A/N: i am absolutely getting back to ExB right after this! I totally have two interesting o/s in the works! Promise!

But this is my femmeslash-y late birthday gift for E's My Brand of Heroin, also known on twitter as saphire_burst.

Oh look, here she is! www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net/u/2143680/Es_My_Brand_Of_Heroin ... She has a great, uber-relatable, smexy as hell AH called Everyone Else, and a deliciously dark, obsessive, enthralling AU called Albertine (my favorite of hers), as well as a few incredibly hot and beautifully descriptive one shots (like An Open Invitation, which i think every woman should read). If you don't have her on author alert, you are so missing out. Go, subscribe. Thank me later.

She is, among other things, heartbreakingly gorgeous, loving, poetic, intense, opinionated, thoughtful, uncensored, sweet, saucy, sarcastic, snarky, clever, kind, and funny, and she makes my life better for having known her. But somehow, this truly talented woman lacks confidence in her writing. So if you're looking for something amazing to read, go check out one of her stories and take a minute to leave your thoughts in a review, or her on twitter. i know it would make her day. It always makes mine.

Happy Birthday, my little moonflower. i love you.

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"Shh! They'll hear us!"

My warning apparently held no meaning for Bella, who giggled even harder. I pulled her up the metal staircase by her hand and reminded myself not to let her drink Captain Morgan anymore. Just two cups of spiked punch and she was utterly silly.

Which was going to make this "keeping quiet so they don't make us go back to the party" thing a little harder. But it might make the rest of it easier.

Below us, the voices and music faded as I led her barefoot up the metal fire escape, the bottoms of our feet making soft, flat sounds as we climbed.

I made her leave her spectacularly glittery pink and nude heels on the windowsill. I didn't feel like going to the emergency room tonight.

"Where are we going?" she asked in the exaggerated whisper typically reserved for the tipsy.

We were climbing the fire escape of my building, floating like lost clouds in the late August night ... where else could we possibly be going?

"The zoo, Bella," I offered sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

"The zoo? Really?"

I just laughed at her.

This is what made her so easy to love. She was so literal when she let her guard down. Everyone else's Bella was all smoke and sarcasm; a girl like broken bowls, sharp and holding onto nothing. But when we were alone? She was guiseless. Imperfect, unfinished. She was the not the snake, but the fawn-skinned charmer, playing sweetly, fearless of the venom.

We had only met a few months ago when she arrived in Forks late in the semester, joining the senior class for those last dichotomous weeks that closed out high school forever. She had expected misery and silence, and gotten them both. But she had also gotten me in the locker next to hers, and I saw her. I really saw her. From the first moment, when she dropped her Applied Mathematics III textbook on my One-Stars, until this one, holding her petal-soft hand in mine as our calves burned from climbing endless metal steps … I saw her. The truth was, I could see nothing else.

I cherished her friendship, but I wanted more.

"Here," I claimed breathlessly as we topped the last flight of stairs. Dropping her hand, I stepped forward onto the roof. The breeze whistled past my ears, whipping my espresso-brown hair over my shoulder in what I hoped were romantic-looking waves. She smiled and took a step towards me cautiously.

"This place is beautiful," she said, eyes following the modest skyline of downtown, draped in sunset pink.

Lit by the subtle blue-white of solar lamps as the sun set behind us, I waved her forward to show her the rest of the space.

"Over here are the tomatoes," I gestured towards the large staked pots, "and the herb garden, basil, mint, that stuff. And this is my beloved strawberry patch here," I indicated the rows of window boxes surrounded by refugee mulch chips that had been blown overboard by the breeze.

"Is this … yours? You grow all this?"

"Sort of," I answered, "Mr. Banner in 12C planted most of it with me, he showed me how to take care of it. I water it for him on the weekends and stuff." I leaned down, picking a temptingly plump strawberry, and tossed it to her.

She caught it easily and I swallowed the urge to congratulate her on her first graceful movement of the year. Not tonight, Angela, I thought. It was difficult for me to stow my smart-mouth tendencies, but I didn't want them to ruin my chances tonight.

Bella bit into the strawberry, and a tiny rivulet of bright pink juice ran down her chin. She brought her other hand up to wipe it away before I could stifle the quick inhale of desire it stirred in me.

I wanted to lick that droplet off her cream-sweet skin.

I wanted to swallow the innocent moan of appreciation as she tasted the sun-warmed fruit.

"It's so sweet," she smiled. "You grow a mean strawberry, Ange."

"You're sweet," I whispered back, the words swirling off into the air.

"What?"

I chickened out. "Nothing. You want to sit?" I gestured to the garden bench, a refugee from the park that had been such a pain to take apart and re-assemble, covered in carved initials and faded marker.

She plopped gracelessly onto the wooden seat with a groan.

"I can't believe you made me walk up all those steps. There better be an elevator back down. I am way too buzzed to navigate one set of downwards stairs, let alone the forty thousand you dragged me up."

"Six flights, not forty thousand. And you can barely manage a gentle slope, even when you're sober. But ... wasn't it worth it?" I asked.

"Yeah," she nodded, looking around the roof, soft shades of sunset reflected in her eyes. "It's worth it."

She bit off the last shiny-sweet piece of strawberry and twirled the stem and the little green crown between her fingers as she gazed off into the deepening night.

Just do it, Ange, I thought. Don't be a coward.

"The Ancient Romans thought of strawberries as symbolic of Venus," I offered.

"The goddess of love?" she asked.

I nodded. She raised an eyebrow at me.

"You read that on the inside of a Snapple cap, didn't you?"

I laughed.

"No, but – fuck you, I know stuff." I complained playfully, nudging her shoulder with mine. Her baby-pink party dress looked luminous in the twilight, especially next to my dark blue and lavender patchwork skirt and my threadbare vintage t-shirt.

She laughed gently. "Of course you know stuff. I wouldn't have passed AP Bio if you hadn't helped me."

"Helped? Is that what you call texting you the answers during the final? Because some might think of it as cheating."

"Semantics," she dismissed with a smile, "You would have failed history if not for all my tutoring."

"Tutoring?" I exclaimed, laughing. "Drinking my dad's beers in my room all night watching Cartoon Network, with you starting every sentence with 'The other cool thing about World War One ... '" I imitated her voice poorly, "is not tutoring, Bella!"

She laughed a hearty and distinctly unfeminine laugh, the kind you really mean, but hold in when boys are watching.

"I do not sound like that," Bella gasped out, catching her breath.

"You got so drunk that night you peed in my trash can! You think that's typical of a tutoring session?"

Bella's only answer was the silent laugh and the hand in the air that meant 'enough' from a person whose sides hurt from hysterical laughter.

"I thought ..." she struggled to breathe, "I thought it was the potty!" She tried to suppress the giggles with deep breaths. "I'm … sorry. Really sorry about that."

I shrugged, looking down, fidgeting with my hands. "It's okay. Maybe I'll return the favor one day." My nerves were catching up to me and I licked my parched lips, clearing my throat.

"You okay?' she asked.

"Um, yeah, just … thirsty, I guess." I didn't know how to tell her that being around her always made me thirsty … thirsty for drink, yes, but thirsty too for her touch, her scent, the sound of her voice.

"Have one of the strawberries! They're so juicy," she exclaimed, rising on unsteady feet. It was a miracle that she made it up the fire escape; even sober, Bella was a walking time-bomb, stumbling tripster extraordinaire. Tipsy as she was now, I wondered if I might have to carry her down the stairs in a fireman's hold.

"Oops!" True to form, she managed to trip in just the few feet between me and the strawberry plants, the large fan-like leaves brushing against her bare shoulder. I left the bench to help her up, and seat her on an upturned crate next to the strawberries that made a decent makeshift seat.

"Still a little spinny," she explained, shaking her head, sending her chestnut hair dancing over the lovely bare skin of her shoulders. Sitting up straight, she began pawing through the leaves for a shiny, ripe little fruit. "Sitting down is safer. Here!"

She had found a plump strawberry, hiding inside the edge of the flower box. Grasping it by the stem, she held it out to me with a smile. I went to take it from her, but she withdrew quicker than I could follow.

"Ah, ah, ah, not with your hands."

Desire squeezed me, low in my belly, and the breath rushed out of my chest.

This is it, Ange. Here's your moment.

Leaning into her offering as slowly as I could manage, I parted my lips and took the berry between my teeth, biting into the sweet flesh, letting slip a small sound of pleasure as the tart juices hit my dry tongue. My eyes flicked to hers and found them focused on me with intent, a flavor of something hidden that I hadn't seen there before.

And then I did what I do best.

I jumped the gun.

Darting toward her quick as a bird, I pressed my strawberry-glazed lips to her cheek, faster and harder than I had meant to, but lingering longer than the innocent kiss of a friend.

Pulling back to see her reaction, I found her face looking pretty much as confused as I had expected.

"Um .." I started, not having any idea what to say next.

I had fucked up. I'd spent months falling in love with her, weeks debating if I should tell her, another 17 days deciding how to tell her … and now I'd gone and ruined it. What words could salvage this moment? What, aside from inventing a time machine, could I do to fix this?

Face fallen in embarrassed defeat, I felt the sting of unshed tears threaten to compound my failure. The only thing I could think of was to run.

I moved to stand, before she could see my crestfallen disappointment, but was stopped by a pale, delicate hand on my shoulder.

"Ange, I just … I was just surprised, that's all."

I nodded, face turned to the floor, fidgeting with my fingers. I silently begged for a gust of wind to pick me up and throw me over the rooftop's edge.

"I mean, it's okay. I like boys, but I … I've thought about ..."

Her fingertips lifted my chin, forcing my eyes to lock with hers. All wide open, brimming with concern and bright sincerity and something else, something struggling …

And before I knew it, her mouth was on mine, insistent, devouring. This was not a tentative kiss, not the soft-mouthed, shy touch of someone still deciding if they liked you. Her tongue pressed slowly but boldly into my mouth to brush against mine, all strawberries and desire and conquest. I felt my heartbeat pounding, drowning in the surreal perfection of the moment as it sunk lower, through my chest and down between my legs, into the space that burned and begged for her so many nights, alone in my room.

It's happening, it's finally happening.

This is not happening, it can't be. I must be hallucinating.

My fear and my desire battled over the reality of the moment as her mouth moved against mine, soft lips hungry for more contact, my fingers daring to caress her bare arm as we kissed, sharing breath and space and intention.

It had to be real, it was too intense to be a dream. As real as the starry sky hovering above us, as real as the breeze lifting the green, botanical scent of the rooftop garden into the air. As real as her skin, smooth and overwarm as we soaked in each other's nearness.

It's real.

And she feels it too.

For long minutes, I sank drunkenly into her kisses, trying not to lose myself to the heady thrill of getting exactly, exactly what I wanted: Bella's lips, sliding against mine, her tongue exploring my mouth, bringing her tart strawberry taste to me in whispered pink notes.

And then more: her hand on my knee. Not resting, but moving, fingertips slipping under the hem of my skirt as I struggled to breathe, to stay conscious, to contain my grateful excitement, to feel and be felt.

Slowly, her touch skimmed the skin where hip becomes leg, just brushing the eyelet-lace edge of my panties, pausing to play there for a moment as my heart pounded frantically in my chest, screaming to her in helpless thumps.

I reached out to take her other hand in mine, bringing it to my chest to feel me, the out-of-control heart thumping inside me so hard, so fast, I could barely breathe.

Her lips smiled inside my kiss when her fingers picked up the rhythm.

"Me too," she whispered, pulling her face back and bringing my hand up to her chest, palm flat, sharing the milky skin and vintage pink lace.

"I've imagined this, so many times, but I never thought -" my voice broke, but I tried to continue. "Never thought that it would -"

Her fingers slid inside the edge of my panties, only barely touching the tender flesh inside, but the contact was too much, overwhelming me, and my head fell backwards with a moan.

"Ssh," she murmured into my neck, laying open mouthed kisses that exploded slow like fireworks, "Me too."

I finally let myself be lost in this moment; her hand between my legs, stroking tentative little ventures against my sensitive skin, other hand slipping from my heart to my breast, palming it gently over my shirt, moving in quiet, wide circles.

I couldn't stand it, the softness, the scent of her, so close … I reached for her waist with my other hand, bringing her body closer, letting my fingers stray up to the sides of her breast. The feel of her skin, perfectly smooth and bare, cool in the evening breeze, was grounding to me, bringing my senses back, convincing me this was real, this was actually real; this moment was finally, beautifully, mine.

And it was grounding in more literal way as well, as Bella lost her balance and fell backwards off the crate, bringing me along with her.

We both yelped as we hit the bare concrete roof, laughing once we realized we were fine. With Bella's legs still up on the crate, her skirt slid down toward her hips, revealing so much perfect skin that I couldn't help but touch it. I stared into her eyes, wide and glistening with excitement as I brushed the inside of her thighs with my knuckles first, then the softer pads of my fingertips. Her shuddering inhale told me all I needed to know, and I boldly kissed her warm mouth as my hand slipped inside her panties, moving them to the side as I touched a finger to her flesh, shyly feeling it offer itself up to me, slickness and softness and scent dragging my doubt and self-consciousness away as I sought a deeper touch.

She kissed me back hungrily, one hand wrapping around the back of my neck as I sunk in a single finger, feeling the wetness of her warmth clinging to me so tightly, calling to me. A sweet sound fell from Bella's lips, just a hint of a moan, as I withdrew and pushed back inside with two fingers now, marvelling at how exquisitely her body angled itself towards me, bringing her closer, like a flower turning its face to the sun.

Twisting my wrist to feel every part of her, I was rewarded with an increase in her breathing and an unconscious undulating in her hips, her body asking mine for more. Reluctantly leaving her mouth, my lips found her neck, the thin skin so delicate, I could almost feel her pulse with my kiss. Running a flat tongue over her collarbone, I groaned softly at the taste of her skin, so clean and feminine, reminding me of the honeysuckle that grew wild on the other side of the fence behind the school's bleachers. One last moist, sucking kiss to the hollow of her throat and I raised myself up onto my knees, my left hand pushing the lace of her dress' sweetheart neckline down to expose the pink-tipped nipple that had been the object of so many daydreams in gym class, watching her breasts dance as she jumped up to set a volleyball or shoot a basket.

She moaned lower, louder as I took the sensitive peak gently into my mouth, running my tongue along its outer edge before sucking delicately at the tip, while her hips lifted up, further into my hand.

It was painful how badly I needed to feel her come from my touch.

I brought my hand out of her heat, bringing her panties down past her knees, where they fell to her ankles and she kicked them off, lost in the fan-shaped arbor of strawberry leaves. With more freedom to touch her, I plunged back inside with three fingers, sinking them down to the knuckle while I pressed my thumb gently into her clitoris.

"Oh fuck," she whispered into the cool night air, "fuck, fuck, fuck, yes..."

I lifted my mouth to lick at her nipple, rubbing my tongue back and forth, warming and wetting it, as I pushed my fingers in and out of her, pumping my arm as I curled my fingers gently, letting my thumb slip on and off her most sensitive spot, stroking it lightly from alternating sides.

Shifting to get a better angle, I moved further between her legs, and sensing my intention, Bella pulled down the other side of her dress for me, exposing her other, untouched breast to my tongue. With full, loaded eye contact, I licked a line along the underside of it, the crease where her body met her breast, before bringing my slick tongue up where she wanted it, to the pretty nipple hoping silently for my kiss.

"Oh, fuck, Ange, oh fuck, please, please," she chanted, hips rocking hard into my hand as I moved my hand inside her faster, deeper, squeezing every drop of pleasure from this moment for her.

Lifting my mouth from her breast, I answered her.

"Yes, baby, I'm here, right here."

I curled my fingers tighter, pressing my fingertips into that perfect place inside her, the heart of her pleasure, and she arched her back, panting.

"Going to come for me, baby?" I asked, breathing hard, aching and desperate to feel her pulsing around me, to know she felt me, felt my heart pouring itself out over body like an anointing.

She nodded faintly, eyes shut tight, and it was only a few more breaths, a few more thrusts of my fingers, thumb stroking her tiny, sensitive clit, until she tensed all over, her flesh tightening beautifully around me, pulling my fingers deeper into the most delicious little spasms of pleasure. As her orgasm crested, I felt my own body tighten in response, my abdominal muscles pulling taut, my arms locking with fire and fatigue. As her body slowly sank back to earth, mine relaxed as well.

She started to settle down, her breathing deep and full, and I withdrew my fingers from her slowly, stroking her one last time before touching the delicately scented and glistening fingers to my mouth, making sure she was watching as I licked them clean of her still-warm pleasure.

The smile she gave me was relief and satisfaction mingled with a hint of apprehension or … could it be shame? Was she sorry? Did I push too much, too fast? Had I misinterpreted her feelings? Had she been 'letting me' instead of 'wanting me'?

She soothed me without a word, curling her cool fingers around my neck and calling my mouth down to hers with the softest touch, the lightest whisper of a kiss. The taste of her crossed from my lips to hers, shared between us like this moment, delicious and real and too good, too amazing for me to deserve, for me to keep to myself. My head swirled and I sunk, helplessly, bravely into love.

Breaking the kiss just to start another, and another, our fire waned into gentle pecks punctuated by smiles, and I realized I had never known before how hard it is to kiss someone when you were both smiling. She pulled away from me by a few inches, the warmth and the scent of sex still bridging the space between us and looked into my eyes, not searching but still, seeing, really seeing me.

"That," she said in a raw voice, soft and scratchy with emotion, "That should have been our first kiss."

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If anyone wants to know what Bella's dress looked like in my head: http (colon) /1 (dot) bp (dot) blogspot (dot) com/_-yWNMWcLo-Q/Sm4EOV3jj1I/AAAAAAAACRg/AmMus0xeELQ/s1600-h/pink+vintage+dress (dot) html

Huge thanks to Jadalulu, yellowglue, hollelujah, myg and perrymaxed who WCd me through some tough blocks. And to lebells1, eddiebell69, la geologia, foundmyedward and justpeachy00 for just being awesome and encouraging and wonderful people.

Thank you again and ever and always for reading. If you're on twitter, come find me, same name! And i swear i am getting back to ExB ... like, right now.