Chapter 3

Title: Only Human (3/27) Author: Amethyst Jackson Rating: M/NC-17 Category: Drama, Angst, Romance Pairing: Edward/Bella Summary: A wish sends Bella back in time to Chicago, 1918, and to a human Edward. Disclaimer: All this genius belongs to Stephanie Meyer. I’m just having a little fun.

A/N: Thanks for the AMAZING response to this so far. This is pretty much my favorite thing I’ve written to date, so I’m glad you’re all enjoying it.

I found myself sitting alone in a spare bedroom in the Masen family’s house. The bed was a lovely, luxurious thing; the tall wooden posts finely carved and stained the comforter thick and warm. The wallpaper was elegant, the carpet a lovely sage. It was as nice as any place I had ever been. And in spite of the pleasant surroundings, in spite of the long-sleeved dress that seemed to cover every inch of me, I felt cold all the way through. How was this possible? How could I be making a wish on my birthday cake one moment, and the next be standing in the middle of Chicago, nearly a century in the past? Making a wish…it couldn’t be…could it? I had wished I could give Edward human experiences, hadn’t I? ―I didn’t mean that quite so literally,‖ I mumbled to myself, burying my face in my hands. This was impossible. Sure, I’d seen a lot of impossible things since I’d met Edward, but time-travel? And from a wish on a birthday cake, no less! The weirdness I could deal with, though. It was even sort of…cool, really. I had the chance to see Edward as a human, as the normal teenage boy he once was, but I had to wonder what the price was. Would I ever see my Edward again? What if there was no way back to my own time and place? I tried to imagine living out my life here, growing old, dying…losing any chance of forever with Edward. The pain that stabbed my chest was unendurable, and the tears that had been pricking at my eyes ever since Mrs. Masen had left me alone finally spilled forth. Was this even real? Could it be real? Surely I had just fallen down and was hallucinating all of this as a result of a concussion. Maybe I was completely schizophrenic and had been imagining everything all along…although that thought was as bad as all this being real. If I was truly in the past, what would be the ramifications on the future? If I changed things somehow, if this Edward never fell ill and became a vampire, then I would never meet him in the future and then therefore never come back in time, but then I wouldn’t be around to change anything… Trying to think about that made my head hurt, so I gave up. Clearly there was nothing in my power to do to change the situation, so I had no choice but to be pulled along with the current. If only my vampire were here to protect me… A soft knock on the door interrupted my thoughts, and I instinctively knew it would be Edward. The hesitance and gentleness had not faded over the span of 80 years. I almost called for him to come in, but I wasn’t sure how proper that was in this time – why had I never bothered to learn more about the world Edward grew up in? – And so I went to open the door myself.

He stood there, shoulders slightly hunched, flushed with life. His eyes were intent as they met mine. ―I came to check on you – have you been crying?‖ he asked as I hastily swiped the tears from my cheeks. ―Oh, yes, but it’s nothing. I’m fine,‖ I lied. He narrowed his eyes, and I knew he saw right through me. ―Can I do anything?‖ he asked, and I held back a sigh of relief that he didn’t ask for explanation. ―Thank you, but no,‖ I said, caught in his eyes. They were the same eyes that had always seemed to pierce right through me, and yet, they were so different…. ―There’s nothing that can be done.‖ ―I’m sorry to hear that,‖ Edward said, standing awkwardly in the doorframe. ―Would it perhaps improve your mood to accompany me on an errand? My mother seems to have forgotten a crucial ingredient for tonight’s meal.‖ It was impossible to refuse. ―That sounds nice. Give me a moment.‖ ―I’ll wait downstairs,‖ he said, leaving me to stare helplessly at my reflection in the mirror on the vanity. I had the right clothing on now, but none of the women here seemed to wear their hair down, and I had no way to put mine up. I sighed, frustrated, and reached up to fiddle with the loose strands, but a flash of light against my finger stopped me. My wedding band, paired with the engagement ring that I hadn’t wanted to stop wearing, sparkled on my ring finger. A flutter of panic hit me. That ring had belonged to Edward’s mother – the woman who had just taken me in. Had she seen the ring? Had Edward? Surely they would think me a thief if they saw me wearing it. I hastily jerked both rings off my hand, feeling a pang of sadness at the loss. Edward had placed those rings on my fingers and bound himself to me for eternity. I hated to break that bond, even figuratively. After that, the state of my hair didn’t seem to matter so much. I left it down as I went to meet Edward in the sitting room. He stood immediately and greeted me with a smile, a very familiar lopsided smile that made my heart flip. I forced my lips to smile back. ―Where are we headed?‖ I asked. He offered his arm and I took it hesitantly. ―The market, naturally,‖ he said, leading me out the door and down the street in the direction we had come from this morning. ―We’re in need of celery, apparently.‖ ―Celery,‖ I repeated, struck abruptly by the fact that this Edward ate. I mentally smacked myself. Of course he ate – he was human. ―Do you like celery?‖

―Not particularly,‖ he said, bemused. I could tell he was trying to figure out what I was thinking. Some things didn’t change, evidently. ―Do you?‖ ―No,‖ I said, blushing at the ridiculousness of the conversation. Good one, Bella. ―Have you a stance on broccoli, then? I find it terribly offensive.‖ His tone was serious, but his eyes were bright, teasing. ―I’m indifferent,‖ I said, trying to force down my blush, as if that had ever worked. ―What do you like to eat, then?‖ Edward grinned. ―Honestly, I’m a terrible sweet-tooth. I like anything sugary.‖ I laughed and wondered how that related to my Edward. He’d said I smelled floral…sweet. I wondered what mountain lion tasted like to him, and if so much had really changed. So far, it seemed to me that this Edward was in many ways the same, aside from diet and bodily functions. That scared me, perhaps more than it should…probably because I was already falling for this Edward. It felt wrong somehow, like cheating on my Edward…and yet it was the same person… ―And what about you?‖ he asked as we passed the spot where he’d found me earlier. I struggled to remember what we had been discussing. ―Pasta,‖ I said. ―Any kind of pasta.‖ One of his eyebrows shot up. ―Interesting.‖ ―Why is that interesting?‖ We were reaching a more crowded area now, and people were staring openly at me. I knew my appearance must stand out…I wondered if any of them suspected…. ―Honestly? My mother insisted upon changing the dinner menu for tonight once you arrived. She swore you’d want pasta. Sometimes I wonder about her…‖ I blinked. She sounded like Alice. ―Your mother is very perceptive.‖ Edward smiled. ―Sometimes frighteningly so. She’s always seemed to know exactly what’s in my head, no matter how hard I try to hide it from her.‖ ―Like what?‖ I asked, eager to keep him talking. He turned to look at me, his skin shining in the sun – but in the human way. His lips twisted up and I wondered how soft they would feel. ―She knew as soon as I started thinking about it that I wanted to fight in the War. She’s been doing everything she can to try to keep me here ever since. But as soon as I’m 18, I’ll likely be drafted, and then she’ll have no choice.‖ I bit my lip, thinking about the irony that the war would be over before he turned 18 – and then that, if things went the way they were supposed to, he would be a vampire before he turned 18…

―Why do you want to fight?‖ I asked, choking back fear. Not fear for his safety – I knew he wouldn’t go. But fear that I would lose him, without a way back to the future… ―When this war is over,‖ he said seriously, stopping and forcing me to turn, ―the men who fought will be the most honored men in the country. I don’t want to stay behind and be thought a coward, or have anyone say that I didn’t have what it took.‖

This wasn’t the Edward I knew. Or was it? Maybe this was just another aspect of what I had
deemed to be his martyr complex. And I thought of what he had told me once, how he had filled his head with thoughts of soldiering…

I was always that boy…I thought of nothing but the idealized glory of the war that they were selling prospective draftees then…but if I had found you; there isn’t a doubt in my mind how I would have proceeded. I was that boy, who would have — as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for — gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn’t have quite the same connotations.
―But what if you don’t come back?‖ I found myself asking, missing my Edward more than ever. ―Millions of men are dying over there. You’d rather die than be thought weak? Isn’t there anything you really want to do?‖ He cocked his head curiously. ―Do you always ask so many questions?‖ I remembered a night a long time ago, driving through the darkness and asking questions just so the night wouldn’t end. ―Yes,‖ I said, for once without a blush. ―I’m curious.‖ He shrugged. ―I’ve never really known what I want,‖ he said. ―But I want to do something with my life.‖ ―I think you will,‖ I said, squeezing the arm that he offered to me once again. ―I hope you’re right,‖ he said with a smile. ―Well, here we are.‖ I realized we were in a much more crowded area, and as I looked around, I saw what the ―market‖ was. It was an enormous outdoor market with seemingly endless stalls selling vegetables, fruits, grain, and non-food products as well – a carpenter’s stall selling various furnishings, an old woman selling knit items… ―Are all these people here every day?‖ I asked in awe, being pulled along by Edward as he wound through the stalls. ―Some of them,‖ he said, pausing to inspect a stall which consisted of little more than several barrels of vegetables on a wagon. He shook his head to himself and continued on. ―Others only come here occasionally, to drum up business. Most of the artisans have shops of their own.‖ ―Oh.‖ It was all so…old-fashioned. ―There’s nothing like this in Washington.‖

Edward laughed. ―I’m sure you’ve missed out on a lot up there in the middle of nowhere.‖ Eventually we found the rather elusive celery and turned to browsing the less edible wares. I found myself drawn to a table covered in jewelry. Rows and rows of rings lay before me, but one caught my eye – topaz set unconventionally in silver. In my mind, that topaz became Edward’s eyes the morning after our wedding, alight with happiness as he beamed down at me. The sun had come out that day, like an omen, and the light through the windows made his naked body shimmer as he held himself over me. My hands gripped the edge of the table before me and I closed my eyes, holding in my tears. More than anything, I wanted his strong, cool arms around me and his voice in my ear, saying it was all a dream… Instead, a warm hand gently squeezed my shoulder, and I had to open my eyes to reality again. ―Bella? What’s the matter?‖ he asked, glancing from my agonized expression to the table I still clutched for support. His eyes traveled over the rings and back to me. ―You…left someone behind, didn’t you? In Washington?‖ I swallowed heavily. ―S-sort of. It was out of my control. There’s nothing I could do…‖ ―You were in love?‖ he asked softly, allowing me to look away. ―Yes,‖ I sighed. He squeezed my shoulder. ―I’m sorry. I wish…I wish there was something I could do…‖ ―Thank you,‖ I said, reaching up to place my hand over his. ―Let’s go home, shall we?‖ ―Of course,‖ he agreed, taking my hand. The subject didn’t come up again.

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