"United"

By Casca

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. All rights reserved.

The emotions in the house changed. Against my will, from the corner where I sat, I became instantaneously aware of the switch in tone. They were strong and concentrated the sort of emotions that could cut through me no matter where I was or what else happened to occupy me. It would all be very normal if it hadn't been for the fact that I wasn't feeling them.

I became quite still and concentrated further, an act that I rarely forced upon myself. Experience had taught me how to keep my restraint when feeding others emotions into myself. Always keep a safe distance, never, ever become to close, take in more than was necessary. There was quite the delicate danger in feeling too much, as I had learned the hard way.

It was difficult, though, so very difficult not to take these in because of exactly how familiar they were. These were mine – or, they were supposed to be. But they weren't, not today, and it confused me. Very rarely did I feel an equal to the emotions I knew when she was near me, but at that moment, somewhere in this house, the same crippling and life-altering sensations were flooding like a tidal wave.

For a moment I pondered these feelings. It was interesting to feel them on someone else, almost objectively. They most assuredly fell under the pain category – not the sort of pain most of my kind would relate to, and I'd never felt anything close to it on a human. In fact, in my most superior and arrogant thoughts, I'd been proud that I had never met its equal.

I'd known a plethora of emotions in the century I had existed before I stepped into a meaningless diner and watched a pair of unfathomably beautiful eyes lock on mine. I know now that before that moment I had never really felt. For each movement she made, each word she spoke that night, and every moment I spent with her in the decades after that, the emotions inside me continued to grow, reaching octaves that weren't one-tenth of what I'd picked up from the countless, faceless people I had come across in this world.

I thought I'd known every type of pain imaginable. But this…this was the sort of pain that reached further than the body, than the nerves, or the senses. The sort of pain that came with the knowledge that you didn't – and would probably never – deserve the gentleness, the goodness that was being so freely given to you. It caused you to realize that there was no excuse for the happiness that was abruptly present in your life. It was the sort of pain that could cure the darkest of thoughts, put you to something lower than shame, and forgive your most deadly of sins.

That was, perhaps to me, the most painful of all. My sins weren't supposed to be sins in the world where I was created. When she took my hand in that diner and lead me to another world, where massacre was wrong, where another of my kind existed who spoke about souls and heaven and redemption, it should have been the death of me. How could I exist in such a world?

Yet, now, because of her, I do exist. No, it was more than that, more than a simple existence. I can ask for forgiveness and be forgiven. I can let myself feel happy. I can laugh. I can believe her when she tells me I'm good.

I can live.

I had always assumed that those crushing sensations would never change. But the force of them now, existing somewhere in this house, originated by someone else, were so strong, so vital, I knew my own had discolored ever so slightly over the decades.

Distracted, I frowned. I never thought to worry about taking the very brightest light that existed in my life for granted. Curiosity flared, almost indignantly. I couldn't help myself. I followed the pungent flow of emotion.

Her scent reached me then, cutting through the feelings, shoving all coherent thought aside. I struggled. I had been struggling a lot this summer, but it seemed to be getting marginally easier the more time she spent here. I found at that moment that it was simpler than normal for me to set aside the blind thirst and focus on using my skill.

At first, I didn't understand. As I moved closer to where the human – to where Bella was – the scent of her blood increased, and the emotions that I could so relate to were getting stronger as well. I felt myself frown. It couldn't be a mere human who was experiencing this, the same upheaval that defined my entire existence.

When I saw the two of them, I froze where I stood. I stared. And I knew instantaneously that it wasn't from Bella that I experienced the likeness of emotion.

They were on the sofa. Edward was sprawled on his back and Bella was curled against him. Absently, as though it was the most natural thing in the world, he stroked her hair. The other hand rested on her back, turned upward to hold open a paperback book. But his eyes didn't see the pages; they were glazed, staring past the words. He was completely and freely giving himself over to what he was feeling as Bella Swan lay fast asleep in his arms, completely and utterly vulnerable. As such, she blindly and unconditionally trusted him with her life, with her soul.

If nothing else, it was a physically intimate scene that was staggering in itself because of what she was. Because despite everything else he was feeling, his thirst was ever-present, though painstakingly controlled. But what struck me most, ironically, was not his thirst - or mine for that matter - but the manifestation of emotions on his face. I had seen that very same expression reflected back to me thousands of times throughout my life in the one place I existed – Alice's eyes. I saw it all in Edward, but what was more, I felt it. The pain. The thrill. The undeserving, almost agonizing, contentment. The humility. Most of all, the knowledge that life existed for one thing and one thing only.

There was something different, though. Something I couldn't relate to. Guilt. Guilt rose like a fire inside Edward, a self-inflicted torture for loving the wrong person. It was born from the earth-shattering emotions that he and I shared, then incredibly, was almost instantly beat down by the sheer strength of those same feelings… only to rise again and again. It was so strong, so relentlessly malicious, that once I fully tapped into it, I winced and had to pull out.

Edward didn't notice me for a long time. It was absurd as I stood within sight, my mind openly thinking about him. After a while, his eyes flickered and I knew he had been too wrapped up in what lay in his arms to have noticed me before. At once, his senses changed, altered. The fierce protection that always built inside of him whenever I came anywhere near Bella reared up and I waited for my own anger, my own shame and pride, to flair as it normally did.

But there was nothing. None of that ugliness assaulted me this time. I saw another flicker in Edward's eyes, and felt a course of confusion settle into him. No doubt the threads of my mind had not strayed where they normally did when Bella was near me. There was a dawning realization in Edward as a delicate wave of empathy washed over him. It took me a moment to realize that he wasn't feeling anything himself, but was reading my own emotions in their delicate threads inside my head. As we stared at each other it became clear. An understanding appeared where it hadn't before been between myself and Edward regarding the human curled up against him.

Our gazes held for a moment and I nodded once.

More Twilight fic by Casca at Tower at Twilight.