Disclaimer: The characters are Stephenie Meyer's.

The Twilight Twenty-Five
Pen name:

Righteousness Is Crumbling

A/N This started as a hundred word drabble (which is really 110 word drabble – whoops) and then evolved into a one-shot because the idea of it kept haunting me. The following is the drabble and immediately after is the one-shot.

Taking place pg. 165 of New Moon - Edward returns to Forks to check on Bella.

My family and I are vagabonds, unable to stay in one place for an extended amount of time and never truly having a sense of home. Being who we are, what we are, we all have to remain fairly detached. We didn't do that in Forks.

My leaving was for the best.

It was better for her. If I had stayed, she would have gotten hurt. It was better for me and my family, since now we wouldn't be tempted to do something we all would regret.

It was never my plan to come back. I shouldn't have come back.

Yet, I could not stay away.

My heart remains here.


I left four months ago. I told her I was leaving - gave her my word that it would be as though I never existed. It was never my intention to return. Leaving her was nearly more than I could handle and I wonder why I'm standing here, watching her and torturing myself.

I shouldn't have come back.

I couldn't stay away.

The rain drips from the tree limb above me in a steady cadence – the solemn fugue that provides the score to most every day here in Forks. I am grateful that it shows no sign of letting up. It keeps me obscured, which is useful as I have no desire to draw attention to myself. The few who stray out in the storm raise their umbrellas and lower their heads in an attempt to create a cocoon of warmth. Their thoughts are all the same - Out of the cold, into the warm. Unlike the humans, my body welcomes the rain. It's warmer than my normal body temperature and I find it to be comforting in this uncomfortable situation.

It is the rain that allows me to watch her with reckless abandon. My current surveillance gives the word reckless a new depth. Those outside don't take the time to see me and the weather veils me from people inside. There is no one to wonder why I'm standing in the middle of town, nothing covering me, voyeuristically watching Newton Olympic Outfitters. I can't say how long I've been standing here. I don't know. It could be minutes. It could be hours. My years as a vampire have given me a different sense of time. My devotion to her makes the notion of time itself seem ridiculous. It is as though time is suspended while I stand in the rain, watching her.

Every cell in my body is telling me to run to her. To throw my arms around her delicate body and to never again let her go. Yet my brain screams at me, holding me back. This is not right. You should not be here. Keeping her safe is more important than keeping her close.

Eighty-eight years ago, my human life came to an end. My heart ceased to beat and remained only as a useless vestige of a dimly remembered past. Nonetheless, my motionless heart now aches for Bella Swan. Apparently, even a vampire can be haunted by the ghost of his own heart.

My heart's ghost is a cruel creature, perhaps a retribution for my past transgressions. Not only does it haunt me but it had taken on a tangible, physical form. It had found its home within Bella. Possessing her and allowing her to be foolish enough to think that she could love someone, something, like me. The ghost calls to me, draws me close to her even though I should be nowhere near.

I focus my hearing into the store and eavesdrop as Bella directs the customers when they her ask questions or as she rings up a sale. I listen as she calls to Mike in the back room, asking a question about the status of an order for a customer on the phone. I watch the two of them interact. Bella and Mike. Mike and Bella. They converse together and she smiles tentatively at him.

It's a wonder how many times in the past year that I've envied Mike Newton. Prior to Bella's arrival, it's the last thing I would have ever thought I would feel. Yet, I'm jealous. I'd never have that sense of familiarity that he is able to have with her. I can hear Mike's thoughts as he works side by side with Bella. He wants to ask her to a movie. He wonders if asking her to dinner as well would be too much. I am truly jealous of him and his humanness. When she and I were together, every movement I'd ever made had been intentional. While I could always speak freely with her, I would never be able to truly be with her. Not like he could.

Seeing Mike coming toward the front of the store, I slide slightly behind a tree that I'm standing near. I need not worry; he pays no attention to anything except Bella. He's talking to her over his shoulder and flips the sign from the open side to closed. Bella glances out the window, perhaps feeling the pull of my prying ways. I slide further behind the tree. If she sees me, if we have that connection, I will never be able to leave. Shaking her head at something Mike says she looks contemplative for a moment, as she moves to take off the plastic vest.

Before meeting her, my desolate heart sat dormant for years. She breathed life into it, into me. Bella is the walking embodiment of my heart. And this knowledge is excruciating because I know I can never be near her again. I am so close, yet she is completely unaware I am here. She can't know. It would undo everything that had been done. While I don't want it to be so, I know it needs to be.

It is the normalcy of her life – the mundane details of her workday that remind me her heart still beats. Even the ghost of my heart knows that for her to be happy, I need to flee once more.

With that thought, I do.

And that's the end of THIS Twi25 - the platonic prompt is posted separately since I continued with the idea for this edition of the Twi25! Hope you come along for the ride!

Thanks to PTB, TheHeartofLifeIsGood, & movieblonde.

Title from Weezer/That Dog's "I Just Threw Out the Love of my Dreams."

Reviews are love!