Daedalus In Exile
Hours passed as I laid beside Isabella, the both of us stripped and bloodied, one dead and one dying. Curled beside her, hand clenched around her waist, I drifted in and out of coherency while her labored breaths and waning heartbeat shook my bones.
There was nothing to do but wait.
My hands went from slick to sticky, from sticky to dry and caked, signaling the point at which she stopped bleeding and the air began to dry the blood that coated our bodies. The bright red had turned a dull, deep brown—scratchy and hard on my chest.
I wondered what Isabella would say when she woke to this scene. She'd participated. She wanted it. She begged for it…but really? Could a human tolerate waking up to a blood bath once the adrenaline was gone? Once the lust had subsided?
Needing to be closer, I buried my nose in her hair—inhaling, only inhaling, and her body shook with a violent tremor causing me to tighten my hold and whisper words of comfort in her ear. "It's okay. It's okay. It's okay." I said them over and over until they no longer held meaning, but were more like a quiet hum filling the silent house.
We stayed like this for hours. While her hair strengthened and her lips became full. Under the pressure of my hand I could feel her muscles tighten and elongate. Her breasts became impossibly firmer and her skin hardened and smoothed.
I could feel her becoming something different. I barely trusted the human Isabella truly wanted me. I feared the inhuman one would take one look at herself and leave.
What would I do if this was not what she wanted? Again I nuzzled into her hair and flesh worshiping her as long as I could.
At some point I heard quick footsteps approaching the bed and familiar thoughts and scents penetrated my mind. A cool, comforting hand touched my back and I heard Carlisle's voice through the haze, "Come, let's clean you up."
My grasp tightened and I heard him speak again, "Let her go, she's fine, let her go, Edward."
I ignored him, closing my eyes and pushing my body closer to hers, blocking him out. Pretending we hadn't been discovered.
Son, let her go. You need to clean up. We need to clean her up. She can't wake to this.
His mind widened, opening for me to see what laid before him. What laid next to me, with me. A massacre. Carnage. Whatever it was to me--love. Sacrifice. Desire. Was not what it looked to the outside.
Reluctantly, I let her go.
Carlisle shuttled me into the bath, forcing me under the scalding water. Through the rushing water I listened for her breaths. I grieved for her loss. I wondered if she would fear me once she changed. Esme had feared Carlisle for more than a month. Vampire emotions run deep and our fear and sense of self preservation was extraordinarily heightened. I wondered when her red eyes met my red eyes if she would she only see a killer. Her murderer. Or would she see me as she always had?
Carlisle handed me soap and directed me to wash. Then he began talking.
I wasn't sure what he was saying. Something about doing well, resisting, being proud. The praise was unfathomable as I'd just killed a woman. A friend. My first lover. She and I had been caught in a deadly, disturbing game of cat and mouse and she lost.
Or won. I really wasn't sure.
I held my hand to my face, looking at the now diluted stains of crimson that ran from my finger tips to my elbow. Her blood. Only hours before it was so precious. So coveted. Now? I watched as soap ran down my chest to my legs, turning red as it pooled at my feet. Under Carlisle's instruction I scrubbed my body, like I had the first time I was covered in her blood. Again, I focused on the remnants wedged beneath my nails. In that speck of blood I saw her alive again, standing before me dripping blood for me. Lust and hunger. Running my tongue across her skin. Tasting copper. Tasting her. But this time it held no appeal, I'd gorged myself on her flesh and as exhilarating as it had been at the time, it now felt like a remnant of something sordid and dirty.
You love her.
I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at Carlisle's shadow through the curtain. Love? I didn't know how I felt and the words wouldn't come.
It may be hard to discern through all the blood and...destruction—but the simple fact you stopped means you love her.
Did it? I blinked through the water trying to determine if this was true.
You stopped Edward. You've never stopped before.
Carlisle spoke with reason and hundreds of years of experience and the wisdom of being my maker.
I cleared my throat, surprised that it sounded so loud and finally allowed, "She's my mate."
"I think she is," was all I heard from the other side of the room.
Eventually the water ran clean and I shut it off, twisting the knobs with a squeak. Carlisle handed me towels over the curtain bar which I used to dry off quickly. I needed to get back to her. Stay near her. Loudly, I pulled back the curtain and saw he was gone and I dressed in a rush.
Avoiding my red eyes in the mirror I opened the door, letting the steam and heat meet the cooler air of the bedroom. Isabella was now lying on a fresh mattress and crisp new sheets. She was clean, the blood removed, her wounds healing. Her hair was brushed and smooth. She would have looked like a sleeping angel if her lips were not quivering in pain and her fingers clenched with tension. Carlisle was leaning over her. I winced as his fingers grazed the bite mark on her neck.
"Stop." It came out in a twisted hiss.
With patience, always patience, he turned and looked at me. "I'm checking her progress."
The level of anger and possessiveness coursing though my body was alarming. He was my father. A physician. He'd turned four of us already. He knew what I did not. But I didn't want another man's hands touching her. Ever.
I understand. It's all new. Your feelings for her are raw and intense. She's yours. I know.
We faced off for a moment longer. I knew my reaction was ridiculous, but the compulsion to protect was overpowering and my hands clenched into fist-sized balls by my side.
I studied the clean sheets over his shoulder, trying to get a handle on my emotions. "You did this? Cleaned her up?" I asked, having other suspicions.
"Alice." He stated. "She wanted to clean up for you—for her. Neither of you needed to wallow in it any further." Isabella moaned and both our eyes darted toward her, yet neither of us moved. I wanted to make the pain go away but it was useless.
Slowly, as though talking to a child, Carlisle said, "I'm going to tend to her—make sure she's comfortable. You're going to talk to Alice."
My hand flew to my damp hair, nervous suddenly about seeing Alice. Nervous about leaving Isabella. "No."
He had the gall to laugh. "Sorry, but yes. She's outside, waiting."
My eyes flashed to the woman, my woman, on the bed. I couldn't leave her.
Carlisle was the mind reader this time, "Edward, get this taken care of so you can focus completely on Bella when she wakes."
I looked at my father trying to understand everything. Alice, Carlisle, Isabella. "Did you really know all along she was my…mate?" The word was still unfamiliar and hard to process.
"No. I suspected," he said, sitting in the chair next to the bed, "and hoped. She was different, she took to your sister like they were bonded. But…she longed. She roamed the house when she thought we weren't aware…slipping to your room—absorbing…you."
I thought about Isabella searching for pieces of me while I roamed the world searching for her. "Why didn't you just tell me?" My voice raised in anger. "All those other women..." I trailed helplessly. I wanted to be furious but I was so tired.
"It wasn't for me to tell, Edward. For the first two years you were hell bent on destruction. For the last three you finally were making strides toward an appropriate way of life again. We kept her safe and hoped you would be there when the time came. Her injury forced Alice's hand a bit but you had to make these decisions. You had to make the choice not to succumb. And you succeeded." Carlisle's eyes were hard. "If we had told you too soon you both would have been lost to us."
I blanched at the reality of his thought. He was right, of course, even if I still didn't want to admit it. Resigned, I leaned over the bed, taking a moment to run my hand over her cheek and then across the inflamed yet healing wound on her neck. "She was so brave."
"She's a fighter and so stubborn. Almost as bad as you."
I picked up her trembling hand and gave it a squeeze. "Take care of her."
"Of course," My father offered me a warm smile as he directed me out the door. "Go. We'll be waiting."
When I stepped off the back porch I was assaulted by the smell of chemicals and smoke. The burn barrel was on fire--a dark cloud billowing from the top. Alice had cleaned up the bedroom and had made quick work of disposing the evidence. I'd been shocked when I walked into the living room that the mess had been removed from there as well. The scent of bleach assaulted my nostrils and I speculated she must have begun cleaning before they ever came upstairs.
I scanned the yard for her and easily read her thoughts from the garden, where she stood patiently toeing rubble and shattered glass, with one tiny foot. I heard her soft voice lift through the air as she said, "That was some temper tantrum you threw huh?"
My eyes narrowed at her baiting, but my annoyance was short lived. She was right. I threw an epic tantrum and she and I were now standing in the remains. I kicked a pile of cement across the path and shrugged. "It was pretty bad."
My dark haired sister picked up a piece of broken glass. "It's a shame. I'd always wanted to see it in person. I can tell it was beautiful."
"It was useless," I muttered. "A substitute for the real penance I owe my victims."
Her face lifted toward mine and I saw the twist of her lips and the furrow of her brow. She didn't agree with my assessment.
Alice had been my sister and best friend for such a long time. Those bonds were hard to break--even with the tension so thick between us. The last time we saw each other we were in some kind of odd power struggle over Bella and her fate. That was no longer a question as by the laws of our nature, Bella technically was mine, but there was a lingering doubt bouncing around in my head that I couldn't shake.
Did Bella really want me or did she just not want to die? The insecurities felt weak but they were still real.
"I hope this is what she wanted," I said, breaking the silence between us.
Alice sighed and took several steps closer. "It's never what we truly want Edward, but she at least asked for it—it's more choice than any of us were given."
I looked over Alice's head, over the stone wall surrounding the garden, back at the cabin. "But, did she really want me and all the things she had to do to make me…do that."
Alice's hand tilted my chin downward. Her yellow eyes were shining curiously. "Edward, don't do this to yourself."
I shrugged again and closed my eyes. The instant I did so Alice had her arms wrapped around my waist and my chin dropped to the top of her head. "She offered herself so willingly. It could have been a disaster." I opened my eyes and stared across the garden. "Would you have been here to fix it? To save her if I'd failed?"
After pausing for a beat Alice replied with a shake of her head, "No."
"No? But why?" I roared—furious that she wasn't there, furious that Bella had been left unprotected with me.
"Because Edward," she said, her arms tightening, refusing to let me go, "this was about you. And Bella. And you making the right decisions—turning your life around. No one forced Bella into those woods. I suggested it, but she took a leap of faith. You also took your own leaps of faith every step of the way."
"Was it clear?" I asked, eager to know, "Could you see the entire time that it would end well?"
Alice laughed darkly, "No, definitely not. You were unsure—wavering over life and death or even just letting her go. My vision changed over and over, to the point that I simply stopped looking. I had to let go the same way you did."
I pulled away from her grasp and picked up a piece of broken cement studying the pattern that once graced the top. With a grunt I threw it over the garden walls and deep into the forest. After a moment I heard it land with a thud. "Does she love me?" I asked baring my insecurities.
Alice picked up her own mass of rock and tossed it in a similar direction, it too traveled a good distance before hitting a tree with a crack. A quick smile curved at the edges of her lips. "That's not really fair is it?"
I shook my head knowing it was true. Love was something you earned. It shouldn't be cheapened by a vision.
"What will you do now?" she asked.
I smirked, "Don't you already know?" But I wasn't sure of anything. How she would feel about me, what she would want to do. How we would live. There was no way Alice could get an accurate reading.
"Do you think you'll raise her our way? Carlisle's way?"
Again I looked at the house, this time up at the window of my room. I could see Carlisle's shadow crossing the window and I tried to listen for her heartbeat. It was lessening.
"I want to," I replied and grimaced at the skeptical look on Alice's face. "My days of killing are over. I realize now it was a means to an end." A very bloody, sexually fueled end. "I understand now it was about her. I'm so sorry."
You've apologized before. In countless letters. None of them were sincere.
"I know. I didn't understand. I guess I thought I was running away from something when all along I was running toward her. I was wrong but unwilling to accept it. I was stupid. I'm truly sorry."
My apology was met with silence. Mental and verbal--but I waited. It was up to Alice to forgive. It was her choice.
I don't trust you.
I thought this over for a moment. "You trusted me enough to send your best friend."
Alice spoke aloud, "I sent her knowing she could be slaughtered. I only hoped the man inside would prevail."
I felt a rush of pride. "You had hope then. You never lost that."
Alice was on her toes beneath me, looking up with imploring eyes. "No. Never. But Edward, I'm not sure if you truly understand what you did to me. I saw it all. Every one. You were cruel and vicious." She turned her head from me in disgust.
"I'm going to fix it. For real this time. I want to teach her the right way--if she'll let me." My thoughts again shifted to Bella. It was getting close.
"She will," Alice said, her eyes glazed as she peered into the future. "But you have to be the strong one. It's your responsibility--you can't afford to be weak."
Carlisle's voice penetrated my mind and I looked toward the window above. I could make out his form through the wavy glass and saw he was waving us in.
Panic seized my body. I wasn't human. I didn't sweat or have a pounding heart or ragged breath. But I was terrified. I was worried. I was eager and excited. This was the most important day of my eternal life. This day absolved my past and determined my future.
Before he could leave the window I was in the room, Alice trailing behind me. Bella was lying stiff and unmoving on the bed just like I left her, except the rhythm of her heart was now barely audible.
Alice slipped her hand in to mine and I looked down at her, breaking my eyes from Bella. She was full of forgiveness and confidence and knew I needed to feel the same way toward the woman upstairs. I needed to be there for her like I had always been blessed with those supporting me.
"Are you ready?" she asked her mind full of questions and not visions for once.
Even though Bella's breath and pulse had waned I still had a few moments to make some decisions.
"I need you to leave."
My words were calm but firm causing my father and sister to look at me with wide, shocked eyes. "But..." Alice began and I was slammed with a dozen reasons why she needed to stay.
Edward, we don't know her strength or reaction....
I shook my head. This was non-negotiable. "You don't have to leave entirely. But not in the room. Maybe not even in the house...outside perhaps?" I was willing to allow this, as they were right, there was a great likelihood she could overpower me.
"We'll be outside," Carlisle said, tugging Alice by the arm. She shot me a hostile glare as she went out the door, but I could see in her mind that she knew I was right. This was between me and Bella. It always had been and it always would be.
I was at her side before the front door closed, winding her fingers into mine. I was scared, so scared, that she would hate me or forget me or refuse to live the life my family had made. I feared I would follow her to the ends of the earth just to be near her, to touch her or taste her.
My fingers ran up her arm, over the now smooth skin from her self-inflicted wound. They traveled up to her neck, to the hard place where my teeth plunged into her skin.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, hoping that somehow she could hear me. "It shouldn't have been like that. Violent and fierce. You deserve to be worshiped and loved. That...was unacceptable."
My eyes were focused on our hands. Two pale, cold, intertwined hands, hers limp and mine clinging. Desperate.
"I want this though. I want you. I want you to be my mate." With every word I became more sure. "Your laugh and your heart. I hope you never lose that. I'll help you keep it. I promise."
Her body lurched, with a loud gasp from her lips and I ran my hand over her chest. Her heart still beat slowly. Not yet, but soon.
I ran a hand through my hair, tugging at the ends. "I want to make this right. For you to still have a choice--about me. I want you to decide if I'm worthy. I want to know if we have more than just this bond--this animalistic connection between us." I dragged her hand to my lips and kissed her palm. "I think...I think with you I can finally experience love. But I'm scared. What if what is real for me isn't the same--"
Bella moved under my hand, her fingers gripping mine in return and her eyes fluttered, trying to focus on the room. She squinted mumbling something about lights and fire. I realized the blinds were open, causing a harsh glare in the room and in an instant I closed them and returned to her side.
Eyes wide and clutching her throat. "Water," she begged while she scrambled to a sitting position. She began looking frantically around the room for relief.
"Hey," I called quietly, trying to get her attention. I had her wrists between my own and she struggled against the weight, yet never looked at me. "Isabella...Bella. Here. Look at me."
"It burns, I know," I tentatively reached out my hand and pressed it to her neck. She flinched under my touch, hissing under her breath but instead of pulling away I just continued speaking, "You're thirsty--but not for water. You can eat soon."
"Edward?" Her eyes finally focused on mine. Her's were red like rubies, glimmering in the shadowed room. I'm sure mine were the same.
She reached her hand out and traced the lines of my face as she had done before. Her eyes narrowed as she swallowed trying to futilely quench her thirst. She studied my face and recognition flashed in her eyes as they snapped to her arm and her hand flew to her shoulder.
She sat with her back against the headboard, the very one we pressed into days ago, when her lips touched mine. I wanted to do it again, but it wasn't right and I promised myself I would do it right from now on.
"I remember wanting you so badly. I couldn't get enough."
Her words cut me. Deep and to the bone. It was exactly how I'd felt. A confession slipped from my lips, "I couldn't either." My resolve to do the right thing, to earn her love and respect was strong, but already it was proving difficult.
She was so beautiful. I looked for her aggression, the demon that lurked beneath and couldn't find it. I only saw her. Wide eyed and slightly fearful.
"I'm sorry though." My apology felt weak. How I could apologize for meeting my strongest desire?
Bella shook her head, "I'm not. It's what I wanted. This is what I wanted." She grabbed my hand again with strong fingers. "You are what I want."
She wanted me.
"What happens now?" she asked suddenly, her fingers running across her arms, distracted by her new skin.
"Now," I said trying to formulate the words, "I teach you what you need to know."
Her eyes were on my lips and her brow tried to furrow but it was hard and tight--any trace of lines in her skin gone forever. "Say that again."
Although I was confused, I did as she asked, "I'll teach you what you need to know?"
"Your lips look strange when you talk. They move so fast."
I felt laughter bubble through my chest. I'm sure it did look strange. It was all strange for a newborn. "Your lips look perfect," I replied like a love-sick fool. I wanted to kiss her. Instead I asked inanely, "Are you okay?"
She shook her head and I was fascinated by her thicker hair and perfect skin. She was so different, but the same. I'd never known anyone really before and after a change. "No. My throat hurts and my eyes...I feel like I just walked out of a cave and into the sunlight and my skin hurts and my ears...everything is just so loud. And you..." She said and looked me up and down making me shiver. "You're beautiful and...," she stopped again and leaned toward me and pushed her nose into my throat, "You smell so good. It makes my nose hurt." I closed my eyes feeling the closeness of her body. The bloodlust was gone, which was an enormous relief, but my cravings and desires for her were just as strong, only different.
Again, laughter shook my body at her honesty. Tentatively, I leaned toward her, keeping my eyes focused on hers and sniffed her neck in return. "You smell pretty good, too." I inhaled again, resisting the urge to climb on top of her or in her. I wanted her so badly. I fought my desires and said quietly, "The sensitivity will decrease at some point. It won't be so overwhelming."
We studied one another for a moment and I allowed Bella to touch me and explore my face, hair and arms, with her new awareness, and I answered the dozens of questions she had. She was charming. She was still Isabella but most of all she was mine. Again, I wondered why her behavior was so calm--she was actually soothing me.
"Why are you so..." I couldn't even find the word I wanted to use. "Different? You're not scared or angry. You're only hungry and a little distracted. Rosalie almost took my head off when she awoke and Esme locked herself in her room for a month. Emmett tore off like a wild animal--we had to track him for a hundred miles before we caught him and carried him home. It took all four of us to restrain him."
She looked thoughtful for a moment but then said, "I am nervous. And my body feels like it's shaking from hunger, but Edward, this is what I wanted. All I wanted for the last five years of my life was to be with you. I'm overwhelmed with relief that we both survived."
Bella poked and probed my face and tugged at my hair and when her fingers made contact with my skin I reveled in the fact that even though there was no longer body heat--she still set me on fire.
After a moment of quiet she said, "Is this really what you want?"
Confusion took hold again, but she was so scattered jumping from subject to subject, distracted by her hunger and the slightest noise. "What?"
"Do you really want to make this right? To be with me? To be my mate?"
I stared at her for a moment. She was repeating what I said before she awoke. She'd heard me. I tried to hold my eyes steady to hers but at the last minute I dropped them. "I do."
"Yeah?" she asked, cupping my chin with her hand, tilting my head upward.
A beautiful, wide smile spread across her mouth and she said, "Me too."
Suddenly she shuddered openly and swallowed again and I asked, "Do you want to hunt with me or do you want us to bring you something?"
Without hesitation she said, "I want to hunt. With you."
A wide smile split my face. With you. Me. I was part of a pair. A fragile, still forming, darkly obsessive pair, but still, for once, I was coupled.
"What will we eat?" she asked and began untangling herself from the bed linens.
"Whatever we can catch." I replied and reached to pull her from the bed. She was light, but solid. The same, but different.
A wicked grin tugged at her lips and she asked, "Can I catch you?"
Slowly, as not to startle, I reached for her, wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her carefully to me. She leaned in, licking my lip with her tongue and I caught it between my teeth sucking hard and playfully before she could get away.
"You already have me," I announced, loving the feel of her mouth on mine. Loving the feel of her tongue as it scraped across my teeth. Loving the feel of her.
She giggled, girly and loud, and began moving out of the room. I chased the long dark hair that trailed behind her and flowery scent that gave her away. Her footsteps pounded down the stairs steady and swift, and her powerful hands crashed past the door and over the porch steps. She flew down into grass and over squishy piles of mud and I followed her like I always had and always would, only this time not toward pain and destruction.
Deep in the forest, I easily caught up and reached down for her hand, feeling relief when she wove her fingers happily through mine. My time of isolation was over. The years of exile were past--the only person who could absolve me of my wrongs was clinging to me, pulling me toward the future.
Thank you all for following DIE for the last couple months. It was hard and challenging but worth it I think.
Please check out A Different Forest (ADF) website tomorrow(Tuesday) for the Interviews with Jessica Stanley series. One of my characters will be featured.
Want to thank Revrag and Songirl for helping so much with this chapter. AG for being my soulsister in this fandom, and everyone else i nagged, harassed and bugged when i needed hand holding.
I do not plan on posting an epi. (sorry sam) This is how i wanted it to end. Never say never but for the time being I am done. I also have nothing else really planned at the moment to work on but I'm sure at some point my brain will start churning and need release.
Couple things. thanks for all the fic recs. I'm excite to delve into some of those AU's I avoid while writing AU. I really only read one or two because I tend to worry and get confused. Always send more. I am a avid reader and love to find new things.
Please note that the fic I reccomended a couple months ago, Nothern Lights and Whiskey Lullibies, is no longer on fan fic. Please look for it under songirl's profile at Twilighted as it is not complete and she will continue updating there.
Anyhoo, thanks for the support, hope you liked it and see you around the fandom~angel