Okay for anyone who couldn't really stand to get through the last chapter, I wrote a less detailed version on posted it on my blog. Visit it here at nyterock [dot] blogspot [dot] com. Also, there's a play list for this story there, story and author recs, and whatever else hits my mind regarding fan fiction.
I'm leaving you guys hanging a little longer. We don't find out what happens to Edward in this chapter, instead we find out what really happened to get him clean. A little bit of a filler chapter but something I felt you guys needed to read to get a better look into Edward's head. It'll help you understand why he's so persistent in the next chapters. And beyond that, I can't say anymore without giving a lot of things away so you'll just have to wait and see.
Five Years Earlier
I groaned and rolled over, pulling the foul smelling piece of fabric that I was using as a blanket over my head. This didn't stop the angry, persistent voice in my head.
"Edward!" I felt a sharp jab in my lower back and reached an arm around behind me, fumbling in my efforts to discourage whatever was hitting me. "Get the fuck up you worthless piece of shit!"
I cracked my eyes open, squinting against the afternoon sun, when the familiarity of that voice sank into my coma-like haze. I hadn't heard that voice in almost two months, not since I'd told its owner to go jump off a bridge. And the voice was still talking while I was distracted by my own thoughts.
"…thirty seconds, Edward, I'm throwing you down the stairs."
I lifted my head up and looked at my cousin over my shoulder, eyes still squinting against the glare of the unwelcome sun. "The fuck do you want?" At least that's what I think I said. My tongue felt a little swollen and my brain was still swimming from the high I'd reached last night so I couldn't be sure what exactly came out of my mouth.
Emmett's face came into a blurry kind of focus before I gave up and just put my head back on the floor, wincing with the soft impact. Between the sun and the stirrings of the cravings that had taken over my life, I was developing a nice little headache. A fresh rush of whatever James had handy would clear that right up though. And that wonderful thought was motivation enough to get up and get moving.
I threw the blanket off of me and staggered to my feet, stumbling as I tried to put one foot in front of the other. I felt detached from my body as a strange sense of vertigo hit me, clearing after a few seconds but sticking around long enough to send me to my knees. I growled when a hand came down on my shoulder and jerked away, ending up laying on my side on the filthy floor.
"Damnit, Edward." Emmett sighed and leaned over me, grabbing both my arms above my elbows and pulling me to my feet. I tried to pull free but he was stronger then I was and struggling was making me dizzy. It occurred to me, somewhere in the back part of my brain that I hadn't listened to in years, that it had been almost three days since I'd eaten anything that wasn't powdered.
"Leggo!" I jerked my whole body in the opposite direction but succeeded only in yanking myself around; Emmett didn't even look like he was trying to hold me still.
"No! Not until you listen to me, asshole." I felt his grip tighten around my arms and watched a thought float through my brain that maybe this should be hurting. And then it did hurt, or my head did anyway. Emmett used his grip on my arms and shook me, violently enough to send my head reeling and the few contents in my stomach came up my throat. It was Emmett's quick reflexes more then any effort from me that kept him clean.
My knees hit the floor with a dull thud that bounced around in my head and brought on another wave of nausea, though now it was only dry heaving. When my stomach finally stopped convulsing I collapsed on the floor, ignoring the bile on the floor beside my head, and tried to go back to sleep. Maybe Emmett would be gone when I woke up and I could go find James and forget this whole space of time ever happened. The hand that gripped my arm said that wasn't going to happen.
"Come on, Edward." I was forcibly dragged to my feet, despite my best efforts to remain horizontal, and brought face to face with Emmett's angry expression. Both of them.
I narrowed my eyes until focus returned and there was only one Emmett standing in front of me. And thank God, too. One was more then enough right now. "Why?" I didn't remember what I was asking 'why' to but obviously that didn't matter.
"Because I said so, now get your ass moving unless you want me to carry you the whole way." He spun me around to face the door of the building I'd been staying in. Squatting in, actually, but who really notices the difference anymore? A sharp shove to my back propelled my feet forward, feet that I was actually steady on now that I was awake, and a few steps later we were standing in the bright sunlight outside. I squinted my eyes almost completely shut to shield out the offending sun but Emmett's grip on both my arms kept my from doing anything more then that.
"Just get in the car." Emmett's angry voice reached my ears and I was shoved forward again until I ran into something large and solid. I managed to squint my eyes against the sun enough to notice I was leaning against an old beat up pile of metal that at some point had probably been a car. When I looked over, Emmett already had a door open and was working on stuffing me inside .
"I got it!" I growled, the itch in my system telling me if I went along with him, I'd just get my fix that much faster. It was fast becoming obvious I wasn't going to get it before then.
I dropped into the passenger seat with a grunt and shut my eyes completely against the glare of the sun while Emmett walked around to the front of the car. I turned to my door and started to open it, deciding to tell Emmett to go fuck himself and get my fix now, but the car was already moving and opening the door only gave me a severe case of motion sickness. Luckily for Emmett, I'd already emptied my stomach. Or unluckily, seeing as how I was wishing very hard to ruin his already shitty interior.
"Mother fucker." When my dry heaves stopped I got the idea that Emmett wasn't as straight edge as he seemed and he probably had some fix of his own lying around. I just had to find it and take it for myself. With that persistent itch urging me on, I started digging through the glove compartment, looking under the seat, and checking all the pockets and cubbyholes I could find.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Emmett asked as the car slowed to a stop.
"I need something. I know you have it. Where is it?" I turned and started rummaging around in the backseat. He had to have something. He had to.
A hand on my shoulder spun me back around and I growled at him, trying to shove his hand away. I had to find whatever he had!
"Would you look at yourself?" Emmett growled, tightening his grip on my shoulder and leaning over my body to shove my door open, throwing me out of the car shortly after. While I was still trying to figure out which way was up and what motor functions were needed to get off my ass, he came around the front of the car and slammed my door closed. "You're a fucking mess!"
My hand moved over a rock and I threw it at him. "What the fuck do you care? I thought you were going to jump in the river anyway!" I couldn't tell if I was whispering or screaming. The itch, the fucking need!, was just getting stronger, digging its claws in deep and shaking me around to hold my attention.
Emmett wrapped his fingers in the front of my shirt and yanked me to my feet. I glared at him and tried to pry his fingers loose. "Go fuck yourself, Emmett. I don't need your shit."
Emmett just growled and turned, dragging me along behind him. I somehow managed to keep my feet under me but only until Emmett himself threw me to the ground. I rolled into something cold and just as solid as the car, if not a bit smaller. When my head stopped spinning I looked up to see what had stopped me, taking in the curving concrete tombstone for almost a full minute before I realized what it was. Who it was. When I did, I got my feet under me faster then I would have thought myself capable of and started walking back to the car.
Emmett stepped in front of my and physically blocked my retreat. "Don't you fucking walk away again, Edward." His voice was low, barely audible, and full of threat. Among other things.
I just glared over his shoulder, not wanting to look at him any more then I wanted to look at what was behind me, cravings momentarily forgotten. "Fuck you, Emmett."
Faster then I could follow, Emmett's hands landed on my chest and shot me back on my ass, leaving me gasping for breath and unable to prevent my head from cracking against the tombstone. When I caught my breath and opened my eyes again, I saw Emmett standing over me, fists clenched at his sides, a murderous expression on his face. I felt the tiniest hint of fear before my cravings overcame my senses and told me I needed to get up and get moving, replacing that fear with anger.
"No, Edward. Fuck you." He took a slow, deep breath and just when I opened my mouth with a comeback, he spoke again. "I've watched you destroy yourself for long enough. It's time you get your act together and get the fuck away from James."
"What the fuck do you care?" I asked again, not remembering if I'd gotten an answer last time or not and not caring. I needed to find James and hope he had something good to erase this whole day from my memory.
While I was distracted by thoughts of a wonderful afternoon spent up in the clouds, Emmett had grabbed my arms and turned me to face the tombstone, the force of his grip keeping me on my knees. "I care because I promised your brother I'd protect you." His low words brushed past my ear as my eyes found the name engraved on the tombstone. The tombstone I had had to put up to remember a man that no one else had cared about.
Marcus Alexander Cullen
Beloved Brother, Fearless Protector
My chest expanded with the breath I took and my throat closed up. Emmett just kept talking. "He gave his life to protect you, to try and save you from this life." The fingers gripping my shoulders tightened but I barely noticed, tears gathering in the corners of my eyes. "And you took his sacrifice and threw it in the dirt." I was shaking my head now, unable to look at my brothers' tombstone any longer, my eyes focused on the clean cut grass under my knees.
"He loved you, he died for you, and this is how you repay him?" Emmett's voice was rising until he all but shouted the last word at me.
I whirled on my knees, catching myself before I fell over, and got to my feet to face Emmett. "No! This has nothing to do with him!"
Emmett stepped forward and got right in my face, matching my shouted words in volume but filling his words with more conviction then I had. "Bullshit! This has everything to do with him! James fucking killed Marcus and instead of taking the bastard down, you let him get away with it! You let him get away with everything, Edward!" Another step forward and I couldn't focus on Emmett's face, his breath washing over my face, the smell of mint seeming to clear my head a little. "He murdered your brother and instead of killing him you gave him your fucking soul!"
My head was shaking back and forth even as the truth of his words sunk through the drug haze coating my brain. "No. I haven't… I didn't…"
"You haven't avenged him," Emmett finished. "And you didn't do anything to stop James from taking control of the last of the Cullen men." A sneer crossed his face. "Never mind. The last Cullen man died two years ago. You're nothing but a pathetic child now, Edward."
I squeezed my eyes shut as those words shot straight through my heart and tears fell unrestrained down my cheeks. My legs collapsed beneath me and I ended up back on my knees at Emmett's feet, my tears falling on his boots and the grass beneath me. Before I could even hope to control myself, sobs were wracking my body and echoing in the quiet cemetery, misery and grief tightening my entire chest while my heart was slowly ripped into a thousand tiny pieces.
I don't know how long I sat there, hunched over myself, sobbing my broken heart out at the feet of the only family I had left, the family I had alienated and hurt and didn't deserve. My cries quieted only because my throat was too raw to produce any sound but still my tears fell. I needed to fix this, I needed to be the man my brother wanted, though I could never hope to be the man my brother was. And that thought brought a fresh wave of sorrow at what I had lost, what I had thrown away, and what I had deemed worthless: the sacrifice of a brother so that another could survive and thrive. And I had done neither.
Emmett stepped back and knelt in front of me, putting a hand on the back of my neck, his grip meant to be supportive now where all others had been forceful and harsh. "You need to get clean, Edward."
Another silent sob as I looked up and met his sympathetic gaze. "I don't know if I can," I whispered, my throat too raw to do much more.
"You have to." Emmett's voice was hard and demanding but not unkind. He wasn't going to let me get away easy anymore. And I couldn't have more grateful or more terrified. "Think of what Marcus would do if he saw you like this, Edward." I dropped my head again, closing my eyes against a fresh wave of tears. "He'd be so angry with you. But more than that," he paused, waiting for me to look up. When I did, he continued. "More than that, he'd be so disappointed."
And that, more than anything, was what I needed to hear. That single sentence was the foundation I needed to build on, the seed of determination planted in my soul that I would need to get through this.
I turned away from Emmett and faced the tombstone that was the last reminder of a brother I had loved more than anything else. My fingers touched the cold concrete, tracing the letters engraved on its face as the last of my tears fell down my face before drying up.
"I'm so sorry, Marcus. God, how I am sorry." I pressed my forehead against the stone and hoped like hell he could hear me. "I'm done with it. I'm going to get clean. I'll make you proud of me, I swear I will." I swallowed past the lump in my throat and lifted my head, looking up towards the heavens where I knew my brother was now watching over me. "I'm going to need your help, big brother. Please don't have given up on me yet."
I felt a single drop of water land right in the center of my forehead seconds before another landed on my cheek, then my nose, my chin. With each drop of water, I remembered how Marcus used to kiss my fears away when I was almost too young to remember. First on my forehead, then on my cheek, then my nose, and finally my chin. It was always enough to make me laugh, the childish giggle that is full of innocence and the belief that one person can make the monsters under the bed go away. As the rain started to really fall, I knew that my brother had forgiven my mistakes and was standing beside me. And with him at my side, I could do anything.
My determination to get clean was tested almost as soon as we reached the car. The itch was back, the craving trying to overtake my senses again. I fumbled with the passenger door and collapsed into the seat, crossing my arms over my stomach as I started a fight that I knew was going to take every ounce of strength I had and more.
Emmett's hand came to rest on the back of my neck again, fingers kneading the tense muscles there. I shivered as a particularly strong craving ripped through me and it was all I could do not to beg Emmett to take me to James just so I could function past the cravings. Instead, I put my forehead against my knees and spoke. "Take me to the police station."
Emmett's fingers stopped their gentle kneading before he spoke, his voice strong though his words were unsure. "Are you sure?"
I nodded against my knees and without another word the car started and we were moving again. I closed my eyes tight and didn't move the whole trip, not even opening my eyes until I heard the engine shut off. Then I lifted my head and opened the door, continuing the movement until I was standing and walking toward the glass doors of the police station. If I stopped, even for a second, I'd change my mind and start running. It would be so much easier to just admit I couldn't do this but the thought of my brother kept me going. It got me through those doors and carried me to the small desk that was manned by a single officer who took one look at me and narrowed his eyes, recognizing the signs of an addict but failing to notice the determination and guilt that was going to prove him wrong in the assumptions he was already making.
"I need to talk to someone in the drug unit." My throat was still sore and each word hurt coming out so I couldn't be sure the unfriendly officer had even heard me.
"You need to leave before I have you arrested, son." The cops' voice matched the sneer on his face. Before I could open my mouth and even begin to think of a response, Emmett's voice was there.
"And you need to get someone from the drug unit down here, like my friend here asked you to." The force that was Emmett McCarty stepped up beside me as I wrapped my arms back around my middle. "Or maybe you'd like you explain to your superiors why you let the best lead you have on the drug lord running this town walk out the door."
The officer behind the desk looked between me and Emmett a half a dozen times before clenching his jaw and picking up the phone. "Yeah, tell Detective Shepherd he's got a visitor." He hung up the phone and gestured towards a handful of very uncomfortable looking plastic chairs. Emmett took a seat without another word but I was too anxious to sit still so I just stayed standing, pacing back and forth in front of Emmett.
"Calm down, Edward. You're giving me motion sickness." I didn't even pause in my pacing to give him a glare whose effect was diluted by the nervous chewing on my fingernails I was doing.
It felt like hours had passed before a tall, well dressed man walked through a set of double doors marked No Entry. My eyes followed him as he walked to the desk and spoke to the officer behind it. The officer pointed at Emmett and myself and the detective nodded before walking over to us.
"I have information on James Holland."
The detective just stared at me for a few seconds, his mouth open in what was probably going to be some kind of introduction. He studied me for a handful of minutes, taking in every aspect of my appearance before giving Emmett the same treatment. It was another eternity before he finally nodded and gestured for us to follow him, turning on his heel and heading back towards the doors he'd come out of.
The detective led us through a large room that was divided into cubicles and through a door at the back of the sea of cubicles. We went down a single flight of stairs and into a hallway that was as plain as you could get. A handful of doors were scattered down each side and it was through one of these doors that we went. A single table was the only furniture in the room and a small window was nestled into a side wall. An interrogation room. Not a big surprise, really.
I jumped when the detective shut the door before turning and gesturing for me and Emmett to have a seat. After a bit of nervous twitching, and a piercing glare from Emmett, I took a seat, clenching my hands in my lap to keep them from shaking. The detective took a seat across from us and pulled a notebook and a pen from somewhere in his suit jacket.
I watched as the recorder was placed on the table in between the detective and myself, my eyes focusing on that to keep my mind off what I was about to do. I was about to sign my own death warrant and if James ever found out, it would not be an easy death. The thought terrified me and I had almost made the decision that it wasn't worth it when Emmett dropped his hand onto my shaking hands.
"You can do this, Edward." I looked up to meet his eyes and took strength from his support. I was going to need it. "You have to do this."
I took a deep, fortifying breath and nodded, returning my attention to the detective across from me. Seeing his cue, he sat forward, opening his notebook to a fresh page. "My name is Detective Shepherd. I gather your name is Edward?" The detectives' voice was kind, not at all what I was expecting. Then again, I was expecting everyone's attitude to match the officers' at the front desk.
I nodded and cleared my throat. "Edward Cullen."
Detective Shepherd glanced over at Emmett questioningly. "I'm Emmett McCarty. Edward's cousin." The detective nodded and wrote something in his notebook before returning his attention to me.
"What can you tell me about Mr. Holland, Edward?"
I shuddered as I tried to fight off another craving. Emmett's fingers curled around my tightly clenched hands and I had to force myself past the desire to make a run for it. I lifted my head and met the detectives' eyes, feeling my resolve harden as I opened my mouth and sealed my fate. "Everything."
We spent the rest of the night in that interrogation room, answering questions and supplying information that just brought more questions. More then once Emmett had to physically restrain me from trying to leave and by the time the interrogation was over, my entire body was shaking so badly I could barely keep my seat. But I had told him everything.
I started with the first time Emmett and I had overheard James and my brother talking. I described in detail that first job and how furious my brother had been. I told Detective Shepherd enough about the beating Marcus gave James that he was wincing just from the thought of it. I told him how after that night, Marcus and I ran together, how he protected me from the bigger fish who would've taken advantage of my youth and my ignorance of how things really worked.
When I got to the part about Marcus' death, I had to take a few moments to get myself together. Even then, I was crying before I finished telling Detective Shepherd how I knew James had had Marcus killed, how the cops refused to look into it, how my brother was pushed into a file somewhere and forgotten, treated as less then a human being when he'd been murdered. The sympathy in the detectives' eyes brought my tears harder and it was almost ten minutes before I could keep going.
After that, I told him of all my own sins. After I'd gone to work for James, after he'd promised me everything and given it to me, for a price, I'd done things I could barely bring myself to admit to. To please James and get that next hit I'd become a liar, a thief and, at one point that had me shaking to confess, a murderer. A rival drug dealer that was giving James a lot of competition. And James made sure the blood was, quite literally, on my hands.
By the time I had told Detective Shepherd everything, just as I'd promised, Emmett was holding my hand and I was crying, not at all caring how weak either action made me look. I had just confessed my crimes and my sins to someone I didn't know and I could only hope that when they threw me behind bars, they reopened my brothers' case and put James where he belonged.
Detective Shepherd excused himself when I was finished and left the room. He was gone for almost an hour, long enough for me to get my emotions under control but too long for my focus to stay intact. My body was needing a fix so bad I wanted to scream. It was really sinking in how badly James had gotten me when I was forced to realize I couldn't even go a full twenty-four hours without beginning to suffer from withdrawal. It made me wonder how much longer I could have gone before I overdosed.
By the time the detective returned, I was snapping at Emmett and cursing him for coming to me that day. After all it was his fault I was having to do this. Seconds after Detective Shepherd sat back down, I turned to Emmett and offered a teary apology. I didn't mean it, I just needed a hit so badly it was affecting my moods and my verbal filter. Emmett brushed off my apology and informed me that he had long since learned when to ignore me.
We turned back to the detective and I steeled myself for the news that I'd be spending the rest of my natural life behind bars. What he said instead stunned me into a silence so complete, even my drug craving body stilled. A chance to have my sins forgiven, my crimes forgotten, and my brother avenged. A chance I couldn't turn down.
The next few hours were spent arranging my paperwork so I could go to the drug rehabilitation center under an assumed name. James couldn't know I was getting clean, he couldn't figure out that I was getting help. And he especially couldn't know I was going to be the reason he would be paying for everything he'd ever done. But, so help me God, I would make sure he paid in full.
A little intense but not as intense as last chapter. Next chapter won't be as hard to swallow as these last two, I promise.