Title: Crave
Author: seraphcelene
Email: seraphcelene at yahoo dot com Rating: R for themes A/N: 1,674 AU words set during Twilight. I've only read the other books cursorily. Agatha, my bitch muse (no relation to the OC in this fic, I think), is on indefinite vacation, but she seems to have popped back in just long enough to serve up a very vague plot bunny. This was inspired by Robert Pattinson's interviews that include much adorable and nervous laughter, and some interesting thoughts on playing Edward as a self-loathing manic depressive.
Disclaimer: Twilight and all related characters belong to Stephanie Meyers. I'm just taking them out for a little exercise.
Summary: Your soul is a chosen landscape, sad beneath its fantastic disguise.

for Rob

Crave

All sing in a minor key
Of all-conquering love and careless fortune
They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight.
-- Paul Verlaine, Claire de Lune

There are days when, outside your window
I see my reflection as I slowly pass
And I long for this mirrored perspective
When we'll be lovers, lovers at last.
-- Death Cab for Cutie, I Will Possess Your Heart

Emmett has seen this before and waits patiently beneath the trees.

Usually it's Jasper perched and wavering on the rocks with desperate, marble arms open to the frigid wind, yearning for the rain to pierce his alabaster skin and douse the fire raging in his blood. Jasper, whose dreamless eyes imagine rivers of blood and carnage. For the first time since Emmett joined the family, since Rosalie carried his dying body one hundred miles out of the woods and into a new life, it is Edward who wavers. Edward, inflamed as any newborn and just as desperate to appease the ferocious ache clawing at his belly.

The blame lay with Bella, seemingly innocent and unaware. The luscious rush of blood in her cheeks and her scent striped away the man that Edward had become with a suddenness startling in its intensity. She pulled back his face and in seconds shattered the apathy of a life lived too long. Desire slid through Edward's veins like too much wine, and like a drunkard he listed.

Alaska and Tanya held no answers, the tundra a mute wasteland of ice and snow. In the deadest part of the night, Edward stared out into the unrelenting dark and thought of warmth, and Bella who smelled of all the best, most improbable things. Sweet as buttercream on birthday cake, rich and almost saccharine, and behind that bitterness like salt on skin. A delicate and heady balance that blotted out everything and rattled awake the monster crouched in his chest.

Balanced precariously on an outcropping, Edward spreads his arms wider. Face turned up to the clouds, he hangs balanced in the cold, howling wind, a marionette on invisible strings. An unregistered shift of degrees, the wind and the cold does nothing to wake him from his fever-dream-nightmare. Edward's been frozen in place for years and it's been an eternity since he's felt this damned, a slave to the monster behind his eyes.

Edward.

Emmett's voice is a whispered warning. They may be difficult to kill, but at this height he'll still break from the fall. Shatter his body on the rocks below and heal all wrong without Carlisle's gentle, knowing hands to re-assemble his bones.

The ease of repairing his body won't work on his mind, and Edward wishes that Carlisle could gather up the scattered pieces of him and fit them back together, smooth out the rough spots, beat back the chaos and memory rising to the surface.

New York, New York - 1923

Agatha dances on Friday and Saturday nights. Rises from her bed, sometimes alone and sometimes with whatever boy has followed her home. Edward watches from the ledge at twilight, crouched in a pocket created by the building's facade and the deep window, angled away from the crimson and gold streaks of the retreating sun. During the week she rises early. Meets friends for lunch, has tea with her mother's charity groups, intentionally and aimlessly busy as only people with money can be. But the weekends are long, slow drags of day that she doesn't owe to anyone but herself. She sleeps late and lounges when she wakes. Drinks chocolate while cuddled in silk sheets, unconcerned with the mess and stains she leaves behind. Sometimes she plays with whatever bedmate she's brought home or with herself, hands caressing her small breasts and trapped between her thighs. Agatha wiles away hours caught in unrepentant pleasure and Edward watches from the window, perched like a gargoyle on the ledge.

Burdened by the souls he's consumed, Edward envies her joy and freedom. Drowns himself in the thought of her and watches as she bathes and dresses. He follows the scent of lilies through the putrid streets of Manhattan like breadcrumbs and watches her swinging and glittering on the dance floors of Harlem. Rings flashing, heels kicking high -- her long, slender, white arms raised high above her head as she spins. Laughing, always laughing and giddy, champagne in one hand and a burning cigarette in the other. Edward watches from the back of rooms, arms crossed and waiting.

Maybe it takes two weeks for Agatha to find him like he knew she would, following the trail of whispers and admiring glances.

"You're awfully gloomy to be so pretty," she says, her crimson mouth curled into an easy, teasing smile. Her gray eyes, reflecting light and curiosity, glimmer with tearful desire.

She extends her small, fragile hand and he accepts it gently. Presses a kiss against the smooth, perfumed wrist and watches as her eyes widen. Edward inhales, eyes rolling back at the sweet, heavy scent beneath the lilies.

"Edward Cullen," he says.

"Agatha," she replies. She's just turned eighteen and thinks she's really something special. Daddy's darling with diamonds sparkling like veneration at her ears and throat. Edward would be twenty-one if he still bothered to count the years.

"Agatha," the sweating, panting man beside her ignores Edward bent over her wrist, eyes heavy lidded and dark. "Charleston's on next," he says. "You know how I love the Charleston," and she laughs. Gales of amusement that spill champagne from her carelessly held glass and onto her dress.

"Oops," she giggles, glassy eyes never leaving Edward as she negligently brushes away the liquid.

Edward smiles a wolf's smile, a predator's promise gleaming in his too beautiful face, and offers her a crisp white handkerchief.

The joe at her side frowns and pushes Edwards hand away, offering a handkerchief of his own.

When she smiles back, Edward can hear the trapped bird flutter of her heart like wings against her ribcage and smiles back.. He can hear the catch of her breath and asks, "Will you dance the next one with me? After the Charleston, the one after that?"

Agatha lets herself be pulled away by her sweating, panting, annoyed companion. "Absolutely," she breathes.

*

Edward slips the orchestra leader a tip and the frenzied Charleston gives way to El Choclo's lilting melody unaccompanied on the piano.

"A tango," Agatha laughs breathlessly when he claims her for the dance.

The easy press of his thigh against hers glides them across the dance floor, the sharp snap of his wrist flings her away and then reels her back. Agatha doesn't laugh. Edward can smell the heat and rush of her blood beneath her skin. Listens to her pounding heart and admires the flush in her cheeks. Maneuvering her to the edge of the dance floor through the whirling press of bodies is an easy trick and she is willing. Allows him the lace of her fingers through his as he leads her through a back exit. Through the alley behind the club, they brush past the eager, extended hands of beggars who soon retract the cup of their palms as they recognize the predator's light gleaming from Edward's near black eyes. They've seen him before, pale death walking the streets with hungry arms and eyes like sin, and now a golden girl, a girl made of diamonds, trailing in his wake.

Nothing good could come of it, they think as they tuck their hands into the folds of old coats and the pockets of skirts. They melted back into the shadows and clear a path.

*

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions," Carlisle told Edward before he left. Worry clouded his eyes and his mind, but Edward, angry and desperate, brushed it away.

Edward had only ever intended to hunt the hunters, prey on the rapists and murders who themselves preyed on the weak.

He had only ever intended to hold Agatha for a little while. Clean, bright, sweet-smelling Agatha. He'd only intended to steal a bit of her warmth as a balm against the shadows.

I want to cuddle in silk sheets and drink chocolate, too, Edward thought as he kissed the delicate curve of her neck. Pressed kisses against her jaw and licked along the thick, quickening pulse of her jugular. Her skin was paper thin but soft as silk, everything that he could ever want trapped in her hollow veins and covered by a thin layer of epidermis. Unbidden, unwelcome thoughts swarm him, inspired by the thump of her heart and her blood racing in endless circles through her body.

Edward tried to hold her gently, tried to be beautiful and golden and easy for her.

Edward never intended to leave laughing, glittering Agatha, with her glasses of champagne and dancing feet, in an obscene spill of blood and ivory silk.

He'd never intended ... but she lies broken on the floor anyway, staring up at him with empty doll eyes.

He doesn't remember moving the body, carefully bundling her up and taking her to an abandoned store front on the Lower East Side where no one would think to look for a young society princess.

Edward sat with his back pressed against a wall and Agatha draped across his lap. Pressed kisses to her slack cupid bow mouth, desperate to kiss the spark back into her. She lay across his lap, staring up at him with sightless, accusing eyes, her throat a ragged mess of torn flesh.

Edward wailed and the dogs, roaming the city, trapped in shoebox apartments and foraging the dumpsters, echoed the sound. They carried the eerie melody across the city and over rooftops, a haunting song terrible with regret.

Edward watched the sun rise and fall and rise again. On the second night, Carlisle came, a whisper in his mind for a warning, and Edward allowed himself to be led away.

Forks, Washington - 2005

He's gathered himself beneath the gray and sunless sky. Gorged on bear and lion and deer until his eyes are gold with satiation.

"She's just a girl," Emmett says as he drives them home. "A silly, little human girl. You can get past this."

There's nothing to say to that. Emmett thinks he knows better than Edward. Thinks that, for once, he knows more, but Agatha is a secret Edward and Carlisle keep and Alice can only see the future.

end