Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fan Fiction: The Rainbow at the End of the Bridge

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the Twilight Saga. These are Stephenie Meyer's characters, and no copyright infringement is intended, now, or at any time in the future, near or far.

Chapter 3: Breakfast Time


I could see that I had overwhelmed the poor girl. In the harsh light of reality, after a good night's rest, things could look very different. She was probably asking herself if she had acted against her better judgment in the middle of the night. But then, what she had been planning to do had most definitely not showed good judgment, either. There was no excuse for suicide. Carlisle's experience had taught me that.

With the thought of Carlisle came a wave of nostalgia. I hadn't admitted to myself how desperately I missed them all... especially Carlisle. But I also missed Alice, with her sudden, markedly urgent visions. She had seen that I would leave, and had told Carlisle. I flinched as I recalled his reaction. He had said nothing, but the pain of his sorrow had immediately struck my mind. Oh, he had tried to block his thoughts, of course. I still felt that sweeping torrent of grief that hit me like a great storm surge. I couldn't take it. So I blocked my mind, too, or at least, I tried to. I didn't quite succeed.

I had quietly slipped out into our back yard two nights later while they were entertained - or so I thought - with a game of cards. I began to run, faster and faster, until I was sure I had put enough distance between myself and the house near the woods of Forks - the house I had come to call 'home'. As I flew along, I could feel the trail of their collective sorrow following me. I screamed into the wind... it was a combination of rage as well as sorrow, for myself, for them.

I felt that I could not have done otherwise. I could not continue to live a lie. It was far better that I leave than continue to pretend something I couldn't hide. I could not bring myself to disappoint Carlisle. He had been much more of a father to me than my own biological father, whose memory had long ago begun to dim. I had not wanted to lie to Carlisle, especially when I knew that I never really could. He was never angry with me; instead, he grieved and was endlessly patient. He had been just as patient several days before my departure, even in the face of the evidence - I had killed a mountain hiker who had wandered too far off the beaten trail. After I had slaked my thirst, I felt an instant revulsion, fully understanding how Carlisle could have contemplated suicide when he was a newly-made vampire. But I could not go on trying to deny what I was. The struggle was too great. So I had given in to my monstrous nature.

In the end, I had hurt Carlisle anyway...the man who had become my father in every sense of the word.

"What's the matter?" she asked me, and I snapped out of my reverie. How long had I been standing there, holding this delicious girl's hand, wandering through my past?

I smiled, shaking my head at her. I took a deep breath, and was instantly sorry. Her enthralling scent wrapped itself around me once more, and I felt the tug of my demonic thirst. Still, I was confident that I would be able to control myself. I hoped. I had never gone this long without feeding before, but I knew I would have to be absolutely tortured by thirst before I could bring myself to end another life... I asked myself, though, if perhaps I was playing with fire. What if the life I was forced to end was Bella's? No, no, not her! Not this sweet, kind, luscious girl!

I shook my head again, but let go of her hand, pretending not to notice her little sigh of relief. I felt an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Revulsion swept through me again. The memory of that young man whispering Karen's name with his dying breath assaulted my mind. How could I have killed him so callously? What feverish devil had driven me to commit such a horrible act? Why could I not control myself, abiding by my father's ethical lifestyle? I had to get away from this girl. I was suddenly afraid that I would do the same thing to her.

I ran to the bathroom and locked myself inside, panting. The attraction of her scent had been too much for me. I had been over-confident. I leaned over the sink, holding myself up by grabbing its sides. Please...I found myself begging a God I wanted desperately to believe still cared about me, don't let me do this to her! I would not be the instrument of her death now, when I had only last night rescued her from its gaping jaws.

She knocked softly on the door. "Are you all right?" The concern in her voice was very evident. I closed my eyes against a sudden wave of guilt, mixed with a heady feeling of joy. She had suffered much in her life, I could tell, and yet, she was still capable of putting aside her own pain to care about another's. She was a precious jewel carelessly tossed aside by people who should have loved her, of that I was totally convinced.
I decided to fake loud retching. I hoped my performance would sound authentic to her ears. I went on like that for a full minute, then stopped.

"Are you sure you're all right?" She sounded really worried now.

"I won't be long," I called out, trying to inject a reassuring tone into my voice. Then I remembered to sound just a little hoarse. After all, I had supposedly just gotten rid of the contents of my stomach. "Just a little...well, I had a few drinks last night." Sometimes I found it necessary, although never pleasant, to invent little lies by the seat of my pants.

"Oh, that's too bad."

I had not misjudged her character, by the light of the moon last night. And I could not understand why that realization touched me so deeply. She was not the first nice girl I had met. However, she was the very first one whose blood I hadn't taken. At least, not yet...

"Can I get you anything?" she now asked, and I cursed softly to myself. I should have driven her to an ER and made them admit her. I shouldn't have brought her here. But wait...I was only fooling myself. I had wanted her for my own from the moment I saw her, no... smelled her. She had to be mine. It was just that I didn't know in what way, exactly, she was to be mine. Perhaps we could, well, have a relationship, as they called it nowadays. I smiled bitterly. Yes, of course we could - until she found out my true nature. Then she would run for the hills. I promised myself, then and there, that I would not pursue her if she chose to do just that.

"No, I'll be fine," I responded. I had to take control of myself. I had to stop trembling so...

After a few more minutes, I felt that I would be able to be in her presence without feeling the consuming need to sink my teeth into her delectable throat and drink until I had emptied her completely of blood. I lifted my head, and stared at my reflection in the mirror. I had to smile wryly as I remembered the silly old legends about vampires and mirrors. We had reflections, just like humans do. Perhaps it would be much better if we didn't. Then we wouldn't be able to see what monsters we were. Suddenly, I stared at myself with a new awareness. How long would my eyes remain black?It had been too long since I had fed. I wondered how long I could hold out. Was there a vampire record about this? I was glad, though, that my eyes weren't red. Yet. I knew that, when they eventually colored, I would not be able to stop myself from killing her, ethics or no ethics.

So that meant I had to get away from her so I could feed. I just didn't know how to do that without arousing the suspicion that something was radically wrong with me.

I straightened, pasting a charming smile on my face. I prayed it would fool her. Then, I slowly opened the door.

I wasn't surprised to see her standing right outside the bathroom, an anxious expression on her face. When she saw me, she squealed, but definitely not in delight.

"Oh, you look terrible!" And I thought my smile would fool her...

I nodded, careful not to breathe. There would be no problem at all, I hoped, if I simply didn't breathe. Doing so was entirely optional for vampires, of course.

"Well, er, thanks," I said dryly as I tried to walk past her. Control, Edward. You're doing fine.

Her gaze followed me into the kitchen. Then, she followed me into that room.

"But I don't understand," she went on while I quietly cursed myself. "You seemed fine a few minutes ago, when you came into the bedroom! How could you get sick so suddenly?"

Wildly, I sought some quick explanation.

"Well, you know, sometimes a hangover has a delayed reaction," I said through my teeth.

She shrugged, then sat down in a kitchen chair. "Well, I'm not much of a drinker, so I wouldn't really know."

Thank you, great God above! I had never thought of myself as a pious sort, but it now seemed appropriate to show gratitude to the Deity.

"Well, that explains it, then," I said with great relief. I immediately changed the subject. "Now, what would you like to eat? And don't tell me you're not hungry, because I won't believe you."

As if on cue, her stomach growled and I laughed. "Well, let's do like scrambled eggs, right? Or would you prefer French toast? And coffee, too, of course."

She shrugged, and gave me a wan, shy smile. "Whatever you have is fine with me," she said simply, not meeting my eyes.

My teeth were still clenched.

"Look," I replied, as I rummaged through one of the cupboards. "I have plenty of food here, but don't eat much myself. So go ahead and ask for whatever you like. Your body wants to live, even if your mind thinks it doesn't."

She turned her face away from me, and I could tell she was trying to hold back a sudden rush of emotion. I felt an urge to go to her and put my arms around her, but wasn't sure that would be a wise thing to do. Well, I had been holding my breath for a while now, so perhaps it would be all right.

I was at her side before I could change my mind. I gathered her into my arms.

"Hey, it's gonna be fine," I whispered soothingly. "But go ahead and cry. You need to let your emotions out."
She did. I held her until I knew I could do so no longer. Then I forced myself to pull away, although I wanted to hold her forever...

I went back to the stove, trying not to sigh.

"So, breakfast!" I did my best to sound cheerful. "Coming right up, a gourmet meal for Bella, who will not be jumping off any bridges any time soon!"

I dove into a cabinet under the sink, and started rattling pots and pans. It might seem strange for a vampire to have such things in his kitchen, as well as real food in his refrigerator, but I had some contact with humans, from time to time. Mostly it was fellow artists or my agent, or perhaps a gallery director. I always tried to discourage such visits, but couldn't prevent them from taking place entirely. The best I could do was to make sure they took place at night. It wouldn't do to have any of my human acquaintances - I couldn't consider them friends - see the effects of sunlight on my skin. And unfortunately, there was a lot of sunlight in the city I had chosen to live in - Miami, Florida. I figured there would be plenty of tourists here. Their sudden disappearance could always be explained away somehow.

I grimaced, running my tongue over my teeth. Anger suddenly rippled through me - anger at Carlisle, for making me what I was. I vehemently wished he had let me die. It was better than being an inhuman monster. Here I was, cheerfully anticipating my next tourist feeding. Had I forgotten that I had the grisly duty of disposing of the body afterward? That was the worst part. That was when the guilt hit, along with the revulsion, the regret...

Behind me, Bella actually laughed.

"You still haven't told me your name," she said suddenly. If I had had a heartbeat, it surely would have spiked.

I finally found a frying pan, grabbed it, and pulled it out. Then I straightened, facing her. For some strange reason, I was abruptly finding it a bit hard to smile.

"Edward. Edward Cullen."

She stared at me, an expression of abject terror on her face. Then she screamed.

I didn't have to ask her why. By now, I was incredibly hungry. My facial expression must have told her very clearly what I really was.

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