Category: Drama, Romance, Angst
Summary: Chicago, 1927. Edward has returned home in search of something that can connect him to his humanity to save what little soul he may still possess.
Disclaimer: I only wish I invented Edward Cullen. Sadly, that title belongs to Stephenie Meyer, not me.
A/N: This is a one-shot that should probably be three individual chapters but I'm bad with chaptered fics so a really long one-shot it is. 13 typed pages worth so enjoy!
Chicago, Illinois, 1927
“I don’t know about this, Edward,” Carlisle said as we drove the brand new cream and black LaSalle into the city. I looked around in wonder. It had grown so much in the nine years that I had been gone that I could hardly recognize it. Hopefully Chicago would hardly recognize me, nearly a decade later.
“It’s rather soon,” Esme agreed, her eyebrows knit together with worry as she scanned the faces of the people on the street. “It hasn’t even been a decade since you were last here… alive.”
“Everyone I knew died from Influenza,” I reassured her, scanning the ever-changing skyline that I could see. Some of the buildings were so much taller than what I was used to. My father would have loved to see the city now.
We drove past the large stone and glass buildings of the city until we came to the more residential areas, finally stopping at a large, brick house.
“Oh, Edward! It’s beautiful! How did you ever find it?” Esme asked as she gazed up at the large house.
“They were just building it when I lived here,” I said, following her gaze. “I made a few phonecalls and arranged to purchase it when I found out it was available.”
Mr. Avingston, the real-estate agent, was waiting for us at the door and handed Carlisle the keys and the papers, thanking us profusely for our generous bid to procure the house. Carlisle raised a curious eyebrow at me, but I ignored it and strode inside.
It’s about time, it’s hotter than hell out here. And why do they wait until it’s so late to come. Strange people.
Mr. Avingston’s thoughts were not as jovial as his smile suggested. Nonetheless, I don’t think he’d appreciate that we had to wait until late at night to make our appearance in Chicago this muggy June night because we would have sparkled inexplicably like crystal if we had arrived in the daylight.
It was already richly furnished, an agreement I had made with Mr. Avingston for a fee, and everything smelled like new fabric and polish. The hardwood gleamed against the soft lighting of the lamp as I turned it on.
“Is everything to your liking, Mr. Cullen?” Avingston asked Carlisle, anxious to please. Or maybe just anxious – it was difficult to tell as most humans knew instinctively to avoid us.
“Yes, very much so,” Carlisle replied. “Thank you, Mr. Avingston, have a good evening.”
We had been in Chicago for two weeks when I first saw her. Our eyes met from across the street and I felt uneasy as her slate grey eyes locked on my own. It was as if she could see right through my thinly veiled appearance to the vampire that lay waiting within.
Her thoughts rang clearly through my mind and it took all my will not to run from the street, or rush across and kill her where she stood. She recognized me. Though I could not remember her, my human memories were nearly all lost and even the strongest ones were hazy at best, her memories were clear as a bell. She could picture me as I was in 1918, right before I died. She had lived next door to me and though she had only been a young girl of six, she had known who I was. She had been at my father’s funeral with her parents, and to my mother’s funeral after.
Her eyebrows knit together in confusion and she stopped walking, openly scrutinizing me from across the street.
Impossible… he died ten years ago. But it must be…
With a look of determination, she marched across the street towards me, the delicate white lace of her dress fluttering around her long, slender legs. The wind blew through her dark, nearly black hair, left long and wavy despite the current trend for short, sharply cut bobs. A sent of freesia perfume drifted on the wind with her and I felt the corner of my mouth twitch slightly in a smile. I had always loved the scent of freesia.
I turned to walk away but I had hesitated too long.
“Edward?” the girl called to me, her voice sounding sweet and songlike, “Edward Masen?”
I turned around, perhaps a tad too quickly judging by the girl’s startled expression. I opened my mouth to tell her she was mistaken, but she spoke first.
“It is you,” She gasped, her eyebrows knit tighter together. “But that’s impossible! You died.”
“N-n-no. I didn’t.” I stumbled over the words at first but quickly recovered. “Obviously.”
“Yes, you did,” the girl argued, staring intently at me, scrutinizing every inch of my face. “I cried for you when I read it in the obituary. I was sad that there was no funeral, but obviously no one could pay for it if your parents had already died. You haven’t aged a bit. Where have you been? And… and why did you let us all believe you had died?”
“Why does it matter where I’ve been?” I asked rudely, ignoring the comment about my ageing, or lack thereof. “I mean, what does it matter to you?”
The girl looked hurt at my remark, but continued to scan my every feature.
“You were my neighbor, don’t you remember me?” She asked. “My name is Evelyn Hart, Evie. I used to stay over at your place when my parents went out to the parties.”
I did remember this girl, this Evie. She had been a tiny girl with long, curly black hair and large, curious grey eyes. She had been beautiful and doll-like, any parent would have been proud to have her – with the exception of her own. Having a child had placed an obstacle in their busy social life, an obstacle they were none too fond of. Evie had spent many days and many nights with the Masens while they ran out to the parties and various social clubs.
I studied the girl carefully. She was about 16 years old now and was very fashionably and expensively dressed in a white cotton and lace day dress, beige tights with the seams perfectly aligned, and low black heeled mary janes. Her black hair was not as curly as it once was, but was now glossy and wavy, running down the length of her neck and down to the small of her back. Her dark lashes were thick and perfectly framed her large grey eyes. Her nose was straight and slender and her lips were naturally red and pouting. Her skin was smooth porcelain that looked striking against the dark of her hair. She had been a beautiful child, but she was stunning as a young woman, though she was definitely more slender than shapely in the way of womanly curves.
He doesn’t remember me her heard her think, crushed. I thought he would.
“I think you have me mistaken,” I muttered, trying to walk around her.
“No, I don’t.” The girl was stubborn and firmly set that her memories were correct – probably because they were. I was, in fact, that boy she remembered so clearly.
“Walk me home,” She said, grabbing my arm. “We must catch up, it’s been ages since I saw you last. Where have you been?”
Why didn’t you come back after your parents died? She wondered as she looked up at me.
Startled by her courage and demand I found myself walking with her back to my old neighborhood, our arms linked together as I escorted her through the town. I scanned around to see if Esme or Carlisle were around, but they were nowhere to be seen. The day was overcast so I had ventured downtown but they had been wary and stayed at home.
“Well?” Evie prompted, looking at me curiously.
“I went travelling, after my parents died,” I muttered, not really lying. I had been travelling. “I couldn’t stay here without them.”
Why did you leave me? Her thoughts demanded, but she smiled sympathetically and nodded like that was what she had expected.
“Where did you go?” She asked further.
“Ashland, Wisconsin,” I reply without thinking, uncertain why I was compelled to answer her with the truth. This was a dangerous game.
“Wisconsin?” Evie asked, “Why did you go to Wisconsin?”
“Carlisle, the doctor who saved me had… family there,” I answered briefly. “He took over as my guardian and mentor after my parents died.”
“Mentor? Are you training to be a physician?” She asked further, demanding more knowledge of me.
“I suppose,” I replied, again, not really lying. I had attempted to take a few classes in medicine in Wisconsin the year before.
“Would you like to come in?” Evie asked and I realized that we were in front of her house.
Please say yes, Edward. You’ve finally come back to me, don’t leave now.
Her thoughts seemed so pure and hopeful that I could not bear to leave her and so I agreed to go with her. She already knew who I was, how much more harm could I do.
She reached down and grabbed my hand, but instantly dropped it in surprise.
“Your hands are freezing!” she exclaimed, her eyes wide with shock. “How can they be so cold when it’s so hot out?”
“Bad circulation,” I muttered, shoving my hands in my pockets.
“Sorry, I’ve been much too bold,” Evie apologized. “But please, do come in to talk just a bit longer.”
I should have turned away then, but I couldn’t. My feet moved of their own will and guided me to the large formal living room decorated in luxurious cream and light blue furniture. I know that I should leave and never come back, sell my new home and travel far away from Chicago but I felt a desire to stay here with Evie. It was strange and irrepressible – a link to my past to grasp hold of, to hold tight this one shred that remained of my humanity in hopes that I could maintain something, anything of that lost past.
Sitting down on the beige love seat, I was surprised by Evie’s boldness when she sat down next to me. She had been debating something in her mind but I had blocked it out of privacy but I paid attention to her thoughts now. They were all focused towards me and it was alarming to sit by her when her memories of me were so vivid. I hadn’t aged, not one bit, in ten years. There was something different about me – I hadn’t been so pale and she was certain that my eyes had once been green, but she didn’t want to see me for what I am. Instead she reminded herself that she had been much younger then, her imagination had often run wild with her.
She peered up at me through her lashes, then flushed darker and looked back down. She had not expected me to be staring back at her so intently. I looked to where her gaze fell and was awed at the closeness of her hand to mine on the sofa. Our smallest fingers were nearly touching, our arms not but an inch apart. I could feel the heat of her life flowing away from her body, such a contrast to my own cold, stone-like skin.
I had the urge to reach out and touch her, to caress the soft, smooth flesh of her hand. I wanted her to feel my own marble fingers and warm them with her touch, like a rock that grows warm in the sun. She had been shocked from their coldness earlier, but she had not been repulsed by me. Surely that was encouragement enough?
Gently, I moved my smallest finger against hers, feeling the tingle of light butterfly touches just grazing the skin. Evie’s heart raced beside me and her breath hitched lightly upon contact. She bit her bottom lip lightly and didn’t look at me, but watched as my hand slowly covered hers until I entwined my fingers within hers. She let her lip slip from her teeth and its dark red was irresistible, temptation calling to me, begging me to break.
Impulsively I let myself lean in to her, pressing my lips against hers, careful to be gentle so as not to hurt her but barely able to contain myself against my desire to be closer. I had not been so close to life in nearly a decade. I had denied myself any contain and now my body ached for it, drawing me to Evie and to life with an undeniable force.
“Edward!” Evie gasped as she pulled away.
“I… I-I’m sorry,” I stumbled, standing up at once to put distance between the two of us. Not only could I see her pulse racing through her veins, I could smell her sweet scent, her red blush calling out to me.
“We haven’t been properly introduced,” she muttered, shocked by my behavior. ‘We shouldn’t even be alone together in the house like this.”
“I’ll leave,” I agreed. I should never be alone with her. It wasn’t safe.
“You will come back, won’t you?” Evie asked as I walked towards the door. “Please, don’t just leave me. Everyone else has, I can’t bear to lose someone else.”
“I’ll come back,” I promised. “But what do you mean everyone else has?”
“Everyone’s gone,” she whispered mournfully. “They fell ill, died. If they survived the influenza then they were sent to war and died there. I live in this house alone now. I have no one.”
Crystal tears escaped, caressing her pale cheeks and I could not help but feel the urge to comfort her. It was as if by being near her, seeing her emotions, feeling her warmth, I could become human once more. I pulled her closer, kissing the top of her head, then pulled back, tilting her chin up so that she could see into my eyes.
“You have me.”
With those words I walked back toward the door. My urge to kiss her, comfort her, even to bed her were too strong to deny. Worst of all, buried beneath the very human urges to physically love her and protect her, were the very inhuman, monstrous urges to kill her and drink up the pieces.
“You’ll come back for me?” Her voice was husky as it followed me out the door.
Our relationship progressed quickly after that. It didn’t need to build through acquaintance, we already knew each other. Still, as we drew nearer I needed to tell her who I was. When she looked at me I could see how clearly she saw me, truly saw me in her thoughts. She weighed and measured all that was strange and inhuman on me and then pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind before they could begin to tear down the thin veil that hid my true self from her.
She had always known I hadn’t come back the same Edward Masen who had left the house next door nearly ten years previous. This new Edward was not the idealistic boy who dreamt of becoming a soldier for duty, glory, and a fierce determination to do what was right. To her, this boy was strange and withdrawn. He was melancholy for some burden that she could not decipher, something deeper than the loss of parents. It terrified me that she could see straight through me, as though all my secrets were written on my spine for all the world to see through transparent skin.
And yet, despite all of this, she didn’t fear me. She embraced me, lost herself in me. Her fingers would tangle themselves in my hair and she would pull her self close. Oblivion existed in my kisses and she could leave the darkness of her past behind.
I could never lose sight of what I was, even when she did not. If I ever did it would be my fatal mistake. Even now I pushed too hard. Her lips were always swollen, dark and lightly bruised from my embrace. Once she had pulled a shawl quickly over her slender shoulders, but she was not quick enough to disguise the light fingerprints that bruised her arm from too passionate embrace. She had seen me looking and blushed and I had apologized.
Guilt was my least favorite emotion and yet I allowed it to consume me. The more time I spent with her the worse I felt, knowing I was endangering her every minute that passed. But I was selfish. I wanted to keep her, forever. She made me feel human and spoke of how I once was, all those years ago before I knew what it was like to live in darkness and shadows, to live in the cold surrounded by death – to be death.
We sat now in my favorite spot, looking over a quiet lake, the dark woods surrounding us and the moon bright overhead. The lake water looked black and bottomless with the exception of the sliver of moonlight that ran across its inky surface.
Evie leaned against me, her black lace dress formal and made for the warmth of the salon and not the cold chill of water at midnight. I offered her my coat but she declined with a shiver. I insisted further, taking it off and wrapping it around her. She smiled thankfully but still watched me worriedly.
He never feels the cold. She had almost pushed the troublesome thought back before I could catch it but I heard it anyways. She smiled up at me thankfully and I felt the urge to keep her forever once again, pulling at me, drawing me to her.
“It’s beautiful here, Edward,” She sighed, leaning her curly black head against my shoulder and I pulled her close, careful to make sure she was covered against the chill of my skin. “I wish I could stay with you forever, and never leave your arms.”
“Forever?” I asked lightly, amused by the images of white lace gowns and elegant black tuxedos that fluttered through her mind.
“Forever. I want to keep you for all eternity.” Her words were quiet but strong and still the images of marriage and love flew through her head.
We sat in silence for a long time after that, not needing to say anything but just enjoying each other’s company.
“What if,” I began slowly, uncertain whether I should speak at all. “What if I could offer you forever?”
“What do you mean?” Evie asked curiously. Her thoughts sped through her brain as the pictures of us together forever raced through her mind.
“What if I had the ability to keep you forever? What if I could offer you eternity?”
“How can you offer eternity with you, Edward Masen?” she asked, laughing lightly. I clutched her shoulders softly, turning her to look me in the eyes, my expression deadly serious and her smile faded as she realized I mean my words. The flush faded from her cheeks leaving her ghastly white in the moonlight.
“I can change you,” I whispered quickly, terrified as the truth spilled rapidly from lips that betrayed me. “I can make you so that you’ll never age, you won’t die. You can be like me.”
“Like you?” She questioned. Her eyes were wide but demanded truth. “And what are you?”
“Evie,” I whispered, my voice sounding almost pleading, begging her to understand. I had said too much. I should never have said anything.
“What do you mean like you?” she asked again when I didn’t answer. “What do you mean Edward? What does ‘like you’ mean?”
I could only look back at her, at a lost for words. I wouldn’t have to say it anyways. The word flashed through her mind repeatedly. She had put the pieces together. She couldn’t ignore it any more, couldn’t bury it and push it away. The truth was burned into her now and she couldn’t deny it, not when I acknowledged her every suspicion with an offer of immortality.
“Say it, Edward,” she demanded softly. “Tell me now. What are you?”
“Evie, please,” I begged but her eyes were colder now. Hurt from betrayal and lies. “Don’t make me say it.”
“Tell me,” she whispered hoarsely.
“I’m a vampire,” I whispered darkly, my repulsion for the word clearly stated.
What little colour remained in her face was lost now as she stared at me, scrutinizing my face and my every movement.
“I always knew,” she murmured, “I always knew that there was something. You hadn’t aged in ten years Edward. How could I have been so stupid, why didn’t I notice?”
“But you did notice,” I argued. Realizing I had said too much I altered my excuse slightly. She didn’t need to know I could read her mind yet. “I could see it in your eyes. You’ve always seen me for what I am.”
“I always knew…”
“I love you, Evie, please. Stay with me forever,” I asked. My fingers dug into the soft, damp earth below us – I was afraid to leave them idol, afraid I would grab her and never let her go.
“I think I need to go home now,” she whispered.
We walked in silence for the entire long walk back to the car, an oppressive silence that weighed down on us, all the way back into the city. Her mind was on loop, comparing the current version of me to the one her memories so vividly remembered.
I walked her to her door and the silence carried on. I tried to take her hand in my own, but she pulled it away. If felt like daggers of ice cutting through my chest.
“Evie. I love you.” The words rushed from my mouth of their own accord. I searched her eyes for her response and felt a cold fear seep through me at the look in her eyes. I had hoped the joy, love and passion that once existed in their depths would still be there, echoing my own, but instead I saw sadness and a look that pleaded for forgiveness.
“I can’t love you, Edward.” Her whispered words cut through me and I felt like ice was forming in my veins.
“Why not?” I asked as my heart sunk.
“I need to grow older, Edward. I can’t just stay… the same. I want to live my life and I want to marry someone who will grow old with me. I want to have a family, and have days in the sun. I can’t live in fear that my husband might lose control, that our kisses could lead to my death.”
“I wouldn’t,” I argued. “I could never.”
“You’ll meet someone, some day, Edward,” She said as she placed her small hand upon my own. “And you will know and she will love you, all of you, always. But it’s not me you want. I… I can feel it.”
I looked down at the dusty road, my jaw clenched as her sweet mouth spoke words I didn’t want to hear. The words held the truth, dark and wretched, twisting my dreams until they were torn to shreds.
“Please, Evie, just come with me. You will be safe, I promise.” My voice pleaded with her, begged her to reconsider. Tears welled in her grey eyes, their colour dark now, like an ocean storm. They always changed colour with her mood.
“Please,” I asked again, my voice was heavy with emotion but was barely audible, no more than a choked whisper.
“I wish I could,” she whispered as the tears began to fall, leaving shimmering streaks across her smooth, pale cheeks.
“I love you,” I whispered. Cradling her cheek in my hand, I gently brushed a falling tear away with my thumb.
“Your hands are so cold,” Evie replied, backing away. “I can not leave my life, not yet. I’m sorry Edward. I really am.”
“Goodbye, Edward,” she said, kissing me softly on the cheek.
She turned and walked away from me, climbing slowly up the large stone steps that led to her house. I felt my hand clench tightly, as if I could hold on to her by holding on to the memory of her touch.
You’ll meet someone, some day, Edward.
That’s what she had said, but how long would I have to wait for her?
I sped back towards the house, going as fast as the car could travel but it wasn’t fast enough. I steered it to the side of the road and leapt out, running the rest of the way back to the. I paused at the edge of the drive, suddenly not wanting to go back. I need to go back to Evie, to convince her.
“It’s for the best, Edward.”
I turned around quickly at the sound of Carlisle’s voice. His eyes were sympathetic but his words spoke the harsh truth.
“I know, Carlisle,” I answered, my voice rough and bitter, “I’m a monster. She shouldn’t be anywhere near me. No one should.”
“We need to leave Chicago, tonight,” Carlisle said, his voice solemn. We began to walk quickly up the drive to the house. The air was damp and cold but I didn’t feel the chill. Most people would have avoided the shadows but we walked through the dark unnerved, no one could frighten us. No one could hurt us. “She knows too much, she always has. It’s only a matter of time before others realize. There’s nothing to stop her from telling others now.”
I only nodded and continued to walk but guilt began to churn my stomach. It was my fault that we were here where we shouldn’t be. It was too soon to have come back but I had ignored Carlisle, ignored my own instincts needing something familiar. But I had been too familiar. Evie had recognized me, even though she had only been a little girl when I had ‘died’. Now I had put Carlisle and Esme, as well as myself, in danger and again we had to leave.
“She wasn’t right for you, Edward, and you know it. Our world was never meant for her. She loves the sun and glows with life. You would never have forgiven yourself if you took that from her and forced her to hide away with you in the dark.”
“Enough, Carlisle,” I growled, my temper flaring as my mistakes glared at me and all around me. “It’s over. It will never happen again.”
“It may,” Carlisle said, ignoring my rudeness, “You just haven’t met the right person yet. In time you will.”
“No,” I replied, hardening my face so I looked cold, like the murderous monster I truly was. “I wasn’t made to love anyone. I had my chances when I was alive and I ignored them. It’s too late now.”
The look of pain on Carlisle’s face didn’t make me feel any better. It was his doing that created me and I had not been particularly grateful of the change. I stormed into the house, brushing past Esme, who gave me a concerned look.
“What happened?” I heard her ask Carlisle, but I ignored them and ran to my room. I tore through the room grabbing some clothing, some money, and a box of some personal possessions of my mother’s and threw them into a rucksack. I was in and out of the room in no more than a minute before I was out again.
“Edward, slow down. Talk to me, what’s going on?” Esme grabbed hold of my wrist, begging me to stop but I pulled it free, slinging my bag over my shoulder.
“Sorry, Esme,” I apologized roughly, keeping my eyes down. I knew I would not be able to carry through if I saw the undeserved hurt in her large amber eyes. “I have to leave. I can’t… live like this anymore.”
“But Edward,” Esme objected, but I cut her off.
“Live,” I snorted. “I guess we don’t have a word to describe what we do, but it’s certainly not live. Exist is all we do.”
“Edward,” Esme tried again, pulling at my tweed coat, but I brushed her arm away.
“We’re monsters, Esme. We can’t exist among the mortals like this, around humans. We’re not human.”
“Edward, stop this at once,” Carlisle ordered, putting himself in my way, Esme catching up and clutching at my arms trying to hold me in place.
“NO,” I growled, tearing myself free of Esme’s grip, satisfied at the sound of tearing fabric beneath her fingernails. “We are monsters Carlisle. I might as well start living like one.”
“You don’t mean that, Edward.”
“Don’t I?” I argued, my chest heaving. “We’re not human and we live by murdering. We follow your diet, trying to remain as human as possible, but she… they still reject us. And even after years of following your strict diet I still crave human blood. Everything else is bland. It doesn’t even stop the burning, it just masks it for a while.”
“Killing innocents is not worth it,” Carlisle countered as he solidified his stance against me, bracing himself as I made my way closer to him.
“I don’t plan to kill innocents,” I growled, my face close to his own. “Step aside, Carlisle. It’s about time I leave. You have Esme now, you don’t need me.”
“Yes, we do, Edward,” Esme gasped, reaching out to me but not quite touching me. “We’re a family.”
“Monsters don’t have families. Besides, I’m a grown man, I can make my own decisions. Only my body is that of a boy.”
Carlisle looked at me for a moment, his eyes boring into my own, causing me to shift uncomfortably. It was as if he could see into my very soul, but that was untrue. I no longer had a soul to call my own.
“Fine,” Carlisle consented, pinching the bridge of his nose between his fingers and looking both pained and worn. “You are free to do as you wish, you always have been. Just… please stay the night. Give yourself some time. You’re just upset because of Evelyn.”
“Goodbye Esme, Carlisle,” I said, nodding towards them as I stepped past Carlisle and opened the door.
“Please come back… as soon as you can, Edward,” Esme called out as I slammed the door shut.
Please come back Edward. Carlisle asked one last time until he was out of range.
I could never go back. It was time to strike out on my own, forge my own path and create my own redemption for what I was. I did not blame Carlisle for the darkness I had become, not entirely. But I could not stay with them any more, not when he disagreed with what would be a defining act of this new existence. The humans would always reject me, they must for they cherished the possession of a soul – a possession I did not have. I had an idea of how to obtain my redemption. I didn’t know if it would work, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it with Carlisle and Esme. They refused to spill any human blood, no matter how deserving they were. My choices would also leave me a creature of shadow and death, something that I could not drag them through. They would follow me if they could. I had to break from them, for good. I had been impulsive, seeking out my own selfish desires, no matter who they hurt, and I could not do it again.
And so I set off on my path of darkness. Maybe my plan would work and I could finally rest, my soul assured through acts of justice. A monster killing monsters – I didn’t know if it would work but I had nothing left, nothing to lose. If my soul was condemned to burn for eternity then I might as well take as many down with me as I could.
I saw my reflection in a dark puddle on the side of the road and paused to look. My outer appearance denied the evil that lay within. Everything about me was designed to draw them closer, a fallen angel descended upon the earth to avenge those that lost their lives to the unworthy.
I stared into the misty darkness ahead and wondered if my salvation lay waiting in its murky depths.