A|N – Not much to say. Just thanks for reading.
Much love to my beta, Shasta. She was so kind to take this on… again. Thanks, dear.
I do not own any of these characters, or the original plot to the Twilight Series. Everything publicly recognizable belongs to their owners. I am doing this only for the pleasure I gain from writing and I am not associated with anyone or anything to do with the Twilight Series.
Edward didn't even flinch, his eyes never leaving mine. In my distraction, I hadn't noticed footsteps approaching, but he hadn't been preoccupied at all; he had kept his wits about him.
I would really need to pay more attention to my surroundings. If these people weren't what they seemed—and I was sure they weren't; how could they be?—I would have to be on my toes and ready for a quick escape. I could not allow myself to become too comfortable. I needed to keep my eyes open.
So as not to seem too surprised, I nodded at Carlisle and shot a pointed glance at Edward. I wasn't sure I wanted him in the same room for this conversation. There were bound to be some difficult revelations, and I wanted as few witnesses as possible.
I turned around in my seat to face Carlisle as he glided past the area where I was seated. My breathing—however unnecessary—became unsteady while I watched him walk to his chair on the other side of an antique desk. His pace was unnerving. Why would he act like a human even in his own home? Did they always move so slowly or was it a vain attempt to make me feel comfortable? If the latter, it wasn't working.
Inhaling deeply and unnecessarily, I grasped my chair's arms and held as tightly as possible, taking care not to break them. They appeared to be antique wood. Carlisle probably wouldn't be happy if I damaged it.
"Okay, I'm ready," I blurted, feeling anything but.
Carlisle laughed quietly, then turned his gaze to Edward , who nodded almost imperceptibly. "Do you feel comfortable with Edward here, or would you rather just you and me?" Carlisle asked.
I looked next to me. Edward sat with his expression open, almost imploring. Why did he care? What concern could he have? It wasn't like I was anyone to him. He didn't know me from Eve. Maybe he was just that nosy?
He lifted his eyebrows in response to my narrowed eyes, and I couldn't tell whether his expression was meant to be challenging or questioning.
"Um… I'm not sure—I mean, I think that… I'd rather…" I prattled, hating the uncertainty in my voice. I was too nervous to ask why he wanted to stay. That tempered my curiosity. And though a tiny confused part of me wanted nothing more than the answers I sought about this life, I knew that having one stranger view my reactions was more than enough. I didn't need a larger audience.
"If you feel uncomfortable…" Edward began.
Edward looked to my hands. I'd inadvertently been fidgeting with my fingers. He shook his head and lightly laughed through his nose. "For a newborn, you're strangely human," he mused. "I'll go."
His easy surrender bothered me, turning the tables and making me wonder why I cared so much.
True, I was confused by his interest, but I was also strangely calmed by it. This feeling worried me. I shouldn't care; I didn't need to grow attached to these people without fully understanding them. I needed to remain disconnected. The never-ending emotional roller coaster that started the night I met James left me feeling drained. To trust or not to trust, that was most important question, and I'd always been to be too gullible.
I decided to allow some faith, but not to let my guard down completely. I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to do that again. I always lost too much.
"I'll… uh, I'll see you later," Edward said, rising from his chair, his face a mask of dejection.
What a guilt trip! In that moment, I just wanted to avoid kicking the boy out in his home. Yet, I stopped myself from asking him to stay out of remorse. I really needed to do this alone.
I watched him leave, his sinuous movements mesmerizing as he trod across the floor and closed the door behind him.
Carlisle cleared his throat, a sound that threw me at first. It wasn't like we ever needed to worry about such mundane things like that. I turned to him, tearing my eyes from the wooden door and quickly ascertaining that the sound wasn't out of necessity—why would it be?—but purposely done to unobtrusively garner my attention. If I could have blushed, my face would have been beet red at that moment. How embarrassing to have been caught ogling his son.
Plastering on a fake smile, I adopted an air of platitude.
"Shall we begin?" Carlisle asked, a note of humor in his voice. He couldn't keep the smile out, even if his mouth wasn't upturned.
I nodded, afraid my voice would give away my mortification.
"Would like to ask specific questions, or do you just want me to give a brief explanation and history."
I nodded once again, this time gesturing toward him with a flick of my index finger.
He began without mention of my rude behavior. "Well, there seems to be much you don't know. Our kind—that is to say, vampires—don't follow the traditional beliefs that Hollywood and books portray, which I'm sure you're aware."
"We don't burn up in sunlight, or get hurt by wooden stakes, or—" a vision of me, that strange creature in the mirror, passed before my eyes—"well, we can see our reflections."
"Yes, those are all myths that were passed through generation to generation to make humans feel more competent when faced with one of us."
"Okay… from your beginning, I assume there are certain parts that are going to hold true," I prodded.
"That is correct," he answered, stressing the sentence strangely. "You know that the most important myth, our diet, holds true."
"Yes," I sighed, unhappy to talk about the darker side of our nature. "But you seem to have found a way around harming humans."
"We have," Carlisle agreed. "The occasional accident is a regrettable part of our nature, but we strive daily to preserve human life."
"Accident?" I asked. "So you've all had accidents?" I didn't know why this tidbit seemed important. Maybe I didn't want to feel like I was the only guilty party. It helped alleviate the burden I carried.
"Mostly." He nodded. "But that's not my story to tell. Most of us have had quite a different upbringing than you. But I assure you, there is no judgment here, only help, if you choose to follow our lifestyle."
"Okay." Yeah, no judgment.
I seriously disagreed with that. How could they not? I was so sullied and they were so pure, especially Edward… and Alice. I couldn't imagine that anyone with such an angelic a face could have done anything wrong—particularly murder. The only one I could see that possible with was the scarred one—he was terrifying. There was no other way he had become so littered with bites.
"Back to the matter at hand: your history lesson."
I smiled. "Back to school. " I rolled my eyes, trying to lighten the heavy atmosphere. "I thought I was done with that."
He chuckled quietly. "Yes, well that's up to you. Your future is your decision." He smiled kindly. "Another tangent to be discussed later."
"As my wife has informed me, James found you around six months ago, yes?"
"Yes," I agreed. "Right after my birthday."
"How old are you?" he asked, clearly alluding to my actual age.
He winced slightly. "So young and with a bright future. I hope you don't find this life as much of a burden as others I know who were about the same age."
"It is what it is. I'm stuck with it."
"Unfortunately, yes." He rose from his chair and began walking around mine to the seat Edward had vacated. "But this life isn't all bad. There are many positive aspects"
I snorted. "Yeah."
He sat beside me and grasped my hand. I heard a huff from the floor above.
Carlisle's mouth twitched involuntarily. "Now onto another revelation." He paused. "You seemed surprised when I told you my age."
"Uh, yeah." He squeezed my hand gently. "I mean, that's not even possible. No one is that old."
"I am," he assured. "And there are others much older than me."
"But… but how?"
"We don't age." He placed his other hand on top of the one he already held. "We are frozen at the state we were when changed."
"No," I answered my voice hollow. "That's true? Of everything, that had to be true?"
"It is, I'm afraid."
"So I'm always going to be seventeen?" I wondered if he could hear the fear in my voice. Eternal youth sounded great and would have been, had I been a little older. "I'm always going to look like this." Disgust colored my words as I pointed to myself. "You got my hopes up that I might be able to go out and be a part of society. How's that going to work if I always look like a kid?" I pulled my hand away and crossed my arms, pouting—very much resembling a two-year-old.
"There are benefits—"
"Screw your benefits," I snarled. "I want my life. I was supposed to grow up, get a job doing something I loved, have a career. Possibly find a nice guy—after I was well established—and not think about getting married until I was thirty." I curled in on myself. "That's gone. He took everything."
Carlisle reached out his hand to me again.
I retreated as much as possible and hissed. His stricken look would have normally bothered me, but at that moment I didn't care. I hid my face in my arms, willing for sleep that would never come.
"Would you like to go on?" he asked quietly after a few minutes of silence.
"There's more?" I peeked over my arm to see him much in the same pose as he had been prior.
"What?" My curiosity won over my despair.
"As we are frozen… so are our human bodily functions."
I nodded and shrugged. "So I don't need to pee anymore. That's not a surprise, and frankly, one thing I can live without."
"There are also other functions that are impossible as we cannot change physically."
I wasn't sure what he meant. Was he talking about… Was I? "So I'm always going to be a virgin," I exclaimed, without thinking, then covered my mouth with my hands, shaking my head at my idiocy. Where on earth had that come from?
Besides the embarrassment of my disclosure, I was also a little angry. I wasn't going to be looking for another of my kind to sleep with, and it wasn't like I could get that close to a human boy. However, I still would have liked the option.
"I assure you," Carlisle paused bending his head to gain eye contact. "A healthy sex life is completely possible for our kind."
I breathed a sigh of relief.
He laughed silently. "There are others… those who share our dietary restrictions." He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "They have been comfortable enough with this lifestyle—comfortable enough with humans— for that kind of relationship."
"Wait! They do that… with humans? How is that even possible?"
"It's completely possible." He smiled. "We are not all that different from humans in that respect."
"Oh, um… okay." I was glad my cheeks weren't able to blaze red. "Good to know."
"We have gone on another tangent. However, it is a good segue into what I was so poorly describing." He smiled kindly. "A positive is that you won't need to worry about unwanted outcomes from sexual encounters."
"No Vamp STDs?"
He chuckled. "I'm afraid not."
"That's good." I shrugged. "Nice not to worry about that."
"Yes," he agreed. "But that's not the only possible unwanted outcome of an affair, is it?"
I wracked my brain trying to understand what he was hinting at. Finally it came to me. "No babies?"
He shook his head. "No, that's not possible. We can't procreate... at least not in that manner."
"Oh, okay." I forced a smile at him. "It's sad that the choice was taken from me, but I've never really wanted kids."
He blinked rapidly, confusion coloring his handsome face. "Well, I must say, that was unexpected."
"I guess it doesn't bother me as much. I never saw myself as the mothering type." I shrugged, looking to the ground. "So it's sad… but I can't really mourn something I never wanted. Perhaps that's how I should look at everything."
"It is expected that this will be difficult," he explained. "It's an enormous transition. Though none of us have been in your exact situation, we all understand. We've all lost something."
"Were you torn from a perfectly normal, perfectly happy life?"
His eyes took on a contemplative light. "Yes, actually." He reached out and rested his hand on my knee.
I heard that same sound of derision from above.
"My life wasn't easy," Carlisle began, shaking his head slightly. "My father was a hard man, one of the few who still believed in monsters in a time when those thoughts were beginning to be considered archaic. He lost my mother in childbirth… me."
"That wasn't your fault."
"I know," he agreed. "But I'm not sure my father was able to get past the fact that he was left alone, to care for an infant. As I grew, I did all I could to please him, but it never seemed enough. He was strict, a devoted clergyman, and when he was unable to carry on his cause, I continued for him."
"That sounds like it was difficult for you."
He smiled ruefully. "It was long ago. Dwelling in the past, especially with anger or sorrow, helps no one."
"I guess not," I agreed.
"It was one night, when I had actually found a group of the monsters he so vehemently believed in, that my human life came to an end."
"So it was unexpected."
"Do you have any other questions so far?"
I wasn't sure where to go from there, so I asked the first question to come to mind. "How old were you?"
So I'd guessed his apparent age right. Now came the million dollar question. "When did this happen?"
"Around the mid 1680s."
I gasped. "That long ago…" My words were quiet. Then a rogue thought hit me. "And you weren't married?"
He let out a gust of air in laugh that was echoed somewhere within the house. "No, I hadn't been. Not at that time."
"Is there anything else you're curious about?"
"What about the others?" I asked, truly interested now. He was so old. What had he seen? What about the others? "How old is everyone else?" Was I that much younger than them?
"It really isn't my place to answer for anyone else," he began. "However, I will tell you that I found Edward first, then soon after, Esme. Last came Rosalie and Emmett."
"What about Alice and Jasper?"
"They found us," he said through a smile.
"And they've all adapted."
"They have." He looked me in the eye. "Our path isn't easy, but it's right for us… and it does get easier with time."
"Easier?" I asked, intrigued. "Did it take everyone over three hundred years?" Even with eternity stretching before me, I could imagine suffering from this kind of thirst for that long.
"The first year is the most difficult for a new vampire," he explained with a laugh.
"Really?" There was hope? A year. I could handle a year. I was already half way there.
He nodded. "Yes."
"After, it is never without effort. However, we can assimilate into human society."
"Like what?" I asked. "Living on the fringe?"
"Not entirely," he hedged. "I work among humans. Most of the others attend school."
"School? So I could finish high school at some point?"
Although I'd only joked about going back to school before, I found myself hopeful again. I'd always enjoyed education—well, all but Math—and to know that I could finish, that seemed almost more than I could have asked for. "What do you do?"
"I work at the local hospital."
He laughed lightly. "I'm a doctor, a surgeon to be more exact."
"Wait!" I exclaimed. "Like a real doctor? A doctor for humans?" My disbelief was clear.
"The very same." His eyes were alight with humor.
"Wow!" I breathed in awe. "How do you do that? I mean, a surgeon, with all the blood? Are you, like, immune to it or something?"
"I'm not immune to blood, but I've worked on my tolerance." He rubbed his face. "It has taken a bit of time. But I've found that the benefits far outweigh the effort."
I didn't really understand, but I nodded. "I could only hope to be a little like that."
"It's not a great feat," he explained. "Anyone with the will can do it. Mind over matter."
I thought for a moment, debating my options.
Was this what I wanted? Yes. I needed a somewhat normal life.
Could I stick to it? I wasn't sure. But it was worth a try.
I could have the will. I was stubborn when I wanted to be.
"Can you teach me?" I muttered, staring at the floor. I hated showing weakness. "I want to try."
His responding smile lit up the room. "Of course. We'd all be glad to."
I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole "we" part of this. It was wonderful to have help on such a huge undertaking. However, I wondered about having spectators through this ordeal. I knew that, in the heat of the moment, I would not mind that I was being watched. When the instinct took over, I wouldn't care about much else, other than satiating myself.
Afterward, on the other hand, my more human senses would return. How would I feel if I made a complete ass out of myself? How uncomfortable would it be living with these people? What if I couldn't survive like they did? What if I slipped up... or worse just walked away? What would they think of me?
In that moment, I realized that I was hinging my future on them, on people I didn't even know. Was that a smart move? I had done the same for James and Victoria; that hadn't proved to be too intelligent. Like when my new life began, I was on the verge of a precipice, unsure of my future, yet only truly having one option: to follow and hope for a semblance of a life.
I wanted the carrot dangling before me, the opportunity of normalcy, the possibility of feeding without taking human life. I had no other choice.
Carlisle seemed oblivious to my inner turmoil, though I figured he was just being kind. After a few moments, he spoke again. "When do you think you would like to begin?"
It had been a few days since I'd fed, and my throat burned uncontrollably. I placed my hand on the column of my throat, wishing I could quell the flames that were beginning to rage. "Now?"
"I would like to have a few of the others accompany you," he started. "How would feel about that?"
"Um…" I would need someone to go with me, at least one person. Perhaps more would be better. "I guess that's okay. I'm kind of nervous."
He smiled. "I understand. I think that Alice, Edward, and Jasper might be best."
I felt comfortable with Alice, but I wasn't certain about the two others. Jasper frightened me. I just looked at him, and my mind screamed dangerous. Bizarrely though, I was more worried about going out with Edward. I really wanted to impress him.
And that thought terrified me.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for the reviews. I am so grateful that people take the time to write down their thoughts. I truly appreciate them all. :D
Ok, so… sorry for the delay. I actually had this written a while ago but due to my own idiocy, my beta only received it last week. Yeah, I had thought I sent it months prior. I'm an idiot.
Much Luv to you all.