A/N: I've been working on this one for a while with the planning process and all. I have what I want for this story all written down in an idea form, but it's just the matter of writing it! This is a hard thing for me to write as it is in third person, present tense. If you catch any mistakes do not hesitate to tell me. I'm also open to suggestions on this!
"And back to these cold, shitty nights in Portland,"- Jonny Craig, Children of Divorce
He sits back and watches the birds pass by through the window at dusk. His chair, wooden and worn, squeaks at the pressure he puts on it. His cigarette is burning, wasting, as the time passes. The V formation of the geese finally leaves from his line of vision. With nothing to watch as his smoke turns to ash, he gets back up off of the chair and leans against the widow. It's open, letting the night's wind blow the curtain inwards. He lets the smoke ventilate out of his apartment; he lets himself loose more of her. He breathes in the outdoors, welcoming a new scent rather than her hand-rolled smokes that he'd been sucking down all day. Even then, the smoke is still there, an overwhelming scent that makes it impossible to get pure air.
Nothing is pure anymore.
From the third floor of his apartment, he watches the cars pass by. Another distraction, like the birds. Except this distraction doesn't leave him; Portland's traffic is constant, never ending. It's the only thing that withholds continuity in Edward Masen's life.
She loved the Spring, she loved the traffic that came with it. She liked watching the college kids walk the streets at midnight, going from one dive bar to another. She liked the smoke that rose from three stories below.
Everything reminds him of her, of Tanya. In their flat, the grocery store. The apartment is only his now, not theirs. He can see that from her boxes that line the yellowed walls, stacked on top of each other. The movers were supposed to be there an hour ago to keep them safely hidden in storage. The night move was cheaper than the day's. His first month was free.
The first week after her death, he decided that Tanya's belongings would only make his grief worse. The close reminders of her sickens him; the feeling sinks to his stomach, lurching it. He is going to be sick just by thinking about her broken body.
He sets the remaining bit of his cigarette on the window sill and runs to the bathroom. His toilet is just as sick as he. The yellowness of the toilet makes him gag more until his lunch sprouts up from his throat. He wipes his mouth and breathes in the scent of vomit and smoke.
Not just Tanya's last rolled cigarettes, but the smell of drywall being licked by flames. The smell of cardboard boxes turning into ash so much like his cigarettes. He then gets a whiff of the gasoline and the rancidness that comes with it.
He covers his mouth with a wet towel from his hamper and takes a step into the billowing fire. The bathroom's door is already charred he notices. Fire spread too quick for it to be natural. All it needed was a spark. This realization made him move faster. He maneuvers to the front door speedily, trying not to inhale the smoke. That door is charred, too. The fire has already consumed half of his small apartment and is making its way to his bedroom.
The touch of the doorknob is hot and burns his hand. He takes the risk of breathing in smoke and uses his towel as a shield to open the door. It still seers his skin, inflaming it. He manages opening it and then fall into the hallway. He wants to scream, to call for help. He wants someone to go back in there for him and grab her things. Anything. But he can't- his eyes are irritated, head is pounding. He coughs and the act seethes his throat. He's drained of all energy, his hand is throbbing from the burn.
The smoke is now seeping from the door, carrying itself down the hall. He waits to see red light flicker in the distance, then a loud ringing that usually trails behind it, but it doesn't sound. He hears pounding on the door, then the creaks of them opening. And yelling, calling for lovers, family to leave their home.
"Edward!" his name is called by a familiar voice. He wants to respond, to say something, but all that comes out is a soft moan. He hears footsteps getting closer, and then feels a rough hand on his arm.
He is being dragged down the hallway by the man who he identifies as Jasper. Jasper, his newest neighbor. Jasper who's going to be pissed that he is burning down the building.
They have reached the stairs crowded with lost tenants. Jasper pulls Edward to his feet and rushes everyone outside to the ground level. Jasper's firefighting skills work, they are all safe out in the cold, breezy weather. The blaring sirens don't help his headache; the tears that fall from his neighbors don't help his guilt. He's thankful for the person who called the Fire Department since his phone is right by that blackened window sill, melting in the flames. Another mistake, another thing to face.
He hates this. He hates himself, he hates that he lost Tanya to his own stupidity. He hates that he's lost everything now, that the left the door unlocked to vomit. That someone came inside the apartment and violated his depressing sanctuary with gaseous fumes.
Was that person here now? Was this some kind of sick revenge or a pleasant repetition of Tanya's death? He looks around, staring intently into each victim's eyes. He eyes set on a pair of deep brown eyes. The face that matches them is in horror. Her home has been destroyed because of him, why would it not be in horror?
The ambulance has pulled onto the curb. The EMT yells out, asking if anyone is hurt. There are heads that shake, some who moan. A hand goes up, but it isn't his. He's standing there, bathing in his own misery.
Her voice rings out, calling the EMT over to her by his first name. She points at Edward, pulling the worker as she walks towards him. He recognizes the man's face. He has seen him many times before now; that was when he volunteered with his stepfather before he discovered the addiction.
"Billy," she says, voice like crystal in this chaos. "is Charlie coming?"
"No. Sorry, Bella. There was a call before we left; the department must have sent him off." She nods and Billy turns his attention on treating Edward. "Mr. Cullen, can you tell me what's wrong with you today?"
He is professional, too professional. Edward wants more than anything to throw him off, for him to stop treating him with respect. He's done a horrible thing and all they can do is ignore it!
"Masen." he corrects with a raspy throat. The pain comes again and he throws his stinging hand to his neck, looking for relief. He drops it in disappointment and in pain; Edward's hand hurts more from moving it.
The medic tenderly touches his hand and declares it to be a second degree burn. He guides Edward to the back of an ambulance, the brown-eyed girl trailing along. She stops at the entrance, wondering if it would be okay to go inside. These spring nights are cool from this morning's rain and she didn't grab her jacket when fleeing, he notices. She looks up at him, asking without speaking. Edwards sits up onto the small bed inside the vehicle and says that it's fine for her to come in.
He watches her stumble her way over to the gray, uncomfortable looking passenger's bench. Her cheeks turn to fire when she makes a loud noise by hitting her elbow on the wall. Carlisle's ex-medical partner is washing his hands over the sink, chuckling at her clumsiness.
He studies her face, it's contorting while in deep thought. She's lost in her own world.