SLASH BACKSLASH ONE-SHOT CONTEST
Story Name: The Kindness of Strangers
Pen name: VampiresHaveLaws
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer still owns Twilight
To see other entries in the "SLASH BACKSLASH" contest, please visit the C2: http:/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/c2/68069/3/0/1/
A massive thank you to SusanQ and shoefreak37 for reading and correcting and making me smile. They are both amazing.
The cuts on my face hurt. They ache and I find myself thinking it's a good thing I don't smile much anymore; it would stretch the skin and increase the pain. I've had worse, but the sting feels more acute than previous times.
A man walks past me, his hair is blond and his eyes are blue. He frowns as he looks at my face, so I quickly pull the cell I keep in my pocket out and pretend I'm making a call. He seems to hesitate, but I don't look at him. My eyes focus on the ground, the sidewalk littered with cigarette butts, some from myself, others not. This phone does not work, the battery died months back, but I still keep it; it has its purposes. He walks away and I watch his brown shoes until they disappear. My voice stops its fake cheerful words and my mouth closes with a sigh from my nose.
I go to stand from the bench again, but my legs won't cooperate. I'm outside the ER for the second time today. I could easily walk in there, steal supplies to clean myself up and be on my way.
This time I do stand, but it's only to dig my smokes from my tattered jeans that have worn and faded over time. I sit back down almost immediately.
I go to light one; I'm down to my last two matches. The first one snaps and falls to the wet ground rendering it useless. It always rains here, there are puddles of dirty water everywhere; I hate it. I pick the last one from the box and this would be the time to pray. The desperate man in me should close his eyes and send one up there to the Golden Gates and winged messengers. I don't, God never hears me.
The rain starts again and I move under the awning covering the entrance of the hospital. I ignore the "No Smoking" sign and blow the cloudy smoke out before me, watching it twist and twirl before it lingers in the gloomy weather. People look at me; they notice my bloody face and grazed knuckles as I raise the cigarette to my lips. It's obvious to see they've never been in a fight, never had to resort to physical violence to keep a man from stealing their shoes, shoes that no one in their right mind would want. But that's the point, no one who sleeps in the constant downpour - with an empty stomach - is thinking clearly.
I have no money, no health insurance. I can't walk up to the lady behind the desk with the bright red hair like them. I have to resort to deception, to theft. I do what I have to do to get by.
I come to the hospital at least once a week to shower and sneak into the family rooms to use their towels and eat the soggy sandwich forgotten in the refrigerator.
I've found that anyone can walk into a hospital. Strangers will stare at the man who walks in with dirty clothes and blood on his hands, but they aren't surprised to see him. It will be decided he is a case of drunk and disorderly... they'll eventually look away. The men who walk in wearing smart suits and shiny shoes can walk into any room without being questioned; it will be determined they're visiting a patient, a loved one, the expensive bouquet of flowers in their hands a thoughtful gift. They will get a sympathetic smile; eyes focus a little longer on these men without fear.
The security guards are only usually around at night when it's quieter, which never makes sense considering it's easier to commit a crime with the place full. The manic atmosphere that bounces from the walls as the emergencies roll in is a big distraction. I use other's misfortunes to garner my own.
It's dark now, I've been out here for hours. I don't know why I'm still here, my feet just don't want to move. I'm tired and want to sink to the ground and sleep. It's dry in this area and the hum of the automatic doors opening and closing is actually pretty comforting. I decide to wait and see if my face still hurts tomorrow; if it does, I will go and commit another wrong. I will stare blindly in the dirty mirror in the restroom of the diner down the street and clean my cuts with the stolen bandages and antiseptic creams that come in brightly-coloured tubes. I won't even curse when I have to squint against the harsh fluorescent lighting. I'll be quick and leave.
I've been moving around since the age of sixteen. My parents died in what was described as a "freak" car crash. I'd never fully understood that saying, freak car accident. In my eyes, all crashes should be classified as this. It's not as if you get in the car knowing you're about to die. It wasn't planned by my parents, maybe another, but not them.
Social services, people who should know better, left me with an uncle with a drinking problem. I was thirteen when he first struck me. I was thirteen when he caught me kissing my friend Jasper in my small bedroom with its small window and small bed. I was thirteen when I walked in on him pounding roughly into the woman from the house across the street. Her husband always tipped his head in greeting every morning as I waited for the bus for school. He didn't know - he was stupid. I was thirteen when my uncle made me watch him from then on.
I was sixteen when I first hit him back. I was sixteen when I slept with that same woman in her husband's bed. I was sixteen when I finally left that piece of shit whom was called 'family' to escape a hurt that still ached to think about.
The doors open and out steps the same man from earlier. He has on a white coat this time. It doesn't take a genius to realize he works here. I don't have time to read his identification tag before I pull my eyes away.
"Those cuts will become infected unless you get them treated." He is speaking to me, there is no one else here, but I don't know why he gives a shit. I look at him and decide he has a kind face, probably has a perfect family and a perfect home to go with it.
"Yeah, so?" I answer, because it really has nothing to do with him. He sighs as he scratches his clean shaven chin.
"I could patch them for you, if you want?" he says in a gentle tone that matches his appearance, all whites and blues: non-threatening colours.
I scoff and look away. "I think we both know I have no money," I tell him. He has to know, he's a doctor, he can't be stupid. I have a hole in my shoe and buttons missing from my shirt. He knows.
"Who mentioned anything about money? I'm simply offering to help you." No one helps another without an ulterior motive.
"Why would you do that?" I ask him with a raised brow. He doesn't answer. "What do you want from me?" His eyes flit to the side only ever so slightly, but I notice.
"You've been out here all day." My eyes harden their stare. "You were here when I left this morning, and you were still here when I came back. I'd rather fix your wounds than have you steal. After all, that's why you're still here, is it not?" I knew he wasn't stupid.
"I'm not going in there with you," I tell him. His hands move to his pockets, marginally opening his white coat in the process. I avert my eyes.
It's one thing to go in unnoticed by yourself, but quite another to walk in with a doctor. If someone was to see him helping me outside of usual protocol, others would get involved. I do not need the cops on my ass. I'm unknown and would rather keep it that way.
"I finish my shift in ten minutes... I have supplies at home." He's got to be joking right now. I'm not going to go back to his fucking house with him. "I could collect them and drop them back off."
Oh. "Why not just get some from in there?" I say pointing through the doors. "They have enough." I should know.
"Because they're not mine to take," he replies as if it's that simple. Perhaps it is to someone like him.
I take a deep breath and wonder if I can trust this man. If he leaves and isn't back within twenty minutes, I'll move on to the next town, to the next hospital. I nod my head.
"Fine," I say in a hard and defeated voice. He smiles at me and walks back inside. I watch as his brown shoes disappear for the second time today.
He returns after seventeen minutes and fifty three seconds. I don't own a watch or have anything better to do, so I count the time in my head.
I stand as he stops in front of me, but he has no bag with him; I glare. He seems to notice my hostility and raises his palms with a shake of his head.
"I can't look at your face out here," he voices with a tilt of his head at the hospital; there are cameras. "Would you object to sitting in my car? You can leave the door open if it makes you more comfortable," he says softly and I find myself wanting to go with him, but the truth is I don't know this man with his smart shirt and striking eyes.
"I can do it myself if you just give me the stuff," I tell him, really wanting another cigarette. This particular pack was stolen from behind a cashier's desk when the young girl left for the stockroom in search of more stamps for me. I had laughed at that lie. Who the hell would I be mailing letters to?
"Your right eye needs stitches," he informs me. I'd thought as much myself. I clench my jaw and grind my teeth. I'm really not left with much of a choice if I don't want to get an infection and end up losing my eye or some shit.
"And I can leave the door open?" I ask just to make sure. He doesn't look like a psycho, but most come in pretty packages. The saying, "be wary of the kindness of strangers" isn't lost on me.
"Of course," he says seriously with another small smile.
He smiles too much. Or maybe it's just that I don't do it enough.
I walk behind him, leaving a good distance between us. He unlocks his car; it's silver and looks expensive. The symbol on the front lets me know it's a BMW. He motions to the passenger side and I hesitantly open the door and sit. I leave the door wide open.
I see the bag full of gauze and such resting on the center console. He reaches past me into the glove compartment, his arm brushing mine, making me lean back further into the comfortable seat.
"Sorry," he apologizes sincerely as he pulls out a first aid kit he has stored there. "This may sting a little," he warns me as he soaks some cotton in a clear liquid. The smell irritates my nose.
He notices me looking. "It's only rubbing alcohol," he says in a manner he's yet to use. It must be his doctor voice. He's wearing the typical latex gloves as he cleans my cuts and I hiss, closing my eyes against the pain.
"Son of a bitch," I mutter, not at him, just in general. I crack an eye open and see him smiling.
"You smile too much," I tell him. He laughs at this as he pulls out what looks to be those stick-on butterfly stitches.
"It's important to have a good bedside manner," he says as pats the wound dry. He leans forward somewhat and I'm a little uncomfortable. I don't look at him and I don't talk.
"Smiling is part of the job," he whispers after a moment. I sit still and let him work. He's gentle and efficient; I haven't had someone care for me in quite some time.
"All done," he says proudly, speaking to me as if I'm twelve and not twenty-one. It wouldn't surprise me if he pulled a lollipop form his shirt pocket with another smile.
I look at him closely to try and define his age. I would guess at him being in his mid-thirties, maybe forties, but he looks younger than this. A lot younger. He catches my eye and holds it for a few seconds before transferring the clean items into the first aid kit, leaving the paper bag for the bloodied bits of cotton.
"Thanks," I say simply, at a loss for what else to say. I'm not used to thanking people for their help, mainly due to the fact that no one ever offers.
"You're welcome," he replies, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. He's hesitating, debating over something. I already know what he's about to say, I've seen this look before on faces that aren't his. "Do you have some place to go tonight?" he asks me quietly. I clench my fists.
"I'm not a fucking charity case," I snap, my eyes shrinking to angry slits as I stare out the windshield. He turns to study me, his eyes unforgiving in their evaluation.
"I didn't suggest you were," he sighs and runs his hand over his face. "It's just that I have a daughter... well, step-daughter. She's traveling right now - you look around her age - and well, I know if she hadn't gotten a place to stay, I would want someone to at least ask." My eyes find their way to his ring hand – it's empty.
"So you're married, then?" I ask him. Not everyone wears a ring.
He shakes his head. "I was, but not any more." I take a deep breath.
"You live alone?" I query. I seem to be full of questions tonight. My knee is bouncing as I wait for his answer.
"Yes... no. My daughter lives with me, but like I said, she's traveling right now." He seems nervous and I want to ask him why. Fucking questions.
I should decline his offer, but the truth is I really want to sleep in a bed, or even on a semi-decent couch. He looks like he'd have a comfy sofa with soft pillows and afghan throws. He may even have an old shirt he no longer needs, one that has retained all its buttons and smells of soap instead of stale smoke.
"OK," I find myself saying. I clear my throat and run my still bloodied hand through my hair. He doesn't need me to clarify what I'm agreeing to.
I have accepted help like this a few times before, and that was because I was desperate. I don't know if I could call this a desperate situation, I just know that I'll take his offer and get a good night's sleep... and maybe some food.
A bright day out of many months makes things bearable for a time. It makes the journey to the next town slightly easier. It drives you to believe that some people are good in this world. It drives your feet to move that little bit faster. It drives you away from the temptation to stay longer, to leech off another and bleed them dry. I don't want to be the bruise left behind afterwards; I've seen enough of bruises.
My hand rests on the door handle of his expensive vehicle and I pull it closed. The sound resonates in the space around us, haunting in its echo.
The car starts and moves and I can't help but glance at him every few minutes. I still don't know his name.
"What's your name?" I ask him, my hands poised on my knees. I don't necessarily need to know, it's not like we'll be meeting for coffee once a week from now on. I just want to have a name for the face.
"Carlisle," he says with a swift side-glance before focusing back on the road. He doesn't ask for mine in return and I feel a little annoyed by it.
He appears calm and I wonder whyhe is doing this. Why does he want to help me? Why is he so trusting? I could steal from him, abuse his kindness. I could be a bad person... Imay be a bad person. He doesn't know this. He doesn't know me.
He's attractive and I like looking at him. I wonder if he thinks I'm attractive. I've only been in two semi-serious relationships during my life so far. One with a boy from the south, and one with a girl from the north.
Jasper was easy smiles and laughter. He never liked to take anything too seriously. Everything was a joke to him... well, until it backfired and no longer seemed funny. At times like that, his spark would diminish and die like that of a blown fuse.
Tanya had been magnetic-eyes and serious conversations. She would sit in silence for hours, before suddenly asking a question out of the blue that would leave you thinking of a correct answer days afterward. She'd been new to the streets and stood out like a shiny new penny. I'd taken to her instantly, but just like Jasper, she'd left. I'd woken along with the sun in our spot under a cobblestone bridge, like I had every day, ignoring the ache in my back from years of sleeping on hard stone. Yet, when I opened my eyes to the crimson-tinged sun, she wasn't beside me. She'd gone without a farewell, no doubt dragged away by one of her silent contemplations to carry out what she thought she had to achieve.
I'd never felt attracted to a girl before, and haven't since. I simply appreciated beauty when I saw it, and she was captivating.
Society liked to put you into boxes and label you accordingly – gay or straight, underweight or overweight. The strangers who make these decisions are like seaweed at the bottom of the ocean, swirling and twisting around you feet, trapping you in their murky, salt water. They want to hold you down until you surrender and can no longer take that full breath of weightless air that you so desperately need. I get claustrophobic and like to be free to make my own decisions. I don't allow that sticky label to adhere to my skin.
I look at Carlisle again; it feels weird saying his name in my head. I decide I like his mouth and his lips - his smile.
Jasper had the brightest smile. He'd moved next door to the man I had to call "Uncle" the day I turned thirteen. If you'd asked me back then, I would have said he'd been the greatest birthday gift. The first thing I'd noticed about him was his grin. We became close quickly; I never once thought about the consequences that would inevitably occur. I was simply thankful to have a friend.
I never thought it was wrong when he would kiss my cheek; I never thought it was wrong when I kissed his back. I never thought it was wrong when he showed me his dick for the first time; I never thought it was wrong when he touched mine. I never thought it was wrong that I liked it, any of it. All of it.
He'd been my only friend, the only person who I could talk to, but he, just like my parents before him, abandoned me to drift in the unknown. The mist had taken away the people I'd loved, essentially leaving me blind as I'd left the "Windy City" behind me.
It all stemmed after his father had come home from work early one Saturday to find us in his shed, our pants around our ankles as I pushed into him again and again from behind. We hadn't heard the roar of his truck; I was too distracted by whispered pleas for "more" and breathy words of "so good". Something that had felt so right, suddenly became so wrong. The door had flown open, the rusty hinges angrily protesting against the force. Jasper had pulled away from me with a pale face and did something I never thought possible of him. He'd cried. Heavy tears rolled down his cheeks and neck and soaked the collar of his shirt.
Those tears drove his fathers fists into my face repeatedly until my nose burst like a dam, blood escaping as freely as water. There were no more smiles from him for me after that day. There were no more words.
He soon had new friends... he soon brought home a girlfriend. She always seemed to be in high spirits, a bundle of energy with spiky dark hair and a flat chest.
It was simply like I hadn't existed.
We're in a nice part of town now. The houses all have big wrap around porches with wicker furniture to sit upon to watch the day pass by. It's dark out and not one of these houses have an outside lamp illuminating their perfectly manicured gardens. I don't need light to know this. I bet they even have a sandy coloured dog asleep in one of those fancy pooch beds with the multi-coloured paw prints scattered across the plush fabric.
We drive a little further - past some more woodland - before he pulls the car down a tree-lined track. It's even darker here, the light from the half moon blocked by thick branches. The house comes into sight and it's just like the others, but then it's not. It has the wrap around porch, the big garden, but the porch lamp is on. There is illumination here.
I rub my eyes with the heel of my palms, wincing when I forget about my stitches. "Shit," I say and pull down the mirrored visor to see if I've triggered any more damage.
I stare back at my reflection – I no longer recognize the face. This isn't me, and yet it is. I hate it.
My eyes seem darker, the green more intense. Jasper always used to say he liked them. I told him they were no different to anyone else's. He insisted I was wrong. He told me green was the colour of life, but I thought the dark grey of his were much more unique. They were like budding storm clouds and I told him as much.
It had rained for two days straight after that. He'd smiled.
"Let me see," and hands are on my face, blue eyes moving like gentle waves on pale sand. There is concern and softness and I have to stop looking at his face. "You're fine, no damage done." I want to tell him he's stupid even though he isn't. I want to tell him the damage was done when he insisted to get involved in my business.
He exits the car and I follow him up the steps. The porch needs painting as little cracks have begun to appear, breaking up the white with angry lines of black. His hands find his keys in his trouser pocket and the lock clicks as he pushes the door open.
The entryway is big and I immediately spot a piano sitting in the corner. The lid is down and the books are closed. It's forgotten, he notices me looking.
"It's Isabella's. She has the right hands for playing the piano. I've always been useless at it," he says with a shrug as he empties his pockets. I glance at his hands and they look fine to me. His hands save lives; they look like good hands, better hands than mine.
His keys, phone and wallet are placed beside one another on a mahogany table that has pictures on the wall above. I take a step forward to get a closer look; he doesn't stop me.
There aren't many photos of him, but in every one he happens to be in, he's smiling. There is one of a woman who I assume is his ex-wife. She's in a red dress that clings tightly to her figure, fingernails painted red to coordinate. I look at her face and don't see kindness in her eyes. She doesn't match him in any way, and I can see why they are no longer married.
I don't need words to know why this relationship didn't last.
My eyes move once more and I find myself looking at a girl with big brown eyes and dark hair that curls slightly at the ends. I know who she is instantly. She looks like her mother, except she has the same kindness in her eyes as the father who isn't even her father. There is no blood here, yet there is still love. She will undoubtedly bring him heartache, girls like this always do.
"Do you want a shower? Something to eat?" Words are spoken in a soft manner that makes me uncomfortable when the tone is meant to be anything but.
"Um... yeah. A shower would be good," I tell him as I look at my dirty hands and nails. He watches me.
"I have some clean clothes, if you'd like." I nod and clear my throat, making the eye contact he seems to want.
"Thanks," I say with a grimace to my clothes. His head tilts and motions for me to follow him. The staircase is wide and winding as I follow step after step. We pause outside a door and he tells me he'll only be a minute. He doesn't want me in this room - it doesn't surprise or bother me. I see a bed and usual furniture as he opens and closes the door.
"Here we are," and he's back, his arms full. There are clean socks and a shirt. Jeans and even underwear hidden underneath, but I see them. I'm following him again, down a hallway that is bland and plain in appearance.
"There's the bathroom," and he's pointing to a door opposite to where we're standing. "And you can sleep here. It may be a little dusty, it hasn't been used for a while. Sorry." He seems to be embarrassed about this fact.
"I've been sleeping in dirt. Clean sheets and a little dust sounds perfect to me," I tell him and he laughs a little, his cheeks reddening further.
"Of course. I'll go make you something to eat. Just come down when you're ready," he says and it's a little awkward. I once again know what's coming. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't go into any of the other rooms." He lets out a huff of air and a small smile appears on my face for the first time in what feels like months.
"Yeah," I reply, walking over to the bathroom without a backwards glance. I turn on the water and strip, leaving my soiled clothes in a dirty pile on the floor. I stand beneath the spray and moan at how good it feels. There are fancy labels containing shampoo and gels that I don't recognize. They smell feminine and my brows furrow. I wash and scrub and ignore the questions in my head.
Once dressed, I find him just where he'd said he'd be. I wandered for a while before I found the kitchen. I decide there are too many rooms for him alone.
There is a sandwich on a blue china plate. He is on the phone to someone and hasn't yet heard me enter. He is sighing and telling someone not to worry. I pull a stool from beneath the breakfast bar to alert him of my presence. His head whips around, startled, but he covers quickly and points to the plate. I eat while he continues to speak, big mouthfuls taken between gulps of air.
He finally ends the call with a, "you too" and I watch his face as his mouth forms the words. "Thirsty?" he asks, and I am nodding. He holds up a bottle of milk and I nod again. I take the glass from his hand, fingertips brushing mine, and there are more red cheeks. I swallow my drink and pull my hand under the table.
"Sorry about that," he says with another one of his smiles. I shake my head.
"It's fine," I tell him truthfully. It's his home; he can do whatever he wants.
There is more of that silence I hate so much. "Have you lived here long?" I find myself asking just to fill the stillness.
He looks around the room and nods. "Yeah, nearly eight years, now."
"It's nice," I voice as I take another gulp of my drink.
"Thank you," he replies as his hands go to his pockets. He wants to ask something, the nervous twitch in his eyes gives him away.
"How long..." and he hesitates. "How long have you lived, like you do?" I look to my plate and finish eating the crusts there.
"Almost five years," I tell him as I look back at him. I say no more. I won't answer any more questions if he asks. He doesn't and I'm grateful. His hand, however... his hand covers mine and I freeze and warm at the same time. It's meant to comfort me, his natural care-giving instincts taking over. I don't expect this feeling, but it's there. His hand is gone just as fast as it came. He looks nervous and unsure as I refuse to drop his gaze. His eyes drop to my mouth and I reach back for his hand, but he stands abruptly. And I'm stupid.
He goes to leave the room, but pauses in the entryway, his back to me. His head turns to the side but he doesn't look at me. "What's your name?" he asks. "I realize that I hadn't asked before." He can't lie, yet he's lying. He didn't ask me for a reason. It's unknown to me, but not to him. He knows.
"Edward," I answer. He nods once and then he's gone.
I don't see him in the morning when I wake, but there is a note attached to the fridge letting me know he is at the hospital and that I should help myself to food. I make myself toast and drink as much orange juice as my stomach will allow.
He'd told me last night not to go into other rooms, but I am too curious and fidgety. I can't sit in a kitchen all day.
I find myself in his living room after I finish washing the plate and glass I used. I watch some TV – most of the shows now unrecognizable to me after not having watched it in so long. I get bored pretty easily after that. When on the streets, you're always aware and alert. I feel safe here... well, as safe as I can. I don't have to look over my shoulder every few minutes. I don't have to worry about other people. I can just be. Needless to say, this difference, all of it, is making me uncomfortable.
He'd left me alone in his house. Who does that? How can he be so trusting? I don't understand people like him. His heart must be programmed differently than mine, differently than so many other people. I eventually find myself in his library, which also has a makeshift office in the corner. There is evidence of a female throughout the house, small, insignificant items. I don't linger on them but I still notice them.
I hear the slam of a door; it surprises me and makes me jump. Carlisle doesn't seem like a door slammer – I hold my breath. There are quick footsteps, louder and louder as they grow nearer. The door is flung open and there stands a girl I recognize but don't know. There are pictures of her around the house... his daughter. Her eyes go wide; her hair is wild about her head from running. Her gaze sweeps over me, cheeks reddening as she appraises me. She momentarily bites her lip before jutting out her chin.
"Who the hell are you?" and this fierceness that shocks me appears in her voice and in her expression. I hold in a laugh.
"Who are you?" I'm messing with her, purposefully trying to piss her off. It works.
"I live here!" And she's shouting, eyes squinted at me. "You've got ten seconds to get your ass out of here before I dial nine-one-one."
This time I laugh, but then stop as she actually produces a cell phone from her pocket. Shit.
"I'm staying here, for... well, I don't know how long for," I ramble. "Call your father, he'll confirm it." Jesus fucking Christ this girl is irritating. And short. She hovers in the doorway but doesn't get to make that call as his voice is shouting her name.
"In here, Carlisle." She doesn't call him Dad... and even when he is at her side, hugging her and asking how long she's home for, she doesn't take her eyes off me. "He says he's staying here," she states with a point of a finger in my direction, completely ignoring him. He watches her watching me and he's frowning.
"Yes," is all that is said. She ducks her head briefly, quickly looking back to me to apologize.
"It's fine," I tell her. I don't want her here. I want her to go back to wherever she was before. I feel even more uncomfortable with her around. I leave the room to let them catch up, wincing at her giggles as she hugs her – for all intents and purposes – father.
I'm in a room that is meant for me, yet not mine, when a knock sounds at the door. I find it strange that someone is knocking. This is not my home. I get up and open the door, sighing internally when Isabella is there with an embarrassed smile on her face.
"Um... yeah?" I ask, unsure of what she could want. She tucks her hair behind her ear and looks at me with doe-like eyes that hide so much. They are the perfect cover for sins hidden.
"I made dinner," she says as if that should mean something. I don't move from my position. "I made dinner for you, too." I raise a brow and step forward. She blushes again which confuses me. I haven't done anything but stand here.
"Something wrong?" She quickly shakes her head, eyes... everywhere. And then I get extremely uncomfortable as a thought occurs to me. Is she trying to flirt with me?
Her blush contradicts her actions. She is no more shy than I am wealthy. And where Carlisle is smart, she's smarter. She reaches forward and touches my face. I hate the feel of her skin on mine and pull back.
"You had an eyelash," she informs me as she turns and cocks her head down the hall.
I follow her downstairs and quickly sit beside the man with hands that I actually want to touch me. I don't know if this seat was for her or not, but I don't give a shit. I am not sitting next to touchy-feely over there.
I accidentally brush Carlisle's arm as I sit, mumbling a low apology. He clears his throat, and avoids looking at me. There is chicken and vegetables on a plate in front of me. I eat what's there without question. I suddenly feel a foot against mine and look up to see Isabella with the tip of her fork in her mouth as she gives me what is supposed to be a coy smile.
I pull my foot away instantly and clench my fist as she asks me question after question about myself. Carlisle seems to be just as uncomfortable as I am. I don't know what makes me do it, but I simply can't take any more of her and want a little piece of calm. I put my hand on his leg and shock myself. His fork freezes on the way to his mouth, eyes momentarily going wide. He quickly moves his arm again as he tries to shrug me off without it being noticeable. My arm is heavy and I think I'm so numb I can't move.
Isabella excuses herself and leaves the table to answer a call on her cell and I breathe a sigh of relief when she's gone. His hand is on mine, but he doesn't move it this time. He is swallowing thickly and his free hand is pinching the bridge of his nose.
"I don't know what you think this is," he whispers as he turns to face me. "But on my part... my part, it's nothing." I look to his lap and I then know otherwise. His eyes drift to his crotch and then back to me. I take his hand and place it under the table on a part of me that shows there is nothing to be ashamed of... nothing to be scared of. I let go of him and he doesn't move his hand away like I thought he would, instead he is making up and down movements with his palm, applying pressure that makes me grit my teeth to stop from making a noise.
It feels so good, better than I remember, but I hate that I am wearing jeans and we are sitting here eating dinner with a girl who holds more secrets in her eyes than a confession box on a Sunday morning.
His hand disappears as soon as she breezes back into the room. I hate her in that moment. Her questions pick up where she left them and I detest the way my chest aches when he leaves the table shortly afterward. He reminds me a lot of Jasper in so many ways. Leaving just happens to be one, and pretending... being ignorant to everything he doesn't want to address, another.
The next morning passes much the same, but around midday Isabella leaves to meet up with friends. I must have fallen asleep sometime shortly afterward, as the sound of tires on gravel wakes me. I look out the window and am thankful only one car is parked in the driveway. He is home from work; I hear the door open and close. I get up and wait at the top of the stairs, leaving him a few minutes to himself. His hands rub at his face before he lays his keys, wallet and phone down, just like he did the day before. He ignores the mail I picked up and left there for him and disappears from sight. I wait another few minutes before going to find him, the house is silent. I am not used to the quiet.
I find him sitting on the sofa, head back, lids closed. I watch him for a few seconds before those lids move and lift and I'm staring into tired eyes. I stare and portray that I can help. He wants to look away... he does. I move to sit next to him, his gaze now fixed on the ceiling as I look over at him. My hand reaches out to touch him and he flinches, but I carry on. His Adam's apple is bobbing as my hand rests on his thigh. His hands are balled on his knees as his chest rises and falls harshly.
He offered me help outside of the ER for a reason. I knew when I got in his car. I move closer, my hand moving upwards as I do so.
"Don't over-think," I tell him as my hands find his belt. He face scrunches and his eyes close as I undo buckles, buttons and zips. My hand meets warm, hard flesh. His breathing is unsteady and shaky groans are slipping from his mouth.
I pull his trousers and underwear past his knees... he helps me, blindly. I lick my hand and take his length in my palm and move it up and down slowly. His mouth opens and air escapes as his fists clench and unclench in rapid succession. I quicken my pace and pass my thumb over the head, earning a groan that starts in his chest. I stroke and change the angle, twisting my wrist near the head at each pass, my own breathing feeling shaky. He opens his eyes and watches me... watches my hand on him.
"Oh, God," he whispers, his hips leaving the sofa cushions ever so slightly. He continues to watch before looking at my face. Our eyes lock and he is getting close. I push his shirt up and run my free hand along his stomach, the muscles tensing as his legs start to stiffen.
He is fighting it - I see it in his face. He's scared. I lean forward and bring my face to his, his gaze darting to my mouth and away again. I press my lips to his and he whimpers as he pushes back. His hands find my cheeks, my neck. He is pulling me to him with force, his lips pressing tightly to mine as he releases onto my hand and his thighs. His moans are loud and his eyes are firmly shut. My own hardness is pushing against his leg but I do nothing about it. This is about him. I wanted to make him feel good, show him it was okay.
I pull my mouth from his and reach over for the box of tissues in floral packaging on the small nest of tables beside us.
The tissues clean as I study him. He looks more relaxed... yet not. His body is at ease, but his face looks different.
"I think you should go and get some sleep," he says, pulling up his clothing and clearing his throat. There is no room for debate, I know this.
"I could stay," I tell him anyway as I stand. He glances at me quickly before shaking his head.
"I – I don't - just go to sleep," he repeats as he moves away from me. "I'll see you in the morning." I try not to feel disappointed. I try not to feel hurt or angry.
I try to pretend I don't hear the tinkling of crystal decanters filled with amber liquid as I leave the room.
I wake without an ache in my back for the first time in months, maybe more. It's been too long. I wash and dress and descend the winding stairs in search of someone I shouldn't want to see. I hear noise in the kitchen and push the doors open. He isn't alone. The items around the house suddenly make sense.
There is a woman with caramel hair and a fitted skirt. Her shirt is soft lavender... non-threatening colours. They match.
I cough and there are instantly both wary eyes and friendly orbs. Both are coming from the same direction, just different people.
I say nothing... I wait for him to speak first. He takes a deep breath, and then another and the silence is awkward but not something that bothers me. I will continue to wait.
Hands are joined, his and hers. Finally, he decides to speak. "Edward, this is Esme, my girlfriend." He says it so easily and I take another look at her. She is smiling at me like a mother would her own child. I don't like it. I don't like her. I don't like that their hands are still joined.
"Are you hungry? We saved you some pancakes," she says as she walks towards me. Their connection is torn and I smile. I smile for different reasons to her own up-curled lips.
"I'm hungry," I tell her with a glance back to Carlisle. He is watching me but stops and prepares cups of coffee instead. I speak again.
"Carlisle didn't tell me he had a girlfriend," I say as Esme sits opposite me. Her hair is pushed from her shoulders daintily with small hands. His back stiffens and hot coffee is spilled but she doesn't see. She is focusing in the wrong direction.
"He didn't?" she questions. "Must be his age playing tricks with him," she teases with a wink. I give her a forced smile and eat my food.
He eventually – hesitantly - brings us coffee and sits beside her. He takes her hand, again, and I see through him. He is pretending to be someone he is not. I see him, he knows I see him. Small gestures such as the entanglement of fingers don't hide this from me. She is a fool for not seeing. Not knowing. I don't feel sorry for her.
"You don't seem like his type," I say around a mouthful of pancakes. She looks curious and a little amused. Stupid. He looks angry yet nervous. I am lying. If I didn't know any better, she would be just the sort of person I would imagine him with.
"Really?" she laughs absolutely clueless. I smile back at her, not with her.
"I'm kidding," I say to appease them both and she smiles and pushes gently at Carlisle's arm.
"You didn't tell me he was funny," she admonishes. He gazes at her adoringly, like one would a puppy. Expressions meant to appease.
"I guess we have a different sense of humour," he voices and directs the statement at me. It's telling me to, "stop", to, "shut up". I give no indication of doing either despite silently assenting.
"Thanks for breakfast," I say when I'm finished. Esme waves me off and leans her head on Carlisle's shoulder. He holds my gaze as his arm wraps itself around her.
"You're welcome, Dear," she glances at the clock. "We better get going if we don't want to be late," she tells him. He agrees and looks to his watch just to make sure. I don't ask where they're going.
He hands her keys and speaks. "Go on ahead. I just need to speak with Edward for a moment. I'll be right out." She doesn't question him and squeezes my arm on the way out. She reminds me of another from a time when a man used to raise his hat to me each morning. They're both clueless.
His hands go to his pocket... his wallet. Money is being pulled out, notes with stern faces. "What happened last night was wrong," and he's being a coward. "I think it's time you moved on." I feel tears burn my eyes that haven't fallen in years. "Take this... try and get a new start." He pushes the money into my hands but I don't look at it, I don't count it.
"I'd like you to be gone by the time I get back," he says as he still refuses to look at me. I grab his face and force his eyes on me. He can't lie.
And his eyes betray him. His hands rest on my face as he gives in for just a second, but then they're pushing and not pulling.
"Just be gone," he says hoarsely and leaves without a backwards glance.
I am left standing in a home that is not mine as history repeats itself. I want to take things and smash them, tear every book in his library until nothing is salvageable, leaving nothing behind but random words from their text. Gone, hate, please, stay, hurt.
I don't know how long I stand there and hate everything and everyone, but the sun is starting to set and the silence deafens me. I put the money in my pocket and prepare myself to leave. I am looking for shoes when Isabella comes home. She pauses as she steps through the door.
"Looking for something?" she asks, brows drawn. I sigh and go back to looking.
"I'm leaving and need shoes," I tell her. She is beside me holding out a pair that aren't mine. "Take these, he has loads," she shrugs.
I look at her face and thank her. She's staring at me with hooded eyes and I know I can hurt him through her. She is asking me with dark eyes for something before I go. She steps forward and I don't stop her. She puts her mouth on my neck and I don't stop her. She pulls on the shirt I'm wearing and I don't stop her. She unbuckles my jeans and I imagine different hands on me. Better hands.
Her clothes are shed and I don't look at her as I push into her, moans leaving her mouth as I thrust forward. Her hands are gripping my hair, my shoulders, but I don't care. Her back is against the wall, it must be hurting her, it can't be comfortable, but she doesn't say a word. She is telling me to go even harder... faster. She wants this, but her reasons are flawed. She doesn't know me; she just likes the look of the wrapping, all green and bronze disarray. She wants to tie a bow around me and keep me.
Isabella feels warm, but she's not the one I want right now. I am waiting and waiting, my eyes drifting to the door every few minutes. I change the angle slightly and catch her off guard, her pleasured screams filling the entryway, and then finally, I hear the jingle of keys that sets my heart to finally beat as rapidly as hers. She hasn't heard over the sound of her own voice, which makes me happy. I don't want her to scurry away right now, I want him to see that someone wants me and isn't afraid. She isn't afraid to express her feelings, however selfish they may be. I hate her a little less for giving me this opportunity.
The door opens and he doesn't see us at first, but then there are more groans and pleasure and he can't ignore it. His eyes find mine and he stills, keys gripped into his palm, the jagged metal no doubt leaving painful indentations and reminders. She drives on, completely unaware, and I just let her. I let her take something from me... just like I am him.
And she comes, nails digging into my skin harshly as she throws her head back with a cry. Sweat sticks to my skin that I hate, some mine and some not. Her chest is pressed against my chest and the feeling is something that turns my stomach so much I think I'm going to be sick.
There is movement. A picture is pulled from the wall and the smash echoes all around us as the frame hits the floor with a speed that is so unlike his careful and slow contemplations. The glass shatters and flies and slices at my feet. I feel nothing, I simply see lines of red.
She sees her father and all noise stops. It's instantaneous and deafening, more so than her blissed out moaning or his angry breaking of possessions. And I guess this is what I wanted.
"Go!" and his voice is directed at her but his eyes are on me. She goes to speak but his hard gaze shuts her up. I let her slide to her feet, quickly glancing at her pale and washed out face. She looks scared and nervous, but not apologetic. That makes two of us, albeit for completely different reasons. Her balance is shaky as she picks up her discarded clothing from the floor - she manages to dodge the broken glass as she runs up the stairs without a single backwards glance. She will have no cuts or reminders. She got what she wanted. She will be forgiven and looked upon as a girl with a silly crush who got fooled by a heartless stranger. I know her for what she really is.
I pull my jeans up over my thighs and do them up with a calmness that surprises myself; my shaky fingers are the only sign that something is brewing beneath the surface of this falsity. My arms slide into his shirt and now buttons are missing from it just like my old one.
I finally look up to search his face and see just what I expected to see. His eyes are rimmed red, his cheeks are aflame, but his fists are the purest white. They are clenched and ready to inflict hurt, but he won't hit me, it's not in his nature to. He wants to, oh he wants to, but he can't. I could push and push until he snapped and let them fly, but there is no longer time for that.
"Get out of my house," he tells me in a harsh and unwavering voice. His stare is glassy and pained; he feels far too much. I knew those words were going to leave his mouth. I anticipated them - wanted them.
I say nothing, I simply stare back. He is shaking and I want him to. I am punishing him for his mistakes... and others'. Always others'. He hurt me, but now he is the fool.
And the kindness of strangers once again causes pain. But what the giver always forgets is the other person in the equation. The recipient is unpredictable. The recipient should not be trusted to make you feel better about yourself. The recipient will always want more. They will take and take until there is nothing left.
My feet find the shoes given to me, the small incisions across the skin smart, but I ignore the feeling. I walk forward and he tenses further, but I don't stop. My eyes are glued to his face and the blue of his orbs finally match the description that is associated so much with the colour: cold. So cold. They are icicles and frozen puddles. I am trying to tell him, "See? You did this. You!" but he shows nothing but steeled hardness.
I think he has no more to say, but then words come and stab. "And you wonder why you're alone in this world, Edward." I swallow thickly and hate the choking sensation that threatens to clog in my throat. He knows nothing, but says everything.
"If I see you hanging around the hospital again, I'll call the police." I know he means it. I could say so many things to him, words are bubbling and wanting an out, but they won't form in speech. Instead they assault my mind and make me dizzy.
He finally turns his head away from me and I am left with nothing. I don't hesitate any longer and walk out into the evening. I have come full circle.
The sun is setting, the residual light creating mini halos along the ground, filtrating between the gaps at the top of the trees. They shimmer and burn in golds and orange. They mingle with the red stains on my shoes.
He will still be a good man to those who know him. He still has God in his heart and I still have the devil in my eyes. I should send a prayer up there for forgiveness.
I don't, God never hears me.