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26 September 2008 @ 12:47 pm
love is not a competition (but i'm winning) // for miss_mishi  
For: miss_mishi

Title: love is not a competition (but i'm winning)

Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 1036

Characters/Couple: Edward/Tanya (Edward/Bella, implied Jacob/Bella)

Summary: From the very first time, she treats their relationship like a game.

Author's Notes: I struggled a bit with this request, but in the end, I actually had a lot of fun writing it. I tried to stick as close to what you wanted as possible, and I realllllly hope you enjoy it :D An infinite amount of thanks to the fantastic kaiwynn for all of her help. Infinite apologies go out to the Kaiser Cheifs for the copious abuse of their song lyrics, from which the title, corresponding line in the fic, and lj-cut is taken.

From the very first time, she treats their relationship like a game.

Tanya keeps score of the number of times Edward gives in, like this is some sort of contest one or the other of them has to win.

(Love is not a competition, he whispers to her one night after a hunt, the cold snow making her skin feel almost hot, almost human.

She rolls so that she is on top of him, pushes down on his shoulders, tugs on his earlobe with her teeth. But I'm winning.)

--

They arrive in Denali two weeks after the wedding (two weeks after the honeymoon, but he doesn't think of that, how her skin felt, blood running hot and thick through her veins, and how he'd almost killed her. There hadn't been a “next” time.)

Tanya greets them at the front door and Edward tenses as she sashays towards them, eyes narrowed as if she is on the hunt (she always did approach their relationship as if he were her prey.) Hello lover, she smiles slowly, lips curling, and Bella squeezes his hand tighter, heart racing, as if she can hear thoughts now, too.

--

Edward stands outside of the bedroom while Bella sleeps, unable to lie beside her and listen to her dream of someone else. In the morning, she'll pretend she doesn't remember, but the look in her eyes will tell him otherwise (she's still a terrible actress.)

He wishes he could read her mind and know what she was really thinking.

The sound of soft footsteps along the carpet alerts him to her presence, and he stares into gold eyes that seem to burn right through him. She steps closer, sliding her hands across his chest, fingers gliding along the material of his shirt.

He grabs her wrists as they reach his shoulders, glaring. She laughs quietly, easily slipping out of his grasp.

My wife is sleeping on the other side of this door.

Tanya's hands ball into fists, eyes narrowing, and Edward takes a step back (she burns brighter, beautiful in her fury.)

She closes her eyes and makes a show of relaxing her body slowly, then steps forward so she can whisper in his ear, Your wife is dreaming of another man. She kisses his neck, spins on her heel and walks away.

He knows this isn't the last he will hear of this.

Tanya always did like a challenge.

--

Tanya is purposely conspicuous. Bella puts up a good front, (ever the martyr, that girl, they're the same in that regard) but looks like she'd rather be anywhere else.

She makes me nervous, Bella admits on a whisper, as if her quiet voice won't reach the rest of the house.

Edward cringes as the words reach his ears from two floors above them.

Tanya grins, then laughs at Alice's reply.

You shouldn't be. There's nothing to be nervous about.

What a liar your sister is,
she says, idly flipping through the book in her lap. She has everything to be afraid of. (They both know Alice wasn't just speaking about Tanya, transformation pending - Edward wishes she had been.)

--

Bella murmurs Jacob's name in her sleep, her fingers curled tightly around the bracelet on her wrist. She hasn't noticed, but she also does this when she is awake, a nervous gesture she's picked up in recent weeks.

Edward runs his fingers lightly from her knuckles to her wrist and she shivers.

I love you rings loud and clear in the silence, and he pulls the covers over her, kissing her forehead before slipping from the room.

Her words echo through his head, his footsteps echoing against the empty hallway as he wanders aimlessly through the house. (This is a lie - he knows exactly where he is going.)

--

Her skirt is up around her hips, her legs hitched around his waist.

She clutches against his back, nails digging into his skin, the pain a different sort of pleasure (he always was a masochist.) Does she make you feel like this? She asks, arching her back and grasping at his hips. Her skin is smooth beneath his fingers.

He groans, burying his head in her shoulder. No. She makes me feel alive.

Later, she flicks her hair over her shoulder as she smoothes out the wrinkles in her clothes, and smiles at him coyly. Living is overrated.

--

Bella paces up and down the hallway above his head - he can hear her footsteps, the staccato beats of her heart. Can imagine the way her fingers wrap around her wrist, fumbling around the wolf charm.

Edward sits at the piano, his head in his hands, not wanting to take away her humanity, her life (her soul), but not seeing any other options when she keeps insisting that this is what she wants.

Tanya runs her fingers across the piano so softly, the keys don't make a sound.

Giving her what she wants won't make her love him any less. (It won't make you love me any less, either - but she doesn't say this. He hears the words anyway.)

I don't love you, Tanya, he says, standing slowly.

She slips her hands into the pockets of his jeans, pulls him closer, kisses the hollow of his throat open-mouthed. He shudders. No. You never did.

--

Bella stands on the front porch staring off into the distance, fingers running along her left wrist. She does this for hours, every day, always looking backwards instead of forwards. He isn't sure what to think of this anymore (he knows exactly what to think of this.)

He knows she longs for warmer arms around her, a life lived in the sun rather than darkness.

He longs for a heart that no longer beats (he longs for a heart that never beat in the first place, strawberry blonde hair fanned out on crisp white snow - he is an expert at denying himself what he wants.)

I told you so, Tanya whispers, running her fingers down his arms as he presses his lips to hers.

Her voice isn't triumphant. She isn't keeping score this time.

--

(And the moral of the story? Love is a game that no one wins.)