Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all character names. This plot belongs to the author, IReen H.
No copyright infringement is intended or expected. Respect.
A/N: Hey Guys. So I'm doing the October witfit. I think it's going to be a series of vignettes based on a story I've had buzzing in the brain for a while. But it's mostly exercises. I'm going to be playing with tense and 3rd POV, in addition to writing styles. Please don't expect much, if you're here reading. Except chaos. You can expect chaos, for sure. Unbeta'd and roughly written.
Word Prompt: Scarf
Dialogue Flex: "Do you need a ride home?" he asked.
The alley is a dark dead-end corridor made of three greasy walls, host to human detritus; collapsed coffee cups collecting swampy rain water, wilted newspapers shredding into unreadable scrap, rats skittering behind rusty dumpsters overflowing old pizza boxes, egg shells, and the heels of perfectly good bread, protected from the elements in their plastic bags.
Perfectly good, when you're starving.
As he is.
Small for his age, resembling the environment in which he lives – greasy, dark with dirt, rusty hair spilling out of a worn baseball cap, too big for him. Masen pulls a recently deposited garbage bag from the pile by the dumpster and fumbles at the tie with shaking fingers.
Squatting low to the ground, he rummages with blackened fingers, scarfing down anything edible. The top of a carrot, an inch of browned banana still in its peel, crusted rice clinging to the inside of a carry-out carton, white with red Chinese characters on the side.
At first he hated having to eat garbage. Now he's just thankful that the people in this neighborhood are so wasteful. Old food, new to the rot, still highly preferable to newspaper – which doesn't satisfy. Not ever.
The sound of tire-tread revolving through a puddle at the mouth of the alley has him ducking back behind a tumble of boxes, peeking around at the slick black sedan with tinted windows. One comes rolling smoothly down, freeing the soft chimes of Chopin which plays inside the car.
Masen knows who Chopin is, a few years ago you could even find him playing it, seated aristocratically at the piano bench, his mother floating about the room, her ear perked to catch any little mistake he might make.
"Again, Masen. Start over. You missed the timing there. Remember to pause, this isn't a race."
And he would. From the beginning.
"Follow your breath, Mays. Find your rhythm."
Had it been Bach, he might not have allowed himself to be seen. But it's Chopin and he hasn't heard the Nocturne since his mother died. Since the sun punished him on the day of her funeral with its over-bright cheer. Music like this deserves the rain, deserves the alley and the rot. The filth and fester.
"Child. You there." Aro calls to the boy. Could those feral green eyes, shadow-cast and hooded, really be those of Lizzy's son?
It's the accent that keeps Masen glued in place instead of running. Perfect English, with a touch of the Latin rounding the vowels and plucking the consonants. His mother's accent, old unused Italian touching all her words.
"Can I give you a ride? Home, maybe?" Aro well knows that the alley he currently looks upon IS the boys home. Still, he pretends not to notice the layers of grime coating the freckled face, the hooded sweatshirt – size 3X if not more, the nimble fingers, nails crusted black.
"Back to the T-House? I don't think so."
"You'd rather stay here, in this wretched place?"
"Better here than there."
"Get in the car, Masen." Aro takes a chance, albeit a slim one. The boy is just too like his mother. His query is rewarded when the boy, lips cracking, answers him.
"How do you know my name?"
Masen is too young for the full story behind that question, in fact, he may never be old enough. No one likes to learn that their mother was a whore. No matter how high-class and well-bred she may have been. No matter that she used her beautiful body, and cunning mind in high-stakes games, ensuring Aro always gained the upper hand. Or whatever else he may have been after. No. You don't tell that kind of story to a fourteen year old boy.
Especially not one you want to groom to your purpose, as Aro wants to do, with Masen.
Better to lie. But only barely.
"I knew Elizabeth. I knew your mother."
Masen doesn't move.
That's right, Aro thinks. Don't trust me. Don't trust anyone. Never trust anyone.
Masen doesn't trust him. But something hollow and desperate inside his weary limbs, definitely, and distinctly, trusts the music. His mother's music.
What's the worst thing that can happen to him? What is worse than this?
The T-House. State funded with flimsy hiring policies, hiring caretakers that insist they need to be present in the bathroom while Masen showered. The house full of their cigarette smoke and worse. Other boys, always bigger than Masen. Always pressing the advantage of their size to gain more than their share of food, trying to manipulate the group around them, using their fists to further the imbalance.
He doesn't have to fight anyone here. The food may be vile, but it's all his. He may clean himself in the runoff from the rooftops, but no one offers to scrub the places he can't quite reach.
"Why? Where do we go, if I get in your car?"
"What if I told you I have a job for you, Masen? You can make your own money. Good money. Keep your own space, make your own rules. Provided they don't conflict with mine."
Aro sees the hungry gleam take the boys eyes. He wants exactly what is being offered.
"What are your rules?"
"Get in my car and I'll tell you."
"What if I don't like your rules?"
"Then I can drop you off, anywhere you choose... and you can go back to fighting the rats for your breakfast."
Masen makes his decision, and Aro has his driver lay down a sheet to protect the sleek cream interior of the vehicle.