A/N- My apologies for such a long writing hiatus. This story, in fact, doesn't mean I'm back to writing technically. While the rest of you are enjoying holiday bliss, I'm trying to get all of my college affairs in order. I graduate in May… and I need to make sure all bases are covered.
But, because of a request for some "edward before bella" character clarification, this little piece was born. Enjoy.
One evening I found myself in the company of Esme, Rosalie and Alice. For once, Alice wasn't trying to maul me with curlers or cover my face in makeup. Esme had sent the men off on a hunt, claiming the need for a girls' night. Rosalie had even given me a few quick, secretive smiles.
I would have been worried, but Edward's countenance had been so reassuring. Actually, besides Jasper's furtive glances at me, it looked as if they were all very comfortable with whatever arrangement had been made. That didn't change the fact that I didn't know what was going on.
When I imagined a girls' night, I imagined women in funny pajamas, wearing green goopy face masks and playing truth or dare. Of course, this band of women didn't really buy into sleep wear, nor did they need the cleansing treatment a face mask could offer. I didn't completely rule out the truth or dare, though.
"Alice, are they far enough away?" Esme asked, as we lounged comfortably in the large open living area in the downstairs of the house.
"Yes," Alice nodded, "They'll be to the designated hunting area in just a few minutes."
"Good." Esme smiled cheerfully over at me, "Bella, I would like for you to think of this as your—well… I call it your wedding shower, but I'm sure there will be one of those for your….human family and friends, if I know Alice."
"Yep," Alice smiled evilly. I cast a wary glance in her direction. Wedding shower… ugh. Just another chance for me to be placed in the lime light.
"The reason why Edward agreed so readily about this is mainly because he is desirous that you know every piece of him possible before you're married and… everything that comes after that," Esme explained, wincing slightly, "Sometimes, he can't give you a clear picture of himself. He understands that we may see or have seen things about him that aren't as easily picked out by someone so close, as you are to him. Our gift of sorts, to you, is that this is a night that we'll answer any question you may have about him within the realm of our own scope."
"We know that you know him— you probably know him better than we do some days." Alice smiled, "But we've all known him longer and it may help you out in the long run."
"So ask us anything," Rosalie smiled genuinely, apparently surrendering to the fact that I would be part of the family, whether she was against it or not.
"I—" I was unsure of what to ask. I was completely unprepared. Most of the time if I had a question, I wasn't hesitant to just blurt it out.
"It's important to him that you have this chance." Esme smiled. And all of the sudden I did have a question.
"Why? It's not like I'm going to back out." I frowned, filled with disdain over the idea that this might be a last ditch effort on Edward's part to scare me away—at least from becoming a vampire. That was probably why Rosalie was being so compliant.
"Bella," Alice rolled her eyes, "Edward isn't trying to get you to leave or to change your mind about becoming part of the family. He's far past that. He just—I think he's feeling more and more human every day he spends with you and this is one of those—human things. He wants you to know as much about him as possible, before you get married. That's what it comes down to."
"Oh." I was again silent. I still wasn't sure what I would need to know other than what I already did.
Edward was… Edward. He was this being that walked into my life and took my breath away. Figuratively and literally. His Victorian era manners and slightly crooked smile were only two of my favorite things about him.
But I suddenly felt uncertain. I never asked many questions about his life before me. I knew he had two medical degrees and he could play the piano like an angel, but those were two of the few things I did know.
"Bella?" Esme's cold hand on mine pulled me back into the present, "We can do this another time, if you'd like. When you've had time to think about it."
"No." I shook my head, "Now's good. I just—have to think of all the things that I've wanted to ask and never gotten the chance or the idea that it was any of my business."
"Why not let us start then?" Rosalie interjected, "We could begin with our first impression of Edward."
"That's a very good place to start," Alice giggled involuntarily, "Especially since your first impression is one so vile."
Without consent, Rosalie began.
"You know a little about what I told you from before. When I was sharing my story with you that night. And yes, I think my very first impression of him was when the pain was bearable enough to understand what Carlisle, Esme and Edward were saying. You know I thought he was arrogant then. He still is sometimes.
"But I want to share with you a little about the days after. When I was… haunting Royce and his friends," Rosalie's words were a melodious snarl, "Even though Edward was seemingly unhappy about Carlisle's choice to add me to the family, he helped me locate all of them. That's actually how we found Royce. He even told me how to kill them without shedding any blood. When I asked him why he would help me, he explained about the time he had spent away from Carlisle and Esme. All the vicious minds he'd encountered. The thoughts of others that plagued him and the wonder at how they could be so cruel.
"He must have investigated. Gone and searched their minds. He insisted there was no hope for them. He might have done it himself, if I hadn't been so vehement about it." Rosalie shrugged, "My first impression was that even if Edward was a little overbearing sometimes, and opinionated for that matter, he was a true gentleman who abhorred cruelty towards women."
"He was sorry that he couldn't save Rosalie himself," Esme sighed, "The night that Carlisle found her, Edward had begun muttering about how he'd stopped his human hunting a little too early. How he could have possibly saved her."
"But he never hunted in Rochester," Rosalie smiled painfully, "So it never would have been."
"My first impression of Edward is quite a bit different." Esme's voice held a little pride, not allowing me to dwell on what Rosalie had just told me, "Edward stayed away during my transformation. That much I remember. But the first thing I heard when I began to regain bits and piece of consciousness was his skill at the piano. He and Carlisle lived in a big farmhouse on the outskirts of town and Edward's rooms were just above where I'd been staying.
"As I lay there, the fire finally leaving my body, I called out hearing the music and knowing it couldn't be a Victrola player. This beautiful young man was at the foot of the bed in a flash. He looked so frightened and confused that I almost tried to comfort him, but his expression shifted quickly, readily answering questions that I had not voiced yet.
"He was very polite and introduced himself immediately as Carlisle's son. He told me that the doctor had been called away into town that day. He kept me company until Carlisle came back. He left only when Carlisle was ready to tell me about my transformation. I often forget about that time, because when Carlisle came into the room, I immediately remembered him and was captivated." Esme smiled at the memory.
"Edward's playing had been for me. He knew what I was going through and he knew any distraction was welcome. What he'd been playing—the song when I first became coherent—is my favorite even today.
"In the days after my transformation, Edward was a constant presence helping me to cope with my circumstances. He explained that he could hear every thought of mine and that's how he answered my questions and thoughts before I'd voiced them. He was very sweet." Esme smiled, happy to give me such a positive story, it seemed.
"You know much of my story, as well, Bella," Alice smiled, "Jasper and I joined up and went on a search to find them. My first encounter with Edward was kind of comedic. As soon as I had come into the realm of Edward's mind reading abilities, he was curious as to why I was thinking about him and his family. He didn't tell any of the others and struck out to find me. I was so excited to finally see a face that I knew was my future that I pounced on him the moment that he came within my vision.
"It's a good thing we were all in the woods, otherwise, we might have caused quite a scene. Edward threw me about half a mile across the woods and demanded that we tell him why I knew him, when he didn't know me. He was so funny." Alice's giggle reverberated off the walls of the large room, "And Jasper had almost had a conniption and would have tackled Edward, had I not been laughing so hard.
"I had already predicted this meeting, when Edward caught my thoughts and started his search for us. So it hadn't been a surprise to me. I knew he was just trying to protect his family from danger. I thought it was very sweet. Jasper took hold of the situation by then and calmed us all down. And the rest, as they say, is history." Alice shrugged.
They were all silent after that, watching me.
"It's so much to take in." I finally sighed, "I mean, I've never heard those stories, mostly because Edward doesn't think they're his to share."
"Edward's mind reading keeps him from sharing some of those stories," Esme shrugged, "You know already that he thinks that he knows too much about us. But his mind reading makes him extra sensitive to all of us. I'm not sure he wasn't like that before he was turned. It's probably what makes him such a gentleman where it is appropriate."
I nibbled on my lip for a moment. Of course, I knew most of this already. That he was a gentleman. And that he was thoughtful and protective. I'd seen all of that before in his actions towards me. But…
"After you all were together. After Alice and Jasper joined the family…" I paused, wondering if I really wanted to know.
"Out with it Bella," Alice mock scowled, raising an eyebrow at me.
"Alright, fine. I just wanted to know… what Edward was like before me. If he was different?" I thought for a moment, "I mean, I guess I knew already—that he was different. Some of you have mentioned it. He even mentioned it, I think. I just—I can't help but wonder what he was like."
"I don't know if I can describe it." Alice admitted, "We've all been together for fifty years and… I'm just not sure."
"Let me see if I can put it in words," Esme smiled, "Life—er—existence for Edward was something he had accepted. There was no reason for him to try to end his life. By the time I had met him, he had accepted it, probably because his mother had wished him to survive. But he was not looking for a companion of the female persuasion. Carlisle had been the companion Edward had needed. I almost wondered if it wasn't because he was so young.
"Even in my time, men did not search for mates until they were established in a trade or a business. That meant they were usually in their twenties when they started wanting a family. Edward—" Esme shrugged, "Well… he is seventeen, even if he is one hundred. He may want you as a wife, Bella, because he loves you but before you he wasn't searching for a companion.
"This gave him the chance to do what seventeen year olds do, eternally. Search the world for a purpose. He has excelled in the medical field. He has a deep love for music. He has an interest in histories of all kinds. He found that out in the last ninety years or so." Esme sighed, "His life was fulfilling for him. But he's always been a quiet soul. The tortured artist at times."
Esme seemed to be lost in her own thoughts and memories, trying to paint an accurate picture. Alice took this chance to give me further insight.
"Bella, think back to that day you first came to Forks High," her smile was amused, "Think back to lunch that day, when you were sitting with Jessica's group."
"You mean the day that Edward was practically giving himself a headache trying to read my thoughts?" I giggled, remembering that day and how befuddled I was when I had realized the drive behind his first exasperated expressions.
"YES! I love that you know exactly what he was trying to do." Alice let out a peel of laughter, "Well, despite the fact that he looked so young, he was actually older brother trying to protect younger siblings. That's who Edward was. The lookout. He made sure that no newcomers were going to bring any… advanced intelligence to unveil our secrets. Those first days when he came back from Alaska he was practically obsessed with trying to figure out why he couldn't read your mind."
"He did that everywhere?" I asked.
"Yes." Rosalie nodded, "He was always afraid one of us was going to slip up and someone was going to guess. He was a bit more paranoid as television shows began portraying vampires more and more commonly. He used to watch every show that even had mention of vampires, always cataloguing actions that gave away those creatures that were supposed to be like us. He convinced Carlisle that we all needed to fade out of the human scene when Buffy the Vampire Slayer first came on."
"You can't be serious," I laughed trying to picture Edward convincing Carlisle of his suspicions.
"He's not that neurotic, actually," Esme piped in, "It was a good move in the end. Carlisle traveled back there just a year later for a consultation and one of his colleagues mentioned it in passing. Something about Dr. Wexford's daughter calling us all vampires. Carlisle finished his business in a timely matter and returned to us, commenting on how Edward had been right, if not about the show, then definitely about the move."
"Esme is right, though," Rosalie nodded, "Edward was definitely one of those quiet, contemplative people who never said much. It drove me crazy in the beginning, because the silence was sometimes deafening. Carlisle and Esme were together much of the time, which left Edward and me to our own devices. I was still getting accustomed to the idea of being what we are. And Edward said little, but to correct a thought of mine every once in a while. He was—is such a smart-aleck sometimes."
"What I remember the most about the difference, though," Alice interjected, "Was that he was so docile and reclusive. He would spend hours and hours in his room listening to music and reading. Wherever we were. Of course, we had good conversations, too. Intelligent. He hunted alone mostly, though. Or with Carlisle. He didn't have to get to know us, because he knew our minds already."
"Have they utterly confused you about me yet?" Edward's melodious voice echoed around the room, startling me. He was leaning in the front doorway, arms casually crossed. An amused expression graced his face.
"You haven't given us much of a chance, Edward, dear." Esme laughed.
"Maybe I changed my mind." he pushed away from the doorjamb and casually walked to the couches we were lounging on, "I'd rather Bella just ask me the questions. I don't know what stories you've told her. She probably doesn't want to marry me now."
"One little hour session could not undue all the mushy feelings Bella has for you, brother dear." Alice rolled her eyes, "I would have known if Bella had changed her mind."
"You're crashing my wedding shower," I tried to scowl in his direction. I knew it wouldn't last long. His face entranced me into smiling dumbly, no matter what.
"Emmett was getting on my nerves." Edward almost whined.
"OH! I just remembered something else." Alice perked up, "Edward is moody. Oh wait… you did know that already, didn't you?" Her smile was positively evil.
"Ok, wedding shower over. Poisoning Bella's mind with false images of me was not part of the deal," Edward reached over the couch and threw me over his shoulder in a fireman's carry.
"EDWARD!" I shouted, but was laughing anyways as he ran out the door and into the woods.
Pretty soon I was being dumped carefully onto a grassy knoll, Edward's face suddenly inches from mine.
"Now… I'll tell you what I was really like before you." His voice held a smile as he looked up into the cloudy night sky.
A/N- There's a second part… soon to come. Hopefully I'll fix it up tomorrow, since I don't have many plans. Look for it in the next few days, I would guess.