Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just playing.
A/N: Used several direct quotes from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - they can be found in their rightful places on pages 42, 54, 63 and 71 of the UK paperback edition. Also several musical references - you probably don't need me to point out the Elvis and the Sinatra, but the Aretha Franklin one is from My Song, which is far more obscure than it should be. For the classical references, I had Rachmaninoff – Lilacs and Chopin's Nocturne in C# minor in mind, but Edward can be playing whatever you fancy. Even Gary Numan, if you want ;).
"Why does it matter to you?"
"That's a very good question."
He can't remember the last time he touched a human for any purpose other than to kill them.
Of course he knows that he has, because however wary of him the inhabitants of Forks might be, elbows brush in hallways and fingers meet when forms and pleasantries are exchanged. Although – forms and pleasantries.... Now he comes to think about it, there was an incident with Ms. Cope. She let her hand dwell on his arm for a second too long, and he saw things in her mind that would have made him retch or blush, if he could do either. Evidently that one has stuck with him, but other than that, every human touch has dwindled into nothingness, clouds dispersing against the sky, paint in water, fog on the landscape. He supposes it's because there are two kinds of touches: the insignificant, fleeting, and forgettable; and then the other kind, the kind that is none of those things, the kind that makes him think he can feel his heart beating again. That kind, well, that kind has been so scarce, so rare a thing, he can't even think of a genuine comparison.
At least not from his own experience. He's heard it in other people's heads – it was like electricity, wow, what was that? – clichés about lightning and fireworks, never thought for a second that he'd –
He's tried not to think about it, consequently has thought of nothing else, the memory of her fingers, warm under his and lodged in his brain. Much as he longs for it not to be the case, there's nothing but her in his head tonight, questions about why he can't hear her, why it bothers him so much, why he wants to know everything about this girl, why when she touched him he felt –
It's more than that, though, more than questions and curiosity. He cares that she might be unhappy, plots ways to make things better, steals ideas from movies and wants –
Things he shouldn't want.
In the end he resorts to desperate measures, sits at the piano and plays until it's beyond dark, everything by Shostakovich he can think of.
"I saved your life – I don't owe you anything."
He's honestly not sure why he did it. Two words in his head that made him kiss goodbye to logic and reason, two words and an impulse and now he's in a worse mess than he was before, because –
Because she's done practically nothing, and yet there she is, the source of impulses contrary to everything he's known for years. He's at the piano again, trying to find the sense in it, Mussorgsky then Prokofiev underneath his fingers, but –
She's too loud in his thoughts, and however intently he plays, however complex the piece, she always pokes through, the look on her face, his reaction, the panic, fleeting but genuine and piercing, as if it were the only thing he'd really felt in decades.
He plays louder, more aggressively, generally irritated and something else entirely. He knows he risked everything for her, knows it was foolish, and yet he can't seem to care about Jasper's worries or Carlisle's concern or Rosalie's anger or any of the things that should really bother him, because he's just glad she's all right.
He knows what this sounds like, what it usually means when people think of nothing but someone else, when they do things they shouldn't, act without regard for consequence in some blinkered moment of myopic emotion, although he won't – can't – think the word.
His fingers halt on the ivory, but his thoughts in the silence are deafening, the same thing over and over and over, and so he starts again, desperate but not really concentrating. Some Schumann piece he's been able to play for a hundred years trips from his fingers but doesn't fit his mood, so he settles for Rachmaninoff, lets the melody swirl around him, mingle with him and the stars beyond the window.
It almost fills his head.
Almost. But she's still there.
After a moment, he wonders if, whatever he does, she always will be.
"Are you speaking to me again?"
"No, not really."
He's been avoiding her, which he thought would help but hasn't, and now there's jealousy too, to compound things. He hadn't expected that, the sense of indignation he'd feel that Mike or Eric or Tyler might dare to think they were good enough to take her to a dance. Of course logically, he knows that any one of them would be better for her than him, just because they are what they are and he is what he is, and yet that doesn't stop the thing furling in his chest, the thing that feels a lot like rage at the thought of anybody but him –
Which he knows is utterly irrational, not least because she hasn't said yes to any of them. That he feels it, though, despite everything, despite logic and what he knows is right....
For a second, he lets himself think of the word, the one he's been avoiding as assiduously as her, tosses it around to see how it fits, and then he finds he can't let it go.
He's read about it, of course, love, pondered along with the greats: Marquez, Shakespeare, Greene, even dabbled, out of boredom, in the odd trashy paperback, the kind with red-lipped noir heroines on the cover and purple prose between the pages. He's heard about it in songs by Elvis, Sinatra and Franklin, listened as words about being all shook up, someone under their skin and hours like years fell from their mouths. He's seen it in paintings, noted it in symphonies, been privy to it in other people's heads, heard them obsess about it, then question it, then throw it away with a blatant and rash disregard. But none of it ever felt especially real to him. Love was always just an idea, a theory. Now, it's –
Tangible, something he can feel, something that makes every cell twitch as if it were alive. Just the thought of her fills his head and his veins, and everything else dwindles in the wake. They don't come close, he thinks, the symphonies, the books, even the pop songs. However perfectly composed or constructed something is by human endeavour, it can't quite compare to the thing in his mind and his body which feels so –
Beyond. Beyond imagination and beyond expectation and beyond all hope.
Before her, he thinks he must have been in some kind of stasis, because the only thing that ever stood out in his mind as vivid and brilliantly as she does was the feel of a throat beneath his fingers, the throbbing rushed breath of someone who realised it would be their last. She's incomparable really, though, even to that. Something he's forgotten, or more likely never knew.
If he slept, these thoughts would keep him up at night, he thinks. Instead, they're his companions at the piano, sound tracked by Brahms, Scriabin and Liszt. He plays too loudly because it amuses him, a little, to at least get that part of teenage rebellion right. There's no refuge, though, because she's unavoidable, in the notes, in the melody, and she dances through his thoughts as he plays. He feels like laughing at himself for being no more profound or interesting in his thoughts about love than the average seventeen year old, for picturing her in music and drifting off into daydreams at his piano.
The last note sounds, and he sifts through the sheet music in his head, trying to find something that will be accompaniment for his thoughts as much as a distraction. This time, his fingers barely alight on the keys, and he wonders if it's really possible, if this thing is what he thinks –
"Something on your mind?"
He looks up and Carlisle smiles, spreads his hands, gesturing for him to go on if he wants. And he does, but he's not quite sure how to put his multiplying tangled thoughts into something as base as words, how to distil this magnificent and terrifying thing he thinks he feels into mere sentences. He supposes that's why people write symphonies and paint instead – it's easier to nail the complexities with strings of notes and swirls of acrylic.
He keeps playing, thinking fast, until the notes and her and everything is nothing but a blur of thought and sound and sensation. The thing – the thing that would keep him up at night, more than anything else, is that he's not certain. He thinks the thing he feels is love, but how can it be? How can he, such that he is, with everything that he's done, expect to feel something like that? But if he doesn't – if that's not what this is, then – what will there be to stop him? And he thinks he wouldn't, because he had the chance and didn't –
But the question's still there, and daydreams at the piano are one thing, but reality would be another entirely.
The melody lilts as he thinks of tantalising what ifs, what if they're not just daydreams, what if he could make them a reality, what if he's right about what he feels – he doesn't want to be one of those people who obsess about it, then question it, then throw love away with a blatant and rash disregard.
He can play this piece as easily as if it were Chopsticks, but suddenly his breath catches like he's forgotten what comes next, because the thought of not –
"I was just thinking about Bella," he says, and then he wants to laugh again because there's nothing just about it, and what else has he thought about recently?
"Anything in particular?"
He sighs, but it doesn't help, and Carlisle sinks against the wall and waits. Eventually, a question surfaces, and he's not sure it's the right one, because it's one he can make a more-than educated guess at the answer to, but maybe if Carlisle says it –
"How did you know?" he says. "With Esme?"
Before he's even answered, there she is, woven through his every thought, her quiet laugh, a hundred tiny, significant moments dancing through his synapses, making him smile. It's the perfect echo of how he thinks of Bella, the way she's in everything, and he's so lost in that, he misses Carlisle's actual answer. He's not sure if it's reassuring or not, to hear how similarly they feel, and before he has chance to decide, Esme dulls in Carlisle's thoughts, and mingled in is a maelstrom of worry, speculation and what ifs of his own. "You don't approve," he says, and Carlisle meets his eye, soft, kind as ever.
"It's not a matter of approval, Edward," he says. "Souls choose who they choose – "
"I don't have a – "
"You're afraid you don't," Carlisle says. "It's not the same thing."
He's about to protest, but Carlisle raises his hand, carries on. "Granted, I daresay it would be more – prudent, certainly easier, if you didn't feel the way you do, if you hadn't fallen in love with – "
"Is it so obvious that I..?" he says, and Carlisle's expression turns amused, indulgent. "How can you be so sure?"
It's inconceivable to him that Carlisle might know his feelings when he's so unsure himself, but if it's so very apparent, then isn't there something hopeful in that? Carlisle eyes him for a moment, that same indulgent expression as if it shouldn't need saying, even thinking. "Because I've known you for almost a century," he says, and then he nods at the piano and smiles, "and you've never played like that before."
Edward looks down at the keys, watches his fingers, but he hears it too, something new. Something intense yet delicate, something that probably always should have been there, but wasn't, until now. Carlisle puts his hand on his shoulder, squeezes briefly. "You're entitled to love, Edward," he says, "just as much as any of us."
He's gone before Edward can think of anything to say.
For a while he keeps on playing, setting the problem and possibility of her to Brahms and Mozart and Chopin, but it doesn't help. The answers are no less there than they are in his thoughts, and with a smirk he thinks that evidently dead pianists – whether they're long-gone composers or him, know nothing about love.
On a whim, he gets up, is out the door before the last note has finished resonating. He half intends a run to clear his head – or at least that's an easy lie to tell himself, once he's outside and the trees are blurring and he's wrapped in darkness. The truth, though, is that he was hit with a sudden impulse, the reckless notion to test whether dreams and reality could indeed be one and the same, if he just tried.
Things seem clearer when he's alone, when he can't hear Jasper in the background thinking of Alice, how much she loves it here, will hate to move, when there's no Emmett in his head, understanding but still sad, wishing things were different. Clearer, but not easier, per se, he thinks. It's just less complicated to be selfish when he's alone.
The key is in the third place he looks, and the door protests a little when he opens it, but not enough to stir Charlie from his dreams. He moves through the house silently until he finds her room, listens for a moment to make sure she's asleep, then slips inside.
The room is full of details, the things he's longed to know, the books she likes, the CDs, the view she sees when she gets up every morning, but they only hold his attention for the most fleeting of seconds. She's mumbling something that makes no sense, batting with the back of her hand at her hair, spilled over her face. She looks fragile but determined somehow, and for a moment he just stares at her, a hundred songs and symphonies and paintings and pictures whirring through his head. They don't quiet the questions, not entirely, and for what seems like a significant slice of eternity he stands in the corner and debates, what he wants and what he thinks might be right, whether he should continue to avoid her, or give in to possibility.
Now he's here, though, it all seems very simple. He wants what he wants in spite of the fact that he shouldn't. There's no hiding from what he feels, no hiding from her, as there isn't from what he is – they're both a part of him now and intrinsic, and he's not quite sure which is stronger, but –
His name falls gently from her lips, and he smiles.
He can't remember the last time he touched a human for any purpose other than to kill them.
For some reason, though, he suspects that the next time will linger in his memories. And he hopes it'll be anything but insignificant and fleeting, be the kind of touch that makes him think he can feel his heart beating again.
"I thought you didn't want to be my friend?"
"I said it would be better if we weren't friends, not that I didn't want to be."
A/N: Thanks for reading. Feedback is always very much appreciated, and, in this instance, is rewarded with Edward playing you a selection of your favourite piano pieces ;).