A future-take from 'I Hunger for Your Touch'. Happy Hallowe'en, one and all.
Canon vamp couples in an AU setting. No slash.
M for lemons, some bad language, innuendo, and college drinking.
Thanks to touttoi for pre-reading the first bit of this. I expect this fic to be about 5 chapters long. But you know how long-winded I am, don't you! You might get more, if it ends up that people like it (hint, hint).
'I Hunger' is nominated for 'The Story You Drop Everything to Read' in the Glosp Awards. Please vote :) But don't open their homepage in front of your kids. Lol (yeah, I did). Last day to vote is Oct 26/10. I've never had an award yet (blinks and attempts to be charming?).
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental.
My canon takes place a year earlier than Stephenie's. And my Bella and Edward are, shall we say, more liberated. Bella, being pregnant, has taken on many vampire traits. Oh, and Ren percolates a lot longer in my story than in the original. She was conceived July 17th, and is due to arrive on November 20th.
Our vampires are taking part in events that actually happened at Dartmouth in late October of 2005. Isn't that grand?
Saturday, October 29th, 2005:
Hanover, New Hampshire
Emmett and Rosalie Cullen exchange a leery look. Bella and Edward are up to something. Whether that something is fit for discussion in polite company is questionable.
There are times when it's better not to know, even if you are a pair of hot-blooded (make that cold-venomed), all-American, ever-horny, perpetually-young people. Because you probably don't want to know that your previously uptight, ultra-Victorian brother is into weird shit. Even if you are into weirdness yourself. It does not matter. And ever since he got married, and knocked up his human mate (Who knew?) he has been doing his damnedest to outdo his 'elder' brother's reputation as a sex machine.
Yeah, don't even mention the day the spanking bench arrived. Emmett is not over it yet. And there's really no escaping Bedward love, since the Insufferable Little Shit and his hybrid, moody-yet-adorable wife have moved into Big Brother Emmett's house for the duration of the fall term at Dartmouth. Assuming Bella doesn't go into labour earlier than Alice has predicted. Sigh.
So, this morning, they brought in bags. Rather large, black bags. And they were snickering. Not to mention that they were wearing their customary, matching, crude pregnancy t-shirts. They have about a million pregnancy tees: rude ones, cute ones, self-deprecating ones...
Today, Edward's reads 'Future DILF', and Bella's reads 'Future MILF'. Not their best, or funniest, shirts, but they seem determined to wear everything of which they know Charlie, Esme and Carlisle would not approve, before the opportunity to be bratty, college rebels expires. In short, they are being kids while they still can. And they are completely open about the fact that they're doing it.
New Experiences 101. No, life is never dull, because the pair of them are so unpredictable that Em and Rose's heads are spinning.
Bella and Edward have careful rules concerning their playful experimentation. It's just that the stuff they're trying (although milder than Em and Rose suppose) is still such a far cry from what they normally do, that it's positively scary. The world has been turned on its ear.
How great is that!
"Hello, kiddies! How's it hangin'?" Edward grins, barely stopping to listen to an answer. He is determined to make it clear to Emmett that he is, in fact, the elder brother, and makes constant reference to the fact that Em was made some 14 years after himself.
Confidentially? Emmett is just so damn pleased to see the little shit happy, that he's considering taking the title of Little Brother. But where would the fun be in that? Nah, bantering with Edward is fun. Teasing Edward is fun, even if he refuses to react in his habitual, tight-assed, outraged manner. Well, that ass is admittedly a lot less tight than it was four months ago. And watching him loosen up with Bella is even more fun.
Thank all that's holy, that Bella came along, because life is never dull. Not anymore. No siree.
Moments after their entrance, Edward and his fecund mate shut themselves in the only bathroom (not that that really matters in a house full of vampires) and stay in there an unusually long time. And when they come out, a nasty scent of depilatory cream is left behind, which is not entirely eradicated by the steam from the shower.
And now, they've been in their bedroom for over three hours. And it is unusually quiet. Deathly quiet.
Never a good sign.
Being Saturday, the house is abnormally peaceful. Sort of. Em and Rose had enjoyed their morning (ahem) nap. Em's Sociology homework done? Check. Rose's Mechanical Studies project done? Check.
During the week, Em and Rose busied themselves making candy kebabs with the frat brats, to sell at school, to benefit the Dartmouth India Project. The extra-curricular activities, combined with the schoolwork, prevented idle hands. Bella and Edward even helped out by selling the candy to students during a couple of their lunch periods. But Em and Rose's hands feel decidedly empty at the moment.
Were they human, they'd be kicking back, reading the paper and talking about the increasing nip in the crisp autumn air. But they aren't. And they have nothing much to distract them from Little Brother and Baby Sister's... activities, assuming they don't want to get busy themselves. And truth be told, they are nosy buggers.
Which is very gratifying to the Insufferable Little Shit, who regularly -and gladly- laps their reactions up. Yeah, it's all about shock and awe these days.
What? Em and Jazz are kicking themselves now for calling Edward a prude.
Not to mention the regular ass-kicking Em gets from Rosalie for having teased Baby Brother so badly that he is never, ever going to pretend to forget it.
Jazz is lucky. Alice just laughs. Besides which, they don't have to live with Bedward on a regular basis. Only on occasional week-ends.
Edward shrieks, and Em and Rosalie jump. Em starts toward the bedroom, but Rose calls him back.
"She's hurting him," Em protests, eyes replete with worry.
Rose shakes her head. "Bee would never hurt him. They're just playing," she murmurs.
A masculine, giggly whisper floats through the transom above the solid oak door. "That tickles."
"Shut up and hold still, Mocha-chino, unless you want to spoil it," Bella intones.
"Stop, Minx! Please, if you love me! Red red red!"
"Shhht! You can't leave it like this. You're only half-way there."
"Get it over with fast, then, Dona Isabella."
Another squeal, followed by masculine and feminine giggles.
Another wary look passes between Em and his wife. Rosalie looks back down at her motorcycle magazine, pretending it is more than an adequate distraction.
"Fuck, Bella, that's cold," he squeaks.
"Hah. All be worth it in the end, Love. There. It's done, see? Feel better now?"
"Mmm. I still can't believe you agreed to do this," he says happily.
"Yeah, well, you've thoroughly corrupted me. If Charlie knew, he'd hand you your balls on a plate."
"Is that a hint? Gonna blackmail me, Minx? Because I could tell Charlie a thing or two, you know."
"I told you to shut up. Unless you'd like to look like you have a vagina."
"Could be interesting. Maybe we should try that next time."
Em and Rose exchange a horrified look. Their brother and sister-in-law have finally gone bonkers.
"Wouldn't do you any good. If you can't reach your own dick, there's no way you'd reach your own twat," Bella scoffs.
"No fun for a vag-etarian," Edward sighs mournfully. What a brat.
"I thought I told you to shut up."
Some quiet cackling ensues. Whatever are they doing?
It goes back to being quiet in the house. Very, very quiet, Mr Fudd.
"Bella, do you really have to give me blue balls?" Edward groans.
"Hell, yeah," Bella answers. She pauses. "How does it feel?"
"Um, really, really odd... but I kinda ... like it."
The phone on the kitchen island rings loudly, making Em and Rose jump. Em hurries to answer.
"Hello? Cullen House of Ill Repute," he announces, brow raised. He listens for a few minutes. "Sure. Hey, Edward?" he calls loudly. "It's Alessandro with his weekly report."
Edward's head pokes out of his bedroom doorway, along with one, bare shoulder. There's something green smudged on his cheek. "Em, can you ask him if there's anything essential? I'm a little ... tied up right now."
"Uh, sure," Em murmurs. "Alessandro? Anything he really needs to know? He's... kinda busy." Em's eyes drift to Edward's door, where more giggling can be heard, along with some shushing, and snorting. "It's all good? No word of Caius? That's great, man. University going well? Wonderful. He'll be glad to hear. And Nahuel's doing okay? Chirica what? Yeah, she can write to her Dad, or send him a gift, but she can't see him. Not until at least a year has passed. Yeah. Anything else new? No? Okay. I'll pass that along. Love to everybody, alright? Yeah. Bye."
Another hour and a half passes. The phone rings again, and in the bedroom, Bella exclaims, startled.
"Minx!" Edward laughs. "You talk about me not holding still?"
"Well, your equipment's under wraps," she declares.
"I could take it out," he flirts.
"Ew," Rose says under her breath, now knee-deep in mechanical drawings as she sits on the living room floor.
"There's no way of disguising that monster," Bella growls playfully.
"Emmett? Why the fuck did you let them move in with us? If I could murder you, I would. Damn Alice for giving Bee kinky suggestions," Rose mutters, which does nothing but provoke more Bedward cackling.
Meanwhile, Emmett has got the phone. "City Morgue." He looks at Rose like a deer in vampire headlights. "Oh, hi Alice."
Speak of the Devil and he (or she) shall appear.
"Alice? When I see you, I'm gonna clean your clock for teaching Bella kinky shit," Rose snarls.
Emmett blinks. Like he hasn't been feeding Edward TMI for years? Best not point that out to Rosie. Alice is talking in his ear. "Oh. Rose? Alice says it's Esme's fault." Rose huffs indignantly, and Emmett turns his attention back to his sister. "What's up? Cynthia good? Mary Alice? ... Swell. Oh. Well, I'll ask, okay? They're kinda... busy."
Devilish laughter issues from the phone.
"Yeah, yeah. Hang on," Em says, eyes rolling. "Edward? Alice wants to speak with you."
"Okay, Em. Can you bring me the cordless, please?"
Em and Rose exchange a calculating look, and Emmett hurries eagerly down the short hallway, passing the still-unpleasantly scented bathroom. On his left, his own bedroom door stands open. On his right? Bedward's vault.
Yeah, their door is never open. Not since they moved in. God only knows what they're keeping in there.
A pale hand darts out of the door, and snatches the phone. "Thanks, Bro," Edward sings. A sweet smell wafts out of the room, and then the door is, again, shut tighter than a Victorian virgin's legs. What is that smell? Em hovers near the door, sniffing. He turns to look at his mate, who is, naturally, staring back at him.
"Icing?" he mouths, his face a mask of confusion.
"Go away, Emmett," Bella growls through the door.
"Yes, Ma'am," Emmett says, obeying with alacrity. He has felt the sharp sting of her temper before, and does not wish to do so again.
"Thank you, Em," Edward sing-songs a second time. "Hi Titch. How's tricks and treats? ... Almost. Yeah, it's still on... No, I think ..."
The conversation becomes too muffled for Em and Rose to follow.
"Maybe they like splodging," Rose shrugs, whispering. "We had fun with their leftover wedding cake, after all."
"I don't smell cake," Emmett whispers, his brow wrinkled. "Just sugar. Like icing. I dunno. Maybe you're right, Rose. Maybe they're splodging in there. I hope they don't spoil the carpet."
"We can pick up a new one next time we're in Africa if they do," Rose shrugs. "I mean, they haven't wrecked any furniture, or damaged the house, except for that time you scared Bella and made her crack the ceiling."
Emmett guffaws. "Yeah, that was freakin' awesome. I really scared the poor little tomato, didn't I?"
"Better not let her find out you're laughing at her, Big Bear, or I might let her liberate a few more of your chest hairs," Rosalie smirks.
"Thanks, Rose," Bella sing-songs from the other room. Oh, mother! She heard him.
Emmett gawps at his wife. "Women are evil," he moans. "Weren't you just telling me off for inviting them to live with us?"
"I guess they're not so bad. After all, Edward put up with us, when we were newly-weds. We girls have to stick together when you don't appreciate us," she sniffs, fluttering her gorgeous, dark brown lashes to show him she's only kidding.
"Mmm. I'll show you some appreciation soon, Baby," he flirts, grabbing his crotch and jiggling it in her face while waggling his brows.
"Sexy beast," she scoffs, pretending offense, then leans forward to place a kiss on the front of his jeans.
"You know it, Lover," he says, eyeing her hungrily, and strikes a certain muscle-bulging pose that he knows makes her drool every time.
Just as things are heating up, Bedward's door flings open, wide, causing Em and Rose to spring apart.
Edward saunters slowly down the hall, looking like a misplaced runway model as usual. He is wearing a ridiculous straw hat with a frilled brim, and blue, denim overalls, with a red-and-white checked hanky hanging out of the chest pocket. Bits of yellow straw peek out of various parts of the overalls. He is barefoot, and his arms, shoulders, and back are also bare.
"So. What do you think of my Hallowe'en costume?" he asks, smirking cheekily.
Em and Rose look at him, bemused. It's not that great a costume. Hardly worth a second look. It's not nearly up to their usual standards. And Edward smells funny. Like... candy.
"What are you?" Emmett asks blankly. "A farmer? A scarecrow?"
Edward's eyes are dark, his lips full and laced with humour. He smiles like the cat that has eaten the canary. Several times. "I'm Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater," he informs his brother with a swagger.
"Oh. My. Fucking. Glory," Rose says, open-mouthed.
Edward laughs and claps his hands together, delighted.
"Is that paint?" Rose yelps, gawping, and jumps up, sticking her finger out with intentions of touching him.
"No, no, don't touch!" Edward orders. "You might smear me." He turns to his brother. "Your wife is smart, Emmett. Yep. Got it in one, Rose."
"Holy crap dude," Emmett gawps. His face lights with amusement. "That is so ginchy. So this is what you and Bella have been doing all morning?"
"Yep," Edward declares, pleased as punch.
"Where's the paint end?" Rose demands, again reaching out in an attempt to poke her brother-in-law.
"Hands off," Edward growls. "I've got a sling, see? Everywhere else is just paint," he says, lifting the string of his thong a little so they can see where it ends.
"It's denim?" Rosalie asks, her eyes shining.
"Yep," he grins.
Emmett frowns down at his brother's package, totally forgetting that he's looking at another guy's crotch. "Are your balls really blue, Edward?"
"You think I want skin to show if the thong shifts, Emmett? I mean, I glued it down, but just in case..."
"Holy shit," Emmett gawps. "You're seriously going out for Hallowe'en with a bare ass?"
"It's not bare. It's covered in body paint. As long as it doesn't rain, nobody's going to know," Edward shrugs.
"Fuck. The Victorian is dead," Emmett declares.
"Old news, Em," Edward says, shrugging a little. "My Ticuna wear less than this every day. No big."
"It's great, Edward. Absolutely wonderful," Rose gushes.
"Thanks," Edward says, looking down at himself. "Bella's an artist, huh?"
"Yeah, it's awesome," Rose chuckles, eyes shining. "Is the straw painted on, too?"
"Everything but the sling and the hat is paint."
"Shit, dude! Did you remove all your body hair?" Emmett asks, reeling.
Edward shrugs. "Well, we had to. Most of it, anyway." He fingers the fine hair on his arms a little self-consciously. "No worries. It'll grow back."
"Yeah, but still," Emmett protests.
"We, as in 'we'?" Rosalie asks eagerly. She turns in her chair and bellows for her sister-in-law. "Bella, get your ass out here!"
Bella Cullen steps slowly out of her bedroom, and her brother and sister-in-law gasp. Edward's eyes turn soft and dopey. Sappy date.
"Apparently, Bella is not the only artist in the house. Sweetie, you are absolutely stunning," Rose declares, looking at her a touch wistfully.
"Really?" Bella asks softly, peeking at everyone from under her lashes. Her clear, red eyes glow softly. They look awesome with her 'costume'.
Bella's top half is painted to look like a dark, velvet, rather Medieval dress the colour of garnet. It has a Juliet neckline, and an inset of fake lace down the front of the white 'bodice' that is sparkling gold. A large black tarantula with pink toes covers one nipple. Everything from Bella's ribcage down to her backside is decorated to look like a scary jack-o-lantern, and tendrils of pumpkin vine that twine about her body sensually. Her belly button ring, with Edward's heart-shaped diamond dangling, hangs out of the jack-o-lantern's mouth like a shiny tooth.
Bella's legs are painted midnight blue. The vines are the only things that will show if she goes walking in the dark. One eye is covered by a large, lacy green leaf. Her heavy mahogany hair is pulled back into a thick, loose plait.
In the dark, she is going to look like a princess shut up in a pumpkin shell that floats in the air, dangling tendrils of vine and leaves.
Edward is a magician.
Of course, he can do everything. Insufferable Little Shit.
Rosalie, not being shy, gets right up to her sister's chest and inspects it. "How did you do that?" she asks Edward.
"You know those little paper doilies they use in bakeries? We just held one up and sprinkled glitter-candy everywhere," he grins.
"That's like, brilliant, Edward. How long did it take you to plan this?" Rose enthuses.
"I sorta started thinking about it when we were still on the honeymoon. Only chance for Bella to wear this costume. I was counting on it that Bella and Ren would both be big enough by now to pull it off."
"Yeah, well I feel big as a house," Bella says, eyes rolling. "And my husband really made me feel better, painting my belly up like a big fat jack-o-lantern."
"Yeah, look how beautiful she is," he croons, making goo-goo eyes at her.
"Yes, you are beautiful, Bella. And this will be great for Ren's scrapbook. You only have one more month to carry her, after all," Rosalie reminds her.
"Twenty-two days," Bella growls. "I can't imagine how big I'm going to be by the time she's born. I can't see my feet now."
"Well, your costume looks outstanding, with the glittery gold pumpkin eyes, and leaves and stalks and 3D shadows, and all," Em says, crossing his arms and staring unabashedly at his brother's wife's tits. Not that he can really see anything interesting. The glitter is on there pretty... thickly.
Rosalie gasps again. "Bella Cullen! Are you naked as a jaybird?" she squeaks.
Bella squirms a little, and nods.
Emmett's eyes fly to his brother's face. Edward watches proudly, not even blinking while his wife stands there in her skin in front of his brother. Probably the only time that will ever happen, mind.
"Oh. My. Freakin'..." Rosalie moans, and then jumps up with an earsplitting grin. "I'm getting the camera!"
Bella blushes. "Only if you promise to take Edward's picture too," she calls after Rose lamely.
Edward chuckles fondly. Yeah, his wife is going out in public covered only in paint, but God forbid she should let anybody memorialize it on film.
"Sure, sure," Rosalie says, her voice sounding muffled, from somewhere in her bedroom. "Esme and Alice will kill me if I don't take piles of pictures, so you had better submit nicely, Missy."
"Hey, I think I'm being a pretty good sport," Bella protests.
"Of course you are, Dearest," Edward croons, brushing a loose strand of hair out of her eyes.
Emmett tries to surreptitiously sneak a look at his Baby Sister's kitty. To check that the paint covers everything, don't you know.
"Em-mett," Edward drawls. "Don't push it."
"Sorry," Em says sheepishly, scratching his chin.
"So what are you going as?" Edward asks him.
"Huh?" Em says, distracted.
"Tonight. The outings we agreed on. What are you wearing?" Edward presses.
"Oh," Em says slowly, scratching his head. "Rosie and I, um, thought, oh, maybe we should just stay home, and answer the door," he shrugs regretfully.
"I don't think so. Come on. Bella and I have plans. Evil plans," Edward grins, grabbing his brother's arm.
Emmett stops dead. "No, I ... don't think so, Stud. I like my body ... hairy. Rosie won't be happy if I-"
"Em? I figured that. Now come on. Let's have some fun, okay?" Edward pleads.
Edward is asking Emmett to stop being a tight-ass and have fun. What is wrong with this picture?
Rosalie is back, Bella in tow. She pushes her next to Edward, and takes about a hundred million photos of them. By the time she's half-way through, Bella has actually stopped blushing, and is striking silly poses with her husband. Which gives Emmett a good chance to give her a sneaky once-over. Too bad Edward reads minds.
"Em-mett!" Edward growls, half-amused and half-exasperated. "If you keep that up, I am going to force you to go out nude, too."
"That would be interesting," Bella mutters, rolling her eyes.
Edward does not get the reaction from his sister-in-law for which he was hoping.
"Really?" Rose beams, totally embarrassing both men.
"Sure," Edward drawls, running a nervous hand through his hair. "Not. Now, we could get started, and out of here on time, if only you two would say what you want to be," he coaxes.
"I dunno," Rose murmurs. "What's going to be easiest? You haven't had time to plan," she frets. If she's going out in public naked, and it's not on a beach, she's going out looking her best.
"Well, we sorta have a couple of ideas," Bella says, biting her lip. Edward reaches out automatically to free it. She smiles at him tolerantly.
"Like?" Rose says, her excitement palpable.
"Robin and Marian," Edward suggests.
"Angel and devil," Bella throws out.
"Pirates," Edward says.
"Pirates!" Rose pounces, jiggling up and down. She grabs Em by the hand and drags him toward the bathroom.
"Wait! Hold up there, Rosie. I'm not so sure-" the big horn-dog begins. His formerly blue-nosed brother is apparently braver than he.
"E-emmmm?" Edward sings.
"What?" Emmett asks curtly. He is flustered. Rare for Emmett.
Edward leans in like a conspirator. He murmurs in his brother's ear, while Bella explains to Rosalie about the depilatory cream. "Emmett? The body paint and the glitter? They're edible."
"So what?" Emmett scoffs. "Not like we can digest it," he pouts.
"Emmett, artificial flavouring," Edward smirks, eyes dancing.
Emmett's eyes zone black. "Oh. Artificial flavouring," he says, nodding. His tongue rolls out onto the floor. Total goner.
You see, some bright vampire figured something out, sometime, or another. He discovered that artificial flavours are somewhat preserved. They don't rot, therefore they don't taste spoiled, or burned, or thoroughly tasteless. Just about every flavour extract known to man lives in little glass bottles in that fellow's kitchen. And the ability to taste artificial flavours explains said vampire's attraction to his former-girlfriend-now-wife's chocolate lip balm, and peppermint toothpaste.
Yeah. Insufferable Little Shit. Him again.
"Yeah," Edward drawls, one side of his mouth curling up. He claps Em on the shoulder, and starts walking toward the back of the little house.
"Mercy," Emmett declares, mimicking Elvis. "Bring it on, Great Leader." He follows his brother. The spring is back in his step. In fact, he's practically flying. Emmett loves Hallowe'en.
Well, Edward is a great leader now. Aro made him Dom of two big territories in South America.
Outside the bathroom, Edward stops and calls to Rose, who is chattering away in her room to Bella. "Rose?"
"You have one hour to make Emmett's dick lie down. If you take any longer than that, Alice says we'll miss taking the little kids trick-or-treating."
"Okay," she says, running down the hall and snagging her mate's hand. The bathroom door bangs shut, leaving Bella and Edward alone in the hall. A fresh surge of depilatory scent creeps out from under the bathroom door. Their sensitive noses crinkle automatically.
"What are we going to do?" Bella blinks. "We've got an hour to kill. We can't sit down, and we can't make love. The paint's still damp. And I really don't want to listen to those two do it."
"Hah. Why don't we have a nice, old-fashioned chat?" Edward suggests. So they lean on the kitchen island, and talk about what Hallowe'en was like back in the day. And they talk about Carlisle's experiences in New England two centuries ago, when he was on his way to Philadelphia to work at the new College of Surgeons. They even talk about previous Hallowe'en parties that the Cullens have attended. And, of course, they talk about Bella's childhood. Her favourite Hallowe'en traditions.
"Hey," he says at last. "Rose says it's hard to understand what I'm supposed to be, and she thinks you ought to write the rhyme out on my skin."
"Yeah, I can do that," Bella twinkles. She takes his hand, and pulls him back to the bedroom. Then, she uses the airbrush to laboriously write the nursery rhyme all over his bare skin in green paint.
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater on his forehead and cheeks. For good measure, she draws a pumpkin vine around his cheek and eye.
Had a wife and couldn't keep her goes on his left arm.
Put her in a pumpkin shell gets scribed onto his right arm.
And there, he kept her very well is on the back of his shoulders. Along with something else that brings a fiendish gleam to his wife's eye. Who's the canary-stuffed kitty cat now?
An hour and a half after disappearing into their bedroom and the bathroom, a towel-clad Em and Rose -who are a little, uncharacteristically shy- are peeping into Bedward's vault, ready to get all painted up. Em, as instructed, is clutching a brown leather thong.
He's a little nervous.
"Come in, we don't bite," Edward says, throwing a leg over a stool that's much like the ones favoured by doctors , just inside the door, and motioning for Em and Rose to come in. "Anyone but each other," he adds under his breath, winking at Bella. Edward has suspended a sheet, from two large hooks in the ceiling, to make a privacy screen. He points for Emmett to join him on one side of it.
Em and Rose enter, eyes darting around. The walls might be an authentic, milky Victorian blue, and the floor, like the rest of the house, is maple hardwood, but that is where the old-fashioned style ends.
It's a little Gothic. Lots of candles, mirror on the ceiling, mirror on the wall, a large, carved wooden parson's bench... Who knew? Aw, who's kidding themselves? It's exactly what Em and Rose suspected.
"You come here, Rose," Bella directs. She's standing by the side of the bed, close to the window. In front of her is the spanking bench, draped in a paint-splotched white sheet. Grey October light filters into the room through filmy white curtains.
"Well, I know what to put in your Christmas stocking now, Bella," Rose muses, unable to tear her eyes from the St Andrew's cross on the wall opposite the bed. A bunch of rolls of duct tape are piled on the floor beside it.
"Going away to college means acting out a little, right?" Bella says unabashedly, not even pinking up. "We won't get away with having a room like this in Forks."
"Why not?" Rose wonders. She and Em have their fair share of toys. And Alice and Jazz? Holy. He wears a leash out in public for goodness' sake.
Don't even ask about Carlisle. When Esme calls him 'Dr Teeth', the whole family goes running.
"Two good reasons. First? Charlie. Second? Ren," Bella says wryly.
Emmett gets a good look at Edward's bare back, which has gold, Greek letters on it in addition to the rhyme, and snorts. "You really going out with that written on your back, Stud?"
"Huh? What's written on my back, Em?" Edward asks innocently.
Bella cackles. "You might as well tell him, Big Bear."
"You really are a minx, Bella," Em frowns.
"Now you've really got me worried," Edward says, smiling crookedly.
"You're not gonna get mad at her, are you?" Em blinks fretfully.
"I doubt it," Edward shrugs. "Even if I do, she's stronger than me. Best let her have her fun."
"Smart guy," Rosalie murmurs.
"Um, it says, 'I like Greek', in Greek," Emmett says a little nervously.
An incredulous grin breaks out over Edward's face. "Minx!" he squeaks, shaking his head.
"Told you I'd get you back for what you said to Renee yesterday."
"What I said doesn't compare to this degree of gaucheness. I'm going to get you back for this, sometime when you least expect it," Edward promises.
"Ah, you can punish me later, Beautiful," Bella says nonchalantly.
"Grr-wow," Edward says, picking up a little pot of brown paint. "Honey, your Greek is getting too good."
"In what sense?" she says flirtatiously.
"Whatever happened to the Lamb?" Emmett wonders weakly.
"She married him," Rosalie says darkly.
Change of subject.
"I'm not painting your privates for you, Em," Edward declares coolly. "You have to do that yourself."
Emmett sags in relief, and accepts the pot of brown paint. After Edward instructs him, and averts his gaze, he applies it liberally to his manly parts, and surreptitiously slips into the thong and glues it down. With Edward's help, Em gets his upper legs painted brown, and then he drops his towel enough that Edward can, to Emmett's mortification, paint his ass with a big brush.
"First, Jasper's Apadravya, now this..." Edward mutters, shaking his head. "Next thing you know, it will be Carlisle. God help me."
"What?" Em asks, peeking over the sheet, being distracted by the sight of his mate getting forest green paint airbrushed onto her privates by Bella.
"Nothing, nothing," Edward chants, slopping cream-coloured paint onto Em's denuded chest with the large nylon brush. Emmett stares at Edward expectantly.
"Doctor-patient confidentiality," Edward declares, unmoved.
"You're not a doctor yet, Stud," Emmett pouts.
Edward raises his brows, surprised. "I am, too. Twice over."
"You last went to med school a decade before Johnson and Johnson," Emmett says with an eye roll.
"That's why I'm here," Edward admits. He sets down the paint brush and picks up an airbrush. "Pass me the white, Minx?" he says, sticking his arm out past the screen. Bella tosses a tube of paint to him casually, which he picks out of the air without looking. "Thanks. Your aim's improving."
"Get stuffed," she growls good-naturedly, blowing a wet raspberry at him.
"I hope so," Edward drawls, blowing one back at her.
"Geez Louise," Emmett moans, wincing as Edward makes him a peg-leg.
By four o'clock, the light outside is fading, and people in the neighbourhood are setting out their jack-o-lanterns and lighting them.
Rosalie admires herself in Bedward's mirrors. She is dressed up like Keira Knightley in 'Pirates of the Caribbean, complete with hat. But she's even better looking than the movie star.
Edward has not made Em into Jack Sparrow. Instead, he has made his face into a leering skull. He wears a shabby shirt, open at the neck, with 'rolled up' sleeves, and a black vest, and a burgundy tail coat with a red rose 'pinned' to the breast area. The 'trousers' extend mid-way down his calves, leaving one black-shoe painted foot, and the peg leg. He also sports a jaunty hat. It has a large red feather sticking out of it.
"This is going to be the best Hallowe'en ever," Rose declares, turning to grasp her sister's hands and give them a little squeeze.
Fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rings.
The Cullens race for the door. Edward, being fastest, gets there first. "Well hello," he grins at the tiny children on the stoop, whose father lurks in the background. "Aren't you adorable. Look, guys, a lion and a lamb."
"Sweet," Em declares. The kids look at him mistrustfully: Deer in headlights.
"Here," Rose says. "I have Kit Kat Bars and Cheese Doodles. Those okay, Dad?"
The Dad gawps at Rosalie, but does not answer. He's transfixed by her fake cleavage.
"Okaaaay," Rose says at last. "Cheese Doodles it is. Here you go, sweetie. And one for you, little lamb. You have fun tonight, okay?"
"Funk you," the wee lion pipes up loudly. It sounds like he said something else. Em laughs.
"You're welcome, honey," Rosalie beams.
The little rugrats toddle back down the front steps. Their daddy continues to gape at Rosalie. She smiles tolerantly, and shuts the door. A few minutes later, it rings again.
And so it goes for the next hour, with the smallest ghouls and ghosties on the prowl before the darkness can fall. Rosalie's candy bowl is almost empty. She is getting a reputation with the local dads, who all come to have a look at The Beauty Living at #23. Good thing Em is not like Edward. He just laughs, where other men would beat eye-punters to a pulp.
At 6:30 pm, the doorbell rings again. The paint having dried, the siblings have been sitting around on their towels, watching old Vincent Price movies, which are creepier than any of the modern crap the kids watch today. Once again, Rosalie goes to answer it, candy bowl in hand. Edward watches her go, his golden eyes sparkling.
"How's tricks?" the little yellow-eyed kitten on the stoop grins. Her hair is teased up to look like cat ears.
"Alice! Jazz!" Rosalie squeals, remembering at the last minute that she can't give big, paint-y hugs. Again, Edward chuckles.
Jasper and Alice enter the sitting room, and exchange air kisses and hugs with their siblings. They are covered in paint, too. Jazz is a black and white calico cat. Alice is a tabby. In addition to the body paint, and cat ear hair do's, they sport long, fluffy tails, and black-and-white leg-warmers with black ballet shoes.
" T S Elliot? Lloyd Webber? " Edward asks narrowly. "Jellicle Cat?"
"Hey," Jasper drawls. Only he is allowed to call Alice that.
"Sorry, Jazz. Or, should I say, Mistoffelees?"
"Yeah. Hi, Tough Guy." Jazz says softly, shaking his hand. A cheerful, warm feeling pervades the room.
"What are you doing here?" Rosalie demands happily.
"You don't imagine we would miss this fun, do you?" Alice growls happily. "Bella! You're adorable."
"You, too, Alice. Which Cat are you?"
"Tantomile, the psychic female twin?" Edward smirks.
"The same," Alice beams. She really is a Jellicle Cat this evening. "People, we need to go, or all the good kids will be taken."
"God forbid," Edward says with an eye roll. "Ready?"
"Um... where should we keep our keys?" Rose wonders, gesturing at her lack of pockets.
"I know just the place," Edward snickers.
Rose is so gobsmacked, she can't even retort. Emmett bops Edward, hard, on the shoulder. Edward attempts to look contrite. Total fail.
"I've got my bag," Bella says, holding up a little black purse.
"Everybody got sacks for later?" Edward checks.
"Right here, Bro," Em says, holding up a bunch of pillowcases.
"Peachy. Let's motor," Edward says, steering everyone out the door.
Bella chuckles, carefully patting her stomach. "Look. Tigger's awake."
"Oh, please. Let me just get a picture before we go," Alice whines. She perks up instantly, knowing the outcome. Irritating pixies usually get their way.
The vampires suppress groans. But who can resist, when Ren is dragging her foot across her Mommy's tummy? Alice grabs her camera phone and starts snapping.
"Say 'cheese', Tigger," Edward tells his wife's belly. Then, there is a collective 'aw', because the baby has pushed her foot straight out at the front, and its outline is completely visible, tiny toes and all.
Alice takes pictures madly. "Guys? Put your hands next to her foot, quick!"
"Okay," Edward says softly, moving to stand behind Bella. He circles his arms around her, and places his hands gently over hers. Their gold rings, and Bella's diamonds, glint in the soft light of the lamps, and the baby's foot remains plainly outlined between her adoring parents' fingers.
"Perfect," Alice declares smugly. She takes a moment to send the pictures off to Esme via e-mail, knowing that within the hour they'll be all over Mama Cullen's friends' Facebooks.
"Let's hurry," Alice says.
The six vampires depart, leaving the house veiled in blackness so that trick or treaters will not come to the door. It is now well-past sunset, and between Edward and Alice's talents, the group is able to move rapidly to the meeting place on Webster Ave.
The wind blows dried out leaves about their feet, scratching, and speaking to the black pavement. Before long, it will snow.
A large group of eager, tightly-wound kids are already there, mingling, in their costumes, and waiting for college kids to chaperone them around the neighbourhood for Trick or Treat. The Cullens and Hales approach a Frat Boy with a clipboard.
"Cullen," the young man grins, searching for Edward's name.
"Billings," Edward returns smoothly.
Each pre-arranged, safety-approved couple is quickly introduced to a small group of children, whom they will be supervising for the chilly evening.
Soon, the order is established, and the vampires take off with fifteen kids, between the ages of six and twelve, in tow.
"Four vampires, and one werewolf. Sweet," Em chortles.
"Vampires are the coolest," Bella snickers.
The kids rocket up the first drive, and shout 'trick or treat' at the door.
"Remember your manners," Edward reminds the children. When they have all received treats, and thanked the residents, Alice moves to the same door with her pillowcase.
"Trick or treat for Hurricane Katrina Relief," she chimes. The elderly man beams, and produces a can of soup. She thanks him with a curtsey, and hurries to rejoin the group at the next house.
Webster Ave is a very long street when you are in the company of fifteen children, the group discovers.
Before they have gone six blocks, the little pink princess reaches to tug on Edward's jeans to tell him she is tired, and discovers skin instead. She pats him. "Nice," she says.
Gently, he removes her little hand from his thigh and holds it.
"At least if you blush in the dark, nobody will think you're sick," Bella breathes in her husband's ear, kissing his cheek.
"Not blushing," he grunts mendaciously.
She turns his face to hers, and places a soft kiss on his jaw. "You're the colour of the Volvo," she informs him.
Edward decides that ignoring the teasing will be the best policy. And he's pretty happy, a few minutes later, when another little kid, dressed up like Batman, reaches up to tug on Em's sleeve, and discovers skin instead. Because the first thing that kid does is reach behind Emmett and poke him on the backside.
Now who's blushing? "Um, that's not appropriate," the burly vampire informs the little masked tike. "You never touch a person anywhere that a bathing suit covers unless it's your wife."
"But I'm tired," the boy whines. "I want to go home."
"Uncle Em will carry you," he croons. Within two minutes, the child is asleep in his arms.
After a few more blocks, all the vampires have kids to carry, in addition to large, can-stuffed pillowcases. The older kids, who are not being carried, are starting to drag.
"What time is it?" Bella wonders. She doesn't have an internal clock yet.
"Um, almost 8:00pm, Edward answers, after checking his circadian rhythm.
"We should get them home," Rosalie declares.
"Mine's sweaty," Bella says, wrinkling her nose at the little girl, who is wearing a heavy polar bear costume.
"Trade me," Edward suggests. With a little awkwardness, they exchange her kid for his bag of cans, so that he sports a snoozing youngster on each hip. Pink princess sighs and wraps an arm around polar bear. Aww... Polar bear has traces of garnet-red paint on her cheek. Bella pales a bit.
"Am I...?" she husks.
"No, your paint is holding up really beautifully, actually," Edward says, scoping out her chest. To check the paint, not-
By 9:00pm, they are back where they started, with some wide-awake psychotically excited kids, and some exhausted, droopy kids. Some parents are waiting to take the tired kids home. But the evening is not finished.
Billings is sitting at a card table with a couple of pals. "Wow, Cullen, you guys did great. Thank you so much for coming out," he beams. The vampires hand over the bags full of canned goods, and affectionate parents claim sleeping kids from their arms. One little child remains. He is draped over Edward's shoulder. The vampire rocks from foot to foot.
"Will you really be sending food to the victims of Hurricane Katrina?" Alice asks, a line between her brows.
"I can guarantee you that we will," Billings says happily. "It's a very important cause. Of course, we chose to do this to help families here, primarily. A lot of families who live in the Upper Valley live on the poverty line. But thanks to the great turnout, we have plenty to give our food bank, and enough left that we'll still be able to give a generous portion to the people down south."
"Yay!" Alice claps.
"Thanks again for taking part," Billings says, as a father arrives to take the second child from Edward's arms.
"Any time. It was fun," Edward replies.
"I'll hold you to that. Hey, you'd better hurry to the hall," Billings cautions. "They're starting any minute."
"Thanks, man," Edward says, herding the eight remaining children toward the hall.
Soon, the group gathers in the basement of Mid Massachusetts Hall to hear stories, sing songs, and share snacks. The remaining kids' treat-filled bags have been carefully marked with names, and set aside. Nobody wants a child to get into trouble for touching someones' things or eating unchecked candy.
It is time for ghost stories, presented by the frat brats and their sorority girls. Jazz sends out a slightly spooky vibe, and the children shudder as they listen to dark tales of were-bunnies and goblin kings. After the final story, Jazz sends out reassurance and happiness. A last song is in order:
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one says, "My, my, it's getting late!"
The second one says "There are witches in the air!"
The third one says, "But we don't care."
The fourth one says, "Let's run and run and run!"
The fifth one says, "I'm ready for some fun."
Woo-oo went the wind, and out went the light
and the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
The kids meet their parents, and depart for home, thankful for, and thrilled with, their evening out. The volunteers and organizers begin to disperse.
"What next?" Emmett wonders.
"Party," Alice grins.
Check this out, peeps. First pic is Ashley Greene: