Word Count: 1,060
Bella was laying on the bed on her side, facing me as I mimicked her position. There was about a foot and a half of space between us on the bed and every inch of my skin ached for me to close the distance. While Bella's reactions to me elicited nothing short of euphoria in me, I knew she didn't mean them the way I meant mine. She was grateful to me, she sought friendship with me, even protection, but there was nothing else. I knew that, my body however didn't quite understand. We had a small chess board between us and I was watching her carefully as she tried to make a move that would not lose her the game. So far she hadn't had much luck. I was enjoying this game, though, because every time I took her piece she had to answer one of my questions. Sort of like 20 questions, except you have to earn them. I had already taken four of her pawns. We had figured out a system of what questions were appropriate for what piece you took.
Pawns were simple questions. I asked the following:
"What's your favorite color?" She sighed to herself when she answered this and I regretted asking. She stated it used to be topaz. It wasn't hard to figure out why.
"Can you ride a bike?" She chuckled and said "Can or should?"
"What's your favorite American holiday?" She said she wasn't one for celebration but she did enjoy Christmas eve because it was simple and warm. And it usually didn't involve gifts yet.
"Hamburgers or hot dogs?" Hamburgers.
She took two of my pawns. Her questions were much the same. Her first was my favorite color. Which is blue. Her second was my favorite human food. Pizza.
I had acquired one of her rooks and both Knights. Each of those was worth a slightly more complex question. Things such as most embarrassing moment or, if I wanted to make her less uncomfortable, her proudest moment. I asked both. Embarrassing first. She told me that it was when she was fourteen and had her first co-ed gym class. Phoenix had a swimming pool and certain gym classes required you to participate. In short, she'd somehow gotten stuck on the water volleyball net and ended up ripping the whole thing down and taking it underwater with her. Her proudest moment was when she let her mother stay with Phil, even though it meant she come here to Forks, the last place in the world she had wanted to be. It was plain on her face that the sentiment about this town had returned. Then I asked what was her single most relaxing moment in her life, the moment she would go back to at all costs when she was upset. She looked taken aback and thought for a moment, then sighed to herself. "Anything I would have said has been tainted by... not so recent events. I have to say this, right now. It's been a very long time since I was just at peace with things." I offered her a smile that didn't show nearly the pride that was suffocating my brain.
Since the bishop ended up being our mutual favorite piece for reasons neither of us could really explain, we decided that it was worth a question about ideal lives. Neither of us had been able to swipe the others yet. Kings were questions about our person, things we would change, things we loved, etcetera. Queens were the most delicate topics. Such as past relationships. As I watched her move carefully, I realized she had me in check. My brow knitted in confusion. How had this happened?
"What is the biggest thing you would change about yourself?" She really didn't beat around any bushes, did she? I suppose I wouldn't either, considering that her piece was on the chopping block as soon as I was done answering her question. I thought quietly for a moment, staring at the chess board. I wanted her to be honest with me during this entire game, not being held back by some kind of worry that I was holding back the truth. So I told her. "There's two things that tie. I wish I did not need to feed off of the living in order to survive. And I wouldn't, if I thought it would change anything. But I won't die if I don't feed. I couldn't if I tried. The need will take over eventually. It will rot my logical, reasonable brain down to nothing except instinct. And then I will feed. Like a savage without any understanding of being full. I will simply feed until I regain control of my rational mind." I looked into her eyes then as she studied me carefully, her face guarded so as not to show me how afraid she actually was. "I've tried that, to get myself to stop needing blood. It was the worst decision I have ever made. I'm more careful now, I never suck a living thing dry. I never kill. I.. I'm more careful now." The last of it all came out in a whoosh and I peered up at her face through the shield of my eyelashes. "And the second," I continued, "is simply that I do not think I am compassionate enough towards others. Not just humans, but vampires alike. Throughout my lifetime, I have seen so many people die. I find myself disconnected from them. It happens so often that I have this deep knowledge that it is bound to happen no matter what I do. I struggle with the idea that I would not risk or give my own life to save another, because eventually they will die anyway. Despite my efforts. It sounds like a hollow thing to do for someone when you look at it that way. I want to be able to overcome that pessimism. To see giving myself in the place of someone else as something worthwhile."
Her eyes never left mine as I spoke and her face softened with every word. I could see her sharing my pain and I felt horrible. I reached out and cupped her small hand in my own. "But that is not for you to mourn, Bella. I will find a way to conquer my selfishness."