Title: So Much Worse
Summary: It was just one more in a string of screwed up holidays… (Bella/Edward)
This was my Winter 2010 Twilight Gift Exchange fic a few months back, and realized I never posted it on FFn. Go here:
community DOT livejournal DOT com/twi_exchange/34383 DOT html#cutid1
...to read all the other wonderful entries, if you haven't already!
It could have been sooo much worse.
We had a bad habit of screwing up special occasions. Birthdays, Christmas, Fourth of July... It was always a cluster of natural disasters, forgotten dates, ill chosen gifts, misunderstandings, poor communication or hurt feelings. Every single time I swore would be the one I knocked out of the park. The universe, however, generally had other plans.
Of course, I can't blame it all on external forces. A lot of it was straight up my own goddamned stupid fault. We'd been best buds for years, since she moved here from Phoenix, but only 'dating' a couple of months. For a while, everything was the same as before, hanging out, homework, whatever. No major crises, until Prom our junior year. I should have known then, that fate had it in for me. The florist lost my order for her corsage and I had to make do with god-awful cheap carnations that clashed with her gown, which ripped a little when I stepped on the hem going down her dad's front steps. Between spilled punch, blisters from dancing in new shoes, a clump of her hair yanked out by my cufflink, and a flat tire on the way home, I was surprised she didn't call her dad to come get her. She was a good sport, though, and laughed it all off. While most of our classmates went to hotel parties after the dance (you could practically hear their cherries popping like bubble wrap), Bella and I spent the evening waiting for triple-A. The spare, of course, was flat, too.
The evening wasn't a total bust, though. While there wasn't any bubble wrap, we certainly rounded more bases than I would have expected, parked there on the side of the road on a cool spring night, waiting for Black's Tow Service. No home run, but we traded I love you's, instead.
We lay there, tangled up in my dad's too-small back seat, half dressed and sweating, hands fumbling. "Bella, wait…" It was the most difficult two words I'd ever spoken. "I don't want to do this…"
"Oh," she whispered, suddenly distant and sad. "Okay." She tugged her crumpled gown back down over her hips, refusing to look at me. "The tow truck should be here soon, anyway, right?"
"Bella, no, come on." I stopped her hands as they fiddled with the zipper up the side of her dress, and pulled her back to me. "That's not what I meant."
She tried to wipe her tears away without me seeing. "What did you mean?"
"I mean I… I… don't want it to be like this, with us."
"It's okay. I get it." She pulled away again, and went back to straightening her dress and trying to open the back door.
"No, baby, please! That's not…" I took a deep breath and blurted it out, gracelessly. "I love you, Bella. I don't want to do this in the back seat of my dad's car, on the side of the road."
She froze, with the door ajar, the dome light blinding me, and her dress half zipped. "You what?"
My head fell back against the head rest and I scrubbed my hands over my face. I hadn't wanted to tell her like this, either. "I said, I love you. I don't want our first time like this. You're important to me, too important to..."
She tackled me, there in my dad's Volvo, on the side of the two-lane blacktop road just outside town, far from candles and rose petals and satin sheets, far away from fancy dinners and soft music and expensive hotel rooms. She crawled over to straddle me and took my face between her hands, pressing sweet little tear-dampened kisses on my eyes and cheeks and lips and ears, whispering heaven straight into my heart. "I've loved you since we were twelve."
Black's showed up a while later, the flashing lights distracting us from star gazing on the hood of the car, where we were wrapped up together in an old wool blanket I found in the trunk.
No matter what ever happened from there out, loving each other was something that never wavered.
Disasters, however, were the norm. She threw up on me at a graduation party for the class ahead of us just a few months later, I spent my eighteenth birthday in the emergency room after an unfortunate cake-cutting incident, and I almost set her house on fire on the fourth of July. I convinced her dad to let her go camping with my family that August, and we ended up spending the night in my mom's van, along with my mom and dad and my brother and sister, soaking wet and freezing cold. Our campsite turned into a creek during a sudden 2am downpour, and yours truly hadn't anchored the tent properly.
"It's falling down!" My little sister was snuggled in between Bella and I, dealing with the sudden storm pretty well until she noticed the roof of the tent begin to sag dramatically.
"That's it. Edward, get Bella and your sister to the van. We'll straighten this mess out in the morning." My dad was not pleased.
We gathered as much of our bedding as was still dry and scrambled to the van in our pajamas. Mom and Dad scooped up Alice and Emmett and brought them to us, then went back for the rest of the pillows, sleeping bags, and clothes as they could before getting drenched. Bella and I flattened all the seats in the back, laid the sleeping bags down into a big pallet, and used the dry blankets to snuggle up together with Ali and Em. Dad cranked up the heater until we stopped shivering, and we spent the rest of the night with our arms wrapped around my brother and sister.
I broke her foot when I accidentally ran over it after a fight we had in September. Apparently, I never realized that when your girlfriend says 'I don't need anything for my birthday,' she means the exact opposite. She didn't speak to me for days, but it hurt more to be apart than to suck it up and fix the mess I'd made of her birthday. Even though she accepted my apology, and the charm bracelet I gave her two weeks late, it took her a lot longer than that to forgive me.
She was still on crutches for Homecoming. That night turned out more than okay, though. There was finally bubble wrap, for both of us. Bubble wrap, and tears, in that order. Charlie was called to work to handle some emergency, and was gone when I brought her home after the dance. She grinned ear to ear when she read his note, and led me by the hand up to her room.
"Help me with my dress. I can't reach the zipper." She kicked off her one black shoe and turned her back to me.
I stood beside her bed and pushed her hair over her shoulder, kissing the nape of her neck. I started lowering the zipper, slowly dragging my fingers along her spine. I went lower, and lower, and never encountered a bra. When the zipper bottomed out at the small of her back, I realized all she was wearing was a tiny scrap of black lace posing as underwear. She shrugged her shoulders and the dress fell to the floor, a puddle of blue around her bare feet. She stood stock still, facing away from me with my shaking hands on her hips. I rested my forehead on her shoulder, not breathing.
"You can go, if you want."
I shook my head against her skin. It was impossible for me to go anywhere she wasn't. She turned to face me, my hands skimming her waist. I was afraid to open my eyes. She pushed my jacket off my shoulders and kissed me, slow and soft. She untied my tie and bit my ear. She unbuttoned my shirt and nibbled her way across my exposed chest. I stopped her hands after she unfastened my pants, catching them before they joined her dress.
"I love you," she whispered.
"I love you," I replied, finding the words completely inadequate.
With hungry hands, mouths and bodies, we awoke each other; pain, discovery, rapture and awe. It wasn't particularly artful, but it was ours. We wept afterwards, our tears mingling on our cheeks and lips, our bodies intertwined and overwhelmed, her tiny bed now so much more.
The mp3 player I gave her for Christmas made up for the one I'd accidentally destroyed at Thanksgiving. She gave me the flu for Valentine's, but I gave her poison ivy on Memorial Day, and an engagement ring on my nineteenth birthday. We let someone else cut my cake.
We survived that summer's pregnancy rumors and wed in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm right before heading off to college. The hotel in Vancouver screwed up our honeymoon reservations, but kindly comp'd the honeymoon suite I couldn't originally afford, so it all worked out. We found an apartment in Seattle for our first year of college, and made sweaty, laughing love on our kitchen floor as soon as we were alone, christening our first home together surrounded by boxes and clutter, and realized the first thing we needed to buy were curtains.
The minute my folks left, she laughed at me, pulling her sweatshirt over her head with lightning speed, scrabbling at the buttons on my jeans, devouring my mouth with her own. "Now, I need you, Edward... damn it! Hurry up!"
I tore at her jeans, yanking them off her hips, and nearly landed on my ass trying to toe out of my sneakers. I plunged into her with a grunt, my pants and underwear still gathered around one ankle, her bra unhooked in front, but hanging on her shoulders.
"Oh fucking hell, yesss!"
"Bella! Fuck, you feel good!" I plowed her good and proper, my hips snapping to hers, sliding our sweaty bodies across the floor until she braced herself against the kitchen cabinet with her hands over her head. I came with a roar, oblivious to the open windows and proximity of our new, and curious, neighbors.
School was tough, but newlywed-hood was unexpectedly easy. We fell into an easy routine, full of school, jobs, and domestic bliss. Her birthday gift that first year on our own was a meal I prepared, or tried to. Lasagna, as it turns out, is harder to make than it looks. The wine, salad and bread were good, though, and they fueled our bodies until I could take her out for breakfast the next morning.
We made it back home for Christmas, but not Thanksgiving. I managed to cook the turkey alright, but she burned the pumpkin pie. We made love on the living room floor, thinking life couldn't get any better, with or without pie.
I'd squirreled away enough money to have a diamond pendant made to match our wedding rings, and planned to give it to her for Christmas, our first as husband and wife. We argued over something stupid, I don't even remember what, looking back, but it was enough to make me hold the necklace aside, and hide it in the back of a drawer. I didn't want her to remember a fight every time she wore it.
By New Year's, things were fine again, but we spent 3 days holed up with humidifiers and antibiotics for our mutual sinus infections. We rang in the new year properly, albeit stuffily.
"Three, two, one... Happy New Year!" We kissed, but had to stop to catch our breath, unable to breathe through our noses. We took a long hot shower before bed, the steam helping us breathe a little better. She laughed at me when my cock responded to the sight of her soapy body.
"What? It's been, like, three whole days, and you're all slippery..." I whined.
She loved to taunt me. She stood facing me under the spray, her back arched as she rinsed off, her beautiful breasts jutting out. I took her hard and fast against the shower wall, and we collapsed into bed until noon the next day.
January sucked, the weather was unusually cold. February delivered more of the same, and it was wearing on both of us. Valentine's was coming up, and I toyed with the idea of finally giving her the necklace, but she'd been a royal grump, and I was back to feeling like I had at Christmas. I made reservations for her favorite restaurant, and figured I'd just play it by ear, with the necklace boxed and in my pocket. As per usual, the evening was a wreck. The waitress flirted with me to a ridiculous degree, our meals were cold, and I managed to leave my wallet at home. Thankfully, Bella had hers and was able to pay for our meal, but I was humiliated.
"What the... why does everything turn out like this? No matter what we do, it gets fucked up, Edward. What the hell is that? Don't you ever get scared that everything we ever do is going to turn out a damned nightmare?"
"What? No! I love you Bella - this is, it's just dumb luck. It happens to everyone, it just happens to us more often."
"Well, I'm not so sure."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm... I don't know, Edward, alright? I don't know. Everything is always fucked up, nothing turns out the way it is supposed to, and it scares me, okay?" She slammed the car door and raced into the house before I hardly had time to park the car. I found her in our bedroom, curled on our bed crying.
"Hey, love. Hey, now. Shhh." I tried to comfort her, but she shrank from my touch. It terrified me. I pulled back, giving her the space she seemed to want, when all I truly wanted to do was hold her in my arms until she was calm enough to tell me what was really going on. Whatever it was, it wasn't just another goofed up holiday. Just as I leaned away, she started tugging at my tie, pulling at the hem of my shirt, pushing my jacket back off my shoulders, kissing me. My suit coat landed on the bed behind me, and the small, flat velvet box fell out of the breast pocket, tumbling to the floor. She was momentarily nudged out of her sudden lust haze by the sight of it.
"Oh... that's... yeah. That's for you. I had it made a while back, but I was saving it to give to you... I was going to give it to you tonight, but... well. Yeah."
"Oh. I guess I ruined that with my melt down."
I took a deep breath, but didn't respond. The sudden mood shifts were starting to give me whiplash.
"Can I see it?"
"Of course." I handed her the box, and watched her open it with shaking hands. She breathed in sharply when she snapped the lid back, revealing the vintage-looking platinum and diamond pendant that matched her engagement ring.
"Oh! Edward, it's beautiful!"
"You're beautiful. I love you. Always."
She closed the box softly. "I have something to tell you, and I'm not sure how you'll feel."
"You're scaring me, love."
"I'm scared, too, Edward."
"What is it? Whatever it is, just tell me."
Time seemed to stop, and I imagined all sorts of horrors to add to our long list of special occasion fuckupperies. She'd found someone else and was leaving me, she was dying of some rare disease...
"I... Oh Edward. I'm so sorry..." She began to cry all over again, and I couldn't help but cry along with her. I put both my hands on her shoulders and shook her a little, begging her to tell me what it was that was causing her so much pain. I never wanted to see her hurting, never wanted to see this ever again, and it was killing me.
"I'm... pregnant, Edward. I'm pregnant. New Year's - the antibiotics…"
My hands dropped from her shoulders, and I sat stock still, stunned to silence. She'd held her breath for a moment after speaking, awaiting my response. In the absence of one, she tried to push me away, and began sobbing harder than before.
"I screwed everything up... Oh god..."
My brain kicked in, finally, and her words sunk in. I was going to be a father. My beautiful, amazing best friend and wife was pregnant with my child, our child. It was growing in her, at that very minute. A child! "Bella, love, no!" She still had the velvet box in her hand when i pulled her back into my arms. "Oh god, no - don't ever think that. You're really - it's true? We're going to - you're - a baby?"
"Yes... are you - is it - okay?" She sniffed between every other word, dabbing her wet nose with a handful of tissues from my nightstand.
I didn't want to let her go, ever again. I wanted to stay there, in that bed, in her arms, skin to skin, heart against heart, and never leave. Then I remembered the box. I leaned back enough to take the box from her hand, remove the necklace from it, and clasped it behind her neck. I balanced the pendant on my fingertips, admiring its sparkle, glad I'd waited to give it to her.
"It's the best gift ever, love."
She glanced down at the pendant, puzzled, looking back up at me as if I'd lost my mind. "The necklace?"
I looked her in the eye, and smiled. "I had this it at Christmas, but I didn't want to give it to you when we'd been fighting. I didn't want you to remember a fight when you wore it. I wanted it to be a happy memory. And now we'll both remember this - the night you made me a father."
"You're not - I mean, you're okay?"
"Bella, I love you. Nothing could make me happier than having a child with you. Are you okay?"
"Yes! I mean, I don't know. I thought you'd be upset. We just started school..." She started crying again.
I cradled her in my arms, letting her cry out her fears. "I'm learning that everything happens for us just the way it's supposed to, love. Flat tires, sliced arms, broken feet, wet sleeping bags... it wouldn't be us, if it was any other way. Just like always, we make the best of what we're given and we love each other no matter what. Right?"
She agreed, of course. We held each other all that night, crying a little more, and laughing a little too, before falling asleep tangled and sweaty.
It could have been so much worse. As it was, it turned out to be the best Valentine's Day ever.
*giggle* yeah, sometimes we all need a little sweet and sappy.