[2-11-2013] Thank you again for your support! Are you ready for some Edward&Bella time?
I don't own Twilight or Edward's cell.
"Remember, he's often unresponsive." Charlie's voice reached Edward as he lay on his back with his eyes closed, humming Mozart's Symphony 41. "You never know how he's going to react. If anything bothers you, we can leave immediately. If I tell you to leave, please don't object. Okay?"
Edward rolled his eyes at Charlie's warnings. With the humans coming to pay him a visit, he had but a few minutes of peace left and chose to focus on his favorite melodies, rather than on the unending buzz of words and thoughts coming from the people around him.
Symphony 41 had been Mozart's last work, and it made Edward wonder how the history of music might have been different if the composer had been granted immortality as he had, giving him the opportunity to perfect his art to the utmost.
He recalled how in that symphony there were five different themes which were ultimately combined in a way that, according to a comment he'd once read, was almost impossible for the human ear to fully follow. Being a vampire does have its perks. A fragment from his human life mingled with the memory of the musical notes: he remembered his grandfather showing him how to play an easy piano sonata by Mozart. Edward had been just a young boy back then, and he'd looked in awe at his grandfather's large, expert hands dancing across the piano keys. After attending a performance by Mozart, his maternal grandfather had become an enthusiastic supporter of the prodigious musician and recommended that everyone in his family who learned to play the piano pay particular attention to Mozart's music. Edward had heard the story so many times that it became one of the few human memories he'd retained after his change.
Mozart's music was one of the pleasures he enjoyed most, but thinking about it while cooped up in a cell made him consider what the composer's life must have been like. From an early age, Mozart had been dragged all over Europe, always playing for the audience's enjoyment. He'd been acclaimed as a child prodigy, and his talent had been praised everywhere, but how had he felt? Had he considered himself blessed, or had he felt that they were treating him like a freak?
There's a person who'd like to see you...she's my daughter. Edward reflected on Charlie's words. What could he have told his daughter that would make her want to meet a vampire? Edward hoped she wasn't some sort of weirdo who was attracted to abnormalities. That was all he needed.
The door of the observation room opened and two people walked in.
"Edward?" Charlie called. "Stand up."
Your wish is my command, Edward silently mocked, not bothering to move a muscle. Like a lazy cat, he spared just a glance at the new person in the observation gallery. Even if Charlie hadn't already said that she was his daughter, the resemblance between them would have left no doubt about their relationship. The young woman shared his dark hair and deep brown eyes, but she was paler than him and too slim; her expression was so lost that Edward wondered if she even remembered how to smile. Come on, cheer up. You're not the one who's in prison, he was tempted to joke.
"That's him," Charlie told her. "But it looks like he's having one of his uncooperative days. Shall we go?"
"Can I stay a little while?" she asked softly.
Edward frowned. Sometimes it took him a bit longer than usual to tune in to the thoughts of a new mind, but he should have caught something before the girl spoke. Instead, he hadn't been able to detect even the hint of a thought coming from her. He looked away, hiding his curiosity. If they knew that their vampire pet project can read minds... It's better if I don't even think about it.
"Will you give me a moment alone?" she asked.
Her father raised an eyebrow at her. "If you're sure. I'll call you in a few minutes, okay?"
Edward heard the door of the observation gallery closing; Charlie's heartbeat faded into the distance, muffled by the soundproof walls of his cell.
With a quick movement, he went to sit in the far corner of his room. From there, he could get a better view of the girl. She appeared to be in her mid-twenties, but was dressed like a high-school student, with a dark green hoodie and her long hair loose on her shoulders. Judging by the way the counter of the observation room covered her lower half, she couldn't be very tall. She kept her head bowed, apparently focusing on the control panel, and for the first time in centuries, Edward felt like he was in the dark. Without the girl's thoughts, he had to wait for her to speak to discover something more about her.
She cleared her throat. "Hi."
He rolled his eyes. She hadn't switched on the intercom, which meant she wouldn't be able to hear him. "The intercom!" he mouthed.
She fidgeted with a couple of buttons before pushing the right one. "Hi," she repeated.
He waved at her and wondered where her next words would rank in his personal hit parade of stupid openings in a conversation with a vampire. Walsh, who was Charlie's right-hand, was the undisputed champion so far. The sound of more fidgeting reached him, eliciting another roll of his eyes. Was the girl truly that dense? Even Walsh didn't have problems working the buttons that switched on the intercom and recorded the sessions. I hope for your sake the button to open my cell isn't within your reach, sweetie.
"Done," she murmured. "Edward?"
"Here I am," he crooned.
"Now we can talk freely. I've disabled the monitoring system for the time being."
He tilted his head at her. Way to go, Little Swan. "Was there something private you needed to tell me?"
"I didn't think my father would allow me to meet you." Her voice was quiet and soft, different than the stern tones of Charlie and his assistants. "But since he has, it must mean he's really worried for me."
"Are you sick?" The kindness in his own voice surprised him, but he wasted no time in fixing it. "Is this visit a last wish before you die?"
"Do you honestly think I'd have you on my bucket list?" she snapped.
He shrugged. "It would flatter me."
She sighed. "No. I'm not dying any more than the rest of the people who surround you."
He counted the seconds of silence – the first silence he'd been able to experience in centuries, without the need of being alone – before she spoke again. "I wanted to see how my father is doing. The last few months have been rough, but working with you has kept him focused. All things considered, it's helped him."
Edward made a bow. "You're welcome, mademoiselle," he mocked. "We aim to please, and I'd do anything to keep Big Swan focused and to be of help to him."
"Since we have two Swans here now."
"I see. So I'd be the little one?"
"Unless mademoiselle is brave enough to tell me her name."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm Bella, and no one called me 'Little Swan' when I came here before."
"Do you visit your father's place of work often?"
She looked down. "This happened to be my place of work, too."
Edward's expression hardened. Had he been played? Had the whole story about Charlie's daughter been a lie? Damnit. The girl's mental silence made it impossible to ascertain the truth. Her heartbeat, though...if she was lying, she was good at it.
"I'm a computer programmer and did some research here," she explained, as if she had understood his doubts. "Before you arrived."
He considered making a comment about her following in her dearest daddy's footsteps, but couldn't bring himself to say the words aloud. Hadn't he done the same, until two months ago? Hadn't he followed the teachings of the person he respected most, and whom he was proud to call father? He paced the room, no longer thinking about the girl. Instead, his thoughts lingered on the worst of the tests Walsh had performed. Had it not been for his father, Edward would have become the monster his captors believed him to be.
Once you attack a human, there's no way back, Carlisle had taught him. It's not a matter of willpower, because an adult vampire can control himself, if he chooses so. It's about crossing a line. The first time it happened, you'd consider it a mistake. The second time, you'd justify yourself, because you're just following your natural instincts, after all. By the the third time, you wouldn't be able to think of anything other than the pleasure of feeding.
He'd repeated those words in his mind like a litany while Walsh had put his insane idea into practice.
Charlie summoned his assistants for a meeting. Edward listened in from his cell, catching their words and scanning their thoughts. Charlie told them his conclusions after the interrogations he'd led and shared the results of the analysis on the evidence he'd collected from Edward's body and at the burnt cabin.
"He isn't our man," he stated before his assistants could voice the same conclusion; the words of defeat were bitter in his mouth.
"He's not even a man," Walsh countered with a poor attempt at a joke, which the others ignored.
"He could know something about the killer, though," Lee Stephens suggested. "If he's not the only one of his kind, he might be able to help us find the Drain...the unknown subject. Maybe he can catch details that we're missing."
"It's a possibility," Charlie conceded. "But why would he agree to help us?"
Lee shrugged. "We can just bargain with him. So far it's worked."
Charlie let out a sigh. "So far we've been trying to determine if he's a killer. But now...we're still keeping him here, and for what?"
"Even if he isn't that killer, he's still a monster," Walsh cut in. He grimaced, making a show of his disgust. "He drinks blood, for Pete's sake. We're doing everyone a favor by keeping him away from the rest of the world."
In his cell, Edward bared his teeth.
"Charlie, do you think he could be involved in the cases, even if he's not the killer?" Lee asked.
"I don't think so. But he's sure making me question everything I've learned in my life as a profiler. Sometimes I've had to remind myself that I was the one interrogating him and not the other way around. There's no doubt that he's an incredible being. But is he a monster as well?"
Walsh made a face, but Lee put up a hand before he could speak. "What do you mean?" he asked, leaning toward Charlie.
"He says he doesn't attack humans." Incredulity still lingered in his thoughts.
"But he's never refused the bags of blood we're giving him, and there's human blood in them," Lee pointed out.
Charlie tapped his pen on the table, going through his notes again. "It's not like we're offering him an alternative. He claims he hunts animals, but what do we know?"
"It could all be a bunch of lies," Walsh mumbled.
"But why would he lie about something we've never questioned since the beginning?" Lee wondered. "He can't be so stupid to think that we'd free him just because he says he doesn't attack humans, right?"
Charlie scoffed. "That's for sure. So either he's telling the truth or he has another reason–one that I still have to find out." He drew a hand down his face. "I think we could all use some time to consider where we're going to take this from here. I'm taking two days off. I've got some issues at home that need my attention." The image of a girl flickered through his mind. "Lee, can you be in charge on Saturday, and Robert will cover Sunday? We can schedule a new meeting for sometime next week."
"We should test the vampire," Walsh suggested to Lee once their boss left the room. "How would he react if someone were bleeding in front of him? Would he still say he wants only animals?"
A shudder shook Edward at the idea. He clung to whatever thought could drag his mind away from the luscious temptation that human blood represented for him. "Never like them," he murmured to himself, recalling the monsters who had attacked him in Italy. "Better to die than become like them." When Carlisle had explained to him how powerful the call of human blood was, but had also described how he'd always managed to live off animals' blood, Edward made his sire promise that he would never allow him to kill a human out of desire for his or her blood. Carlisle had been true to his word, but now that he was gone, Edward had nothing but his willpower to hold him back.
And soon it was going to be tested beyond any boundary.
"Edward," Bella called softly, interrupting his memories.
He looked at her over his shoulder.
"I'm not here to work now. And I won't lie to you."
"Do you expect the same from me?" he challenged.
"Your call. I've already made my choice."
He heard Bella answer the phone.
"I'm coming," she told her father.
Edward took a few steps in her direction, stopping at the center of the room.
"I need to go," Bella said.
"Will you visit again?" he asked with nonchalance, pacing the cell.
He opened his arms and gave her a smirk. "It's not like I'm going anywhere."
Thanks for reading!
Imagine you're with Edward. What music would you choose?
Mozart's Symphony 41 will be available on MyReadingLounge among the story extras:
h.t.t.p : / / myreadinglounge. blogspot. c.o.m/
Thank you! to Snare's fabulous prereaders/betas: Camilla10, SatinCoveredSteel, and Marlena516.
The next chapter is due to be posted in two weeks.
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