My contribution to the Fandom Against Domestic Violence compilation. Head on over to www . fandomagainstdomesticviolence . blogspot . com for more information.
So, small name change because real life was getting a bit too close to this little corner of the world because "Oh, I'm just going to read fanfiction. I'm not actually going to write anything," is never, ever true. No matter how much you mean it at the time. Heh.
Once again, all my love to Bookjunkie1975, Coolbreeeze and Word Ninja for beta and pre-reading duties.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight.
But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?
"Little Lion Man" Mumford and Sons
"You can be a real bitch, you know that?"
"Fuck you too, buddy," she replied with a snort.
"Oh, so now I'm the asshole?"
"Yeah, now you're the asshole."
He let out a snort of his own. "That's really fuckin' rich."
"And here it comes, folks! The martyr is here to show everybody just how wronged he's been."
Their voices were bouncing off the walls, careless of the surrounding neighbors.
There was a slight tremor in his hands when he brought them down hard on top of the dresser in the closet, disturbing the peace of the bottles of cologne and perfume that lay atop it. A tremor she missed because her back was to him.
"Damnit Bella! You don't get to do this. You don't get to just decide on your own and expect me not to—"
"Shut up." Her voice was low, barely audible and held a tremor of its own. "Shut up; shut up; shut up!" Her voice rose with each statement, with each blow of words.
With a swipe across her cheeks she turned to face him in the walk-in closet. "Just," she took a breath to steady herself, the fight leaving her body, "stop." She raised her eyes to meet his across the room, a distance that could have been miles for all that she felt connected to him. "Please." She was met with wide green eyes, disbelief roiling underneath the surface. "I'm tired of fighting about this. I don't want to fight with you anymore. Our friends are getting married today, and we have to stand up there with them and support them, so let's just—" her voice broke and she cleared her throat. "Let's just go be happy for our friends, okay? Please?" The request came out a breathy whisper. She had no right to be asking anything of him right now and she knew it.
He shook his head, looking down and shrugging on the white dress shirt that had been hanging on the back of the closet door. She'd set it out this morning for him. "Whatever."
The air settled silent and heavy around them. She looked at him a moment more before turning and retrieving the dress hanging on a silver pull of the dresser. The fabric slid over her body and she reached behind her to pull the zipper up as far as she could make it go; an inch or two remained of unconnected teeth.
The shuffle and slide of fabric as she adjusted and smoothed her dress and he tucked in his shirt permeated the room, louder than it had any right to be.
The floor squeaked underneath her feet as she turned back to the closet to retrieve her shoes. He stood there still, tie in hand, body blocking her side of the closet. Her steps slowed as she neared, hesitant to approach him, too stubborn to ask him to move. She watched as he flipped the collar of his shirt up and pulled the tie around his neck. Long fingers folded the fabric back down over the silk and he started to adjust the tie to the proper length. Her bare feet crossed the threshold of the closet, off the aged hardwood and onto the soft carpet. She stood in front of him and with tentative hands took the two sides of the tie.
"Let me?" She lifted her head to look at his face still tight with anger, eyes hard. The breath he let out blew across her forehead, fanning out the baby hairs that refused to grow longer than a few inches.
"Fine." His hands dropped the fabric and brushed against hers before he jerked them quickly down to his sides. He looked over the top of her head before he could see the hurt flash across her face.
She lowered her head and concentrated on the tie. The silk fabric sliding and gliding through her fingers as she manipulated it into the knot he'd taught her at the beginning of their relationship. He smelled clean and familiar as she slid the knot towards his throat. She straightened the tie and stepped away, hands falling to her sides.
He moved around her and reached for his jacket off the handle of the door. Her back was to him when he turned around and she was bent over, fitting the heels onto her feet. As she stood back up he could see the top part of her zipper that was still undone. With a stride of long legs he was standing behind her. Her back tensed when she felt his hands on her dress, sliding the zipper up and fastening the small closure at the top. She started to turn around when he stopped her with a quiet "Wait." He reached out to the dresser and took a delicate silver chain off the jewelry tree. Her flinch as he swept mahogany curls over her shoulder was almost imperceptible. He brought the necklace around in front of her, letting the little hummingbird charm rest against her skin as he took the ends back to close the clasp.
She brought her hand to the charm, fingering it and pulling the closed clasp against the back of her neck before letting the necklace go. She could feel his eyes on her and she stood still. There was the slightest of breezes as he turned and left the closet. She stayed where she was a moment, eyes moving over the back wall but not really seeing anything. She squared her shoulders and turned and headed towards the front of the apartment.
Her heels made a solid sound against the floor as she came into the living room. He was perched on the edge of the couch, bent over and tying the laces of the black and white Chucks all the groomsmen were required to wear. From this view he was all messy bronze hair and black suit.
"You ready?" His voice was cold and restrained as he unfolded himself and stood.
"Yeah, I'm ready." Her voice matched his in tone. "Did you let Dexy out?" She looked over at the pitch-black Great Dane curled into the corner of the couch, as much as a three foot tall, 110 lb dog could be curled. The dog looked back, her head tilted slightly.
"Yes. I let her out."
"Fine, let's go." She gathered her purse off the bookshelf and passed by the couch to rub the dog behind her ears. "Be good, Dex," she said softly as she heard the front door open.
The air was full of the smells of early fall as they stepped out of the car, the sun warm on her arms and his face. They were the last of the wedding party to arrive. Alice had eschewed the tradition of everyone getting ready together, instead preferring to have those moments before she walked down the aisle to be with just her immediate family.
She quickened her stride to move ahead of him and glanced around at the group gathered. All the men were in black suits with skinny ties in a Kelly green and black and white Chucks. Jasper was handing out black Wayfarer's. She heard Edward chuckle behind her as he came up on the group. "You're so fucking hipster it hurts, man. Tell me she's not walking down the aisle to The Smiths."
"You wound me with your words Cullen, and on my wedding day, too. For the record Morrissey is a musical genius." Jasper's voice lilted slightly with a Southern accent and full of kindness.
She tuned out groom and best man and looked over the group of girls, the sexes already separated by the photographer no doubt, in their black lace dresses that matched hers, the sashes of green silk tied under the bust of each dress catching the sun and glinting like so many pieces of a broken mirror.
"Oh lady, look at you," she breathed as she saw her best friend.
Alice smiled brightly and embraced her maid of honor. "I thought you were going to be late." She released Bella and looked at her curiously.
"Of course I wouldn't be late. It's your wedding day!"
Alice simply tilted her head, eyebrow raised. They'd been friends longer than they hadn't.
"It's nothing. It was a fight. Can we please not right now?" she said with a sigh.
Alice looked her over before acquiescing, "Okay."
Bella took her arm and led her back towards the group. "You're getting married today," she said quietly, a smile on her lips.
"I know! It's kind of crazy, right?"
Bella hummed thoughtfully as the photographer started placing people.
After 45 minutes of group pictures the only shots left were of the bride and groom and their maid of honor and best man.
Bella followed Alice and Jasper as they headed down the stairs to the side of the building. As she took a step down the heel of her shoe caught a loose brick and she felt herself pitch forward.
"Shit!" Her arms came out to try and catch herself, but before she hit the pavement his arms were around her. He tried to steady her but her momentum was too great and they both went sprawling to the side in the grass.
There was an almost silent, "Oof!" as she landed gracelessly on top of him and the air left his lungs.
"Jesus Bella, you'll do anything to get me under you, won't you?" he laughed, a joke from when they'd first started dating. She found herself laughing along with him and in the space between heartbeats everything felt normal. All too quickly the heavy silence wrapped itself around them again and she hastily got to her feet.
She smoothed her dress and moved quickly, but with cautiously placed steps, to catch up to the couple who were staring at her and Edward with twin looks of concern.
"I told you heels were not a good idea," she hissed as she brushed by them, moving to where the photographer was pointing.
He watched her move into place before looking back at Alice and Jasper. He gave a slight shake of his head at Jasper as he walked toward them.
She watched as he stepped out on the crowded dance floor firmly grasping the small hand in his palm. He found an open space for them to dance and leaned down to whisper in her ear. The responding giggle carried over the music to where Bella stood, off to the side. With a deep, exaggerated bow he took one small hand in his and placed his other around her waist lifting her up on to his feet.
"I swear she likes him more than she does me."
Bella turned to find Rosalie standing next to her watching as Edward spun her daughter around the dance floor. The peals of laughter bounced off the exposed wooden beams on the ceiling, wrapping around the hundreds of strings of white lights, infecting the reception hall with pure joy.
She hummed in response as he leaned down, hauling Ella up off his feet and against his chest, swinging her like a bell clapper.
"He's always been good with kids," she said softly.
It was Rosalie's turn to hum her response.
"You haven't danced with him all night," Rosalie observed.
"Yeah, well. I'm not exactly his favorite person right now."
"Want to talk about it?"
"Not even a little bit."
Rosalie nodded her understanding. "Where's our girl?" Their eyes scanned the room.
"What're we looking at?"
Both girls turned to find the bride behind them, on tiptoe, cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling.
"We were looking for you."
"Oh, well I'm here now!" Alice giggled lightly.
The three girls stood there quietly for a minute just watching Edward and Ella dance.
Alice turned to Bella and took in the sad smile and opened her mouth to question her. Before she could say anything, though, strong arms wrapped around Bella's waist, pulling her out onto the dance floor.
"Sorry girls! She owes me!" Emmett boomed over his shoulder as he hustled her across the wooden floor.
"I owe you?"
"Yes," he nodded. "Your husband stole my daughter. The least you can do is dance with me." He smiled down at her as they settled a few feet from Edward and Ella.
"You know, you two really need to start having your own kids so I can have mine back." He teased, spinning her away from his body and pulling her back.
Her eyes flashed up to his. "What? What did- Did he-"
"Hey, no, nobody said anything." Emmet looked down at her in concern. "What's going on? You two have been off all night."
She let out a deep breath. "It's nothing, Em. Just a fight."
The song was winding down and Bella noticed he'd danced them so they were standing right next to Edward. She felt her heart thump loudly, anxiously.
Emmett released her as the last note sounded and turned to the other couple.
"Alright Cullen," his hand clapped down on Edward's shoulder, "time to hand over my daughter."
"Daddy, you have to ask politely. What if I don't want to dance with you?" There was a gleam in her eye that was all Rosalie as she pushed back her curls with one hand.
Edward chuckled and kept his hold on the little girl. "You heard the lady. Don't be such a brute."
"Miss Ella Paige, would you do your old man the honor of dancing with him?" Emmett asked, contrition written all over his face.
Ella looked up at Edward and he gave a slight, very serious nod. She returned the gesture and hopped off his feet. She crooked her finger and Edward bent down. She placed a quick kiss on his cheek and turned to her father.
Bella watched as Emmett extended his hand, but before she took it Bella leaned over. "Hey, save a dance for me, okay? That's the perfect twirling dress."
Ella's eyes lit up, a wide, round blue. "Okay, Auntie B!"
Edward and Bella stood, watching as Emmett lifted the four-year old and took off. "Let's get away from here before they steal you again!" he stage whispered as Ella giggled under his arms.
"Daddy, this is not ladylike!" she shrieked as he hefted her over his shoulder.
Bella smiled and looked at Edward. "Well, I should, uh…" She looked down at her feet, prepared to turn and leave when the familiar strains of trumpets began playing, rooting her to where she stood.
One second she was staring at her feet and the next he was right next to her, sliding a hand around her waist, pulling her against his chest. She stiffened, but moved with him, moving their clasped hands to rest against his heart. He swayed them gently and she looked up at him, really looking at him for the first time that night. His eyes were sad. Because of her. She'd created the tightness around his mouth and the awkwardness that was like a living, breathing thing between them.
Baby, it's been a long day, baby. Things ain't been going my way. You know I need you here to clear my mind all the time.
It felt like a million years ago that they'd first danced to this song. A lifetime of tears and fights and love and laughter since a boy and a girl decided to love each other. She wanted so badly, in that moment, for them to just be that boy and girl again.
Baby, the way you move me it's crazy. It's like you see right through me and make it easier. You please me and you don't even have to try.
He was looking at her now, studying her face as she was his. She wanted to tell him she was sorry for all the anger she had. She wanted to tell him that she was sorry for being scared. She had so many things that she wanted to say, but instead she just rested her forehead against his chest, letting him sway them.
She felt his breath, warm against her ear before she heard the words. "You are the best thing. You are the best thing. You are the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Her body relaxed against his with each line and her hand on his hip tightened, fisting the fabric of his shirt underneath his suit jacket.
He continued to sing quietly, reversing their roles from their wedding day when she'd sang to him, and she felt the tension that had formed between them all day begin to slip away.
She felt the muscles under her hands tightening and releasing as he slowly moved them back and forth. Before long the music faded and moved into another song. They stood where they were, frozen.
"Let's go home," he spoke first, not moving until she nodded against his chest.
He pushed her against the wall next to the front door, one hand on her hip, the other blindly fumbling with the lock.
The ride home had been quiet, tension filled. Halfway there the tension shifted. This is how they worked. They fought, they loved and they did both with equal intensity.
"God damnit." Edward pulled back to look at the door, before finally shoving it open and dragging Bella in with him.
There was a scrabble of nails against hardwood as the dog unfurled herself from the couch.
"Later, Dex." Jacket, tie, shoes fell in their wake as they made their way to the bedroom.
She was naked before he was, shoving his pants off his hips with impatient feet.
His teeth nipped behind her ear, his hand pulled her to him, closer, always closer.
"Where are you going?" her hands gripped his shoulders when she felt him lean away.
"Condom," he breathed, as she arched against him.
"You don't need-"
He laughed breathlessly and they both stilled.
He rolled off her and she watched as he scrubbed both hands over his face. "Fuck."
"Stop apologizing. I'm done listening to you apologize for something you're not sorry for."
She was quiet then, watching the ceiling fan spin.
"Why?" The question broke through the silence sharply.
She turned to look at him. "Why?"
"Why? If you never wanted to have kids, why go through the big charade. Why pretend?" His eyes remained fixed on the ceiling.
"Edward, it's not that I don't want to have kids. It's just..."
"So, is it me then? You just don't want my kid? Because you going back on birth control when I'm thinking we're trying to get pregnant? That sure as hell seems to me like you don't want kids."
She sighed, turning her focus back on the fan. "I'm scared, okay?" Her voice was quiet, weak. "What if it changes things? What if we lose us? What if I'm a bad mom? Or I can't do this? What happens when I get fat and get stretch marks? I don't want stretch marks. I like us. I need us. What if the baby inherits my depression? It's not fair to make them struggle the way I have." She stopped then, unable to vocalize any more of her fears.
He turned, and watched her press the palms of her hands against her eyes, a move she'd done since she was sixteen to try and stop herself from crying.
"Why didn't you tell me any of this? Christ Bella, we should be able to talk about this stuff."
"You were so excited and you came home with this big stupid grin on your face and you'd just bought that yellow and green onesie and I just couldn't tell you. I couldn't tell you that I wasn't strong enough. I couldn't be the one to take that away from you."
It was silent save for the sounds of her sniffles.
"I'm scared too."
She looked at him then. "Yeah?"
He nodded. "I'm scared things will change too, but...but what if they change for the better?" He sighed, "I love you and I want to start a family with you." He held up a hand when she started to protest. "But we both need to be ready. But you've got to talk to me." She sniffle nodded in response.
He watched as a tear ran down her cheek, staining the pillowcase a deeper blue.
"When are you going to get it through that stubborn head of yours that I'm not going anywhere?"
He reached a hand out across the space between them to grasp her hand. "Okay?"
She squeezed his fingers. "Okay."
Thanks so much for reading.