Happy birthday, YellowGlue/Sarah!
So, in case you missed it, there's this girl Sarah. You probably know her as yellowglue, and if you don't, you should. Oh look, here she is! http:/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/u/2041943/YellowGlue
She had mentioned in this post ( http:/yellowglue(dot)tumblr(dot)com/post/6502691236 ) that she wanted to read something specific for her birthday. So I took the bait and this is what happened. Graphic violence ahead.
Hope you enjoy, LittleStar. Happy birthday.
I'm a guy that loves purple. I know it's not the most masculine color – my classmates in school made sure I understood that. But the merciless taunting only served to endear it to me more. Purple was beautiful and it deserved to be loved. It was a blend of cool and warm, sunburn and frostbite, and it could go anywhere, and say anything. When seen beside light, summerfresh green, it became sweetness, a dripping grape popsicle in a tiny tan hand. Together with flaming orange, it sang of laughter, sunsets, the color of smoke easing off new campfires. Paired with nightshade black, purple was a warning, a burst of something fearsome and uncontrolled.
What can I say? I was an artist from my birth, and artists felt what they loved.
I loved purple.
Everywhere except blooming under my fiancee's skin.
So when she walked in the door of our loft apartment, wincing and holding her right hand out loosely in front of her, I thought I knew what had happened. It had happened so many times before.
I followed her into the kitchen and got the bag of peas from the freezer while she shed her messenger bag and sat at the table. Neither of us could stand peas, so this bag was our preferred ice pack.
"What was it this time, Bellyblue? A staircase? A curb? Crack in the sidewalk?"
She hissed as I applied the bag of frozen veggies to her knuckles, a dull lavender at their center surrounded by pink flames of pain, belying the angry plum bruise that would surely show in a day or two.
"Uh, neither," she said quietly.
"Vending machine?" I ventured.
She laughed. "Stop teasing, I was so high when that happened."
I knew. I had been right next to her, laughing at her frustration when the peanut-butter crackers got cold feet and refused to leap from their perch in the vending machine. That was the night I learned that You Don't Get Between Bella and Her Munchies. She got in two front kicks and a right hook before I slipped in enough quarters to buy the crackers behind hers, and both fell into the bottom of the machine. Back in our hotel room, Bella had all but finished the second pack before we noticed her knuckles were bloody. We kept her hand in the ice bucket half the night – not an easy feat while you're having sex - but she still had to hold her flowers in her left hand, gauze wrapped around her right at my sister's wedding the next day.
"So, what then?" I ask lightly, wrapping the cold bag around her hand as it started to thaw.
"You …" She shook her head. "I don't want to say."
I laughed. "That bad, huh? You know you just have to reach under that sneeze guard on the salad bar, right, Bella?"
She snorted and smacked me playfully with her free hand.
I kissed the top of her head and she winced.
"Shit, baby," I nuzzled her hair, "what happened?"
She heaved a thick sigh. "You have to promise me you won't freak out."
My heart started pounding. That phrase never preceded something good. No one ever said, "Promise me you won't freak out, but I rolled you a joint and baked peanut butter cookies and when those are gone, I'm going to give you a twenty-minute blowjob."
"I won't freak out, baby."
I knew I was lying before the words even had a sound to cling to.
I knew this had to do with a guy. And as her future husband, I reserved my right to lose my shit if any man so much as looked at her the wrong way. And there was no right way.
"So, study group went fine, we finished chapter 14 … finally." She slumped her shoulders forward in relief. She ran an English Lit study group for some of her fellow undergrads who were struggling with the material. She said she did it to keep her skills sharp, but I knew the real reason: she did it in order to enforce more Keats and Austen on the world. She loved the written word more than anything, and balked at the thought that anyone in her class might not feel as deeply about Miles Coverdale from Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance as they did about somebody called "The Situation".
"So, Alice, Garrett and Kate left first, and that guy Jake was helping me get all my books together. You remember Jake, he's the one who I thought was looking at me funny?"
Yeah, I knew Jake. I swallowed the thickness rising in my throat and nodded.
"Well, I guess I was right. He kind of ..." she inhaled deeply, as though recounting the incident was troubling to her. That fact in itself was troubling to me.
"He kind of stood in front of the door and asked me out."
I took a deep breath to mask the tension that felt like broken glass in my heart, grinding and scraping inside my chest.
"And what did you say?"
"I said no, of course, silly! I told him it was sweet, but I wasn't interested."
"Why didn't you tell him you had a fiance?" I asked.
"Because that has nothing to do with it," she shook her head as she spoke. "I wouldn't have agreed to a date with him even if I wasn't engaged to you already. It wouldn't have been honest to use you as a scapegoat. I wanted to be clear."
I wish she had invoked my name. He would have backed off if he knew another man was involved. It was the only way I could defend her when I was away from her.
She swallowed and looked down.
"He said he didn't care if I wasn't interested. So I told him that I cared, and I was leaving, and I asked him to get out of my way."
But he didn't.
"But he didn't."
Her words echoed my thoughts perfectly. Well, perfectly in one sense. I doubted she was planning how to impress her knuckles on Jacob Black's face too.
"He sort of … tried to kiss me."
My stomach lurched, and a ringing shot through my ears. The thought of his lips touching hers was more than revolting, more than upsetting. It was ominous.
"So I punched him."
I didn't know I was sneering until the image of my delicate little sparrow punching the hulking beast evoked a snorting laugh.
She smiled at me and shook her head. "Shut up."
"That explains the hand, baby," I kept my voice even as I took the frozen peas off her knuckles to give them a rest from the intensity of the cold. "What about the bump on your head?"
"Well ..." she exhaled again. "I guess my fist in his face didn't stun him much. He grabbed me by the neck and spun me around, pushing me up against the wall next to the door. There was a thermostat on the wall there, that's how I got this," she said as she tenderly patted the small lump under her scalp.
The ringing in my ears had become a hurricane. My fists were clenched hard as stones, and I ground my teeth against the fury rising.
"He said something like, 'Listen, you little bitch -'," she paused to shudder, "and then some other students knocked on the door to use the study lounge. He just let go of my throat and walked out. And Edward, would you please stop snorting like The Incredible Hulk who's about to change? You promised you wouldn't freak out."
I hadn't noticed I was snorting. But it made sense. Telling me that Jacob Black had not only tried to kiss my fiancee, but had roughed her up, was like showing the bull a red flag. I was filled with a seething, destructive rage that burned in my veins like lava.
Thankfully, I was also a good actor. I kept breathing. I stayed seated. I brought my hand up behind Bella to rub her back with soothing strokes, instead of exploding like a roman candle and bathing in the blood of the monster who dared to lay a hand on my happiness.
"You know that's assault, don't you? You can press charges," I offered quietly.
"I know," she nodded. "I'll think about it."
That meant she would do nothing.
She was embarrassed by attention, even when it was necessary. She wouldn't voluntarily bring charges if it meant having to tell the story to strangers, again and again, and possibly go to court.
She would let him get away with it.
I would not.
That night I couldn't resist the need to touch her. I knew it wasn't exactly the most gentlemanly thing to do with an injured girlfriend, but the urge to claim her, to reaffirm exactly how many ways she was mine, was simply too strong. She sensed my intentions as we were getting ready for bed, and disrobed quickly, sliding backwards onto the bed, beckoning me silently with her finger. I was instantly on top of her, my hungry kisses an impassioned prayer, telling her what I could not find the words to say. Hovering over her body, supporting my weight on my elbows, I left a path of slow, gentle, open mouthed kisses across her neck and collarbone, wishing I could devour the cruel touch that her attacker had left there. Her eyes closed softly, her head fell to the side, and a long, low hum of sweet pleasure vibrated from her throat. I tried to pour all my thoughts into each kiss as I moved my head down between her breasts, sucking gently at the skin underneath them, so pale and smooth.
My sweetest, my little lilac blossom, my heartbeat. Can you hear me?
I brought my mouth to her side, nuzzling into her ribs with nipping kisses that were close enough to tickles to make her squirm and giggle.
Can you feel how very deeply I love you?
My hands slid up her sides to cup her breasts, holding them in my warm palms as I kissed her right hip before licking a slow line across her tattooed belly to the left one.
You're mine, my one and only love, and I am yours. Always.
Her body rose up to meet my mouth, her breath fast and tinged with a note of pleading anticipation.
No one else will ever touch you like this. No one but me.
Sliding aubergine panties down legs the color of moonlight, revealing the sacred gift of her sex, the secret place she'd trusted to me alone for the past three years, reminded me of the ring on her finger, the holy covenant she'd promised to share with me forever.
I will protect you with every last breath in my body, with every drop of blood.
As if on cue, the ring glinted at me, the only thing touching her skin besides me and the luckiest sheets in the world. A tiny amethyst-winged butterfly with a marquise-cut conflict-free Canadian diamond as the body. She had cried when she'd seen it.
I promise, I will avenge the wrong that was done to you.
Ending the sweet torture and giving into her body's whispers of desire, I lowered my head to her center, worshiping her with my mouth. Long, slow licks reacquainted me with her taste, and I reveled in the trust she offered me, the uninhibited fingers that tangled themselves in my hair and scraped lightly along my scalp, though her injured hand explored more gingerly than the other. Her hips lifted, pressing herself more fully against my tongue in a clear plea for more, and I worked quicker, finding the pace she craved, eliciting quiet, whimpering moans that filled my head and made me dizzy as I sucked the sensitive flesh fully into my mouth. She quietly chanted my name over and over, a low benediction, as little flicks of my tongue against her trembling sex made her tumble over the threshold quickly, and she screamed as her orgasm pulsed through her.
I will keep you safe. Your trust is not misplaced in me, Bella.
Bella knew I was an amateur boxer.
It sounds weird that a painter and sculptor would trade his square wash and palette knife for a pair of padded gloves a couple of nights a week, but it was a great outlet for me. My art was very personal, and helped me work through a lot of the intense emotions that snarl and howl in my head, the anger and fear and need that used to drain and burn me, the feelings I used to have to drink and fuck mindlessly to subdue. Discovering painting in college was like a trephination, like trading my demons for oxygen and water. But the body needs its release as well, and I found boxing was a good mix of strength and flexibility.
Plus, Bella thought it was hot.
What she didn't know was that when I went to the gym on Thursday nights, I wasn't really at the gym.
I was in the basement of Violet's, a strip club on the outskirts of town, near the train tracks.
Entering through the weathered, graffiti-covered backdoor ensured that we didn't see any of the dancers as we descended the stairs into the musty, humid cellar. No, we were meeting solely in the company of men. We weren't here to watch titties bounce. We were here to beat the shit out of each other.
It was a fight club.
Eric had actually been the one to start it, about eight months back. He was the skinniest guy at our boxing gym, but also the quickest. He was deceptively tough, and frequently surprised opponents by getting back up, even when they thought he had been beaten. He said being underestimated had always been his best advantage. He said he wanted to refine his skills in less restrictive forms of fighting. And so, a few seasons back, he started inviting guys from the gym to take him on, one by one, in this dank basement. Only the barest of safety rules applied; there were no gloves, no padded floor. Just two men, squaring off against each other, until one tapped out to indicate surrender. This was no championship. There was no rivalry, no bitching, no grudges. Just a chance to get some frustration out and hone your skills.
Personally, I thought Eric just got off on pain. Giving it as well as getting it.
But I didn't care. I was grateful for the escape. After working all week, I needed a release. Something that brought out the Y chromosome in me, in a safe way, among friends. It was a steam valve on all the tension and doubt in my every day life. When we were here, no one talked about work or girlfriends or low-carb diets. We just fought, shook hands, and returned to our lives reborn, released, and renewed.
It wasn't that I meant to hide it from Bella. I just knew she would worry too much.
I didn't want her disapproval hanging over my head here.
I just wanted to trade a beating or two, drink a beer, and go home to my lovely future wife.
Tonight, though. Tonight was different.
Tonight would see blood of a different kind.
Bella thought I only knew Jacob through the stories she told me from her class with him.
"I think Jacob has a twitch, he's always winking in my direction."
"Jacob keeps asking me to tutor him. It's creepy."
"That kid Jake joined the study group. Did I tell you he smells like he's been rolling around in horse manure? Like, every day. It's nauseating. I wonder if he works at a farm or something."
But I'd known Jacob longer than she had. He'd started fighting with us on Thursday nights about four months ago. He'd seemed a little slow, but a decent fighter. He had a hell of a right hook, and a jaw like a steel safe. I'd fought him a couple of times before; he had a thicker build than me, but I was faster. He'd won the first fight with a powerful uppercut that rattled my brain against my skull and had me hearing angels' voices. But I'd won the second fight by anticipating his moves and surprising him with a left to the temple that crashed his meaty body to the bare cement floor.
That night I'd come home, showered, and fucked Bella into three loud, sweaty, hair-pulling orgasms.
That was a good god-damned night.
Tonight would be a good night too.
Stepping off the dark staircase into the spartan basement, I set my six-pack down and twisted the top off one. Peering through the crowd, I found Eric talking to James, the strip club's owner, just a few feet away, laughing and watching the crowd pile in. There was beefy, overweight Mike scarfing a pre-fight meatball hero in the corner next to the deceptively young-looking Seth. Emmett, a well-muscled kindergarten teacher with amazing stamina and control, was bouncing lightly and throwing a few practice punches, warming up. His boyfriend Jasper, an ex-mil who was writing a novel, fought like a wild beast and had never lost a match that I'd seen, sat shirtless on a nearby bench, smoking a cigarette.
"Hey, Jasper. Mind if I bum one?" I asked him.
"Hell no, man, help yourself," he nodded at the pack and lighter on the bench beside him.
I withdrew a cool white cigarette, inhaling the bright, piercing scent before lighting it and sitting down next to Jasper. I only ever smoked cigarettes here. Bella could always smell it on me when I got home. She usually made a face, but never hesitated to accept my smoky, burnt tasting kisses.
"So things are good?" Jasper asked, his body leaning towards me but his eyes still trained on his brawny boyfriend's warm-up exercises.
"Yeah, good. You?"
He chuckled. "Yeah, man. Real good."
He took a drag with his eyes still glued to Emmett's flexing physique, and I could only imagine that his mind was on the "apres-fight festivities" at their house.
"I was looking for that guy Jake that comes here sometimes. Dark hair, tribal tattoo?" I asked as I took off my shirt.
"Mmm, I know who you mean. Think I saw him earlier. Gonna tap him tonight?"
Tapping was how we initiated fights. You tapped a guy on the shoulder, and he would either give you a nod to consent or shake his head no.
Who said men aren't effective communicators?
"Yeah, man. I'm going to knock his bitch ass flat."
He lifted an eyebrow at me. "Sounds like you've got a reason to fight."
"You could say that, bro." No need for details here. In fact, he probably knew how I felt, considering he watched the love of his life get pummeled every Thursday night.
He nodded. "Watch for that slow right hook. He broadcasts when he's going to do it but it's fucking lethal. And keep moving, it wears him out. Good luck man. Hope you get what you need."
I felt a little surge or warmth at his words. Jasper understood. I don't know how he picked up on what I was feeling, but it meant something to know he was with me.
And then I caught sight of Jacob, coming out of the dank grey hole that served as a bathroom. He ran wet hands through his hair and shook his head vigorously, like a dog after a bath, sending droplets flying off onto the concrete floor. As I watched, he stripped off his stained wife beater, revealing tribal tattoos trailing over a carved physique that glistened slightly with the unforgiving overhead light. Unfortunately for me, Jake was in damn good shape.
But I had a secret weapon.
The goddess of vengeance.
"Everybody ready to get started?" Eric's voice echoed through the basement and was answered by a low chorus of 'Hell yeah' as the air in the room began changing, becoming electrified. Everyone finished removing their shirts, belts, and rings, and Jasper stubbed his cigarette out on his shoe.
"Here we go," he murmured, and rose to join Emmett, who was grinning darkly, a hint of excitement in his eyes that made me wonder if perhaps he didn't enjoy this a bit too much.
Someone had pre-arranged the first fight, and before everyone was ready, two men stood facing each other under a bare light bulb, shaking hands despite having the most savage of intentions. The swaying light cast shifting, smoky shadows that dripped and dragged across their faces. Angling for a better view, I recognized a tall, wiry guy named Brady who worked at the auto parts store facing off against Quil, a doughy Ph.D student in 18th Century French Poetry.
This fight was going to be over quickly.
I shouldered my way through the cheering crowd toward Jacob Black.
He stood watching the fight with an expression of smug enjoyment on his face, his thickly muscled arms crossed over his chest. It was the kind of expression you might see on someone watching a depraved form of pornography.
I couldn't wait to feel his blood kissing my knuckles.
I approached him from behind and took a deep breath to steady myself before giving him a soft tap on the shoulder that belied my poisonous fury. He turned to find me standing behind him, and his face broke into an amiable smile as he nodded, accepting my challenge.
He had no idea that I was engaged to Bella. To him, I could have been anybody, just looking for a little pugilistic thrill.
I was pretty sure he would figure it out soon.
Across the floor, I caught Eric's eye and motioned to the makeshift ring to indicate I wanted a match. He gave a nod and held up two fingers, letting me know there were two fights ahead of me.
Nope. Now there was only one fight ahead of me. Because Brady had just landed an upper cut that practically lifted Quil's paunchy, pasty ass in the air for a moment before he crumpled to the floor, limp but conscious. Brady extended a grease-stained hand to his opponent, helping him up and giving him a hearty slap on the back. The spectators shouted muffled cheers; poor Quil never had a chance, and nobody knew that better than Quil himself. Whether he had initiated the fight or simply acceded to the challenge by brawny, blue-collar Brady, he knew he was walking into an ass-kicking. And he did it anyway.
I didn't care if he was studying sparkly vampires in college, that guy had balls. And balls meant more here than just physical strength.
Balls were the difference between letting Bella's assault go unanswered, or making sure Jacob Black never laid a hand on any woman in anger again.
The next two opponents took their places and shook hands, but I could barely even see them. My eyes were clouded by a darkness gathering at the edges, the speed of my blood and the need for revenge turning my field of vision into a finely focused aperture.
The shouting of the onlookers was replaced by the soft tumbling thump of my heart, a quiet, early thunderclap in my ears.
My breathing was suddenly a low, dark bassline humming to the percussion in my chest. I felt my hands wind themselves into fists and my throat tighten, a cold railroad spike of adrenaline piercing my guts. It felt like when you wake up from a bad dream but you still think it's real, your body like boiling water, trembling, ready to scream fire and shadows.
I'd never gotten this feeling before a fight before. This went beyond excited, beyond scared. I was a downed power line, a humming insect. I was a walking bullet bearing Jacob's name.
I was a man anointed with destiny.
This fight was more evenly matched than the previous one. The two men, about the same height and weight, grappled with each other, landing punches with muted cracks of skin battling bone. They looked like dancers, whirling and ducking, stretching out with their arms and flexing in from their core. With a deep breath to calm me and a long blink to focus, I recognized one of the fighters as Laurent, a smooth-voiced, dark-skinned Kenyan with long dreads who Eric had introduced to our little club just last week. He moved his body lithely, relying on his abdominal muscles to draw his torso away from the other fighter's jabs, moving like a snake to deflect the energy of each attack, sending his dreads swirling out with each move, following his head like the fading trails of dark meteors. Droplets of sweat flew as they dodged and swung, landing mostly glancing blows; this was the tell of an amateur. Neither one of them really wanted to get hit.
They would either develop a taste for the pain, and the brilliant clarity that accompanied it, or they wouldn't come back next time.
And just like that, it was over. Laurent had become distracted, or his feet had failed to move quickly enough, and the other fighter had seized the opportunity. Laurent was a glassjaw, a guy who went down like a five dollar hooker at the first good punch. The sandalwood-skinned opponent's fist struck squarely against the cheekbone under his right eye, and the snake-like fighter crumpled to the floor instantly, a dropped marionette. I recalled that this was the way Laurent's fight had ended last week as well. One good hit, and he was done. I was glad I had a stronger constitution.
After all, I had a job to do.
A few light slaps to the face and Laurent was up, smiling even as his eye began to puff up. Sam and the crowd surrounding them punched his shoulder or grabbed his chin in encouragement.
He might be back next week. Or he might have had enough of getting laid out.
But Jake Black would not be back next week.
I whispered a prayer as I saw Eric wave me forward into the open space of floor circled by shimmering waves of testosterone and sweat that rose off the human sidelines like a mirage. Jake was right behind me and as we face each other, he gave a cursory nod and extended his hand to shake, starting the fight the way they all started.
I took his hand and shook it, looking respect but thinking goodbye.
And as we took a step back, hunching our shoulders slightly and bringing our hands into fists, something shifted inside me again. It was like being underwater; I heard nothing, not the spectators cheering and taunting, not the rough release of my own breath, not the scuffling of our feet against the floor as we took our positions.
But then suddenly, there was one sound in my head.
The graceful song of Bella's laugh.
And in an instant, I was filled with the fury of injustice. A kiss of favor from the angel of violence.
My fists were not my own as I exploded into a quick right hook, catching Bella's assailant perfectly in the jaw, and his body jumped with the force of my blow. The pain splintered up from my knuckles into my arm and elbow. I should have known better than to start with the jaw. He had been ready for it, and his entire head was like stone. Still, the stinging in my hand only served to remind me of the way the pain must have bitten into her little hand as she attempted to defend herself from his lecherous advances, and then the sting became my servant.
He moved his arm back to gather force for an uppercut, but it was like he was moving in slow motion, as if he was in another dimension. I had more than enough time to bring my left fist up and into his gut, winding him, before his right fist connected with my chin, but with half the power it would have had. I barely even felt it.
I moved like a hummingbird angling itself around a flower, curling my arm around the back of his neck to bring him off balance before sinking a strong uppercut into his stomach. And then suddenly everything went star-white, nothing but a faint ringing in my ears and the blessing of ignorance. I stopped moving.
It took four breaths to realize I was on the floor.
I scrambled to my feet, feeling a sticky warmth spreading across my face and down my chin from my right ear. He must have gotten a good right hook to my head and laid me out.
But I wasn't about to let it go down like that.
Never turn your back on your enemy, Jacob.
He was standing over me like a snarling wolf guarding its kill, giving a smug grin to the spectators as though the fight was over.
The smug grin vanished as a I launched my fist into it, catching him by surprise. It was true that most of the time, when a competitor hit the ground, the fight was over. But it wasn't unheard of for guys to get back up. Jake just wasn't expecting me to be one of those guys.
He didn't know Bella was going to be defended. He only knew she wouldn't defend herself. He chose to lay hands on her because the predator in him sensed that she was a peaceful little lamb, a dreamy bookworm with soft, thin skin and enough generosity of spirit to forgive her enemies. He could tell she was a sweet, low-hanging fruit, fresh as heaven and ripe for the picking.
But what he hadn't known was that this lamb had a lion at her side.
And it was this thought that fueled another punch, scorching with fury, that caught him in the cheekbone and opened the skin there, leaving a faint spatter on my fist. His head snapped back instantly, and a gleam of surprised indignance flared there, annoyance at my having dared to interrupt his victory sneer with my refusal to concede.
I saw his arm pull back as if in slow motion, gathering speed to shoot out at me, to bring his strength to crack across my face like lightning and send me back to the floor like a swatted fly.
I easily ducked under his swing, catching his thick fist as it ended its arc and used its momentum to swing him forward, off balance. I brought the arm under him, sliding my hand to grip his wrist so I had him with his left arm pinned behind his back. I pulled up on it, forcing him to his knees, and he grunted loudly in pain.
I had him. I had him on his knees before me.
He would surrender. He would apologize. And he would promise never to touch Bella or any other woman like that again.
I leaned in close, and whispered darkly in his ear.
"Do you give, Jacob Black? Do you surrender?"
He nodded quickly, and I began to loosen my grip on his wrist.
I should have seen it coming, but I was drunk on the whisper of victory.
He brought his leg out, swinging it hard, knocking my legs from under me. I was stunned for a moment; my teeth rattled as the back of my head unceremoniously met the concrete floor, the blinding brightness of the bare light bulb swinging directly over me making my eyes scream.
Then the light was gone, eclipsed by Jacob Black's snarling face as he straddled my hips.
I was pinned beneath him, and a current of liquid fear shot up my spine.
I struggled to draw a breath, my lungs compressed by terror, as the first punch hit my right temple, my head rocking back and forth with its force. Before I had time to react, the next shot landed on my left cheekbone. My ears began to ring and the shouts of the crowd melted away like snow.
A hit to my chin, pain exploding slowly across my face like the breath of a child blowing bubbles. A taste of copper in my mouth.
My eyes closed on their own, trying to save me from the pain.
He gripped my hair, and a chill came over me to have such oversized, rough fingers touch me there, where only my own tugged occasionally in frustration, or Bella's played gently while we kissed.
Drawing my head up off the concrete by my hair, he slammed it back down.
And I saw purple.
All the vivid, lovely shades of my favorite color, arranged happily on my palette in the studio.
Light white-lavender, like scrubmint flowers, like bird's eye in the summertime.
Reddish tyrian purple, the color of a wine stain on a sundress.
Scheveningen violet, a lake at sunset, a warning of storms.
Deep indigo, darker than a winter's night, with a voice like secret magic.
My brain was feeding me soothing images, trying to calm me while I began to process the pain screaming through my head. It was working. I was more aware of the slickness of blood spreading over my skin than the bruising rhythm of his fists.
It would be over soon. I just had to wait him out.
I'm sorry, Bella.
I'm so sorry.
Suddenly, vengeance flapped her smoke-colored wings, sending a cool breeze that I felt like a splash of water over my body, invigorating me.
My lungs pulled in a breath in a long whooping gasp, and the pain was gone. I felt it hovering around me, like an aura of blood, but it didn't touch me. It would wait.
I pulled my body up as far as I could with Jake's weight pressing on it, and brought my arms around him in a macabre sort of hug, and I squeezed. The burn of righteousness flowed through my veins, replacing the blood with diesel, and I heard the beast howl as I broke the first of his ribs.
He fell backwards off me in shock, scrambling on his elbows, his eyes glazed with fear and confusion as I rose before him. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and it came off dripping with blood so red, so alive that it still pulsed and sang with fury.
I was no longer Edward Masen the painter, vegetarian, stoner.
I was a hurricane of fire.
I was only what I needed.
And what I needed was for Jacob to fall.
I grabbed him by the shoulders and lifted him to his feet, and he stood there staring at me in shock for a second until my right hook landed across his face, and the satisfying crunch I felt more than heard was definitely his nose breaking.
What would he have done to my pale beauty, my foreverlove, if those students hadn't knocked?
I land another right to the same spot, and blood started to pour from his nose. I couldn't understand how he was still on his feet. His eyes looked fearful, trapped.
Probably the way Bella's looked when he grabbed her by the throat.
Another right hook, this one loaded with every ounce of vitriol that I felt. I could knock down walls with the force in that punch. As strong as my love for her, my need to protect her, my conviction that we were for each other. Every drop of love turned to furious steel and I flung it at his face.
And he went down.
His overthick head hit the concrete with a sickening crack, and I knew.
His skull was fractured.
He would not live.
But I couldn't stop the burning that seized me, the flashing, pounding scream echoing in my head to destroy, to consume.
Straddling his unconscious form, I continued to hit him, over and over, grunting out words that I could not keep in but couldn't understand either.
His face was a puddle of blood and teeth when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to find Jasper standing over me, calm and pale and clean, and seeing the smooth sea in his eyes, my ragged breaths began to smooth out, the muscles in my back loosening.
"He's done, Edward. Let's take him to the hospital."
I nodded, wiping my brow with my forearm again. It was so thickly covered in blood, dried and fresh, his and mine, that I couldn't see my own skin.
Jasper extended a hand to me and I stood, the pain ringing through my torso and face like church bells. I turned to look at my opponent, and the sight of his broken body sent chills through me. God had deserted us here in this dark basement and left the angel of violence our babysitter. We were bad, sick children who had made a mess.
And now we needed to clean it up.
Emmett tossed my t-shirt at me and advanced to pick up Jacob's bloody, beaten body, hefting it over his shoulder like it weighed nothing.
The crowd parted for us as we climbed the stairs quickly towards the parking lot.
Jasper turned to take one look at the silent crowd gathered around the bloodstain that had been Jacob Black's deathbed.
"Hey, he's going to be fine. We'll drop him off at Forks general and see you back here next week."
They all nodded with him, sensing his complete and sincere calm.
We climbed the stairs quickly and emerged out into the warm, humid night, crickets chirping from the darkness.
"Over here," Jasper instructed, leading us over to an old brown Nissan Sentra hatchback. He opened the generous trunk and Emmett unceremoniously dumped Jacob onto a blue plastic tarp inside. Jasper climbed into the drivers' seat while Emmett held his seat forward and gestured me to climb in the back. The car roared to life and we flew out of the parking lot.
When Jasper missed the on-ramp for the highway, I felt my guts sink.
"We're not going to the hospital, are we?"
Jasper lit a cigarette, keeping his eyes on the road.
"No, man. We're going to my place."
"Our place!" Emmett countered, elbowing his boyfriend in the side.
"Our place," Jasper confirmed warmly, beaming a rich, warm smile at Emmett.
Their place turned out to be a little stone cottage that looked a million years old, surrounded by woods and set about a mile off the main road by a long gravel driveway. It had ivy creeping up the chimney and peeking around the huge picture windows, and a carefully tended vegetable garden hugging the house. At the back of the property, moonlight illuminated an old trailer, felled trees, and a neat woodpile.
As I surveyed the landscape, Jasper & Emmett were already at the door.
"Yeah, man. Nice place."
"Thanks," Emmett smiled, leading me into the kitchen. "You wouldn't believe what a shithole it was until he finally let me move in last winter."
"Shut up," Jasper bumped Emmett's huge frame with his shoulder, passing by him to get to the sink.
He filled a bowl with hot water and set it on the table. "First things first."
The first thing, apparently, was to wash and stitch up the gash over my eye and get ice packs on my bruised fists.
The second thing was hacking Jacob Black's body into pieces with a wood axe.
The wave of nausea that overwhelmed me at the very thought was only patient enough to let me get to the kitchen sink. But when we got outside, into the cool, clinging night air, the proposition was less daunting. Especially since Jasper was content to do most of the work.
"There was nothing they could have done for him at the hospital," Jasper grunted between swings of the axe, separating Jacob's right arm from his shoulder. "This is all we can do for us."
He put his black boot on Jacob's chest and wrenched the arm free, tossing it aside like it was nothing.
"If they connected us to his death, we'd all have been in deep shit," he continued before taking another swing at the other arm.
"Everybody in that basement, everybody from the gym, not to mention every single one of the ladies upstairs," he paused to wipe his brow and set the axe down, "they would have dragged everybody in. And somebody would say some shit they shouldn't say and before you know it, there would be people talking all over town and then we'd have a big fucking mess on our hands."
I swallowed hard.
"This isn't a mess?" I asked timidly, hosing off the tarp from the hatchback.
"No darlin'," he almost laughed as the picked he axe back up and heaved it over his shoulder. "This is just taking out the trash."
His next swing, intended to sever the head, missed by inches and ended up buried in what was left of Jake's face. I heard Emmett coughing up his dinner into the woods where he'd been watching us.
Jasper looked up at me with a mischievous expression.
I could have ended up here tonight. Being rinsed off blue plastic sheeting. Cut up like a fruit salad.
I made a mental note to never piss off Jasper Whitlock, or his boyfriend. Not that I would. I owed them my life now.
"Hey Em," he called. "When you're done puking, go get the cooler out of the basement."
Emmett jogged back to the house, only too happy to escape the grisly scene.
"What's the cooler for?"
"We're going fishin', Edward."
We weren't really going fishing. But it must have looked like it as we pushed the rowboat from shore in the dark of night, breaking the glassy surface of Lake Crescent into a million plum-colored ripples. Anyone watching would have assumed the camping cooler was stocked with beer and bait.
Instead it held Jacob Black's head, torso, and as much gravel as we could fit.
We used Emmett's weight as counter-balance so the boat wouldn't tip while Jasper and I lifted the heavy cooler and dropped it carefully into the water. Watching the ripples spread out in expanding circles from the sinking cooler, I thought I should feel worse. I should be devastated to have caused a life to end, to have taken from this world a human being with feelings and a family.
But I wasn't.
All I could think was that he had laid his hands on Bella, with sinister intentions, and this was what he deserved.
Back at Emmett and Jasper's, we hiked, exhausted, about a mile into the woods behind their house, Emmett and I dragging three large trash bags behind us. I thanked god for the dry weather we'd had all week as I gathered enough dead branches to support a good-sized campfire. Jasper lit the kindling easily with his lighter, and once the flames were about waist-height, he tossed in the first bag of Jacob's limbs.
The smell of burning plastic gave way to the smell of burning hair, which eventually transformed into the smell of roasting pig.
Emmett puked again, and this time I joined him. Only Jasper kept his composure, staring into the flames intently, letting them lick his face with their golden tongues.
When he tossed the second trash bag in, I moved to stand beside him, watching the black fumes disappear into the pre-dawn sky.
I had to ask.
"Why are you doing this for me?"
Jasper turned to me, as he tossed in the last bag, the lightest one, only our bloody clothes inside it. His arms crossed over his chest, braced against the cool air.
"Because someone did it for me once," he spoke softly, his voice crackling like the fire.
"And because sometimes," his eyes lifted from the flames and focused on Emmett's face,"you have to do something bad to keep something good."
The three of us sat in silence on a downed log, smoking cigarette after cigarette until the pack was finished and the fire had burned itself out, leaving just a pile of black and white ashes. When Jasper was satisfied that all the embers were extinguished, we kicked some leaves and dirt over the firesite and walked back through the woods to the house.
The sun started hinting at its arrival, sending thistle and persimmon banners into the sky, turning the clouds into amber, the sky beneath them the color of tea.
With a kiss, Jasper sent Emmett back into the house to sleep while he drove me back to my car, in the lot behind Violet's.
We drove in silence. As he dropped me off, I turned to him.
"You know I'll never be able to repay you for this."
His smile was light. "Repay me for what? Nothing happened tonight. We took you to the hospital, they stitched up your eye and we spent the rest of the night there under 'observation'."
I stared into his eyes, my lips pressed tight. I nodded almost imperceptibly and tears welled up in my eyes as he patted my shoulder.
"Then thank you … for the ride to the hospital, Jasper."
He nodded and lit another cigarette. "No problem, man."
As I got out, walking to my car, he called out the window, "Hey, say hi to that girl of yours for me. See you next week!"
The drive home was completely robotic. I was physically and mentally exhausted, my head spinning and astonished and sick, consumed with the need to see her, to touch her, to leave this night behind and become soft again, to slip out of the skin of a killer and back into my own.
The sight of her asleep, mismatched in Scooby Doo pajama pants and a t-shirt with a vodka logo on it, hair tangled and half-covering her face, her body curled into a semi-fetal position with blankets threaded between her knees and spread restlessly across the bed … that sight was the best thing I'd ever seen in my life.
I kicked off my mud-caked shoes and though I knew she'd yell at me for the mess in the morning, I couldn't resist climbing in next to her heavenly beauty any longer.
Her skin smelled like sweet almond oil, felt so soft and warm as she felt me lie down beside her and automatically curled herself around me, wrapping her leg over my hip and sighing.
It felt like I had fallen into grace, like she had redeemed all my sins just by being here, welcoming me into her cherished warmth, innocent fingers tangling with mine.
The light streamed in under the curtains, all golden and wisteria purple, and the breath of honeysuckle breeze that accompanied it was pure, perfect relief.
"You're late," she mumbled, half-asleep. "And you smell like smoke."
"Sorry, baby," I whispered, kissing her forehead. "Go back to sleep."
The drowsy hum as she pressed her head into my chest was too much, and tears stung my eyes.
I would keep this night my dark secret, the only thing I hid from her. I would take it to hell, and it would be worth it.
It was worth any price and more to keep her safe.
Sleep started to claim me, rising like the tide, and with it, swept away any last regrets that may have lingered.
She was worth everything to me, ever, and always.
If you're interested in answering a lovelysweet girl's call for fic gratification, please visit: ( http:/yellowglue(dot)tumblr(dot)com/post/6502691236 ) and make our birthday girl a late present of your words!
Thanks to EdwardsBloodType for betaing on very very very short notice, and for being awesome, kind and honest all at the same time. And did i mention amazing?
Thanks to the incredibly fantastic darling rhythmjunkie for being my cheerleader and fight authenticity specialist beta!
And thanks to E's My Brand of Heroin for inspiration and her sweet fabulousness which she lavishes on me always.
Eddiebell and MostlyaLurker and burntcore were my rockstar WC partners.
And most especially Happy Birthday to Yellowglue!
Thankyou, thank you, thank you so much for reading. i appreciate every review more than you know.