AN: So, since SayNo has come to an end, I've decided to go ahead and post another of the four fanfictions I've been working on in private, haha. I figure it's best for everyone if I only have three Twifics going at a time. And though some of my others may be more exciting, I have a soft spot for this one. It won't be all that long. It's more like a slice of life for Bella and Edward, taking place after they've returned from Volterra at the end of book 1. The M rating is for a reason, so if you don't like the sexytimes, tread with caution. It won't be too bad, but this story has it's moments.
For the record, I hate the story of Romeo and Juliet with a fiery passion. I think it is one of Shakespeare's worst plays, and that he did a much better job with the comedic form of it, A Midsummer Night's Dream. But I don't know that my feelings are relevant. The story is what it is.
So without further ado, and in more probably than five acts, I give you:
The Fool and the Tool
His eyes were green – no, not just green, a brilliant, vivid shade, the color of the leaves after one of the countless rainstorms that frequently assuaged Forks. His dark brow tightened in concentration as his eyes followed the path of the knife, attempting to carefully scrape the scales from the fish onto a paper towel I had set on the counter. Still the scales were shooting all across the kitchen tile, and he promised he would sweep afterwards, but I was too busy running my fingers over the strong lines of his body. He was trying to implement the lessons Charlie had given him in gutting a fish, and I was trying to teach him to cook, but it was hard to concentrate when every time I got within two feet of him his warmth drew my lips to his skin. I wrapped around him and stoop on tiptoe to tug the collar of his shirt to the side and playfully bite his collarbone, obstructing his view.
"Bella . . ." he warned, turning his face to kiss my forehead. His stubble scratched against my skin and the friction made my stomach flip. "I'm trying to cook."
"Don't cook," I ordered, my fingers slipping up beneath his shirt to trace circles on his stomach. I bit his neck a bit more roughly, then pressed my tongue to the spot. The heat was incredible. He groaned but I continued, "Really, Edward. I can think of a million and one other things we both would rather—"
"But . . . but I'm hungry," he whined, snaking his arm around my waist. His lips crushed against mine, his teeth grabbing hold of my bottom lip and sucking it into his mouth. I ran my nails down his abdomen and snickered at the odd sounds suddenly coming from deep in his chest.
"We'll order Chinese."
"Charlie went to the trouble of teaching me how to do this," he argued, though it took longer than it should have for him to get the words out. I could see his resolve waving as I began nibbling on his earlobe. He seemed to have forgotten what he was saying completely, and his eyes had drifted closed as his breathing grew louder.
"Well now I want to teach you to do something . . ."
"Bella!" he growled, clearly not angry though he attempted to sound it. His hands snapped to my waist as his lips clamped down on my neck, knocking the knife off the counter in the process. It landed solidly on his bare foot, and he hissed as a short but deep gouge immediately began oozing blood.
Then suddenly we were snuggled down together on the couch, pressed together under a blanket as the rain outside turned to thick snow. He didn't have a shirt on, and the muscles of his stomach twitched as I ran my fingers lightly over the sharp divets at his hips. His warm breath washed down over the top of my head and he mumbled and shifted in his sleep, his eyelashes flickering against his flushed cheeks. He was so beautiful . . . I ran my fingers down the center of his chest, feeling his heat wrap around me, wash over me, send my mind spinning inside my head . . .
Then suddenly it wasn't the soft flesh beneath my cheek, but the bumps of crumpled cotton over cold marble plains. It wasn't body heat and a musky scent wrapped around me, but a cool finger running gently along my jaw, and there were no bare feet with cuts or exposed collarbones or green eyes . . .
"Bella . . ." The voice was different. Softer, smoother, far more in control than Edward had been before, when his body had raged in frustration over the choice between two different but equally strong appetites.
"Good morning, Edward," I mumbled back, rubbing my nose in the center of his chest. It was silent and motionless except for the occasional rise and fall when he habitually inhaled. I sighed and rolled off of him onto my back so that I could look into his face on the pillow beside mine. The green was gone, and instead the familiar topaz remained, a sunflower melted and poured into the hollows of his face.
"Did you sleep well?" he asked, his eyes tracing the lines of my face intently. Staring was something I had gradually become more used to; frequently his eyes inched their way along my face as though he were committing every pore to memory.
"Yes." But the smile he gave me didn't quite reach his eyes. Faking a smile is perhaps the only thing Edward Cullen is incapable of. I sighed and tried to remember the dream as I pressed, "What did I say?" I had told him before that eavesdroppers rarely heard what they wanted to, and watching me sleep was basically the same thing. Especially since our return from Italy, since my return from my walking death and his return from the brink of his own, my dreams were torturous reminders to him of all that had gone wrong. Frequently, I awoke to find him so upset that I was beginning to wonder if perhaps I should ask him to stop coming at night . . . but the thought of trying to fall asleep without feeling him beneath my cheek and chest and fingers brought back the crippling fear. I had actually sought out Carlisle at the hospital to ask him what I could possibly do, and he had done his best to quickly teach me how to talk myself through the panic attacks. I was getting better. It was something I wished I'd been able to practice before . . . but my punitive pep talks wouldn't have helped back then.
"You said, 'Your skin is so warm,'" he was saying, and I looked back into his sad face, wondering if he had picked it from Carlisle's brain, that I still was having panic attacks. Not as frequently anymore; the more times Edward didn't leave, the less my brain collapsed when he did. "And 'stop bleeding.' What were you dreaming about?"
I saw the actual question, as hard as he attempted to mask it. Who. 'Who were you dreaming about?' was what he wanted to ask, even knowing the answer would be agony for him. We couldn't talk about Jacob. Little had I known that my close friendship with Jacob would be as vengeful on Edward as knowledge of my zombie-like state during his absence was.
I sighed and rolled my eyes up to the ceiling, chiding, "Don't jump to conclusions, Edward."
"And don't play stupid. It's offensive and you're bad at it, anyway." All right, so there were two things he was incapable of. He gave the smallest of smiles that time, then kissed me on the cheek, letting his cool nose remain pressed against my temple. I twisted once again, running my fingers through his hair as I pressed my lips to his, remaining frozen there until my lungs began to burn.
I didn't tell him about the dream, though, instead kissing his nose and then pushing myself out of bed. What would hurt him more, assuming I was dreaming about Jacob bleeding or knowing I was dreaming about how much simpler our lives would be if Edward was human?
In the beginning of our new life reunited, I had only endured nightmares about Edward leaving. Having him beside me when I fell asleep apparently made my brain feel like it could freely replay the events of the past few months in excruciating detail. For almost a full month after the Cullens moved back to Forks, I frequently shot out of bed in the middle of the night, clutching blindly in the dark to make sure his body was still stretched beside me. Once he had slipped out for only a short time, just long enough to catch a deer because he knew I wasn't ready for him to be gone for several days at a time yet. He'd come back to find me hyperventilating in bed, frantic and incoherent. It was embarrassing for me but painful for him. I'll never forget his broken face once I'd calmed back down. I might as well have shoved a glowing red firepoker straight through his chest.
Eventually those dreams gave way to a new era in sweet torture which I did my best to keep secret from him. Edward as a human. It wasn't that I had never contemplated the idea before. Sometimes when I watched him, I tried to figure out what he would have looked like or how he would have acted before his change. It was difficult, seeing as I didn't have firsthand knowledge of normal behavior for a young man in 1918. What would his mannerisms have been? Would he have been even more proper and polite? Had his jaw been as defined? His brow as heavy? His hair quite that shade of warm bronze? He'd had green eyes, he told me, but what shade? My brain had decided on a shade for his old eyes, and that vibrant green gaze was beginning to haunt me every minute of the day.
I . ii
"I guess I'll write about that Zora Neale Hurston book," Angela shrugged at lunch, stabbing a fry into her ketchup. End-of-year English papers would be due soon, and the teacher thought she had done us a favor by saying we could write about anything we wanted about any of the books we had read during the year. I don't know why teachers always assume options are good; it just means you have to expend more effort deciding what you're actually going to write about. "What about you, Bella?"
I shrugged, "Probably Romeo and Juliet." Edward took my hand beneath the table; everything I said made him repentant. He squeezed my fingers, hoping to convey to me how sorry he was, and I squeezed his fingers back, hoping to convey to him that I was sick of him being sorry. I just wanted him to be happy again. I wanted the smiles to reach his eyes.
"Really?" Mike snorted, shaking his head. "God, I hate that play."
"How? Isn't it the quintessential romance story?" Alice pressed, apparently intrigued by what she saw as an abnormal answer.
"Maybe to girls. I just think it's stupid. First of all, Romeo can't even decide who he's in love with. He's all heartbroken about that first girl and then he suddenly sees Juliet and his life makes sense again? He's a total pansy. I'm sure two days after Juliet died, he probably would have seen another girl and she would have been the love of his life."
Angela rolled her eyes, "You're missing the point, Mike. It was true love. That only happens once."
"It was puppy love with two psycho little kids. Juliet is just your typical teenage girl, and then Romeo clearly has some sort of emotional disorder . . ."
"How is Juliet typical?" I demanded, my fingers limp in Edward's hand. Mike's alternate view of Romeo and Juliet's tragic love story was making me nauseas. I loved that play and everything it entailed.
Surprisingly, Edward agreed with him, "I don't see how a girl feeling she should throw her entire life away over some boy is normal or healthy." I felt the weight to his words aimed directly at me. Wasn't that the argument he had been making since we'd met?
My annoyance was second to my shock, though. Perhaps for the first time in history, Mike and Edward agreed. Juliet was stupid.
To summarize this, Mike shrugged with a bitterness in his voice that made me uncomfortable, "Girls. They're stupid and dramatic and are always drawn to the bad boy, aren't they?"
"It's true," I retorted, hoping to introduce some levity as I felt my breath beginning to come quicker. I had already been uncomfortable, but thanks to Edward's comment, I now felt personally attacked. Surely I wasn't going to hyperventilate over a Romeo and Juliet conversation. "I'd rather have Johnny Depp than Prince William any day," I offered lamely.
Edward's eyes were boring holes into the table, though, ignoring me as he mumbled, "It's true. Juliet was too stubborn to listen to anyone about what was good for her and it wound up costing her everything."
"So she should have married Paris? Besides, Romeo should have taken her with him when he fled the city, and the whole thing could have been avoided," I hissed back. My harsh response caught everyone off guard; only Alice averted her eyes. I rose, yanked my trey up from the table, and fled from the cafeteria, Edward staring distantly after me. If he knew what was good for him, he would follow me.
Fortunately, by the time I slammed my locker closed, he was there, leaning against the bay behind me, his eyes downcast and apologetic. Instantly my anger dissolved, replaced by embarrassment at my own temper tantrum.
"I'm sorry," he frowned, slowly looking up at me. I sighed and leaned forward to kiss him in the center of the chest.
"Don't be," I told him, wishing for once he would listen. "I mean, now I know what I'm going to do for my paper."
"Which is?" He seemed pleased I hadn't fired back my usual 'you don't have anything to be sorry about' response and stood taller, relinking our fingers.
I nodded and grinned, "I'm going to defend Juliet."
"You can't write a defense of Juliet for your final paper."
"Well originally I was going to write a detailed comparison of Romeo and Juliet to our own story. Alice is probably the Friar, don't you think? Rosalie is the little boy who gets the message wrong. But with my luck, a copy of my paper would make it back to Volterra and—"
"Bella," he interrupted with a hiss and stern glare. He stared at me hard for a moment, then suggested cautiously, "Perhaps you should ditch and rest a bit."
"I don't think you're getting enough sleep."
"You know how much sleep I'm getting."
"I think your dreams are keeping you from getting any rest," he countered, and he was right. It was hard to recuperate from good but tiring days with my vampire when his mortal alter-ego was trailing kisses down my spine all night . . .
Instead of arguing, I brought his knuckles to my lips and asked with my sweetest smile, "Will you walk me to class, good sir?"
"Alack, there lies more peril in thine eye than twenty of their swords: look thou but sweet, and I am proof against their enmity," he sighed, tugging me tightly to his side.
I . iii
That night, I had an even stupider dream than the fish one where my graceful Edward sliced his foot open trying to make out with me. In my dream, we went to Tyler's party instead of ditching to listen to music in his room, and Edward got completely trashed and jumped off the roof into a swimming pool, then stripped off everything but his boxers and made out with me in a bedroom upstairs. I guess I hadn't been drinking at the party because then he was suddenly sleeping curled around the toilet while sunlight streamed through the windows, his clammy face pressed against the cool tile while I gathered supplies to treat his hangover.
Edward was frowning when I woke up, his fingers tracing the downward curve of my lips. Before I could even whisper good morning, he explained, "You were smiling and you told me I was stupid."
"Sounds pretty accurate to me. Why are you frowning?" I returned, stretching my arms and legs, wincing as my back popped. He didn't answer and I started to worry. It wasn't like I could control my dreams. I had no power over what I said, and while it killed me that I might possibly say something to hurt him, it certainly wasn't on purpose, and I had told him—
"You asked why my eyes weren't green anymore."
I smiled with relief, not understanding how that was a problem, and pressed, "So?"
"Bella, your eyes were open when you asked me that."
"I wasn't awake yet, though."
"But what did you mean 'again'? You've never seen me with green eyes—"
"Edward, I don't know!" I groaned, covering my face with my hands. "Why do you always try to pull meaning from my dreams?"
He stared down at his lap, his face screwing up in self-deprecating thought, and I was instantly apologetic. Here he was, lying beside me for hours every night with nothing to do except listen to me mumble confusing snippets of the dreamworld I had wandered into, and I was snapping at him for trying to understand them, for trying to be there with me.
"I'm sorry—" he began, but I grabbed his hands and kissed his shoulder as I interrupted, "No, no, Edward. I'm sorry. You have every right to be curious; I just don't like how upset you get."
"They're the only glimpse I get into your mind," he continued to explain, looking at me like a sweet little boy that accidentally broke his mom's favorite vase.
I sighed and offered, "Do you want me to tell you what I dreamed about? It's really, really stupid."
"It's . . . okay, well I dreamed we went to a party and you got really drunk and jumped off Tyler's roof into a pool."
"I . . . what? I did what?"
"Jumped off a roof into a pool."
"No, I got that," he laughed. My smile grew as I glanced up and saw that every line of worry had suddenly vanished from his face and he looked genuinely happy, just because I had quickly told him my stupid dream. "I was drunk? In the presence of a lady?"
I laughed as well and shoved at his arm, nodding, "Yeah. I wasn't too surprised by the roof jump, either."
"It's so easy that it's not even really fun."
"Well it was probably scarier because you were—" I quickly cut myself off, my mouth snapping shut. But of course he noticed it, and suddenly his eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Because I was what?"
"Bella . . ." When I didn't speak, he filled in, "Because I was human."
"Edward . . ."
"No, Bella, that's what you were dreaming, wasn't it? You were dreaming that I was . . . and that's why we went to the party and I got drunk and did something stupid . . . because I was just another teenage boy."
"I don't want just another teenage boy," I countered, already knowing the argument he would forge out of it. Edward's arguments were predictable. Any way he could undermine his own amazing qualities, he did. He glared out the window, deep in thought. I chewed my lip, watching for any change in the emotions on his face, but he remained stoic. I tapped his chin, "Hey. Hey, you. You with the topaz eyes—"
"That used to be green."
I made a face, then offered, "At least . . . now you know I wasn't dreaming about Jacob." A growl rolled around his chest just at the name, but then his frown suddenly deepened even further, which was certainly not what I had been going for. "What now?"
"So the other night . . . So you dream about me being human a lot."
Guh. This was exactly what I had been trying to avoid by not telling him about my dreams. Edward was incapable of understanding that my dreams were about as relevant and important as the infomercials at 2AM. They were just there for whatever bored weirdo happened to be up watching . . . or up listening.
"I don't see how that's important," I argued, but of course I knew how he saw it as important. Edward Cullen, man of many flaws, chief of which was his great sin of not being human. I hated it, hated how he saw himself as some vile creature when I couldn't think of a more perfect being in existence. And I hated that he could try and use my own dreams to slander himself even more.
His face was contorted in pain not much less than when Jane had forced her way into his mind and imposed pain into his every thought. Hadn't I just done the same thing? I watched his pupils dilate and constrict, dilate and constrict, and his nostrils flare and his jaw clench. It was unbearable. I threw my arms around his neck, forcing him to lay back down, and pressed as many kisses as I could against his face before he finally shrugged me away and stood up.
"Edward!" I pouted, but he just shook his head, "I need to go change. I'll be back to pick you up in a bit."
And like that, he was gone again, and I was left alone in my empty house to try and remember Carlisle's instructions on how to slow my breathing.