Title: Anatomy of a Human

Author: Amethyst Jackson

Rating: M

Summary: Companion to Only Human. Edward's young life is irreversibly altered when a mysterious girl in strange clothing stumbles into his world.

Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belongs to a whole lot of people, namely Stephenie Meyer and whomever she chooses to share the rights with, but I'm not one of those people. I wish I was, because I could use the cash, but I am making no money off this story or any other derivative work, so there's nothing to sue me for.

Chapter Twenty-One

Bella had been gone for three days, and though I'd been able to watch her through my returning memories, now that I was sick in the past, I lost sight of her.

God, how would I go on if she couldn't make it back?

One hour passed. Then two. I started to panic. How long had I been ill before I'd been changed? How many hours would that add up to in this time? Three hours, four hours, five –

"Edward!" I suddenly heard from the dining room, and I leapt to my feet. Bella. "Edward!"

I scooped her off her feet just as she made it into the living room and clutched her to my chest. My relief was too potent for words, and I couldn't even hold her tightly enough to satisfy the urge lest I crush her fragile bones.

"Oh, Edward! Edward, I was so scared; I didn't know what I should do, what you would want…" she babbled, crying against my shoulder, but I scarcely heard her. I buried my nose in her hair and breathed deeply, so grateful to have her back in my arms.

My family had reacted to Bella's return as well, all gathered around us and reaching out to touch Bella – probably as afraid that this was the work of imagination as I was. If I'd had half a mind to be polite, I would have let her go and give them the chance to hug her and welcome her back – but I had absolutely no intention of releasing her in the near future.

I shot Carlisle a pleading glance, and he took the hint. "Let's give them some time, shall we?"

As soon as he'd said it, I was carrying her up the stairs to our room. The bed remained neat and tidy, unused since before the wedding. I couldn't believe this was the first time I'd been in this room with Bella as her husband. I couldn't believe I'd nearly lost that opportunity.

"You came back," I breathed, trying to calm myself. "You came back to me…"

"I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to," Bella whimpered as I carried her over to the bed. "I didn't know how…"

"How did you get back?" I asked her, relinquishing my grasp on her only enough to let her sit on the bed. I couldn't take my hands off her now, whether it was her face, her neck, her hands, anything. "I couldn't see that part."

"I made another wish," she told me, looking as shell-shocked as I felt. "I guess that was what did it…or perhaps I was simply done there and the wish I made triggered something…I don't know. One moment I was there, and the next, I was back in the dining room. …What do you mean, you couldn't see that part?"

I traced the line of her jaw. She looked thinner – I wonder how she'd fared in her last few days in the past. I would have to get her something to eat very soon. "Every moment you were in my past, new memories formed – not replacing the originals, but creating a new layer," I explained to her. "I saw everything up to the point that I caught the flu…then everything went dark."

Bella's breath hitched, her eyes suddenly apprehensive. "You know everything that happened, then."

"Yes," I nodded. What was she worried about? Was there something I should be worried about?

"How…how do you feel about all of it?" she asked.

I frowned. She sounded just as anxious as I felt. "I feel…conflicted. Grateful. Jealous. Frightened."

"Frightened?" Her reaction was instantaneous. I hoped that didn't mean I had good reason to be frightened.

"Yes, frightened. While I could see everything, I had no way of knowing for sure how you felt, how much of what you said was true…I couldn't be sure if you would still want to come back to me, knowing…knowing what could have been."

Bella shook her head and gave me that silly-vampire-what-am-I-to-do-with-you look she'd mastered. "You thought I would want to stay? Edward…I love you. Every part of you – past, present, and future. What I want hasn't changed at all. I won't settle for anything less than an eternity with you."

I let out a breath. "I just…I couldn't help fearing that you would prefer me human. That you would want to have the life and the family that I can't offer you now, or that you would find it…physically preferable…"

Bella laughed at that. "Oh, silly vampire. Don't you know you haven't changed at all?"

"I should hope there have been a few changes in 90-odd years," I said a tad defensively.

"A few," she said, leaning into my side. "But all the things that matter are the same. Did you really think I could let go of everything I have here that easily? That everything we've survived to get to this point would be for nothing?"

"I didn't know what to think," I confessed, feeling once again the raw vulnerability of the past few days. "I had no way to ask you."

"I'm sorry," she sighed, resting her head on my shoulder, her warmth sinking through my clothing. "It must have been awful for you, watching that for months and not knowing…"

"Actually, it was only a few days for me," I admitted. How selfish of me to forget that while I'd been suffering the agony of the unknown for a few days, she'd likely had much worse.

"But I was in the past for over two months," she said, her face amusingly befuddled.

"From my calculations, each day that you were gone lasted an hour for me. You were missing for a little less than three days."

"Well…I guess that's good, then…"

"I think it's good," I sighed, not blaming her for being a little flabbergasted. "I couldn't have watched that for months…"

She wrapped her arms around me, warming me all over. "Was it really that bad?"

"I don't know how to describe it. I was…jealous of myself," I explained haltingly. "I was viewing my own memories, but they were all new to me – I didn't feel as though I'd already experienced these things and was reliving them. It felt like experiencing them through someone else entirely…and when I watched my past self falling in love with you, kissing you, touching you…I wanted it to be me, even though, technically…it was."

Bella cringed. "I worried, at first, that I was…betraying you, somehow. But…the longer I was in the past, the more I felt like I was with you. I can't make the separation in my mind anymore."

I would have to accept that she could love me past and present, just as I'd come to love her in two different times.

"It's okay. Now that I know how you feel, what you were thinking…I'm not afraid anymore."

"I'm glad...I'm so relieved."

"Relieved? What were you afraid of?" I asked. I nearly smacked myself for asking. She'd likely had many things to be afraid of.

"That you would hate me for not changing the past when I had the chance. For not saving you from getting sick and becoming a vampire…"

I kissed her temple and smiled to myself because I could ease her fears. "Who's the silly one now? Don't you know you never would have convinced me to change my plans? Furthermore, I wouldn't want any of it changed. I should have let you know that much a long time ago, but your presence in my life changed everything. I'm happy I was changed, if only for the chance to meet you…and now, to know that I was being preserved for a time when I could be with you again…that brings the puzzle together perfectly."

"I'm amazed that I didn't change anything…I was afraid I'd come back and find my whole future destroyed."

"You changed things in small ways," I told her. "The history is very subtly different, but only on my side. I didn't remember much after my transformation, only your face and that I had loved you. Carlisle very carefully kept any thought of you from his mind, lest he give away the future to me. When I met you, after the bloodlust had passed somewhat, I realized you had the same face as the one I'd loved…I didn't know what to make of it. It gave me more reason than ever to try to stay away from you, though – how could I drag you into my world? When I did give in to temptation, I didn't dare say anything – it was crazy enough for you to accept me for what I was. I wasn't about to tell you that I'd known you in 1918."

"But then, shouldn't you have understood what happened when I disappeared?"

I shrugged, helpless to give a good answer. "That's where it all gets a bit fuzzy, because I still have overlapping memories up until the point where you return. But I was still very worried – I may have known where you were, but I still had no way of knowing for sure that you would be safe or that you would come back."

"I'm glad I'm back," she said, and there were no words for me to express how glad I was, too. "I don't regret the experience – I've learned so much from it. But it was scary, not knowing what would happen to me or how I might change things."

"You're not sad at all?" I asked, holding up her left hand where the small sapphire ring rested on her finger. It was a pitiful little thing, but I could remember with clarity how desperate I'd been to give her any kind of ring. I'd wanted nothing more to marry her then – I felt so blessed to be married to her now.

"Not for myself, no," she said, and I watched as she shifted the ring to her right hand and reached into her pocket, where my mother's ring and the wedding band I'd given her were waiting. Seeing those rings back on her finger did a great deal to calm me, but I was still concerned about her answer.

Bella went on, "I'm sad that I couldn't give you what you wanted right away – I'm sad you had to wait so long for me. But if anything, being in the past only made me love you more, seeing how much of your humanity is still there, even after all you've been through. I understand so much more now, and I'm ready. I'm ready for forever with you."

"I love you." There was nothing more to do but kiss her – kiss both hands, both wearing rings I'd given her – then kiss her lips, her sweet, soft, warm lips that accepted me so readily. When I pulled away, her fingers clutched my shirt, trying to hold me there.

"Don't stop. It's been so long for me. I want to feel you here with me," she breathed. I'd grown to love that look in her eyes, the one that always preceded the scent of her arousal.

"I don't want to stop," I told her in the same tone, watching her eyes darken. "Even three days without you is far too many."

We came together as though by magnetic force, falling back to the bed as I kissed her as thoroughly as I could. God, I was ready to change her this instant. There had been far too many close calls, far too many things threatening to take her away from me, and I was done fighting myself and fate both.

Bella's hot hands snuck under my shirt, igniting a thousand, million nerve endings.

"Touch me," she begged, palming my back, fingernails scratching in their urgency. I couldn't deny a request like that, and good heavens, I'd been impatient to get my hands up her skirts anyway. Something about that old-fashioned dress aroused me in ways I never would have expected. It was as though we could still be love-struck teenagers, drunk with overflowing desire and hard-pressed to stop ourselves.

"More, please," she sighed at my hands on her smooth thighs, arching her back in tantalizing fashion. "Take it off."

Without hesitation, I pulled her up and moved behind her to tackle the long row of buttons down her back. I struggled to be slow, to savor this moment, to kiss each inch of skin I revealed until her chemise got in the way. I pushed the sleeves off her shoulders and my lips found the taut skin of her neck and collarbone. As the dress pooled around her waist, the sight of her in her silk chemise all but did me in.

"Do you have any idea what it does to me to undress you when you're wearing these clothes?" I asked against the soft shell of her ear. "I feel like a fumbling teenager again."

"You were pretty good as a fumbling teenager," she said weakly as my hands trailed over her chest, just a sliver of cleavage showing above the neckline of her undergarment. It was odd to receive praise for my former self, but I could remember how nervous I'd been, how terrified of not pleasing her, and it was gratifying to know that I had indeed done well. I could remember the pleasure she'd given me as well...pleasure I'd never have known but for her.

"I really am grateful, you know," I told her, moving to look into her eyes. "For everything you gave me by going back."

"I love you so much," Bella said with a light touch to my face that reinforced her words. "I don't think I tell you enough. It seems so obvious to me."

That she could love me had never been remotely obvious to me – it was a struggle to believe every day – and yet, with all she'd been through for me, she could still look upon me with such tenderness. It was a miracle.

"Oh, my Isabella." I pulled her close and showered her with kisses, as if that could compensate for the words I could never seem to find. "How could I live one day without you?"

She responded with a fervent kiss, and I lifted her out of her skirt. My hands roamed greedily over her silk-clad body. I couldn't get close enough to her. If only I could find my way so deep inside her that I'd never find my way back out, then I could be satisfied.

Her hands worked my shirt off and palmed over my chest. I closed my eyes at the warmth, my lips moving continually over her shoulders. I'd never get enough of her skin, her touch.

"Edward," she whimpered, "I want more…"

I could have told her I did, too – always wanted more, so much more – but actions were quicker and spoke louder. My hands found the hem of her chemise and lifted it over her head, letting it flutter to the floor. Even with a perfect memory, I could never quite hold onto the perfection that was her body, soft in all the right places, cream and pink and luscious. I reached out to trace the perfect curve of her breast, but all that did was ignite my impatience to have her. I pulled away and undressed at vampire speed, bringing her back into my arms as soon as I could.

God, the warmth of her engulfed me in flames. The look in her eyes told me she felt it, too. I lowered her back to the bed and felt my way down her body to her last piece of clothing, a pair of old-fashioned drawers held up with ties on the sides. I smiled at the sight of them but wasted no time in unfastening them and casting them aside.

I couldn't recall ever being so very ready to be inside of her – not even on our wedding night – as I was in this moment, looking down at the woman who had loved me enough to find me in the past and the present. My right hand travelled up her inner thigh and stroked the delicate folds of her sex, hoping to make her as ready as I was.

The dampness that coated my fingers and her beseeching eyes told me she was already there.

"Bella," I moaned, unable to wait a second more, entering her with reckless swiftness.

I hissed at the heat of her around me and the sweet relief of being joined with her once more. The relief was painted clearly across her features as well. We were made for this.

I began to move inside her at a measured pace, trying so, so hard to keep control when all I wanted was to take her as savagely as my body demanded.

We made love as slowly as I could stand. She rocked forward to meet my every thrust. Her responsiveness to me only inflamed my desire further. God, if only I could get deeper. If only I could be the flush across her chest and the bridge of her nose...if only I could taste her wet sex even as it surrounded me...if only I could stay buried inside her every second, maybe I would be satisfied.

Her hands clutched at me, her little moans filled the air, and soon I felt her muscles tightening around me, seeking the friction that would take her over the edge. I pushed into her harder, faster, and even as her moans turned to cries, my own pleasure multiplied exponentially. I dropped my head to her shoulder, trying to focus on keeping the pace within her limits, whispering her name, praying she would come soon...

I shifted just enough, and she clamped down around me, threw her head back, cried out my name.

All the wet, tight heat was too much, and my release burst forward in a dizzying rush.

Though every muscle in my body went slack, I somehow managed to fall to my back beside her and pull her to my chest. Her skin glistened with sweat, and I pulled the covers over us lest she catch a chill.

She snuggled into me and let out a massive yawn.

I chuckled at the sound. "You haven't slept properly in several days, have you? You should rest now."

"Mmm…but the others will want to know about it…and there's still more to talk about…" she mumbled drowsily.

"It can wait. We have forever, after all," I smiled to myself.

Bella smiled, too. "That reminds me. I want you to change me soon."

Thank the lord. I was ready now. "Whenever you're ready."

"It won't be long," she promised as her eyes drifted closed. "Just need to do a few things first…"

"I'll be ready, too, then," I promised back and sealed it with a kiss to the top of her precious head.

An eternity with my love of two lifetimes – what more could I possibly want?

A/N: Thanks again, all of you. It's been a joy to share this story with you.

Upcoming fanfiction plans: 1) Finish Madman's Mercy and 2) start posting the historical, regency-era AH I've had waiting in the wings.