A/N: All standard disclaimers apply. And here it is, bloftus' lemony oneshot for guessing where the title of "As Children After Play" came from. Yes, it's the poem "Tomlinson" by Rudyard Kipling. Normally I'm not such a huge fan of Kipling (some of his short stories are bloody terrible...in both meanings of the word bloody) but this poem is really great. It's funny, and it has a great rhythm. Plus, the moral is one I need to be reminded of every now and then (it's about a guy who is sent away from both heaven and hell because he read too much during his life and never actually DID anything.) Anyway...yes. So this is for bloftus, who won! And Scott Pilgrim is an amazing movie!
Bella hushed, but she smiled fondly at her soon-to-be sisters as she did so. "Look, guys," she said, voicing her reservations in little more than a whisper, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but we're not going to be able to hide this from him. We're just not."
"Hide what from who?"
Rosalie rolled her eyes at her husband as he sauntered into Carlisle's office, which the girls were currently raiding. He leaned against the doorjamb, looking mildly interested as Alice pawed through a cabinet of creams and gels, most of them samples sent to the hospital by drug companies hoping for contracts. Carlisle usually didn't bother keeping medicines at home - no one in the family needed them, after all - but since Bella came into their lives he'd surreptitiously stocked the office and kept it that way. The poor girl's clumsiness was legendary.
"Whom," Bella corrected Emmett lightly.
"No," she said, giggling a little. "Not what. Whom. The correct question was hide what from whom?'"
"Meh? Really?" Bella's grin grew wider. "The rest of your family is weird, Big Brother Cullen, but you I find hard to believe."
"What about me?"
"You're a perfect modern-day guy. How do you do it?"
"Trade secret, Babybel," he said, his voice inflated with pride. He grinned down at her from where he lounged against the doorway.
Bella was grateful to Emmett for his easygoing attitude. She wasn't stupid, and she understood full well that Emmett's playful acceptance of her as a little sister had done much to bring Rosalie around. Though she and Rose would never be as close as some of the other siblings, it was now possible for them to play on the same side. Like now, as the three girls stood as a united front, trying to do the impossible: keep something from Edward.
"Trade secret nothing." Rose snorted indelicately. "I can tell you how he fits in so well. It's because he's an absolute caveman, and cavemen happen to be in right now."
Emmett shrugged, unfazed by his wife's statement. "What can I say?" he said. "This family's already got two metrosexuals and a Southern gentleman. Someone needs to provide the testosterone."
"Carlisle's not a metrosexual!" Alice protested. "He's simply a worldly and discerning individual."
"Uh-huh." Emmett's tone was less than believing. "I notice nobody's jumping in to protest with Edward."
Bella felt her cheeks flame as the other girls laughed. "I love him just the way he is," she said, touching her hand to her face. She winced a little as the movement of her arm pulled at her sore back and shoulders.
Alice's hand was instantly on her other cheek, the icy touch infinitely soothing. "At least the rest of the boys don't smell as bad as you do!" she snapped. "Now get over here. You caused that blush, and you can take care of it. The poor girl's overheated enough without you making it worse."
"How so?" Emmett questioned, ambling over to Bella's seat. He peered at her, and she saw when the light clicked and he realized she was wearing shorts but her upper half was wrapped loosely in a towel. He raised an eyebrow at her but said nothing, and he took her wrist in his huge hand, tugging her fingers away from her cheek. In good humor, he replaced her hand with his. Instantly Bella felt her face cool, with two vampires cupping her cheeks. She felt completely ridiculous, but her blush-reaction was no match for the icy skin of her soon-to-be siblings. Emmett grinned at her, then peered over her shoulder. The towel showed enough of her back to tell him what Alice had meant. Bella knew exactly what he saw: her shoulders and back were pink, mottled with darker red and unhappy white, a direct result of Alice's cajoling wish to sunbathe all afternoon.
"Don't say it," Rose said, holding up a hand to forestall whatever wisecrack might come out of his mouth.
Emmett let out a breath. "Who's the psychic sister again?"
"Me." Rose flashed him a smile that held both irony and warmth. "When it comes to you."
"Man," Emmett said, reacting to what Bella could only assume was a secret signal between the two, "you're hot."
"Likewise, caveman." Rosalie moved away from a cabinet, holding a fat little tube of purloined gel. "Hold still, bé bé ."
Bella did, grasping Alice's hand in case this hurt.
"What are you doing, anyway?" Emmett finally asked.
"Well," Rose said, and Bella heard the squelching sound of gel being squeezed from the tube, "Alice had this great idea to lounge in the back yard all afternoon since the weather was so great."
"It was a good idea," Alice protested. "I love being all warm in the sun."
"Well, Bella here fell asleep," Rose said. "And being the brilliant dead people we are, Alice and I forgot about sunburn until it was too late."
"Way, way too late," Alice added.
Bella felt the first cool touch of gel against her back. Rose was trying to be gentle, but the sunburn was bad enough that, even though both the gel and her fingers were cold, just the pressure of anything on her skin both hurt and itched badly. "It's my fault," she muttered, trying not to make Rose feel worse for admitting that her ministrations hurt. "I'm from Arizona, and I knew better than to fall asleep in the sun like that. I just wasn't thinking."
"And you're covering this up from...Edward?" Emmett guessed. He dropped his hand from Bella's cheek and stepped back, for which she was grateful. The minute he moved, Rose had the ends of Bella's towel parted and she was smoothing goop down the whole of her back.
"He'll kill us if he finds out we let this happen to Bella," Alice said. She didn't flinch as Bella's hand tightened on her wrist - it was almost as if she hadn't felt it at all.
"You've seen this?"
"Of course not," Alice said, her voice impatient, as if she were tired of explaining about what she could and could not see. "You know it doesn't work like that. Christ, if it did we wouldn't be in this situation to begin with. I'd have seen Bella get burned and not let her fall asleep out back this afternoon."
"So how do you know - "
"Because it's Edward," Rose snapped, "and he always gets worked up over things like this. You know that."
"Hush!" Alice said again, as she had before Emmett returned home. This time even Bella heard the car in the driveway.
"Guys, it doesn't matter how quiet you are," Emmett said, heading toward the door. "Edward'll hear it in your minds, anyway."
"Not if we - "
Alice's words were cut short by an angry vampire pulling Bella to her feet and into his arms. She yelped - not in pain, but in surprise - and huddled against him as her towel was pulled from Rose's hands and dropped to the floor. She felt her cheeks redden again, worse than before, as she stood topless in a room full of vampires. Nobody could see her front half, buried against Edward's chest, but still...
"Edward, we're sorry!" Alice looked up at him, her eyes big and penitent.
"They didn't do anything," Bella mumbled against his navy blue shirt. Like always, his presence had thrown her senses for a loop and done something awful to her equilibrium. She pressed against him out of embarrassment at her topless state, but also out of something even more primal, even more desperate. As his cold hands closed over her burning back, a completely different kind of burn awoke deep below her belly, stretching hesitant, almost sleepy tendrils into her bloodstream.
Edward's breath hitched, and Bella knew enough by now to know that that little check meant he could feel the electric buzz of their joined bodies, could scent the stirrings within her. He held her a little tighter, the gesture almost involuntary, and Bella clamped her jaw shut, sternly refusing her sudden desire to lick his throat or pull his earlobe into her mouth.
"Maybe not," Edward said, and Bella could hear the familiar tightness in his voice that meant he was struggling against his own wants. "But they should have known better."
"I should have known better," Bella interrupted, reaching up to cup his jaw with an arm. She stroked the firm line of it with her thumb, reveling again in how smooth his skin felt over the solidity of his body. "I did know better. Edward, it's not their fault."
Edward's eyes closed involuntarily, and she felt him go still under her fingers. He could deny her nothing, particularly when she put her hands on him. She hadn't learned to pout like Alice or be scary like Rosalie. She didn't need to. One touch from her in the right spot, one murmured promise that she was his forever, and whatever arguments or anger still lingered in his system instantly dissipated. Bella reveled in the knowledge that she could do this to such a strong, immortal being. That his touch did the exact same for her didn't seem so odd, in her eyes.
With an ironic little grin, Rosalie pulled one of Edward's hands off of Bella's back and slapped the little tube of aloe into it. She grabbed Emmett by the shirt and beckoned to Alice. "Out," she said to both of them. "You can apologize more later, if you still feel the need."
"What'm I apologizing for?" Emmett demanded petulantly as he quite willingly trooped after his wife.
"I'm sure we can think of something," she said as their voices disappeared down the hall.
"I really am sorry," Alice said, hovering for a moment in the doorway.
"I know. It's okay."
Alice beamed at her "little sister," and swept across the room at vampire speed to hug both Bella and Edward, one in each little arm, before almost skipping out the door.
"Sweetheart, have you even seen your back?" Edward said, sweeping his cold hands carefully across the mottled burn. "It's not okay."
"But Alice didn't mean it," Bella soothed, stroking his cheek with her fingertips. The steady, light sweeping motion made his eyelids flutter. "And sunburns fade. In a couple of days it'll be completely normal again."
"And until then?"
Bella grinned, hearing the question in his words that was somewhat less than innocent. She toyed with the buttons on his shirt. "Cold helps," she said, smiling up at him.
"Oh, yeah?" He lowered his head, his mouth mere centimeters from hers.
"Mm-hm." She almost hummed the not-quite-syllables against his shoulder, and her tongue danced out to touch his neck.
Instantly Edward tensed. His hands dropped to her waist and curled there, not hurting but not terribly gentle, either. "Careful," he hissed. "You're playing with fire."
"Seems I already did that," she teased, unbuttoning several buttons in the middle of his shirt so she could slip a hand through and touch him. The desire, pooled low in her belly, was now leaking into her bloodstream. She could feel its insistence throbbing, needy and demanding, in every inch of her skin. She wanted to be touched - needed to be touched. She wanted his cold hands on her - only he could possibly soothe this new kind of burn.
The instant her fingers met the ice sculpture of his bare torso, she felt herself hoisted into his arms. "Not here," he said, his voice tense, and she nodded absently as he moved them to his room. For a while now he'd been coaxing her to refer to it as their room, but until she officially married him and moved out of her father's house, she didn't think it would really set in as something serious.
Not that any of that mattered when she felt herself spun in his arms, landing belly-down on the gold comforter of the bed he'd bought for her - for them. Her heart started to pound harder in her chest; she felt him brush feather-light little flickers of cold across her burning back. She whimpered a little. The cold fingers soothed one burn, but did nothing for the other.
"God," she whimpered, feeling his hands curve along her waist, his touch firming as he hit the pale, unharmed skin along her sides. His fingers traced the top of her shorts before he grasped her hipbones and pulled upward, holding her up with one hand while the other unbuttoned her shorts and pulled the zipper down.
She was almost panting now with need, with the delicious knowledge that he needed her, too, that his body demanded and he was primed to obey it. In this moment, he wasn't a creature of blood and violence. This was a different need - possibly more primal, even. He would never hurt her; she trusted him implicitly. Still, there was a delicious kind of anxiousness in not quite knowing what he was going to do, particularly when he let himself get carried away and was not as gentle as he usually tried to be.
Bella liked this slightly-rougher Edward when he showed himself; it was proof that he couldn't always control his physical desire for her, and she liked that, loved knowing that she could do this to him. Not her blood, but her body - she was capable of pushing him to the edge of control, where he could not temper raw, physical need with his wish to be as gentle as possible.
Now he pulled her shorts and underwear down in one impatient tug, and she vaguely heard the sound of the material hitting the wall as he flung it across the room. Then his hands ghosted across her back again, the cold fingers gentle, belying the impatient way he touched her elsewhere. They brushed up to her shoulders and across her neck, then down. When he reached her hips this time he didn't stop, and his hands splayed out, his palms stroking firmly across the pale roundness of her ass. She tried to roll over so she could see him, but his hands instantly found her hips again and he held her still.
"Uh-uh," he scolded gently. "You can't lay on your poor back, pretty girl."
"But - " she started to protest. Her nipples and the entire soft mound of her mons ached to be touched by his hands, not by the fabric against which they were currently pressed.
"Yes," he said, his voice affable. "You have one of those. I'm busy with it right now."
He hovered over her, and his lips traced the gentle knobs of her spine, one cool, wet kiss after another, traveling lower...lower... His mouth traveled down the creamy expanse of one buttock, pausing at the creased little line where it met the top of her thigh. He deliberately licked that line, causing a surprised gasp from Bella's mouth. It was nervewracking, not being able to see him, only feeling half-unexpected touches and kisses that she couldn't brace for. The strange anxiousness this caused only seemed to fuel her desire more, and her entire body pulsed, aching, waiting for something she hoped was coming. He wasn't a tease, generally speaking. Surely he wouldn't just leave her like that?
Without warning he grasped her hips again, pulling upward. Before Bella knew what was happening, she was propped on her knees and elbows, and he was underneath her. He groaned, his voice thick with need, and Bella cried out as his mouth reached up for her just as his hands pulled her hips down to him. His tongue parted her folds, lapping at the liquid heat hidden there. Bella mewled, unsure whether she wanted to press her hips tighter against him or pull away. He was usually big on foreplay; it was unusual for him to immediately lunge for her like that, and though her body ached to be touched, it was almost too much, too soon. She trembled above him, her body trying to move, to do something to mitigate the intensity of his touch. But his hands on her hips, his fingers digging firmly into the soft flesh of her behind, did not allow any movement. She shook as he swirled his tongue along her dripping crevice before plunging it deep inside her. She cried out at the sudden cold slipping inside her hot, pulsing body and again when, with the same suddenness, it pulled out again. His mouth was sin against her most delicate skin as he pursed his lips a certain way, laving at the moisture her body couldn't help but produce when he was near. His cold tongue tapped her clit, just a tiny touch, and her body tried to jump. He held her still and repeated the motion, pressing his tongue against her again before moving his head and taking a long lick from her aching, waiting opening up and over her clit. She cried out and he circled the little bundle of nerves with his tongue, playing with it.
"Edward, please," she panted, not knowing quite what it was she wanted him to do.
"Yes?" He licked again, pressing harder. "What do you want?"
"I don't - god!"
"You must have some idea," he said, mumbling the words between firm little licks to her clit.
She was close - so close to coming, and he was riding the edge of intensity that was almost too much. She needed something to temper the direct, intense attention he was paying her clit, and her entire body ached to have him inside her. Only that ever managed to cool the intense, liquid burn bubbling deep in her abdomen. "Inside," she managed to groan out, her entire body tensing, preparing for a release she was almost afraid of.
Instantly he was out from under her, but his hands returned to her hips a split second later, canting them back and up. They'd never tried a position like this before, and Bella felt her heart almost humming, it was beating so fast. She caught her breath as she felt the cold length of him brush her ass, his hands holding her, stroking, supporting...and then he was positioned.
He froze, teasing, and Bella tried to shimmy backward onto him. He held her still, used one hand to push her knees farther apart, and slowly pressed forward.
That first inch or so was always somewhat uncomfortable when he entered her. Alice assured her that this was completely normal, as that ring of muscle at her opening was the tightest and strongest part of her vagina. But as soon as he pressed farther, it was like someone flicked a switch. The uncomfortable, tight muscles relaxed, and though it still felt like he was stretching her to her body's limit, it was no longer painful. He moved smoothly, slowly at first, giving her time to adjust to the feel of him inside her, as he always did. She was grateful for that - it was such a foreign feeling at first, though so good. She could feel the cold length of him as he pressed deeper within her, and she dropped her head to rest against the comforter, her ass in the air, overwhelmed by just how deep he could reach in this position. He rocked against her, each time a little farther, a little faster, and suddenly she felt his body shift behind her, leaning over her, his hands leaving her hips and sliding up her sides to cradle her breasts. He held them in his hands, kneading firmly, playing the nipples between his fingers, as his cold chest pressed against her burning back.
"Yesss," she hissed, pressing back against him. He took that as a sign that her body was ready for more, and he returned his hands to her hips, holding her steady as he began to thrust in earnest.
It was animalistic, and Bella was pretty sure that she loved it. He wasn't hurting her, but he wasn't trying to be overly gentle, either. It wasn't tender or romantic, but there was no way she could deny the fact that he wanted her, needed her. He thrust hard from behind, the cold length of him fusing with the liquid burn deep inside her to create a wonderful, roiling warmth that pulsed along her bloodstream, feathered through her muscles. Her fingers tingled, and she whimpered as she felt his right hand fall from her hip, snaking around to part her folds and stroke her clit again.
The world exploded into a haze of swirling lights and sensations, and Bella felt the pulsing heat in her body begin to swirl in, like water down a drain, pulling her body tighter and tighter, circling back toward that secret spot in her abdomen. The pressure built and built, and she cried out, as much a warning to him as anything else.
"Christ, Bella," he bit out, the words almost a groan, "I don't need a warning. Trust me, I can feel how hard you're clamping down on me."
It was true - he was hardly moving inside her anymore, her muscles were squeezing him so tightly.
"Baby, relax," he said, and his fingers left her clit long enough for her to swallow a breath of cool air, then another. He stroked her breasts, her sides, ran his cold hands across her outer thighs until he felt her squeezing muscles lessen enough that he could continue to thrust.
"Good girl," he cooed, returning his hand to her clit, stroking firmly. "God, Bella. Just let it come. Come for me. Just relax and let it happen."
His voice in her ear, the cold blanket of his chest against her back...it did her in. With a ferocious churn, the liquid heat congealed in her gut and, like a dying star, suddenly it was everywhere. She exploded around him, arching, spasming, and only the firm grasp of his hands on her waist held her to earth, it seemed, as she heard him growl next to her ear. She could feel him come undone above her, and it was glorious. Cold and glorious. His mouth was everywhere, licking the burns on her back, soothing the pain even as their twinned orgasms soothed the burning inside. She slid to her stomach on the bed, panting, and felt Edward feathering kisses across the back of her neck, then her reddened shoulders.
"Holy hell," she muttered, shifting into a more comfortable position and moving damp tendrils of hair out of her face so she could look at him.
"Yeah." Edward smiled a little sheepishly. "Sorry about that. I just - "
"If you dare apologize for touching me, I'm never speaking to you again," Bella snarled fiercely. She made to turn over, but his hands still prevented it.
"Sorry, sweetheart, he said, his voice once again the gentle, in-control Edward she was most familiar with. The other one took her breath away...but he was a little too intense for everyday life. She enjoyed it immensely when he showed up, though. "Your back is still pretty badly burned. Probably best not to sleep on it for tonight."
Bella blinked and looked around the room. Sure enough, it was growing dark. She bit back a grin - she'd have to call Charlie in a little while and tell him she was staying at the Cullens' tonight. Because there was no way in hell she was putting a shirt on in the next twelve hours or so, and neither was she willing to leave Edward after an experience like that. But for the moment, all she wanted to do was bask in what could only be called afterglow.
She heard Edward pawing on the floor for something, and turned her head. He righted himself and held out the little tube of aloe Rose had handed to him. "Shall I?"
Bella rolled her eyes and took the tube, then chucked it across the room.
"Mind telling me what that was for?"
"Well," she said, settling fully on her belly again, "I know that stuff can't taste good, and if you tell me it does, I won't believe you."
Edward was silent for a moment. "But doesn't it help make you feel better?"
"Not as much as some other things," she said, grinning over her shoulder at him.
Instantly his face cleared. "I see," he said, and obligingly lowered his mouth to her skin.