. "I'm going to have to endure every living male on the planet thinking about how incredibly hot my wife is from now until eternity. So yes, I'm a little afraid of that."
I laughed and the motion reminded both of us just how close we were and what we really wanted to be doing now that we were married. I thanked Goad again that Edward had learned to trust himself enough to make love to me on our wedding night. It had been my one and only condition when I agreed to marry him.
My husband kissed me again and I shifted beneath him at the same time he moved his hips to join our bodies as one. All of our words fell away as we made love slowly at first, then more passionately until I was utterly exhausted and sleep came to claim me for one of the last times in my life.
"Bella?" Edward asked just as I'd started to dream.
"Soon?" he asked softly. "Please? I need you now. I need forever with you. More than I ever thought I would."
I smiled and held him closer. "Soon, my Edward. Soon."