Author's Notes (you can totally skip this if you want to): Hey, guys. If you recognize me, cool. If I'm a new writer to you, even cooler. So, in the midst of my other projects (Kinda Outta Luck, Flirting With the Monsters, one-shots that WILL NOT GET OFF THE GROUND FOR THE LIFE OF ME, etc.), I decided to post another big one-shot. I love writing these things so much. I can put so much effort into them and still feel complete even though it's a one-shot. This reminds me a bit of A Nomadic Point of Madness and Gods and Monsters, in how the main character just goes mad. It's a funny thing to compare my works to each other; I guess I'm allowed to now that I've hit 40+ stories. That is fucking crazy to me. This is different, though. This is about—cue the gasps!—Edward. I love Edward as a character, since there's so much you can do with him and he's just so damn angsty (but I'm still definitely Team Jacob). There's something about Edward that I love so much… maybe it's how much of a canvas he is. He's so butcherable. I hate him in canon but I love to paint all over him in fanfiction. …Don't ask me why.

I'm talking too much now—then again, isn't that why I'm a writer? Because I talk too much and verbally using words is too limiting for me? I don't know. I'll figure that out some other day. You just read. I hope you like it. If you don't, then… well, shit, at least I tried.

Oh, and the little stats: rated T; Edward's the narrator; post-BD; angsty and dramatic; includes a couple of character deaths (I just won't say whose); Tanya's not a bad guy (deal with it); and did I mention that it's angsty? Okay, good.

Last but not least: I don't own the Twilight Saga; that's all S. Meyer. How does that lady do it, knowing that she has all these characters and all these plot bunnies springing into her readers' heads? That woman has started a phenomenon. Respect for the boss lady.

And of course, enjoy.

Half a World Away

"Please," is what Edward Cullen whispers in the terrifying silence. "Please come back to me, Bella."

Blood is all over him, covering his mouth, hands, and clothing. He doesn't care, though. He needs one thing, and that is a heartbeat from Bella Cullen, his wife.

The entire world freezes over for him as he reaches for the syringe. Jacob Black doesn't utter a sound, but Edward wouldn't know. He can't hear anything at all. Not even his own thoughts.

Senselessly, Edward shoves the syringe of his potent venom into Bella's heart. It goes in with way more force than he intended, but he can't bring himself to care.

Everything is still silent as he waits. He just waits.

He can feel himself about to fall when he realizes that nothing is happening. He has failed—again. And Jacob knows. Jacob's thoughts come before his words, of course, and they're the same message.

"I won't kill you. That would be too easy. You deserve to live with this."

Edward unequivocally agrees.

He was an idiot to get her pregnant. He was an idiot to have sex with her, anyway. He was a huge idiot to fall in love with her in the first place. However, he could be called the biggest idiot in the universe—and he would take it proudly–just to have her back.

This isn't like last September; this isn't a breakup in any sort of way. Bella is dead. There's no way for her to be revived now; there is no way to bring her back. The only thing worse, for Edward, than thinking Bella is dead is actually knowing she is, and seeing it with his own eyes. Any sort of pain that Edward has been experienced to is not even a fraction of how painstakingly terrible this is.

For some strange reason, all that Edward can do is wait. He doesn't know what he's waiting for, but time is nonexistent. There are no longer any clocks—nothing to constantly remind him of how little and precious time is. Tick, tock… tick, tock.

Hell will freeze over before Edward knows what time is again.

In the midst of all his waiting, he decides that this household just might not be the right place for him, after all. Nobody cares about Bella, and nobody cares enough about Edward to tell him what's making them not care for Bella. Maybe everything has been a lie.

Edward isn't aware of how much time has passed, but he does know that Bella's body needs to be finally rid of (since he wouldn't let anybody touch her before). She's a bloodied corpse, lying on a table, cut open like a dissected frog. As Edward stares at her, he wants to vomit. He wants to crumple up and deject anything he has inside, only he can't; he is empty. He has always been empty. He is now as empty and hollow as ever.

He knows there is someone else to blame, though. Someone far guiltier than him in some ways, and far less guilty than him in others.

Edward can hear his monstrous excuse for an offspring make babyish sounds in the other room, trying to disguise her evilness as human. It makes Edward even sicker. That is not his daughter. That thing is nothing like him.

But at the same time, she is. She is a monster, just like her father.

Torn between wanting to kill the demon once and for all and wanting to praise that little part of Bella he has left, he doesn't do anything. He hasn't looked at her since Bella died; he has no idea how old she is or looks, and he simply doesn't care. How foolish he was! He held the fiend like she meant the world to him, like Bella would be okay. He regrets it now; he feels the immorality on his hands still. He feels the prints of the beast burned into his skin. He scratches and scratches his palms, trying to scrape off the imaginary scum. He nearly peels off his own skin in the process.

Edward tries his hardest to block out peoples' thoughts, and he sort of does, only at some time or another he lets his guard down just a little bit. The thoughts come pouring in.

Jacob Black has been waiting for Bella—watching her dead body like she's going to wake up out of nowhere—for almost as long as Edward has. After Bella passed, he tried to kill the monster. Something happened, though, and Edward wasn't sure what.

Jacob hasn't slept in days, or weeks, or months. Again, time is nonexistent. Waiting for Bella—waiting for nothing—is the only thing that stops Edward from killing Jacob now, even though it's not his fault. Edward will find a way to blame him, though—he always does. He definitely has a reason now.

In that one instant of letting the thoughts pour in, Edward receives a few bleak thoughts from Jacob, one of them sounding a lot like, Please, God, let me break this before it breaks me.

An expression almost close to a smile appears on Edward's face.

So Jacob imprinted on the fiend. Splendid.

Jacob's words replay in Edward's mind now; it's ironic, really, that this has happened, but there's nothing either of the men can do about it.

I won't kill you, Edward reminisces. That would be too easy. You deserve to live with this.

Both of the men have to live with this, but at least Edward won't have to love the mutant.

Jacob starts to leave at some point, and his thoughts are loud and clear. He is going to kill himself. He's going to go straight home, get the sharpest knife he has, and make it quick. Edward can admit it's the not nicest or the cleanest way to go, but he can't imagine Jacob cutting himself to death or even hanging himself like the moon from a rope in his closet. Jacob doesn't have many options, but he has far more than Edward has. All Edward has is the Volturi, but for some reason, he's not going to leave yet. He's going to lurk around and keep waiting. Jacob may not have forever, but Edward does. It will be a miserable forever, but he can't bring himself to change that.

As Jacob exits the room in which Bella's corpse rests, Edward manages to tell Jacob a few words.

"You're lucky," he calls to the weaker man marching to his death. "You have options, mongrel."

Jacob doesn't respond. He just shakes his head and leaves.

That's the last time Edward sees him.

Once word spreads that Jacob Black has died, the Cullens prepare for a fight. Now that Jacob's dead, Sam Uley's pack can kill the monster. It would only make sense, though at the same time, it would solve nothing.

Edward doesn't prepare for a fight at all; instead, he sits next to his dead singer. He holds her cold, frail hand and silently promises her that when the time comes, he will fight for Jacob. Bella would have wanted that. She wouldn't care if Edward wants to fight his own family, if it even comes down to that. He will fight against his family because that's what Bella would want, deep down. Bella never minded putting the Cullens in danger before.

Something happens, however.

Or to be specific, nothing happens.

The Cullen family waits for weeks on end; Sam and his pack never attack them. They never come close to the Cullens' house, and it doesn't take long for Edward to figure out why.

Both sides have lost somebody, and they don't want to lose anybody else.

The pack doesn't want to fight; Edward concludes that Sam doesn't have the strength for it. If he wants to let hell loose all over the Olympic Coven, he would have done so already. But Jacob—their alpha—is gone. Edward once observed the mind structure of the pack back what seems like centuries ago, and the alpha has total control over the minds of the other members. Sam had control back then, but it was weak. When Jacob was the alpha, his control was stronger and much more powerful. Sam or Leah could easily claim the alpha role, but Edward infers that neither of them wants to. Carlisle later tells Edward that the pack is broken. Totally shattered.

Edward can't feel any pity—he can't feel anything.

The rest of the coven moves on, nonetheless. With no more wolves or danger to worry about, they start to finally make their house feel like home, all for the abomination that grows more and more each day. Edward avoids looking at the thing as much as possible, but he can't help catching a glimpse of Carlisle's thoughts, calculating how much the beast has grown.

Now that there's no more apparent danger, the house doesn't just feel like home; it is home… just not to Edward. Jasper alters everybody's mood just a little more each day, but he doesn't even attempt with Edward because he knows it wouldn't change anything. Music always plays in the house, and the fireplace is always on as if anybody really needs the warmth. Bella's body has been long removed, and a funeral is being organized for the sake of Bella's parents. The rest of the Cullen family is putting on a human façade even though it's clear that they don't have to. It makes Edward sick; they're supposed to be soulless creatures, and they can't even act like them once they're finally allowed to.

Rosalie always keeps the monster away from Edward, as if he wants to really see it, anyway. When Rosalie isn't hiding it, somebody else is, protecting the monster more than they have ever protected Bella. They guard the monster like it's the most important thing in the universe. Maybe they think of it as a blessed part of Bella, the only part they have left. Maybe they're trying to find some hope.

Edward can't—he doesn't want to.

In the fear of him hurting the killer, Edward is treated like a scoundrel in his house by everybody—even Carlisle and Esme. Conversely, he's okay with it, too; he's a villain already, so it's time he starts being treated like one.

Even if it means being completely lonely one hundred percent of the time.

Sometime in late September, Edward isn't treated as a villain anymore; he's invisible. Now that his family knows that he won't do anything violent to the true villain in the household, Edward is treated like nothing. Now that his family knows that he's completely out of energy, he's not even a prop in the perfect picture. Not even a speck of dirt. He's nothing.

Dust collects over the keys of his piano, but Rosalie is always cleaning it like it's going to be used. She's always murmuring to the little horror of a child, "Your daddy might not teach you to play, but I can. You'll play beautifully." Edward cringes at the lies. Rosalie can't play the piano and everybody knows it. Then again, he doesn't mind—Rosalie can play the nice parent all the time. Nobody else will.

The other vampires in the home besides Rosalie are just as supportive, though. They also spoil the demon like no other person has been spoiled. Everyday, somebody comes home with new items for the murderer. Alice comes home with entire wardrobes; Jasper comes home with books for centuries; Emmett comes home with toys that could entertain the children of third-world countries. It never ends. It's like every single day is the criminal's birthday, and Edward doesn't want to deal with it any longer.

Now he doesn't have to.

Bella's funeral finally takes place in early October, and Edward doesn't attend it. He doesn't have the strength to look at Charlie Swan and Renee Dwyer right in the eyes and say, "I'm Edward Cullen. You may not remember me since I always kept her away all the time, but I killed your daughter." Edward has never been able to own up to his mistakes, and he's not about to start now once it's important.

However, he does get dressed up in a suit and tie like he's going to go. His mood is just the same as if he were attending a funeral. The only difference is that he doesn't drive to the funeral home; he's set on a much different location. Maybe he needs some time with family members that aren't brainwashed.

It takes Edward over two days to drive to Denali, Alaska, but his (very stupid and equally shiny) Volvo eventually pulls up to his cousins' mansion, the tires surprisingly not getting trapped in the snow. It's like things are going to go well. Edward doesn't have any expectations, though—he doesn't know what to expect, and he doesn't know what he wants.

Edward's "cousins"—Tanya, Kate, Carmen, Eleazar, and Irina—exit their house and don't look at all surprised to see Edward in his state of dejection. Five different voices of thoughts chime through Edward's mind, tangled and knotted. Some sound like, Carlisle told us what happened. Others sound something like, Alice told us you were coming.

One set of thoughts in particular sticks out to Edward, though, and his black eyes flash to Tanya's golden ones. She stands with her hand open to him, inviting him, and her thoughts couldn't be any more clear.

We will always be here for you. You are just as welcome as any of us.

Edward gives her a slight nod, and Tanya asks if she can have a moment with Edward. Of course she can. Her family retreats indoors, and Kate mutters to Irina, "This can't be good." Edward ignores her slandering comment and proceeds to Tanya.

His gait is of a burning man that doesn't know what to do with himself because it will never stop the burning, but he keeps walking. He walks straight to the woman in front of him with strawberry blonde curls and buttery topaz eyes. He walks to her like she's God, waiting for him to arrive to the gates of Heaven, only that's not where Edward belongs. In a past life, Edward may have belonged in Heaven, but not now. In a past life, he may have stayed strong, too, but that's definitely not going to happen now.

Tanya continues to stare at him in awe, in shock, and in pity. "Edward?" she asks. "How have you been?"

He doesn't reply—he doesn't do anything but drop to his knees in the snow, his face in his hands. It's obvious that he hasn't been very well.

Tanya leans down next to him, her fingers in his tousled bronze hair. She doesn't ask what's wrong—she already knows. She also knows that Edward wouldn't want her to play human anymore. There's no reason for either of them to put on human disguises; they can freely be the all-knowing monsters that they were designed to be.

She can't bring herself to look into his eyes and see the rotted soul of a once content man, and he can't bring himself to say anything. There's nothing left to apologize for. There's nothing left to heal. There's nothing left to work with.

There is only everything to comfort.

I'm here, she mentally tells him. I've always been here.

Edward has never been the person to seek safety in other people. He's always been a bit of a lone wolf (forgive me, Jacob Black, he grimly thinks). He just doesn't like to confide in people. He once used to trust Carlisle, but that has changed. Edward doesn't know how to make himself closer to others. The shocking truth (or is it all that shocking?) collides with him as he sits in the Denali coven's living room, attempting to make small talk but actually caught in his own thoughts.

He doesn't know how to get close to people the right way.

He has never known how to make friends without scaring people away, and he definitely doesn't know to carry a romantic relationship. He's not a carrier at all, and he's definitely not a protector.

In actuality, Edward is a fighter.

Edward has always fought his feelings for Tanya. Back when there was a possibility of them being together—back when things would have made perfect sense—he pushed her away. Tanya's sultry yet disappointed pout is burned into his memory, and it hasn't left since. He remembers the day he rejected Tanya for the last time, and he never thought about how much it might have affected her until now. He has never stopped fighting her.

Maybe it's time to change that.

Edward stares over at Tanya from across the living room, and he knows for sure that he can't fight her anymore, especially when she's a shelter for him. That would be one of the most selfish things he could do, which is a fairly large list, but still valid.

"What have Carlisle and Esme been up to?" Carmen asks Edward. His attention snaps back to the present, and he glances at Carmen. Her question is genuine; she has always been genuine, and with everybody, too.

"Nothing in particular," Edward replies. "They've just been taking care of a monst—" He stops himself. He shouldn't be mentioning that. "Nothing," he finishes.

"A monster?" Kate asks warily. "What do you mean?"

"Carlisle didn't tell us anything about that," Eleazar adds.

So, Carlisle essentially told everyone that Edward killed Bella himself. Edward can accept that he did help, but why would Carlisle cover up the truth? Because it's ugly? There are plenty of ugly things in this world, and Carlisle has always been the one person in Edward's life that covers it up.

Suddenly, Edward feels like he's in a support group of some sorts, only with people he knows. People who actually care, but people who don't want to really share their problems. It's like everyone has gone around in the circle and addressed their issues, but in the blandest ways possible. Kate may have accidentally shocked Eleazar for surprising her and effectively scaring her, but Edward wouldn't know the true story because she's covering her thoughts with what Edward likes to call "filler thoughts." Words that his family thinks around him because they don't want him to hear other things. Irina may still be upset over Laurent's death (actually, she really is still upset about it; it's all she can think about. No filler thoughts this time). Carmen wouldn't have issues to begin with, merely because she's Carmen, but even if she did, they would be replaced with filler thoughts. Eleazar could have a variety of problems, ranging from misplacing a sweater to receiving a letter from the Volturi. The Volturi just may want him back. It's a possibility, after all… still packed with filler thoughts, though. And Tanya may still be upset over Edward, but she's probably not. The filler thoughts would make her lie to herself, but even if they're not, she's moved on. Tanya knows how to move on when it's necessary, and she knows how to move on quickly. Edward has always been jealous of her for that reason alone.

Everyone could have their problems, hidden underneath those filler thoughts because they just may not trust Edward with the real thoughts, but somehow, they've all expressed their problems. This still seems like a seminar for a vampire support group. And they're all waiting for Edward. He may as well begin his tragic story with, "Hi, I'm Edward—(insert a simultaneous, monotonous Hi, Edward)—I'm seventeen—no, I'm a hundred something, but who's really counting, right?—and I don't know how to open up to people. I've also just killed my wife of three weeks. I mean, I didn't really kill her—that'd be crazy, right? I only got her pregnant. And she, uh, died. Yeah, she's dead. I'm still wearing my wedding ring because it's all I've got left… besides the thing that really killed her. Hi, I'm Edward."

Instead, he doesn't. Instead, he leans forward on the couch, his hands folded and his elbows on his thighs. He sighs and finally begins. "After the wedding, something terrible happened."

Five pairs of golden eyes are fixed on Edward's. Go on, Tanya thinks.

Staring at a painting on the wall behind Irina, Edward goes on. "As all of you know, I married Bella, but on our honeymoon, she… she… well, I impregnated her."

A thousand thoughts flood his mind. His head strains and he is literally one and a half seconds from finding something to smash his head against, to make it all go away or at least muffle it. There are no more polite filler thoughts; just real, alarmed ones. Shocked ones.

"Please, just listen," he says. "Hold your words… and your thoughts."

The thoughts quiet down, and Eleazar nods. "Finish your story, Edward."

"Bella passed away," Edward concludes. "I mean, after giving birth. I tried to revive her but nothing worked."

Kate's expression is serious and distressed. "Is the child immortal?"

"It—I mean, she—is not an immortal," Edward replies.

"Where is she?" Carmen asks. Eleazar asks, "What is she?" at the same time.

Edward's eyes flicker to Carmen and Irina. "Probably still with Carlisle. And I think she's half-vampire and half-human."

"So you're ignoring your own child?" Irina accuses.

Basically. "I—"

"He's not ignoring her," Tanya says in Edward's defense. She looks at Irina first, and then the rest of the vampires in the room. "If that were to happen to us, I wouldn't want to be around it."

"Is she dangerous?" Eleazar asks Edward.

"The Volturi might come for you," Kate says modestly.

Edward blinks and looks at Eleazar. "I don't know anything about her. From everybody's thoughts, she most likely isn't dangerous, though." He turns to Kate. "And I don't think they'll have to. I might visit the Volturi sometime soon."

Tanya gasps. "Edward, no."

Edward shakes his head. "You can't control what I want to do."

"Then how long are you staying here?" Carmen asks.

He thinks on this for a moment. How long will he really stay here? Then he comes up with a better question: how long will it be before he's eventually kicked out?

Hopefully, it will be long enough.

"I'm not sure," Edward finally responds.

You can stay as long as you need to, Tanya thinks.

The Denalis were planned on going hunting, and they leave soon after the confessions in the living room. However, Tanya stays with Edward. They sit next to each other on the leathery couch, just inches apart.

"When was the last time you went hunting?" she asks him, taking in his black eyes. "I've never seen your eyes so dark."

"I can't remember the last time I went hunting," Edward admits. His eyes are down at his hands in his lap, and it makes Tanya upset. It's strung through her thoughts. He is so closed off away from her. Edward is a man in limbo, not waiting for anything in particular.

Tanya can feel his pain as well, and she mentally tells Edward that she would anything and everything for him. She's just afraid the words will come out incorrectly, verbally. Edward doesn't take things the way they're supposed to be taken; they're always manipulated and twisted around into fantasies and lies in his head. He's as sharp as a knife, and Tanya doesn't want to be cut. Not again. Then again, there's no reason to say what she has to say now. The cuts will be worth it, and that's only because Tanya moves on quickly. She's graceful in everything. She has certainly learned to be swifter with Edward.

"I'm probably one of the only people you know that is completely honest and open with you," she begins, "but, Edward, I'm letting you know right now that things will be better. I know you've been hurt, but I have never given up on you. It's going to be better."

In a miraculous moment, a small sense of hope courses through Edward. The hopelessness soon fills the rest of the space, though. "What if things don't get better?" he challenges.

Tanya smiles confidently. "Then I will make them better. Trust me."

"I've never trusted you before," Edward reminds her. "I've only fought you."

"Then maybe it's time for you to trust me," Tanya suggests. "It's time to stop fighting."

Edward's eyebrows knit closer. "Haven't you ever heard of people fighting for the things they love?"

"You're not fighting for me; you're fighting against me. And, besides, Edward… what do you have left to fight for?"

It's a good question that Edward doesn't have the answer to.

Tanya's eyes burn into his; she would shed a tear if she could. "Let yourself be open," she tells him.

This has never happened to Edward before. Nobody has ever made him feel lonely and lost but also managed to get him to let things go. Tanya has always had this effect on people, and Edward's noticing this now. Edward, who has spent the most private time with her and would know her mindset better than anybody else, has eyes but he cannot see. He has ears but he cannot listen. He is completely oblivious to the fact that she is trying to help, but she isn't going to lie to him. She truly is the most honest person he knows.

"It's going to be better," Tanya tells him.

"It's going to be better," he repeats.

And he believes not only her, but himself as well.

A sense of tranquility cover's Edward's mind over the next amount of time. With a mantra to motivate him, he believes life will be better, and it is, for a while.

Edward doesn't think about Bella; he doesn't think about the demon either. Tanya and her family show him how to live again. It's a long, slow process, but he has forever. Time has been broken. Tanya values time as little as he does.

Edward spends a lot of time with Tanya outdoors—he can't get cold, and he's not with anybody that can get cold either. He can finally appreciate the snow for what it is.

One day, Tanya shows Edward a spot in the woods. It's really a clearing, and it's beautiful, though it's familiar. Frost and ice decorate the area, along with the pristine, untouched snow. It's one hundred percent pure. And Edward finally remembers why it's so familiar. He's been here before. Of course. It's the place where he last rejected Tanya.

"Tanya, I'm—"

"Don't say a word," she tells him. "Do you remember this place? I do. I…" She falters. "I made you uncomfortable. You're such a gentleman." She smiles to herself. "So polite. And you called me beautiful—"

"No, I didn't," he interrupts her. "I said you were a thousand times lovelier than the stars."

She nods, her strawberry blonde curls bouncing up and down. "And I already know I am, of course."

"There's nothing to be ashamed of," Edward assures her.

"I'm not ashamed of that," Tanya tells him. "I'm ashamed of the fact that I held onto it."

"We're not allowed to forget, anyway," he reminds her. "We're just monsters with great memories."

"If I ignored it enough, it would have forgotten, Edward."

"Maybe you just hold on to everything."

"That's hardly the problem," she replies. "It's that I hold onto anything."

There's a moment of silence. The only thought that Edward receives is, I'm sorry.

He comes closer to her and puts a hand in her hair, feeling the soft, strong curls. This is almost natural. There's no blood for him to resist. No temptation to fight. "Maybe one of us needs that," he admits.

Tanya steps back; Edward follows her instinctively.

"This is wrong," she says. "Can't you see it?"

"Can't you see that I don't know how to do anything right?" he asks her. His hand cups her jaw, and she can't bring herself to pull away. She doesn't want to. It's been a long time since someone has taken a chance with her—it would be foolish for her to stop this now.

"I can see that," she replies.

"Then teach me how to be right."

She narrows her eyes. "Edward…"

"You're the succubus, right?" he teases her. Images of them—old images that have been buried such a long time ago—flicker through her mind. She can't help herself from thinking them, and Edward's not even appalled that she's thinking them.

Her thin lips pull into a smile. "The original," she reminds him.

"You're the professional," he says. "Teach me."

She looks down bashfully. Only Edward Cullen can make Tanya feel self-conscious or awkward. Only he can make her heart ache like this—he's her weakness. She can't admit it yet, though…unless she already has. She won't tell him the truth unless he wants her to, but she's now convinced that he already knows. She has perfect words conjured up in her mind that she hasn't spoken yet, but she doesn't have to.

If Tanya wasn't ever in love with Edward before, she is now.

The thoughts flood Edward's mind, and for once, he's glad. He doesn't have to keep guessing with Tanya, and that brings him at home. It gives him a sense of peace. For most of Edward's existence (or most of his time with Bella), he was stuck predicting and never finding completion. He has never accomplished anything because he has never known where he was to begin with and he has never known where it would end.

He knows now, though, and he's glad he knows. Being a mind-reader isn't all that bad.

Edward also knows why Tanya is in love with him: she's in love with the idea of helping him. She's merely an angel trying to give him wings of his own. She has dealt with broken souls before and she always tried to help, but the soul would end up running away. Edward doesn't have to run, though. Running away from Tanya was one of the biggest mistakes of his existence. He has more than enough time to repeat his mistakes, but not this one.

"I hope you're a quick learner," Tanya replies. She puts her hands in his hair and her lips on his. They linger for a bit, but the sincerity comes out, and they know that this is how things should be.

Edward doesn't have to be soft anymore, and he almost has so much power now that he doesn't know what to do with it. He's allowed to be a greedy monster now. He's allowed to let the demons in his chest break out and roar… and roar loudly.

Tanya tugs on Edward's bottom lip sexily; he looks down at her and smiles. "I can be one for you," he says.

Buried deep in the snow, they kiss. It lasts for minutes, or hours, or days. Time is nonexistent, and time is the last thing they need.

Tanya's a great teacher; Edward learns how to do things the right way. Things get better just like she promised.

Joyous, serene thoughts course through Edward's mind, and not just temporarily. He's like this all the time. Nothing reminds him of what happened. He doesn't let himself do that because he knows that it's going to be better.

Everything is better.

Stripped of his morals (then again, what morals?), beliefs, sanity, moodiness, and wedding ring, Edward has learned to be a monster. There are no more acts to hide behind. Only he's not a bad monster this time; he's the monster he's supposed to be. He's the monster that runs fast, takes chances, and never limits himself. He's the monster that acts without thinking because he doesn't have to, and has sex without remorse because he can't find an ounce of remorse in him.

Over time, he learns that there is more to just sex with humans. Especially when a succubus is his teacher.

With minimal teasing from the other household members, Edward has come to terms with himself. After all these years of being confused and denied, he's aware of just who he is. Tanya is aware, too.

They lay in bed after an hour—or a day or a week or a month—of tying loose ends with each other, and Tanya laughs softly. Edward stares out a window. Snowflakes indolently drift from the sky, and he can't be put more at ease.

"What is it?" he asks.

"I've been waiting to meet you, Mr. Cullen."

His eyes stays at the window, but he agrees. He's finally in tune with who he really is. "I've been waiting, too."

If there is anything that Edward quickly learns about happiness, it's that it does not last forever. Something happens—something he can't exactly pinpoint—and time suddenly bursts through Edward's mind, reminding and reminding him. He once promised Tanya that he would be with her for forever and a day… just like he promised Bella, only he took that away, too.

Edward spends a day away from Tanya, and in his solitude he takes a look at a calendar. Time is now existent and real as he realizes that it is the twentieth of December. The date doesn't mean anything besides the obvious fact that he has been here too long.

He doesn't go near the snowy clearing that he shares with Tanya once that day; he spends his time everywhere else but there. He wonders if he can go home. Is he ready? Is he even wanted anymore by anyone besides Tanya? He vaguely remembers Eleazar wondering if Edward would go home soon.

Edward's indecisiveness rages as he silently looks up at the gray sky. He needs answers. He needs real, unbiased answers that he can't find in himself.

He doesn't find answers, but the panic finally ends at some point, and he retreats to the house. It's home now. It's been his home for over a month—why would he want to change that? This is like a painkiller and there's no reason to stop using it.

He seeks security and bliss in Tanya that night, but he can't find it. He feels like he's stuck in a snow globe as everything whirs around him, but there's something waiting for him… only it's something that he doesn't want to see. He's scared, but he can't show that to Tanya.

It's like Tanya acquired Edward's special ability at some point, though, because she can read him like she would a book. The day after Edward isolated himself from everyone, Tanya wordlessly approaches him—something must be wrong. She sits in a tree in the clearing as he stands in the snow, looking up at her.

Tanya's face is nothing but honest. Her eyes are wide and she doesn't smile.

"What is it?" Edward asks.

"This isn't right anymore," is what she says in reply. "I don't think you should be here, Edward."

"You never told me to go away before," he murmurs. "You used to always want me around."

"Not if you're using me to cover up the pain," she says sharply.

Edward isn't looking at her anymore, so she takes matters into her own hands, swiftly swinging off the tree. She brings his face to hers, only inches away. She has never been afraid to be honest with him and she's definitely not afraid now. Edward can't deny her anymore.

"You can't keep pretending that you don't have a child," she whispers. "That child needs you."

He shakes his head. "No, it—"

"Yes, she does. Look at you, Edward—you've been exiled by your own family. It didn't take long for everything to make sense."

Edward's mind is fogged over—is Tanya really pushing him away? "This is my family."

"Not if you're using us. Not if you're using me. Bella may be gone, but this isn't right. Your child is the last part of Bella you have. Bella is only half a world away from you. Go to her."

"It can't replace—"

"She is a part of you. Find her. Love her."

It hurts Tanya to say goodbye to Edward again after just obtaining him, but she knows this is only for the better. She's good at moving on, anyway.

Edward will miss everything about Denali.

He'll miss the snow, the hunting, the seclusion, the freedom… The heart-to-heart conversations with Irina, the bonding with Eleazar, the story-telling with Kate and Carmen…

He will definitely miss Tanya.

He'll miss everything about her from her seductive, cat-like features to the lovely wind chime sound of her laugh to her beautiful, sensible mind. He'll miss the way she smells, the way she puts him at home, and the way she's always honest but always hopeful.

He doesn't beg or plead to stay; it will never work. Tanya is the kind of woman who sticks to what she says. She's the most secure person Edward knows, and he also knows she's not going to let him back in the house. At least, not soon. With time now being bright and buzzing, he can safely say that he might meet Tanya once again. She is there for him. She has always been there for him.

A hint of time is all it takes.

Edward is going to come home.

He drives without stopping, and it takes him two days to return to Washington. Sometimes he feels the drive between Washington and Alaska should be longer; sometimes shorter. It all depends on the mood and how much time is involved. He may not know much about himself anymore, but he does know one thing.

It's Christmas Eve; Edward feels like the Grinch.

There is nothing he wants to do more than steal the world's happiness all because his was stolen. It's selfish, but he can't help it. He's never been a very selfless person, anyway.

But it's still Christmas Eve. Isn't this supposed to be the time of magic? He needs a little bit of that in his life. With Tanya evicting him from her home with specific orders, he can only follow them.

He makes a stop at a small toy shop somewhere on the way back to Forks. He blends in with everyone else… all the procrastinators who decide to do some of (or most of, for some people) their last-minute Christmas shopping. Their thoughts give Edward just a taste of what it must feel like to be so stressed.

Edward tinkers with a few items as he snakes through the shop. There are wind-up toys, little porcelain dolls, teddy bears, and more. Maybe the monster will like this, he decides upon every present in sight. He takes it all with him to purchase.

At the cash register, he reaches into his pocket of his jacket (he's wearing the same suit he initially left home in), and his hand goes right through. The pocket has been torn and he no longer has his wallet. There's an easier way to handle this, though. He excuses himself to go get one last thing, but instead puts away everything he has except for a tiny figurine of a mermaid, in which he tucks into another pocket of his jacket that's not ripped. He leaves the shop unnoticed as nothing more than a shadow.

Flashes of red and green lights from various houses pass him as he drives home. The smell of trees (both real and fake) drifts through the air. The sky grows darker and the stars show up for once, welcoming Edward home. An old mantra suddenly echoes in Edward's mind. It's going to be better.

The glassy mansion stands tall and eerie as Edward parks his Volvo in the driveway. His family managed to still leave him his spot. Nobody is waiting for him outside, though; they already know he's here and what's going to happen. He wonders what Alice saw. It had to be positive—or too negative to even talk about.

Edward quietly enters the house, but it's obvious that everyone knows he's here. The Cullens are all in front of a huge, illuminated Christmas tree, huddled together in a protective way all the way across the room. Edward is no longer banished, but not yet accepted. Everyone murmurs a quick hello to him, and not even Carlisle has words for him. Carlisle, out of everyone he expected to be the welcoming one, has nothing to say.

"Merry Christmas," Edward says in a broken voice. "Did I miss much?"

His eyes dart from family member to family member, looking for answers. His adoptive siblings and parents all have different expressions and thoughts. There's surprise, relief, happiness… anger. But no words. Still no words.

The sound of a fluttering heartbeat makes itself more familiar to Edward's ears, and a toddler slowly peeks behind Rosalie's legs. The child has big, brown eyes just like her mother and soft, wild ringlets the exact same color of her father's hair. Her cheeks are rosy and her expression is innocent but also curious.

"Daddy?" she murmurs.

This child isn't a monster or a thing or a demon or a beast. No. She's not any of that. She is half of Bella and half of Edward.

Speechless, her father mindlessly holds out his arms to her, and she flies into them without a care in the world.

It's so clear to him now: she is not a monster at all. She is a child—his child. The last part of Bella left, and also the most sacred. That's not terrifying or wicked in any sort of way.

Renesmee, Edward thinks. Her name is Renesmee.