Ducky and Stick Go Camping, More or Less – by SubtlePen

A birthday gift for the fabulous AnnTastic23!

Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight series, or any of the characters created by Stephenie Meyer. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.



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"Why do you have to be such a bitch, Swan?"

"Why do you have to be such an asshole, Cullen?"

I felt the lump on my head and realized I was bleeding. Before I knew it, I was in tears, wondering why in hell I'd agreed to come on this damn trip, anyway. Everyone else was coupled up, and none of them had to work as late as Cullen and I, so we were stuck riding together.

.

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"Let me drive for a while. You're going to kill us."

I'd worked a twelve hour shift at Newton's, and was in no position to argue with him. "Yeah, alright. Just, don't fuck up my truck."

"As if it could get fucked up more? You don't even have a decent stereo. And where's this magical GPS you told me about?"

I pulled slowly onto the shoulder and threw the fan-folded paper at him. "It's called a map, assbrain. Besides, I thought you knew where we were going?"

He opened the passenger door and got out, slamming the door behind him. I slid across the bench seat, lifting my legs over the gear shift and draping my jacket over my chest like a blanket. He climbed in the driver's side and slammed that door, too.

"Jesus, Cullen, I know it's an old truck , but it's all I've got. Have a little respect for the ride."

"Thirty year old piece of shit behemoth." He threw it into first and killed the engine when he tried pulling back onto the blacktop.

"Christ. You can't even drive a manual, can you? You're gonna owe me a new clutch after this trip."

He turned the engine over and slipped the clutch so long I could smell it. "You know what, Swan? You…"

I cut him off. "We'd be in your pretty little sparkly Volvo right now if it were big enough to haul more than my purse, and you weren't so worried about getting it dirty, so spare me the complaints and be glad your little puss-mobile is home safe in daddy's garage."

"Whatever."

"Such a manly response, Stick. Your machismo dazzles me."

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I fell asleep to him muttering about stupid childish nicknames and showing me 'a real stick.' The next thing I knew there was a horrible bump and my head bounced off the side window, jarring me awake.

"Jesus Christ, Edward, what the hell are you doing?"

"We're going camping, Ducky. Did you forget?"

"Stop. Calling me. That."

He smirked, obviously proud to have once again resurrected my least favorite nickname. I rubbed my eyes and looked out into the blackness, but didn't see anyone else, no welcoming campfire, no tents, no one else we had arranged to meet, no cars, no …pavement? "Where the fuck are we?"

He threw the now crumpled and half-torn map at me and yelled. "Ask your fucking GPS!"

I stared at him, dumbstruck, my mouth hanging open, waiting for him to laugh or something to let me know he was kidding.

He wasn't.

"You're completely serious, aren't you?" The tone of my voice was dead calm.

He tried to throw the truck into reverse and ground the gears. He took a deep breath and tried again, gunning the gas, but the tires just whined as they spun. I could see mud flying up from the wheel wells.

"What did you do to my truck? This isn't Emmett's Jeep, you know. It's not exactly built for four-wheeling."

He ignored me, switching to first gear, and tried again. Same result.

"Edward?"

He put the truck in neutral, nervously pushing the gear shift from left to right, over and over again. I reached over, turned off the engine, and pulled my keys out of the ignition. We sat there without speaking until the dome light clicked off, and then we continued to sit silently in the dark.

"Where are we, Edward?"

"I'm not entirely sure." He refused to look at me, staring instead out the driver's window.

"Okay, let's try this again. How did we get where we are?"

"I thought I missed the turnoff we were supposed to take, and then took the next dirt road hoping to find an easy place to turn around. Apparently, I succeeded, but not in the way I intended, okay?"

"And the bump that woke me up?"

"Boulder, tree root, pothole, sasquatch. Who knows."

"You stupid, goddamned, idiotic…" I knew he wasn't stupid. He was brilliant, really. He was probably just as tired as I was, working at the nursing home as many hours as I worked at Newton's, saving every penny for college. I threw the passenger door open and stepped out into an ankle-deep mud pudding. Cursing, I leaned down to see if we were high-centered on something, or worse, but the beam of my flashlight didn't reveal anything devastating. As far as I could tell, mud was the only thing holding us back at this point.

I trudged out in front of the truck, shining my flashlight in all directions, and all I could see around us was winding overgrown one-lane dirt road, trees, and stars. I looked back to the truck and could see the light from his cell phone display illuminating his face. Did he really think he'd have bars out here? He's awfully dense for someone so annoyingly boy-pretty.

I stared up at the sky and did the only thing I could that would make me feel better. "Fuuuuuck!"

I looked back and saw him shut off his phone, and drop his head back onto the headrest.

I took a deep breath and walked back to the truck, opening the driver's door and giving him a shove.

"What?"

"Scoot over so I can get us out of this shit hole."

"Do you really…"

My death-glare shut him up.

"Have you already turned around?"

"Yeah."

"So, presumably, that," I said, pointing forward, "is the way we came?"

He nodded. "More or less."

I started the truck and put it into first, easing off the clutch pedal just until I felt the wheels start to slip, then pressing the pedal back to the floor. The truck rolled back slightly to where we started, and I quickly repeated the process, slowly rocking us forward and back in the little trench Edward had gotten us into. With every forward roll, I gained us a little more momentum, until we were finally free. I smiled to myself, but Edward never said a word.

Several minutes later, I looked over at him, and he had a strange look on his face.

"What?"

"Nothing."

I nodded, letting him stew over whatever it was. Half an hour later, we were still on the same godforsaken road, when I finally found something close to a clearing where we could pull over. "I'm tired, it's midnight, and I have no idea where we are. We can try to meet up with everyone else tomorrow. I need to sleep."

He looked at me blankly as I made my way to the back of the truck and opened the camper shell and tailgate. The first thing I noticed was that our cooler had tumbled over at some point, and my sleeping bag was soaking in a puddle of half melted ice.

"Son of a…" I pulled as much of my stuff out of the mess as I could, chucking soda bottles and food back into the cooler, then scooping up fistfuls of ice and doing the same. Edward pulled the cooler out and set it on the ground, then helped me try to mop up the rest of the water with some rags.

"We don't have a tent."

"I don't know about you, Stick, but I'm sleeping back here. Even if we had one with us, after all this, I'll be damned if I'd mess with a tent." I went back to the cab and pulled out the blanket I kept behind the seat for emergencies. I had a first aid kit, a couple of quarts of oil, several liters of drinking water, a folding shovel, some antifreeze, toilet paper. Things that come in handy if you're stranded. Like, now, for instance. I sat on the tailgate, kicked off my muddy shoes, unrolled my RidgeRest, wadded up a spare shirt for a pillow and told Edward to put the cooler in the cab. He could sleep up front for all I cared.

I heard him move the cooler, then his footsteps stomping off down the road. I figured he must have needed a potty break before bed, and I realized that sounded like a pretty good idea. I sat up and pulled my shoes back on just in time to see him walking back onto the road from the tree line. I reached my hand out for the flashlight, and took off in the opposite direction. He didn't bother asking. I had the TP tucked under my arm, and the shovel in my other hand. I took care of my business and made my way back to the truck, only to find he'd closed the tailgate, was sprawled out and already snoring, half on my RidgeRest, half on his own, with his sleeping bag thrown over his legs. His bare feet were sticking out. I fought back my smile.

I stood there for a minute, debating the most heinous way to wake him up and show him the error of his ways, when I realized I didn't have the energy to follow through. I peeled off my jeans, pulled on some ratty sweats to sleep in, climbed in and pulled the camper hatch closed. I shoved him over as gingerly as I could, rearranging his limbs so I could lay down. It took more effort than I thought – he'd apparently bulked up. There was considerably more to him now than the 'Stick' I'd known since kindergarten. I curled up small, tugged my blanket over my head, and prayed for sleep.

Hip hurts. Shit shit shit. Straighten. Cringe. Hard! Truck bed. Oh yeah. Cullen. Woods. Lost. Roll over. Adjust blanket, tuck. Scratch boob. Warmth on my face. Snuggle. Arms around me. Deep breath. Nice. Warm. Boy smell. Skin. Scratchy-soft whiskers on my forehead. Snuggle. Sooo Comfy.

I sat up with a jolt, hitting my head on the camper shell ceiling. "OW! Motherf…" The instant chill of being out from under the covers only added to the sudden splitting pain in my head.

"Jesus! Bella?" He bolted upright, too, just shy of hitting his own head the same way. He pulled me to him in some instinctual protective maneuver, knocking me off balance, and we both fell backwards with an oof.

"Goddamn it, Edward, get your filthy hands off me!" I pushed his hands off my waist and scooted back as far as I could, which wasn't far given our cramped quarters.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

I rubbed the top of my head with one hand and winced. "You – you were all over me! In my sleep! I was sleeping and you – you - !" My other hand was waving frantically in the air between us.

"Oh holy… this is ridiculous. Are you shitting me?"

"And look at you!" He was wearing black boxer briefs and an old tee shirt, and nothing else. "You're practically naked!"

He laid back and rubbed his hands over his face in frustration. "I sleep in this Bella. I can't sleep fully dressed. All I did was take off my jeans. I was sleeping. You were sleeping. It's cold and damp. You rolled over towards me and it's cold. I must have put my arm around you to keep us warm. Calm down."

I took a deep breath and let it out. It made sense.

"Why do you have to be such a bitch, Swan?"

"Why do you have to be such an asshole, Cullen?"

"God." He shook his head, exasperated.

I gently touched the rising lump on my scalp and it felt sticky. "I think my head is bleeding, Stick."

He started to sit up again, slowly. "What? Seriously?"

I nodded.

"Come here. Let me see." He clicked the flashlight on and patted the mat in front of his crossed legs. His bare, slightly hairy, nicely muscular legs. I closed my eyes and scooted closer, flinching with his initial touch, even though he was incredibly gentle. "Shhh. Hold still." He carefully ran his fingers through my hair, lifting it section by section around the goose egg, looking for a cut. I whimpered when he found it, and pulled away.

"Ahh!" Hot tears leaked from my eyes.

"Shit, Ducky, okay. Let me think…" He pulled of his shirt and leaned through the sliding window into the cab. I heard him fumbling with the cooler, and ice sloshing. I looked up and got the shock of my life at the sight of him wedged through the window, with his bubble ass and long legs pointing at me, toes gripping the bed of the truck for leverage. He scooted back through, with his shirt wet and balled up.

"Here," he said, holding the cold, drippy shirt wad out to me. "Ice. It's more of a scrape really, not a big gash or anything. It only bled a little. The ice will help with the knot on your head." I watched his hand absently rub the angry red indentations on his abs from the track of the slider window, and felt my face heat. I took the bundle from him and pressed it to my head, wincing. The tears flowed anew.

"Oh, sweetie baby, shhh." He scooted around me, parting his legs and pulling me against his warm, hard chest, wrapping his arms lightly around my shoulders. "Does it hurt that bad? Do you have any Tylenol or anything somewhere?"

I sniffed, squinting my eyes. "I'm okay. I'm just really – I'm tired, and we're lost and it's cold and I'm pissed and don't know why I'm even here, and I'm cold and sleepy, and you're being nice to me and I don't want you to be nice to me and you're warm and you smell good and you hate me and for years you were horrible and now you're not, and I'm mad." I sniffed again and choked back snot and tears, appalled that I'd just word vomited all that, praying that he hadn't heard the last two thirds.

"Ducky. Look at me." His fingers were warm on my face.

"I hate that. Do you even know what it means?"

"Emmett used to call you that, years ago, when we were all little."

"Dad made him stop."

"Why? It's cute!"

"Because some ugly ducklings don't turn into Swans. Some just stay ugly ducks." I sniffed again, choking back more snot.

"Oh, Du… Bella. I've never thought of you like that. I just assumed you didn't like it because it was cutesy."

"So why would you call me something you knew I hated?"

"I don't know, Bella. It's what kids do. I just think of you as Ducky now, after all these years. I honestly never meant it to be hateful. Maybe annoying now and then, but never hateful."

"Really?" I wiped my nose with the butt of my hand.

"Really."

"Okay."

"I'm sorry, Ducky."

I sniffed again, a tiny smile plumping my cheeks. "Accepted, Stick. I mean Edward."

"So. Stick? Like beanpole?"

"Yeah."

"Still? That was, like, fourth grade or something."

"A couple of years ago I decided it still applied."

He laughed. "Why?"

"I thought you had a stick up your ass. You were always calling me Ducky at the weirdest times, and it never made any sense, and I couldn't figure out what on earth I'd ever done to deserve it from you, and I just decided you were still Stick."

"Oh, Bella." He shook his head, sadness marring his face. "I mostly called you Ducky because I saw you as this sweet, soft little thing, something fragile, something to protect."

It took a minute for his words to sink in.

He cupped my cheek in his palm, and I thought I'd never seen anyone so beautiful in my life as him, right then, half asleep, hair every which way, chewing on his bottom lip like the shy, sweet boy who'd been my playground friend so many years ago. When had that changed?

"You're not that duckling, Bella."

I felt tiny puffs of his breath on my face. "What?"

He took the sopping wet shirt from my hand and pushed my damp hair back, away from my face. I watched his eyes travel over my face, a beautiful, soft smile on his lips. One hand still cupped my cheek, the other traced my jaw with the backs of his fingers. I was suddenly keenly aware of our position, with me sitting between his spread legs, my side pressed tight against his chest.

"Edwa…"

His kiss stole my breath before I could finish saying his name. It was slow and warm, soft and hard, wet and teasing and just right. I tilted my head and he kissed me again, more urgently, but still soft. There was power behind the kiss; need, but not domination.

He wasn't taking, he was asking.

I pulled back and he instantly closed his eyes. I could feel my pulse throbbing in the goose egg knot on my head, but I ignored it. I ran my hands up from his elbows, across the curves of his arms to his shoulders, to his neck, grazing my thumbs on his collarbones and throat, then lightly over his jaw to his ears and finally into his mop of bronze-brown silk. He opened his eyes and searched mine. I could see doubt, and insecurity, and it made me sad. I knew he was afraid it was a mistake to kiss me.

He couldn't have been more wrong.

"Kiss me again."

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Happy birthday, dear AnnTastic23! It has been a wonderful pleasure getting to know you, sharing porn giggles with you, and finally meeting you! I hope you have a wonderful day, and a fabulous year! Xoxox!

Visit Anne's blog, twi-fecta . blogspot . com (take out the spaces) for more of her hilarious take on all things Twi...

i love you bb!

thank you to NaughtySparkle for organizing, and for generously sharing her own birthday with Anne (and Masen_Cullen!) and a big pile of thanksauce to MiztrezBoo for being my fan-girly prereader... MWAH!