Disclaimer: The Twilight Saga and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Main Entry: Meta·phys·i·cal
Date: 15th century
1 : of or relating to metaphysics
2a : of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses b : supernatural
3 : highly abstract or abstruse; also : theoretical
4 (often capitalized) : of or relating to poetry especially of the early 17th century that is highly intellectual and philosophical and marked by unconventional imagery
I'd not encountered an object that one could truly call immovable in this new life…until Sophie had made up her mind. Usually, her tenacity drove me to think deeper or reconsider, to simplify my argument. Before this moment, I'd admired it.
I pleaded my case again, citing every rationale for our continued dialogue as it occurred to me. The pragmatic and the sentimental bled together and were indistinguishable. She knew the arguments as well as, probably better than, I did. She'd had longer to consider them.
I'd learned the folly of discounting the time spent sleeping from the tally of time humans had at their disposal. Dark, tangled knots unwound themselves in their dreams and I envied them the outlet. Just another precious piece of my humanity I'd taken for granted and for which I now longed. Dream on.
Until I'd exhausted the possibilities, I would leave unsatisfied. Leaving in any form would be unsatisfying, but if an unexplored means of maintaining our bond occurred to me later, I wasn't sure I could forgive myself.
My time was running out; I could see her patience wane as clearly as one sees the sun set on a cloudless day. That the situation had escalated before I could salvage it saddened me. I had hoped that I was finally making friends of a semi-permanent nature - as permanent as one could consider human friends.
The moment her intuitive mind began detailing the physical and spiritual chasm that lay between us, and the possible reasons for it, the change in attitude followed quickly. Cold air rushed in to fill the vacuum left by her silently rescinded affection. Where our conversations among friends had once been marked by candor and esteem, and even wit and banter, her contributions to the informal salon convened alternately in her library and mine were swiftly replaced with barely-veiled jibes and acrimony. She directed her newly-minted acid tongue at me, verbally impaling me because, though my body didn't show signs of normal wear and tear, I worried when the humans around me did.
"Not all of us are so blessed with such even, porcelain skin as Mr. Cullen."
She seemed the only person to take notice of me, across the room from the hearth, when all the others were busily warming themselves on the first frosty autumn evening, not a week before.
"It's never chilly enough to cool icy Mr. Cullen. Must not be a coincidence that ours is the only society he keeps."
She made me rethink the humanity of my every gesture. Because of her quick eye, I began warming my hands with cups of tea and cider. Occasionally, I coughed. I even complained of headaches, at first to avoid inconvenient interactions, but later for camouflage. Because I'd been trying so hard to blend in more, the timing of her reprobation surprised me. It seemed to be without a source, or at least, less of one. Of course, that was only because she hadn't allowed me to become privy to the source…not yet, at least.
I couldn't understand what she wanted from me. Naively assuming that no person could piece together my existence, I had crossed that off the list of possibilities. Was I to apologize for my missing wrinkles? Maybe she thought some sort of witchcraft was to blame for my physical differences. It seemed unlikely, rational little creature that she was, but I couldn't toss the theory aside without looking into it. I'd explained to them my "condition" that kept me out of the sun and they had all pitied me. Why had she smelled the lie when the others hadn't? Did she want me to take the bait and confess my secrets to this room full of innocents? Why try this in public? Why not wait for an appropriate venue for shared confidences?
Because I wouldn't tell, no matter the circumstance, would I? She couldn't know that…could she?
It took me an incredibly long four weeks to determine that she had guessed I was not human…and that she was angry about my ruse. Was she trying to intimidate me and chase me off? Yes, she was. And, she was very effectively brandishing the only weapon she had - the threat of exposure.
Knowing I was in no position to respond to her thinly disguised accusations, they escalated to the point that I feared someone else would begin to understand what she had. Her pointed jabs about my diet, my pallor, even my sleepless nights were practically spelling out to the others how I differed from them.
How could she know that I didn't sleep?
How did she know what I ate? Imagining her nearby while I hunted made me shiver, though I couldn't remember what it felt like to be cold. No lady should be exposed to such violence.
And, then, there was the matter of her own blood. If she were anywhere near enough to watch me hunt, I would know. No deer blood would entice me sufficiently to distract from her scent, no matter how faint. How could I ignore her and settle for whatever wandered through the park?
She smelled like dessert. Warm and spicy like cinnamon and vanilla and apples…with cream. One evening, her library was especially warm with all the bodies and their lub-dubbing hearts pressed in together and a fire roaring. She drank a cup of tea, raising her body temperature above the others. Her cheeks began to flush from the warmth, her aroma intensified and changed a little. I wondered that the others didn't notice the caramel scent in the air.
My enhanced senses were a double-edged blade. The advantages were obvious. The inconveniences lay in wait, ready to sabotage me at the most surprising moments. They were quite discerning for inanimate objects.
My initial draw to her, I was ashamed to admit, had more to do with her scent than her intellect. Even being drawn to her lovely face would have been less disgusting to my sensibilities.
The truth was that she smelled the way I remembered human kitchens and someone else's mother, the one thing I coveted. Having lost my own, I wanted nothing more.
And, so, while other young men harbored fantasies of wealth, power and lust, my most illicit thoughts were of taking something just out of my reach as well. With the idea of a mother comes her domain. In my memories of human life, a kitchen was the heart of that domain. Human food was so unpalatable to me now that I knew Sophie didn't actually have the same aroma. But, the impression left in my memory was the same one I received from breathing in the air she flavored. She smelled like home, more seductive to this orphan than anything overtly sexual.
Though I struggled with the more predatory aspects of my nature, I feared that she assumed something even more distasteful than reality. The most mundane parts of my existence were horrifying, I couldn't imagine that someone so sheltered could imagine worse. I had to acknowledge it as a possibility, however.
She was right, of course. Severing any connection with me was the best course for her. However, I loathed leaving her without knowing explicitly what she believed about me before I left.
Every means I devised to discuss it brought me to another impasse. Letters could be found. Anything blatantly worded was like signing our own death certificate. Anything less than blatant left room for misunderstanding...and I had no intention of walking away until I knew she thought nothing less or more awful than the truth. The unvarnished truth was enough. Speaking at length would be inappropriate without a chaperone for her benefit, but doing so in front of an audience was not an option. I stubbornly refused to put an end to our relationship and I said so to her. I would continue to work until I came to a solution.
Sophie bravely performed the surgical incision I could not. Were tears an option for me, they would have been put to good use under her scalpel.
The kindness I'd come to crave in the past months visited Sophie's features briefly. "I know that I have been caustic and truly unkind. I can only rationalize it by saying it was in hopes that you would choose to sever our connection solely because of my shameful conduct. I should have known better; in not thinking more of you I have insulted you anew. You, being the gentleman you are, chose instead to excuse my acrimony and for that I am truly sorry." Momentarily, she dropped her head in shame and I fought the urge to tip her chin up. Losing that warm gaze was physically painful.
The softness in her eyes drew me like a moth to a flame. I realized what humans felt when I tried to be truly persuasive. It shamed me to sink to such depths to get what I wanted, but I reconsidered as she drew me in.
The initial draw was the face itself. Even, handsome features were an attraction by design. Who was I to fight against the Designer? Her brows were very dark and a tad heavy for fashion. I decided they were a necessity to balance the luxuriant femininity of her eyes. A lacy web of coffee colored lashes surrounded her brown eyes. The bottom lashes were unusually long. When the light hit her face just right, a human would notice the flakes of emerald that ran through the mahogany like a vein of ore. The left eye was almost entirely dark green sometimes. With my visual acuity, her irises were a kaleidoscope, the colors and shapes shifting with every change in the angle at which the light struck them.
A straight nose smattered with light freckles sloped down to the wide swath of her rose mouth. Her features, individually, were too prominent, too showy for them to be called pretty. Her face was arresting. Even the three darker freckles- especially the one near her right temple, at the hairline- were unconventional…and interesting. Her chestnut hair didn't have a trace of red in it. Strands of gold stood out where I expected copper.
I would have loved to do anything to erase any need for her to feel sorry, to bring her bottom lip back into alignment. To make it turn up into a smile, however briefly. I wasn't greedy. I would perform again for a second smile.
With that, it dawned on me that maybe I was, in some twisted way, doing them a favor, too, when I allowed some easily-influenced human to earn another smile. I didn't have long to ponder my own virtue. Sophie found the will and continued, with no less warmth, but considerably more bite, "However generous your nature might allow you to be, I cannot confess the same generosity of spirit in my…weaker state. No good can come of our continued connection…not for me. I cannot imagine what you hope to gain. You must leave. Surely, Mr. Cullen, you cannot mistake my intent, even given my maddeningly vague language on the subject of motivation."
The time for negotiating a peace had passed, it seemed. Retreat didn't mean I couldn't come back to fight another day. I begged. "You have expressed your sentiments more than adequately, S- Miss Copeland." I corrected myself quickly. The favor of first names was no longer extended, it seemed. I attempted another liberty instead. "But, if I might take just a moment more of your time-"
She said in a low murmur, "While no constraints may exist on your on time, mine is markedly more finite. I will bid you good evening, and," with the finality of the closing of a tomb, "farewell." She tucked her chin and dipped her head, holding her curtsy in an obvious attempt to avoid my eye. She did not lift her face again before I exited her library.
Could I close my tomb, I could make amends for so much.
Brushing the matted hair from my face, I allowed my heavy eyes a moment to open so they could take in the room. Momentarily, I found myself uncertain of what I would see when I pried my eyelids apart.
My familiar second-story window and the always rain-soaked tree just beyond? Or maybe my small room in Phoenix with the top of the neighbors' window just visible over the privacy fence so close I could touch?
Curtains obscured the window above my bed and kept out the streetlight, but its location was just enough to orient me.
Tiny bedroom, little apartment, postage-stamp bed and an even less significant life - my pre-dawn powers of deduction led me to the conclusion that I could be in only one place. What did Holmes tell Watson?
"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
London, old letters, no life. Not too many outcomes would have seemed less probable to me a year ago than studying abroad. And yet, here I was.
Sleep fled as I remembered my surroundings. I hadn't quite gotten the hang of calling these three rooms "home" and my longing for the familiar propelled me out of bed to my laptop, hoping for the digital equivalent of milk and cookies.
A single message lay in wait, a predator stalking my inbox.
My breath caught in my throat and I had to make a conscious effort to push the air out.
The message itself was innocent enough. Rather than allow its implications to gnaw away at me, I darted back to bed to hide under my covers. Armed with the knowledge that I had two hours before my alarm would wake me, I silently willed sleep to provide escape.
Half an hour passed with no result.
I gave myself an extra half hour on my alarm and tried to sleep.
The gray light oozing around my dark curtains and the accompanying noises outside forced me to acknowledge I would receive no such reprieve. I pulled the covers over my head in defeat.
A familiar voice permeated the meager protection of my bedclothes.
"It's time, Bella. Don't cower behind your blankets. You have to get out of bed sometime."
Soft laughter mocked my weakness, at the same time salving the wound it caused.
His dexterous fingers brushed the crown of my head as they grasped the edge of my duvet and began to inch it back.
The caress was intentional. His every action was an indictment where I was concerned.
His fingers halted their advance before they uncovered my eyes and combed through the hair just above my forehead. They traced my brows.
This assault would certainly not bait me out of my cocoon. I could remain right here an awfully long time. An immodestly long time.
A hand ran down my cheekbone and just touched the tip of my nose. One particularly daring digit ventured farther beneath the covers to trace the outline of my upper lip.
I inhaled though I knew what the breath would hold for me - I felt the choking bliss before I smelled the cause. My response was Pavlovian in the extreme.
Nothing sweet from him remained untainted.
The jarring noise of my alarm caused him to withdraw his hand and I made an unintelligible noise of protest.
"I refuse to turn that off for you, I'll never see your face if I do. Please, Bella? Please get up?"
I slung an arm out towards the alarm clock. Off, snooze, I didn't care which button I hit. The contrast of the pleading voice and screeching alarm made the awful noise that much worse.
My room was deathly silent. I blinked my eyes open and glanced around for the owner of that heavenly voice. With a wry chuckle, I willed myself to wake up and deal with reality.
The beguiling voice was unmistakable and, though I never saw a face, I didn't need one to place the speaker. Why would I be dreaming of Edward Cullen again? I hadn't even seen him in almost seven years. What would tempt him to darken my door?
By "my door" I meant London, but the principle still applied.
Was it the simple pleasure of torturing me…again? Surely he'd moved on to greener pastures since high school.
I sighed, remembering the e-mail from Alice Cullen that awaited my response.
It was a good thing the subjects of my dissertation were long dead. They'd feel sorely today neglected were they not.
Author's Note: This is my first fic...you have no idea how helpful your words would be.