A/N: I'm so glad you guys are enjoying this story. This is the chapter from the NKH compilation. I hope you enjoy it, the next chapter should be in the Wildfires compilation barring that my writer's block cooperates. :)
It's un-beta'd so mistakes are all mine, please don't hate me for them...
Bella sat in the back room of the Golden Age watching Edward through her curtain of hair while she flipped through a new book. She was supposed to be debating if she wanted to purchase it or not, but she was too busy marveling at him to make an informed decision. She moved it into the reject pile of the night and picked up one she knew she would purchase.
"He's super delicious, Boo. How did you stumble on this one?"
Alice perched on the filing cabinet next to hers and she couldn't help but smile at her friend as she fiddled with her messy hair. She was cute as a button, but it never looked like she could have spent more than five minutes on her appearance and her pixie haircut always seemed to exist in a state of disarray that Bella couldn't help but find charming.
"I was working on my article on the soccer team."
"Ahhhh...Is he any good?"
"Amazing. I thought soccer as a yawnfest like baseball, but he's incredible to watch."
"Like David Beckham good?"
"David Beckham? Soccer player married to a Spice Girl and super hot, right? I have no idea, but he puts every other player to shame on the field."
"I'm surprised you're sharing him with us. Especially, after what happened when you brought Colin around. You know how Stanley is."
Bella arched an eyebrow as her eyes narrowed, why on earth Alice ever thought it was okay to bring that up she would never know. Walking in on Stanley atop her boyfriend had been the lowlight of her life thus far. "Don't go there. Stanley is nasty and I hope her mustache tickled his-" her eyes widened as she cleared her throat. "Oh! We're not-I mean, I can admire him from afar and he's really great to hang out with, but we're not dating or anything."
"No, you don't care about him like that at all." Alice reached over swiping the book from my hands and turned it right side up as she smirked. "He's hot and you two have been hanging out a lot for almost a month and you bring him here, but you don't like him."
Bella tucked her hair behind her ear as she watched him laughing with Stanley and sighed. "Al, he's WAY out of my league. He's only here with me, because he needs a comic fix and he feels obligated to show up with me."
Edward picked that moment to glance that direction flashing her a secret smile before glancing back at the girl standing before him still rambling.
"Yeah, and he's not into you at all." Alice rolled her eyes as she looks at her. "Bells, get off your ass, get your nose out of a book and get the guy. Seriously."
Bella licked her ice cream cone and smiled up at him sweetly, she knew she was going to set off a fire storm, but throughout their lunch Edward had seemed a bit out of sorts and she knew just how to pull him back. "So what you're telling me is that you legitimately think that the Green Lantern might be some kind of match for a real superhero?"
"Why not? The only limits to his powers is his own mind." Edward stared at her incredulously as if she had just told him that the sky was falling.
"But his mind is weak. He can barely control his own powers. It's going to take him years to be able to even put a scratch on Spiderman."
"Spiderman? Shut the front door! You have to be kidding me right? He wears a spandex suit and he shoots webs." Edward held up his hand as he looks at her. "Wait for it-OH! Never mind that is his ONLY power. Not sure if you heard that ONLY. Spiderman is a bloody joke of a bloke."
Bella snorted as she looks at him as she giggles. "Whoa! Whoa! James Bond, cool your jets and take a deep breath. I had no idea that you had such hatred and repulsion for our superheroes."
"James Bond? What is this a man has a British accent and he's automatically James Bond?"
"Clearly. Besides you're the one that showed me the pictures of your impressive car." She arched an eyebrow and stared up at him not sure why that was even a question and then dissolving in giggles again when he looked legitimately offended. "I'm sorry, I didn't know that was going to offend your soft little British heart."
He caught her hand in his when she patted his chest, growling as he tried to look intimidating. "I think you're getting a little too feisty for your own good. Did someone burn your bubbles and squeak this morning or piss in your cuppa?"
She leaned her head to the side as she stared at him, her ice cream cone dropping without her notice. "My bubbles and squeak? What do you know about my bubbles and squeak?"
Bella tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for him to regain control of himself. "If you could manage to pull yourself together there, Bond."
"I'm s-sorry." He managed through his laughter as he looks up at her his green eyes twinkling with mirth still as he took a deep breath. "Bubbles and squeak is a food dish."
"A type of food?"
"Yes, of course. What else would I be talking about burning?" His eyes widened as the light bulb above his head finally clicked on.
"Oh. Yes, of course."
"I'm really sorry, tiny, I didn't mean really. I didn't have any idea that you'd think I was referring to-" his gaze lowered to her jeans before darting back up at her face "you Yanks have such odd terminology. I had no idea."
His words caused her to blush as she shook her head "No, it's not something we commonly use. Just-" she took a deep breath bracing herself for her explanation of why she jumped to a stupid conclusion. "Often American girls refer to it as a lot of things. I thought maybe that was just your way of referring to it." She buried her face in her hands wishing she had a wall to bang it against or a hole to dwell in. "So going back to your love for the Green Lantern."
"We closed that topic." Edward stepped closer to her as they resumed their pace down the sidewalk as he looks down at her. "Believe me if I'm referring to that sort of bubbles and squeak, I will use a much better name and you won't have any questions about what I'm talking about."
The air between them seemed to fill with an electrical current as she turned her face up to look at him as his fingers slid over her cheek softly. She could feel her face was heated from his words, but the embarrassment ebbed away as the desire coursed through her. For weeks they had been dancing around this building attraction and tension.
The first day at practice when he had approached her she had been so tongue tied she was sure that nothing would ever come out of the situation other than him being positive that she was an idiot. However, by the time they had arrived at The Golden Age the conversation had fallen into an easy pattern and even if all they were discussing was their favorite comics it was a far sight better than babbling like an idiot who should have been denied college admissions.
Her tongue darted out wetting her lips as his face lowered to hers, she was amazed as her entire body hummed with anticipation. The hairs on her arms were standing straight up and it even seemed the ground under her feet was vibrating with anticipation, before she found herself flat on her butt with Edward standing in front of her practically snarling.
"Get. In. The. Stoop. Bella." He glanced back at her frozen form and managed a pleading glance. "Now."
Bella found herself peeking out from the stoop, but the street she had just vacated was empty, the ground still vibrating. She attempted to move past her embarrassment as she studied the spot Edward had been occupying moments before. She couldn't help the strangled cry that made it between her fingers as she finally discovered the source of the vibrations under her feet.
A snarling creature emerged from between the buildings. Orange tufts of hair encircled his wrists and ankles as he stalked towards Edward, who seemed to be calling to the thing, provoking him into a fight.
"Edward, No!" she yelled to him as she felt her legs start to give out from under him. She had seen him shirtless enough to know he was well muscled and watched him play often enough to know he was fast, but he would be weak and defenseless against a creature the size of a building.
She covered her eyes as the man beast raised a paw to crush Edward with. The tears streaming down her face as she shook in her position on her knees as she tried not to listen to the feral sounds the creature was emitting, trying even harder to tune out any cries Edward might let out in pain.
She wished she was brave enough to run out and attempt to save him the way he had her. When the monster let out a sound akin to a cat getting stepped upon she couldn't help but look up through her fingers terrified of seeing Edward's mangled body.
The sight before her caused her to freeze. Edward was standing triumphantly atop the creature, using some sort of rope to strangle. She squinted at the sight in front of her, feeling her stomach turn as she noticed the bloody stump on the creature's rearend. He was strangling the creature with his own tail, before leaping off and striking a match and tossing it onto the body.
She felt the blackness creeping in around her as she watched the blue flames dance around the creature's body, consuming it instantly and leaving nothing behind in its wake.
Edward propelled himself forward just in time to prevent her head from connecting with the concrete step of the stoop. He'd been terrified of her reaction to seeing a display like the one that had just taken place in the middle of the street. He'd kept his distance from her for months. He told himself it didn't matter that her questions intrigued him or that he could have lost himself in her milk chocolate eyes.
Personal connections were were a luxury that he could not afford. However after her disappearing act after his after dark appearance in her life he couldn't help but test the waters. He told himself he just wanted to be sure she was okay. Then he'd seen the comic book sitting there and made the offer to accompany her.
She was a slippery and all too tempting slope for him. The more he spent time with her the more he craved it. She was a sliver of normalcy in a life that was becoming consumed with other worldly things. After the atrocities he had allowed to be committed he didn't deserve her, but he couldn't walk away from her.
He carefully seated himself on the warm pavement and laid her head on his lap as he stroked her hair waiting for her eyes to open for him. Contemplating the merits of just disappearing from the area all together, but he knew there was more information in this city. Plus with the emergence of more creatures daily he couldn't leave his sweet, small girl unprotected.
He needed to find a way into the Volturi corporation's vaults and find the experiments they were doing. He was as sure that they were responsible for not only the influx of impossible creatures as he was that they had turned him into what he was today.
His single focus for months had been on getting in to fix this once and for all. To find a way out for himself other than worst case scenario.
He wanted that scenario less and less each day he spent with Bella.
It only took minutes for her chocolate eyes to flutter open, their connection sent a jolt through him. He reached out to touch her cheek to ensure she was fine. However, the way he flinched away from his hand alerted him to the fact that their dynamic had shifted. Gone was the flame of desire that had mirrored his own need . Instead in its place it was mix of fear and anxiety.
He withdrew his hand running it anxiously through his hair. "We should get you home and talk." He whispered.
"No!" She sat up faster than she should have and found herself clutching her head as he rubbed her back.
"Just let me walk you home. It's not safe for you-"
"It's not safe?" Bella raged as she stood up putting distance between the mas she shook her head. "You! You-I mean you just killed some massive creature with his tail! How am I supposed to believe for one second that I'm safe with you? What if I say something you don't like? Are you going to cut my tail off as well?"
Edward resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the shaking brunette in front of him. He knew that he shouldn't have revealed himself like that and truth be told he hadn't intended to, but the thought of her in danger again was more than her could bear. "You don't have a tail."
"So that's all that's keeping you from killing me?"
"Bella, listen we're making a scene." Edward whispered as he stepped closer to her. "Let me take you home, I promise you that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this. Just please allow me the chance to tell you what's going on."
Bella shook her head as she looks up at him "How am I supposed to believe that I'm safe with you?"
"Bella, I've saved your life twice, if I was going to allow something to happen to you I wouldn't have bothered to save you. I would never allow you to come to harm at my own hand."
"That night." Bella whispered as the light came on above her head as she looks at him. "After I left Golden Age and the grey man attacked me. That was you!"
He opened his mouth to confirm her suspicions and reassure her that he was one of the good guys and he only wanted to keep her safe.
"You mean to tell me that you expect me to believe that you're Vanquish?" she demanded her voice rising higher and louder with each word as her eyes widened to the size of saucers as she stared at him.
"Isabella, please." Edward whispered stepping closer to her willing the people around them to disappear. "Allow me to take you home. If you never want to speak with me again, I will understand, but let me walk you home. I'll explain when we get there. No one but the two of us needs to hear this."
Bella nodded dumbly as she allowed him to lead her down the street. Her body shivered as they walked as she attempted to reconcile all the pieces of Edward Cullen in her head.
He was an amazing soccer player. He was a comic book nerd. He could defeat giant mythical creatures the likes of which she could even explain. He was Vanquish.
She couldn't decide if she was more turned on than ever or so terrified she wasn't thinking straight.