Story title: Forgive us our sins
Genre: Drama, Romance
Word count: 3,500
Summary: "My beloved is mine, and I am his..."
Carlisle and Edward explore passion, love, and boundaries. Slash. AH.
A/N: Please be advised that this story may be offensive to certain readers. Kindly discontinue reading should exploration of human sexual nature within the context of the church be at all objectionable to you.
Thanks to my pre-readers and beta for their help.
All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express authorization.
I shut my office door softly and wandered through the darkened church, checking that doors were locked tightly for the night. My last stop was the sanctuary, only dimly lit now that the choir had finished practicing and had gone nearly an hour ago.
Breathing in deeply, I moved quietly through empty space, enjoying the cloying scent of incense that inevitably lingered and the look of the ornate stained glass, hues muted for lack of light.
Edward, the love of my life, would be meeting me in front of the church in—I checked my watch—about 10 minutes. That meant I had a few moments to relax and enjoy the deserted space. Perfectly calm. Peaceful.
Taking such time for quiet reflection would be even more necessary after I became fully ordained, lest I forget the reason for my work. I'd started my career as a physician, but within a few years of finishing medical school I realized there was so much that I hadn't a prayer of healing with a scalpel and stethoscope. After returning to graduate school to study divinity, I was now completing the final steps necessary to become an Episcopalian priest.
My footsteps on the stone floor echoed as I walked to the center aisle. Crossing myself in the customary fashion, I offered a quick prayer of thanks and sat down in a nearby pew. Trying to ignore the pulpit that only served to remind me of work I hadn't yet finished for an upcoming service, I instead focused on the cross hanging heavily above the altar.
Closing my eyes, I settled into the silence, suddenly a bit tired and more than a little grateful that Edward and I would soon be on our way home. He was in his final year of his own degree and his thesis was keeping him busy. I hoped his evening in the theology school library had been successful.
I wondered if I could convince him to make it an early night. It had been a long day and I could stand to be wrapped up in his arms for awhile. I smiled to myself as I remembered the feel of his embrace.
I suppose I must have lost track of time because the next thing I knew, I heard the thick door to the sanctuary open and close, followed by the sound of footsteps I'd recognize in my sleep. Edward quietly took a seat behind me, and, without turning around, I inhaled, smelling the traces of his cologne mingled with the fragrance of candles, frankincense, and mustiness present in every centuries-old church.
The ancient wooden pew creaked as Edward shifted to lean forward and whisper something in my ear that I knew to be decidedly less sacred than our context would suggest.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned..." he breathed, before kissing me just below my ear.
I admonished him all the while tilting my head so he could have better access to my neck.
"I've always wanted to say that," he admitted, nibbling at my earlobe.
"Edward, shhh," I tried not to let his actions and words affect me, yet my tranquil mood evaporated and as my body began to awaken from his touch.
"Missed you today," he told me, leaning around me to kiss the side of my mouth.
"Me too," I admitted. "I was just thinking about how I couldn't wait to go to bed tonight."
I quickly corrected him after I heard his rather strangled groan. "No, that's not what—"
But before I could finish, he had jumped out of his pew and moved to the one in front of me. Kneeling to face me, he pulled me to him to kiss him deeply.
Struggling to free my mind from the delightful haze of desire that was starting to cloud my better judgment, I bit back a moan. "We can't. Not here." I pulled back. "We should go..."
But when I moved to stand up, his arms caught me before I could step away.
Instinctively, I glanced around even though I was well aware that the building was otherwise deserted. Edward didn't quite share the same reverence for the sanctity of the physical church as I did, but his suggestive behavior was taking that to a whole other level.
"I don't know..."
He hushed me and caught my mouth in another kiss, hungrier this time, and the taste of his lips invaded my senses.
Breaking apart, I closed my eyes, and touched my forehead to his, breathing in the air still warm from his lips. "We shouldn't," I said after a pause, reaching to pull him close while ignoring my mind's warning to push him away. "It's not—"
Edward cut me off as his tongue found mine; his hands grasped my hair, and my body responded in kind.
"We're not doing anything wrong. What could be holier than kissing a priest?" he teased.
"I'm not a priest. Yet." I paused to clear my throat. "And I'm pretty sure sticking your tongue in my mouth and—" I gasped as he moved to caress me through my jeans. "—putting your hand there twenty feet from the altar isn't exactly appropriate."
Edward pretended to look surprised as he pulled his palm away. "I must have slipped," he said, adding falsehood to our growing list of transgressions.
I groaned, surprised and ashamed of the sudden rush of dismay I felt when he let me go. I collapsed into the pew, head in hands. How was it that I could secretly want him in this sacred space?
My mood shifted as I recognized that our love had never felt sinful before. And I didn't ever want to feel that loving Edward in every possible way could be wrong. Even when faced with criticism for whom I loved, I had known in my heart that there was nothing sinful in loving another as I cared for him. And was not the physical expression of love a gift from God?
So why did it feel so very wrong in this place? Why was the human body, raw and beautiful and vulnerable in perfect unity with another, not at home within the church? Surely it was not simply the proximity of God; the omnipresent deity dwelled in cathedral and bedroom alike.
"Where did you go?" Edward caressed my cheek. I shook my head wordlessly.
"Agape versus eros," he said after a moment, knowing me well enough to gather the direction of my thoughts. "Why is one promoted while the other banished? God is love, not just certain parts of it."
"So why does it feel so wrong?" I asked, thoroughly wanting to be convinced otherwise.
"Well, it doesn't, not to me," he said.
I looked up in surprise as he continued. "Honestly, I'm unaware of any scripture that says it is forbidden to express our love within a church. We aren't cheating or committing adultery or getting it on in front of the congregation. I mean, there's nothing in any creed that directs us to make love only in our own house, or in hotel rooms on special occasions. It wasn't wrong out under the stars last summer when we went on that spiritual retreat, and it is no more wrong here."
He paused, giving us both a moment to remember that exquisite evening.
"Besides, back when Jesus was doing his thing, churches were small groups of people meeting in houses, and I'm pretty sure some of those people had sex afterward in their homes. So the fact that you think making love here is wrong simply because this building has a steeple and some stained glass, I don't know, it just seems to me that it comes from sitting through one too many Sunday school classes based on centuries of organized religion taught by nuns wielding rulers and fear," he added unsurprisingly. Edward had an issue with nuns.
I thought through his words. "Maybe it is the purity of this space," I mused.
"You think our love isn't pure?" he asked.
I raised an eyebrow.
"Okay, well, maybe sometimes I like it a little dirty," he acknowledged. "So, is that it? Is it the state of our minds that makes church sex potentially sinful?"
He nodded, and grabbed my hand, pulling it to his lips and kissing my knuckles. "Let me worship you—love you," he amended when he saw my look of alarm. "Let me show you my devotion with my body, and I promise I'll keep my mind virtuous." He brushed his lips across my hand. "Because, as you know, it can be pretty heavenly."
"Edward..." I murmured as he turned my hand to place his open mouth to my palm. I wondered exactly what he had in mind.
"Let me." He watched me watch him as he caressed and kissed my hand.
"You can barely keep your thoughts clean on Sunday mornings," I pointed out. "How on earth do you plan to do so while being intimate?"
"I have some ideas."
I looked past him toward the front of the church.
Don't. The altar. The cross. I refused to compromise their sanctity.
Do. His heart. Our love.
Wrong. The look in his eyes.
Right. The look in his eyes.
He kissed my hand again and pulled me to my feet and into the safety of his embrace. Then in a low voice, his lips were speaking words of scripture I recognized from years of study:
"My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is purest gold... His body is like polished ivory.
I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
I breathed deeply at the beautiful ancient poetry, the love song that somehow made it into the canon. "My beloved."
The endearment was used throughout the Song of Solomon, a text laden more heavily with erotic references than any religious theme. And yet, it had found its way into every church.
"Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely." He paused. "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. For your love is better than wine."
I pressed my lips to his. How could I not?
Eventually, Edward broke the kiss, and, grasping my hand, led me into the aisle.
He pulled me to the handful of steps that separated the altar from the congregation and motioned for me to sit on the top step, and kneeling between my legs once I'd done so.
His pale skin bright against the dark backdrop of the deserted church, he placed his hands on my knees.
"I love you," he told me again. "Carlisle, my beloved, you're so beautiful."
The words echoed between us and throughout the cavernous sanctuary.
"How beautiful you are and how pleasing, my love, with your delights! Your mouth like the best wine..."
I grasped the edge of the top step and closed my eyes and felt him run his hands up my legs to my waist. My body trembled at his touch. Every movement, action, caress meant more.
He deftly began unfastening the shirt buttons at my collar, his smooth movements comforting in their familiarity.
"My beloved," he whispered after every few buttons.
After pulling my shirt from my pants.
After peeling it back off my arms.
Running his hands up over my chest, molding them to my body, his fingertips coaxed my body to life through his expert touch.
"I love you, Carlisle, my beloved."
I welcomed his litany and let the repetition of his words sooth me. He'd told me once this was his way of giving voice to overflowing emotion. It was enough to tell me; he wasn't seeking a response from my mouth, only from my body.
Sweetly, his lips traced the path of his hands, and he pressed dozens of feather-light kisses along my abdomen.
"Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, his fruit is sweet to my taste."
I released my grip on the edge of the stair to start removing Edward's shirt, but he brushed me away. He must have recognized the longing he saw in my eyes, however, as he sat back on his heels and quickly pulled his fleece and shirt over his head.
I had to touch him. He grounded me. I needed to feel his weight.
I grasped his arms and pulled him to me, lying back on the cool stone floor, and bringing him down over top of me. He grabbed his discarded clothing from a lower step and placed it beneath my head as a makeshift pillow, settling his form against mine.
"His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me..."
He wrapped himself around me and nuzzled the crook of my neck, lifting himself just enough to begin to move and press and arch along with me. Slowly, sensually, skin against skin, his quickening heartbeat and jean-clad hardness betraying his anticipation.
His shifted again, and his hand snaked between us to open the fly of my pants.
"I went down to the grove of nut trees to look at the new growth in the valley, to see if the vines had budded..."
"You're so hard." His voice dripped with desire as he touched me through the thin material.
I craned my neck to reach up to him, and found the flesh of his shoulder between my teeth before I soothed it with a kiss.
Reaching beneath the waistband to free me, Edward began stroking.
"I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me."
Unable to contain my cry, the sound pierced the darkness, projecting and filling the sanctuary.
More firmly, Edward moved over my length, my hands moving to claw at his back, finding no purchase on the smooth ground.
"I love you," he whispered. "Take me?"
I gasped a bit at his request. I hadn't realized how far he wanted to go.
He sucked and lapped at my Adam's apple, the side of my neck, my jaw, while I closed my eyes and tried to think.
"My beloved is mine and I am his."
He paused to breathe and try again. "Please. I love you. You are beautiful, my beloved. We are beautiful. This is beautiful." He kissed me earnestly. "Take me."
My beloved is mine and I am his.
"I don't have...we don't..." We didn't have what we needed anyway. There was no way.
"I do," he confessed quietly, studying my face. "So we can."
We could. And we probably wouldn't get struck by lightning doing it. But could I really take my place in the pulpit the following Sunday knowing what we'd done?
My beloved is mine and I am his.
I looked at Edward.
My beloved is mine and I am his.
I nodded slightly.
My beloved is mine and I am his.
Edward quickly climbed off me, and I sat up to watch him head to the front pew where he had stashed his backpack. Sure enough, moments later he returned with the necessary supplies and set them on the top step, pulling me back up into his arms. My hands found his hair while he grasped my flesh, and our remaining clothing was soon put aside.
"Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits."
I found myself on my knees tasting him, savoring the flavor of his desire.
I watched his parted lips as he studied mine swallowing his flesh.
"Until the day breaks and the shadows flee,
I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you."
He fell to the ground before me. "Take me," he requested again, before kissing me and lying back against the stone floor.
Overcome by the sight of him spread before me, his legs and knees bent, an open invitation, I began to ready him with the necessary moisture. His body surrendered to my fingers, our hearts beating in heightened rhythm.
"My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
My heart began to pound for him."
I groaned, the ancient words rife with entendre, and stroked myself as I stretched him. When we were both ready; I located our condom and added lubricant to both of our lengths before preparing to enter him.
My beloved is mine and I am his.
He stroked himself as I joined with his body, sliding into the tight hold of my beloved.
"I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the bolt."
The sight of him working his own flesh ever the aphrodisiac, my cautious movements soon gave way to eager thrusts. His hands on his glistening length and my shoulder, my thigh, pressed to my chest as I was trained on bringing us both the intense pleasures of the flesh we were given. A perfect fit, a perfect union, a perfect gift.
My beloved is mine and I am his.
Flushed skin against the cool ground, bodies intent on reaching completion through each other, we grasped and stroked and gave.
"For love is as strong as death... It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame."
Edward's voice became more frantic, his words more desperate, strained, and I was unable to keep my movements from becoming increasingly erratic as the coil in my stomach began to burn. The moment of completion approached, that brief time when the world stops spinning and the divine is entirely visible behind tightly closed lids.
I embedded myself within my beloved and followed after him, succumbing to the tight heat and blatant need, rising, rising, rising.
It was only afterward when tremors called us back to earth that our bodies again acknowledged their human forms.
"That was... divine," Edward said, his voice thick, as I rolled off him.
"I was inspired." I caressed his cheek, and leaned over to kiss him before collapsing back against the cool floor. "And not just by Solomon."
"Now you'll never forget how you love me when you're up here," he said softly.
"That was never a problem," I told him as I pulled him to lie against my chest.
When the hardness of the floor and coolness of the air finally won out over our tender touches and tired limbs, we rose to clean up and dress for the walk home, both of us quieted and calmed by our release.
After I zipped up my jacket and handed Edward his fleece, we walked to the back of the sanctuary to leave. Edward flicked off the remaining lights as I went to open the door to the front of the church.
It wouldn't budge.
"That's weird." I pushed again.
Edward came up behind me. "I locked it," he admitted, unlatching it and opening it for me. I narrowed my eyes, and he had the decency to look sheepish. "Just in case. It's not like I planned it, exactly. I just...hoped...that maybe... one day..."
Shaking my head, I held open the door for him, locking it behind us. "Oh, by the way, I'm going to put you down to read the Old Testament passage on Sunday morning."
He didn't know it, but he'd quoted part of this week's liturgy as we had made love before the altar.
I hoped he'd have the decency to blush hotly as he recalled this evening's activities as he read God's words aloud to the congregation.
It would serve him right.
After all, I doubted I'd ever again be able to read the text without the image of Edward spread before me leaping into the forefront of my mind.
I had a feeling it was definitely going to become one of my very favorite passages.