My personal take on the Midnight Sun idea. Edward's POV throughout the Twilight chapters. Edwards struggles with his conscience over his base urges while finding himself the unwilling hero for a hapless but intruiging Bella Swan, the last girl who he should be interested in helping.
1. Open Book
Rating 4/5 Word Count 3443 Review this Chapter
It was good to be back, I decided, sitting down at our designated lunch table with my family. Emmett was dusting the snow off his jacket and into Rosalie’s lap much to her obvious displeasure.
It’s good to have you back, I heard Alice’s voice in my head almost immediately. How are you doing?
I knew that she must have felt the fleeting urge to jump over tables and capture my prey that I had experienced minutes ago. But the desire at this distance was easy to stamp down, even if it had caught me off guard how potent the human’s scent could be after just feeding. I sent Alice a reassuring smile as we all laughed as Emmett shook the wet droplets of melted snow out of his hair and across the table.
She’s watching the Cullens again, I heard suddenly from across the room. I tuned in briefly to catch Jessica asking Bella Swan what she was staring at. I was aware of course that she had entered the cafeteria, her scent had warned me, but I found myself glancing over in surprise nonetheless remembering just now the strange frustration of not being able to hear her thoughts. I watched her as her eyes quickly looked away and she let her hair fall over her face to hide herself. An instinctual reaction to being caught staring, I reminded myself, it did not necessarily have anything to do with my less than welcoming introduction of her from the week before. I felt the slight sting of venom at the back of my throat, watching hungrily as her cheeks turned pink with fresh blood. I could almost taste the memory of her scent up close.
Jessica giggled asininely and informed Bella Swan that I was staring at her. I considered turning away but felt myself a little too interested by her response to that. I listened carefully and watched as her back tensed and she asked if I looked angry. At least she had the sense to be worried, if not the foresight to run away.
What did she do to make him angry? Jessica wonders and for a fleeting moment I feel sorry for Bella. But it’s better for her, I remind myself, to think I have some unfounded distaste for her than to know that she is, in fact, exactly to my taste. Jessica reminds me that I am still staring by telling Bella and I look away just as I hear Bella hiss at Jessica to stop watching.
I listen still as Mike Newton attempts to distract Bella from their conversation, trying to convince her join in a snowball fight but can’t catch her answer through his loud mental concerns over her pale, sickly expression that seems to have struck suddenly. I wonder rightly if her change in expression has anything to do with realizing that I’ve returned to school. I chastise myself for scaring the girl so thoroughly that she’s frightened sick at the sight of me. I won’t be doing any better by terrifying her into suspicions than I would by killing her.
I realize that I’ve decided to try and make up to Bella for my initial reaction to her just as Alice looks to me with raised eyebrows and obvious expression of surprise.
Do you think that’s wise? She asks immediately. You’re being over-confident that you can resist the lure of her.
I firm my resolve in response to Alice’s questions. I will, at the very least, be perfectly civil to Bella Swan. Alice shrugs and stands from the table, we all follow her in response. It’s an unconscious reflex to walk together, but to walk alone could leave us vulnerable. To curiosity and human conversation, for Jasper it could leave him vulnerable to temptation. As much as a vampire is a solitary creature, we need each other.
On my way through the rain to the Biology class, that will inevitably test my resistance that I’ve been so stubborn to insist I still posses, I see Bella ahead of me, hurrying into the building with her hood raised. Evidently not a fan of rain, I note, not sure why I should be interested. Presumably not very well acquainted with it, given that she grew up in Arizona. I take my time in the rain, breathing in the crisp cool air and knowing that I might be forced to hold my breath for the better part of an hour. I enter the building, and now, knowing what I am looking for, I can follow the pale traces of that poisonously perfect scent all the way to the classroom. I ready myself taking a deep breath of the nearly clean air from the hall before stepping in.
Bella Swan is hunched tensely at her desk, her damp hair curtaining off her face and curling slightly from the rain. She is pretty, I feel forced to acknowledge suddenly, recognizing the obvious interest of so many other boys in the class. I move to take my seat, pulling the chair to the far corner of the table but turning it slightly to face her, watch her. I wait patiently and take a tentative breath, the reaction is immediate, a white hot burning heat builds through my nose and down my throat into my chest. I swallow back a little venom and try to relax. I’m prepared this time and despite the undeniable desires I have now, I can resist without hating the girl for causing me the turmoil.
“Hello,” I test carefully, quietly.
She sits up suddenly, and I tense my hand against the edge of the table carefully surprised by the way the damp humidity of the room has richened her smell. The obvious expression of surprise and curiosity puts a pause on the vicious thoughts running through the back of my mind. I ease my expression with a small smile but remain ready to stop myself from acting violently or rashly.
“My name is Edward Cullen,” I offer after her shocked silence. I realize that she was obviously expecting a repeat experience of the week before and I have to do my best to ease away the damage I’ve done. “I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself last week. You must be Bella Swan.”
I watched her patiently, and told myself that I wasn’t enjoying the sudden taste in my mouth.
“H-how did you know my name?” she asked, hesitant but with slightly narrowed eyes.
It only took me a moment to supply my excuse, a natural reflex after years of accidentally revealing information I could only know through reading minds. “Oh I think everyone knows your name. The whole town’s been waiting for you to arrive.”
She frowned but continued, “No, I meant, why did you call me Bella?”
“Do you prefer Isabella?” I asked, openly confused. Everyone at school had immediately started addressing her as Bella upon her introduction. Of course, I shouldn’t naturally know that. But it was an excusable slip up wasn’t it? Her persistent curiosity after such a display of timidity caught me off guard.
She explained herself, something about assuming her father had spoke of her in her full name because most people knew her as such, but I was busy noticing the way she determinedly looked me in the eye.
“Oh,” I replied lamely, feeling it might be safer to drop the topic and avoid her continuous string of questions.
I waited patiently as Professor Banner explained the lab assignment I had certainly done several variations of over the past fifty years. I was surrounded by the awful, gut wrenching, tempting scent of an average human girl but I was full from feeding frequently and feeling confidently under control. I could try for a little friendliness, I was sure.
“Ladies first, partner,” I offered to Bella with a smile. She stared at me with an unreadable expression and I tried effortlessly to push my way through whatever wall blocked her thoughts from me. “Or I could start, if you wish,” I tried instead, wondering if I had laid the geniality on a little thick and she was wondering when my obvious murderous rage would be back in full force.
“No,” she said finally, and I watched with sick fascination as blood rushed into her cheeks, “I’ll go ahead.”
I watched as she set the slide in the microscope confidently and adjusted the dial without any hesitation. “Prophase,” she remarked surely.
“Do you mind if I look?” I asked quickly before she could take the slide out. Most students struggled for minutes before even getting a clear view of the slide so I wondered a little at her certainty. I caught her hand to keep her from taking the slide out and almost immediately let go as the heat from her hand sparked against my own cold one. She pulled her hand out from mine instantly and my head spun briefly between wondering whether it was from my cold inhuman touch or if she had also felt the strange static shock.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered pulling my shocked hand away but taking the microscope from her and glancing briefly through the lens, too disturbed to be surprised that she had assessed the slide correctly.
We worked quickly and I tried not to laugh when she insisted on double checking my work, but I maintained a careful stance on not letting our hands brush again. I regretted our speed when I realized we had finished far too early and would be forced to sit in silence together. I watched her, her expression was completely blank but her large eyes moved quickly across the table, over her hands, skimming down the page of our answers written out in my handwriting. It was so obvious that thoughts were running through her mind, she wasn’t stupid, that was clear. So why couldn’t I have any access to them? Why was it that for someone who’s very scent had such an alarming effect on my good sense and control, I could find no insight?
She looked up finally and met my eyes and I tried again, fruitlessly, to dig my way into her head as she scrutinized me.
“Did you get contacts?” She asked suddenly in her careful, unobtrusive tone.
I blinked and shook myself. “No,” I answered out of surprise without thinking of her motive for asking such a question.
“Oh. I thought there was something different about your eyes.”
I shrugged tensely and turned away, very much aware now of the difference that she saw. I had not realized how very clearly she must have seen the coal black color of my eyes from last week but it was now obvious. If I had realized in time that she was noticing the drastic change from the black pits from them to the unusual honey tone I might have had a ready excuse, but now I could think of nothing better than to lamely turn away.
My hands balled into fists against my lap as Bella threw her hair over her shoulder stirring the air and my frustration. Banner reached our table with a suspicious expression, putting a halt on all the terrible ideas running through my head. If the girl was so observant she could remark on the change in my eye color it might be easier to give in to my urges rather than fight them and battle her interest at the same time.
“So, Edward,” the Professor greeted me, his tone obviously annoyed with me. “Didn’t you think Isabella should get a chance with the microscope?” Was he trying to show off for the girl or just being his usually obnoxious know-it-all self?
“Bella,” I corrected him sharply and added with pleasant smugness, “Actually, she identified three of the five.”
Banner looked to Bella with obvious skepticism. Just what I need, another kid who thinks they know enough to breeze through the class. “Have you done this lab before?”
Bella surprised me by smiling modestly with a little humility. “Not with onion root.”
“Whitefish blastula?” I knew it, he crowed triumphantly in his thoughts.
He nodded, looking pleased with himself and directed a quick glance as if to prove his point to me. “Were you in an advanced placement program in Phoenix?”
“Yes,” she answered honestly. I was surprised at how direct she was, most of the children in this school would have lied and pretended that they were just smart enough to manage without extra help.
“Well, I guess it’s good you two are lab partners,” Banner decided in a resigned tone before adding as he turned away, “It should keep you both out of my hair.”
What’s left of it, I wanted to tell him. I watched as Bella immediately bent over to go back to drawing meaningless spirals across her notebook. She was avoiding me, I realized. Trying to allow me to ignore her. I fought for something to talk to her about and overheard Mike Newton mourning the fact that the rain was washing away his reason to flirt with Bella in the snow after classes.
“It’s too bad about the snow, isn’t it?” I asked, guessing I could gauge by her reaction whether or not Mike really had a reason to be disappointed.
“Not really,” she answered easily, looking back up to me.
“You don’t like the cold.” I meant it as a question but it was too easy to read the honest distaste on her face.
“Or the wet,” she added, slightly wistfully with a glance at the rain streaked windows.
“Forks must be a difficult place for you to live,” I noted. The easiest place for a vampire, with hardly any sunny days, probably couldn’t appeal to someone who had grown up in a desert.
“You have no idea,” she said, sounding bitter.
She was right of course, for whatever reason I was unable to form any solid idea on how she felt. It was like she was teasing me for my inability to locate her thoughts. And I was beginning to understand that I actually was interested, for some reason. I had heard no specific account of her moving here that made it sound as though she was forced to change her home.
“Why did you come here, then?” I asked, honestly curious.
She met my eyes fully, her expression open and surprised. I was prying, and perhaps asking questions that should not be asked by a stranger. But I was so used to understand as much about a person as I wanted that it was increasingly distressing to be left in the dark, however menial the topic.
“It’s…complicated,” she supplied, looking back down.
“I think I can keep up,” I pushed determinedly. Until she directly refused me an answer it might be safe to keep pressing for answers. There was nothing inhuman in being too curious, at least.
She was quiet for an excruciating length of time considering I could not read her eyes or her mind and I almost considered asking again before she looked up and met my gaze. There was a moment of stubborn resistance that fell away quickly and her expression was suddenly vulnerable. I realized I was leaning forward slightly and she suddenly felt like prey. I quickly sat back.
“My mother got remarried,” she answered finally, looking bothered by her own admission.
“That doesn’t sound so complex,” I mentioned casually before realizing that perhaps the matter was a sore subject and required more delicacy in address. “When did that happen?”
“Last September,” she sighed, sounding hurt.
I didn’t know the details of Charlie Swan’s divorce but perhaps Bella had been hoping for some sort of reunion between her parents. Or maybe the new dad was somehow disagreeable. I suggest this but Bella only dismisses it easily, sounding neither one way or the other against her step-father.
“Why didn’t you stay with them?” I asked
I listened with half-interest as she explains that this Phil is a ball player and has to move around a lot. I waited until I could again find some explanation for why she had to leave her home.
“And your mother sent you here so that she could travel with him,” I decided, wondering how a mother could sacrifice her daughter’s happiness to ease her new relationship.
But Bella catches me off guard yet again by replying with stubborn defiance, “No, she did not send me here.” She sounded as if I had in some way insulted her and adds, “I sent myself.”
I frown, frustrated at my inability to untie the knot of the problem. “I don’t understand,” I said, annoyed with myself.
She sighed and explained that her mother was unhappy staying in Phoenix while Phil traveled away and so she made the decision to move in with her father here so that her mother could travel with the new husband.
“But now you’re unhappy,” I mentioned, surprised at her selfless choice. It’s not something I’m accustomed to finding in people so young as her.
“And?” she asked sharply.
“That doesn’t seem fair,” Or at least doesn’t sound like what a teenage girl would find fair.
She laughed then but it sounded false, “Hasn’t anyone ever told you? Life isn’t fair.”
I assented but watched her intently nonetheless, waiting for some chip in her strength to fall out. Searching for some clearer evidence of her unhappiness than the simple assumption that it had to be there given the circumstances.
“You put on a good show,” I said finally after she hinted that the subject should be dropped. “But I’d be willing to bet that you’re suffering more than you let anyone see.”
She frowned and glared slightly at me before turning away and I wondered at myself and whether it was really my place to make such character judgments on someone who I knew so little about. Less than any other stranger in fact, given her mind was such a stubborn mystery for me.
“Am I wrong?” I watched as there was a twinge in her expression, a nerve most certainly struck. “I didn’t think so,” I said quietly, feeling a little proud of myself for at least being able to discover something about this enigma of a girl who was causing me so much difficulty.
“Why does it matter to you?” she asked suddenly and the question knocked me off my pedestal for a moment.
She was right, what right did I have to pry into her personal feelings other than my own unjustifiable frustration at not being able to read her like a book? I should hardly be developing a personal interest in the girl who held my fate and behavior so precariously in her very smell.
“That’s a very good question,” I murmured to myself.
I tried to let the matter drop from there, tried to ignore her stiff posture beside me waiting for some more detailed explanation. She sighed and directed a dark look towards the front of the room that I suspected was meant for me.
“Am I annoying you?” I asked, vaguely amused by the situation.
She looked over as if on the reflex of being addressed, like I did when I heard someone think my name, and her expression eased the same way it had before.
“Not exactly. I’m more annoyed at myself. My face is so easy to read -- my mother always calls me her open book.”
I tried not to laugh at the irony while answering, “On the contrary, I find you very difficult to read.”
“You say it like you’re a very practiced reader,” she replied.
“Usually,” I answer with a smile.
Professor Banner called the class back to attention then I turned in relief, vaguely disturbed by my admission in the conversation. I had insisted that I had carried the topic on that long at satisfying some of my interest in her, but I had given away more about myself than I would have ever shared with a human before. I wondered if Alice had been watching and if she would chastise my openness after school. I searched for her through the school but her thoughts casually rebuffed me, she didn’t seem concerned at least.
Congratulations on not killing her, Edward. Was all I caught before I drifted back to the class in time to escape just as the bell rang. The truth of it was, by the end of the class Bella had been in very little danger of my suddenly specific appetite for her. I had been too interested in our discussion to have indulged in any fantasies of devouring her in front of witnesses. I had still tasted the venom build at specific moments when she gestured to me or turned and swung her hair around her face to guard herself from my stare. But the burning fire of hunger was a distant nagging at the back of my throat compared to my interest in the personal conversation with her. And in some respects, that bothered me a great deal more.