Summary: Edward and Bella enjoy their first official date with the help of
Michelangelo's art. Set during the happy summer between Twilight and New Moon.
Word Count: 4881
A/N: Muchas gracias to moonlitwoods for the advice, suggestions, and beta. I couldn't have done this without her help! This fic was written for AuroraBee as part of the Support Stacie Auction. I'd really appreciate your feedback- one-shot authors are overlooked!
A beautiful thing never gives so much pain as does failing to hear and see it. ~Michelangelo Buonarroti~
I pouted as I sat on the end of the bed, occasionally catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror as the vampire in front of me hummed sweetly, ignoring an hours’ worth of pleas. “But, Alice, couldn’t you just tell me where we’re going?” I asked, looking at her reflection in the mirror as she barretted the front of my hair back and fussed with several locks, getting them ‘just right.’ Personally, I thought it already looked considerably better than anything I could have done with it.
“I could,” Alice replied, giving my hair a spritz of hair spray, causing me to cough and sputter. Clearly I wasn’t used to so much styling paraphernalia. “But then he’d be grouchy and next time I need a favor—he’ll give me a hard time.”
I frowned, putting a deep furrow into my brow. “But, Alice,” I whined, watching her curl one lock of hair around her finger. “I thought we were friends now. Friends share secrets.” I had her, I was sure of it. She was a sucker—no pun intended—for girly stuff like this. She’d sing and spill my vampire’s secrets.
“I am your friend,” she answered, pressing a kiss to the top of my head. “And if I hadn’t already promised Edward, I’d tell you—oh, it’s perfect!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands together daintily before she gestured to her coiffed masterpiece.
I had to admit that with just a little bit of makeup, setting spray, and my own pixie-fashionista’s sense of style, I looked pretty. Having Alice help me this spring and summer while I recuperated from my injuries in Phoenix had been a godsend. Not only because I couldn’t imagine Charlie helping me with all the girly business, but because Alice and I had truly developed a relationship, and I’d realized how much that friendship meant to me.
“Thanks, Alice. For everything. You’re just as bad as Edward; you don’t have to bring me new clothes every time you come over. I’d love you anyway.”
She beamed. “I know.” And she did, that much was true. “And I know my sense of style is fabulous,” she giggled, grabbing just one ballerina flat off the bed next to me. She carefully shimmied it onto my foot. “There you go, Cinderella. Your prince awaits.”
“He’s here?” I looked at the clock quickly before I turned and glanced out the window toward the tree branch outside my room.
“Right…now,” she said, a moment before I heard a soft rap on the front door. “C’mon, let’s get you downstairs.”
She put her arm around me, helping me hobble down the narrow staircase while letting me maintain some aspect of my independence. I had graduated to a bulky walking cast, but I was still as uncoordinated as ever.
“You grab the door, I’ll get your coat,” Alice said, making sure I’d regained my balance before she moved to the front closet and began pawing.
I opened the front door knowing he’d be there but, as always, he took my breath away.
It was pouring rain outside, and Edward stood on the porch underneath a black umbrella. His alabaster skin was smooth perfection, and his butterscotch-colored eyes twinkled with mischief. I forced myself to swallow. My greeting had gotten caught in my throat, and my reaction caused my favorite smirk to appear on his face.
“Wow,” he breathed, glancing down at the royal blue, cap-sleeved silk blouse Alice had paired with a just-below-the-knee black skirt and black flats. Well, black flat. “You’ve outdone yourself, Sis. You look beautiful, Bella.”
As always, his praise and compliments caused me to blush. I coughed to clear my airway, and mumbled my thanks as I took in his own couture. The silvery-grey sweater he wore was fitted in all the right places, and his black pants accentuated his long, lean legs.
He leaned in and gently pressed a kiss to my temple. His lips burning icy-hot against my skin, I sucked in a deep breath. As always, my body was keenly aware he was near. My skin tingled and hummed where we touched, and the electricity positively crackled between us where we did not quite connect. The sensation never got old. I inhaled deeply, breathing in the honey-sweet scent of him, and licked my lips.
My heart spluttered inside my chest. I knew both he and Alice heard it.
“Calm yourself, Bella, a heart attack would definitely ruin your day. And speaking of ruining the day, do you own anything besides hoodies and flannel?” Alice’s voice hinted at her displeasure.
“No,” Edward and I answered simultaneously. We smiled at one another.
“Do vampires need umbrellas? Are you afraid you’ll melt?” I teased him, as Alice took her own jacket off and held it out for me to wear.
“Wrong magical creature,” Alice declared before giving an excellent impersonation of The Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz.
Edward carefully closed the umbrella, shaking it off outside before stepping in the house. “It’s not for me, silly, it’s for you. Is she ready, Alice?”
She nodded, tying the sash of the leather coat around my waist as I blushed at Edward’s comment. I would never take Edward’s thoughtfulness for granted. “Yes, she’s been fed, dressed, and has no idea where you’re going today.”
I rolled my eyes. Sometimes the two of them could treat me like such a child. I wasn’t stupid, however. I wasn’t wearing my own clothes, so I knew Edward was taking me somewhere nice. He always kept the location secret when we were going somewhere expensive. He knew I’d object about the cost, and I knew he’d take me anyway. Sometimes it was better just to keep quiet.
“Good. Ready, Bella?”
I shrugged. “Sure, I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
Edward smirked again. “Be a good sport, please? I think you’ll have fun today.” His smoldering, golden eyes met mine and my knees suddenly felt spongy. How on earth could I refuse him anything?
Would I ever get used to be dazzled? The smile on Edward’s face was radiant. It was almost easy to give in to him when he looked so absolutely beautiful while being smug.
“May I?” he asked, opening the door and gesturing toward the rain outside. I knew exactly what he intended to do—whether I wanted him to or not. I was slowly beginning to realize Edward was truly from another time, a more chivalrous time, and since I’d been incapacitated he’d gone out of his way to do things for me. Not just opening doors and standing when I entered the room, but offering to do all my household chores (I stopped him short of doing my laundry) and carrying me everywhere.
It was kind of nice when it was pouring rain and there were puddles, I had to admit.
I acquiesced with a nod and was secretly thrilled with the nearness of him as he scooped me up in his arms and drew me close. I wrapped my arms around his neck and rested my head against his shoulder. Alice was already waiting on the porch with the umbrella extended.
“You two have a great time today,” she said, locking the door behind us, dropping the keys in my purse and setting it in my lap. I regretfully removed my arms from around Edward’s neck to take the proffered umbrella.
“Thanks, Alice,” Edward and I said in unison again. I smiled up at him, content in his arms, ensconced in our own sheltered little world.
“How’s she getting home?” I asked him, listening to the rain splattering on our umbrella, his shoes squishing on the soggy lawn as he carried me to the Volvo.
“The same way she got here. She’s running.”
I frowned. It wasn’t raining when Edward had left and Alice had arrived this morning. “But won’t she get all—”
“I’m melting! I’m melting!” Alice cackled as she disappeared into the trees, followed by a peal of chiming giggles.
Edward opened the door to the Volvo, taking the umbrella from me as he carefully lowered me inside the cab of the car. It was already warm inside. He shut the door and moved at a hurried human pace around to the driver’s side door. As I turned to watch him walk around the car, something silver caught my eye from the back seat. I scowled at the cumbersome metal object—evidently my day might not be as fun as it had seemed moments ago.
“What is that?” I howled as Edward settled into the car, shaking the umbrella off outside before setting it on the floorboard and shutting the door.
“It’s a wheelchair, Bella.” He smirked again. “Surely you remember using one just a few weeks ago.”
I folded my arms over my chest and pouted. “I know what it is, but where did it come from, and why do I need one?” I knocked on the bulky, black walking cast velcroed to my leg. “I graduated to a walking cast, remember?”
Great, we hadn’t even backed out of the driveway yet, and I was already pissed off.
“Bella,” he crooned, carefully taking my chin between his thumb and forefinger and turning my head toward him. “I asked Carlisle to get me the chair. I’m fully aware you are permitted by your doctor to walk, but I thought it might be more comfortable for you. You’ll be on your feet quite a while today. I didn’t want you to get tired.”
So much for me not taking his thoughtfulness for granted.
I sighed, closing my eyes and reached up to grab his wrist, gently fingering the smooth skin there. “I’m sorry. I just miss doing things for myself. But if you and Carlisle think it’s best I’ll—try and trust your judgment.”
He leaned in close, nuzzling his cold nose against mine. His breath was cool and delicious; his lips were mere millimeters from mine. “Thank you,” he breathed, pressing a quick kiss to my lips and extracting himself before I could wrap my arms around him and thoroughly embarrass myself by passing out.
I didn’t bother asking where we were going as we drove north out of Forks. I knew he wouldn’t tell me anyway, but it was eating me up inside. We held hands and lapsed into a comfortable silence as Edward made it to Port Angeles in record time.
I could no longer hold my tongue when he bypassed town and continued on toward Sequim. “We’re not going to Port Angeles? Where are we going?”
He chuckled and picked up speed outside the city limits. “No, we aren’t staying in Port Angeles.”
Relatively speaking, there was nothing between Sequim and Seattle. No wonder he wanted me to be ready so early this morning; it was at least three and a half hours to Seattle! Well, not at the vampire speed limit, but at the human speed limit.
“Are we going to Seattle?” The prospect was rather exciting. I hadn’t been into Seattle since my arrival in Forks last January. There was so much to do in Seattle—the possibilities were endless.
He tried to contain his smile. “Maybe. Would you like to go to Seattle?”
I nodded eagerly. Getting out of the house, away from Forks, and out from underneath my father’s watchful eye for just one day with Edward sounded perfect. I couldn’t help but think this trip was long overdue. He had asked me to go to Seattle with him months ago, but he had suggested a change of plans at the last minute—that was the day we went to the meadow for the first time. I wondered what Seattle would have been like with him back then. He claimed he was unsure of what he would do that day in the meadow, but somehow I couldn’t really imagine him making any other choice, the setting was unimportant. But it was interesting to consider our first kiss in the urban jungle instead of the middle of a green forest.
I smiled. This was our first date, long past due.
Edward cut the travel time to Seattle nearly in half, and I honestly didn’t notice that we must have been driving at warp speed. My usual dizziness and fear was replaced by pleasant conversation and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony as background music. He slipped his hand in mine and gave it a gentle squeeze, confessing that he hoped we could take several day trips over the summer. Just the dream of that sounded beyond amazing. Even if we spent every day of our vacation in Forks, if I could spend it with Edward and occasionally visit our meadow, I’d be satisfied. Just the thought that he considered our future together, no matter how distant, was thrilling.
The two lane, tree-lined highway gave way to bridges, ferries, expressways, and finally downtown streets. I smiled and gaped out the windows at the cityscape, uncaring that I probably looked more like a country mouse than the city mouse I’d actually grown up as in Phoenix. I was happy. I was with Edward.
Though I had no idea where we were going, my excitement was building. It wasn’t raining as hard here, but people milled about the streets in galoshes and hid under colorful umbrellas. Edward slowed and eventually came to stop in front of a building with a curved face and burgundy red, art deco arches out front.
“The Art Museum?”
His eyes widened and he hesitated. “Is this all right? We could go somewhere else if you prefer?”
“No!” I interrupted. “This is great, it’s awesome. I’m pleasantly surprised.” We’d never done anything like this, and for the first time it felt as though we were a regular couple going on a regular date. We weren’t a star-crossed vampire and human, we were just Edward and Bella.
I nodded eagerly. “Yes, I’m excited—honest.” I couldn’t hold back the smile that threatened, and I wanted him to see that excitement and appreciation.
He helped me out of the car and got the stupid wheelchair out—I’d almost forgotten about that—and escorted me into the lobby with the umbrella while he parked the car. I stood in the lobby, refusing to sit in the chair one minute before he’d turn that scorching golden gaze on me and ‘suggest’ it. Feeling self-conscious, I looked up and was amazed—and slightly terrified—to discover white cars suspended from the ceiling. Each Ford exploded in a spray of multi-colored light tubes. It looked as if they were run through with colored spaghetti.
Before I could get a crick in my neck Edward returned, his sweater barely polka-dotted with raindrops. “Interesting, isn’t it? It’s called ‘Inopportune’ and references the artist’s view of terrorism in the world today,” he paused respectfully. “Would you like to get something for lunch, or would you prefer to start exploring?”
It was no contest. I checked my coat in while Edward waited near the elevator, smiling, his fingers drumming a silent melody on the handles of the chair. It was probably an ominous tune.
I slowly hobbled toward Edward, knowing he was resisting just picking me up and carrying me, and plopped unceremoniously into the chair, settling in. “You aren’t going to drive the chair like you do the Volvo, are you?”
He chuckled and rang for the elevator.
I was amazed at the permanent collection housed at the museum. There were statues of Buddha, a tribal Tlingit killer whale screen, an Egyptian stele, works by Warhol, Aboriginal artists, and works with unknown creators. I was particularly enamored by an armor/garment-like structure made of military dog-tags entitled Some/One and a large fresco from Italy. Edward, naturally, knew more details about the artwork than the simple placards noted, and more than the guided tour leaders professed. He would lean in close, his breath whispering over my skin, and sometimes I’d hear the details of the artwork, other times I’d just close my eyes and drown in the sensation.
The top floor was reserved for exhibits on loan to the museum. As the elevator carried us to the fourth floor, I consulted the map and guide to discover the special exhibit were the works of Michelangelo.
Edward caught me reading the brochure and tapped the picture of a red chalk drawing of a pensive man in the program. “I’m very much looking forward to this,” he confessed with a smile. “It’s a collection of rare sketches. Michelangelo burned many of his sketches; these were saved by his family after his death. This exhibit more than doubles the amount of Michelangelo pieces in the United States to twenty four.”
As the elevator chimed and the doors opened to the fourth floor, the preciousness of the collection struck me. I was about to see works from one of the Renaissance masters. Me—Bella Swan from Forks, Washington! It was unlikely I’d ever visit Europe and see the masterpieces. This was an amazing opportunity.
Edward wheeled me toward the exhibit. “Why did Michelangelo burn his sketches?” I asked.
“They were preparatory sketches,” he began, while I looked at the sketch in the brochure once again. “Drawings he did in preparation for the Sistine Chapel. He was known as a master and, therefore, did not want his patrons and audience to know he struggled with the art process at times—divining how to draw, paint, or perceive the perfect leg, the way a garment should drape, or the face of an angel.” He traced his finger from the hollow below my ear down the length of my jaw. I shivered when he pressed his finger to my lips—and it had nothing to do with the chill of his skin.
Divining was the perfect word. The exhibition bore the sacred silence of a church. People spoke in hushed whispers, standing in awe of the artwork before them. I sat up a little straighter, eager for my own eyes to fall upon the yellowing paper framed and mounted on the wall.
The sketches were fragments, disjointed pieces of the human body. Practice. Some were very detailed, while others were only rudimentary lines or shapes. There were legs—the muscles taut with force or strength—and relaxed feet, as though they dangled above the ground. Torsos rippled with waves of developed abdominals and flexed laterals, and arms were raised in gentle supplication or contorted in anger. Next to each sketch was a reprint of the finished piece of art as a reference.
The simplicity of this artistic dismemberment was deceptive. Sure, I could put pen to paper and come away with something halfway decent, but the way these developmental pieces reflected the concept of the perfect human body was unlike anything I’d ever seen.
Until I met Edward.
He chose that moment to bend low over my chair, his nose pressing to the shell of my ear as he spoke. “Michelangelo’s amazing perception of physiology came more from observation than actual tutelage. Through his scrutiny, he felt the art. He had an amazing grasp of how muscles looked and behaved when flexed or at rest, and he understood scale and structure, probably thanks to other masters such as Leonardo DaVinci. Take this, for example,” he began, pointing to the lower corner of The Last Judgment from the Sistine Chapel. “The angels and demons are locked in the age-old battle of good versus evil, but look at the angel’s musculature.”
I suddenly felt him push my hair to the side, exposing the back of my neck. “Look at the seraph’s trapezius,” he said, his velveteen voice caressing my skin as his long fingers traced down my spine, alerting my mind and body to the area he wanted me to focus on. “The muscles are engaged, flexed to their capacity from the effort of the struggle. Were the muscles calm, the image would certainly not convey the same message. It’s a beautifully accurate rendering of human anatomy. So his sketch was worthwhile; practice makes perfect.” I knew he was brilliant, but I sometimes forgot Edward went to medical school—twice.
But he was right, and I thought I understood what he meant. Though I had never played sports or done weight training, I’d done ballet as a child and yoga with Renee. A body did look different when in action. The skin was tight, the muscles bulged, and one could see the strain upon them.
The more I studied the comparisons between the sketches and the final work, the more amazed I became. You would never assume Michelangelo had troubles with his understanding of physiology—everything seemed so real. Edward’s fingertip continued to trail up and down the column of my neck, causing me to shudder and flush. I struggled to maintain my concentration and assessment of the art.
I was surprised to feel the chill of his lips on the juncture of my shoulder. “His perception of the human form is beautiful, no?” he asked. My skin was tingling with the vibration of his words before he pressed a kiss to the hollow below my ear.
I let my eyes flutter closed as I savored the momentary attention he lavished upon me. I was vaguely aware that he’d asked me a question and that I had yet to respond. “Ugh, yes,” I mumbled, coughing to find my voice once again. “Yes. It’s all so realistic and amazing. They almost look alive. You can imagine what they are thinking, hear their hearts pounding from the battle, sense the rush of blood—”
Edward gasped and stood up abruptly, putting distance between himself and my chair. I turned to look over my shoulder, unsure of what had happened. He paced a few feet behind me, holding his breath and pinching the bridge of his nose. I realized my error now. I’d mentioned blood while his lips hovered above my pulse point. “I’m sorry,” I mouthed as he looked over to me with shame-filled eyes.
I was hoping a little distance would help, so I wheeled over to the opposite wall and became particularly smitten with two pieces, a simple sketch of a faceless Adam being ejected from the Garden of Eden, and the red chalk drawing of the man I’d seen earlier in the brochure. The Adam figure had a beautiful body—sculpted abdominals flowing down into strong legs, and lovely squared shoulders paired with toned arms and bulging biceps. The perfect human.
The red sketch was even more stunning in person. The face Michelangelo had depicted looked so pensive, so beautiful. He could have been my Edward, with the coppery locks and strained expression. The master had used his red chalk conservatively, using the texture of the paper to add highlights to the man’s forehead, eyelids, and nose. I tried to imagine what he might be thinking.
Edward’s breath against my neck interrupted my thoughts. It was the best kind of interruption. I didn’t realize he was ready to rejoin me yet. “I’m sorry for my temptation,” he whispered, pressing a kiss to the top of my head. I reached back to squeeze his hand and was happy when he resumed his discussion. “This is from the fresco in the Sistine Chapel; it’s part of The Flood scene.”
My eyes darted to the reprint of that section of The Sistine Chapel. The figure had changed quite drastically. In my opinion, the sketch was far more beautiful, more expressive.
I wasn’t sure I was ready to leave this portion of the exhibit yet, but Edward smirked and promised me there was much more.
He wasn’t joking.
Around the next corner, taking up an entire narrow wall, was a larger than life-sized decal of a naked man. Er, statue.
I didn’t even see the little prototype figurine that was the actual exhibit. My eyes were instantly drawn to the famed representation.
I was already blushing. There was no point in denying it, as I was sure Edward could smell the blood expanding the capillaries in my cheeks. Why, oh why, did the… middle portion of the statuary decal have to be right at normal eye level? Sparing myself certain embarrassment, my eyes quickly shifted to the head of the legendary figure. Even in an image of the biblical hero you could see the care and artistry surrounding his creation. Each curl atop his majestic head had been perfectly sculpted by human hands and metal implements. His eyes were gazing off into the distance, and you could almost imagine the determination he possessed—owing to the brief glimpse of his future. His neck and chest were just beautifully molded out of the white marble, the hollow of his throat flowing down into his smooth, toned chest. His pecs, abs, and lats were just perfection—not unlike someone else I knew.
“That is just beautiful,” I breathed.
Edward came to stand next to me, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “It’s all right,” he began, shrugging. “It’s certainly an amazing representation of the human form, nearly perfect, but it’s life-like. His eyes are fixed. His body is cold, hard, and unmoving. Poor David has no light of his own; he simply reflects the light around him.”
Edward turned quiet, and I knew he was drawing unflattering parallels between himself and the statue. Parallels I did not see. If possible, my own Adonis was even more perfect because I knew his heart. It would do me no good to simply contradict him considering his earlier temptation, so I began to form my argument in my head.
I allowed him his quiet thoughts and enjoyed the rest of the exhibit. Edward wheeled me to the elevator for the final time. As we waited, his criticisms of the David and, by extension, himself had festered long enough.
“I’m tired of sitting,” I complained, locking the breaks on the chair before climbing out. The doors opened, and I hobbled into the elevator while Edward pushed the empty chair inside. I pushed the button for the lobby and waited quietly until the doors closed. We were alone.
“You don’t see yourself very clearly, you know,” I said with a smile, referencing something he once said to me.
“I knew you were thinking about something,” Edward replied, sighing and leaning back against the wall of the elevator.
“You are even more beautiful than any of the artwork in this museum,” I began, moving toward him as the elevator lurched into gear. His hands darted out and grabbed my hips, steadying me. I took the opportunity to burrow into his chest and nuzzled my nose into the smoothness of his neck. I inhaled and smiled. “Don’t define yourself by what happened upstairs. Sure, your arms might be cool and hard, but they’re strong, and they’ve saved me from my own clumsiness and outside threats that wanted to keep me from you. What would I do without these arms?” I gently smoothed my hands down the length of his arms, feeling the super-human strength underneath his sweater. Blushing furiously, my hands found his chest and smoothed over the hard planes, stopping at his waist. “And I would rather rest my head on this chest and have these arms wrapped around me than anyone else’s.”
I lifted my head and took his face in my hands, directing him to look in my eyes. “And your face is more handsome than the rendition of any man or angel I saw today. No one has ever looked at me the way you do. No one has ever talked to me the way you do. No one will ever kiss me the way you do.”
I pressed my lips to his and felt his hands tighten on my hips. Our lips parted ever so slightly, and I drew his bottom lip between mine, causing him to inhale sharply.
The elevator staggered to a stop and the doors opened. I knew from the look on Edward’s face that we were no longer had privacy. He gently pushed me away and gestured toward the chair. I resumed my seat, blushing and giggling as he pushed me out of the elevator and past the small group of people waiting to board.
I was glad to see the rain had stopped, but the sky was still grey. We retrieved my coat and I laid it across my lap as he pushed me toward the exit.
“Thank you for the kind words,” he said, leaning down, his breath fanning over my cheek. “But I think you’re biased—or dazzled,” he admitted, pressing a kiss behind my ear.
I sighed happily. “I’m not sure how, but someday I’ll show you what amazing creatures vampires can be.”