Copyright Blah: Twilight does not belong to me-but rather Stephenie Meyer and her publishing peeps.

Summary: Newborn vampires are volatile and violent. Carlisle thought he could guide his newborn, but in the desert darkness, Edward finds a different path. Slash. Vampire-AU. Jasper/Edward.

The only warning you will get: This is slash, e.g. Jasper x Edward. Not the boy/girl canon bits. Very AU. There will be boy love, the non-platonic kind. Basically, this may be nothing more than an excuse to write testosterone-ignited fist fights, play with boy-angst, scribble ridiculous amounts of UST, and add gay subtext into every male/male relationship in the books.

THANK YOUs to Angstgoddess003 for pre-reading and Ellecc for beta'ing with her genius brain.

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

—Mark Twain


Edward's new life began with the bang of a gun.

The sound unfroze him, but it was the explosion of smell that unlocked his brain and made his muscles jerk him upright. It was smell that put a spring in his knees and made his arms flare back. For as clear as the details were—the iron slug splitting the hide, the bayed cry from the beast, and the rival predator at the tree line—Edward's mind cast them aside as specks of dust. Edward only knew smell.

When he pulled away from the wound, the liquid spilling down his chin, Edward could only stare. He stared, and his mind tried to process this... whatever it was? A dead cow. A red stain on his shirt. But he couldn't put it all together. There was only the burn in his throat and the strange interference of...

He accepted the cow. He'll be all right. Just another minute...

Edward spun on his heel and stared in the direction of the voice. "It's you," he gasped, for he recognized this man. His golden eyes and hair. His white jacket with white buttons.

"Carlisle, Edward. I am Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Do you remember me?"

The hospital. His mother. His father. The dead. The cool hand of Dr. Cullen on his forehead. Too cool. Edward could see that now. Make sense of it. The luminescent cast to the doctor's skin and the sharp shift of his reflexes left Edward without any doubt. For Dr. Cullen was not a man. He had never been. Edward started to back up, crouching low. He eyed the forest to the left. He could make a run for it.

"You're in no danger, Edward." Dr. Cullen's voice was intent on soothing him. "I want to help you. You'll need my help." Please don't run.

"What are you?" Edward demanded, not releasing his tensed crouch.

"I'm a vampire, Edward."

"A vampire?"

"Like you. You're a vampire, too."

Edward's jaw gave out, and his mouth fell open. "Then, I'm dead." But he wasn't. He wasn't dead or alive. He was some other weird cow-drinking monster. Like Dr. Cullen, who— "You?" he asked with implication.

I'm so sorry. Carlisle's eyes were so sad. "Yes, you were dying. Your mother asked me to save you. I honored her request."

His mother... Her face ghosted through his mind—a shadow, hard to delineate, even as he knew he'd looked into her eyes and held her hand in his just days ago, and yet the emotion he felt when he latched onto that memory, that part was clear.


Recognizing what he was feeling, Edward slumped to his knees, eyes squeezing shut as he fingers caught chunks of grass. "She's dead, too. Isn't she?" he croaked, half-expecting tears even though he could feel no drops forming.

He didn't have to open his eyes to hear Carlisle nod. She is, Edward. I'm so sorry.

"I think I miss her," he whispered.

Carlisle was quiet for a long moment but then in a soft voice he insisted, "Don't let that go."

They did not move or speak again for hours.


Outside the window, the forest was snow-covered, the pine trees all deflated like worn out petticoats as they slumped beneath the frost. Edward was trying to read Dickens but the over-defined lines of ink kept slipping away. He was distracted, whether from the rumbling of an avalanche higher up the mountain or by the uneven pattern of an overhead flock of geese. Edward was more than a little relieved when he heard Carlisle opening the cabin's front door.

"Edward, I'd like to talk to you about something," Carlisle announced as he walked into the library a moment later.

Edward lowered his book from his nose. "A trip?"

Carlisle paused, startled, before giving his head a quick shake, Of course he would know. "Yes, a trip. I just got the post, and we've been invited by an old friend of mine to visit his coven in Monterrey, Mexico. It's been an age since I've seen him, and I thought it might be—"

Edward dropped his book on the window sill. It made an impolite thump as it hit the wood planks.

Carlisle took a step forward, arm extended, as if to catch the book.

But Edward took a step back. "You don't have to do this."

"I—it's only an invitation. We don't have to go. Not if you don't want to."

"I didn't say whether or not I wanted to go."

"Do you?"

"I don't know. Maybe."

"We'll go if you want to."

Edward shrugged. He was making this worse, but he didn't know how to make it better. He could see how much he was affecting Carlisle. With his reticence. His silence. He looked Carlisle in the eyes. "I know you worry about me, but I wish you wouldn't. You do too much for me as it is."

"No, I don't. I do so little." Carlisle's hand caught Edward's wrist. "I can't hear your thoughts as you can mine, but I know you're lonely here."

In a gentle manner, Edward pulled his wrist out of Carlisle's grasp. His eyes did not meet Carlisle's when he reiterated, "I meant it when I said you shouldn't worry."

Carlisle sighed, his empty hand squeezing into a fist. "If I go, will you come?" His voice was a touch hard, but not because of anger. Predictable. Edward's act of withdrawing his wrist had hurt Carlisle—again—even when Edward had not meant to, although Carlisle knew that Edward did not liked to be touched—so he didn't see why Carlisle kept doing it. Edward pressed his lips together and then glanced up, meeting Carlisle's gaze. Carlisle's eyes were always so honest.

Edward knew there was only one way he could answer the question. He gave a single nod.

Carlisle smiled in return, and Edward felt, heard that he wanted to grab Edward's hand again, but he didn't. Carlisle crossed his arms across his chest as if he'd meant to do it, and then he headed for the door.

"Carlisle," Edward called after him.


"The trip will be..." Edward made himself smile. "The trip will help."

Carlisle smiled a genuine smile back at him, and then Edward heard the uptake in his thoughts as he alighted down the steps.

Edward, however, frowned—for yes, he was indeed lonely, but...

Edward bent down to pick his book off the floor, brushing dust off the cover. Then he returned it to its slot on the shelf. was just that Carlisle was lonely, too.


The best part about their great journey south was that they ran. They ran, and the world melted at their sides like ink in water. Edward loved it. He would laugh as they scared birds out of trees or sent ant hills powdering in their wakes.

But Edward hated when they would stop.

Carlisle would go into some nearby town to get supplies, catch the local rumors, and pick up a newspaper, while Edward would have to sit on his hands and wait. Yes, Edward had books. Yes, he even had a deck of cards—but it didn't matter. For no matter what he did, there were always the wafting smells of humans from town. He'd try to ignore it, but then the burn in his throat would—

He'd have to repeat no, no, no

His fingers would search the earth until they found roots to hold, and then he'd grip and the wood and cellulose would groan and splinter—

Edward really hated it.


Edward did not like Carlisle's friend.

Amílcar de los Reyes was a loud man, and he had red eyes. He bellowed an "Ah hah!" when he met Edward, clasping both of his shoulders and smacking stinging venom kisses on each of his cheeks. Seeing Edward's expression at the greeting, the man gave another bellowed laugh, turning to Carlisle and saying, "Your young protégé isn't up to speed on European manners, is he?"

"He's seventeen and a newborn" who doesn't like to be touched—much less slobbered on, Carlisle said.

"But he's always going to be seventeen, so time to get up on the times, eh?" Amílcar knocked Edward's shoulder.

Edward gave the man a thin smile and stepped back—out of range—which made Amílcar laugh all the more. Then Amílcar turned back to Carlisle, smiling as he held up a newspaper. "So about this war... A bloody mess, no?"

Carlisle groaned, even as he sat himself on a stool. "Such a waste, though I do think it will end soon, now that the Americans have their engine running."

"They're sending 10,000 boys a day, and they're dying as quickly," Amílcar muttered, but then he grinned at Carlisle. "Such a waste, isn't it? Those sweet faced—"

"Amílcar," Carlisle warned. Edward doesn't need to hear about—but then Carlisle suppressed his own thoughts. "How are things around here?"

Amílcar's smile dropped. "Not good. We have our own battles here, claro. The South," he scoffed and rolled his shoulders. "Monterrey's been quiet for years, except now there's this new coven—the usual. No real threat, but they've been waiting to make their move from the caverns. So far we've managed to ring off a few necks when—"

Carlisle let out an exasperated sigh. "Another topic, Amílcar?" His eyes flashed in Edward's direction.

It was too much for Edward. If Carlisle was going to censor every conversation, then there was no reason to stick around.

"I think I need to hunt, being a newborn and all," Edward said, rising from his seat.

"Alonso is on guard now, but Rene, Margarita, and Lupe will be back within the hour, if you wouldn't mind waiting..." Amílcar offered.

"No, I'd rather go on my own, thanks. If that's no bother?"

Amílcar smiled. "Normally, I would warn you to avoid the southern and eastern districts of the city—but since your diet is... special, I guess I should just wish you, 'good luck.'"

"Thank you," Edward said, and then he headed for the door.

"Be careful," Carlisle's worried voice followed him down the hall.


As he walked across the dusty plain, Edward was thinking.

He'd decided that mind reading was like searching through books at the library. Like Carlisle, the man had a mind like a long series of hand-painted illuminated manuscripts. To understand a single thought from Carlisle, one would need to have read a few centuries back, decipher the elegant script, and weigh-in any more recent evolutions in his philosophy. Then again, most minds were unlike Carlisle's. Most minds were...


Like the man and woman in the carriage some way down the road ahead. They were having sex, and it was upsetting the horses. Or...

The breeze had changed. There was the possibility that it was he who was upsetting the horses—the threatening snap of his scent making them anxious. Well, he concluded, it was probably both him and the rocking of the interior coach.

The situation inside the interior of the carriage was rapidly deteriorating. The man had his breeches pushed mostly down his corpulent bottom, and the woman—his mistress Edward deduced (besides the lack of wedding ring on her finger, there was the fact that one did one's wife in a bed and ones mistress in any closet) was attempting to straddle him but was running into some troubles. Despite his remedial Spanish, Edward could tell that she was having some flexibility issues, and given the girth of the man's thighs and the shortness of his... er...

Edward wrinkled his nose.

The woman yelped and scooted back off the man's thighs. She was trying to get his pants off all the way, but between his perspiration making the fabric stick and his bulk hampering his movement—he lost his balance and crashed to the side, knocking the woman back into the opposite bench.

There was the thump of her head, and then the outside screech of the horses as they responded to the ruckus. The carriage team yanked at their reins. As the horse team was tied to the fence, the carriage only managed to roll five feet ahead—and yet, five feet was more than enough to send the man flying forward.

He landed on top of his already bruised mistress. Then there was the cursing, "Puta estúpida! Cuál es tu problema?" if it was somehow the woman's fault that all three hundred pounds of his weight were suffocating her breaths.

Edward left then, wondering why he hadn't left five minutes before.


It was on his way back that he heard the first thoughts.

No. No. No. Not now. — Move along the left hand side of the house. Maria will lead up the — one's at the window! — Evacuate now! — Nine newborns. Nine newborns. How is that even... — Duck before he —

Edward heard Carlisle's thoughts amidst the swirl, worried yet braveand considering the others in the house before himself.

With a pang in his chest, Edward flew into a sprint.

The closer he got, the louder the noises became: breaking glass, the treble of snarls, and the ripping of granite flesh. The closer he got, the stronger the sting of spilled venom—and it was worst when he felt the first whiff of smoke—and the flutter of a twisted thought, only the leaders remain…

Edward was at the perimeter of Amílcar's plantation home when he met the first one. She leaped at him from the roof of a stone building.

Edward saw her intent—and he reacted. He flipped back, missing the clutch of her arms. But she pursued, jaws snapping over and over again, as if by keeping them going, she would eventually catch something in them. Her thoughts were— It dawned on Edward that he would have to kill her. The realization sunk in with a slow stupor, so out of sync with the to-and-fro of their combat.

When her teeth arced toward his neck again, he made his move. He leaned with the curve of her attack before his heel swung back and his free leg kicked out, knocking her shin and throwing her back. Her head cracked against the adobe wall, bounced off with a cloud of red dust, and Edward caught her before she could right herself.

His teeth sunk into her neck, and it was horrible, because he saw the outline of her dark lashes as her face arched skyward in pain—and yet he still had to make himself brace her body, while he removed her head from it.

It was done. He cast a final glance at her face before he ran again. It was beautiful, except for the eyes. Eyes just like his. Just more red—and yet Carlisle's thoughts still screamed at him, so he ran his fingers over the female's face, sweeping the lids shut and shutting away the red. Edward ran toward the house.

Edward evaded another newborn at the stairwell, dodging and running past.

He could smell the smoke billowing from the back door. An older vampire tried to catch him in the upstairs hallway. A dark-haired female. She caught his wrist, but he caught her thigh—knocking her off balance and dodging her swipe, and then she was a snarling imprint in the wall, and he was rushing through the doorway of the master bedchamber.

He entered just in time to see Amílcar lose his head. A blond male caught his waist and spun him like a dosey-doe dance move, only the male's jaws were severing Amílcar's face from his body in the next second. The male dropped the head from his jaws and into a rocking chair, and Edward had a moment of shock as he watched the already familiar face nod back and forth with the sway of the chair.

But then the male aimed a lunge at Carlisle. Edward made to leap to his defense but had to dig in his heels as a newborn rushed in from a side room and sprang at him. Edward dropped to the floor and rolled, evading the crunch of the arms.

Across the room, the blond male collided with Carlisle, and while Carlisle ducked, the male was faster. Edward foresaw the moves, but he didn't understand them. Carlisle snapped at the male's wrist, and the male twisted midair, almost like he was stepping into a delicate pirouette. He was still mid-spin when he plowed his fist into Carlisle's back. The punch sent Carlisle flying across the room—toward the awaiting arms of the newborn.

It was a tactic, Edward saw. They had trained for this.

Edward crouched to leap to Carlisle's aid, but he was blocked. The blond male lunged at Edward. His white fingers aimed for Edward's waist but caught his shirttail instead. Edward used the miss to catch his attacker in the knee—but even that tactic didn't work, because the male rolled with his movement, absorbing the blow.

Edward was trying to follow the male's thoughts as he attacked Edward again—throwing a glass lamp at the same time he went for Edward's throat—but Edward couldn't keep ahead of them. Edward parried left as the male's knuckles over-sang Edward's shoulder. The male's thoughts were shifted—different somehow—and for some reason Edward was growing angrier than he could handle, and yet he was still fighting for his life—but then—

Edward kicked at the male's hip but missed, cracking a hole in the plaster wall instead. The male moved with a dip that swung him into the wall, changing tactics before Edward could adjust—and then there was the clamp of fingers under Edward's chin—and the press of a stone body, and—

"José, stop!" a female voice broke through the room.

Edward choked at the sensation of jaws frozen at his Adam's apple, sharp edges nicking against his skin.

"And Jasper," he heard the female voice praise the male who held him, "controlled as always. Good, because I want to keep him." She pointed at Edward.

However, Edward's eyes were locked on Carlisle's, who was trapped in the crushing grasp of a newborn—the way his ribs seemed to bend—Edward could smell his venom leaking. He was so close to breaking. Unable to stop himself, Edward snarled across the room.

But that only made Carlisle's eyes go wider, while the female laughed. She walked across the room, lips curled into a smile. "I'm Maria," she announced, "And you are...?"

Edward hissed at her.

She laughed again. "You're talented is what you are. Getting past me on the stairs—and only a newborn, let's just say that doesn't happen without some degree of supernatural enhancement."

Jasper—the male who held him—scoffed, and Edward felt the breath tingle across against his neck. Anger rising in him, Edward could see a silver scar just below Jasper's cheekbone. Even if it would mean his end, Edward wished he could add to that scar—sink his teeth into it—yet for Carlisle's sake, he made himself stay silent. Motionless.

"Well," Maria said, smirking at him, "we'd be willing to keep you, a talented newborn is such a prize—but as for that ole guy..." She gave a girlish laugh, covering her mouth.

"No!" Edward exclaimed. "Don't—do not hurt him."

"Oooh," Maria cooed. "The boy finally cooperates." She closed the distance between them then, standing before him. "So, what's your talent, mi amor?"

Edward took a breath, taking in the scents of the room. He could hear Carlisle's thoughts, an undercurrent of fear and self-reproach, but mostly a fit of conscious yelling at Edward to reveal nothing.

"I can read minds," he whispered.

Jasper's grip around him tightened, and Maria gasped, and her thoughts were… racing. Yet, she spoke with calm. "You'll be a good vampire, if Jasper lets you go, then? You'll stay around and play, yes?"

"Yes," Edward hissed.

Maria smiled wide, her teeth glistening. "Welcome to my coven, Edward," she sang, and then her eyes went to Jasper's. "Well, then, release him, mi vida."

"You'll behave?" Jasper whispered aside his ear.

Edward almost spit back a retort, but then he felt Jasper's intentions seep into his nerves. Inexplicably, Edward's muscles relaxed, and despite the teeth at his throat, he was filled with a heady sense of ease. "I'll behave," Edward said, even as he wondered what the hell was going on.

Jasper's teeth left his neck.