What a chapter this was, ha. I figured it was time enough to pick up the pace no? Plot, I say!

Thank you to all that came back to this fic, and continued to encourage me and accept my apologies. I love you all so much!

Hope you all like it, and I'm excited to read everyone's reactions to this, especially since its very different from the usual.



Chapter XVIII - Garnet

"So, I was with your grandmother, yesterday." Daniel started awkwardly, watching as Edgar gathered her things after finishing up the latest session with his mother. His eyes flickered to the painting that sat drying on the easel, half done and looking entirely real - much like a half inked photograph out of a high definition camera. His mother sat sprawled on their couch, the end of her dress trailing the floor and her hand under her chin, looking twenty years younger and a lot less round about the hips, as per instructed (much to his and his father's amusement). The silver eyed girl had perfectly depicted everything from the creases in the silk material, to the miniscule patterns in her cornea, and if he were to be frank, he found it half breathtaking, half disconcerting.

The former, because it really was stunning, no doubt about it, and the latter, because just last night, he could have sworn the eyes in the painting were judging him after he climbed up to bed at four am after a binge-watching session of Extreme Couponing, and it was honestly the most terrifying thing, ever.

But Daniel wasn't a frank person by nature, and so he'd keep that little tidbit to himself.

Edgar still hadn't answered though, even when he knew she'd heard him perfectly well, and he sighed, plucking morosely at the strings on the violin in his lap. "I'm to perform with the Orchestra at the Charity Ball. She introduced me to the conductor." Daniel swallowed down the lump in his throat, not quite managing to get out what he really wanted to say, which was more along the lines of 'She introduced me to the conductor, and I croaked.' He felt miserable, humiliated, and just generally downtrodden, his failure playing over and over in his head incessantly, the unamused expression of the dark haired conductor, and Cecilia's Beauregard's look of open mouthed horror appearing in his mind whenever he so much as closed his eyes.

"We'll call you." Was all he got, before the Italian man walked away without another glance, shattering Daniel's heart more and more with each step away he took.

Way to go, he told himself bitterly, you blew a chance at your future before it even began.

The car ride back had been comprised of a stony silence on his part, despite Mrs Beauregard trying to comfort him, her encouraging words and fluttering hands trying to pull him out of his sadness -a lovely woman, she was, to still be talking to him even after if he'd blown it spectacularly and possibly jeopardized her reputation.

The first thing he'd done upon his arrival home after the whole ordeal was crawl onto the couch and bury himself in his mother's handsewn quilt, drowning his sorrows in the inanity of reality TV. His budding career as a violinist was over, obviously he'd been overestimating his talents in the first place. It was time to let go, he'd decided. Put the violin aside, bring up his math grades, and look for a more sensible career in accounting. He'd marry a local Forks girl, carry a briefcase, and pretend he wasn't harboring a dark past and a farfetched dream of becoming a renowned composer.

(Obviously the decision was an unrealistic one, taken in the throes of his heavy teenage melodrama. He adored violin, it was practically the air he breathed, the one thing that kept him from sinking into the pitiful level of mediocrity that threatened to swallow him whole at any moment. And even if he didn't, his mother would murder him herself if he gave up the violin and threw away the years of private lessons she'd worked tirelessly for.

Plus, marrying a local girl wasn't all that possible either, considering he was gay anyway.)

Finally Edgar glanced at him, eyes roaming him over unabashedly, silent in that way of hers, and he tried very hard not to squirm. "You don't seem joyful..." She spoke eventually, sounding confused with her brows furrowing. Clearly she was trying to puzzle him out, with little success. "I expected you to be very satisfied with the opportunity, which is why I spoke to my grandmother. Was I wrong?" She asked simply, to which he hastily shook his head, because the last thing he needed was to appear ungrateful.

"It's not that," he said, which only made her look more confused, and he forced himself to continue, "It's just, well, I didn't make a very good impression."

The black haired girl finished pocketing her many paintbrushes back into the pouches of her apron, before wiping her hands on a paint stained rag that she hung over her left shoulder when she was done. There was large smudge of verdant paint on her cheek. "Why do you think that?" Was her question.

He plucked out another note nervously; his teacher would be arriving any moment now, and if he couldn't even tell Edgar the full story, then how would he fare under the no-nonsense countenance of the woman who'd drilled him for nothing but perfection since he'd first held a violin at the tender age of six?

So Daniel took a deep breath and forced out the words that had been choking him for the last twenty-four hours. "I failed." He admitted breathlessly, and before he knew it, everything was just spilling out in a guilt-ridden rush, "I had to perform a demonstration of my skills so that the Conductor could see whether or not it was worth putting me into he recent lineup with the other musicians, so stupidly I went and chose a piece by Maxim Vengerov, thinking that I'd be able to play it well enough to impress him -but I should have known because I can barely go over an entire one of his movements here at home without messing up, so what possessed me to go reveal my inadequacy to the whole world? It was so horrible it was almost impressive! Mistake after mistake, I couldn't even hold a simple three-quater D note! I embarrassed not only myself, but your poor grandmother too, she'll probably never want to see me again!" He bemoaned, cringing in remembrance at his epic failures and inwardly sobbing at the sight of his crumbling future. Goodbye, Royal British Academy of Music. It was a nice dream while it lasted.

He jumped when he felt something pat his shoulder, a little too lightly for it to be comforting, and looked up to see Edgar standing over him, a hesitant, if slightly panicked expression on her face. Her hand came down again, then stayed a few seconds, before she lifted it and brought it down suddenly again, the rhythm of the motion disjointed and abrupt. "What are you doing?" He asked her after a long moment of silence.

Her hand paused above his shoulder, and she blinked at him with her wide eyes, "One of my psychology books says establishing physical intimacy with another during a time of distress goes a long way in centering their emotions. Hugs were the most recommended, along with hand holding and heavy shoulder pats, and thus I presumed that this was an appropriate occasion-"

Daniel stared at her in disbelief, "...This is your attempt at comforting me?" He asked slowly, unable to comprehend the sheer amount of awkwardness a single being could possess -and while he knew he was bad at emotional situations, he wasn't this bad.

Edgar shrugged once, before resuming her uncomfortable patting, and Daniel couldn't help hit, he cracked up, throwing his head back with a laugh, because Edgar Beauregard.

He only laughed harder at the clear confusion in her eyes at his reaction, and he felt bad, he really did because here she was trying to make him feel better in her own little way, and he was laughing -but God, only Edgar could turn his pity party into the most ridiculous thing ever by trying to comfort him.

He forced himself to shut up however, when he saw how she seemed to turn into herself, and withdrew her hand without a word. He'd hurt her feelings. "Wait, I'm sorry for laughing, it's just-" abruptly he cut himself off, knowing before he even continued that his words wouldn't be welcomed. "I'm laughing because you made me feel better." He said quickly.

"And you find that amusing?" She asked bluntly, and oh, because he could see how that came out wrong, but he really had meant it. The amusement she'd unexpectedly prompted out of him had gone a long way in lifting his spirits, brief as the moment had been.

"Yes, but in a good way." He said hastily trying to clarify.

She didn't seem all that appeased as she shouldered her rucksack, "I might be a bit later than usual tomorrow, I'm going to the reservation in the morning." She said, and he frowned thoughtfully.

"To the kid you said you'd teach?" He guessed to which she nodded, starting to leave without another word, and that's when he realized that he may have been a bit more insensitive than he'd first assumed with his laughter.

"Wait!" He called, shifting his violin to one hand and getting to his feet, hurrying towards her. She paused, and regarded him with an expectant look. He cleared his throat awkwardly, "I'm sorry." He stated.

"Sorry? Why?" Edgar asked, confused.

"I shouldn't have laughed, it was mean." He told her, and he watched her mouth pull down into a frown.

"Its not the first time I've been laughed at. It's alright." She replied, and okay, wow Daniel, could you have been any more of a jerk? He knew that Forks often whispered and tittered mockingly at the girl before him, heck, he'd done it a few times himself when they were all still in Primary -Edgar had always been the weird girl with scary eyes and no friends, everyone had laughed at her. And he'd done it again now, when he was supposedly more mature, and she'd gone out of her comfort zone to try and make him feel better.

The guilt doubled.

"It's not alright, you're my friend and I shouldn't have laughed. I'm sorry." He told her, full of conviction, and her eyes widened.

"Friend?" She repeated, the word sounding almost foreign on her tongue, and he nodded firmly, because she was, even if it had taken him a stupid amount of time to realize it.

"...I've never had a friend before." She admitted, sounding kind of lost, but her eyes were shining.

He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably, "Yeah, um, I don't have that many myself either." Daniel admitted, and weren't the two of them just pitiful? "Still, I'd like to be your friend, if that's okay?" He ventured unsurely.

The black haired girl was quiet a moment, long enough that Daniel had time to fret about whether or not she'd accept or not, and also thank God that his mother was still upstairs, because he just knew she'd make the whole thing ten times more embarrassing than it had to be, and he was already considering bolting as it were.

Finally, when he was about to back out like the coward he was, a small smile blossomed on her face, not an overly large one, but it was still there, and that stopped him in his tracks.

"It's okay." Edgar answered happily.

Mark Wright was a simple man of a simple background who led a simple life with simple needs. Born and raised in Mississippi middle-class America, he'd come from a hardworking family that had been around since the days of Independence, all firm Republicans and God fearing people, not a drop of all this modern unholiness in his blood. He'd played football in highschool, before graduating with average grades and going to a local college, majoring in Finance, and later marrying a respectable young woman who had a teaching job at the primary school. They'd had two normal kids, one boy and one girl, settled down in a quaint suburban home in a nice area with none of the usual riff-raff and illegal immigrants to disturb, and led a full life of meatloaf and unseasoned chicken.

Mark worked hard, loyal secretary Shelly by his side, and through his honesty and morality, was quickly moved through the ranks until he found himself Director, and though the years were hard and tax collectors harder, he was able to adequately provide for his family.

So when his and his wife's thirty year anniversary came up, and the madame proposed a romantic European holiday to celebrate all their joyful, monogamous years of matrimony, he figured why not? He deserved it, all his tireless work was gaining on him, the grey hairs were more pronounced, and even Shelly had commented his stamina was not what it once was, unable to perform as well as before. Still, Shelly hadn't been complaining at the expensive painting he'd gifted her, for all her years of loyal service of course. A true helper she was.

A friend of his who lived on the Olympian Coast had recommended a local artist who was supposedly able to paint anything requested better than even some world renowned artists, and while Mark wasn't the most artistic of men, the realm being one for women -and the occasional dandy- he took a look at the photos sent, and figured they'd make good enough gifts, so he ordered one for Shelly and the Madame, and when they'd arrived, hadn't been disappointed. Why, the family portrait he'd commissioned looked like a mirror-image, not to mention the extreme detail paid to the second painting he'd ordered, one which particularly brought out Shelly's, ahem, assets. The prices were a bit steep for his tastes, but he could at least appreciate the quality.

So, he'd gifted the Madame the portrait and two tickets to Germany, bid his two responsible teenage kids goodbye and a firm order to diligently watch over the house, and hopped on the plane.

Europe was nice enough, if a bit colder than he was used to. The beer was quality, cars even better, but he didn't get much time to enjoy either. The Madame dragged him all around, doing all the touristy nonsense, as well as endless shopping, and they bought train tickets down to France at her request to see 'The City of Love', which he personally thought was a bunch of hogwash, but at least they had good food, so he could bare it.

Finally they made it down to Italy, the last leg of their one month trip, and he found himself restless with anticipation to get back home to real sports, not this tap dancing thing they called 'football' and a good ol' backyard barbecue. However, where he was anxious, it seemed the Madame was drawing it out as long as possible. They spent some time in Milan, before moving on to Florence, then Venice, and finally old cobblestone Volterra.

Of all the places they'd visited so far, he could say with all certainty that Volterra was the most boring, with nothing at all entertaining, which was why he couldn't figure out why in God's name his wife was taken with the place and all its 'breathtaking plazas' and 'lovely statues'. To his horror, the third day in, she dragged them off to yet another art tour.

He'd been reluctant at first, because just how many times could one stare at an unmoving hunk of rock in their lifetime? But then he'd seen their tour guide, the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen in his life, with skin of ivory, dark hair and a figure that curved for days, and that was a woman he'd follow till the ends of the earth.

She rattled on about paintings and decorative pieces and all that nonsense, but he couldn't even register her words, hypnotized by her sultry voice and the way her hips swayed from left to right when she walked, and he trailed after her blindly, not even caring where he was being led. He didn't care about the disapproving looks his wife was giving him, didn't care about anything, and thought only of how he'd sell her off if only for a night with this sensual woman.

They emerged into a grand hall, all marble pillars and decorated ceilings, and others were taking pictures, gushing happily about his surroundings, but he couldn't care less about any of that, because the woman had just winked at him, and he swore he felt his heart try and escape out his throat.

"Welcome Guests! Welcome to Volterra!" A velvety voice cried happily, and his attention was almost forcefully drawn to the front of the room, to where a trio of men sat on thrones elevated on a dais. The man in the middle was all dark hair and pale skin, but what jumped out at Mark was not his unsettling looks, but his glaring scarlet eyes that shun brightly. On his left, was another man with red eyes, watching them all with a bored look on his face, and on the right, was one with stark white hair and a hungry smirk on his face.

Mark swallowed nervously, and when his eyes darted around, he found the beautiful woman had disappeared.

"I do hope you've enjoyed your time here." The man purred, and then suddenly there was chaos. Screams filled the place, and Mark watched in horror when he registered the pale figures falling upon them, teeth flashing before they buried them into the necks of his tour mates. People tried to run, beg for mercy, but it was futile, for these, these creatures were ruthless.

"Mark!" His wife cried out, desperately reaching for him, her blue eyes terrified, but before he could even react, the smirking blond man had set upon her, and Mark watched in horror as his wife of three decades, the mother of his children was drained dry, the life disappearing from her eyes before she crumpled into a lifeless heap.

"Quite unfortunate, that." A voice hummed lightly from behind him, and he whipped around to see the one in the middle standing behind him, staring at the corpse of his wife with a benign smile. "Still, it is the way of things." He added lightly, trailing his fingers almost gently over Mark's jaw.

"Mortals are all the same you see, insipid little creatures that walk the earth, blind to their surroundings, full of greed and lust." He drawled, and Mark was too frozen to even so much as cry out when the man grabbed his jaw in his hands and forcibly made him stare into his devil red eyes. "You Mark Wright, are even more revolting then the usual."

And then the man descended on him. The sensation of having his blood drained from him was not as painful as it seemed, he thought only half coherent and oddly calm with the situation. It was almost pleasant, a delicious tingling in his system that left him all too willing to give more. His eyes drooped, his limbs heavy and fatigued, and he felt far too dizzy, before he was abruptly dropped carelessly to the ground, too weak to even shiver at the cold he felt.

"This Edgar Beauregard, however, intrigues me." Declared the man, sounding almost pleased.

It was the last thing Mark Wright heard before he died.