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AN: This is a short sequel to my story 'Angels with Bloody Teeth', exploring the scene where Edward tells Bella about the pasts of the Cullen family for the first time; this opening chapter is just intended to explore how Edward's story to Bella about the past of the other Cullens differs from the canon version, with the result that most of it comes from Twilight itself, but I'll include a more original scene in the next chapter
Angel of Twilight
"Are you ever going to tell me how old you are?" I asked, tentative, not wanting to upset his more buoyant humour; after so long dealing with him brooding, it was nice to see him more relaxed.
"Does it matter much?" His smile, to my relief, remained unclouded.
"No, but I still wonder..." I grimaced. "There's nothing like an unsolved mystery to keep you up at night."
"I wonder if it will upset you," he reflected to himself. He gazed into the sun; the minutes passed.
"Try me," I finally said, when the silence passed the point where it was just awkward.
He sighed, and then looked into my eyes, seeming to forget the road completely for a time. Whatever he saw there must have encouraged him. He looked into the sun- the light of the setting orb glittered off his skin in ruby-tinged sparkles- and spoke.
"I was born in Chicago in 1901." He paused and glanced at me from the corner of his eyes. My face was carefully unsurprised, patient for the rest. He smiled a tiny smile and continued. "Carlisle found me in a hospital in the summer of 1918. I was seventeen, and dying of the Spanish influenza."
He heard my intake of breath, though it was barely audible to my own ears. He looked down into my eyes again.
"I don't remember it well; it was a very long time ago, and human memories fade." He was lost in his thoughts for a short time before he went on. "I do remember how it felt, when Carlisle saved me. It's not an easy thing, not something you could forget."
"Your parents?" I asked.
"They had already died from the disease. I was alone. That was why he chose me. In all the chaos of the epidemic, no one would ever realize I was gone."
"How did he... save you?" I said after a moment's thought; it was potentially awkward, but if we were talking about vampires, it was a natural question to ask.
A few seconds passed before he answered. He seemed to choose his words carefully.
"It was difficult. Not many of us have the restraint necessary to accomplish it. But Carlisle has always been the most humane, the most compassionate of us... I don't think you could find his equal throughout all of history." He paused. "For me, it was merely very, very painful."
I could tell from the set of his lips, he would say no more on this subject. I suppressed my curiosity, though it was far from idle. There were many things I needed to think through on this particular issue, things that were only beginning to occur to me. No doubt his quick mind had already comprehended every aspect that eluded me.
His soft voice interrupted my thoughts. "He acted from loneliness. That's usually the reason behind the choice. I was the first in Carlisle's family, though he found Esme soon after. She fell from a cliff. They brought her straight to the hospital morgue, though, somehow, her heart was still beating."
"So you must be dying, then, to become..." We never said the word, and I couldn't frame it now.
"No, that's just Carlisle. He would never do that to someone who had another choice." The respect in his voice was profound whenever he spoke of his father figure. "It is easier he says, though," he continued, "if the blood is weak." He looked at the now-dark road, and I could feel the subject closing again.
"And Emmett and Rosalie?"
"Carlisle brought Rosalie to our family next. I didn't realize till much later that he was hoping she would be to me what Esme was to him- he was careful with his thoughts around me." He rolled his eyes. "But she was never more than a sister. It was only two years later that she found Emmett. She was hunting- we were in Appalachia at the time- and found a bear about to finish him off. She carried him back to Carlisle, more than a hundred miles, afraid she wouldn't be able to do it herself. I'm only beginning to guess how difficult that journey was for her." He threw a pointed glance in my direction, and raised our hands, still folded together, to brush my cheek with the back of his hand.
"But she made it," I encouraged, looking away from the unbearable beauty of his eyes.
"Yes," he murmured. "She saw something in his face that made her strong enough. And they've been together ever since. Sometimes they live separately from us, as a married couple. But the younger we pretend to be, the longer we can stay in any given place. Forks seemed perfect, so we all enrolled in high school." He laughed. "I suppose we'll have to go to their wedding in a few years, again."
"Alice and Jasper?"
"Alice and Jasper are two very rare creatures. In Jasper's case, he developed a conscience, as we refer to it, with no outside guidance. Jasper belonged to another... family, a very different kind of family. He became depressed, and he wandered on his own. Alice found him. Like me, she has certain gifts above and beyond the norm for our kind."
"Really?" I interrupted, fascinated. "But you said you were the only one who could hear people's thoughts."
"That's true. She knows other things. She sees things- things that might happen, things that are coming. But it's very subjective. The future isn't set in stone. Things change."
His jaw set when he said that, and his eyes darted to my face and away so quickly that I wasn't sure if I only imagined it.
"What kinds of things does she see?"
"She saw Jasper and knew that he was looking for her before he knew it himself. She saw Carlisle and our family, and they came together to find us. She's most sensitive to non-humans, although she insists that part of that comes from training she took in her early years. She always sees, for example, when another group of our kind is coming near... and any threat they may pose."
"Are there a lot of... your kind?" I was surprised. How many of them could walk among us undetected?
"Not many of ourkind," Edward said (It was only later that I'd realise the implications of his chosen emphasis). "But most won't settle in any one place. Only those like us, who've given up hunting you people," a sly glance in my direction, "can live together with humans for any length of time without attracting immediate attention. We've only found one other family like ours, in a small village in Alaska. We lived together for a time, but there were so many of us that we became too noticeable. Those of us who live... differently tend to band together."
"And the others?"
"Nomads, for the most part. We've all lived that way at times. It gets tedious, like anything else. But we run across the others now and then, because most of us prefer the North."
"Why is that?"
We were parked in front of my house now, and he'd turned off the truck. It was very quiet and dark; there was no moon. The porch light was off so I knew my father wasn't home yet.
"Did you have your eyes open this afternoon?" he teased. "Do you think I could walk down the street in the sunlight without causing traffic accidents? There's a reason why we chose the Olympic Peninsula, one of the most sunless places in the world. It's nice to be able to go outside in the day. You wouldn't believe how tired you can get of nighttime in eighty-odd years."
"So that's where the legends came from?"
"Partly," Edward admitted.
"And Alice came from another family, like Jasper?"
"Yes and no," Edward replied. "Alice has no memory of her human life, and she has no idea who created her, but she was found and trained in her diet by... another."
"Another what?" I asked.
"Another kind of vampire," Edward clarified. "He was not like us- he has certain strengths and weaknesses that we don't, as well as his kind being more naturally... brutal... than we are-, but he had a unique compassion among his kind that prompted him to take Alice in when he found her, discarded on a hilltop for reasons that she has never found out; it was sheer luck that she was discovered when she was and by whom. He taught her how to control her visions and resist her hunger for human blood, but they parted company when her visions of Jasper prompted her to seek him out, and he went his separate way from her after she met Jasper; we only even learned that he existed a few years ago when Alice had a vision of him in danger that required our help."
There was so much to think through, and so much I still wanted to ask (Particularly about Alice's mysterious 'other brother', who was apparently a different kind of vampire altogether). But, to my great embarrassment, my stomach growled. I'd been so intrigued, I hadn't even noticed I was hungry, until I suddenly found myself ravenous.
"I'm sorry," Edward said, looking apologetically at me. "I'm keeping you from dinner."
"I'm fine, really."
"I've never spent much time around anyone who eats food. I forget."
"I want to stay with you." It was easier to say in the darkness, knowing as I spoke how my voice would betray me, my hopeless addiction to him...
AN 2: Short, I know, but I wanted to establish the essential points now; the next chapter will include an original 'off-screen' moment where Alice provides Bella with more information about her history with Angel.