A/N: Finals for the semester are over! Let's celebrate, with a new chapter! :D
I'd love to thank all of you for your wonderful feedback, by the way. You people are seriously the nicest fandom ever, which I did not expect, but was definitely a pleasant surprise.
OH! OH! And about this chapter. Bella's high moments? Personal experience from that particular pain medication. (I had my wisdom teeth removed.)
Pivotal Moments: Chapter Nine
The Body Electric
Is it terrible that the revelation that I'm not the only one with freaky mind powers makes me feel so much better? Because it does. My brain is telling me that I should be flipping my shit right about now, but my body is lethargic, and my heart is fluttering in its excitement.
Of course, that might just be the Percocet. Carlisle really came through, after I'd wolfed down the slightly charred grilled cheese sandwich that Emmett had presented to me with a proud sort of grin. Oxycodone, which was Carlisle's first choice for me, always made me nauseous, so he'd settled for the Percocet instead, though I warned him it made me high as a kite. (I'd had half a mind to ask why vampires would have such a high amount of medical supplies on hand anyways, but Alice had intervened and told me not to ask. I was never going to get used to the whole 'I-see-the-future' thing.) I'd swallowed the pill at Alice's insistence, as she'd disregarded my protests, and taken a thirty minute nap while Alice showered and cleaned herself up after her fight (which was the condition I'd set for my consumption of the painkillers). By the time she'd returned and I'd blinked my way back to consciousness, I was diagnosably loopy.
Did I mention that I don't handle painkillers well?
Alice, once again returned to her natural immaculate state, flounced down the stairs and I lolled my head backwards over the arm of the couch so I could see her do so, grinning languidly. She stopped halfway down the stairs and stared at me in confusion.
I pouted at her. "What?" I asked.
"Are you all right?" she inquired, a little too delicately.
Fortunately for her, I wasn't in a state to pick up on anything subtle. "I'm wonderful," I giggled. Emphasis on the wonderful. I blinked as my eyes lost a little focus and then pouted, lifting my broken arm. "My cast is boring. Sign it Ali? Please? You always make everything so beautiful."
"Oh! I… sure, Bella," she answered, a little taken aback. She zipped back up the stairs and then down again, returning with a sharpie. By this time, Emmett and Jasper had also entered the room. The larger brother had a shit-eating grin on his face.
"You know, you always look so scary, Em," I commented, sitting up but overbalancing enough that I swayed. "But you're the biggest softie in the whole house!"
Alice looked stricken. "Oh my God," she breathed. "What's wrong with her?"
Emmett just laughed and sat next to me, tossing one burly arm over my shoulders. "You're totally smashed, aren't you Bellsie?" he snickered.
I thought about it for a moment, meditating on the fact that my whole body was filled with a pleasant buzzing feeling. "Yes," I agreed solemnly. I shook my head in an attempt to clear it, but that just made me dizzy, and I leaned back into the couch cushions as the world spun dangerously. "Jasper, do I feel funny?" Alice had told me that Edward could read minds (but not mine, so suck my dick, Edward) and that Jasper could sense emotions.
Jasper laughed out loud. This made me grin widely, because I didn't think he laughed enough. "You have no idea, Bella," he confirmed. "I really wish Edward could read your mind. With what you're feeling right now, I'd love to know what's going through that pretty little head of yours."
I widened my eyes and shook my head so vigorously that I fell over. Alice caught me though, giggling, before draping herself over the arm of the couch and attacking my plain white plaster cast with her sharpie. It was purple, which I thought was nice. "No, that would be bad," I told Jasper. "If Edward could read my mind, he'd know that I think he's so far in the closet he's in Narnia. Then he'd be mad," I explained.
A crash sounded from upstairs, and Jasper and Emmett started laughing so hard that I was honestly surprised they weren't crying. Then again, they were vampires, so maybe they couldn't. Either way, Edward's indignant cries of protest that I couldn't quite catch made me giggle. "Sorry Edward. Vampire hearing. I forgot," I laughed. I didn't really feel that bad about it, but I was nothing if not polite.
Alice finished up her work on the cast with a flourish. She'd signed her name in a net of beautifully detailed vines and flowers. Stupid vampire. I wish I could draw like that. I hadn't meant to say that out loud, though, but when I did, I began to have serious concerns for Emmett. He was going to hurt himself if he kept laughing like that. I said that out loud too.
"You're cut off," Alice informed me sternly. Her beautiful golden eyes were dancing with amusement though, so I know she didn't mean it.
I paused. "From what?" I questioned. Honestly. She was the one who insisted I take something for the pain.
Rosalie strode into the room then, more composed than she had been earlier. She looked down at Emmett, who was still at my side, with a mixture of reluctant amusement and exasperation. "You." She pointed at him. "Stop encouraging her." She pointed at me, and I grinned up at her. "You." She pointed at Jasper. "Go find some Civil War documentaries to yell at. You." She pointed at Alice, who was in the process of sticking her tongue out at Emmett. "Take your girlfriend upstairs. She's a mess. And you." She pointed at me, her face twitching in amusement as she watched me try and fail to focus my eyes on her accusing finger. "What have you got to say for yourself?"
Without thinking, I lurched forwards and hugged her waist as best I could under the circumstances. "You're the best big sister ever Rose!" I hummed happily.
She was quiet for a moment, but I wasn't really in a position to see the blonde's face, so I couldn't say for sure what she was thinking. Not that I was in a state to care, mind you. When she spoke again, however, her voice was softer than usual. "Alice? Upstairs."
I could feel Alice wrap an arm around my waist, and I stood, leaning on her whenever I felt dizzy. Which was a lot. The floor wouldn't stay still, dammit! I looked up, ready to chatter more with Rosalie, but the pair of us were alone in the room. It seemed that both Jasper and Emmett were suitably terrified of Rosalie, and that Rosalie wasn't in the mood to talk right now.
"This way, my Isabella," Alice cooed in my ear, leading me up the stairs and towards her room. "You should probably sleep this off. Carlisle says he'll only give you a half dose next time."
I turned so I could see her face. "I did tell you," I grumbled. "I wasn't hurting that bad.
Alice had the grace to look a little ashamed of herself, before grinning wickedly. "It was worth it, to see you without a filter though," she cackled.
I rolled my eyes and pushed open the door to her room, crossing the floor before crawling onto Alice's fluffy four-poster bed. She lay beside me quietly, and for a few minutes, we didn't speak. I was listening to my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. "Alice?"
"Did you ever think about putting a coffin in here? Just for shits and giggles?"
Alice laughed out loud, and the mattress trembled a little in sympathy. "You know that's just a myth, right?" she questioned.
I blinked up at the ceiling. "Of course! I might be human, but I'm pretty sure I would have noticed if you had a coffin in your bedroom, Alice," I exclaimed.
"You sure?" she teased.
I smacked her stomach weakly. "Not nice," I scolded her.
"Sorry," she apologized somewhat insincerely. I smacked her again and she giggled. "We don't even sleep," she confessed.
I blinked. "Weren't our sleepovers boring?" I blurted.
"No," she replied simply.
Well that's that, I suppose. Sighing, I closed my eyes. My body was tired, but my brain was running at hyperspeed. I tapped my fingers on the bedspread rhythmically for another few long minutes. It took me a while to remember what rhythm I was tapping. My thoughts were like fish, scattering away in a silver flurry when I approached and slipping through my fingers as soon as I managed to catch one. "I sing the body electric," I recited quietly –almost imperceptibly—as the rhythm finally came to me. "The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul. Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves? And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead? And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?"
I could feel Alice's smile, even if I couldn't see it. She took my uninjured hand in hers, exploring all of its facets by touch as if she were afraid of forgetting it. "This is the female form," she quoted from farther along in the poem. I didn't mind that she skipped a few stanzas though. It was a long poem. "A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot, It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction, I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor, all falls aside but myself and it, Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what was expected of heaven or fear'd of hell, are now consumed, Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable, Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all diffused, mine too diffused, Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching, Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice, Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn, Undulating into the willing and yielding day, Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh'd day."
She paused for breath, and I jumped right in, enunciating the words with reverence. Words are important. Especially beautiful ones like these. I continued almost breathlessly. "This the nucleus—after the child is born of woman, man is born of woman, This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the outlet again. Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the exit of the rest, You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul. The female contains all qualities and tempers them, She is in her place and moves with perfect balance, She is all things duly veil'd, she is both passive and active, She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as daughters. As I see my soul reflected in Nature, As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness, sanity, beauty, See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see."
Alice didn't continue, and I was glad. There wasn't a need to. I was already breathless. She simply continued to press my warm hand between her icy ones. "I didn't know you liked Whitman," she commented in a husky sort of voice that made me shiver.
"Sometimes, a poem isn't just a poem," I explained, as if this explained everything. And it did. To me, at least. "Sometimes, words mean more than what they say."
Alice released a shaky breath, and she squeezed my hand ever-so-gently. "And what did those words mean?"
I hummed sleepily and squeezed back. "Everything."
I fell asleep then and there.
My Isabella slept restlessly for a few hours. The others went about their business in the house, but I didn't budge an inch from her side, choosing to lounge at the foot of the bed and thank whatever deities existed that Bella took the whole situation so well. I could hardly believe that she knew what I was, and didn't care. At all. It was a miracle in my eyes. I was the luckiest vampire on the planet, truly.
Thankfully, by the time she woke up, she was back in her right mind. Mostly. Not that it wasn't hilarious to see her so out-of-her-mind stoned, but Edward was still sulking over the Narnia comment. I watched with tenderness as she rolled over with a soft groan, only to yelp as she toppled right off the edge of the bed and hit the floor with a muted 'thud'.
Only then did she deem it an appropriate moment to open her eyes. "Motherfucking—"
"—Language!" Esme scolded from all the way downstairs.
She sighed heavily and leaned her head back against the floor, clearly frustrated.
I couldn't help myself, and giggled softly.
"Laugh it up, Alice," Bella groaned from her place on the floor. "If I eat all my vegetables, I'll be able to kick your ass when I grow up."
"Oh, well I can't have that, can I?" I cooed, darting to her side and scooping her up bridal style, cradling her warmth to my chest for a few moments longer than strictly necessary before depositing her back on the bed in a seated position. "Better?"
Bella's face was flushed red, and I couldn't hide the smug smile that tugged at my lips as I seated myself at her side, winding an arm around her waist. "Yeah…" she mumbled, avoiding eye contact.
"How are you feeling?" I asked, pulling away somewhat. I didn't want to make her uncomfortable.
Her blush slowly fading, Bella turned her head to face me, our noses so close that they were almost touching. (Not that I was complaining. I'd take what I could get.) "Just a little sore," she confessed in a breathy whisper. I kept my eyes riveted onto hers, resisting the temptation to let them drift down towards her lips. "I've still got the Percocet running through me, I think; which by the way Alice, I am never taking again."
I smirked. "Why not?"
"You know perfectly well why not, Alice Cullen!" she hissed at me, blushing bright red all over again. I wanted to inhale deeply and drink in the scent of her blood, but I didn't dare. "I made a fool of myself."
"Au contraire, ma belle," I corrected her with a cheeky wink. "I had no idea that you were such a romantic, memorizing a poem like that. It was a very welcome surprise." I kissed her on the flaming cheek, which burned my lips in a good way, and stood, sparing her from her own mortification. "Are you hungry? Esme's fixed you something to eat."
She followed me downstairs, stumbling a little, but otherwise fine. I was glad to see my Isabella acting more like herself.
I was also absolutely flabbergasted by the fact that she honest to God didn't give a flying fuck that I wasn't none of us were. Out of all of the reactions I had imagined her to have, that was definitely not one of them. My thoughts kept returning to that point like a dog chasing its tail. And she wasn't faking it either. I'd already checked with Jasper.
He said she dearly loved us. Loved us.
Forgive me if I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Esme and Bella chatted amiably as Bella ate. They were sweet to watch. Esme had a special place in her heart for my Isabella, the youngest and most fragile of her babies, and it showed in her eyes. And Bella… Bella needed a mother, not that she'd ever admit it to herself. Her mother's death had cut her deeply, and it wasn't hard to see that her interactions with Esme filled some of the hole that was left in her absence.
When she was finished eating, I shot an apologetic smile to Esme before grabbing Bella's hand and practically dragging her out the front door, snagging her coat on one finger as I went.
"Uh, Alice? Where are we going?" Bella gasped, tripping and flailing her casted arm for balance.
I stopped and gripped her waist. "May I carry you and run, Bella?" I asked sweetly. Bella looked a little skeptical, and I rolled my eyes at her. "I won't drop you. Pinky swear," I grumbled, pouting a little and offering up my smallest finger.
With a solemnity disproportionate to the occasion, Bella linked her pinky with mine. "Okay," she agreed.
I shot her a downright wolfish grin. "Excellent." With that, I scooped her up into my arms and took off through the woods, dodging trees with little leaps and trying not to jostle my all-too-breakable passenger too much. Her heart was racing in her chest and her breathing was accelerated, but other than that, Bella didn't seem to be in any distress, which was heartening.
We didn't run long. Less than two minutes later, I arrived at my destination, slowing to a stop and gently placing Bella back onto her own two clumsy feet. She kept a tight hold of my waist though, much to my pleasure. The spot wasn't anything special, but that's why I liked it. We were standing atop a grassy hill deep within the Olympic National Forest. It was bare of trees up here, for whatever reason, making it my favorite spot to stargaze. The sun was setting now, flooding the entire swollen grey sky with pallid pink. The cloud cover would disappear soon.
I fell backwards into the springy, bright green grass with a sigh. A vision flickered through my head, and I hummed happily. "Show starts in fifteen," I reported aloud for my Isabella's benefit. She was still standing, taking in her surroundings with a funny, thoughtful sort of expression, which crinkled her nose. She settled down cross-legged at my side then, not bothering to answer aloud, and instead ran her fingers through my short hair. I adored it when she did this, though I'd never admit it, and I felt my lips turn up in a contented smile. It was freeing, to be myself around Bella. To know that the secrets I was keeping from her had been cut in half, and in half again. I felt more relaxed in that moment than I had in months.
"Are you purring?" Bella laughed, taking her hands from my hair and poking me gently in the side.
If I could have blushed, I would have been doing so profusely. I considered denying the fact that I had indeed been purring, but my gift told me that she'd only laugh harder if I tried. "Y-yes," I spluttered. "I'll stop."
"Don't," Bella pleaded, a mischievous glint in her light brown eyes. "I like it."
I made a face at her and tackled her, pushing her down onto her back in the grass. "Stay there," I warned her, as she squirmed in a futile effort to retaliate. "I brought you here to see the stars, and they're coming out soon."
Bella pouted adorably, but did as I asked. I lay right up against her side, our arms pressing together. Sure enough, as the sky flushed purple and black, like so many human bruises, the stars twinkled into existence.
And they were beautiful.
Fun fact about Forks, it's in the middle of bum-fucking nowhere. That means no light pollution, which means beautiful, beautiful stars. The sky was awash with them, like a stream of radioactive milk. They winked at me in the millions, and I wished I could float away with them. They'd be friendly, I think. Bella sighed contentedly, and I felt a small swell of pride bubble up within me. I was a vampire. Vampires were creatures of two elements: blood and sex. It was killing me to abstain from both of these things when I was so close to Bella, my human mate who was so oblivious to our connection. But I did it. I was strong, and I did it for her.
I laid my head back against the damp grass, the choppy ends of my hair tickling my cheeks. I listened to the rustles of the forest at night, and my Isabella's steady heartbeat. The world was full of small creatures with heartbeats like hers, sprawled anywhere and everywhere that could support life. Large and small, furred, clawed. Everywhere. Tucked safely away in my house, I was rarely able to just lie down and listen to them like this. Listen to their mortality ticking away at its own steady rhythm, in that way that was so morbidly beautiful. The walls of a house gave me a seeming protection from hearing this.
Houses are nice. Everything in them was designed and proportioned exclusively for human (or human-sized vampire) use. I fit, there. Houses are monuments to human egotism, and I am not ashamed to admit that I am grateful for this.
Nature isn't like a house, though. Nature is imperfect, and impossibly vast. Uncomfortable, as it is forceful in its reminders of human insignificance. Staring up at the lazy wash of stars spilling over the velvet of the sky, I was very much aware that I am nothing, compared to this. A speck. A blip. Even without a beating heart. This is a fact that not even the comfortable egotism of a house can protect me from.
Intellectually, I know this. I can't feel it though. I am my world, even if I'm not the world. It's an interesting dichotomy –knowing one thing and feeling the opposite. Not many of these forest creatures that surround us are capable of anything even remotely similar.
Maybe this is what makes us human.
I never gave much thought to things like the soul. What with my distinct lack of background, I was afforded the freedom to look at opinions of such things freely, without bias. And maybe I was just sentimental, but despite the fact that I can't claim a religious affiliation, I hadn't a shadow of a doubt that I had a soul. Perhaps biologically, a soul does not exist. Can't be quantified. But I am perfectly willing to believe that a soul can exist as a construct of the mind. Souls are not limited to human beings, after all. A soul isn't something that can be possessed, or contained. It's ephemeral. It can never be seen, but for its effects. That doesn't make it any less real, though.
So, lying here beneath the stars, insignificant in nature, I feel close to my soul. I can feel it pulsing just beneath the surface of my understanding of reality, filling me head to toe with the warmth of completeness, and it felt like I was floating. Drifting. Only anchored down by the beating of my Isabella's heart.
I didn't mind being tied down in the least.
I was more human than I thought, in the end. I found that ironic.
I turned towards Bella and let out a little gasp, momentarily taken aback by just how beautiful she was. The starlight illuminated her skin like the surface of the pearl, and I had an excellent view of her profile. Bella wasn't what I would describe as pretty. Instead, she was graced with more of an aristocratic, old-fashioned sort of beauty, from a more classic time. High cheekbones, a delicate chin and jaw line, and those beautiful brown doe eyes that were perfectly almond-shaped. She was a goddess, and it was moments like these that this fact nearly blasted me off my feet.
Hearing my intake of breath, Bella turned towards me lazily, a strand of hair falling into her eyes. "What is it, Alice?" she asked.
"You're really beautiful, you know," I commented to her without thinking, still a little dazed from my contemplative mood. My embarrassment was only momentary, however. It was an upside to my gift, I supposed. I could always enter a situation with confidence. "No one says it nearly enough."
My Isabella's answering blush was nothing short of spectacular, even in the dark. "Th-thank you Alice," she stuttered out, breaking eye contact but sporting a small smile either way.
I beamed at her before rolling closer to her, so I was resting on my side. "So now that we're both on the same page, vampire-wise, can I tell you something that might sound a little weird?"
Snickering a little, Bella sat up, and I joined her. She leaned into my side. "I'm pretty sure we're past the point of weird, Ali," she pointed out dryly.
"Fair enough," I conceded with a nod, before grinning roguishly at her. "It's just that you smell wonderful. Being around you is like a human sitting in a bakery. It's heavenly," I groaned.
Her eyes widened fractionally. "Does it hurt?" she breathed, sadness twisting her face. "I don't want you to hurt."
I opened my mouth to lie to her before snapping it closed again. I couldn't do that to her. "It used to," I admitted. "I got used to it though. I borrowed a few items of clothing from your hamper to acclimate myself and the others, and now, it doesn't hurt at all."
My Isabella frowned, but didn't say anything, instead reaching out and grabbing my hand, staring at it instead of my face, as if she were ashamed.
Seeing her even a little bit sad wasn't something I could handle. So I set about to cheer her up with what Emmett referred to as my 'happy-beam'. "But now that it doesn't hurt anymore," I purred, sporting a sort of faux evil look on my face, "I can do this!" I pounced on her, tickling her stomach and nuzzling my nose up and down her neck, inhaling her scent.
Bella shrieked with laughter, trying to escape both my dancing fingers and searching nose. "A-Alice! S-stop it!" she gasped in between fits of giggles.
Not wanting to get carried away and accidentally hurt her with the roughhousing, I did as she asked but remained perched in her lap, looking and feeling smug. Bella put an end to that rather quickly though, and pushed me off, grumbling something about 'stupid super-strong vampires' and sticking her tongue out at me. She couldn't hold her pout for more than a few seconds though, and ended up smiling at me and grabbing my hand again.
"Thanks for bringing me out here to see the stars, Alice," she said, still breathless. Her face was flushed, her hair was mussed, her eyes were shining, and her chest was heaving. I made a mental note to tickle her more often. Maybe I was a pervert, but I still maintain that I'm not to be blamed for enjoying the sight. "It was exactly what I needed."
I wanted to say so many things. I wanted to tell her that she was my mate. That I loved her. That I started falling for her all those months ago and hadn't stopped even now. I wanted to tell her that I would do anything to make her happy. But she wasn't ready to hear these things yet, so I settled for letting them shine out of my eyes as I gazed at her with no small amount of longing. I felt free tonight. I didn't want to hold back. Not completely. "I'll always find a way to make you happy, Bella," I promised her. "And Bella, thank you."
She blinked at me, confused. "What could you possibly have to thank me for, Alice?" she asked. "It was you who saved my life. You and Jazz."
I wanted to growl at her for not understanding how special she was, but I swallowed it. "You saved me, Bella," I assured her, lurching forwards and gathering her up in a hug. "In more ways than one." My words were muffled, as I had buried my face in her soft, silky neck, but I knew she heard me.
Hesitantly, she copied my pose, and I shivered at the feeling of her warm breath on my neck.
"Then you're welcome, Ali."
A/N: That poem was my favorite for this week, "I Sing the Body Electric" by Walt Whitman. It's really long, so that was just a little part, but it's incomparably beautiful.