Thanks to bmango and letmesign.
As always, Stephanie Meyer owns. I play. And occasionally write stuff so sweet it should carry a warning from the American Dental Association.
The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt #: 24
(www [dot] bit [dot] ly/dvhOYm)
Pen name: theladyingrey42
Pairing: Bella and Edward
Photos for prompts can be found here:
Sometimes, I think I know everything about him.
I know that he takes a shower every morning. His hair is always dark and wet as he runs to catch the bus for whatever fancy private school he goes to; in the evenings though, it's dry and brilliant, shining red and gold and brown in the lamp beside his bed.
I know that he likes to read and that he doesn't have a lot of friends. Few people ever float in or out of his room, and he spends most of his time there.
I would know.
I live across the alley from him, and my window opens directly onto his and onto my glowing nightly vision of him.
Sometimes, I feel like I know everything about him.
Except his name.
Except for the sound of his voice.
He is sitting on his bed, his nose in a book the way it usually is. I used to leave the window open, straining to hear anything coming from his room, but I soon came to realize that he liked his silence. Nowadays, I keep my earbuds in, finishing my homework and trying not to glance up all the time.
I jerk my head up and pull out one of my headphones, glancing at the door just as my mother pokes her head in. When she moved us here to Chicago, I took it with good grace, figuring another apartment in another city would make little difference to my already uprooted life.
Now, I've found that Chicago is growing on me.
Her eyes search the room for a moment before they settle on me. I don't know why it takes her so long; the view of the room across the alleyway is best from my perch at the foot of my bed.
"It's late, sweetie."
I glance at the clock. It's almost eleven.
"I know, Mom. Thanks."
"See you in the morning."
I steal out to the bathroom to change into my pajamas and brush my teeth. I used to change in my room, but I don't like closing the curtains until it's time for lights out.
Sometimes, I don't even close them then.
By the time I make it back, the boy in the window is similarly changed, sitting now in a plain white t-shirt and shorts instead of his button down and jeans. From across the alleyway he smiles and waves. I blush and do the same, wanting to look down, but feeling reluctant to miss a moment of the smile he keeps just for me.
As one, we settle into our beds.
And together and apart, we turn out the lights.
"Crap," I murmur under my breath, struggling to pull my backpack on and tie up my hair at the same time, my brown paper lunch sack gripped securely between my teeth. I am racing down the sidewalk, with only a couple of minutes left until school starts.
I finally manage to get the elastic band secured around my hair when I hit a crack in the cement. Knowing I'm about to go over, I reach out my arms, stifling a murmur of shock when I hit something solid.
Brilliant green eyes are staring down at me, my hand on the chest I've watched rising and falling, night after night, his damn hair hanging in his forehead and his cheeks flushed as he stares intently at my mouth.
"Jesus," I whisper, pulling my lunch bag out of my mouth. My comment makes him smile. He shakes his head and points to his school ID badge.
I gape and stammer, somehow finding the presence of mind to point to myself and say, "Bella Swan."
He beams and makes a motion with his hands but says nothing. At my blank expression he frowns, blushing deeply enough to match my own before pointing at his watch.
I don't have time to respond. He's already gone.
And he still hasn't said a single word.
My head is in the clouds all day, replaying every moment. In my mind, I can retrace the shape of his mouth, even more soft-looking and warm up close than it was from an alleyway away; I can see the color of his hair and of his eyes.
What plagues me the most, though, is the way he motioned at everything with his hand.
At lunch, I go to the library, following a hunch. Quickly locating the book that I am looking for, I scan through pages of illustrations and photographs, silently comparing each of them to the picture of him I am holding in my memory.
By the time I put the book down, I am sure.
That night, instead of settling on my bed, I go straight to the window and throw it open wide. He is writing something in a notebook, but his eyes glance up quickly, as if he has been watching the dim patch of light radiating from my room the entire evening.
Most nights, we only acknowledge each other as we move to turn out our lights.
This isn't most nights.
When I catch his eyes on mine, I wave and smile, my chest lightening to see his mouth twist up as well.
And then I try something.
It takes a bit of work, but my shaking hands finally manage to form the symbols I have been practicing all day.
How are you?
Even across the distance and through the dim, I can see those eyes light up, and in a movement so fast I can hardly keep up with it, he is at his window as well. As if he knows that I've only just begun to learn, he spells out his letters incredibly slowly.
G-R-E-A-T, N-O-W. You?
I squint and check the book laid out in my lap, but I'm pretty sure I have it right. Self-consciously, I brush my hands across my chest.
I wish I had the signs to give him more. To tell him that I am happy because I know his name and the beginning of the secrets behind a language that is all his own.
How did you know?
He signs more quickly to me now. Too quickly sometimes, as I am still learning, but after a few weeks of practice, I have my letters and a few of the more common signs mostly down.
Your hands. When you C-A-U-G-H-T me.
He tips his head back, and I wonder how a boy who cannot hear ever learned to laugh.
We talk for hours each evening now, and while it is frustrating to have to express myself so slowly, every motion of his long, beautiful hands makes me nearly want to burst.
My mother pops her head in just before eleven as always, glancing knowingly between myself and the window across the way. I blush but roll my eyes at her. When I come back from the bathroom, Edward is sitting near the edge of his bed.
Good night, B-E-L-L-A.
Good night, E-D-W-A-R-D.
Just before he turns off his light, he makes a quick series of signs, and I cannot follow, but as always I try. He has been making these signs at me every night for the past week, and each time, I try to catch them so I can look them up later.
Tonight, I hold them in my head just a little bit better, and the next day I have the presence of mind to try to find them in my book as I study it during lunch.
When I finally piece the meaning together, the book falls from my lap, my heart soaring and my hands instinctively curling into excited fists.
You are beautiful when you sleep.
That night, we sign our goodbyes to each other as if nothing has changed. He is just about to move to his lamp, his hands flying at his more typical speed, but I hold out my own to stop him.
Slowly, painstakingly, I find the words.
I think you're beautiful, too.
The next night, Edward's light doesn't turn on until nine o'clock, and I have been pacing for ages, wondering if he is alright. It's not as if he can not show up, what with this being his room, and with his still being in high school. But his absence still reminds me that he has a life beyond these walls that we almost share.
I wonder what he does. Who he talks to when I am not perched in the window across the alley from him.
When he finally does burst in, his cheeks are a ruddy pink, his hair just a little more wild than usual, and even across the distance, I can see something bright dancing in his eyes.
Go to your front door.
My heart races and I tilt my head in an unspoken question, but he only laughs and shakes his head.
I give him another suspicious look, but then I am on my feet, racing past my mother and to the front door of our apartment. There's a strange hope in the pit of my stomach, some notion that maybe he will be there somehow.
That for the first time in months I will see him face to face.
Hoping maybe, once more, I can place my hand to his chest and feel his heart race.
I throw open the door in one swift motion, only to find exactly the shades of vivid color that I had been looking for but in an entirely different form. The green of his eyes is there, but in soft, wide leaves; I find the red of his hair in petals that speak of sunshine and of bright beginnings.
And of more than the silent language we have found in the dark.
Amidst the blooms, I find a card, and I scramble to open it, tearing at the envelope with shaking hands, to finally reveal the perfect script inside.
I shout some explanation to my mother without looking back, dashing toward the landing, taking the steps two or three at a time and bursting through the door with such reckless abandon that I almost trip.
Only something solid and warm refuses to let me.
Strong arms wrap around me. Catching me.
When I look up, I find the perfect green and the dancing red I had been hoping for, and better yet, they sit above a smile I know so well. The door slams behind us, but I can't bring myself to care.
For a few long, perfect moments, I simply stand there, basking in the comfort of an embrace I have wanted for so long. He doesn't seem eager to pull away from it either, his eyes trained on mine and his smile growing all the more brilliant with every moment that we hold each other.
When he finally does pull away, I want to be disappointed, but I can't, my eyes struggling to focus on the motion of his hands in the breathless space between our bodies.
May I kiss you?
It's hard to pull him down to me fast enough, my head nodding and tears clouding my eyes, my mouth stretched so widely with happiness that I can barely relax it enough to feel the perfect sweetness of his lips brushing softly against mine. Standing there on the sidewalk, we kiss each other five times, and each one is more perfect and tender than the last, until on the fifth our lips are parting, a taste of flesh and boy possessing my senses along with the wet sliding of mouth over mouth.
He breaks the kiss only to place his forehead against my own, those hands that have touched my heart so deeply through all our nights of silent words finally touching my hands. My neck.
I watch mesmerized as his lips part.
And then, even though it is stilted, the edges of it slightly twisted and strange, he gifts me with the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.
The sound of his voice.