Chapter Fifteen: Up and Down
I see Edward at the bottom of the stairs when I reach the second landing. I know he can't have been there long, I only ran up them a few minutes ago.
But seeing him there...
In that place he's stuck because it was as far as he could go...
As far as he could chase me, though he wasn't trying to, and though I certainly wasn't running from him...
It nearly takes my legs from me.
Mine, that will do whatever I want them to.
And whatever he wants, which is what they're doing now, as I force them to keep moving.
Because I have to get to work. Work that's never felt like, but does now. Since the day I went back to it. Because it's what he ordered me to do.
"Do you need something from up there?" I ask him as I reach the bottom step, just in front of where he sits.
His eyes move upward for a few seconds, and I see the YES! that screams inside of them, inside of him, but he keeps it from me. "Not anymore," he answers instead, and forces his lips to smile at me. "Everything I need just came down."
"And it has to go," I tell him, instead of the hundred other things I want to. "So, if it's okay with you, it would like to go down a little further so it can."
He immediately rolls his chair back, because he was blocking my way–the way directly in front of me, anyway–and because he misunderstands me completely.
Something that completely breaks my heart, and makes leaving him here alone and without me even harder.
"You're going to make me chase you for it?" I ask him playfully, because no matter how much he wants me to, I won't be able to leave him at all if I don't keep this moment light.
"What?" he asks, again not understanding. "You told me to move so you could come down... "
"I absolutely did not."
"Well, not in those exact words, but–"
"But not in any. Because I wasn't telling you to do anything. I was expressing my desire to do something, and asking you if I could."
His brows scrunch together in confusion, and my legs waver again... and my heart breaks a little more...
Because, little thing or not, our communication has always been a big. And a clear.
We never didn't get each other.
"I was asking you if I could come down–to you–and give you a kiss," I tell him, pushing those painful realizations away. "Before I go. And in no way did that mean for you to move away from me."
"Oh," he says, and gives me an adorable I'm an idiot smile. And then wheels himself back to me, perhaps now needing 'playful' just as much as I do. "Well, I've certainly never denied you any request to come down to me... or for... or on... or go, rather... and sure as hell never made you chase me for it... "
"No, you definitely never did... " I laugh, because my husband is NOT an idiot...
"So, get," he tells me. In that way he used to.
And that way I'd never deny him doing.
Whose lips don't waver at all...
And don't ever want to break from his...
Because it's what he wants. "I'll see you later. Have a good day."
Because one of us should.
I sat and stared up at our staircase because Bella had run up it.
And I wanted to chase her...
Wanted to... not could.
But even after she came down it...
Down to me...
And then left me for...
Because I know she didn't do it for herself...
Because nothing she does anymore is...
I still can't move from this spot. The one down below.
And can't stop staring at the ones I can't get to. Up above me. Where, no matter what she says... Bella will always be.
I told her she didn't have to level herself with me that day in our kitchen...
But if she'd never done that...
I wouldn't have her now.
Her love. Her devotion. Her life...
That she lives for me.
To make mine everything she can.
Everything she is.
Good. Better. Perfect...
Everything that's right in front of me.
But out of my reach.
Because I made it that way.
"Come in!" I yell to the familiar knock at our front door, instead of moving to let it.
"What are you doing?" Emmett asks me once he's through it, and I've found my way through absolutely nothing. Or past. Or out of this spot.
"Do you need something from up there?" he asks now, following my steady stare.
"Do you need to go up there?"
"Then let's go," he says, and starts towards me.
But I wave him off, because I don't want his help... "I need to go, Emmett, not be taken."
He stops his forward progress and looks at me, then back to the mountain I can't climb. "Havin a bad day, buddy?"
"They're all bad days, Em."
"They could be worse... you could end them alone, instead of with that wonderful wife of yours."
"That's true, I suppose."
"I'd rather I ended than anything without her. Is that more of the response you expected from me?"
"I didn't expect anything from you, but to not come here and find my best friend letting some bullshit beat him. Or blinding him to what he still has even if he hasn't figured out yet how to kick its ass."
"Well, nothing. Is sitting down here staring at those stairs going to get you up them?"
"No. I'd have been at the top hours ago if it could."
"Don't you think I want to?! That I would if I could?!"
"Yeah, I do. So, why aren't you?"
"You may not be able to get up those stairs, Edward–today–but you don't have to sit at the bottom of them like you're stuck there. You can move."
"And where do you suggest I go?"
"Because I have so many options?"
"Yeah, as a matter of fact, exactly because you do."
"Says the man who actually can go anywhere."
"Yep. And the one who can take you with me."
"Don't come near me, Emmett," I warn, because he is. Getting nearer. Way too fucking near. "I'm not fucking around with you!"
"Good," he tells me, and pulls me from my chair and throws me over his shoulder like I'm some kind of fucking rag doll. "Because I'm not fucking around with you, either. And not letting you sit here anymore letting anything else fuck with you. Or you with yourself."
"Feel better now?"
How could I not? Look at her... "Yeah, Em, thanks. How bout you?"
"Edward, that wedgie was the most action I've had in months. I should buy you flowers or something."
"Well, my options at defense were limited... " I laugh, "and I figured old school schoolyard was as good a choice as any."
"So did I," he says, because that's exactly where he brought me. To Bella's schoolyard, at the exact time she's outside in it with her kids.
I don't know if he knew she would be, or if he just thought bringing me closer to her would help me, but I'm grateful for his insight either way. And his friendship, that maybe I haven't appreciated enough over the years.
"I meant it, thanks for this. And for you, you big, overgrown pain in my ass."
"You can feel pain in your ass?"
"Ouch. Boy, you're full of the good stuff today, aren't you?"
"I am. So, are you going to talk to her or just stalk her?"
"Is it really considered stalking if the her is your wife?"
"I don't know... We could call Charlie and ask him?"
"We don't need to. He'd say no."
"Only because she's your wife. And you're his boy."
"His and hers," I correct, and smile at the scene playing out in front of us a few feet away.
A little boy has found a worm somewhere in the yard, and instead of tormenting some cute little pigtailed girl with it, he's wiggling it proudly up before Bella...
Who, even more proudly, is being protected from the little wormboy by another, who's shielding her as if her very life is in danger.
"Good little man," I whisper to her unhearing protector, even though Bella would never bat an eye at a worm.
And isn't. And is smiling at the battle over her. For her, and her attention.
Which, unfortunately for both of them, I already won.
Because she looks up suddenly, and sees me watching her, and then can't seem to see anything else.
Because the bell that even I can hear, even from this distance, seems silent to her ears.
And I can't help but smile at that...
And feel proud...
But I can help her. And do, by pointing to my own, and then at her with a You're precious smile. Which makes her, and then blow me a kiss before she rushes inside with her kids.
The biggest reason I made her come back here.
Because she loves them.
And because as long as she loves me, they may be the only ones she ever has to.
I'm back at the bottom of our staircase the moment Emmett leaves me alone. Bella isn't home yet, and you could hear a pin drop in this house.
Or maybe you could... if the sound of my regretful breathing wasn't thundering through it and bouncing and echoing off the walls.
The walls that are many. Because this house is huge.
Much too much so for two people. And certainly for one.
Because when I chose this house...
And brought my new bride to it...
Carried her over the threshold and into it...
I thought someday it would be full.
Of laughter, and noise, and beautiful, happy little feet.
Beautiful, happy little feet I would make...
Because Bella let me make her mine.
And someday she'd give me ours.
A someday that I know now may never come.
Because we weren't in a hurry. We thought we had time. All of the time in the world...
And wanted to spend as much of it as we could together. Alone. Just the two of us.
Loving and living and growing up just a little more...
Before we watched our children. And taught them. And...
Children we may not have now.
Because we can't.
Because I can't...
And can't watch Bella teach them anything. Because I can't give her.
I don't regret what I did...
When I bought my bride this house...
It's not what echoes around me. Bounces off the walls of it and my heart...
I regret the can't. That that word has become a part of our lives. And may keep them quiet.
And this house.
And these stairs I stare at...
That should have beautiful, happy little feet running up and down them.
But that won't...
Because I can't hear mine.
And because Bella can't.
Leading the way for her or carrying her through it...
Because they don't make any noise.
To anyone's ears but my own.
"How was your day?" Bella asks me the moment her Hello kiss leaves my lips.
"It was okay," I tell her. "Some parts were better than others. How was yours?"
"Fine... until I saw you."
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that, because that was the best part of mine."
"You know I didn't mean it that way, Edward. I just... well, I didn't get to talk to you. Or ask you what you needed. And then that's all I could think about for the rest of it... that there must have been something you did, and that you weren't getting it and–"
"I just needed to see you, Bella. That's all."
"It really is? Or was?"
"Yes. And I got to, so–"
"So, that's why you didn't let me know you were there?"
"Yes. And because I didn't want you to catch me spying on my competition."
"Aah... so, should I pretend I didn't see you, then?"
"No... because I liked how you looked when you did."
"Oh? How did I look?"
"Like I didn't have any."
"Well, of course I looked like that... you don't. And you never will."
"Never's a long time, sweetheart."
"You think so? Because I don't. I don't think it's long at all... and certainly not long enough... if that's how long you'll have me all to yourself."
But I wanted to share you.
"What are you doing, Bella?"
I've been laying here awake for the last hour...
An hour that I thought my wife was asleep.
Because in it she never made a sound. Or moved a muscle.
But what she's doing now tells me I was wrong.
Because she just climbed on top of me.
And is looking down at with wide awake eyes. "I'm going to give you a massage. Because you can't sleep. And I want to help you."
"You don't have to do that," I tell her. "You have to get up early, and–"
"Since when does my husband care about how much sleep I get? Hmm? Or don't?"
"Since now, I guess."
"Well, I'm tough. And incredibly resilient... which you very well know... and I can function on very little, so let me. And let yourself relax. And me help you."
"Okay," I tell her. Because I don't want to deny her anything more than I already have.
And because her hands already feel like heaven.
And looking up at her is like looking up at.
Only one that I can hold in my hands, instead of just wonder if I'll ever get to it.
And one that I can feel the wonder of...
In my hands and in hers.
Because mine do hold her... her legs around me. Keeping me still. And safe between them. And beneath her...
And hers... that move... keeping me still and making me soar all at once.
The way they always have.
Whether this way or another.
Like her mouth...
That joins them.
Follows their path over me...
And sometimes leads it.
With sweet, loving kisses.
That I don't think will stop where I can feel them. Because, like her, they keep going. Keep moving. Down me, and to. As she inches herself down my stomach... and over... "Bella..."
I feel her.
And keeps going. Moving down.
Making me wonder if I'm imagining it... this thing I feel... this everything...
That I never thought I would again. And never thought she would.
But then I know I'm not. Because I see it. Because she's on my legs now... and inching my boxers down them.
And then they're off...
My boxers and her. And she's moving them...
And moving herself between them. Instead of where I desperately want her.
"Bella, please... "
"You don't have to say please, Edward... that's your game, not mine... and I don't need to hear it... "
"Come back up here, Bella... get... up there... I'm begging you... "
What is she doing? I can finally give her something... something I need to give her... something I want her to have...
Why won't she take it?
Why won't she... fuuuuuuuuuuuck! "Bella... baby... Don't waste it... I–"
"I would never," she tells me, pulling me from her heavenly mouth only long enough to.
And then pulling me back into it. The part of me I thought was dead. Like the others. Broken.
And like my heart that isn't the first, but that she is. Breaking. Crushing. Because she won't crush herself to me.
"Sweetheart, I don't know how long it will last... please...
"Or how long it could be before–"
"Well, we have forever... " she tells me now, her hand moving slowly up and down the place her mouth just left again. So she could. For me. And give me something for only. "And you were watching me today... because you needed to. Needed to see me... another game of yours... that you love... so watch me. And see. And feel."
I can FEEL.
But... "But w-what about y-you?" God, I missed this... watching her... seeing her... feeling her... and myself... HERS... "Bella... what a-b-bout–" Aaaaaaahhhhh...
And seeing NONE of me at all.
And all of how much she loves me.
Bella really is asleep this time.
And I was...
But I'm not anymore.
And staring again. But down, not up this time.
At Bella's face where it lies against my chest. Her slightly parted lips. That were parted wider when she was awake. And that were full...
Like she is, I suppose.
Even as she sleeps.
Because she's still wearing what she climbed into our bed in.
It's still against her skin.
And against mine. Only.
Because I wear nothing else.
But it and her.
And her desire to give me everything.
And tell me she already has.
As long as she has me.
And then I look past her...
To what she had and didn't.
Took and wouldn't.
That she doesn't ever regret not.
And that I don't regret not ordering her to.
For both of us.
And the us we may never get to be.