This story will contain slash, which means a pairing involving two men. Don't expect anything else. :)

Author's note: New story. Thanks to ms-ambrosia for being the sweetest and best friend-beta ever. Thanks to vampireisthenewblack for pulling my attention to Edward and Carlisle. I can't promise any kind of update schedule. I have a bit pre-written, but I don't know how much that will help. This is short. It's a prologue and shit.

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns The Twilight Saga and its characters. No copyright infringement intended.


The guests are arriving, the decorations hung; the tables are set. The overpowering scent of freesia fills Edward's already addled head, and he stares at himself in the mirror, trying to decipher where he belongs in the bedlam that is his wedding day - his and Bella's wedding day.

Scarcely believing he could ever find himself pledging his existence to another, he places his hands onto the countertop and leans in to inspect himself closer. He turns his head from side to side, taking in each of the chiseled lines of his face, wondering how his faults are not evident. He feels them as though they were branded into his flesh with a heat extreme enough to turn stone to liquid, but the hardened skin he stares at is unmarred - infuriatingly perfect.

How is it that he can even entertain the idea of committing himself to Bella with a promise of forever, when he does not even have holding over his own soul? Any soul he had once possessed had been traded.

Yes, his soul had been traded, and it had been worth it.

Turning away from the mirror, he scoffs at the absurdity of where his thoughts are heading. Today, after all the suppression, all the denial, all the hiding, Edward entertains musings which he has attempted to pay no mind to.

Three years. 1,137 days. 27,290 hours. 1,675,215 minutes. 100,512,907 seconds. Each second, every minute, all those hours, every day of those years were measured by the flex of his fingers, the movement of his lips, the rhythmic sound of his breathing. Three years and that was all. It would have to be enough.

Exiting the bathroom, Edward enters his bedroom where he finds Jasper waiting on him.

"Everyone that matters is here now, Edward," Jasper says, his eyes communicating what his thoughts do not. Of all Edward's family members, it is Jasper that understands him the most, although Edward speaks to him the least.

"Turn it on," Edward requests, giving Jasper a quick upturn of his lips. Jasper has made a promise not to manipulate any emotions today, but Edward has realized he will need his brother's gift if he is to make it through with any semblance of normality.

"Sure," Jasper replies. "What flavor? You want...confidence?" Edward feels himself bolstered within seconds, but shakes his head. "Calm?" The feelings radiating off his brother change, and Edward feels lethargic. He shakes his head again. "Love?" Love would make sense. Love should be what Edward wants to feel on his wedding day, but he grows uneasy as the emotion intensifies, radiating and undulating from Jasper. Edward shakes his head another time. Jasper furrows his brow, confused.

"Can you make me content?" Edward asks, sliding his arms into his jacket.

"For a time," Jasper answers. Once again, the words he does not speak or think are displayed on his features. Edward does not waste thought on what Jasper knows and accepts the only wedding gift he can make use of.

"Thank you," Edward says. "Would you mind keeping that up for the next hour or so?"

Jasper nods before saying, "I'll leave you now. Is there anyone you would want me to send in?"

Edward rolls the question around in his head, letting it blanket his mind, before he answers. Knowing who he would like to have with him - also knowing it would not be right - he replies, "No."

Even with the stream of contentment supplied by his brother, Edward still battles against emotions that he had hoped would remain dormant. Honestly, Edward knows that the intensity of what he feels never lay dormant; he spent years ignoring it before he found a replacement.

The reality is, Edward does everything with the singular purpose of pleasing him - nothing is out of the question if it garners his approval, even if it be temporary. A few words, a pat on the back, a firm embrace are all Edward needs to sustain him, to feel content. Again, Edward tries to turn his thoughts away but wars with himself.

Despair, hope, lust, disgust, love, contentment...regret.

Edward cannot afford to regret. To one who lives forever and never sleeps, regret is a dangerous thing.

Opening the top drawer of his dresser, Edward looks upon the tiny snuff box he has kept hidden away. He brushes the tips of his fingers across its tarnished surface and quickly shuts his eyes, closing the drawer without removing it.

The thoughts of the guests ring through his head like church bells, full of joy and mirth and expectancy. Edward does not wish to hear them. The only thoughts he wants to hear - cares to hear - are as easy for him to pick out as Chopsticks on the piano.

So, Edward finds them, the ponderings familiar and constant, strong and sage, wise and pure. He finds them and he sighs, allowing the errant thoughts to caress his mind in the only kind of intimacy he has allowed himself all these years.

Carlisle.