The Strange Case of Edward Cullen

Summary: The many reasons why Edward Cullen was strange. An AU love story. EXB, of course.

A/N: Just a light, funny one-shot that I hope you enjoy. By the way, this stands alone and IS NOT part of my maybe-I'll-post-here-soon-if-you'd-like story, The Blue Hour.

Please read, and I hope you enjoy.

Edward Cullen was a strange boy.

It was something that most people he knew would testify to.

It was something even he himself would, though for different reasons.

The most glaring thing that separates him from most of the world's population, the one thing that he'd say made him a strange person, was the fact that he wasn't human at all.

Edward Cullen was a vampire.

His father, for all intents and purposes, wouldn't say he was strange, and neither would his vampire mother. But then again, parents rarely see the flaws in their children.

His siblings, on the other hand, would.

His brothers Emmett and Jasper would say that Edward was strange because he was Edward. He preferred to sulk in his room rather than join in on a jovial family night. He would rather play the piano than toss a football filled with cement with his brothers. He would rather watch House than the sports channel. Then there was the whole '100 year old virgin issue' - Emmett still couldn't believe that Edward had never even had his first kiss before and Jasper had taken it upon himself on several occasions to give Edward a reassuring talk about how the entire family would support him no matter what his gender preferences were.

His sister Rosalie and his 'cousin' Tanya would say that Edward was strange because he hadn't fallen for either of their charms. Rosalie, who had no romantic feelings for him at all and was rather happily mated to Emmett, was simply insulted that he hadn't shown any physical interest in pursuing her. She was used to men falling to their knees simply at the sight of her and the scowl he'd sent her way the first time she'd ever seen him hadn't sat well with her at all. In fact, even after eighty years, she was still holding a grudge. She was the first one to think of him as 'gay', in fact, choosing to believe this instead of the 'ridiculous notion' that he simply didn't find her alluring. That was just unthinkable to her. Tanya, on the other hand, had found him immensely attractive since the moment she saw him sixty years ago. The fact that he'd - very gentlemanly - let her down hadn't deterred her. In fact, it had spurred her on. Now it was more about the game than the man, and both knew she held no real romantic interest in him. Just pure lust. If there was one thing Tanya could pride herself in knowing was men, and men were weak, vulnerable creatures who would bow under the presence of temptation. Sure, she had never met a man who had turned her down before - or, even, wasn't stunned by her very presence - unless they were mated already. Edward Cullen was the exception. She had faith, however, that given time, her new friend would cave. But still, even after sixty years, he hadn't budged. She was beginning to worry about him.

Only his sister Alice wouldn't say he was strange. On most days.

But lately, even Carlisle and Esme couldn't deny that Edward Cullen…Was acting incredibly odd.

Following a normal charade of high school, during which Edward hadn't completed his four years of 'education' due to extreme frustration at the monotony of it all, Edward had decided to go on a trip.

It had been an incredibly bad day for Edward.

He had been interrupted by his sister Alice in the early hours of the morning - right as he was getting that one spark of inspiration for a song that had been bugging him for weeks - so that she could 'dress' him for school. The moment she had wore him down with her arguments about making a good impression on humans they couldn't care less about, his muse had taken off and he was left feeling very frustrated all over again.

Then he'd had to drive his siblings to school. There was Alice, so excited she was bouncing in place, because of the tickets Jasper had given her as a surprise gift for a series of fashion shows held in Paris. There was Jasper, smiling goofily as he soaked up Alice's happy energy. There was Emmett, sitting directly behind him, watching a football game on one of those handheld video devices, earphones plugged in his ears and angrily screaming at the small screen as his team loses - he'd kick at Edward's seat every few minutes, which was irritating as hell. Then there was Rosalie, sitting right next to Edward, her arms folded across her chest and scowling out of her window because her husband wasn't paying attention to her for one measly morning out of eternity. Edward couldn't even turn on the radio without her snapping at him.

It had been a very miserable drive. Thank God he drove like a racing maniac.

Then, to top it all off, he'd had to endure school. A dreadful rectangular building filled with middle aged humans who thought they were intellectually brighter than everyone else on campus - including Edward who had attended and graduated high school seven times before - and silly teenaged girls who would throw themselves shamelessly at the Cullen brothers. They had only been in this school for less than a year, so the students hadn't learnt to leave them all alone yet. These days, they had left Emmett, Jasper, Alice and Rosalie alone. Now, the main target was Edward, and the darts were five hundred or so incredibly horny teenaged girls.

It wasn't pleasant.

After Melissa Crockery had tried to corner him against a row of lockers and kiss him - in her mind, her plan was ingenious and he'd somehow realize that he was in love with her as they made out in something resembling an R-rated movie scene, despite having never talked to her or acknowledged her presence before - he had pushed her away without physically hurting her, stormed off towards the parking lot where his siblings were laughing at his misfortune in his Volvo, thank you very much Alice, and raced home to inform his parents of one very important thing.

"I hate high school!" Edward declared, fuming. If he had been human, he would've been red in the face, with steam coming out of his ears. The way he looked at the moment, it wasn't so hard to imagine.

"I hate it! I hate the teachers. I hate the students. I hate the stupid girls who have become sluttier by the decade-"

At this statement, his mother Esme had gasped, dropped the couch pillow she had been fluffing, and raised her hand to her chest in shock. "Edward!" she blinked at her son, wondering just what had caused him to go over the edge like this. Sure, he had been irritable these past few days, but nothing too terrible. He was Edward, for God's sakes. He was almost always irritable.

Edward ignored his mother's outraged voice, and continued with his tirade, his entire family watching in bemusement. "I hate learning the same thing over and over again. I hate being surrounded by the same type of people everywhere we go. I hate their petty thoughts. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! I. HATE. IT!" he screamed, his hands going to his hair where he was tugging almost hard enough to pull out.

Alice, at this point, intervened, dancing forward to gently pry his hands out of his disheveled locks. "You don't want to do that," she warned merrily. "Our hair doesn't grow back, and you don't look good with bald spots. Trust me."

Emmett chuckled in the background.

Edward glared at his sister for a few moments before turning his frustrated glance to his mother. "I need to leave, mother," he told her. "I feel as if I'm suffocating, playing the very same charade all over again. Please…I…" he broke off, seeing the hurt look on her face. "It has absolutely nothing to do with you. I just need to take some time to myself. Travel for a bit. It's just driving me a little insane."

"A little?" Rosalie scoffed. "You were off being drama queen just moments ago."

"I think you meant 'drama king'," Jasper drawled.

Rosalie threw a wicked smile in Edward's direction. "Nope. I definitely meant 'drama queen."

Esme hissed at Rosalie to be quiet before she stepped forward to envelope Edward in a loving, maternal hug. "Anything you want, my lovely boy," she murmured, pressing a kiss atop his head. "We'll figure something out to tell the town. You just…You be careful, alright? And call often."

"I will, mom."

And so, Edward Cullen packed a small backpack and left his home, with a promise to check in on his father before he left town.

He had stayed gone for eight years.

Esme would've been terribly worried about him, but he called nearly every week and in each phone call, he would repeatedly reassure her that he was just fine.

The funny thing was, after just two years since he'd left home, Edward had started getting happier. Esme could hear it in his voice, and so could the others when they spoke to him. Their conversations might be brief, at least compared to Esme's, but the happiness in his tone was too evident to be hidden. Every time they asked, though, he would be nonchalant about it.

A day before the ninth anniversary since he'd left home, Edward had returned to his family's estate in Alaska, unannounced. He had known where they'd moved to thanks to his weekly conversations with the family, so it didn't take much for him to return.

"Edward!" Esme cried, completely overjoyed at the sight of her son standing in the entryway. "You're home!"

He caught her in his arms as she rushed to him, and embraced her, chuckling. "I'm here," he said, silently disagreeing with her words. Home was not what it used to be for him. Not anymore.

They hugged for a long time, with her refusing to allow him out of her embrace until Carlisle laughed, stepping forward. "Esme, darling, at least let the boy inside the house," he reminded her.

She pulled back then, fretting over him as though something like the cold Alaskan weather could ever affect him. "Oh! Yes, of course, come on in, dear," she pulled him inside gently by her hold on his wrist, shutting the door behind him so that the wind wouldn't bring in the snow with it.

The others greeted him, then, with hugs and kisses and manly pats on the back being exchanged. Even Rosalie couldn't help but give him a hug - a very brief hug, accompanied by a slap upside his head, muttering about how he just had to make a big entrance, the drama queen he was.

Esme, beaming widely from ear to ear as she witnessed her family reunited, couldn't help but dart forward to hug her son once more. "I'm sorry," she choked out. "I'm just so happy you're home, Edward."

She pulled back to gaze up at him, and her smile flickered as she caught the telltale signs of sadness lingering in her son's brilliant topaz eyes. "Are you happy to be here?" she questioned, her voice almost too quiet to be heard.

Edward's gaze snapped to her immediately. "Of course I am, mom," he assured her warmly, and even to his own ears, it didn't sound completely sincere. "I'm just distracted. I'm fine. I'm happy."

But as the days wore on, it was clear that he wasn't as happy as he said he was.

He started to lose the jaunty spring to his steps.

He started to frown more often.

The melodies he played started to become more and more melancholy as the days passed.

Before the year was even out, he had gone to his parents, both seated in Carlisle's study. "I feel the itch to travel once more," he admitted with a rueful smile. "I'm really sorry. I just…I can't explain it at the moment. I just miss…Being out there. I'm terribly sorry."

Both of them had been very understanding. Carlisle had patted him on the back and told him how it was understandable, considering how long eternity was, for their kind to be restless from time to time. Esme, despite her sadness, had hugged her son and told him the same things she had the last time he'd left - to call often, to be safe and to always remember home.

He stayed for Christmas and didn't leave until the whole family rang in New Year's together, for the sake of his mother.

He didn't stay away as long as he had the first time, which his parents were grateful for, but he didn't step in into the charade the rest of his family did, either.

Unlike his siblings, he didn't attend school.

In fact, none of the humans in the last three towns their family had stayed in even knew that there was a seventh Cullen by the name of Edward.

He would come home for a few months, then he would leave, saying that he had 'the itch'. He'd stay gone for a few years, keeping constant contact with the family, then return home, happy and exuberant until the high wore off.

No one could understand why Edward Cullen was acting so strangely. He was being perplexing, and it was hard to decipher.

Finally, seventeen years after he'd first declared he wanted to take a break from his life, the family came to know just why he was so strange.

"Mom? Mom, it's me, Edward," came the happy voice from the other end.

Esme Cullen, as always whenever she received a phone call from him, brightened up immediately. "Edward? Oh, hello, sweetheart! How are you! What have you been up to! Have you been taking care of yourself?" she spouted off question after question as though she hadn't heard from him in months rather than five days.

"I'm fine, mother. I'm better than fine. As a matter of fact, I'm brilliant!" she was a tad shocked to hear him start laughing jovially. In all the time she'd known him - over a century - she had never heard him laugh like that. Sure, there had been the occasional chuckle, most of them sarcastic more than anything, but never had he been so…Carefree. What on earth was going on! "I was just calling to tell you that I'm on my way home. I'm already halfway across Port Angeles."

Her cold heart warmed infinitely at that. "You are? Oh, Edward, that's wonderful," she beamed. He had been gone for less than a year this time. His travels had been getting shorter and shorter, though they grew in frequency to make up for the lack of time he spent away. She was hoping, secretly, that he was going to start phasing out of his new hobby. As much as she loved that he was getting so much happiness from his travels, she was slightly upset that he was so much more carefree when he was away from the family. He'd sink into some sort of a depression every time he was home and it was killing her.

"Yes, it is. Mom…I just wanted to warn you. I'm bringing home a surprise," before she'd had a chance to question him, he quickly added, "We'll be there in a half hour. I love you, mom. See you soon."

Then he had hung up.

She jerked the phone away from her head for a moment and stared at it for a long while.

A surprise?

What could it possibly be?

Could this surprise have anything to do with why he was so happy all the time away from the family, and why he was so depressed when he was home?

And - her world halted for a moment - had he said the word 'we'? Meaning…He was bringing home a 'someone' instead of a 'something'?

Barely able to hold in a squeal rivaling Alice's during fashion week, she quickly, carefully, placed the phone back in its cradle and called out for the rest of the family.

"Alice, did you see your brother returning?" she asked, enthusiasm coloring her tone.

Alice frowned at her. "Actually, no, I didn't," she said, surprising the family. "My vision had been strangely hazy all day. It's rather frustrating, actually."

Unlike the rest of the family, Esme wasn't pondering over Alice's hazy visions. "Well, he just called," she said, clasping her hands together and looking over at her beloved with shining eyes. "He said something about a surprise."

"So?" Rosalie asked, not getting it. She was mostly just annoyed. The boy hadn't even been gone for a year this time around and he was getting all this attention. It was aggravating.

Esme, unhindered by Rosalie's tone, lowered her voice to an almost whisper. "I think he means he's bringing home someone," she admitted.

The room was silent for a full ten seconds, six vampires frozen in shock, before Emmett broke it, "Ha! Please. This is Edward we're talking about. That's just impossible."

The smooth purr of an engine made Esme's frown turn upside down. She flitted to the window, where she saw a sleek golden tone car making its way up the driveway. It was the very latest model of an Aston Martin, Edward's ultimate favorite car. The windows were tinted so even with her vampire vision, she could not see who was inside. She was desperate to know if her son had really found himself a companion - or, even better, a mate - and had brought her - or him, mindful of the family's assumptions for a fair few decades now - home to meet the family.

She darted towards the door to wrench it open and greet Edward at his car, but Carlisle caught her around the waist. "Patience, darling," he whispered to her. "He'll be here soon enough."

She would've scowled but as soon as the words were out of Carlisle's mouth, the door to their house swung open and Edward stepped inside.

Esme squealed and launched herself into her son's arms, hugging him tightly, and reveling in the warmth of maternal glow when Edward chuckled, swinging her around a few times before placing her back on the ground.

She, like everyone else in the room, noted the very glaring differences in Edward Cullen this time.

His eyes, a soft beautiful butterscotch color, shined and sparkled brightly.

His smile was wide, crooked and free, as though he had absolutely no troubles or worries whatsoever.

His shoulders and posture was straight.

His demeanor was much friendlier than it had ever been.

And when he stepped forward to enter the house, his steps were light and had a certain spring to it.

Strange, strange, strange.

Then, in a voice that bellied his anxiety and excitement all in one, he said, "Mom, dad, I'd like you to meet my Bella."

His oddly bright golden eyes moved to the door, where a petite beautiful young brunette entered the room, a shy blush gracing her cheeks. She had long, wavy to the point of being almost curly brown hair that had gorgeous hints of red and gold in it, cascading like a chocolate waterfall down to her lower back. She had a pale, heart-shaped face and wide, innocent doe-like chocolate eyes. Her full lips were pulled into a timid little smile.

As seven vampires stared at this anomaly of a girl, with her obviously beating heart and pulsing blood in her veins despite her oddly unappetizing scent that smelled a little like vampires instead of purely human, she blushed a brighter pink and rushed to Edward's side.

"Hi," she said softly, quietly, giving them a tentative smile.

Edward, who was gazing at her with rapt attention, a prideful smile on his lips, said, "She's my beautiful mate, my lovely Bella."

And suddenly, as Bella gazed right back at the very strangely happy Edward Cullen with the same loving smile, it all made perfect sense.

So? What do you guys think?

Personally, I loved it. Bella wasn't even in this story until the very end, and she said all of one word, but I loved it. I hope you do, too.

P.S. If it wasn't clear enough (looks human, but doesn't smell like one), Bella is a vampire-human hybrid. Edward met her when she was already grown, though, not when she was a baby. They just waited a long time to introduce her to the family.

Thanks so much for reading.