Echoes in Time

Description: Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and heartbreak is one of the most dangerous. Two hundred years ago a curse was conceived from unrequited love; now, in present time, Edward has grown cynical and despondent. Can a certain chocolate eyed stranger finally bring him some solace, or is he doomed to suffer for eternity?

Romance, Drama, Mild Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Fantasy, Comedy, NO VAMPIRES, AU, E/B, EPOV, HEA

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Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or its characters (obviously).

Chapter 1

There has always been one thing that mortals feared above all else and yet wished they had more of…time. The blessing of watching a child grow soon becomes charred by the scorching inevitability of aging. One day we're too young, and then like the changing of seasons, we've become too old. Time is an antagonist that does not care how virtuous you are or how hard you fight it. It's merciless and unforgiving. Minutes can seem like hours when all you want is for something to be over, and hours can seem to pass within minutes when you wish something would last forever. Every new day is just one more cruel reminder than none of us are ever in complete control, and eventually we will all succumb to time…

Two hundred years ago I was no different than any other eighteen year old of my era. I was young and had my entire life ahead of me; a life that should have ended long ago. Back then I underestimated just how important time was, and for me time became not something to fear, but something to loathe as it seemingly forgot all about me.

How could time just leave me behind? The answer was simple, it couldn't. Something bigger, something darker shadowed me from the natural effects of the world's laps around the sun, and I found myself resenting father time for not being strong enough to battle against it.

To live forever is the ultimate frivolous dream of so many, but without ever experiencing it first hand, one can't possibly understand the torture it entails. To watch your friends and family leave this world to a place you can never reach them, to witness society develop beyond your mental capacity, to be terrified by the latest technology that you were never meant to experience. It was a never-ending cycle of overstimulation and agonizing nothingness.

Whether gone too fast or paused for an eternity, time was no one's friend…especially when you're forced to spend that eternity with a few extremely annoying people.

"So I have a favor to ask of you," Alice said as she flitted into the room.

"What?" I asked warily. Alice's favors usually entailed me wearing some ridiculous outfit or embarking on a painfully boring trek to god only knew where.

"I need you to hang out with me for the day," she said with a sweet grin; I only wished the look in her eyes was as innocent.

"Alice, what are you scheming?"

"Nothing," she said quickly - too quickly. "Can't a girl just want to spend some time with her favorite brother without it being a scheme?"

"Not when she starts the conversation with 'I need a favor'," I pointed out.

"Crap, I shouldn't have said that…Okay, well I do have a friend coming over, and I was sort of hoping you'd hang with us."

"Because?" I led her, knowing there was more.

She sighed before plopping down on the couch beside me, and then she started rambling at a speed that only she could. "Okay, here's the thing. This girl moved to town in the middle of the school year and I sort of took her under my wing, and you know how I start getting premonitions about people after I spend some time with them, well I started getting them about her. I didn't see anything specific, just flashes of things that I don't really understand, but in all of them you were there, so I really think her future is tied to you somehow, and since she's not going away to college this summer like I thought she would be doing, I figured it's a great time to figure out exactly what she means to you…or will mean to you."

I stared at her full of irritation. She knew I didn't associate with people outside our family, so it wasn't even possible that the girl could ever mean anything to me. The visions she had were probably nothing more than the result of her forcing us to spend time together, which I simply didn't have patience for. Unfortunately for me, she knew exactly what to say to get me to agree to it…

"She's friends with Jacob Black."

Damn it! "Fine. When is she coming over?"

"She should be here any time now."

"Great. Can't wait," I said sardonically.

"You're the best brother ever!" she squealed excitedly.

"Sure. Remind me that again in ten minutes when I'm already regretting agreeing to this."

"You're not going to regret it. Bella Swan is great, and you're really going to like her; I can feel it. Besides, if you really hate it that much, just keep telling yourself that being nice to her might get you in with the Quileute, and that's why we're really here, right?"

I groaned. "Yes Alice."

Getting in with the Quileute was the only reason I'd ever agree to befriend anyone, although after traveling the world so many times, I was beginning to think there wasn't any real magic left at all, so it was probably pointless anyway.

For the first hundred years of this purgatory, we went to every supposed sorcerer and witch doctor we could find hoping for an end to our endless suffering, but the closest thing we ever found was in an Amazonian tribal village. The leader there talked about an ancient magic that could create endless life as well as take it away, but to his knowledge, that particular magic had only been accomplished by one shaman, which had migrated to the continent above in the northwest. After decades of searching and researching, we concluded that the descendants of that shaman lived with the Quileute that resided on the Washington Olympic Peninsula.

Elated that there could possibly be a break in the curse, we rushed to Washington and begged the Quileute to help us, but…

"If you do not get off our land right away, we will cast a spell damning you to an eternity of fire!" the chief had warned us. We didn't even have a chance to ask them to help before they threatened us to never come back. Apparently there was something in our eyes, something that showed the dark magic that ran through our veins that scared them into their hatred.

Of course, that was over a hundred years ago, and after giving them a century to forget, we decided to try again. We were taking it slowly this time around, and hoping to gain their trust before asking them to help us. If Alice's friend could give us a chance to accomplish that, then I suppose she was all of our new best friend.

Suddenly the doorbell rang and before Esme could even come out of the kitchen, Alice was racing to answer it. "I got it!" she squealed excitedly.

I just shook my head at her eagerness. As much as she irritated the hell out of me, I was grateful to have her…to have all of them. I hated that they were cursed because of me, but I honestly had no idea what I would have done without them for all those years.

"Is someone here?" Carlisle asked as he came down the stairs.

I shrugged. "I guess Alice is having a friend over today."

"That's new," he replied surprised.

"Yep, but her terrible habit of having ulterior motives isn't."

"Uh oh," he said amused. "Does her ulterior motive this time involve you?"

"I'm afraid so."

He chuckled. "Have fun with that."

"Wait, you're not going to stay and buffer this? I can't do this alone," I whined like a child.

"You'll be fine…you always are," he snickered as he walked through the room towards the kitchen to join his wife for lunch.

"Traitor!" I shouted as he left.

Less than a minute later Alice came prancing back into the room while towing a wide eyed stranger behind her.

"This is my brother…the one I was telling you about," Alice said to the girl. "Edward, this is my good friend Bella," she introduced us.

"Hi, nice to meet you," I said with a sociable smile as I stood to greet her, and then I mentally cursed myself for my old fashioned politeness. Many times in the past I had gotten in trouble by giving young women the wrong idea with my good manners, and even after paying the ultimate price for my graciousness, I still hadn't managed to break the habit.

As predicted my unintentional charm seemed to captivate the girl into a dazzled stupor, so I cleared my throat and looked to Alice for help.

"Uh…So Edward, Bella was just telling me about a book she read recently. What was the name of it again?" Alice asked her friend, trying to engage her into a conversation.

"Um…" Bella blinked and then shook away her dazed state. "'Tides of Redemption'. It was an awesome read," she said bashfully. "I'm sorry, I probably seem like a moron. I haven't been sleeping well so I'm a little tired."

"Oh you're fine, don't even worry about it," Alice assured her.

There was another beat of awkward silence, and then Alice forced the conversation forward. "Edward, didn't you say you read that book as well?" she asked me.

"No," I replied evenly.

"Are you sure? I thought you said you read something like that."

"Nope. I haven't read anything close to that. Why?" I asked, pretending not to know what she was trying to do.

"Well, Bella reads all the time just like you do. What are you reading now? Maybe she's read it too and we can…you know, talk about it, or something."

"Right now I'm reading 'Crimson Dust'. It's about satanic cults who perform sacrifices in order to harness dark magic," I said honestly. I didn't mean to sound like a jackass, but a part of me was happy about it. The last thing I wanted was to encourage the little crush that I could already feel Bella developing. It was radiating out of her, and suddenly I felt like I was swimming in it. It had to stop before it got any worse, and if that meant jeopardizing our chance at befriending one of the Quileutes, then so be it.

"Wow, you don't seem like the type to be into that sort of thing," Bella said unexpectedly. "Is it for a college project, or are you reading it for fun?"

I smirked. "I don't go to college, cults just interest me."

"Which part? The killings or the devil worshiping?" she asked without missing a beat.

"All of it, but mostly the mind control involved. The way the cult leaders pick their followers and dig deep into their psyches and warp them to fit their own agenda is absolutely enthralling."

"So you're interested in the instability of the followers, or the manipulations of the leaders?"

"The leaders, naturally. Who wouldn't want their own flock of loonies to follow their every word? Can you even imagine that type of power?" I joked.

"Well I suppose I can relate to that. Every night I do play a hypnotizing recording for my dad while he sleeps so I can influence all the decisions he makes ," she deadpanned. It was absurd, and I knew she had to be kidding, but her somberness was a little off-putting. Just when I actually started to think she was serious she broke out laughing. "Wow, you should see your face right now."

Alice laughed with her. "Yeah, you look terrified. Did you really think she was that sadistic?"

I laughed too. I couldn't help it. "Maybe. I've seen worse," I admitted.

After that, strangely enough, the next few hours were easy; the conversation flowed and there were no more awkward silences. Alice was right about Bella, she was very interesting, and when it was time for her to leave I found myself hoping Alice would invite her to come back soon. Of course, I'd never admit it, especially to my sister…

"So…what do you think?" Alice asked way too eagerly.

"About what?" I played dumb.

"About Bella!" she practically shouted.

"Oh, you mean your questionably psychotic friend? Yeah, she's a hoot."

"Oh shut up, I know you liked her," she giggled.

"What I don't understand is why you can't just convince her to introduce us to Jacob Black yourself? Why drag me into it?"

"I told you, it's not all about Jacob Black. You two have a connection, and now I know you see it too."

"A connection?" I spat. "I just met her."

"Connections don't need time," she argued.

"Come on Alice, you know I don't believe in all that fairytale crap."

"Says the man who lives forever," she teased.

"You know what I mean."

"Edward, I've dreamed about you two together every night for the past month. What if she's your soul mate or something? Your one true love."

I rolled my eyes at her. "I don't believe in soul mates, and if I did then I'd know mine died over a hundred years ago."

Alice suddenly got serious. "Edward, I know you still miss Beth, you always will, but she's gone. Maybe there is no such thing as soul mates, but you can't convince me that there isn't someone out there that can still make you blissfully happy."

"Alice..." I took a deep breath. "Beth died…of old age. She didn't succumb to some horrible fate, she just lived her life and then she passed on when it was her time, which is the same exact thing that will happen to Bella, and to everyone else that comes into our lives…everyone except us. What would be the point in being 'blissfully happy' with anyone if they're just going to grow old and die when I never will? You're lucky; you have Jasper, and Rose and Emmett have each other. Hell, even Carlisle has a wife, and he used to be a priest. You will all live forever together, and I will always be alone…that witch made sure of that," I said bitterly.

"It is better to have loved and lost than to never…" she let her quote trail off when she saw my growing irritation. "You know, you only give Jane power by refusing to take advantage of her curse. You'll live forever Edward, and yet, you're not living at all. That's what she wanted. She's winning, and you're just letting it happen."

"No, she won a long time ago," I mumbled. "Getting close to someone again, only to lose them to the hands of time isn't worth it to me. I've long accepted my fate of being alone, and I'm okay with it. I wish you would respect me enough to do the same."

"You're right. I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone when it comes to women, but Bella is important; maybe she's not meant to be a romantic connection for you, but she is something. Why would I keep dreaming about her if she wasn't?"

I thought about it for a minute, and then I sighed. "It must have something to do with the Quileute. I guess we can't just ignore it so…Ugh. Fine, keep bringing her around. We'll figure it out."

"Yes we will," she agreed confidently. "I have a really good feeling about this."

"Well I sincerely hope your feeling is right this time." – But somehow I had my doubts. I suppose for us there was no such thing as a waste of time, so going along with whatever plan she was concocting couldn't hurt. At the very least, hanging out with Bella was going to be entertaining, and in a never ending life of idleness, I'd take whatever form of entertainment I could get.

***A/N: I'm planning for this to be a short story, but we'll see how it goes. Updates anywhere between a couple times a week to a couple times a month (probably the former). Thanks