Famous Last Words
A story about homosexuality and murder and angst.
i. chapter one
"She's been on a killing spree in Portland," Alice said.
Outside, the rain gutted in the dark like a candle, a brief lull in the steady beat of raindrops. Edward dropped his head down into his hands, massaging his temples. "Goddammit," he muttered.
Alice's eyes were sympathetic. I'm sorry, Edward.
"We'll stop her," she said out loud.
"This is killing me," he replied, almost to himself. His words fade into the heavy downpour. "I can't—I loved her, Alice."
"I know, Edward, I know," she replied, moving around the table and wrapping her long, cold arms around him. We made a mistake in turning her, she thought.
Edward knew that. They never said it out loud but they never needed to, not when he could pick up a flick of a thought, a wordless accusation. He knew that.
I'm so sorry, Alice thought.
He stood up abruptly, dislodging himself from her embrace. "We have to find her," he said, steadfastly ignoring her pitying gaze and staring out the windows, even though there wasn't anything to see. There were only the raindrops, streaking across the glass and lost.
Saying something went wrong, that someone made a wrong choice, that it was destiny or worse luck—well, that's true. The truth can be anything, though, depending who's telling it.
Someone made a mistake, and this truth begins with that.
The werewolf is waiting for Edward when he goes down the street in his Volvo, sitting on the old motorcycle that he fixed with Bella. Edward catches a brief hint of her scent, just a whisper, and the familiar hunger churns in him before he clamps it down.
He pulls over and gets out of the car. The werewolf's stench, like wet fur and rotting plants, diesel fuel and sunburned skin, helps mask any traces of Bella. Edward schools his face into impassiveness and walks over to him, hands in the pockets of his jacket.
"I heard you were going to Portland," the werewolf says bluntly, leaning against the cycle. "I'm coming with you."
"I don't recall inviting you," Edward says, absently tuning into the signal of the werewolf's mind. Hate, his mind says, a low-level buzzing in the back of his brain. Fucking cold bloodsucker. I hate him.
Bella loved this boy, this werewolf once. Maybe the part of him she'd loved had died along with her.
She should have picked the goddamn wolf, Edward thought, looking him over. The boy had made her laugh. The boy had made her human, which was more than Edward could claim.
"I can drive you," Edward says. "Unless you want to motorcycle there, that is."
The werewolf looks at him impassively, but there's something in his expression. Be it distaste, hatred, or something else, Edward's not sure. His thoughts are spacklings of words and pictures: cars, interstates curving over the miles, hate, I cannot understand how Bella could have loved him, hate…
Edward shoves his hands deeper into his pockets and stares the werewolf down. "Are you coming?"
"Just let me drive my bike back," the werewolf says, equally mild. Bella's change has, in turn, changed the both of them. Like it or not, that means they are forced to have something in common.
"You don't mind leaving now?"
"The sooner the better." Hate. I can't believe I'm working with this monster.
"Same goes for you," Edward says under his breath, turning and walking towards his Volvo.
The drive is, to say the least, awkward, what with the hatred and murderous thoughts and the weight of shared secrets.
Jacob eventually falls asleep. Edward envies him that escape.
Portland is cold and rainy. Portland is much the same as it was when Edward last visited it.
"Fuckin' depressing," Jacob says, and for once Edward can agree with him. He gets out of the car and into the radius of a city full of people's thoughts. The hum of a million people's minds pushes in on him, momentarily overwhelming him.
He can hear the werewolf's mind clearest of all. Fuck, is he all right? No, if I ask him, he'll probably think I actually care. Can't have that.
Then. If he keels over and dies, I'm in this alone.
Edward shoves away all the minds, including the werewolf's, and manages to straighten up, fighting down nausea and a surprising surge of compassion for the boy beside him.
"You all right?" the werewolf asks gruffly.
"Yes," Edward replies, taking a few weak steps forward. When he nearly falls, the werewolf reaches out and puts a steadying hand on his shoulder.
Even through his jacket, the touch burns. Edward jerks away. "Don't," he says.
The werewolf just lifts his hands, raises his eyebrows, and walks past him without looking back.
Edward shoves all the thoughts away again, and follows.
The thing is, the boy—the werewolf—Jacob—he can smell her, and Edward can't anymore. Not since she was turned. Part of her immunities to vampire abilities, now.
"She left," he says, voice tight with disappointment. "Not too long ago, but she's nowhere in the city now."
Edward looks at him, studying the strong lines of his profile, the downward pull of his eyebrows. "Do you know where she went?"
Jacob shrugs, and says, "East."
"Do you have anything better to do this weekend?" Edward asks.
Jacob looks back at him, and for a moment, he almost smiles.
They go onwards.
Even with their combined hatred, they can't sustain the silence forever, and eventually Jacob switches on the radio and finds a classic rock station. He slumps down in the passenger seat of the Volvo and closes his eyes.
Edward just listens for a bit. Then he joins in with the songs he knows, and hums along to the ones he doesn't. The miles are lost behind them, scattered with gasoline and the slowly dissolving scent of the girl they once loved.
"Don't fear the reaper," Edward sings. "Come on baby, don't fear the reaper."
Jacob's eyes flutter in his sleep, and in his mind, a slow wash of contentment blossoms. There are no words involved in it, but the meaning is clear.
Edward almost smiles.
They get out of the car somewhere along a flat, desolate part of the highway. Jacob's face is drawn. "I lost her scent," he says. The he punches the side of the car. "Fuck!"
Edward eyes the fist-sized dent in his car and decides not to comment. "I'm going to phone Alice," he says. "She might have something."
"You do that," Jacob mutters. Useless pretty-boy vampire.
Edward barely restrains his scowl at that, and turns away, listening to the shrill ringtone of Alice's cell.
"Edward," she says, sounding pleased. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, but I have a favor to ask. Can you see anything regarding Bella?"
Even over the phone, he could almost hear her thoughts racing. "Nothing. I'm sorry, Edward. I'll phone you when I get something, okay? I love you."
He disconnects the calls and turns to Jacob, who is fuming, dwarfing the car. "I'm sure you heard that," Edward says.
"What do we do now?" Jacob asks hopelessly, his long, tangled black hair blowing in the wind.
Edward watches him, and wonders again why Bella loved him. Maybe whatever part of him that drew her is hidden away now, buried under betrayal and hundreds of tiny cracks in his sanity. Maybe that part isn't gone. "I don't know," he says.
Jacob looks utterly broken. "Why did you have to change her?" he asks, looking directly at Edward. "Why did you do this to her?"
She wanted it, Edward wants to say. She chose this.
But that would be cowardly, and it would (almost) be wrong. So he looks at the pavement of the road, and he feels his eyes sting. "I didn't know this would happen," he says. His voice is a close approximation of a sob.
"Yeah, well, no shit," Jacob says.
"I…" All his words are hollow and meaningless.
Jacob watches his scornfully. "You can't even justify it, can you? Fucking vampire. You screwed it up."
You screwed us all up.
"I know," Edward replies.
There isn't really anything you can say to that, although Jacob's thoughts make an effort, sifting through several options before he finally says out loud, "Well, we might as well keep going east." Asshole. "You can stay here if you want," he adds.
At least with Jacob, his thoughts match his words. Edward gets into the car.
And so they go on.
"Why isn't your vampire family helping?" Jacob asks, halfway to the middle of nowhere, out of the blue.
Edward drums his fingers on the steering wheel and slows down so the engine won't melt. They're making good time, fast time, across the country and universe. "Alice is helping. The rest of them think I should just let the Volturi handle it."
"They think that my emotional attachments to Bella are too strong," Edward says carefully. "That I won't be able to…to do what's necessary."
Jacob studies him. "Will you?" he asks, detached.
Edwards shrugs. "We'll see."
Jacob shakes his head, and after a moment, says with suppressed venom, "You once told me you loved her. More than life, or undead-ness, or whatever you're doing. And now you're going to kill her because you screwed up in making her one of you." His eyes are blazing, body radiating heat, and for a moment it looks like he's going to leap into his wolf skin. For a moment Edward envies him that kind of passion, all fire and fury and action.
"I'm going to kill her because she's gone on rampages through all the major cities on the Pacific, and now she's starting on the east coast," Edwards says.
"And then what?" Jacob spits. "Are you just going to go back to Forks and—"
"I'm going to kill myself," Edward says calmly. "Or I'll find someone who will do it for me. You can, if you want. I know you think about it often enough."
Jacob is silent. Then, after a long moment, like the space in between a heartbeat, he sits back and laughs unsteadily. "Sure. I'll do you a favor and rip your head off. Why not?"
"Thank you," Edward says quietly.
I don't want to kill you, Jacob thinks. I just want you dead. Sometimes I want to be dead. Sometimes I wish Bella were dead. Sometimes I wish none of us had been born at all.
"That's deep," Edward says caustically.
Jacob glares at him, but turns on the radio. It's playing something by the Smiths – I'm not the man you thought I was; oh, pretty girls make graves. "You want me to kill you right now?"
Something has shifted in their bond. It's not any easier to work through, but it's newer and for now, that's better.
"Turn it up," Edward says instead. The music is sharp, angry—oh, pretty girls make graves.
Edward gets a phone call from Alice a day later, when they're sitting in a diner, drinking watery coffee. Edward's slowly and methodically added creamer, until the cup is milky, and has just started on sugar. They're both tired. Both worn out from chasing shadows.
They exchange glances when the phone rings, and Edward pulls it out of his jacket and flips it open. "Hello?"
"I've got a lead for you," Alice says, sounding unhappy about it. "New York, New York. She wants to kill other girls. The younger and prettier, the better. You can probably catch her if you move fast enough."
Edward puts his head down on the formica tabletop and sighs. "Thank you, Alice."
"You know what they say. Go ask Alice." Her voice is still flat, though, and Edward remembers that Bella used to Alice's friend, too. "I'll talk to you later, Edward. I love you."
When Edward closes the phone, Jacob is watching him with interest. "Got something?" he inquires.
"New York." Edward lifts his head. "We should get moving."
"New York?" Jacobs asks. "What's she doing there?"
"She's planning on killing girls."
Jacob doesn't speak, but his eyes are dark when he looks at Edward. You did this to her, he thinks.
Edward sighs. "I know."
That startles a laugh out of Jacob, and he looks away, scrubbing a hand through his hair. "You have to stop doing that," he says.
"You don't have much of a mental filter, you know," Edward points out, glad to get off the topic of Bella.
"That's because all the other motherfucking werewolves are in my head all the time, too."
"Oh." Edward had forgotten about that. "Are they listening in right now?"
Jacob ducks his head, looks at the countertop, and eventually says, "It's less clear, now. I can still feel their emotions, and they can still feel mine."
Unwillingly fascinated, Edward tries reaching forward mentally, but Jacob is deliberately running a block, the guitar solo for Freebird, which Edward can't help but smile at. "Stop that," Jacob says. "It's an invasion of my privacy. Can't you turn it off?"
Jacob's dark gaze intensifies. "Really?" he asks. "Not even when you sleep?"
"I don't sleep," Edward replies, stirring another packet of sugar into his coffee.
"How do you keep from going crazy?" Jacobs asks, his face open in a rare moment, the light of curiosity in his eyes.
Edward looks out the grimy window of the diner to the highway, then pushes his untouched coffee away and stands up. "Come on, we have to get gas."
After a surprised moment, it clicks with Jacob, and he throws a few dollar bills on the table. His expression is distant and unreadable.
"Come on, bloodsucker," he says when he unfolds all six feet and seven inches of himself from the table.
That's all it ever comes down to. They're both different flavors of unnatural.
When they're watching the pump prices skyrocket, the nozzle of the gas pump slotted into the Volvo, Jacob turns to Edward. "Do you think we're actually going to find her?" he asks, voice surprisingly unguarded.
Edward looks up at him for a moment, and then touches Jacob on the arm of his leather jacket. "It'll be over soon," he promises. "We'll find her, and then it'll all be over."
"Are you actually going to off yourself?" Jacob asks bluntly.
"I can't live without her." Edward pulls the nozzle out of the Volvo. A few drops of gas splatter against the pavement, a few cents wasted on nothing.
Jacob snorts. "What are you doing now, then?"
"Right now, I'm paying for the gas," Edward replies. "And then I'm going to New York with a werewolf who hates me."
Jacob's frown deepens, but he sits in the car when Edward pays. I don't hate you,he thinks when Edward gets into the car.
He starts up the engine. Stop thinking stupid things, werewolf, he mentally replies, looking out at the road.
Ten hours to New York, New York.
Five hours later, in the middle of the day, Edward is jostled out of a blank headspace when Jacob says, "You're glittering."
Jacob's driving, so he should be paying attention to the road and not Edward's sparkly skin, but he's staring anyways, eyebrows drawing together. "Why are you glittering?" he asks.
Edward takes a moment to look at his own hands, like rough quartz in the glare of the sun. "Actually, there are a few theories about vampire skin, which relate to the appearance of…"
"Are you made out of rocks or something?" Jacob interrupts.
Sometimes, Edward worries that the werewolf is smarter than him. This is not one of those times. "No, Jacob, I am not made out of rocks."
"Huh. Well. I didn't know vampires could do that." Jacob is still staring, dark eyes intent and still slightly confused.
"Thought I would just catch on fire?"
"Something like that."
He turns his attention back to the road, and Edward curls up tighter so he is less exposed to the sun's rays, but he picks up a stray thought from Jacob.
Pretty. He's fucking beautiful. Fucking vampires.
He shoves the errant thought away. He doesn't want to hear about how beautiful he is. Bella believed that, and look where it got her.
New York is New York. The buildings are tall, the people glare at each other on the streets, and the sheer vitality of the city overrides any underlying sense of despair.
After a good few hours in the suburbs spent trying to block out other people's minds, Edward finally lets go of the tight lock he has over his abilities and lets his conscious wander.
They're in the middle of a traffic jam. The main sense is one of frustration, but there are pinpricks of joy, of despair, of happiness and sadness and all the shades of gray in between. Edward's back relaxes the way it hasn't since he got into the Volvo with Jacob. Or, to be honest, since he first smelled Bella's blood all those chemistry classes ago. It's nice to just sit back and listen to people.
"You okay?" Jacob interrupts. He looks impassive, but there's a flicker of concern there. It's disturbing that Edward can read his moods now.
"I'm just…I'm fine."
Jacob studies him for another second, then goes back to surveying the traffic jam. "Okay. Good."
Edward stares out the window. The street is clogged with cars and irritated thoughts; beside him, Jacob is humming along with the radio and thinking about food and girls and motorcycle maintenance. How much longer is this traffic jam going to last? Jacob thinks.
"A while, if I remember New York right," Edward says.
Jacob starts, but after a second he shakes his head and grins. "You have to stop doing that."
"I told you, I can't control it."
I wonder how much he can see, Jacob wonders.
Edward sits up a bit straighter, wincing at the way his back cracks. "Do you want me to answer that?"
He's still muffling a smile, but a spike of annoyance flashes in Jacob's mind, even as the corners of his eyes crinkle up the tiniest bit. "Feel free."
"It depends on how close I am to the person, how used to them I am, and how much I'm trying to see. Usually I try to block it off, but…" Edward shrugs. "Not right now."
The werewolf's nosy, but Edward's bored enough to let it slide. "New York's a pretty crowded place, and it takes a lot of effort to keep the barriers up. Right now it's a lot easier to just let it all sink in. Of course, since I've spent a lot of time in your company, blocking you out takes a lot more concentration. I actually have a theory about that…"
Edward rambles on for a few minutes, in which they move forward a whole ten feet, while Jacob pretends to listen patiently.
"You have a lot of theories, huh," Jacob says.
Edward looks out the window again, watching as a murder of crows flap across the leaden sky. "I have a lot of time," he replies.
Jacob doesn't say anything in return, just slouches into the driver's seat and sighs, and when Edward looks over at him he offers a small smile that doesn't mean anything. His eyes are calm and dark.
Edward thinks of Bella's eyes, laughing and brown, and has to swallow around the lump in his throat. He can't stand missing her like this, feeling so empty all the goddamn time, so empty his enemy is slowly becoming his friend and his lover turning into a monster that he's powerless to stop, much less find.
A large hand grips him firmly on the shoulder. "Hey," Jacob says. "It's going to be all right."
The touch doesn't burn him, not as much as it did before. Edward endures it. He can smell the werewolf-smell, pungent and hazy like sweat and musk, and for a few moments he feels like he is drowning in it; he doesn't know when Jacob started being able to read him, too, and the thought disturbs him.
Jacob is breaking all his theories. Jacob and Bella have together destroyed a century's worth of detachment and control.
They stay in a cheap motel—cheap for New York—that has the same clashing patterns and boring paintings on beige walls as every cheap motel from the Pacific to the Atlantic and back again. Jacob dumps his bag on the bed and stretches out, sighing in relief as all the bones in his back crack back into place. Edward does not watch the way his muscles flex, solid and large, under the thin gray cotton of his shirt, and looks into the mirror instead.
He sees topaz eyes and reddish hair. He sees the fine print of missing Bella written all over the pale blandness of his skin. Time, in all the fading, feeble years he has lived, has robbed him of his humanity.
"Do you want to go out for a bit, see the sights?" Jacob asks a few minutes later.
"Going out sounds fine," he says, turning away from the mirror.
New York is New York. It is loud and bustling late at night, and the lights are neon bright, and there are almost as many cabs as cars on the streets. Jacob and Edward walk down the sidewalk, past the hordes of people. The lights reflect in Jacob's wide eyes. Edward looks down the narrow brick alleys and tries to figure out if he would get away with killing someone in one. The answer is yes every single time.
"Want to go to a bar?" Jacob asks, grinning. "I've got a fake ID, and I always figured if I was going to get off the reserve I'd come and drink in New York."
"Who am I to deny your dreams?" Edward says dryly.
Jacob shoves him playfully, and after a startled moment Edward shoves back, a bit too hard and not with the same nonchalance. The shove would ordinarily knock over whoever it was directed at, but Jacob just sighs and drops his hands. "What do you want to do, Edward?" he asks formally.
Edward was expecting some form of retaliation, and like everything the damn werewolf does, it catches him off-guard. "What?"
"Do you want to do anything? It's not like there's a shortage of places to go, we could find a show to watch or a movie or even go to a bar if you want, although I'm not sure if either of us could actually get drunk." Jacob looked down at him expectantly.
You'd think that with the mind-reading, figuring out Jacob's motives would be easier, but all Edward's receiving is a steady roll of answer the fucking question already. Edward shrugs. "I don't care," he says.
"Because I don't. Let's just go to the bar."
Jacob stops in the middle of the sidewalk and turns to face Edward, and the only things in his eyes are the flashing pink lights of a nearby strip club. "Were you like this before her?" he asks. "Or do you just not have any personality when she's gone?"
Edward meets his stare. "You loved her too," he points out.
"That doesn't fucking excuse it," Jacob says, his words spitting out into the night air like sparks. "I remember back when Victoria was near Forks, you had opinions—hell, you'd fight back when I pushed you, and now it's like you've got a lobotomy."
"Why does this even matter to you?" Edward snaps back.
The blank space in the conversation is punctuated by the blare of a car horn and, far off, the pounding bass of a nightclub. Eventually, Jacob sighs and looks away, running a hand through his thick black hair. "Okay. Okay, you're right, it shouldn't matter to me. Let's just…let's just go back to the motel."
"Okay," Edward replies, nonplussed, and Jacob walks away first.
For that night, they don't go onwards. They sit on their respective beds, steadfastly ignoring each other, as the world outside proceeds to move along raucously without them.
Down along one of the downtown streets, in the basement of a daylight acupuncture clinic, there's a depression-era vampire club that Edward had visited the last time he'd been in New York. It was still there, not-so-subtly pronouncing itself as the 'Fang NightSpot.'
Edward hates other vampires, and not just because they're not all that subtle.
The inside isn't so different from how it had been in the thirties—choked with cigarette smoke, faded velvet curtains, ebony tables and chairs that are pitted with cigarette burns and mangled by overly-strong vampire hands. It's fairly crowded that night, considering that usually vampires keep to themselves, but Edward manages to get to the bar after a few minutes spent lurking in the outside hallway, figuring out the exits and the likelyhood of the other patrons trying to kill him.
The bartender's a red-eyed girl with pink and blue hair. She smiles at Edward enticingly, eyes running down him like nails on his skin, leaving him cold. "What can I get you?" she asks.
He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a picture of Bella. It's one of the few she'd taken while she was still human, and her smile is bright as she stares up into the lens. "I'm looking for her," he says, sliding the photograph across the bar. "Her name is Bella, she's been fairly recently turned, and she's immune to vampire powers. Have you heard anything?"
The bartender's lips thin as she looks over the photograph, something wary and unpleasant flashing in her eyes. "I might have," she says, and leaves it at that.
Edward slides a fifty-dollar bill across the table in the path of the photo. "Remember anything?"
"It's all flooding back," she deadpans, trapping the bill under one spindly hand. "People have been talking about her. She's been in here once—not on my shift, mind you—and she was talking with Kelly. Nobody's seen the two of them lately."
"How long ago was that?" Edward asks.
She eyes him for a moment, her thin fingers toying with the fifty-dollar bill, then sighs and says, "Three nights ago."
He twitches at that. If his heart was still beating, it would have jumped for sure, and something close to hope and dread rises in his chest. "Thank you," he manages to say, and slides another bill across the bar with nerveless fingers. She hands him back the photo.
"You're a Cullen, aren't you?" she asks. "Your eyes are all the wrong color. What's someone like you doing chasing after someone like her?"
His state of shock quickly dissolves into a burst of anger. "What do you mean by that?"
She smirks. "No charge for this—the Volturi are after her because of the mass murdering, and I know your family's been in the shit with them before, so you just might want to watch your back. Some friendly advice."
Edward glares at her and stands up, knocking the barstool back a few inches. "Very kind of you," he says coldly, and then walks out of the bar and into the cool night air of the city. His hands are shaking.
"Where were you?" Jacob asks, rolling over in the bed to squint at Edward.
The room is warm despite the windows being open, probably because Jacob radiates heat, but Edward still feels frozen. "Bella's in New York," he says.
Jacob's frown deepens. "Didn't we know that already?"
"She's got a girl. They're either working together or she's killed her. And the Volturi are getting involved. They're probably here by now, too." Edward sits down on the other bed and kicks off his shoes, staring at the blank face of the warehouse in the window. "We have to find her. I can't do this anymore."
Jacob sits up. "Hey."
"I can't do this anymore," Edward insists. He stares down at his knees and fights back the irritating but overwhelming urge to start crying. He can't even cry. He doesn't even have the hormones to make him want to cry anymore; they're all frozen in the biological wasteland of his body.
There's a shuffling sound from Jacob's side of the room, then a soft thump as his feet hit the floor. Then Jacob is sitting next to Edward, carefully touching his back. "It's going to be okay," he says.
"No, it's not," Edward replies truthfully.
Jacob rubs circles on Edward's back, hands warmer than any human hands have the right to be—and he's not, he's not human any more then Edward is, and despite their differences they're still more similar then they would ever admit. With a ragged sigh, Edward draws his legs up and rests his head on his knees. "We're going to be all right," Jacob says.
We're so fucked, he thinks.
The next sunset is choked in a mask of pollution, making the colours beautiful. Edward and Jacob set out on the streets again. Somewhere in the noise, Edward's cell phone rings.
"Alice," he says.
She sounds tired. "I'm flying out to New York. All the visions I'm getting are changing too much to pin down to one, and I really don't want to blow this lead."
"Which flight are you on?" Edward asks.
"Just come to the airport to pick me up." She sighs, and then hangs up.
Edward listens to the dead static for a moment, then says, "I love you," and ends the call.
When he turns to Jacob, he's watching, a puzzled half-smile on his face. "What's going on?" he asks.
"Alice is coming to New York to help out."
Jacob makes a face. "Just what we need. More bloodsuckers," he says, but it lacks heat. "Whatever. The sooner this is over…"
…the sooner he's going to die. Oh shit, why did I say that? Awkward. A tendril of a thought unfurled. I don't want him to die.
"That makes one of us," Edward mutters.
"What?" Jacob looks perplexed now.
He didn't realize what he was thinking, didn't realize that he didn't want Edward to die, and that's either offensive or a huge fucking relief. Edward stops trying to actively read Jacob's thoughts. "Nothing," he says. "We need to get to the airport."
"You're the most withdrawn person ever," Jacob comments, shouldering his bag and looking up at the orange streetlights. "You need some sun. Fresh air."
Edward surprises himself by snorting at that, and Jacob grins at him. "I'm serious," he says. "Let's go to California after this is over."
There's no point in disagreeing with him. "Okay," Edward replies.
"Good." Jacob's smile flashes, white teeth in a dark face, and he taps Edward on the shoulder. "C'mon, let's get going."
And so they go onwards. This time, Alice comes back with them.
Alice is as beautiful as ever, although something about her eternally ageless skin is haggard and worn thin. Her topaz eyes are weary. "Hey, Edward," she says, wrapping him in a hug.
They're all in the airport, and the sight of the three of them, beautiful to their mortal prey, is drawing attention from passing people. The bright white lights of the terminal is making a valiant effort to stave off the night, but the attempt fails as soon as they move outside and the darkness once again takes control of the sky. Alice hasn't brought any luggage with her.
"I can buy new clothes here," she says when pressed, stretching out in the backseat of the car with a sigh. "Edward, we need to talk." The way her eyes flicker over to Jacob doesn't go unnoticed by any of them.
They get back to the motel, and Alice wrinkles her nose when she sits on the queen bed currently occupied by Edward, thinking about how terrible werewolves smelled. Over her head, Jacob raises an eyebrow at him.
Edward just shakes his head. With an unhappy smirk, Jacob dips his head, makes some excuse about getting food, and disappears.
She watches him go, then swivels her head back to eye Edward. "You two seem to be getting close," she says.
"Is there something wrong with that?" he asks.
"Yes," she says brusquely. "He's a werewolf, and you're a vampire. That you're working together is unnatural, let alone becoming close…"
Edward sits down beside her, the mattress springs creaking underneath him. "Alice," he interrupts. "How are you doing?"
She rolls her eyes. "Edward, listen to me…"
"Just…in a minute. How are you feeling?"
The stare at each other for a good few seconds, before finally she looks away. "Not too good," she admits. "Who is, though? The rest of us are worried about you."
"I'm fine," Edward says.
She gives him a cynical look, but puts her head on his shoulder. "No, you're not. You're going to pull some stupid stunt like you did last time, when you thought Bella was dead."
"I'm not," he says.
"Don't lie to someone who can see the future," Alice says, her voice weary and small. "There's just…Edward, you're not going to be able to do it. Why do you think I'm here? I'm not letting you do this alone."
The two of them sit in silence. Eventually, Edward reaches over and pulls her against his chest, breathing in the flowery scent of her hair and letting himself believe that things will be better tomorrow.
The next evening, they all go out in a state of wary truce, and begin the search for Bella. Alice buys the daily paper and searches for any mention of a murder while they're on the subway, while Edward glares at any men who give her a second look and Jacob sits in his own seat, thinking longingly of sleeping during the night rather the day.
After they go in a steady loop of the inner city five times, Alice gets a dazed look on her face and sways forwards over her knees. Surprisingly, Jacob is the one who steadies her, making sure she doesn't fall off her seat with oddly gentle hands. "You okay?" he asks.
"She's having a vision," Edward answers, biting down on a hit of anxiety when she shudders and lists to the side, eyes staring blankly at the subway wall rushing by.
"What the hell kind of vision is that?" Jacob demands.
Edward shrugs, but when Alice's limp arm falls next to his, he reaches out to touch it. Her premonitions envelop him.
…Skin and blood; a sprawl of graffiti on the wall behind, red lips breathing in nothing and a body disconnected, fingers curled in pieces across the alley. She stands above the body, grinning, and her teeth are sharp and white in the orange streetlights. Her eyes are blood-red…
…Skin, this time living—or undead—and layered over muscle and bone. Arms and legs twined together, dark and light, and the soft gasps and wet noises that characterize an amorous encounter. The couple is in a car, the windows fogged over. The darker one lifts his head, sweat gleaming on his high cheekbones, and Edward recognizes him, Jacob—and the other stares up at him, topaz eyes dilated…
The other person is him.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he asks later, in the motel room, when the real Jacob is sprawled-out asleep on the other bed and snoring. Flickers of the orange streetlights are darting across the beige walls.
"Tell you what?" she asks absently. Her face is blue in the reflected glow of her laptop. She's looking at news sights, probably, maybe her stocks in the oil industry, now that the market's crashing.
Edward watches her, as always. "About the…the future. Jacob and I."
Her hands go still over the keyboard. "I…" she begins, faltering, and looks up to meet his eyes.
"Don't you think I deserve to know?" Edward says.
She looks at him for a moment, then simply says, "No," and turns back to her computer.
"You can't just—"
She cuts him off. "Edward, talking to you lately is like talking to a brick wall. You don't care about anything anymore, much less me or the future. All you want is the past. Bella." The name curls on her lips. "How am I supposed to tell you about your future when you don't think you have one?"
"But…" He feels sick. He never realizes, not until afterwards, when the music has stopped and he's missed the steps that leave him wobbling. He has a family, they love him, and he doesn't deserve their worry. "Alice, I…"
"It's not your fault," she interrupts again. "What happened to Bella was my fault. You weren't the one who bit her, Edward."
"I was the one who made her want it," he mutters.
She sighs, and closes the laptop, her movements echoing like whispers in the quiet room. "You were. It's still not your fault."
They could debate this back and forth for years, for all of the eternity they are cursed to live through, but despite that, they'd never agree on this, so Edward lets it drop. "Why didn't you tell me about…the Jacob thing?" he asks instead.
"I didn't want you to know," she says, voice going brittle.
"Because there isn't a single future it ends well in," she says. "Damn it, Edward, I've considered every possibility. There's nothing."
The motel room is stiflingly quiet, but outside there are sirens and loud voices, the low-level buzz of traffic and music. New York is a vampire; she never sleeps.
Edward doesn't look at Jacob or Alice. "What happens if we don't…" He trails off.
"I can't tell you that," Alice says flatly.
She lunges forward and has him by the throat in an instant. He doesn't move, just stares up at her in shock as she shakes him, topaz eyes dilated in the darkness. "You die," she hisses. "Every single fucking future, you die. Do you understand how feels to watch someone you love kill themselves and you can't fucking stop it? You tried to fucking commit suicide when you saw it, and I just…I can't…I'm not almost losing you again, Edward."
And then she's gone, slamming out of the motel and into the tepid night air. Edward sits on the bed, stunned into silence. New York tips him a knowing wink from under her brim of skyscrapers.
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