A Family Affair

A/N: This is the third story in my little series. If you haven't read Cry Little Sister (1) or Golden (2), you might want to since the plot line continues through all of them. Oh yeah, and if you've heard of it, you probably have since it doesn't belong to me.

Chapter One

By April of 1921, Ashland barely seemed to notice Dr. Cullen and his young wards anymore. Edward and I could actually walk down the streets without cringing internally at the thoughts directed towards us; Carlisle was able to spend whole shifts at the hospital without once seeing any of the married women in town, unless they were legitimately ill or injured.

We didn't mind. The attention they'd given us had startled even Carlisle, who had never known humans to warm so quickly to our kind. Most, he told us, trusted the instinct that told them we were dangerous; they didn't know why they'd think such beautiful people could be dangerous, and they didn't want to know why they thought that way.

Actually, we seemed happy to the citizens of Ashland, but we suffered in silence, especially Carlisle and myself. Here in this small city, we watched the young men and women fall in love, marry, and start families of their own. We watched this with a yearning to have the same, a yearning we would perhaps never fulfill.

Carlisle was glad at least to know that I felt the same as he once had and still did. Our yearning made us closer than anything before it; perhaps it was the shared feeling that we had once wanted more out of each other. But whatever it was, it soon made us nearly inseparable, except the long shifts Carlisle took at the hospital.

Edward, however, was torn over the matter. He was glad to see his sister so satisfied with this new existence; he'd worried unnecessarily that I would have chosen death, if I'd been given the choice. But his elation at the idea was mangled by his jealousy and his frustration. Jealousy of Carlisle, who had so easily taken me from him; frustration at himself for letting it happen.

I hated that I was doing this to him. I hated that no matter what I said or thought, he was always there in the back of my head, sulking silently, rummaging through my thoughts as easily as he rummaged through his own. But more than that, I hated that, despite myself, I was doing the exact same thing to him, poisoning his mind with my every thought, prying into the thoughts he wanted to hide.

We hated this unnatural connection between us, now more than ever. Carlisle, even with his experience of vampires other than ourselves, had never seen or heard of anything like this. He and I were walking back from Ashland's hospital early one morning when he queried silently, Are you and Edward getting along any better?

Doing my best to ignore Edward's angry grumble in my head, I gave Carlisle an angry glance that made him smile wearily. I'll take that as a no.

"Of course, you should take it as a no, Carlisle!" I snapped uncharacteristically. He flinched mentally at my tone; almost immediately, I said softly, "I'm sorry, Carlisle. I didn't mean to snap at you. I just hate knowing that he's always there, no matter what I do or where I go."

Carlisle stopped walking so abruptly that I didn't notice for a moment. Wait, what? He wondered, watching me quizzically. You can always hear him? Can he always hear you?

Even Edward was interested from the small spot he had in the back of my head. He had stopped grumbling and was listening as intently as I. Answer him, Emily, he urged silently. I just nodded in response to Edward's demand and Carlisle's questions.

The look on Carlisle's face comforted neither of us. Well, if we were normal for vampires, we aren't anymore, I thought almost bitterly.

We were hardly normal vampires to begin with, Emily, Edward reminded me. Remember how Carlisle told us that there are few vampires with extra talents? Vampires are rare, extraordinarily gifted vampires are even rarer, and extraordinarily gifted vampires who have given up human blood are the rarest of them all. We're practically commodities.

When you two are done arguing, Carlisle interjected quickly, curiosity burning in his every thought, I'd like to find out more about this.

"We're not arguing," I told him. The exact same words echoed through my head, thanks to Edward. If he'd been standing next to me, we probably would have said it simultaneously. The idea made us both laugh; Carlisle just looked perplexed, which was an odd expression to see on his perfect face.

Carlisle and I checked quickly that we were alone, then ran as fast as we could back to the house. Edward was standing on the front porch, waiting for us, gaging our nearness in my thoughts. I reached the porch several steps ahead of Carlisle and stopped at Edward's side; we both turned hopefully to Carlisle. "Do you know if this is normal, Carlisle?" Edward asked eagerly.

"I'm not sure," Carlisle replied aloud. He didn't like not knowing; it was starting to irritate him, but he was also eager to learn more. He ushered us inside to his study, asking as we went, "How long have you two known about this?"

Edward and I looked at each other for a moment. Neither of us could exactly pinpoint when we'd noticed. Then we knew. I had been drowning in fire, begging silently for death, writhing in pain when I'd noticed the pain separate from my own. Edward told Carlisle so.

Scribbling that down quickly, Carlisle started to ask another question.

But that wasn't right. I said abruptly, "No, that wasn't the first time." They both looked at me, eyebrows arched questioningly. It now seemed so long ago, when I had been human without Edward. But it was so crystal clear. Emily, what are you talking about? Edward questioned, moving to touch my elbow. His dark golden eyes were searching my face, trying to read there what he already knew but refused to acknowledge.

"I know you remember, Edward," I whispered, meeting his tortured eyes. "A crowd of drunken men chasing a helpless girl through the streets of Chicago. The voice of her dead brother being the only thing that keeps the girl running. The end coming so very near despite all the best efforts." Emily, please stop, Edward pleaded, closing his eyes and trying to forget the memory.

Carlisle was both clueless and frustrated. Edward clearly hadn't told him this story.

I turned to Carlisle and quickly explained what had happened. When I'd finished, Carlisle wrote for a few moments in a small notebook. Then he looked up at us and said, "I've not heard of two vampires sharing so mental a connection, but I had also never heard of two vampires sharing the same extra gift. It's rare, even among the Volturi or their guard. I mean, several talents are similar, such as you two and Aro of the Volturi can hear others' thoughts. I might have to write to some of my acquaintances; they might have some idea to how this can be."

He spent the next several days flipping through every medical text he could find, hoping to find some human evidence of unusual connections between twins. But he found nothing, and even if he had, he was not sure how easily it could apply to Edward and me. He also wrote to his acquaintances, just as he'd said, but none of the few who replied knew the answers to his questions. None of them had ever come across twin vampires, much less extraordinarily gifted twin vampires.

But Carlisle knew of at least two pairs. There was Edward and me, forming two-thirds of his small coven, and then there were Jane and Alec. They were just children when Aro changed them, burning at the stake as they were for witchcraft. He changed them merely for the potential of their vampire gifts, and they'd become the Volturi's most powerful weapons. Carlisle had seen their talents at work, had suffered briefly at Aro's command; my father-figure still shuddered to think of it, and as he remembered, Edward and I felt his pain and knew instantly why Alec and Jane were so powerful.

Edward and I quickly forgot our animosity towards each other. Edward had been right: he and I were practically commodities among vampires. We were lucky to have each other as well as a father who would have been glad to have the two of us even if we'd been lacking our extra gifts.

We couldn't have asked for more.