Title: You Found Me
Full Summary:Edward Masen has lived the life of a nomadic vampire, travelling with James and Victoria since he awoke as an immortal. His ability to read minds has had the unusual side effect of making him a vampire with a conscience. Despite the ridicule from his coven mates, he's confident he's making the best of his existence and doing what's morally right... until he stumbles upon a brown-eyed girl reading in a meadow in Forks. As he attempts to befriend her and learns more about the sleepy town of Forks, Edward finds there's a lot more to being a vampire than he ever thought possible.
Rating: M, for language and future sexing.
Disclaimer: I have fun playing with the characters, but I own nothing but the words to describe them; all characters, settings, and so on are property of their rightful owners.
Chapter: One; Blindsided (and Preface)
AN: This is my first venture into the Twilight fandom. Hope it's mildly enjoyable. It will get better, I promise. This chapter, and the next few, are almost exclusively setup.
Chicago, Illinois, 1918
She smiled, her usually enticing grin sinister in the faint glow of the moon. Her voice, barely a whisper, carried easily to the long-haired blond man with the cold eyes standing opposite her.
The man nodded in agreement, looking distastefully at the form of the writhing teenaged boy they carried between them. He tightened his grip around the boy's ankles carelessly, ignoring the expression on the boy's face as he twisted and contorted in silent agony. Several scraps of cloth tightly bound around the lower half of his head kept him quiet.
The trio moved surreptitiously through the cobbled city streets at an inhuman pace, the moonlight their only guide through the darkeness.
After several minutes of stealthy navigation and successful avoidance of unwanted glances from curious bystanders, they reached their destination, a run down abandoned wood mill that looked to have been deserted decades ago, if the broken windows and horribly decomposed wood were any indication.
Dropping the boy unceremoniously on an ancient, desecrated instrument that masqueraded as a table saw, the couple looked into the face of their young captive as his eyes flickered beneath his eyelids.
The man looked to the woman now standing by his side, one of her long, pale arms wrapped tightly, possessively, around his mid-section, her fiery hair pressing against his shoulder. She paused to drop a seductive kiss upon his jaw.
The man didn't bother to hide his repulse; it was written plainly across his face. His whispered words were harsh and spiteful, lost to the wind rustling through the shoddy building. The cold chill didn't seem to faze the man, nor the woman. Only the boy shivered.
The man's dark eyes narrowed to slits as they flicked over the his trembling form. He prodded the boy's ghostly pale wrist, which had fallen from the edge of the dilapidated saw on which he lay, his disgust evident. The boy's arm dangled limply from the table, save for the occasional twitch as his body tensed, unconsciously aware of the man's cold touches. The man roughly traced the blue vein that lead to the boy's pulse point, muttering to the woman.
The woman rolled her eyes, her returned whisper just as snide as the man's previous retort. She snatched the boy's wrist away from the man's reach, tucking it upon his chest, a gesture that would have seemed tender if it weren't for her cold, dark eyes.
In a movement bordering between possessive and annoyed, the man yanked the woman away from the boy, pulling her tightly against his hard chest. The woman hissed angrily, turning swiftly in the man's arms, her palms resting flat against his chest as she gritted out several words from between her teeth, her voice as cold as her eyes. Like the words that preceded them, most of them were lost to the whistling wind, save for five words that were growled especially loudly.
Those five words were loud enough for a young girl passing by the old mill to hear. She cocked her head curiously as the phrase, "what he is capable of," floated ominously from the abandoned mill. Frightened by the possible sinister meanings of the words, she turned to run. She got two steps before everything went dark.
The last thing she was aware of were a pair of strong, cold hands cinching around her neck. Then nothing.
The man dragged the limp body of the girl into the mill with ease, as if she were nothing more than a rag doll. He tossed her into a dark corner carelessly. Intending to deal with her disposal later, he returned to the woman's side as if nothing of any importance had happened.
The woman turned only her head to the man as he strode back towards her, having dealt with the bothersome interruption. Her body continued to face the young boy, her cold hands combing through the mass of bronze hair atop his head, shinier and with more multidimensional flashes of copper and gold than only hours prior.
Once again her mouth contorted into a smile. The man scowled.
Forks, Washington, 2005
"What the fuck?" I muttered, barely holding onto a growl. I tried futilely to suppress my bubbling anger at James' attitude. "No, I don't want a drink and no, I don't care how good they are."
I shoved the full glass of whatever disgusting alcoholic concoction he was trying to push on me back across the table. I glanced around the dingy little bar we were currently inhabiting, hoping our verging on too loud voices weren't drawing any unwanted attention.
"Aww, come on, Eddie," James crooned in a voice that was clearly meant to sound enticing, but fell flat as he couldn't contain the laugh he was hiding from showing in his voice.
"You're twenty-one now," he appealed, flicking my fake I.D. at me with a sneer the almost managed to be affectionate. He knew I hated that stupid nickname. And that even stupider I.D. My real age was laughably years from the displayed age of twenty-one.
I rolled my eyes at his antics. "Shut the fuck up, Jamie," I half-insisted, half-growled.
"Tsk, tsk." He grinned, the smile far from attractive on his ugly face. Okay, fine, he wasn't exactly ugly, he was actually a okay-looking motherfucker in that grungy, I'm-such-a-bad-ass kind of way, but he was irritating the shit out of me and I therefore reserved the right to call him an ugly asshole if I wanted to. "Sensitive today, aren't we, little bro?"
"I'm like this every day," I snapped, not in the mood.
"Yeah, I know," he muttered in a deadpan whisper, but I heard him anyway. "Emo little shit. Would it kill you to be happy once in a while?"
I suppressed the urge to punch him and rolled my eyes instead. "Shut. Up. Or I'll kick your ass," I warned, though I had no intension of following through with the threat. I knew he'd never take me up on it. "And I am happy," I retorted. "When I'm not around you."
He scoffed. "Only because you have a built in cheat system," he declared, as his girlfriend Victoria slid into the booth next to him, across from me, returning from the bathroom where she had no doubt been perfecting her face with a multitude of unnecessary cosmetics.
With long, wavy red hair, pale flawless skin, and naturally dark red lips, she was gorgeous in a completely objective way and garnered more than a few stares wherever we went. She and James were equally self-absorbed and perfectly suited for one another. She pressed herself tightly against James' side in a calculated move that was anything but innocent.
I shrugged, smiling cockily. "Whatever helps you feel better about yourself big brother," I mocked, pleased that he was the one feeling disgruntled for a change.
Victoria smiled at him with the annoyingly coddling expression that appeared whenever she felt the need to defend me from James' relentless mocking. Her tone changed to match, a sickly sweet confection that made me want to hurl on both of them. "Are you bothering my little brother, Jamie?"
"Of course not, darling," James disagreed, an annoying lilt to his voice that declared the opposite to be true.
"I was simply asking why he refuses to drink the local drinks," James said innocuously. "If you're holding out for something better, that refined 'European' shit," he aired quoted, "or whatever it is you like, you're not going to find it in this podunk little town, alright?"
I barely masked an audible snarl, knowing this wasn't about my drink preferences at all. Not the kind he was pretending it was, anyway. Neither of them had touched their ordered beverages, either.
"Will you get over this already?" I snapped at James. His relentlessness was really grating on my nerves. "I can find my own drinks and I don't want to drink anything local. I happen to have a sense of taste. Unlike you losers who will slobber up anything you come into contact with."
Victoria smiled at me complacently, reaching across the table to touch my hand, in what would be a maternal gesture, if only she wasn't the least maternal person I knew. "You can do what you want okay, Edward? Jamie's just being a pain in your ass trying to get a reaction out of you, because… well, you let him. Ignore him, please."
I nodded numbly, sick of this conversation. We'd been having variations of it for years. Decades even. James would bother me about something, I'd prickle, and the hackles would go up until Victoria stepped in, attempting to cool both of us down, usually unsuccessfully.
"I just don't get it!" James continued ranting, in spite of Victoria's attempts at peacemaking. "Why does he have to be so fucking picky?" he asked Victoria incredulously. "It's a huge inconvenience for all of us! If he were just normal like the rest of us…"
"I. Said. I. Was. Fine." I growled, extremely irritated that James was talking about me without actually talking to me, like I was three-years-old. "I'm not thirsty. Do what ever you want, I don't give a shit. I never asked you to worry about my needs. I never asked to live with you. If it's such an inconvenience, I'm perfectly fine on my own. I'm happier living in the city, unlike you barbarians. Who wants to live somewhere that barely qualifies as a village, let alone a town? I'm fine going to Seattle to get what I need. I can stay there, if you'd like. You won't ever have to worry about me being picky again!"
"Don't be so overdramatic, Edward," Victoria soothed as James rolled his eyes, further inciting the spark of anger I was feeling. "Of course we don't mind having you with us. You've always been an asset to this family."
"Sure," I scoffed. "Is that what this is? Feels more like a dictatorship to me, especially with Stalin over there," I sniped, nodding at James. The more I thought about him, the more anger bubbled up inside me.
"Whatever. I'm out of here," I announced, needing to leave before I hopped across the table and ripped James apart in front of the two lonely patrons and the bartender, the only other people that occupied the small, grimy bar at three in the afternoon.
As I stood up, Victoria called out to my retreating back. "Edward. Don't. You're acting like a child. If you want us to respect your opinions, you have to stop acting like a snotty thirteen-year-old."
"I'm seventeen, that's pretty much the same," I growled as I spun back to face them. "Don't pretend anything I do or don't do will make you respect anything I have to say. Despite what either of you may think, I will do what I want and I don't need your permission or your family." I turned back to the door on my heel and storming out, a little faster than was probably wise in front of human witnesses.
Once outside I was momentarily grateful that James and Victoria had chosen this tiny, stupid little town with its grey climate. Its permanently overcast state made it easy for me to remain inconspicuous, even though it was only mid afternoon, and the sun was still sitting fairly high in the sky.
I didn't mind rain, usually. In fact, I found the droplets soothing and warm in contrast to my icy skin, but today, as I trekked through the expansive, lush green forests surrounding Forks, I found myself glad it was dry and merely overcast. Muddy clothes were not my favourite look.
Unlike James and Victoria, who didn't mind getting down and dirty, I preferred to keep it clean. I didn't like having to be reminded that I was essentially a wild animal. If I didn't have to muss or tear my clothes, I wouldn't.
James and Victoria were continually baffled by my desire to keep my appearance clean cut, as it went against our feral vampire nature. What the fuck ever. As if it meant a shit to me, whether I fit in. I felt like an outcast most of the time anyway, simply because I had a conscience.
I took pride in the fact that I was different from the rest of my kind. I hadn't chosen to become a vampire. I had simply woken up one morning, only to be told that that strange burning in my throat was blood thirst, and that those strange noises in my head were a gift. The gift of mind-reading.
A gift. Sure. Maybe sometimes.
It certainly did afford me an added understanding of the people around me. I was intuitive as a human. That's supposedly why I had this ability now. Maybe that was true, but I don't recall being all that insightful as a human. I don't recall much at all from my previous life, in fact.
The only ones who have ever really been able to thwart my gift, and even then, erratically, are James and Victoria. They had been able to do so since the moment I awoke as a vampire, though I didn't realize it at the time, as theirs were the only minds I really had access to then, waking up in that abandoned wood mill. Even when their mind shields are in place, they aren't able to hide completely. I still get inklings of their emotional states, flashes of dialogue and what is in their line of sight, but much less steadily than in a free, unblocked mind.
Knowing what everyone around me was thinking, however, gave me a unique perspective for a vampire. It was the primary reason I chose not to hunt innocents.
Yeah, that was the strange drinking preference that James wouldn't shut the fuck up about. Like not wanting to be a cold-blooded murderer of innocent people was so horrible.
As a vampire I needed the sustenance of human blood. There was no way around that. But at least, if I had to hunt humans, I could hunt the worst of their kind. The murderers, the rapists, the abusers. The scum who would probably rot in jail, anyway.
What did it really matter if I sent them to their fate a few decades early? They all had it coming. Most of the men I killed deserved much worse for their crimes.
I'm not proud of my status as killer, but I don't regret it. I am, however, proud to say that I have never killed a woman in all of my existence. Not one.
James has assured me that they taste ten times better than men, but I have no intension of finding out if he is correct in his assertion. The sick fucker was probably just trying to mess with my head in a twisted attempt to alter my feeding habits to his advantage. As if I'd listen to a word out of his fucked up mouth.
He absolutely hated that I preferred to live near large cities where crime is easier to pinpoint. If he had his way we'd live in little towns like Forks all the time. He wasn't quite so barbaric that he'd prefer to live wild, like many of our kind do, especially not since my gift afforded us a sizable income and the ability to live comfortably on the outskirts of human civilization.
We moved often, though, usually to small towns with easy access to larger cities for me. A few months was about as long as we ever stayed in one place. The risk of becoming conspicuous was high when there were three feeding vampires in one area. Especially when two of them exercised no discretion in their hunting habits, picking whoever smelled best as their next meal.
I opened my mind, listening for the thoughts of anyone around me, not wanting to run into any humans. Finding nothing, I rampaged through the greenery around me, leaving a wake of destruction as I took some of my frustration out on the surrounding flora.
My mind had a slightly larger range than even my sharp vampire hearing, so I focused on listening for the sounds of minds around me, allowing physical noise to fade into the background. I didn't want to run into a human while I was so riled up. I hoped the area remained as deserted as it seemed to be at the moment.
I snapped several large tree limbs off an ancient maple as I propelled myself deeper into the forest, attempting to release my frustration at James through exertion. I knew from past experience that if I continued to bottle up my anger, it would only lead to an altercation between James and I. That was not something either of us needed. I reached to touch the scarred spot on my thigh where James had bitten me several years previous when an argument had come to blows.
I was pleased to report that I wasn't the only one with scars. James had a few of his own thanks to me. In spite of the unique ability he and Victoria had to shield their thoughts from me, when James got especially angry, as he did in the midst of a fight, the barriers broke down and I was left with a distinct tactical advantage.
The idiot had taught me everything I knew. I had the advantage of being thirty pounds lighter and therefore faster. That coupled with the ability to read his mind during the intensity of a fight, when his emotions and thoughts weren't as easily shielded, and I was easily able to inflict some intense damage. Yet he continued to bait me. Idiot. He might be an idiot, but after more than eighty years together we'd become accustomed to one another in our own twisted ways. He and Victoria were all I had ever known. That, and little else, was what stopped me from throttling him most days.
I stopped briefly in my rampage of tree snapping to listen around me again, hoping to pinpoint the telltale babble of human thought. Blessedly there was none. I wasn't in the state of mind to deal with humans right now.
Even though Forks was surrounded by virtually uninhabited wilderness, there were still plenty of trails for humans hiking and biking and doing other boring and useless things. I had never understood the appeal of spending hours navigating a dirty, disgusting forest in the name of fun, working up sweat and an equally disgusting odor to match.
My now very vague memories of life as a human reminded me that even in my previous life I had preferred more refined hobbies, like piano playing and running track, though I hadn't done either since I had become a vampire.
For a moment, I wondered wistfully what it would be like if I played now, with my superior reflexes and perfect recall, even though it had been decades since I had touched the ivory of piano keys. I made a mental note to find a piano bar in the city and give it a try some time.
The thought of being able to play made me happy and cooled my temper considerably more than mutilating countless trees had. I wondered why I had never considered the prospect of trying to play before. It seemed an obvious mode of relaxation to me, now, especially given my memories.
One of the few memories I had retained from my human life was of being taught to play piano by my mother. I couldn't have been more than five or six, based on my flushed, youthful appearance and wide, innocent eyes. I looked just like a smaller version of my mother. A fact for which I was grateful. A quick glance in the mirror was all I needed to be reminded of my roots.
Jade green. That's the colour my eyes had been. Just like my mother's. A softer green than the deep emerald forest that surrounded me, but equally as bright. My youthful exuberance and love for my mother radiated out of them, making them shine, even in the faded memory.
They were actually quite beautiful, if I did say so myself, even through the haze through which I saw all of my human memories. Much nicer than the burgundy shade vampirism had afforded me.
It made me nostalgic to think about how I had lost that piece of my mother, as well. I had held on tightly to the few memories I'd retained since my change, as they were one of few things that made me feel good and whole.
I allowed myself to wonder about my parents… where they were, if they were thinking of me and what they would think of what I had become. My family had never been particularly religious, but my mother had shuffled my father and I to church every Sunday, as was proper, and instilled in me a faith in a higher power. God, I wasn't so sure of, but I believed in something nonetheless, and hoped my parents were happy wherever they were.
I hoped that they knew I was doing the best I could with the existence that had been handed to me. I was doing my best to be a good man. I hadn't asked for this life and I'd dealt with it the only way I knew how to while retaining some of the principles my parents had instilled in me.
I lithely hopped up onto a tree branch ten feet above my head, using it to propel myself into a tree several yards away. I was feeling much lighter and less angry than I had when I first stormed away from James and Victoria and the fucking annoying, overbearing, condescending attitude they shared in regards to me. Perhaps I wasn't quite as calmed as I had thought, I conceded, my skin prickling at the thought of my 'sister' and her boyfriend.
At least that was the ruse this time around. Our parents had been mysteriously killed in a car crash and I was left to be raised by my older sister and her live-in-boyfriend. It was better than the multiple times that they had pretended to be my adopted parents. I really fucking hated that James and Victoria appeared older than me, about twenty-six and twenty-three years old, respectively. It always left me in the position of child. At one hundred and four that routine was getting old.
At least they didn't attempt to force me to return to the purgatory that was high school just because of my appearance put me around age seventeen. They were content to allow me to claim I was home schooled, for which I was grateful. A couple thousand annoying teenagers smelling like a strange mix of rancid (thanks to far too much Juicy Couture perfume) and edible (thanks to the blood flowing through their veins) while thinking about how 'fuckin' weird,' or 'OMG hot' I was, was not my idea of a good time. No, I got those thoughts enough from passing random strangers on the street who expressed a similar interest in my vampire allures through more articulate (albeit not much) thoughts.
As a human I had graduated from high school early, at age seventeen, and was preparing to enter into the military when I had been struck with the Spanish Influenza and eventually vampirism, when James and Victoria had decided to spare me from death. Or that's what I had been told. I had no recall of any of those events. Which was quite depressing. I didn't even remember getting my diploma.
At least I'd graduated early. That meant I had to have been moderately intelligent, unlike that dumb fucker, James. One of a few details I had gleaned, during breaks in his mind shield, was that he had dropped out of high school at age thirteen to work on his family farm in Idaho. Why he was thinking about that? Beats me. I guess when you're that stupid there isn't much else to think about except how stupid you are.
Was I bitter? Hell yes. But the fact remained James was a dumb fuck. Though, admittedly, even the stupidest vampire could run circles around the intelligence of a human.
Unlike James and Victoria, I didn't really mind being around humans for non-meal related purposes. Yes, I found plenty of their thoughts annoying, but I hadn't found that the average vampire – we had run into many over the years, through our travels – had thoughts any more appealing. Hunger and lust, or both, were almost always at the forefront of the minds of both species. Vampires who parade around as if they are a superior species are just as ignorant as the humans they mock.
I pushed off the branch of the large oak that I had been standing in, propelling myself to the forest floor. I felt much better now that my thoughts had had time to cool after the argument with James.
I began to head back in the direction I come from, surprised to find nearly two hours had passed since I'd left Victoria and James. I moved much more quickly than I had as I entered. I wouldn't look like much more than a blur to human eyes.
Sprinting shot the last vestiges of anger from my body, as I allowed the speed to thrill me. I ran without really thinking about where I was going. It didn't matter; my internal compass as a vampire was unfailingly accurate.
I slowed as I neared the perimeter of the forest, where the foliage cleared to make way for the town of Forks. I hopped up into a tree as I entered a clearing to decrease my visibility, in the unlikely case someone could see me from the highway. The pungent fuel being burned by the cars on the lone road through the town was heavy in the air.
I was listening for human thought as I prepared to navigate into the town when I was bowled over by the most powerful scent that I had ever come across in my life. A gust of wind brushed through the foliage around me, the force of the scent crashing over me like a tidal wave.
I stumbled, and embarrassingly enough, fell out of the tree I had been crouched in. I hit the ground twenty feet below me with a loud thud, just barely managing to recover enough to land on my feet, though with much less grace than I usually managed.
From across the thirty foot clearing, a head shot up, alarmed by the thump I'd made as I'd landed gracelessly. I was met with the most beautiful pair of brown eyes I had ever seen. They looked like melted milk chocolate; liquid and warm, illuminated by the fading sun that barely peeked through the dull grey. If I had been proud to have inherited my mother's emotionally charged jade eyes, they seemed like nothing in comparison to the depth of feeling these eyes transmitted.
I usually prided myself of being quite articulate, but at the moment, I was having trouble thinking of anything beyond a few adjectives, all synonyms of 'pretty,' as I stood dumbstruck at the edge of the clearing.
I blinked and took another look, making sure I wasn't imagining up an angel after several decades alone.
I blinked again when I realized I wasn't hearing the usual murmur of thoughts and feelings. I strained, attempting to hear something, anything, but still her mind was silent. Absolutely nothing. Not a single thought. Not a hint of the emotions displayed so gratuitously in those brown eyes. Was she mentally challenged? No, she was holding a book. She could read. So she must be proficient at blocking her thoughts. More proficient than James and Victoria, even. Never, had anyone blocked me so completely.
The only sound registering was the rapid pounding of her aromatic blood as it passed through her heart. Her pulse was moving so rapidly it almost sounded like fluttering.
What the hell? Never, in all of my existence, had a human had the ability to mask his or her thoughts from me. I simply hadn't considered it possible.
Then, the absolute worst thing that could have possibly happened, did. The wind swirled around us, sending the mouth-watering scent that had distracted me in the first place back in my direction. Venom pooled in the back of my throat.
Scared out of my wits that I'd murder the beautiful girl in a matter of seconds if I didn't get away at that precise moment, I fled back into the forest at the speed of lightning, not caring that I would look like the mythical figure that I was. She would probably think she had been imagining things and forget it ever happened. I didn't even turn to allow her expression to register as I fled. I couldn't, not without risking her life and that was something I wasn't willing to do.
Our whole encounter had taken place over approximately 3.2 seconds, but I was left deeply shaken, and something else… mildly proud of my control. Proud that I had managed to restrain myself, proud that my abstinence from killing innocents for eighty-seven years had allowed me enough control over my blood thirst to save the angel that had appeared to me.
For the first time ever in my existence, I walked on unstable legs, heading deeper into the forest, to allow myself a wide circle around the clearing where the angel sat. To keep her safe from me.
I leaned shakily against the massive trunk of an old fir tree, completely overwhelmed and drained.
Holy mother of Jesus.