The Jukebox Contest
Title: Made of Choices
Song Choice: Unintended, by Muse
Rating: M, for the good stuff…and for potty mouths
Word Count: 7,329
Pairing: Edward and Bella
Summary: Thomas King said that "the truth about stories is that that's all we are." However, Bella and Edward will prove that it is the choices we make and the decisions we act on that will define us. A story of tumbling love, told in pictures.
Disclaimer: This author is in no way intending copyright infringement. I do not own the Twilight Saga. I do not own the rights to the song Unintended. I do not own the band Muse. I do not own the rights to the book The Truth about Stories, by Thomas King, from which the quote in the summary is mentioned. The Truth about Stories ©Thomas King, 2003.
A/N: So guys, this was my entry for the "Jukebox Contest". Sorry about the posting fail - ffn was pissed off at all of us, it seemed. I've been waiting to get this up since Saturday. Yeah, I know. Anyways I experimented in writing styles this time. The italicized words at the beginning of each segment are the lyrics from the song Unintended. This one-shot won First Place in the Judge's Choice". I'm flattered and honoured - and congratulations to all that won! Duchess Michelle betaed this - thanks, sweet pea! Read and enjoy.
People mill about the room, talking in whispers and forced sentences, their clothes bright and colourful, like little beacons of life dotting the room. In each conversation, pairs of eyes are drawn to the fireplace mantle. Flashes of their greed for insight into the unusual situation that has befallen their precious paradise shine bright in their eyes. Everyone is here for the vital knowledge that is held in the pictures on the mantle. Their shameless thirst is barely contained. It sickens them, but the revulsion is not enough. The mantle is their goal for the day – to understand.
It is a simple fireplace. Thick and thin stones make the base, leading to the mantle, the resting place of five pictures – the same people held in each picture; the same two, at least.
The mantle is special. It tells the story of love – perhaps, love lost, to be more accurate. Five pictures explain everything. And with each picture comes a new conclusion, a new beginning.
The first picture is held in a crystal frame. There is an abnormal amount of sun shining through the photo. The couple is goofing off, relaxing in front of the camera. The sun catches the shade of red normally unseen in her hair – the exact shade that hides in his bronze locks, usually. And it is all drawn together in the ruby dress she wears, from the top of her breasts to the ends of her feet. It is a daring colour, not usually one she would pick out. His tie does not match her – it is the bittersweet dark chocolate of her eyes. They do not match, but they fit. They do not harmonize, but balance. It is exciting and lovely to look at.
He leans on a table in a garden so full of life and vibrancy – surpassed, only by his bright green eyes trained on her. His hands play with the curly tresses framing her face – twisting the locks around his fingers. She looks ahead, blush tingeing her cheeks, a happy smile gracing her lips.
It is supposed to be the most extraordinary night of their young lives.
It is Prom.
You could be the one who listens to my deepest inquisitions
You could be the one I'll always love
Bella and Edward stand laughing, as Carlisle and Esme lovingly surround them and take pictures of the happy couple. Bella indulges his parents by standing around, but Edward wants to go.
"One more! C'mon, my son only goes to prom once!" Esme calls, tears stinging her eyes.
Snap! His hands are tangled up in her hair – it is so natural and loving, Esme inhales sharply.
"Please! May we please leave?" Edward begs, his hands on Bella's hips as he propels her forward, past his parents. Both parties understand that asking is a formality.
"Where are you going afterward?" Carlisle asks, eyeing his son.
"Bella's – Charlie's fishing the entire weekend away," he explains, inching himself and Bella to the patio doors.
"Ch- dad doesn't want me alone, and I didn't want to go to after-prom," Bella shrugs. Charlie saw his daughter in her dress at home. He could not bear the sight of her grown up with a boyfriend. He naively leaves an empty house for her. And him.
"Well, be… practical," Carlisle nods decisively, and Esme snorts, while wrapping a hand around his arm.
Edward rolls his eyes; Bella blushes. "Thank you," she says quietly, kissing the Cullens on the cheeks. Her lips have barely brushed against the matronly soft skin of Esme before he's dragging her again.
"Quit it!" she laughs, pulling her arm free.
"Never." His lips descend on Bella's and in that moment she's ready to forsake prom and go to her house. Edward pushes his tongue past her lips, stroking the inside of her mouth, tracing her teeth and tickling the roof of her mouth.
"Come on, Bella." He smirks. She's dazed a moment. She leans on the door of the car before entering it.
"We'll only stay a little while, okay?" she asks, batting her lashes. Edward's hands grip the steering wheel before answering.
"Whatever, baby," he says.
The yearbook committee stands outside the doors of the high school gym, taking pictures of every couple. Bella grips Edward's arm, both of them smiling at the camera.
The food is mediocre. But the students expect it to be that way – and they aren't really there for food.
The night means more to them than just a final hurrah with their classmates. This is a night of wild partying, of sneaking in the unspeakables, of trying and experimenting with people they care nothing for. It is a night where Gossip is crowned the true Queen, and her feeble consort Honesty – for one cannot survive without the other. Prom is a night full of final snide remarks and backstabbing. Prom is the night people simultaneously love and hate.
Emmett McCarty, the quarterback of the Forks Spartans, brings a mickey full of vodka. It is passed around the table many times. Emmett believes he can get away with it because of the football scholarship taking him across the country – and he is right. Emmett is the town hero.
Rosalie Hale, his squeeze du-jour, hits the mickey the hardest. She understands her position, and how weakly she holds it. She looks years older from the stress of the situation.
Alice Brandon, and her boyfriend Jasper Whitlock, take their share of the vodka. She sits in his lap during the entire meal. He fishes the bread she has eaten out of her mouth, with his. A lot.
Edward refuses to drink – he took Bella and himself there, and he doesn't want anything to happen. This does not stop Bella, however. She has less than tiny Alice, but the alcohol affects her quickly. Bella is a light weight.
Edward and Bella grind on the dance floor, neither of them caring that it looks like sex with their clothes on. She enjoys the feel of his hands on her waist, the feeling adding to her buzz.
"Do you enjoy us dancing like this?" he whispers in her ear. Bella mumbles and gasps.
"Do you think we'll do this in the future?" he asks. Bella doesn't want to think about the Future. She's too busy thinking about Right Now.
"Bella, I – I –" he stops, choking on his words. Now is not the time.
"Bella," he starts again, during a sad ballad from Muse. "Bella, I like this. Us."
She nods into his shoulder.
All around the couple, people look at them with twin looks of derision and lust. Girls would claw their way into Bella's position, and boys would fight to be cradling Bella just so. Edward and Bella are oblivious, lost in each other.
Edward pulls Bella into the car once it is time to leave. It takes a while, for Bella has developed the habit of sticking her tongue in his mouth.
Not that he minds.
Bella places her hand in his lap, soothingly patting his thigh. But the action is anything but soothing. He races home, breaking every speed limit set.
As soon as Bella is on the veranda, Edward is pressing her into the door. His lips swoop down on hers for a fiery kiss. There is no asking, there is no request – it is taking, in all its basic desires and glory. His tongue plunges into her mouth, stroking her own. Bella struggles for a moment before succumbing.
If Edward dominates in the open and darkness of the night, Bella reigns supreme in the light of the house. Edward has his back against the door, while Bella is on her tiptoes attacking him.
"Fuck, Bella. Let's go upstairs," Edward mumbles into her mouth, trying hard not to bite her tongue lapping at his lips.
She leads him up the stairs, her dress tangling between her legs and his. Twice she nearly falls, and twice her giggles erupt. Edward's entranced by the sound.
The dress is the very first thing to go. Edward pulls it down off her shoulders unceremoniously, baring her to his eyes, which feast on her moonlight-pale skin. He bends his head and reverently brushes his lips across the tops of her breasts. She's wearing burgundy bra and panties, making Edward choke as he continues his path down.
Bella gasps as he kisses her through her panties.
He reaches her feet. She only has one shoe on – the other probably lost on the way up. Bella falls back when Edward slides her shoe off, kissing her ankle where the strap dug in. She lies there for a moment, before realizing it's her turn.
She leans back on her elbows, crooking a finger slowly for Edward to join her. He scrambles, taking only his shoes and socks off. She leans over him panting slightly, and Edward gasps at the erotic look – her breasts spilling slightly over her bra, her cheeks rosy and her eyes glazed. With lust, he believes.
Bella yanks the waistcoat off his shoulders, pulling the jacket off as well. She slips the tie over his head, the chocolate silk smooth and sensual under her fingers. She goes on her knees, pulling Edward up so she can get the shirt off. Edward in dress pants and barefoot is too much for her; Bella quivers, and Edward takes over.
His pants and boxers are off in a matter of moments. He rips Bella's panties off, throwing them over his shoulder. He buries his nose in her curls, enjoying the scent. He slips her bra off reverently, revelling in the feel of the especially smooth skin of her breasts. He kisses each rosy peak.
"Edward," she moans, gyrating her hips against his thigh. He thrusts once, then curses.
"Fuck! I'll be there soon. I just need my wallet, Bella." He leans back.
"No! I'm on the pill, Edward. I'm safe." Bella pulls him back. She counts, fighting the lusty fog that is settling in her mind. Yes, she is sure. They are safe.
He hesitates a moment. He's never done anything without a condom – he's safe. And Edward was Bella's first a while ago. Both are clean. The bare feeling is excruciatingly fantastic and sensitive.
Edward trusts Bella. Bella trusts Bella.
But Bella did not correctly figure in the vodka and the sex that would affect her arithmetic.
The second picture holds the same couple as the first. It is in a simple brown frame, matted on black velvet. It is another surprisingly sunny day in Forks. It is almost unheard of. They are surrounded by their family. His parents on his left, her father, mother and stepfather on her right.
She in her white gown that does not yet show her secret. He in the tuxedo that was worn once before, two months prior. The couple is a beacon of youth's vibrancy. They smile brightly. His hands are wrapped around her midriff, lovingly, protectively.
They have the rest of their big day, their love, and their lives ahead of them. And it is forever together, that does not intimidate them, but excites them. Madly in love, nothing alarms them.
The day is a happy one.
You could be my unintended
Choice to live my life extended
"No more pictures," Bella pleads with her mother. She does not want to turn around, to see the hard edges that surround Renee's eyes. Many things cause these lines, this visible aging in her mother.
Bella's future is gone. Bella is tied to this town. Bella is tied to Edward. Bella is making the very mistakes that led to her own life.
Bella is pregnant.
She is not quite sure which reason that is causing a vein in Renee's forehead to throb. It doesn't really matter anyway. Bella had been lectured, and yelled at, and begged, and pled with since the moment she found out about the baby.
Her father, perhaps took it the hardest. He had such high hopes for his daughter – his sunshine, his pride and joy. There is a kernel of blame in his heart. He left her alone with him. Charlie, slowly has come to accept he is to be a granddaddy. And beside the blame, there is excitement.
Carlisle and Esme have taken their son's actions in stride. Esme loves Bella – she understands their relationship. Carlisle went red in the face when he first heard the news. But he, too, wants to be a grandfather.
Bella first blamed herself – she was drunk. She was incredibly stupid. Then she blamed Edward for his actions; he did not get the condom.
Edward is scared. This is too fast. The baby, the marriage…
Bella secretly likes the idea of a life growing in her. Edward is comforted by the idea it is Bella that is his baby's mother. His wife.
Both Bella and Edward have deferred school for another year. Both have been extremely fortunate that their spots will still be there for them.
Renee and Phil and Charlie have pitched in to set up a nursery in the quiet house they rent. Esme and Carlisle are helping with the payments.
What a happy, dysfunctional, working family they are. It's sweet, really.
Gossip vultures. The carrion eaters fill the crowd. Every pair of eyes is trained on the too young couple. They follow their movements openly. They want to know the reason for the wedding – even though each person guesses, and guesses correctly.
"Oh, to be a fly on the wall when that came out!" One vulture whispers to another, her eyes maliciously following the groom, with hunger. Stupidly, arrogantly, she knows how good looking he is, despite how officially taken he is.
"I heard Charlie nearly shot him," murmurs the other woman, her eyes like daggers on Bella.
Edward and Bella are surely aware of the creeping whispers that follow them, that plague their wedding. But they are too happy and in love and in lust to care. They understand what happened to them is fodder for the gossip mill. It will be the talk of the town; especially because Bella is the daughter of the beloved Police Chief, and that horrid flake, Renee.
Their first dance is to a Muse song, "Falling Away With You." Cheek to cheek, their smiles light up the outdoor patio. It is amazingly sweet.
"Bella… I love you," Edward sighs into her mouth, right before kissing her. It is his first time he's saying it.
It did not spill when she first told him of the pregnancy.
Nor did it fall when he proposed.
Bella doesn't know what to say. So she says nothing, kissing him back in a manner perhaps not suited for public eyes. But these eyes, they do not care. They lap up the displays, feeding their inner exhibitionists. They save every scrap and detail for later.
Charlie looks onto the dance floor, thinking of the moment when his daughter tells him she's pregnant. He thinks then of grabbing the gun, and shooting the fucker, Cullen. He thinks of Bella's unforgiving stare. He thinks of talking to Dr. Cullen, blaming him for his son's mistakes.
Instead, Carlisle found him – with a ring in his hand. A family heirloom, he said. And now it's for Bella.
The proposal is tacky; awkward. Bella, with no choice but to accept, is made to do so in a public setting. Charlie understands the embarrassed blush that colours her face. And there is a deep, vindictive glee that enjoys his daughter's squirming. It shames him – but he cannot shake the fact that there is a part of him that knows she deserves the slight humiliation.
He figures she got off easy.
Carlisle thinks of the moment he found the Chief, sitting on the stoop of his porch, the utter desperation, hopelessness that twists his face. The confusion and pain in his rough voice while he talks and pulls his hair.
Carlisle, ever so compassionate, provides the solution.
A ring – Grandmother Cullen's. And before that his great grandmother's. And now, it's Bella's. He can see the colour and light bounce of the diamonds, her left hand on his son's waist.
Esme looks at her son's face, the happiness and peace creating her own contentment. She is overjoyed with the marriage. But the circumstances that bring it upon her family she harbours resentment for. She will love the baby, but she will harden, undoubtedly towards this day. And to her daughter-in-law. And perhaps to her son too.
Renee looks at her ex-husband, wanting so badly to blame him. But she cannot. It is Bella's mistakes that will be destroying her life. The pain of understanding that her daughter's life is being thrown away tears at her heart and pushes against her lungs. And she will take to the grave the secret discussion with her daughter of terminating the pregnancy. Her daughter's disgust still burns her.
Each parent looks upon Edward and Bella in those few minutes. The marriage affects each one differently and still the same.
Bella and Edward continue to dance, oblivious of the four particular onlookers.
Bella whispers "I love you" into his neck. Edward's knees weaken.
They leave the dance floor, to the head table. Bella looks longingly at the glass of wine Edward has, but understands she cannot indulge. It would hurt her baby.
"One final picture!" the cameraman pleads.
Bella scoots her chair closer to Edward's at the head table. He picks her up, plopping her in his lap. She wraps her arms around his neck. He drops a kiss to her temple.
Snap! It is the final shot of the married couple. Not long after, Bella's feet begin to hurt. Edward drives her in his car, which Emmett and Jasper, best man and grooms man, respectively, have garnished with 'Just Married' on the rear window, and tin cans dangling off the rear bumper.
The decorations are entirely unnecessary. Everyone in Forks understands that Edward Cullen and Bella Cullen, née Swan, are hitched. The formality is both sweet and annoying.
Charlie has graciously given up his house for the newly married couple. His hesitancy is unnecessary.
There cannot be another pregnancy.
The third picture is startlingly intimate. The black, straight edged frame at odds with the photo. In sepia tones, the couple is shown at their most basic nature.
She wears a man's oxford shirt. It is undone, her simple bra exposed. But the purpose of the shirt is to show off her baby's mound.
His head is pressed against her stomach. His lips reach out, trying to brush against her skin. His chin rests near her bellybutton. His hair, a sickly orange colour in the sepia photo, tickles her stomach.
Her hands are perched lovingly on either side of his head, holding him steady.
He looks up, as she looks down.
This is a happy picture, moment, frozen in time.
It is to be the last.
I'll be there as soon as I can
But I'm busy mending broken pieces of the life I had before
"Angela," Bella whines. Her friend has decided that baby photos are exactly what is needed to lift her friend out of her stupor. Angela, not Bella.
"Bella," Angela imitates, a smile bright in her eyes. "Just a few more!"
"I like it, Bella," Edward whispers against her skin. It erupts in goose bumps.
He and Angela had planned this for a while. He loves this, this raw intimacy that she captures with the camera.
"Black and white?" Angela wonders aloud.
"It's up to you," Bella shrugs, tugging at the ends of Edward's hair. "Last one?"
"Last one," she agrees, setting the shot up.
Snap! She catches it, the moment before Edward's lips connect with his baby.
"Thank you so much, Angela," Edward says, walking her to the door.
"She'll love them," she smiles. Then she's out.
He nods to the door. He turns around, running back to the bedroom of the quaint bungalow.
He jumps on the bed, mindful of his wife.
There is happiness, here, he reflects. Happiness and peace.
"What do you want to do?" he asks after some time.
"Watch a movie?" she replies, looking up from the paint samples.
They want the gender to be a surprise. Bella ruled out the colour yellow, stating it was a terrible cliché. Edward wanted some sort of lilac, because babies, boys or girls, wear purple stuff. Bella argues it's too girly. She is desperate enough to consider greys.
She finds a few that match the skies outside. Edward growls. Bella pulls him down for a kiss.
The movie is forgotten.
Bella falls asleep early. She is still in the oxford shirt she took the pictures in. it is still unbuttoned. Her head is pillowed comfortably on Edward's shoulder. In one hand, he holds the remote, the other wrapped comfortably around Bella's stomach. He loves what grows inside. Unconditionally. He does not regret it.
He does not regret Bella as his wife.
His life is perfect.
He watches TV, and watches Bella.
There is something warm, around his legs. He ignores it. Bella is a furnace when she sleeps.
But it… slips down his side. He pulls the covers off.
Bella is too early to be in labour still. Is his baby early?
It isn't water that is on his legs.
"Bella," he rasps. Panic is climbing up his throat, tagging along side it nausea.
There is no response. The panic grows.
"Bella!" He shakes her shoulders. She stirs, but burrows her head deeper into him.
"Bella!" he says again.
"Edward?" she questions.
"Bella," he doesn't know what to say.
"You're bleeding." Bluntly seems to be a good choice.
She jumps out of the bed, indeed looking at the red stains, seeping down her legs. Her eyes start to water.
Edward races to the bathroom, grabbing a towel and wetting it. He cleans his wife's legs, begging and pleading with God the worst is not, is not, happening.
"Edward," Bella starts, but clears her throat. "Edward, I'm scared."
"I love you," he responds desperately.
Bella throws on track pants. Edward grabs the bag they had ready so early, because Edward was so excited. Bella was so hesitant packing it.
The bag is tossed into the backseat. Edward carries Bella to the front.
He speeds right to the hospital emergency.
Carlisle is not in this night. The nurse at the front calls him, while another brings Bella to the back, immediately assessing the damage. Edward is beside her, one hand gripped tightly in hers. The other is pulling through his hair viciously.
The nurse quietly asks for the OBGYN to be called. The page is sent out immediately.
Bella does not stay in the emergency room. It is her first clue that all is not well.
Edward stays with her for as long as he is able. The OBGYN asks him to change into scrubs before he enters the room with Bella. This is her second clue.
He has never changed so fast in his life. It hurts, this stinging in his eyes. He refuses to let even one tear drop. He refuses.
The doctor is with Bella, inspecting her. She can see the frown in between his eyebrows. She looks away, at the white ceiling, counting the speckles in the tile instead. Her eyes water hoping that the worst is not upon her.
Edward rushes in, his hair a mess and his green eyes move back and forth, between the doctor and Bella, in a crazed frenzy.
"Green," she whispers.
Edward looks up.
"The nursery will be green," she declares. It is more than that. It is a vow, a promise that the baby will come. The baby will be healthy. They will be fine. Bella remembers how her mother talked of bleeding while carrying her.
The doctor does not have the heart to correct her.
"Its fine, it's normal, it's okay," she chants.
She continues to bleed. She continues to chant. She cries.
Bella loses consciousness fairly quickly after that. Tears are still coming out, sticking her eyelashes together.
Edward is pushed back. Pushed away. Nurses are running in, a blood transfusion station is set up.
Eventually, he is pushed out.
He paces the hallways of the hospital. He cries, unbeknownst to himself. He begs and pleads and makes deals with God. He does so with the devil, knowing that both don't really care.
He hurts all over. And when he hears his name over the PA system, he runs, hope propelling him forward. That hurts, too.
He passes the waiting room, barely registering his parents, his father-in-law.
"It can't be bad, it won't be bad," he says to himself. "It can't be bad, it won't be bad."
It is the mantra of his broken record. It is the only thing pulling him forward.
A nurse sympathetically leads him to the doctor. Bella has since been moved to an operating room.
A window opens into her room. He is distracted from the doctor and his words by the sight inside.
Bella is hooked to an IV. He knows that she is still knocked out. But this time it is by medicine.
"How is she? How's the baby?" Edward's desperation is uncontrollable. He grabs the lapels of the OBGYN's lab coat when he sees he's choosing words. Carefully.
"How is my family?" he says.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cullen." The doctor begins. The sympathy is there, right in his eyes.
Edward's eyes are dead.
"Bella's body refused to allow the baby to be carried to full term," the doctor intones faintly above him. It isn't an out of body experience, per se, but an out of head experience. Edward is very much physically aware that his hands have loosened from the doctor's coat. He understands he's leaning up against the glass.
"There wasn't much we could do. Bella… she had to undergo surgery to get the baby," the doctor continues, mercilessly.
"She had an emergency caesarean. C-section." The doctor explains. Edward nods.
"Do you want to know what it was?"
Edward turns his eyes slowly to the doctor.
Edward nods. Why stop now?
"You would have had a little boy."
Edward crumples in on himself.
The doctor gives him a few minutes. Edward had a son. A son.
It is important and magical and it was ripped away. He thinks of Macbeth. It hurts him. He hurts.
He goes in to see Bella.
She looks battered. There is bruising in the crook of her elbow, where the needles are attached. Her face is still wet. She cried while she was unconscious.
Edward almost wants to laugh.
"A boy," he whispers to his wife. "We had a little boy."
"Anthony Carlisle Charles Cullen." He murmurs reverently. Edward holds Bella's delicate hand, rubbing circles on the back. He cries, for a very long time.
When Bella comes to, she knows immediately. It is with the motherly intuition she was never able to use that she knows.
A boy. Bella and Edward cry together, grieving for their child that never had a chance.
When their parent's come in, they do not stay long. They let their children, grieve and mourn in private.
Charlie tears up. Esme's head is cradled into Carlisle's neck. He buries his face into his wife's hair.
Edward and Bella lay together in the bed.
The loss of a child is the greatest thing any parent can suffer.
No one wanted a picture of a child's grave kept here. It is tucked quietly in another photo frame, of the wedding, Gerber daisies and irises decorate the bottom of the headstone.
They figure the baby was their too. And that is how he shall be shown.
The next picture is taken a few years later. The white and silver frame is simple; plain.
The change is astronomical.
They go to school, the following year after their lives are changed into the downward tumble of misery and bleak horizons. They rent an apartment. They work and study.
They grow apart. There is hardness in his eyes. He looks forward, tense. His smile is not real. It is the unusual curling of lips that people use to cover up true feelings.
His is not so good.
There is bitterness in his heart – and sadness. There is pain. So much pain, that when you look in the picture, the anguish pierces you.
She is not much better. Her smile is dead. Her eyes are lifeless. She looks beaten. And tired. She's lost so much weight – her shoulders are bony, her clavicles stabbing through her skin. She doesn't understand why she is still here, here. On earth. She hurts more than most would believe.
The daughter of the chief and the flake feels. Very much, does she feel. Her pain and suffering leak into the picture.
They sit together. But apart.
Their hands are clasped casually, resting on the couch cushion that lies between them. It is the only part that touches. It is forced. There is no feeling in the gesture.
The girl and the boy act.
First there was the one who challenged
All my dreams and all my balance
She could never be as good as you
Bella pushes Edward out the door. She doesn't want to be there. The happiness and friendliness is too much for her sorrowed heart. Neither does he, really, but that doesn't stop him from complaining during the entire car ride home. Edward drank at the party, so Bella drives and listens to the insults, while slinging some of her own back. He sits in the passenger's seat, hurling the words that strike her at her weaknesses.
She goes into the apartment first.
"Bella don't fucking walk away from me," Edward hisses, stalking closer to her back.
She ignores him, moving toward the bedroom.
"Edward!" she imitates.
"You're so fucking childish sometimes," he snaps.
"Shut the fuck up. You weren't so mature at the party either. I saw you with that bitch Irina," she replies. There is hurt in the comment.
Things fell apart soon after her stay in the hospital. But it doesn't mean Edward can fuck everything up more by having an affair.
"So? We have a few classes together." Edward is goading her. He smirks, knowing exactly what he's doing.
"I hate you." It burns as it comes out. Bella knows in that instant that she means it, utterly and irrevocably.
Edward flies toward her. There is a fleeting instant when Bella thinks he'll hurt her physically, but it passes in the next. Edward wouldn't ever do that. There is still some sort of affection for her buried deep within him.
The death of their baby tore them apart. There is bitterness inside him directed at his wife. She feels guilty for what happened.
They both secretly blame her.
His lips are on her in an instant. His tongue is pressing her lips open, demanding entrance. She is shocked – his tongue gets what it wants. She soon starts kissing him back, her hands gripping the hair at the bottom of his head painfully. Her other hand is raking Edward's back through his shirt.
"God, Bella. I hate you too." He says before pushing her onto the bed.
This is their first time in four years. Their first time since Prom night.
Bella wants it, and she resents herself for it.
There is anger that pours out of her as she tears his clothes off. His bitterness is known as he rips open her blouse with his teeth.
Their clothes, in tatters, are the fatalities of Edward and Bella. This is no reconciliation.
He rubs her breasts roughly, rolling her nipples between her fingers. A moan escapes. She grips his shaft harshly, back and forth her hand moves.
And as he enters, bare, there is relief. He misses this, and that pains him. She is already wet – later he promises himself. Later he will reacquaint himself with it.
It is forceful and violent, but when they both climax – Bella, twice – there is true release. He lies on top of her, his heart beating wildly so close to hers. Her breathing is harsh, like razors to his shoulder.
Perhaps, things won't be so bad anymore. This thought passes through both their heads.
It takes twenty minutes, but Edward is ready again. And so again they make love. But love isn't what occurs.
It is furious and animalistic. It comes from the deepest parts of their hearts – and both are powerless to resist.
Bella is on top, heatedly riding him. His hands grip her hips, hard enough that Edward knows there will be bruises in the morning.
He reaches his release before she does. Bella is flipped over, on her back. Edward's face leaves hers, skimming his nose along the path downward. He draws his nose further down, her juices coating the tip.
He is there. And so is she. He sucks the liquids into his mouth, swallowing his taste and hers. It is atrocious and tantalizing and addicting. Once the flavours stop mixing, Edward is alone with Bella. He sucks and he rubs and he goes in, goes deep; the feelings of his slick mouth and talented fingers are too much.
Bella moans and thrashes. It is a powerful orgasm, one that rocks her to her very core.
Edward pulls up, pulls Bella close. It is the first time he stays in the same bed as her for over a year and a half. Bella doesn't realize the feeling of him beside her is one that she has missed.
Edward uses Bella's breast as his pillow. He is comforted by the steady beat of her heart. He is surprised by the relaxation that settles over him.
Perhaps things will get better. Bella suddenly is overwhelmed with hope.
Edward harbours the elation in the togetherness he senses.
Perhaps things will get better.
The final picture. The frame is gold, nothing ornate despite what the colour calls for.
There again is another change from one picture to another. He holds her loosely, around the shoulders. His eyes contain an excruciating amount of guilt and hope. Her hand rests on his, her other arm wrapped around his midriff. She smiles, slightly. It looks like the first real smile her mouth has enacted in a long while. It is stiff at the corners, her teeth show too much. It is unnatural, but normal.
She tries. There is a feeling of survival, of waking up that is shown. Her eyes are brighter, presenting a change.
He looks, not quite at the camera; his eyes slide to her.
This picture was taken a month after the one before. A month is not so long a time, but hope has a magic, a spark that does not easily fade.
It is the last picture.
You should be the one I'll always love
Edward and Bella try. There is strength that grief and sorrow and mourning and bitterness tried to extinguish. Not that it doesn't succeed, at times, but the anger is never the true victor.
Edward and Bella are working together. They reconnect. They relearn each other. Each pain, each wound is slowly turning from the sickly open sore to one of a scab. A scar is forever, but the pain in the Now lessens.
Bella laughs. It isn't forced, it isn't malicious. Edward watches, truly watches Bella. He sees her wiggle her ass as she cooks. He sees her dance and sing into her hairbrush, when she believes he's reading on the bed.
Bella opens up to Edward again. Edward opens up to her. The hardest thing he has ever done was open up enough to tell her he blamed her for the death of their child. She accepts, the confirmation doing nothing for her. She has known for a long time his feelings toward their loss.
Edward wants children again, one day. Bella is scared, hesitant and nervous the same thing will happen again. She can't bear that loss again.
She so badly wants a child it will kill her if anything were to happen. So they wait. Their words of comfort for one another help them deal with their contention.
They see a counsellor for their… reconnection. It helps. It makes them angry. Zafrina Perez, their therapist, believes that their love is stronger than anything that may hinder them. She documents their changes and progress with pictures.
It is a strange thing to her that the Cullens never divorced after the tragedy. She sees hope. She takes the pictures, to visibly notice their transformation.
Edward and Bella agree.
It snows, an unusual occurrence in Seattle, but it snows. There is just enough for the roads to become the dangerously slippery things of the North. Bella and Edward drive home, to Forks. It will be a Christmas at Carlisle's and Esme's.
"Bella…" it is the long unclear silences that confuse Edward. Once, in the past, Edward and Bella would have been able to fill the silences with laughter and jokes. And in the nearer past, it would have been filled with barbed words and thorny comments. He feels like the insults would be better than this… in between. It unsettles him.
"Mhm?" she asks, her gaze focused outside, looking out to the darkening route, seemingly. But her eyes are trained on Edward's reflection in the night ride. She sees his hand go a paler white as he grips the steering wheel once.
"I'm… just. I don't know what to say," he stutters.
"The truth; it usually works," she replies.
"I'm… relieved. I'm happy we're trying to work this out. I'm scared, because the future seems so frail. I want you back with me," he's rambling and continuing every thought and doubt pouring out of his mouth.
"Oh, Edward," she gasps. She doesn't know what to say.
His name shuts him up. A silence, suddenly so burdened with words, makes Edward wish for him to have kept the boiling mass of words to himself.
"Bella, why did you stick around?" he blurts. "I was a nasty fucker…"
"I know. But I felt…" she chokes, clears her throat. "I felt like I deserved it. God, it killed me when he died. And I know you blamed me-"
"Bella, I never did." His lie hangs weakly from his lips.
"Don't." she holds up her hand. "I did, too. I thought it was, well, a just punishment."
"Oh, Bella. I was such a horrid bastard. I don't think I will ever-" he runs his hand through his hair, pulling hard at the ends.
"You can forgive you. I forgave you." She nods, encouragingly.
"Bella. I was so… fuck!" he gasps. "I was so happy when you first told me you were pregnant. I was more fucking proud than any other eighteen year old. I knew for a long time that I figured my future was tied to you. I resented the baby, too, for a little bit. But the thought…" He coughs. "The thought of my baby growing inside of you, it made me fucking tingly." He laughs weakly.
Bella starts to cry, the tears running down her face slowly. Some are trapped in her jacket, and others in her mouth, but she knows each has landed on her heart.
"Bella, I fucking panicked when I found out I lost my child. But then a deep rooted fear of losing you took hold. I lashed out, like a bastard, and pushed you away. And the farther you went, I fucking hated me more and I pushed harder."
Bella stayed silent, sure that if she talked he'd clue into her tears. He had hated, for so long, the sight of her crying. But he once took a sick pleasure in it.
"I'm sorry, Bella." It isn't the first time he has apologized. The first was the morning after the sex. He whispered it into her hair. He had apologized for the little things each day since. But each 'I'm sorry' carried the remorse for greater misdeeds. This apology means something more, said in the darkness of the night it is revealed.
"I'm sorry, Edward." Bella has never apologized before. Her remorse is shown in how she cares for him again.
She leans over the centre console, placing a gentle kiss to his cheek. It isn't the first time she has shared such simple gestures with him. Bella and Edward haven't had sex since that culminating night.
Edward shivers from the sensation. His skin breaks out simultaneously in sweat and goose bumps. It is so hard for his eyes to stay focused on the road. In response to her kiss, he places his hand on her thigh. She trembles.
They stay in the solitude of the car, the release of the pain comforting them. He rubs her thigh, drawing peace from the action.
Her head leans against the window. She isn't sleeping – her hand is rubbing circles on his.
The snow slowly steadily grows thicker. What little visibility that is offered in the night is diminished.
The lights in the other lane flash, sharp right sharp left. There is no stopping it.
Edward doesn't see it.
People say that they were still arguing and fighting when it happened.
They also say that those poor people didn't need anything else to ensue.
The people talk and pass stories, each more incredulous than the last. This is the story that tops the last – the one of the poor baby dying. And before that, the wedding. Those poor, poor people, they whisper, false sensitivity and compassion lacing their tone, nothing worse could have happened.
It is her father that was first on the scene. And he is the first to leave, demanding a deputy come. He leaves, vomiting in the bush, the image of blood and snow stuck in his head absolutely.
Three people between two cars. And none of them survived.
The same people who showed up at the wedding attend their funeral. Truly, people flock from all over, for the poor star-crossed lovers.
It is most unfortunate that the Cullens and the Swans have lost everything. It began with their children leaving prematurely, to start a family too soon. And it ended with their children passing away, while on the mend. No one denies that their family has been put through the ringer continuously.
No one denies that the strange occurrences surrounding their families all lead up to one thing; that this, this tantamount ending, was what was always in store for them.
It takes a truly malicious, heartless person to say such a thing. And it is passed along at their funeral.
There is pain in the eyes of Esme and Carlisle Cullen. It burns deep inside of them. They have no one left.
Charlie Swan holds on desperately to his ex-wife, she who looks so similar to his pride and joy. Renee is lost.
They are buried near their child. One parent on each side of their boy.
It was the baby that brought them together once.
It drove them apart, leaving them in a state of mourning.
And finally, too close to their end, Bella and Edward are released from their pain and grief by their understanding.
What if Bella had forced Edward and the condom issue? What would have happened had she calculated correctly?
Had the baby not passed?
The choices and what ifs surround this couple.
But Bella and Edward are at peace. Charlie and Esme and Carlisle like to believe that they are in paradise, with the child that was taken away without them actually ever knowing him.
It is the understanding that all three will have their Christmas dinner, tomorrow, together.
It is Esme's fireplace mantle that is the shrine to her son, to her daughter-in-law.
It faces the kitchen table.
Her children will attend Christmas.
A/N: So, what do you think? Thanks for reading :) This story is complete - I didn't change the setting when I first posted (like an idiot), and I can't until ffn has been fixed. Please be fixed soon? Kay, thanks.