Alright. This is a plot I can't really get out of my head so I'm putting it out there. This story is going to be strictly second priority until Thicker Than Blood is finished. I don't like to work on more than one thing at a time but I find that it helps with writers block.
This is a role reversal. Very OOC, but most fanfiction is. James is good, Edward… not so much. Both want Bella. All BPOV, which I normally hate but it just has to be.
Lots of violence and sex. I haven't rigidly worked the whole thing out but I'm pretty positive it won't have a happy ending. I'll warn you now because I'm crazy team Edward and I hate when you get ¾ of the way through a fic and the author strings angst on you.
Disclaimer: All Twilight characters and core personality traits are the property of SM. I own nothing, nor do I plan on profiting from using her work. No copyright infringement is intended.
I jump, nearly spilling the burning coffee from my favorite large red mug right into my lap when my husband slams down the morning paper. I lift my eyes, curious as to what the Seattle Times has done to personally offend him… or perhaps there was just a fly on the kitchen table. Who knows?
Thankfully my limited detective skills don't get put to the test this early in the morning because he's staring at me, beautiful blue eyes radiating anxiety and I'm sure he's about to let me in on his sudden development, whether I want to know or not.
He glances down at my body and for a moment I think he's giving me a pointed once over… oh no, you've already made me late to work twice this week, mister. But as his eyes narrow with contempt I realize that he's glaring at my waitressing uniform and not ogling my breasts... Or at least I hope so. He had still liked them just fine as of last night…
He shakes his head slowly, like he's fighting some sort of epic internal battle and I can't help but grin around the lip of my mug. It's quite cute…
"Baby, you're calling in sick. I can't send you out there, Bella. I just wont," he finally snaps. He flips the grey paper across the wooden surface and jabs a long finger at the exposed cover page. "They found another one last night. She's your fucking twin, baby. This guys sick and until they catch him-"
I groan loudly enough to cut him off. Not this again. "James, I'm sick of having this conversation. There's over half a million people in this city…"
I look down at the paper and fight back a grimace. There's a black printed picture of a kind looking young woman, posed for what one could assume was a senior portrait, directly above a picture of a busy crime seen and a nondescript body bag. Megan Hayes. Geeze, This girl does look like my long lost sister.
"But how many petite, long haired, 20-something, pale, brunettes, with big brown eyes, Bells?" he lists off sarcastically, "This one's the 13th … Dead. I'm not sending my girl out there so some disgusting fuck can filet her throat and dump her on the side of the road," he hisses.
I can see the stress on his handsome face. He's too young to look so tortured and even though I firmly believe he's over reacting I resolve to be more sensitive to his perceived concerns.
My chair scrapes noisily against the tile floor as I push it back. He's watching me sadly, sure that I'm about to walk away without dignifying him with a response but I simply hop off my stool and go to wrap my arms around the man that's been my rock for the last 6 years; my best friend.
He smiles, a genuine, beautiful smile, and pulls me flat against his warm, shirtless chest, closing his eyes as I work my fingers gingerly through long blond hair. It's damp and free of its usual low ponytail. I've envied his full and silken locks since my junior year of high school, when I first laid eyes on him. Too pretty for a boy.
"I understand why you're worried, James. I really do… But I think you need a bit of perspective," I keep my voice gentle, soothing. It's the tone I find works best with determined husbands and puppies, "I can't stop living my life because there's some 'rampaging serial killer'. It's not like we're still in Forks where I'm likely to encounter one particular individual. I'm just as likely to walk out of work tonight and get hit by a bus…" I argue.
He throws his head back and groans, horrified. I have to stifle a giggle. "Jesus, baby, don't say morbid shit like that," he scolds like he wasn't just talking about me bleeding out from a cut to the jugular, and tightens his grip around my narrow waist. "And I'm not saying you have to stop living your life but maybe you can be a little more careful."
I smile coyly, trying to make light, "Careful by your standards is locking me in the bedroom."
His answering grin is wicked and my stomach flips in that gloriously familiar way. "B, I've been trying to lock you in our bedroom for years and you always manage to get out some how," he wiggles his honey colored eyebrows and latches his lips onto my neck.
I laugh, because it tickles, and shrug, "I get hungry."
James growls, playful. "I've never failed to provide for my girl," he points out proudly.
It's entirely true. Up until very recently we never had much but he's never let us want for anything, even when it meant he wasn't necessarily working in the field of his dreams to earn money for bills and our few luxuries.
"I know, Jamie. My mighty provider," I snort rudely.
I'm not one to play the damsel in distress and we both know it. My husband and I have taken care of each other in equal parts since I was sixteen.
His expression goes cold again and just like that the atmosphere has taken a turn for the worse, despite my best, inadequate efforts.
James brushes a few wayward hairs that have escaped my messy ponytail out of my face. He looks… sheepish. "You know its not like that, B. I'm not trying to belittle you," he says so quietly its almost a whisper, "I know you don't need me to protect you but I need you. It's like self-preservation… If anything ever happened to-"
"Please stop," I beg.
I'm watching him make himself sick and I can't see him do this again. Its heart breaking. He's been on this none stop since the murders started to make the city really squirm. About 6 killings in. I suspect my police chief father's constant ragging on big city crime is starting to get to him. I'm going to have to call Charlie and have a word.
"Nothings going to happen and I wont be working there for long anyway," I remind him, "I take my last final at the end of the month and then I can put four years of school to good use."
My job at the diner was something he fought me on tooth and nail when we first moved here for me to go to school but it earned us extra money through my classes at UW and I refused flat out to sit back and contribute nothing while he pulled my weight. His contingency that it be in a better area had me commuting thirty minutes to a more well off part of Seattle but the tips were great and the customers were mostly pleasant, if only a bit self centered, business men and woman. I didn't mind the job one bit and despite it being a 24 hour establishment that sometimes had me working night shifts that let out in the early morning, I've never felt uncomfortable.
Until a few months ago…
When it became the unofficial epicenter for most of the killings; with almost a third of the girls having lived or worked within a few miles. Seattle was a flitter with news about Washington's most prolific murder since Gary Ridgway… Only this was bigger than The Green River Killer.
These woman weren't 'just' prostitutes and people actually gave a fuck about the law student, the nurse, the wife of a banker and mother of two… there was no rhyme or reason. They came from all walks of life and degrees of finical success. The only requirement seemed to be that they look… well, exactly like me. Though my features were common enough.
12… eh, now 13 of them, their throats cut once straight across, left dead in unceremonious places. Not raped, not beaten, just… dead.
I wouldn't admit it aloud but it did make me a touch jumpy as of late. I wasn't alone. This person was Los Angeles' Night Stalker or New York's Son of Sam. This guy, or woman, I suppose, was unjustified and spontaneous death.
"Well, that's what I've been meaning to talk to you about…" he looks down to hide his expression from me. I frown, getting the impression he's taking this conversation to a whole new level. My unease is only exacerbated by his long, bracing breath. "I was thinking… you know the gallery's doing really well right now? I've just commissioned another painting and pleasing this client will mean more to come…"
I nod, confused but proud. Always proud.
"Well since we have the money and the next few months are going to be transitional for us anyway I thought maybe you could take a year off…" He lifts his jaw and kisses my lips softly. He looks so vulnerable… It's not an emotion I'm used to seeing on my 6'2'', hellion of a husband and it's a touch disconcerting.
His suggestion is out of left field. Strange and unexpected.
"What would I do with a year off, James? It's not like I have a lot of other things going on," I chuckle nervously. Aside from school, work and James, I have very little else in my life. Not too many close friends and no exciting hobbies. I've always been a bit of a homebody and my almost debilitating shyness makes for an uneventful combination.
I have what James attests to be an unhealthy habit of considering myself hopelessly plain and despite what most would think; dating and eventually marrying our small high school's golden boy didn't really do anything to improve my self-esteem. More like makes me question what in the world he sees in me every morning I wake up next to a sweet, attractive man that treats me like I hung the stars.
He makes a show of looking around thoughtfully, "I don't know, B. You can hang out with me at the studio... join a bible study," we both snort a laugh at that, "pick up cross-stitching…" he lowers his voice and murmurs, "make us a baby…"
I choke on nothing but his words and air. Sputtering with wide eyes.
"What?" I manage to cough out.
I feel him rub my back hastily, probably in an attempt to prevent me from passing out right there on the kitchen floor. I should have cleaned it on my day off.
"A baby, Bella," he presses like he wants so much to finish this painful conversation that he's forcing him self through his discomfort. "I thought now might be a good time to start a family."
I blink up at him, incredulous. He's got to be kidding me. "You're joking, right?" I pull away from his embrace to glare at him. "You're so afraid of the one in a thousand chance that I'll get picked off by some psycho that you'd get me pregnant to keep me home."
His brows furrow over sky blue irises. "No… No, Baby! That's not it at all. Maybe that wasn't the best way to bring it up but one has nothing to do with the other.
"I want this."
I study his face closely and detect nothing but sincerity. My stomachs in knots. It was never a forgone conclusion that James and I would ever have children. Neither of us were necessarily the nurturing type and while I wouldn't say that thoughts of little toe headed babies hadn't ever crossed my mind, mostly after seeing particularly cute newborns with their tired mothers at the diner, I had always been fairly certain it wasn't something he was interested in.
Least of all now, with me at 22, fresh out of school and him only one year my senior and in the middle of launching his new business. He's been trying to get his art career off the ground for years and its finally starting to really take off. I thought he'd want to devote every moment of free time to following his dream.
He nods slowly, eyeing me like a particularly skittish animal. "I know we're still young but we've been married for four years now," he smirks, "that's three years and eleven months longer than any one expected…"
I laugh lightly and find my way back into his arms, which he wraps happily around me. "I've killed all our house plants," I remind him softly.
He shrugs, unperturbed. "You were never really into nature."
"I was never really into babies…"
"I think you'll make a great mom, B."
A mom. Jesus.
My minds reeling. This is way too much to process right now and I want nothing more than to be able to run from the room but he's staring at me, sapphire eyes filled with optimistic anticipation.
I blanch, "Oh, no… Stop looking at me like that. You can't just spring something like this on me and expect an answer!" I squeak embarrassingly, "I'm going to need time to think about this before I can even consider." I nod to myself, adamant.
I try to not look at him… something about his perfect face and charming smile is notorious for getting me to melt to his will. Point in case; our straight-out-of-high school elopement that went against every instinct my mother had ingrained in me.
He smiles warmly and rubs the tip of his nose against mine, "I hope you say 'yes'," he confesses. "I think I like the idea of you in my kitchen, bare foot and pregnant. Maybe then you'd actually shut up and do what I ask for once in your stubborn little life," he croons mockingly and lewdly grabs my bottom.
I scoff but can't keep my lips from turning up into a goofy grin. He makes me so happy it's a little ridiculous. "Pig."
I grab my coffee cup and shuffle to the sink, affectively abandoning our impromptu life changing conversation.
"You painting today?" I raise my voice over the water as I quickly wash a few forgotten dishes from the night before.
He follows me, like he always does, and adds his own mug to the pile before placing his hands on my hips and sandwiching me between his broad chest and the counter top as I work.
"Well I thought I was spending the day with my wife…" he murmurs, dipping his head to trail kisses along the top of my spine. "Why are you going in so early?"
"Tanya needed to trade with me so I took her day shift."
"But you hate her," I can almost hear his brow furrow.
"I do," I confirm. Tanya Denali's one crazy bitch... "But you're always complaining about me getting out so late when I work evenings so I thought I'd get you off my back."
He chuckles and leans himself into me a bit harder, pressing against my behind, "You trying to tell me something?"
I push down the faucet and turn awkwardly to face him in the tiny space he's allotted me. Standing toe to toe my head barely clears the bottom of his pointed chin. "Yes," I stand on the tips of my flats to reach his lips for a kiss. "You've got to let me go or I'm going to be late."
"Be late," he tries one last time.
"James-" I scowl.
He takes a step back and puts his hands up, knowing well when he's pressed his luck too far. I have to work harder than is really reasonable to keep my expression firm and not allow my self to gape at the rippling muscles on his arms and abdomen. God. He's beautiful. "Fine. Make me worried sick all day," he grumbles, working himself back into a panic. "You at least have the cell phone I got you, yeah?"
"Uh… yeah." I answer absently. I do technically have the damn thing with me and find no point in telling him that its been in my purse, unused and uncharged, for two weeks and is now undoubtedly dead as a door nail. I really have no one to call.
He looks deflated as I tug on my coat and grab my bag and car keys. I almost give in and stay home to get the sulking look off his face but when you give James an inch he takes a mile and next thing I know I wont be allowed out of the house to go to classes or walk out on the porch for a cigarette. After that… bubble wrap.
"Hey," I tell him softly as I go to give him a kiss goodbye, "I'll make you your favorite tonight, ok? We can sit down and talk about… everything," I offer. I have to give him something. I hate leaving things like this and seldom do.
He bends to plant a chaste peck right between my eyes and gives me a tight, not-quite-right smile. It's the most I can hope for when he's convinced himself I'm about to walk out the door and risk my life for minimum wage. Heh.
"I love you, baby."
"Love you too. I'll be fine. Promise."
I'm half way down the drive way when the door swings open and he comes running out on the porch, still dressed only in sleep pants. I blush pink and glance around to make sure none of our neighbors are getting an eye full. He has no shame.
Old Mrs. Davis down the street is a lusty one…
"Baby, at least cut your hair so you're not walking around with a fucking 'pick me' sigh on your back!" he yells after me, desperate.
I frown. "But you love my hair long."
"Not as much as I love your pretty little neck."