A/N: This was written for the Twilight Canon Fodder Challenge and was, in fact, the winner, for the Rookies. I'm so excited. I even get a nifty banner!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. There are also direct quotes from Midnight Sun which are marked with a *
To see other entries in the Canon Fodder Challenge, please visit the C2 page:
Edward is tired of walking in on half-dead people. He is even more tired of Carlisle's half-assed justifications.
"Edward, it's the girl from that town. The happy one with the broken leg. I never forgot her. How could I leave her like that?"
"You didn't see what they did to her, Edward. She was practically beyond recognition. I couldn't leave her like that."
For a vegetarian, Carlisle makes a lot of justifications.
"You cannot be serious."
Carlisle meets Edward's angry gaze with a pathetic, righteous one. He's going to die, Edward…
"He'd be better off."
Edward turns away from his father's hurt expression. Moments like these, he forgets to think of his maker's feelings on the subject. He knows Carlisle is sorry for the sadness Edward's vampirism has caused him. He also knows that the man has no regrets but the regret that he couldn't make his "son" happier.
One would think that Edward would have been a lesson learned. Instead, Edward has walked in on writhing and pained bodies three times now.
The first time, he was shocked and, if he allowed himself to admit it, he was hurt. Edward had been Carlisle's salvation, his savior from loneliness. With Esme came eternal love and the happiness only a mate could bring. He tried to understand the presence of Esme, he really did. But Esme's thoughts were Edward's, therefore her pain was his as well, and while he knew she was happy with Carlisle, he couldn't possibly understand how forever could be better to a woman who had seemed to only wish for death.
The second time, he was angry. Rosalie Hale had been a victim, a topic Edward knew much about from his time away from his family. She was angry, conceited and in pain.
"You could love her, Edward…She could be your mate"
The idea of someone being turned, being stripped away from a proper death for him, would make him sick if he were human. But he isn't human. So he is just angry.
Disgusted, Edward's gaze moves to the blond demon he reluctantly calls sister. (No, not reluctant, he loves his sister Rosalie…But how dare she?)
He's mine, Edward. I need to keep him.
Her steely gold eyes meet his with a fury which almost matches his own. Almost.
"How selfish can you be? Not a day goes by where you don't lament this existence, and you dare push it on another?" Many things he believes of Rosalie, but he never expected this. Could she truly be so lonely? Could she not understand? This man could have had Heaven, maybe he could have had reincarnation, the chance to try it again…Instead he will have an Eternity of Hell.
He expects anger, perhaps even an attack; something which occurs frequently in the Cullen home. She does neither. For a moment…he's surprised.
Her slim hand has found its way into the brunette curls of the man who lies before her. Suddenly, the image of a curly-haired child is projected into Edward's mind.
"He's my mate, Edward." Her eyes return to his, begging for understanding. But Edward will not waver.
She says it aloud. Carlisle is swayed.
Somewhere, in the deep recesses of Edward's mind, there is compassion. The boy reminds her of her human life. He could bring her peace. Rosalie cannot remain angry and alone as Edward can. And faintly, he can hear the thoughts of the boy, watching Rosalie as if she were an angel from Heaven.
If only he knew.
He'll find out soon enough.
"Fine." Turning back to his father he points to Rosalie and sneers. "You created this problem." He shakes his head and looks at her poor, doomed mate. "Now let him deal with the consequences."
He ignores the calls, both mental and out loud. He doesn't want reason. He's tired of reason. Even the most reasonable man has thoughts that contradict the words that he uses, so what's the use?
Let them try to reason with him when the boy awakens, stronger than anyone. When he makes his first accidental kill. When he learns of all he has lost.
Edward remembers Esme clutching her stomach, dry-sobbing as she learned she will never be with her child again. He remembers her wrapping her arms around Rosalie as it hit the girl she will never have a child at all.
Edward sees the happiness of Esme and Carlisle, his adopted parents, and he remembers Esme's hesitance. Her unconscious desire to resent Carlisle's decision whenever she hears a babe's cry.
Or Rosalie. Whose resentment could fill the house. Whose only time of being thankful for her vampirism was when she slaughtered the men who helped take her life. (A fact that relieved him, for if she hadn't done it, Edward surely would have.) For so long, she hated Carlisle for what she was, and even more so she hated Edward himself for not loving her.
"Spoil the Princess, add to the Coven, another soul to waste," he mutters bitterly to himself, no care as to who listened.
He runs through the trees until the thoughts are nowhere to be heard.
His anger is taken out on any animal which is unfortunate enough to cross his path. He drinks each one dry, the blood sloshing in his stomach.
As he feeds from a bear (not his favorite, but it seems to fit the situation,) he can't help but wonder if there is a mate who would miss the unfortunate being. If maybe a cub is out there, wandering around, looking for its mother. And if not, could there have been?
He thinks of the boy - no, Emmett - he thinks of Emmett and wonders if there had been a special someone. Perhaps he'd been married. Perhaps engaged. Perhaps there is a bastard child somewhere out there. Who could be sure? Times change so rapidly. Emmett could be anyone.
Perhaps he would love his existence. Perhaps he could love Rosalie.
Such optimism isn't something Edward is prone to, but in order to return to the house he will need it.
He wants to be pleased for his sister. He wants this stranger to be happy.
Their house can't handle anymore resentment. Edward can't handle anymore.
So instead, as he walks back to the house, he tries to think of the lighter aspects of having a brother, another member of their family, a mate for Rosalie…
Maybe Emmett would never taste human blood. Maybe he could be free from guilt…
Edward always tends to be pessimistic.
If there is a word that Edward hates more than any other, it's the word "accident."
Accident was when he first began playing his piano with vampire hands, pressing too harshly and breaking the keys. Accident was when Esme built a basket at vampire speed in an arts and crafts class in front of a group of human women. Accident was when Rosalie pushed some boy who had tried to touch her and ended up sending him across the room.
Accident is not the death of a human.
And Emmett cannot kill two women and respond with a simple "oops".
At least not in Edward's world.
Each time it happens, Edward waits for something that just won't come. Emmett loves the idea of being a vampire. He adjusted faster than anyone. He had a few "accidents" but came back kicking, because really, what's one human?
Edward sometimes wonders if there is something very wrong with Emmett.
Not that he doesn't love his brother, he does. Emmett has a way about him that makes him impossible not to love.
He just doesn't understand him.
Because humans were never "just humans" to Edward. He could never kill an innocent woman and then just move on without another thought.
"You over-think things, Edward. Sometimes you just need to let it go."
He doubts the families of the dead would agree.
Edward has seen the minds of evil. He has seen the minds of victims. He has seen what useless death can do, and he has faced the consequences of playing God in response.
Emmett doesn't seem to understand consequences. He feels bad enough not to do it again, but he doesn't seem to feel guilt, true guilt.
Emmett doesn't wonder about the old woman's grandchildren who will never again taste her home-cooked meals, or tell her about their problems. He doesn't think about the life she's lost, or the widower she left behind.
"At least she was old…"
Edward scoffs. Age means nothing.
The next girl isn't old. She's young.
"She smelt even better than the last…"
School, family, husband, children - a whole life that will never be lived. But to Emmett she is nameless.
An "accident". Because what Cullen hasn't had one? Carlisle…and Rosalie never has.
He looks to Rosalie, who remains silent. She never speaks against Emmett, and she never thinks of the girl, or the old woman. Thinking of them would create conflict, would threaten her family, her mate, her world.
Apparently the only one Rosalie thinks against is Edward.
Perhaps we should be on our own again, somewhere remote, just me and him….
Rosalie allows her love to blind her.
"Of course you can stay here until you find a place to live again."
Denali, where they always end up during a mistake. They always understand as well. They've been around long enough, they hardly care. What's one less human?
"Always so serious, Edward."
"A girl is dead, and he's acting like nothing is wrong."
"Would you prefer him wallow in guilt? Would you prefer he lost his spirit?"
He thinks about vampirism and what it means. He thinks of the many conversations he's had with his vampire father about their souls.
He thinks of the years where he spent his time hunting down the evil who felt no guilt for their actions. He thinks of his own "accidents."
Edward loves his family dearly, but it is moments such as these, as he watches them move on, dub a murder an "accident", roll their eyes at his "overreaction", that he knows…
Vampirism corrupts, it takes your soul.
Edward loves his family dearly.
He curses the day Carlisle was bitten by a vampire. Curses the day any of them ended up with venom in their veins.
But Edward isn't wrong.
They are all damned to Hell.
Edward has learned many things about his brother over the years. Some things he loves.
"You've got to learn to get over things. Like I do. Eternity is a long time to wallow in guilt."*
Some things he hates.
Edward never wants to understand Emmett's philosophy on vampires and humans.
He never felt the desire to just "get over things." When you've killed as many as Edward, sometimes eternity doesn't seem long enough to "wallow in guilt."
Sometimes he thinks of the old lady and the young girl whose lives were stolen by Emmett's hunger. Sometimes he wonders if maybe he should have fought harder against the change.
He tries to push those thoughts away. Edward has enough guilt. It's not fair for him to take on the guilt Emmett should feel.
The guilt his brother barely ever does feel.
"Honestly. So you kill one human. That's hardly the end of the world."*
Edward has never hated his family. He thinks he might when Bella comes into the picture. Just a little.
Rosalie and Jasper want her dead. They practically have the plan in mind.
Rosalie, who puts so much value on human life. Or so she claims. In the end, Edward thinks it was only her life she thinks was worth anything.
Esme wants them to do what they have to in order for him to remain with them. Edward wonders if his vampire mother comprehends what type of man he would be if they killed her.
His family has a very idealistic view of their family. They are all happy together. Edward wonders if this is a reason enough to kill an innocent human.
For a family of vegetarians, they make a lot of justifications.
And now she lives. She loves him. She's a part of the family.
And she doesn't get it.
He tells her he's killed. They'd all killed in one way or another. He tells her he wanted to kill her.
She doesn't care.
Sometimes he'll hear a thought that makes him cringe. It's something evil, something rancid…
She doesn't get it. Edward thinks she can't get it.
He thinks of what might happen when they leave his hearing. Who will suffer … He wonders if he's weak. He thinks of the lives he stole. Of the lives he saved.
He doesn't want her to get it.
Don't listen, he'd think to himself. The Monster wants human blood. Edward isn't always sure.
He tells her he has no soul. He tries to make her understand. She doesn't.
So many lives lost, directly or indirectly. By standing aside, by trying to call the police when he can, by watching idly by when there's nothing they can do. He tells her he was wrong back in his "rebellious" years. It wasn't his place to play God. He's not always so sure.
His family doesn't get it either.
They vote on her life. Her life. He wonders how Bella would respond if she knew this wasn't their first time. That they once sat around this same table in order to decide if the little human who knew too much would be dying in her sleep that very night.
"Or, maybe you kill her. You wouldn't be the first one to mess up. No one would judge you too harshly. Sometimes a person just smells too good. I'm impressed you've lasted this long."*
But no one gets it, no one seems to understand.
She could have been just another human. An accident. A casualty in the need to preserve their happy family. And they would have moved on. It wouldn't have mattered.
But Bella survived. Edward fought for her. And now she wants in.
Alice thinks of how beautiful she will be. Rosalie thinks of the mistake she's making. Emmett thinks of a new playmate, a challenge. Jasper thinks of his old days, the thrill of training a newborn. Esme thinks of a happy family. Carlisle only thinks of his son's happiness.
Edward sees Alice's vision, sees the beauty, the bliss…
He sees golden eyes that were once brown. He sees red eyes that were once gold. He sees hunger, death, justifications…
Would Bella slip? Would Bella shrug it off? Would Bella move on? Would she accuse him of overreacting?
Or would she wallow? Would she feel the weight of every death on her shoulders as Edward does? Does Edward want her to?
Edward loves his family. But he has seen how vampirism and the need for blood have corrupted them.
Edward would never wish that on anyone.
Edward doesn't want justifications.
"How selfish can you be? Not a day goes by where you don't lament this existence, and you dare push it on another?"
He remembers Emmett's change, the way he snarled at Carlisle, insulted Rosalie.
Was he to become Rosalie?
Would being his mate be enough to damn his love to this life?
Could he stop it?
Edward loves his family. They want the best for him. They truly believe they are doing this for him. There seems to be nothing he can do.
He wants to be happy. He wants to look forward to an eternity with his love…
Instead, he laments, as apparently only Edward can do best.
"Spoil the Prince, add to the Coven, another soul to waste."