to the victor goes the spoils

and I've had recurring nightmares

I was loved for who I am

And missed the opportunity

To be a better man

- Muse, "Hoodoo"

He is a monster, evil and horrible and so incredibly devoted to her that he trembles at the thought of her leaving him. He know he deserves this, what with everything that he's done, but there's something frightening about the possibility – the actuality - of the action that threatens to drive him insane.

He asks Alice to look, which she's already doing and when she gives him her frustrated glare and bares her teeth, he adds, "just see if she disappears forever." He doesn't say much more and her gaze softens, her expression changes to sadness and he feels so very pathetic that he looks away.

He knows he deserves this, the pity and the agony and the feeling that everything is going to fall to pieces, from Bella (loving) being near that mongrel to the Volturi making such awful demands to his family's concerns about him. Never mind his own splintered, hateful desires: as much as he wants to save her soul, he also wants to take it, and her, for his own, for all eternity.

He does things he shouldn't; jealous things like removing car parts and having Alice physically keep her away from La Push. He is insensitive and selfish, doing what he sees as right and just instead of what is fair. He's a horrible creature, an abnormality and a sinner – a vengeful young god, immortal and lonely and wanting to toy with lesser creatures, even her, his salvation.

He is selfish and monstrous and one day he will learn his lesson.

Sometimes, he pushes Bella when he knows he shouldn't: a hand on her hip, skimming the skin beneath her shirt, lips against the strap of her tank top, forehead pressed against her chest. He pushes because he can't help it – it's intoxicating, the rush of blood through her body and the giddiness that fills his head is a drug, one which he cannot get enough of.

you are exactly my brand of heroin -

He's not sure whether he lusts more for her blood or for Bella, all that she is and all that she means to him, all that exists beyond the cells that create her and the life-force that sustains her.

The bloodlust is there, always burning the back of his throat, threatening to overwhelm him if he's not careful. There is always temptation: the steady beat of her heart, the thrum of her pulse, the veins intersecting under her translucent skin. There's always something to remind him that she and he are not alike, that Bella is fragile and vulnerable and that he is a monster for thinking otherwise.

But with each passing day, the other desires threaten to overpower him. Desire for her body, to feel it pressed against him, her heart thundering in her chest for him. Desire for her as a whole, for her touches and smiles and the way she makes him feel happy and sad and complete in a way he never expected.

Her power over him is frightening.

He knows it's archaic, wanting to claim her as his own, but he can't help but think of things like that, black and white, mine and not mine. He blames the animal in him for this predatory desire. He blames his upbringing in the days of male protection and female dependency. He blames Carlisle and Emmett and Jasper all having someone they would do anything to protect.

She goes along with it, for the most part, and while it bothers him that she acquiesces so easy, in all his years walking this earth he's never met an eighteen year old girl who didn't want to belong to someone in some way. It's the same truth with seventeen year old boys, he knows – the truth of the entire human race, the truth of even vampires and werewolves and whatever else lurks in the darkness.

No man is an island.

He can blame whatever he wants, but deep down he knows it's a matter of feeling like finally there is something for him in this vast lonely world, some greater reward for the struggles he's gone through, someone for him and him alone.

The thought of losing her forever makes him ill.

It is enough to make him see reason, to be comfortable with Bella going to La Push. He has larger concerns than whether or nor Jacob Black tries to kiss Bella (that is a lie, of course, but mind of matter - ).

He can't help but love her more when she punches the dog, even though the cost to her finger is not worth the blow to Black's dignity.

Loving Bella has brought out the best and worst in him, and he wonders if she can see the change as clearly as he can. His family has certain noticed he's less-tightly wound in some ways and more in others (Emmett especially likes to point this out) but for the most part, he's happier than he's been in eight decades. He thinks it's funny that the only one for him is an eighteen-year old girl who commits to the idea of forever as a vampire but not a wife.

It's amusing, and it's real, and it makes him happy and a little less miserable each day.

Sometimes it's Bella that initiates: she presses her lips against his neck when he's concentrating on a college essay, delighted at the sharp intake of breath when warm comes into contact with cool. Or, she'll position herself in his arms in such a way that she distracts him – naturally – with every breath. She knows what she's doing but what he would like to know is her motivation – beyond what is completely obvious (him, always him).

She's a powerful distraction, taunting his tightly-honed control and making him want to do all the things he's thought about. If they say the average male thinks about sex every seven seconds, he probably thinks about it every three and a half – when he's around Bella, at least. He thinks about her naked, underneath or over him, about how her hair would fall in front of her face and the way her eyes would squeeze shut, and how it would feel to let go and fall into her.

But he can't, as much as he – they – want to. Part of the reason for his abstinence is ingrained within his very system, hard-wired into his brain from childhood on. The other parts – fear of hurting her, fear of blood-lust, fear of everything falling to pieces and going so horribly wrong – pale when compared to the morality of the action.

"One day," he tells her sleeping form, tracing the line of her shoulder blade. Even the threat of Victoria and her army of monsters can't break his steely resolve, and he both admires and despises his self control.

One day is the only promise he feels he can make.

He thinks to the future, though the concept seems illusory and fleeting these days. She promises him she'll give up everything so she can be with him despite his protests, all while flinching at the thought of marriage (apparently being eternally bound in this half-life is much easier to accept than being eternally bound by law).

He doesn't want to tell her that her reaction hurts him. He knows her history, knows that they come from completely different times, knows that the institution frightens her. What he doesn't understand – what hurts him most – is how she would so easily throw away her humanity. Being human, as soft and vulnerable as humans are, would be so much better than this cruel existence he leads. He likes her humanity, and while he does not doubt he'll love her when she is cold and inhuman, he wishes he could be warm like her, lay next to her and feel his heart pound at the close contact, feel everything that she feels every day.

He won't become human, though, and thinking about it (and what he'd do if he could) doesn't get him anywhere. But this wishful thinking might explain the desire to engage in a thoroughly-human practice – holy matrimony – and pretend he is mortal, if only for one day.

There's a list of things he won't tell her – how her kisses threaten to break him, how he's seen her naked even though it's totally inappropriate –but he won't tell her how much it means to him that she's giving up everything for him. Fearful thoughts about her humanity dull in comparison at his excitement at having her by his side for all that's left of this lifetime. The thought of her agreeing to be with him makes him giddy like a schoolboy (an apt analogy, he thinks) and propels him forward towards making her happy.

"What are these?" she asks one day, pulling a leather journal from a box in his closet. He wants to tell her she has no right looking through his things but she will, very soon, be his wife: she has every right to touch everything of his, to look through his drawers and closets and to interrogate him about the contents.

"Journals," he tells her. "I don't sleep, remember?"

"Sorry," she says, putting them back, and he's surprised and relieved that she respects him – he who would destroy her humanity, who has done such horrible things, has somehow garnered her respect.

"You can read them if you want," he says, though he doesn't really mean it. He remembers all of what is contained within the pages of the numerous books, remembers all of his fears and anxieties and doesn't want her to know any of it. He doesn't know what revealing his innermost thoughts in that sort of way could do to her; he'd rather do it slowly, like they've been doing all these months.

"No," she responds. "They're yours. They're not meant for my eyes."

"But you're part of me now," he says, softly. "Or you will be very soon."

She places the journals on his bed and crawls into his arms, resting her head against his shoulder.

"Part of you or not," she says, "I was just curious. I don't need to know what your journals say, and how you've been living the last hundred or so years."

"Not that long, love," he says, pressing a kiss against her neck and she gasps.

"Still," she says, wriggling and turning and fitting against him just so. "Doesn't matter what you did, just what we'll do together."

He doesn't say anything, moved beyond words at her capacity to love him. She will sacrifice everything for him and he will make good on this redemption.

He presses his lips to her throat again, earning him a moan this time. He will make her new life worth the sacrifice of the old, make himself into the man she sees him as, not the monster he used to be.