This oneshot has been sitting on my hard drive for almost a year, so I thought I'd throw it up. Enjoy! Thanks to Daisy3853 for her help all those months ago. :)
SM owns Twilight.
He had been watching her. Every day for two weeks he had watched her, always from a distance. He never spoke to her. He never even got close enough to let her see him. He just watched.
She arrived at the cafe promptly at 9 a.m., her sky blue apron slung around her waist. She wore the same clothes every day, a crisp white blouse and knee length grey pleated skirt. He suspected it was the same shirt and skirt laundered daily, but he couldn't be certain. There were limits to how perceptive his eyes and nose could be.
The first morning he saw her, he had just been passing through. Philadelphia one day, Newark the next, maybe a brief extended stay in New York where he could remain anonymous and live off the homeless dregs for a few weeks.
He was a drifter, and a miserable one at that. Those of his kind were, as a rule, hedonists. They sought the thrill of the hunt, the pleasure in a fresh kill. That pleasure had been stolen from him, however, by the power he had been granted. Not power in the way it ordinarily meant for his kind: strength, speed, enhanced senses, outward beauty. No, his power was more intangible. It allowed him to feel every moment of terror, despair, and panic. There was no victory in the hunt. There was only the stark reality. He needed to eat to live, and he needed to hunt to eat. End of story.
As a result, he refrained from hunting for as long as possible to save his sanity. At first it was short bursts of time. He could only go two days before he needed blood. Then it was longer. Three days. Five. A week. The first time he had seen the girl, he hadn't eaten for six days. His eyes were black with hunger, and he had dark shadows under his eyes. She walked past him on the street, closer than he had allowed her to get since. Too close.
The impact of her sweet smell was enough to stop him in his tracks. If it hadn't been for the fact that they were on a busy street with no obvious dark corners to sweep her into, she might have been dead right there. He was sure he had tasted better blood, sweeter, tangier, more fulfilling. He just couldn't quite recall when.
He followed her to the diner where she worked and sat at the bench across the street. It was conveniently situated under the overhang of the nearest building, and that, combined with the wide brimmed hat he always wore, ensured that his secret wouldn't be exposed to passersby.
He was sure that once she left for the day, it would be a simple matter of following her home, pulling her aside into any alley that might be nearby, and pressing his lips quickly to the rapid pulse that beat at her neck. Easy. Child's play.
And yet. And yet.
In the long hours he waited, he found himself interested on what was going on inside the diner. The girl was a force. She glowed with the simple satisfaction of her work. There wasn't any artifice about her. He could tell that at least; finally a use for the talent that kept him from enjoying even a simple meal.
She was tiny, with odd, out of fashion hair that stuck up in all directions. She was well groomed, but her shoes were scuffed and the soles were peeling back slightly. She seemed to do the job of six waitresses, in constant motion, graceful as a ballerina but with none of the pretense. She never spilled or dropped anything. She was polite and cheerful. She was happy.
When she left that evening, he didn't follow her. It took every bit of self restraint he had not to, but he managed it by telling himself that someone like her shouldn't meet her end as a tasty snack.
Two weeks passed. He fed on an old man sleeping near the train tracks near the outskirts of town, snapping his neck quickly in order to eat in peace. No fight, no panic. Clean. Quick. It wasn't the girl, but it would do.
She didn't miss a single day of work, and there wasn't a day that she didn't work until close. The diner seemed to be everything she had. He was burning of curiosity by this time, but something stopped him from following her home. Something kept him separated from her.
He was reaching the end of the time he usually spent in any city. Two weeks was a long time for a drifter. He wasn't taking advantage of the city the way most nomads he knew would. It was a waste of a good hunting ground. He should move on.
It was with the knowledge that he would be leaving in the morning, never to see the girl again, that made him hesitate that last day in Philadelphia. It had started to rain; the clouds that had blessed most of his stay had finally erupted into nothing less than a downpour. Sitting on a bench all day would be conspicuous. He couldn't bear not watching her, though, not on his last day.
So instead of crossing to his bench, he walked through the double doors into the diner. At first, the smell of cooking meat overwhelmed him. It was a close, hot little space, full of people and noise. He felt flashes of annoyance, hunger, pain, happiness and anger. He stopped breathing just for good measure and tried to cloak himself in a bubble of calm. It wouldn't do to get overexcited. Not now.
He slid into a booth by the window in the corner. He was thirsty, but it wasn't unbearable. He thought he could probably manage a couple of hours before he would have to escape into the fresh, clean air.
It was a few minutes past 9. He had seen her enter, as she always did, at 9 on the dot. She swept out of the kitchen and made a beeline for his table. She didn't look up from her paper pad.
"What'll ya have?"
Her voice was unexpected. Most human voices sounded harsh or course to his ears. Hers was musical, chirping, and a little bit too high.
"Cup of coffee," he muttered. She nodded and didn't look up, spinning away from his table and onto the next without her usual brilliant smile. He watched her dance from table to table, never smiling, working diligently, but without her usual spark.
He wondered why.
When she pushed the cup of bitter coffee in front of him, he chanced a glance up at her. She was already half turned away from him.
He hadn't spoken to anyone in at least six months. That was the last time he had encountered another nomad. He never spoke to humans, not to his victims and not to the masses which surrounded him in the streets of the cities and towns he passed through. Curiosity drew the word from his lips. He was never curious, as a rule.
She looked up then, with wide, startled eyes. Blue met black, and suddenly her whole body seemed to relax. She smiled.
"Oh," she said. "It's you. You've kept me waiting."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," he said, and inexplicably, he was. He was sorry for keeping this smiling, tiny woman-child waiting.
"That's all right," she said. She waved a hand as it if didn't matter. "Listen, can you wait an hour? Just an hour."
He nodded, although he had no idea what she was talking about.
"Good," she said, giving him another serene smile. She glanced down at his coffee. "You don't have to drink that. I know it's not exactly what you prefer."
Before he could ask her what she meant or question the odd, knowing look in her eyes, she walked away.
True to her word, after an hour had passed she returned to his table, her jacket hung on her arm.
"Are you ready?"
He nodded and stood. She reached out her hand, and without conscious thought, he took it. She was so warm. He could feel her pulse beating steadily, if a bit quickly, through her hand.
They left the diner hand in hand. She didn't say goodbye to anyone. She just led him out onto the street.
"I've seen you, you know," she said suddenly. Her tone was light and conversational. He looked down at her, one eyebrow raised.
"Oh, I've seen you on your bench, of course," she continued when he didn't say anything. "But that's not what I mean. I've seen you in my dreams. I know what you want to do."
They had stopped in front of an alley. It was only 10 a.m., but between the rain and the shelter of the alley, the light was dim.
"My dreams are very rarely wrong, you know." Her tone was conversational. Light. "I know what you want to do."
"You keep saying that," he finally said. "But I don't know what you mean."
She ran a tiny, pale hand down her neck. "You want to drink my blood."
He let go of her hand then, taking startled steps back.
"It's no use denying it. I've seen it."
"You don't know what you're talking about," he hissed.
"That's where you're wrong," she whispered, following him into the dark alley. She was the predator, he the prey. "I know exactly what I'm talking about. I've seen the future, Jasper Whitlock. It ends in one of two ways. I die, or I don't."
She shrugged. "It doesn't matter much to me either way. This life holds nothing for me. That life holds the promise of everything. And death... well, death will be a release, at least."
"You want me to kill you?" His voice was barely loud enough to hear, but she nodded. Still he retreated, still she advanced.
"Kill me, change me, love me, never forget me." She shrugged again.
His back hit a wall, and she pushed closer. The fragrance of her blood, like cherry blossoms and jasmine, surrounded him. The heat of her body pushed him back, surrounded him. She tilted her head to the side, offering her bare neck.
He didn't move.
She sighed, but did not retreat. Instead, she kept talking. A vein in her neck continued to pulse tantalizingly. He couldn't tear his eyes away.
"They think I'm crazy. My parents, the people I work with. I've stopped telling people about my dreams. But I've been seeing you for months."
She paused, seeming to examine him closely. "Of course, you look different in the other future. Golden eyes. Big smile. Sometimes there is pain, but what is life without pain, anyway? Even immortals must feel pain."
She was whispering now. Her breath fanned across his face: coffee, with a hint of evergreen. Her toothpaste?
"In death, you look much the same as you do now. Black eyes. Searching, always searching. Living your life in an echo. Never feeling for yourself. You must be so... lonely."
He closed his eyes and forced himself to calm. This tiny gypsy knew entirely too much. Every instinct screamed at him: kill the little one. She wants you to. It wouldn't be hard.
He stayed frozen. She pushed closer. His arms flew sideways, fingers digging into the brick wall behind him.
"Why are you resisting?" she demanded. "I'm giving you everything. All you have to do is take it."
She closed her eyes and tilted her head again. Her pulse was in full view, and despite the firm tone in her command, he could tell she was frightened. Of course he could. It was his gift. His curse.
Was it murder if she asked for it?
He lowered his lips to her neck, doing his best to project a solid wall of euphoria. She smiled. He licked her skin, one quick movement. She shivered, but laughed. She could sense her victory.
"Do it," she whispered. "Kill me, or don't. But do something."
He kissed her skin, then wrapped his arms around her. He cradled her as gently as he would a newborn child. She was a soap bubble: delicate, highly unstable, and liable to burst at any moment. He bared his teeth, but then he stopped .
"What's your name?" he whispered.
Alice. He smiled.
"Sleep well, Alice."
He struck quickly. She did not feel fear, just an echo of his elation. And when her body was empty, he lowered her reverently to the ground, closing her eyes with the tips of his fingers.
"I won't forget you," he sighed.
He left her there, cold and drained on the alley floor, and he melted into the darkness. Sometimes he wondered about the other life, and what she had meant about golden eyes and smiles. But it was too late for that. He lived in a world of crimson and black, and that would be where he remained.