ENTRY FOR THE HIGH TIMES CONTEST
Story Name: Ixnay on the Bong
Rating: M / NC-17
Genre: Comedy / Romance
Pairing: Edward & Emmett (Edward & Heidi lemon)
Total Word Count: 10,377
Summary: Edward always dreamed of a trip to Europe – but add younger brother Emmett to the equation and it becomes his worst nightmare. Entry for the High Times Contest.
A/N: Stephenie Meyer owns. I rolled and sparked for them. But only somewhere legal.
Edward: somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean
It's not worth it, Cullen. Think of your future. Your family.
On second thoughts, don't think of your family. Still, though. You have a lot to live for.
Nope. Internal peptalk not working. I checked my watch for the ninety-fourth time and continued to stare down at the flimsy implements in my hands with longing.
The tinny repetitive beats blaring from his earbuds, his moronic attempt at beatboxing along; even the sound of him breathing was pissing me off by this point. I took a measured breath, turning the gelatinous 'dessert' on my plastic tray over on the exhale. Definitely no knife required for eating this. No wonder they didn't give you real cutlery in these flying tincans – terrorism was probably the least of their worries. Ten hours in the confines of a pressurised cabin with a family member like my brother would be enough to break anyone.
Okay, he was bigger than me, but the temptation to launch at him and start indiscriminately pummelling was rapidly morphing into compulsion. I'd even written a helpful suggestion on the perky 'How Did We Do?' in-flight customer service questionnaire: Issue tasers to the cabin crew.
As the idiotic music and one-man band continued, I closed my eyes, feeling the cheese steadily sliding off my cracker.
Fuck it. Enough. I snapped my eyes open again and leaned over, ripping out an earbud.
"Emmett," I growled into his ear through gritted teeth, "If you don't move your fat elbow the hell away from my ribcage I'm going to stick a plastic eating utensil in your freakishly oversized nostril faster than you can say fratricide."
His forehead wrinkled. "Huh?"
He was yelling, oblivious to the volume because of the shit music still blaring in his other ear and I could practically see the cogs spinning as he processed what I'd said. "Fratriwhatnow?"
I leaned away from the loud display of stupid as if it was catching and rolled my eyes.
"And Dude," he added slowly after a few seconds had rolled past, "how can my elbow be fat? It doesn't even make any sense."
There are no words. I contemplated him in silence for a full twenty seconds, but eighteen years of bitter experience was telling me that scorn would be lost on him. Still, a few pleasing scenarios of brutal but imaginative death played out behind my eyes before I shook my head in disgust and turned back to the anaemic airline food. I jabbed my fork into a suspect lump, muttering.
"It terrifies me that you were the quickest sperm out of millions."
"Hey, I heard that. Suck my dick, man," he shout-scowled back.
I grinned. "Not tonight, sweetheart." Pleased with myself, I threw a half-grin at the passing flight attendant as she leaned over to remove the uneaten food. When she shyly returned the smile, I winked at her just for the hell of it.
Glancing around with a nervous giggle and touching a hand to her red curls, she smiled back a little more sexily. Huh. Perhaps this flight wasn't so bad, after all.
Scrub that. I was with Emmett, so it immediately spiralled from bad to abject misery. Noticing the exchange, Emmett waded in as per fucking usual with his cockblocking size thirteens and a sharp pin to deflate my momentarily lifted mood. Closest to her in the aisle seat, I watched helplessly as a gigantic bear-paw landed on her arm.
"Excuse me? Miss? I can't help but notice that your eyes are the exact same shade as my Porsche. It's uncanny. Really." He clearly had no idea how loud his voice was; people seated around us were openly staring now.
The attendant froze, frowning down in disbelief. "Remove your hand, sir." All trace of sultriness gone.
I fixed my eyes on the screen mounted in the back of the seat in front where the little flashing graphic of the plane was approaching coastline. Six thirty pm, local time. One more hour sat this close. One more hour to concentrate on not killing, maiming, or at the very least junkpunching him. Palming my face, I sank down as low as possible into my seat.
My first ever trip to Europe and I had to go with Emmett. I stared at little blinking plane with a sigh and visualized the pleasant mental images of the trip I'd always dreamed of, now all overlaid with huge, flashing neon letters:
Still, I was psyched about seeing Alice, I reasoned, brightening at the thought of her. It had been a long six months since she'd gone to Berlin and I missed her crazy ass more than I cared to admit. Our little sister had shocked us all when she decided to go to Germany for a year's study because apparently, she couldn't bear to be separated from the boyfriend she met at college. It was completely unlike the Alice I knew, and totally beyond me. Well, this Jasper dude would be meeting her two fairly large brothers in approximately eighteen hours or so, so here was hoping for his own sake that he wasn't a douche.
Besides, this trip wasn't all bad – at least the 'rents were bankrolling it. Further cosmic bonus: we were breaking our journey with a stop at Schipol Airport.
Schipol, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Win, made of. I smiled to myself.
The smile faded when I noticed the same flight attendant returning along the aisle, checking everyone's seatbelts were fastened and all seats were upright for the landing procedure. My stomach clenched briefly in cringey embarrassment but it was wasted anyway; she studiously ignored us both this time. Kudos. Way to make an impression, Emmett.
As we taxied off the runway, Emmett leaned his massive frame right over me and pressed his face up to the plexiglass. "Dude," he said wonderingly, "it doesn't look any different to the US."
I stared at him again, incredulous. "Firstly, fucking OW, and secondly – what the hell were you expecting, Emmett?"
"I don't know... this is Holland, right?" he mumbled. "Maybe like windmills and shit."
At least he had the good grace to look embarrassed as I shoved him off me and pulled the hood of my sweatshirt over my head as far as it would go.
The December evening washed a tingling gray wave of anaesthesia over our faces as we left the plane via the back exit, but not without a walk of shame past the same air hostess as she stood to say goodbye to passengers. I couldn't bring myself to look at her. Unsurprisingly, Emmett, King of the Land Where Nothing is Sacred wasn't as coy. As I took the steps in front of him, his voice drifted over my shoulder.
"Yo, miss? Can't I even get a fake number?"
Jesus. Kill me now. Better still, kill him. Hunching my shoulders and jamming my hands into my pockets, I walked faster, finding it much easier to pretend I was alone now that I wasn't trapped next to him at 40, 000 feet. I kept up the state of denial all the way across the tarmac and into the terminal building. Sadly, at Passport Control I realized I needed to communicate and the fantasy cracked.
"Passports, dumbass." I turned around and held out my hand.
"Huh? Oh, right."
Emmett had caught me at a bad time at check-in at Sea-Tac airport – during a rare moment of guilt over all the 'dumb jock' jokes. Emmett wasn't stupid by any stretch of the imagination, but I pretty much got my full-time kicks from insinuating that he was, purely because I'm indisputably more academic. Besides, insulting his intelligence sort of made up for eighteen years of being beaten by my kid brother at every sporting event in living memory. That's why when he had insisted on keeping the wallet with our passports and travel documents, I had caved. Against my better judgement, I'd let the normal comments slide and handed them over silently instead, but I still gave him a sideways glance now to check he had it all back safely in the travel wallet before we walked away from Passport Control.
"Okay A-hole, listen up," I said to him as we retrieved our backpacks from the carousel. "We have one night in Amsterdam, Emmett. One night. Try not to fuck this up. We have to be back at the airport no later than ten a.m. in the morning. Remember what happened in Vegas."
Emmett gave me a funny look, slowly shaking his head.
"What is your problem?" I snapped, spying my bag rolling towards us.
He sighed. "Seriously? I'm worried about you, man. I love you, bro, and we used to have crazy fun. What the fuck happened when you went to Harvard, Eddie?" His blue eyes were charged with reproach as a heavy hand landed on my shoulder. "Just chill, and take that stick out from your ass, will ya? Going to college has changed you, man."
Glaring at him, I shrugged off his hand. "Thank you, Dr Phil, for your considered opinion." Oh, lame comeback, Cullen. Finding myself lacking any satisfyingly witty reply, I opted for another eyeroll instead, then shouldered my bag and stalked off. By the time he caught up with me exiting the baggage hall, the bitching had already started up.
"Let's find a taxi, man. Fuck going native."
No. I shook my head determinedly. "No way. Embry said the the train station is actually inside the airport. We're getting the train. Come on Emmett, live a little. Don't be a pussy all your life – surely ninety-nine point seven percent of the time is enough?"
Luckily, Embry had been right; as I spoke, my eyes fell on the sign for the train station, so Emmett didn't have time to argue. We queued for tickets and although I would have rather died than admit it to Emmett I was secretly relieved when the woman at the counter spoke perfect English.
"Woah. It's a double-height train," Emmett breathed like a six year old when it pulled up to the platform.
"Are you serious?" I asked in disbelief, "Wait, don't answer that," I concluded flatly as the doors slid open, "Of course you are."
We dragged ourselves and our huge bags onto the train, Emmett bounding enthusiastically up the stairs to the upper level.
"This is so cool – woah." He did a visible double take at the passenger sitting alone at one seat of four around a table near the entrance to the carriage. Turning back to me, he whispered theatrically from one side of his mouth with all the subtlety of a brick.
"Yo, check out the hottie, man."
Throwing her a grin that should have been melting on a burger, Emmett very deliberately set his messenger bag and wallet down on the table to secure his claim on the place next to the long-legged woman reading a book. Who was, admittedly, very fucking hot.
"Hi, we're American", Emmett said, loudly and slowly to the owner of the loose corkscrew golden-brown curls and blue-gray eyes.
She lowered her book and smiled politely.
"Yes, thank you, I got that," she stated in perfect English.
"Nice to meet you," Emmett twinkled, leaning over to her train pass lying open on the table. "Heidi," he read loudly. Her expression soured. The blue-gray suddenly iced over, regarding him like he'd pissed on the table and she snatched the pass away in a gesture of serious annoyance, stuffing it in her bag.
I leaned as far back in my seat as I could and set to work on mastering the art of becoming invisible.
It clearly wasn't working. "How come everyone speaks English?" Emmett murmured over to me.
"Because you so very obviously don't speak any Dutch, you tool," I replied, rolling my eyes.
Heidi's lips curled into a smirk behind her book.
Unperturbed, Emmett turned to her and tried again. "Excuse me, miss? Is there anywhere good to go in Amsterdam? Have you been?"
She lowered her book fractionally. "I live there," she conceded reluctantly, eyes not leaving the page this time.
Now, I know my brother. Emmett has a heart of gold but absolutely zero sense of tact or subtlety, so I wasn't the slightest bit surprised when he persisted. However, I could tell that corkscrew-curls-angel-tits-perfect-face-Heidi definitely was.
"Oh, really?" he continued, blissfully oblivious to her body language cues screaming FUCK. OFF. NOW, or whatever the equivalent was in Dutch.
She sighed, lifting her gaze to meet his. "I live in the centre, near the Oude Kerk – Old Church," she clarified, taking in Emmett's confused expression. Her gaze slid briefly to mine. "Lots to do around there."
I swallowed, but she had already turned back to Emmett. "Now, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm reading."
It was my turn to smirk, at least until he shrugged and stuck his earphones in again and the tinny asshole music started back up. I put my head against the window occupied myself by spying covertly on the hot girl – Heidi – in the reflection, but was still absolutely fucking delighted to discover the journey didn't take long. As the tannoy announced Amsterdam Centraal Station was the next stop, Emmett went into overdrive like an excited oversized puppy, snatching up his things. After one disgusted glance, I turned around and walked out of the carriage.
It was dark, and bitterly cold when we arrived at the front of the station. Wrapping my scarf twice around my neck, I opened out my map.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Emmett's tone was one of petulant disbelief.
I sighed, staring determinedly at the map of the city. "Emmett, central Amsterdam isn't even large. Come on, you're the athletic one. We're in Europe. Let's use our legs, take a walk to the central square and find a hotel." I strode off, wholeheartedly not caring if he followed.
"No," Emmett called, suddenly sounding shifty. "I don't want to spend my night here sitting in some shitty hotel room with my brother – no disrespect to you, Eddie. Besides, I wanna spend the money the big C-Dude gave us on... you know. Poontang."
I stopped walking and turned around slowly. "Jesus. Emmett." I enunciated each syllable as if I was talking to an imbecile, which on reflection, didn't seem far from the truth. "We're here for one night. Our flight leaves at ten tomorrow morning. And it's fucking freezing. I'm not spending it smoking Gauloises on a corner while you contract VD getting blown by a hooker."
Stopping too, he made a face at me. "Okay then, Mr Einstein, what do you want to do?"
"I'm pretty sure it was Dr Einstein." I started to walk again.
"You are officially No Fucking Fun at all since becoming a medical student, you know that, right?" Emmett grumbled, but followed me anyway. He kept up the whining all the way along the street heading into the centre, intersected by canals.
"Fuck this. Let's take a taxi and go to the titty bar, man."
I stopped again, running my fingers through my hair in annoyance. "Newsflash. We're in A m s t e r d a m. Prostitution is legal here. They don't need titty bars."
His bottom lip jutted out just like in countless photos of him as a kid. "Yeah, well I'm thousands of miles away from my parents' jurisdiction in a country where I can legally drink and smoke and go to titty bars, and I want one."
Oh, crap. I knew that face. Petulant Emmett was like a juggernaut – when he set in motion in any given direction in pursuit of an idea, he was never able to be talked out of things without a crash.
"Anyway," Emmett persisted, "What are you, a fucking eunuch? I know for a fact you haven't got laid since you found out ho-bag Lady Tanya was bumping uglies with James as well as you."
I started to shake my head in warning at his mention of my messy breakup, but Emmett steamrollered on.
"Shit, you probably need to get your bags blown a whole lot more than I do, Eddie. How long's it been? Six? Seven months? Hey!" He smacked me across the shoulder blades, brightening. "We can use Carlisle's credit card!"
Hoping he would drop the talk of Tanya, I gave three slow claps. "Bravo, Mister Einstein. And when the Good Doctor checks his credit card online in about five hours, we'll be screwed, with two weeks still left of our trip." I watched his forehead wrinkle as he tried to do the math.
He suddenly grinned. "But it would be a good five hours, bro."
Sighing, I started to walk again.
"Anyway," I said as he fell into step beside me, both of us staring around at the quirky cobbled streets and canals, "There is one thing I want to do. I want to find a coffee shop."
"A coffee shop? We've crossed the Atlantic Ocean to drink lattes?"
Second sigh. "Coffee shops are where they sell the weed, Emmett. I want to get legally blazed."
"Oh. Right. Okay, well I'm down with that meal plan. Let's do this."
I was pleased to see that the red light district was helpfully marked on the map, and not too far at all on foot. That's where Embry had said some of the best coffee shops were, so I guided a gawping Emmett through the freezing cold streets. It was obvious we were going in the right direction, because now on either side of us we were flanked by the surreal sight of women in windows framed by red neon, all in varying degrees of undress. Some looked bored; some were talking on their phones, one was even reading a magazine.
"It's just so clinical," I murmured in amazement, unsure exactly what I had been expecting. "It's... weird, not horny." I nudged him. "That girl's reading Cosmo."
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Clinical. Right." Emmett was gazing at an exotic eastern-looking beauty in a window edged with red and electric blue neon, his eyes bugging out. "What do the blue lights mean?"
I snickered. "Shim."
His mouth hung open. "But she's so hot..."
"Go on, Emmett," I said encouragingly. "Explore your sexuality. Chicks with dicks... You might like it."
By now, the gorgeous transsexual had noticed us looking and made eye-contact with Emmett, who just kept on staring, mesmerized.
I choked on a laugh. "Dude, you are totally thinking about it! Go on, man. I won't judge."
"I thought you said you won't wait on a street corner while I get blown?" Emmett still hadn't taken his eyes away.
"So you're considering the practicalities, over letting your brother witness you get your rocks off with a ladyboy? Oh, this is priceless."
Emmett blinked slowly, then grinned. "Hey, man, what goes on tour, stays on tour, right? But c'mon, I'm only playing." He smacked my shoulder and walked off, but not without a final half-reluctant glance backwards.
"They have weed menus?" Emmett sounded like a kid at Christmas. "Oh man, I'm moving to Amsterdam."
I grinned. "I know, right? So... do we hire a bong?"
We'd found a coffee shop called Rasta Baby that I had read about on the net. It had felt beyond weird, entering this place I had researched on my laptop in my dorm room on the other side of the world. Liking the feeling of adventure, I was rapidly concluding that travel, even with Emmett in tow, was win. The bored looking girl behind the counter had addressed us in perfect English, which was starting not to be a surprise. I had expected there to be a whole lot more language barrier to overcome, but so far, there had been none. Sitting down at the counter, she had handed us two menus in English.
A red-eyed guy in a striped teeshirt barrelled up to the bar between our stools. "Guys, you have to try the Purple Haze, it's totes amazing," he said carefully in a clipped British accent, squinting at the menu and pointing with apparent difficulty. "Get the pre-rolleds."
Turning back to the girl, I ordered what he suggested, then as we were about to spark up, I paused, holding the lighter to the tip of the perfectly-rolled spliff.
"I don't know what you say at times like this. Cheers? Bon appétit? Bottoms up?"
Emmett snorted. "How about 'see you on the other side?'"
I shrugged, lighting it and taking a pull, marvelling at the smoothness. "Yeah, that works for me."
Emmett did the same and we sat in silence for a few moments, letting the weed snake into our lungs and minds. In a matter of minutes and several tokes later we were both pretty fucked, giggling like Alice the time she smuggled a keg of beer to a party aged fourteen and I'd had to smuggle her past Esme.
"Man, I've got the munchies. This weed is the bomb," Emmett declared, bending down on his stool and rummaging in his bag. "I'm fiending for some candy. Do they sell candy in Holland?" More rummaging. "Cause I could really do with some milk duds right now." His hands suddenly stilled, and he looked up at me in confusion.
"Dude. Can you tell me what the fuck I'm looking for in my bag?"
For some unknown reason, this was the cue for us to both collapse on the bar in front of us in breathless, helpless laughter. I had no idea what was so funny; I only knew that I hadn't laughed like this in... actually, I couldn't remember the last time I had laughed like this.
The girl at the bar chose that moment to put some tunes on and Emmett straightened up, taking another satisfied pull of his spliff as the strains of Bob Marley floated past us, blending perfectly with the smoke.
"Eargasm. Jah mon..." he put his hands behind his head, nodding.
I stared at him one-eyed. "Okay. I'll let the 'eargasm' slide, but – did you really just say Jah mon? Seriously? Five pulls of a reefer and you're suddenly a rasta – "
There was a crash behind us. Turning around in what felt suspiciously like slow-motion, we were granted a view of Brit-stripey-teeshirt passed out cold on the floor with Brit-dreadlocked-girlfriend clucking around him.
A massive sigh huffed out from the bored girl behind the counter. Slowly popping a bubble on her gum before pouring a glass of water, she added five sachets of sugar, muttering under her breath in Dutch. I couldn't speak it, but I would have bet Emmett's entire porn collection on his behalf that the direct translation would be Fucking Tourists.
Laughter from the stool next to us made me slowly swivel my eyes. The guy in the wide-brimmed hat was shaking his head and chuckling to himself. "Happens about twice a week."
"Huh," I said, trying not to stare at the hat, and the long blond ponytail underneath. He was dressed like a seventies pimp.
"Yeah," Pimphat continued with only the faintest of Dutch accents tinging his words, "Tourists come here all blasé, showing off to each other, thinking they can handle the high-grade. I saw that guy buy a pure spliff of White Widow no more than an hour ago. Then a Purple Haze. And then..." He brought his hands together to his cheek, miming snoring against them. "Sleepy-time."
"Really?" Emmett had been listening in, shaking his head. "That blows."
I took another pull on the spliff, exhaling a pretty, billowing plume of white over the bar. "It totally does. Blow."
We caved into more wheezing giggles. I was crying, smacking the bar with the effort to speak, until I lost the thread of the conversation, if there had ever been one.
"I have to go to the bathroom," Emmett choked after an indefinite length of time, pushing his chair out to stand, wiping away tears of laughter before stumbling off.
Sitting up in companionable silence next to Pimphat, I let the tunes wash over me, pleasantly buzzed. Magnanimous, I decided in triumph. I feel totally fucking magnanimous right about now. Yeah. Life is good.
After a song or two, Emmett came weaving back through the crowd and pulled up his stool again. I stared down at his huge shoes as his disembodied voice floated over.
"Dude, I'm totally spinning out. A hot chick just gave me a line of something in the bathroom."
My pleasant mood instantly dissolved around me.
"A line of what? And also: what the fuck? Why would you do that, Emmett? What the hell were you thinking?" Suddenly feeling almost sober again, my voice rose, faint panic swelling in my throat. "And coke and amphetamines are illegal in Holland," I added half to myself, raking my hair with fingers that didn't feel attached to my hands.
"She was really hot," he mumbled apologetically, hanging his head. The guy in the hat next to us snorted.
I leaned forward on the counter, pinching the bridge of my nose. Every fucking time. Every time I went anywhere with my brother, bad shit seemed to happen. Gah.
"What the fuck is your problem, Edward?" Emmett sounded embarrassed, and defensive.
"Oh, nothing," I sighed without looking up. "I just appear to have reached a personal existential nadir. As you were."
"Oh, okay. Do you want some? She gave me some in a rolling paper..."
"No!" I spluttered indignantly. "I do not want any of your devil's fucking dandruff, Emmett."
"Okay, Mr high-and-mighty big brother," he scoffed, "So you're telling me you've never tried anything else? Seriously? Nothing except weed and alcohol in your whole puritanical life? I don't believe you."
"As it happens, I snorted some shit with Embry when we went to see the Killers in Boston last fall."
"Oh yeah? What happened?"
"I ended up outside the venue holding on to the grass and trying not to fall off the world," I stated.
"And when I finally got to sleep after two whole days, I was left with an imaginary black cat tapping at my dorm window for an entire week. At least I hope it was imaginary."
"Dude." Emmett moved into my line of sight and shook his head in wonder. "It cracks me up that doctors always tell people not to smoke or drink, but they were all medical students once – and you guys are the absolute worst."
He had a point. I was no-one to judge.
"Okay." Emmett prodded me with his foot. "If you won't have a line, will you at least have another smoke? Because, damn, bro. You need to chill. I'll buy this one." He started patting down his pockets.
A furrow appeared in his forehead, deepening by the second.
Bad to abject misery.
"What's the problem, jerkoff?" I asked, already feeling nauseated by the insistent little faraway voice in my brain that was making me suddenly certain I knew exactly what the problem was.
"The passports are in your bag, right?" His voice held a note of pleading that had me grinding my teeth.
I gripped the edge of the counter and breathed out before trusting myself to reply. "No they are not, Emmett. You have them... You do still have them - right?"
At the sight of his stupid fucking concerned expression, the world suddenly tunnelled forward in panic. Soon we were taking out and re-packing every single item from both our bags until the whole coffee shop thought we were insane and the fact that we really had lost our passports finally lodged in my brain with a sickening crunch.
"Think. Think. I know it doesn't come naturally to you, but this is important."
He stared at me, blue eyes clouded with effort, and I was genuinely surprised when they flashed in sudden comprehension.
"Hey... I put them down on the table... Near the hot chick on the train... Heidi..."
The train. Pussy-blinded. Of course.
"We have to go to the police," Emmett said simply.
No. Do not want.
I sat up, resisting a strong urge to punch him in the side of the head. "Hello? We can't, Emmett. We're Americans abroad – they don't like drugs tourism here. They'll make an example of us. You've just snorted God-knows-what in the bathroom, remember?" I wasn't just lecturing Emmett, I realized dully, I was thinking out loud.
"I'm a medical student," I continued flatly. "Medicine. At Harvard. I can't afford a fucking coffee-stain on my criminal record. This could screw everything for me... I'm not doing a Masters in applied asshattery at some jock-college like you are, Emmett, you tool."
I placed my burning forehead back down on the brass counter in front of me. FUCK. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck.
"Heidi? Tall, cute, spiral curls, standoffish?"
I blinked, stunned, then rotated my disbelieving face ninety degrees on the bar towards the pimphat guy, who had spoken again.
He nodded matter-of-factly. "I know her," he said simply.
"Hold the phone." Emmett was sweating and his voice sounded different. "You know her? Heidi?"
"Yeah. Tall girl. Long legs forever. Speaks good English. She's a waitress. I'll take you where she works, if you want."
I considered him for less than ten seconds. Impulsively, I nodded. "Okay."
Emmett eyed him with a nervous stare then hissed weakly, "Are we really doing this? With white Huggy Bear here?"
I had no choice but to try. We needed those passports, godammit, and narcotic offences abroad were not on my agenda.
"Keep it together, Emmett," I whispered, smiling at Pimphat. I was rapidly concluding this was my only hope. "Who's officially No Fucking Fun now, huh?"
"I'm Caius," Pimphat said, extending his hand.
"Edward, pleased to meet you," I took his hand and shook it, "And this is my big little brother, Emmett."
To be honest, Emmett wasn't looking great.
"Okay," Caius said, apparently oblivious to Emmett's delicate condition. He smiled widely between our faces, "Let's finish this reefer and I'll take you there. I just need to stop off at my place first and get some... things."
"I knew it," Emmett crooned, half to himself. "He's going to butcher us, Edward. Mom will never forgive us."
"Okay," I said to Caius, totally ignoring Emmett. "What time is it?" It felt like no time whatsoever had passed since the first toke. Caius held out a huge, diamante-studded watch. Eleven thirty pm.
I nodded. "Let's do this."
We finished up the weed and shouldered our bags before heading back out into the cold. Caius motioned us over to an old-skool gold BMW, parked on the canalside. "This is my car."
Sudden laughter bubbled in my stomach again and I couldn't meet his politely quizzical expression.
"Of course it is," I managed.
Emmett was chanting under his breath as I half-helped, half-bundled him onto the green velour of the back seat. "This is fucked up. This is fucked up. It's all a dream. It's all a dream."
I knew I was being an asshole, but I was finding it all pretty fucking funny, all of a sudden. Ha. Serves you right. I leaned into the car after him. "Next time a big-chested woman offers you a line in the bathroom, just say no. Drugs are bad, mmmkay?" I patted his face and winked at him, adding "And just remember, Dorothy... There's no place like home," as I shut the door and climbed into the passenger side at the front, still laughing. It seemed like I was doing a lot of laughing.
Caius drove us through the city for about ten minutes before we pulled up by yet another canal and walked along a quiet residential street. Entertained, I glanced at Emmett and remarked he was a vibrant shade of green, chewing the inside of his lip and sweating, looking around nervously. "Pigeons are looking at me funny," he whispered out of the side of his mouth.
"Well," I said seriously, "If they're watching you, Emmett, the least you can do is be entertaining. And besides - they're looking at me. I'm hotter." I winked, thoroughly enjoying myself. We came to a stop behind Caius at the entrance to one of the tall houses lining the street. As he searched for his keys, I noted that all the other apartment buzzers bore names – respectable-looking, properly typed family names under glass: Mulder, Jannsens, De Vries. And then, scribbled over the top of the glass in purple sharpie, was one that simply said Caius.
Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser.
Emmett whispered nervously behind me. "Is this going to be okay?"
I had no fucking idea, but we were about to find out.
We followed Caius into the narrow hallway and climbed concrete stairs to the top floor. I was rapidly concluding that all the buildings in Amsterdam were super-tall with no elevators. So many stairs... no wonder all the people seem so thin. And tall, come to think of it. Tall, thin people living in tall, thin houses. Shit, I'm really stoned.
After an eternity of climbing, Caius opened a succession of locks on the burgundy door at the very top of the stairs then stood back, holding his hat and bowing low.
"Come in, welkom, welcome."
I walked past him, dragging Emmett behind me into the main living-slash-sleeping area of a small apartment, dominated by a completely round bed in the center of the room. That must have been a bitch to get up all those stairs. Looking down as my feet half-disappeared into a deep shag-pile carpet, I concluded that the place was exactly what I would have expected of Caius if I had made a bet, considering the clothes and the car.
Caius strode in, throwing his keys with a clatter onto a glass coffee table littered with weed debris. "Make yourselves at home for a moment. I just have to get something out from under the bed."
Emmett gave a low moan behind me.
He was standing ramrod-straight, clutching his arms to his ribs and rocking, eyes widened in fear. I followed his panicked gaze as he whispered, "Dude, there's a sword on the coffee table. A sword. On. The. Coffee. Table."
Caius threw back his head and laughed. "Oh, this?" He walked over and picked it up experimentally as though testing the weight, then suddenly swung it around. It sliced through the air with a swooshing sound. Emmett gave a strangled scream, ducking low.
Caius put it back down and grinned. "This is for chopping the solid hash. Also it discourages any, how do you say it? Funny-business."
"Huh. Funny-business," Emmett repeated weakly. "We're going to die."
"Okay," Caius said, smiling as he knelt next to the bed and reached an arm underneath, "Let's have a tiny bong, and then we'll go."
Normally, I would have been pretty fucking uptight about this suggestion, but something appeared to have had happened to me since the Purple Haze: I was having an epiphany. A realization had been slowly percolating into my brain, and it was in surprise that I saw now Emmett was totally right – I needed to chill the hell out.
I'm twenty years old, goddamit, and I've been acting like a forty-year old.
Emmett shook his head, hugging his chest."No, Edward. No. We have shit to do. It's getting late."
Feeling mildly amused by the role reversal, I punched his arm. "Come on Emmett. I finally want to have some fun. Just one bong?"
Emmett's eyes bore into me. "Edward." Why does he sound like Carlisle? "We need these passports, dude. If we sit down and do this now, we'll get so high we'll never get back up in time. Ixnay on the bong."
Ixnay on the Bong. Huh. It sounded like a portent. Mystical.
Or maybe, just maybe, I was more high than I had ever been in my life before.
Whatever the reason, something in his expression made me listen to him. I hesitated. "Actually, Caius," I said, staring at Emmett, "Perhaps Emmett's right. Could we just move on to find Heidi? We've got a plane to catch." Emmett looked relieved before appearing to slump back into his earlier stupor. What the hell? Had he just come alive for one moment of lucidity, to go all Jimminy Cricket on my ass before powering back down into fucked mode again? Freaky.
"Oh, right... Sure," said Caius, sounding faintly disappointed.
We left, Emmett stumbling twice on the stairs, then falling into the back of the Pimp-mobile.
As I watched him struggling to identify which key to use in the ignition, I said tentatively to Caius, "Uh, should you be driving? I mean, I can't really see."
Caius' teeth gleamed in the streetlight. "It's all good. I'm used to it. I often can't see, but Amsterdam's pretty small I haven't lost functionality of my limbs yet." He winked at me and I found myself fixating on the 'yet', laughing hysterically again, unable to stop this time. I have no idea how long we drove for but I'm certain I laughed the whole way. Eventually we rolled to another stop. "This is the main red light district," Caius said, cutting the ignition and beaming like a deranged tour guide.
"So,now we find Heidi?" I asked him over the roof of the car as we got out and Emmett fell out of the back seat. "Yo," I said to him, "Careful, bro. I don't want to fish you out of any canals."
"Yeah," said Caius, "she works near here."
"I thought you said she was a waitress?" I questioned, taking Emmett's sleeve to prevent him from shuffling off in the wrong direction, "It's past midnight."
Caius grinned. "She is, of sorts. A cocktail waitress. She works at pretty much the only lap-dancing club in the city, La Vie en Rose."
I whistled. "Hear that, Emmett? The titty-fairy has granted your wish. You shall go to the ball, Cinderella."
We walked through the crowded streets, keeping close to Caius by following the hat. It seemed like he knew everyone; people greeted him from the doorways of sex-shops, girls were waving to him from red-lit windows. And then there was Emmett, who was proving a constant source of entertainment. He was clutching my arm, still mumbling incoherently to himself.
Ah, brother. I would cherish this moment for ever.
"There are so many bikes here. So many hookers and bikes. The people are so tall... It's a nation of giants, giant hookers, all folded onto bikes..."
I Emmett's sleeve as he rambled on, laughing until I noticed he was looking seriously freaked out.
"There are burgers in the wall. Edward, there are burgers in the wall." Following his eyes, he was looking in anguish at appeared to be some kind of self-service fast-food place, where people were apparently helping themselves to what looked like... yep, burgers. From the wall.
"It's okay," I murmured, pushing him in front of me, thoroughly entertained. I toyed with the idea of getting him one simply to watch his reaction, but decided against it. "Keep it together, Bro," I murmured reassuringly instead. "Turn left..." Emmett swayed to the right and I steadied him, "No, the other left."
Following Caius and guiding Emmett, I walked through a succession of twisting alleyways, all filled with people despite the late hour. "The Old Church," said Caius, pointing to a building.
I stared. "For real? The church is smack bang in the middle of the whores?"
He laughed. "I guess so, yes. It was here first, though."
It was obvious we had reached the place. Not far down another alleyway, we came to a huge line consisting entirely of men. Caius walked right to the front without looking back promptly vanished, so I took a chance and followed him, dragging Emmett with me, to be ushered inside by the two huge doormen.
The damp heat assaulted my nostrils after the freezing air outside. It was dimly lit, full of men and blaring hardcore hip-hop. Caius was nowhere to be seen. Scantily-clad waitresses weaved among mass of bodies while naked girls gyrated to the grinding beats in twos on the neon-lit bar.
I didn't like it at all, I decided instantly, surprising myself. All these dudes of Carlisle's age, cheating on wives, girlfriends, mothers. I glanced behind me at Emmett, who clearly didn't share my concerns. He'd magically woken up and was looking almost normal again, totally in his element.
I stepped backwards, close enough to hear his attempts at flirting with passing girls.
"Hey baby. Am I cute enough yet? Or can I get you some more to drink? ...Ooh, nice shirt. Can I talk you out of it?"
I sidled over and shouted in his ear. "Listen, douchebag. They're not here for you to pick them up; they're here for you to pay to talk to them."
I might as well have been talking to myself. His expression was pure glee, eyes manic, and I was glad I had Carlisle's credit card in my own back pocket. I sighed. "Glad you're feeling better, bro," I said sarcastically to the deaf ears. I walked over to the nearest wall, focusing on the fishtank set into it and wondering if it was a bitch to clean. Leaning, I flicked my eyes around the room. Trying not to catch the eyes of the girls while simultaneously looking for Caius was proving challenging.
And then, a glimpse. A head of spiral curls.
The waitress who owned them was walking towards me with a tray. As she approached, our eyes made the briefest of contact. She narrowed hers, recognition flashing across her face in the same moment it passed across my own. Heidi immediately dropped her gaze and turned around quickly, walking swiftly away. Abandoning Emmett to the girls I followed, pushing through the sweating crowd until I could reach out and put my hand on her shoulder.
"Excuse me? Heidi? I think you have something that belongs to us."
She froze, then turned around slowly, reluctantly, wearing what could only be described as a game-face.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Brazen, defiant.
Two can play at that game. I stood still and said nothing, just raised a sceptical eyebrow. Our eyes – the weapons in this little private duel – crossed again, then locked. Inexplicably, my palms were suddenly damp, but I didn't alter my expression.
I'll wait all night if I have to. I've got nowhere else to go without these goddamn passports, I told her with my gaze.
After a full thirty seconds, she rolled her eyes and leaned in close enough for me to smell the coconut shampoo on the curls.
"Okay. Okay, yeah, I've got them." Warm breath tickled my ear. "It's lucky you asked, and not that asshole brother of yours." She raised her chin in Emmett's direction, then tilted her head, inches from mine, looking at me appraisingly. "You're cute..." she began speculatively, then blinked. "Anyway, they're at my place. Not far from here, but you'll have to wait until I finish my shift at three."
I glanced over at Emmett, surrounded by three girls, hand on one of their shoulders, head thrown back in laughter. "Somehow, I don't think that's going to be a problem. Listen, I don't mean to show up here and inconvenience you, but can I get a beer? Oh, and whatever you're drinking, of course."
"Sure." She smiled at me, her face instantly softened then she half-turned to walk off. Shit, she really is beautiful.
She paused, leaning in close again. "How did you find me?"
Caius chose that moment to de-cloak from the ether, ambling over from apparently nowhere and kissing Heidi on both cheeks. She greeted him coolly, not looking in the least bit surprised when he turned to me, saying, "You found her by yourself. Great."
"Figures," Heidi shrugged, immediately kicking three drunk German guys out of a booth in a corner so the two of us could sit and drink with a good view of Emmett holding court, although a speaker set in the wall above the booth made conversation impossible. At around two-thirty, she slid onto the velvet seat next to me with another tray of beer.
The three of us left the booth together around half an hour later, blanketed in the new-found familiarity of alcohol and weed, dragging a magically revived Emmett away. We followed Heidi out of the club to her apartment, under five minutes away in yet another tall narrow building, up yet another flight of tall narrow stairs.
Heidi's place was a little bigger than Caius' and much more mainstream-looking. As soon as the door swung open she crossed the neat living room, disappearing into a small kitchen and leaving us to enter and close the door. Emmett and Caius made a bee-line straight for the beige couch and flopped down, but I remained standing, suddenly unsure.
"Lucky you knew Heidi, huh," Emmett said to Caius, taking out the bag of weed he'd bought in the coffee shop and starting skinning up.
"Fortunately for you two, sometimes life is stranger than fiction," Caius beamed enigmatically.
"Yeah. Super-lucky," I added, also addressing Caius, "Listen, man, I really appreciate all your help. But Heidi's just finished working; you've done way too much for us already – maybe before Emmett gets too comfortable, we should just get these passports and go..."
Caius leaned back on the sofa and laced his fingers behind his head. "It's cool. Also, I get the impression Heidi's pleased to have you around." He winked and raised his voice. "If Heidi doesn't mind, I'll chill here for a bit then give you a lift to the airport."
"Seriously, man? You don't need to do that; it's okay. But thank you. For everything."
"At least to the train station, then."
I hesitated. "Okay."
Standing awkwardly, I watched Emmett and Caius talking, heads together in easy, companionable conversation. Somehow, Emmett had ended up wearing the pimphat, all earlier misgivings about Caius apparently forgotten. "Here, let me show you how to roll a Dutch Tulip," Caius was saying, "You take three skins like this..."
I sighed. "You two sound like something from an episode of When Good Boyscouts Go Bad."
They both ignored me. "Hey, man, pack the spliff. Might as well use up all the weed we bought before we leave. You can have the rest. Can't take it with us. Or can we? Is weed legal in Germany too?" Emmett's voice was hopeful.
Heidi reappeared from the small kitchen, holding the wallet. Her slim arm extended towards me, our fingers brushing each other as I took it warily from her.
Feeling bizarrely rude, I opened it. The passports were there, and the tickets, but the zippered compartment that had held 500 euro was empty.
"The money's gone." I raised my eyes; she cocked an eyebrow back at me.
"Let's call it my commission."
Wait... She's taken our money?" Emmett called indignantly over his shoulder from his seat next to Caius, flicking through the TV channels companionably. "Surely she should do something to... You know..." his eyes flicked over her body, "Earn it."
Heidi tore her eyes from mine and her head snapped around sharply to Emmett. "Hey, I'm not a hooker, asshole. And you're sitting on my sofa. Watch it." She turned back to me, eyes flashing in anger. "Make your brother watch his dumb-fuck mouth."
"Shut up, Emmett." I held up my hands. "Listen, I'm so sorry..."
Her eyes flickered, met mine, then softened again. "It's okay," she said thoughtfully, "I have an annoying kid brother, too. Come into the kitchen with me; I'll get you something to drink."
She gave me a smile over her shoulder and sashayed away. My weed-and-alcohol addled brain took a moment to process the look.
I blinked. Wait. No way. Was she...? Oh God. Yes way.
I didn't need telling twice. Raking my hair, I followed to the doorway.
She stood with her back to me, tanned arms reaching up to a cupboard and taking down two glasses. The movement exposed an expanse of smooth flesh where her emerald teeshirt rode up from her jeans. I palmed my neck and stared, conflicted – I was having serious difficulty looking away, but equally didn't want to be caught ogling her. Which I totally was.
"I have beer in the refrigerator, or a few different types of liquor if you would like something stronger," she said without turning around.
"If it's okay, I'll just have a water." I suddenly felt about fifteen years old.
"Suit yourself." She span on her heels, poured me water from a jug in the door of the refrigerator then handed it to me with another one of those smiles. I nearly choked on my first sip as she brushed past me in the doorway, very deliberately bumping her ass against my cock, which was suddenly straining to follow her.
A gentle snore greeted us as we walked back into the living room. Emmett and Caius' heads were visible over the back of the sofa, dark and blond resting against each other. Another snore rose up between them and Heidi tipped her head to one side. "Aw. Sweet."
Tutting, she moved swiftly around the front of the sofa and plucked a lit spliff from Emmett's drooping hand. She contemplated it with the same cute head-tilt.
"Hmm. I guess it's just you and me." She paused. "Want to come through to my bedroom? At least there we won't have to hear the pigs grunting."
Fuck. Yes. I want.
Trying not to look like a douche, I nodded, following her ass as it swayed along the corridor and she pushed open her bedroom door.
"So, Edward Cullen." Heidi stretched languorously on her belly on her bed, crossing her ankles in the air behind her and taking a long pull of the rescued spliff. She exhaled in the heavy silence before patting the space beside her. "How old are you?"
I cleared my throat, which was suddenly hoarse, feeling dazzled. "Just turned twenty."
She laughed. "Only a baby..."
"How old are you?" I parried, feeling gauche and defensive.
"I'm twenty-six." Her smile was suddenly huge. "And you're clearly not very observant, because you didn't notice I got your name from your passport, and already knew how old you were."
I raised an amused eyebrow at her smug expression. "Actually, I had figured that, and it's why I didn't try to lie about my age."
Heidi laughed again, lightly. "Touché. Got a girlfriend, Edward Cullen?"
Damn this motherfucking hoarseness in my throat. I took a sip of water and tried my best to sound casual.
"Nope." It was the truth, more's the pity.
Emmett was right - since Tanya had cheated on me in pretty spectacular fashion last summer, I had totally given up on women and thrown myself headfirst into my studies.
Maybe that had something to do with how completely rock-hard I was right now.
Or maybe it was how indescribably hot she was.
I blinked. Whatever the reason, the end result was the same. Rational thought was becoming sticky as a thick layer of arousal coated my brain.
I reached the bed and stood in front of her for a moment, accepting the spliff she held out to me before sitting down slowly, feeling the lightness in my head. Then, as my fingers made their way through my hair for the thousandth time, Heidi reached up and lightly caught my wrist.
"I've noticed you do that a lot. Noticed first on the train. I wanted to do this."
Rising to a kneel on the bed, she took the wrist in both hands and skimmed her lips over the space below the palm before turning her face up towards mine, staring at me from under her lashes.
Stunned and pretty fucking delighted by the surreal turn the evening had taken but determined to roll with it, I inclined my head down to hers until our lips met.
Oh, yeah. Warm. Soft. She smelled of coconut, tobacco and roses.
She kissed me back, her tongue slipping between my lips, sighing into my mouth. Her fingers twisted in my hair for a moment before she pulled gently away, smiling. So fucking hot.
"I was hoping you would do that." She twisted around me until she was straddling my lap as I sat on the edge of the bed and took my face in between her hands. I could hardly breathe. I didn't care.
"You're a very beautiful boy, you know that?" She laughed at my expression, which was probably totally dumb. "Of course you don't. That's why I want to do – this – so badly."
As she said "this", she slid her hands over my chest and gently pushed me backwards onto the bed. I huffed out a breath, feeling her fingers go under my hoodie and teeshirt at the same time, shivering in sudden want and at the feel of smooth cool hands against my skin, which was suddenly burning up.
"And this," she added with a smile, lifting my compliant arms and sliding both items of clothing over my head, "And this, too," she continued, slender fingers opening the fly on my jeans and leaning down, kissing the hair her lips found under the waistband.
Jesus F. Christ. Is this really happening? I can't believe this is happening. I'm so glad this is happening.
I sucked in a breath and looked down, meeting her upturned eyes. Shit. She looked so beautifully sexy there, loose curls half-curtaining her face.
"Come here," I ground out, "You don't have to do that –" Oh, fuck. Please do that.
She smiled up at me, holding my gaze while she lowered the zipper and eased my jeans down over my hips in a deft movement.
"Shh. It's a present. I'm going to make you feel so good... Your commission."
I felt myself twitch, then groaned as she murmured appreciatively, inches away from my erection that had been steadily straining against my fly, springing up as she set it loose.
"Mmm. Are all American boys big like you?"
God. Oh God.
I'd entirely lost the capacity for speech and rational thought. I watched, enchanted, as full perfect lips slipped over the head of my cock, then felt her swirl her tongue around the tip.
I bucked against the bed at the sheer sensation overload - moist, firm, enveloping heat. I hoped vainly that the douchey groans and moans that I could hear myself making would be taken as encouragement, because all I knew was that I really, really didn't want her to stop. She smiled, mouth still wrapped around me, then closed her eyes, starting to suck me rhythmically in a smooth motion while moving her other hand to pump the shaft.
I watched her, stunned, mouth falling open. More groaning. So fucking beautiful. As the feelings grew more intense, I signed myself over entirely, allowing my head to drop back against the pillows with a heavy thud. My whole body was pinned by weed smoke and pleasure. No longer able to engage with her or meet her eyes I just lay there, permitting the incredible feelings to wash over me.
With her lips wrapped around me logical thought was non-existent, but somewhere in my head I still knew this was the best motherfucking thing I had ever felt, in all my life.
Dream? Hallucination? I didn't know, or care. Viewed in any light, from any perspective, this was hands-down the best experience I had ever had. Ever.
My mouth still hung open. Vaguely aware I was groaning, thrusting against her with increasing need.
It felt amazing. Just... amazing. Life altering. She was alternating the rhythm of her movements now – licking, sucking and swirling, all the time caressing my balls in a mind-blowing mixture of stimulation. The waves of pleasure steadily rose as she palmed my balls and stroked me with the hand she wasn't using to pump me with. I heard a succession of panting expletives that must have come from me, when I nearly came when I heard her chuckle deep in her throat. The vibration drove me half-wild.
I reached out and grabbed the bedspread, fisting it, groaning, feeling myself tightening as the pressure built. She didn't let up the intensity. Letting out a throaty groan instead, I started to twitch inside her mouth.
Tanya had never swallowed, and every experience I had had up to this point involved the girl removing her mouth right about now, but Heidi just moaned again and upped the pace. She's enjoying this. The realization tipped me over the edge and I was free-falling, struggling to breathe. I was lost, gone, untied and set adrift, pulsing waves beginning to shoot up my solid cock. I exploded in her mouth like I had never come before. The combination of being high and being sucked off by Heidi made it feel like I never had come before. I tried my best to clutch onto sensations, to hold them and consign them to memory but the weed was making it impossible.
I let out another indiscriminate moan as reality dissolved around me. The room, the bed, my body, all disappeared. Everything was gone; everything but this incredible orgasm that literally felt like it was blowing my mind and Heidi, with her beautiful sensuous warm mouth. She swallowed it all, never releasing me until the throbbing had totally stopped.
Slowly, I released my grip on her bed-spread, reaching stiff-fingered, heavy hands for her, trying to pull her up to me. She was still dropping kisses on my dick and balls, each point of contact from her lips causing more of the hyper-sensation.
I let out another shuddering breath and struggled to locate the jaw-muscles needed for speech.
"This probably sounds strange, but... Thank you. I don't know what else to say. That was... Incredible."
She crawled languorously up the bed and took a sip of my water from the night stand before stooping to plant a kiss on my lips – an intimate, almost chaste kiss, strangely perfect.
"Believe it or not, Edward, the pleasure is mine."
I pulled her into my arms. "You're amazing, you know that?"
Mellow. I feel totally fucking mellow right about now. Yeah, life is good.
We lay together on her bed, easy in each other's company, smoking and lazily making out until the sun came up and we heard someone moving around in the living room.
Caius had woken up first and grinned widely in comprehension when we reluctantly emerged from the bedroom.
"Hey, sleepyheads." A sly wink. "Edward, are you ready to go? I'll take you to the train station."
I checked my watch and prodded Emmett with my foot, deciding I wouldn't tell him anything about my time alone with Heidi. As Emmett's cell rang in his pocket, I smiled inwardly. I was going to keep this all to myself.
Opening one eye, he fumbled for the phone before answering blearily.
"Yello. Oh hi, Mom." He straightened up hastily as if she could see him. "Yes, Holland right now. Yeah... He's here too, everything's fine." There was a pause. "Yeah, uh, culture. There are some great museums here... The, uh, Van Gogh museum, for example. Mmmhuumm. Uh, seven a.m, I think. Listen, Mom? We're just about to have breakfast and head to the airport, so can we call you when we get to Alice's? Okay. Okay, Mom. Love you."
He ended the call and gave a low whistle.
"There is a Van Gogh museum here, right? Does anyone actually go to museums here? I mean, are they just here for cover? While people get their rocks off with the hookers and smoke it up? A smokescreen?"
He threw his head back and laughed for ages at his own joke.
I rolled my eyes at Heidi and Caius, picking up my jacket. "Emmett made a funny."
"Hey, fuck you, man." Emmett was indignant. "You can talk to Esme next time when you're hanging all the way out of your tree."
Heidi came to the door as we left and leaned in close to me, whispering.
"If you ever come back... Look me up."
I touched a finger to her jaw and murmured back. "I'll be sure to."
We said goodbye to Caius at the front of the station. He had put on a pair of gold shades against the low winter sunshine and the hat was back in place.
I hesitated, then opened my arms and pulled him into a hug.
"Thank you, man. For everything."
Caius smacked my back. "It was great to meet you, Edward. If I ever come to the United States, I will come and find you."
He turned to Emmett. "And next time a crazy man in a coffee-shop invites you to his house, maybe you won't think he wants to eat your brains. Although perhaps if it's not me, he will. Wait, now I have confused myself. I need more sleep."
Reaching up, he placed his hat on Emmett's head. "I have to get out of here; goodbyes make me crazy and the traffic cops will be waking up soon."
He turned from us and walked to his car without another word. Watching him pull away, he gave us a salute and grinned.
We reached the airport and checked in with no more problems and time to spare – even enough to satisfy my anal ways by using the showers. When we reached our boarding gate, I handed Emmett the wallet containing the passports with a wink.
"Look after these, dumbass."
As the wheels of the plane left the ground, I found I had to breathe deeply against an unfamiliar sensation rising in my chest, like I was leaving something behind here. It had been less than twenty four hours, but somehow that had still been long enough for me to get the sense that something indefinable had permanently changed.
He turned away from the window where he had been watching the takeoff, looking thoroughly hunted.
"Jesus fucking Christ Edward, what have I done now? I've got the passports right here –"
I shook my head and smiled. Really fucking smiled at him.
"I love you, is all. Emmett, as much as I hate to admit this, you were totally right. I'd forgotten how to have fun. Thanks man. I needed this so badly, and I had no idea."
As I watched a shit-eating grin spread across his face, I added, "But two more things. From now on, we stick to the new spiritual rules, okay? Firstly, no snorting lines. Of anything. Ever, no matter how big the breasts are."
Emmett grinned harder. "Deal. What's the second rule?"
I grinned back. "Always, always ixnay on the bong."