Edward Cullen once had a mother. Esme Platt once had a son. What they need circa 1928 is up to debate.
It occurred to me that Edward and Esme's familial bond probably evolved over time rather than overnight, so I thought I would explore possibilities for the early days, specifically the period where Edward rebelled and moved off from Carlisle and Esme.
1. Chapter 1
Rating 0/5 Word Count 3809 Review this Chapter
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight. Just borrowing.
I watch the clouds drifting away
Still the sun can’t warm my face
I know it was destined to go wrong
You were looking for the greatest escape
To chase your demons away
You gave up the fight
You left me behind
All that's done is forgiven (Within Temptation)
Edward has his prey cornered in an alleyway when the last person he might have expected to see again (least of all on a darkened city street) approaches, utterly unnoticed. Her thoughts don't even prove a warning, so entrenched is he in thirst...in fact, his victim's own thoughts are quite loud and frenzied enough to mask all others for some distance.
It's a mild inconvenience soon to be remedied.
Running his venom slick tongue across aching teeth, he contemplates the lesser monster he is about to eat. The man is named Lester Harvey and he is thirty-nine, having just celebrated his birthday in drunken revelry at a nearby speakeasy. Lester has a wife at home, a sickly girl who has been unable to give him what he most wants out of life, a son. If left uninterrupted, tonight, though another birth could well kill her, they...or rather he...will try once more.
It isn't precisely a murder scheme, but excuse enough. Nostrils flaring wide and lips parting, Edward dismisses all compunction and is on the human in a instant, snarling. It is only from a great distance that he views what happens next...the sharp crack! of the man's neck, the low, gurgling noise he makes as razor sharp enamel sinks into sweat slick, spongy flesh.
Edward is pleased by the raw fear (they never think the boy has it in him), but far more pleased by the tangy, metallic taste that lingers on his tongue even after a bloodless corpse falls to the street.
He can see this diet becoming an addiction.
A soft gasp interrupts his musing and he turns, tensed in preparation for a second helping if necessary.
The woman who steps from behind precariously stacked crates is clearly not Lester's wife. While the grenadine dress she wears hangs awkwardly, as though pulled from several years of storage and not yet remeasured, it is clearly a cut above anything a welder's wife might own. Physically as well, she is anything but weak if the smooth muscles of her arms and calves are to be taken as indication. She is pale, but not the uneven, splotchy gray hue taken on by ill humans. Her flesh resembles the smoothest of alabaster, and a decidedly rosy hue touches her pursed lips.
After meeting butterscotch eyes, he is immediately shamed...by both the clinical sizing up and the mess he is, lips bloodied and eyes undoubtedly tinged with scarlet. “Esme.”
“I...” Esme manages a falter, fingers wrapping around the corner of a box for ballast. She looks to be positively ill, if attempting to hide it. “I had never seen a...human feeding before.”
Though the alley is otherwise empty and no other presence detectable nearby, he lifts fingers in a shushing motion. She's still so innocently reckless. “Esme, why are you here? How did you find me? Where is Carlisle? Aren't you thirsty?”
The look he receives is utter matching condescension. “Do you have a house, Edward? Or a room, at least?”
Swallowing venom along with vestiges of blood, he carefully wipes his mouth along his shirt sleeve, nodding meekly.
“Good. I'll follow you.”
Bending, he grasps Lester's neck once again, digging fingers in and raking until the bite marks are unrecognizable, then adding a few more gouges elsewhere for measure. Rabid dogs, if anyone cares to ponder the possibilities in detail. Enough blood puddles on the brick to not make the lack of it elsewhere questionable.
His curious audience waits patiently as he steps out, wiping hands on pants in distaste.
“Even monsters occasionally want shelter. I have a loft.”
Ordinarily, he doesn't mind the walk back from wherever it is his thirst is slaked. This night, with Esme by his side, a human pace seems too slow. He wants nothing more than to sit her down and demand answers. It isn't the only option, of course...prying into her thoughts is a quickly aborted temptation. Mental fences of trellis and vine, rose and honeysuckle quickly rise.
It seems that sometimes even Esme doesn't wish to share, so instead, he watches. His companion and her unnatural beauty draw more than a few stares, but a low growl on his part and unwelcome admirers quickly move on.
She only looks ahead.
Once they finally arrive at the tall, badly in need of renovation building he inhabits, Esme's torpor vanishes. She darts up three flights of stairs in a less than figurative blur, leaving him to follow with another swallowed chastisement.
He feels an almost irrepressible urge to scowl. Surely there has to be irony in it somewhere, the fact that he, the human blood sucker, has more a sense of self-preservation than the gentle housewife who pinches her nostrils as she drinks.
With a small mock sigh, he shuts his eyes, remembering one of many unkind parting lines.
I'm sorry, Carlisle, but I seem to be losing my mind minding her. Perhaps you should take time off and further polish your own creation.
When he forces the memory of Carlisle's perfectly composed yet perfectly devastated face away, he sees Esme already waiting at the door, her own expression one of expectation.
“Go on, don't let impatience kill you.” He goads sarcastically. “But it won't be to your living standard.”
“Oh, Edward.” Her reproachful tones fade as she disappears through the door. “You are sullen.”
With raised brows, he follows, taking the expansive but cluttered apartment in as though through Esme's eyes. He's fortunate to have found such a place. It's near the city's best hunting grounds (or worst neighborhoods, if you prefer looking at it another way), yet raised somewhat above the cacophony of human tenants. While the building isn't entirely uninhabited, no one (aside from the landlord, once monthly) comes up. It has solid walls and a view, and those are all that he needs.
Esme draws to a swift halt, and he glances at the object of her distraction. Almost all that he needs, then.
“You have a piano, Edward!” She cries out in delighted surprise, lean fingers running across the instrument's cool surface. “However did you get it up here?”
“I didn't.” He shares with a trace of annoyance. “I could have, obviously, but it would have attracted notice. I had to wait for a moving service...it was downstairs under lock and key for three days after I purchased it.”
His guest tsks in sympathy, a gesture he would deem mocking coming from anyone else.
She just isn't anyone else.
Sighing again, he steps in and shuts the door behind, moving to sit on the piano bench. Esme perches atop the cabinet, bending down to peck keys at random, her leaden touch sending forceful but discordant chords through the room.
“You have no tune.” He complains, but with no surprise. He's always been the only musically inclined member of their little coven. The only rhythm Carlisle displays more than passing interest in is that of the human heart, and Esme, despite her rearing, is clearly more at home mucking around in a garden than analyzing sheet music.
She laughs, accepting the pick up of old bickering. “Perhaps you simply have no taste. Music isn't an equation, some concrete engineering feat. As art, it should be free, unfettered.”
“Girls.” He mutters in annoyance, earning another unapologetic grin. That earns her another eye roll.
Esme's smile quickly softens to concern. “Why do you do that, Edward? You refer to me, even to Carlisle, in human terms, yet consider yourself nothing more than a monster.”
“I am.” He insists immediately. “An ungodly creature. Lucifer. Politeness aside, we all are.”
Pain flickers in her gaze then. “If an angel can fall from God's grace, don't you suppose demons should be capable of rising toward it?”
He stares straight ahead, lips thinning. “I'm not a religious man, Esme.”
“You aren't even a man.” She whispers, reaching to smooth a wild tuft of hair from his forehead. “Just a boy. A sweet, sullen...”
“I'm not a boy, Esme!” He startles them both by shouting. “You saw what it is I do! I kill people, I eat people!” He hopes she'll leave. Let her run out into the streets again until her always unpredictable nature wins and she makes a mistake, let her run home to Carlisle seeking healing.
Esme only draws back, spine straightening visibly, her expression still perfectly contained, perfectly calm. “That doesn't make you man or monster, Edward. It only makes you thirsty, as we all constantly are.”
With a low growl, he stands and kicks the bench over. “You have no idea what it is I thirst for. Why are you even here?”
“Does it matter?” She asks, and he realizes that no, it really doesn't.
He snorts gruffly. “Please remove yourself from my piano before you crush it.”
Esme smiles again, taking her leisurely time clambering down. He immediately regrets the demand, for she only steps closer, wrapping her cold hands around his own. “Why did you leave us, Edward?”
“Because you were perfect.” He says bitterly, hating the memories that rise unbidden. “You and Carlisle and your cloying happiness. It was a horrible charade of a normal family. I didn't belong any longer. He didn't need me and you didn't want me...”
There. Admitted. Butterscotch eyes...a bit more black than before...widen, her lips pursing.
“Oh, I understand.” He continues, fists balling in carefully restrained anger. “It's beyond me, it always was. You and he were destined. I just wish he had changed you first, left me to die in that hospital.”
“It was never inevitable.” She finally says, voice hitching. “There is no such thing as destiny. Only decision. If I hadn't jumped from that cliff, Carlisle and I would probably have never seen one another again. I'm sorry.”
He has to laugh. “You wanted to die so badly you leapt from a cliff and you apologize to me?”
She slaps at his chest half-heartedly, and Edward takes it as welcome invitation, extending both arms and coaxing her into them.
Many smells cling to Esme, yet somehow when he buries his face in her soft hair, all else is briefly overpowered by the sweet, almost rancid mixture of mother's milk and decay. This is her vampire scent, the one she will carry for eternity.
“You sat by his grave.” He murmurs in pitying realization. “Your son's.”
“For two days.” Esme sighs, pulling away from him, but not far enough for the scent to disappear entirely. “And only after they pried him from my arms. I clawed up dirt, wanting to join him.”
Of course. Sweet, perfect cliché. “It didn't work.”
“No.” She agrees. “The caretakers would only allow me to dig so far. When I finally realized that I would never be allowed to complete my plan, I left.”
“And then?” A tinkling little laugh escapes He closes his eyes tightly, allowing the sound to cascade over him, inciting shivers.
“Edward?” She asks, with more curiosity than concern. “What are you thinking?”
“I was remembering a trip to Angel Falls, actually.”
“I think...” She worries her lower lip with razor sharp, glistening teeth. “I think I would like to go there.”
Eyes opening again, he manages a small, mostly sincere smile. “I'm certain you will, eventually. All the time in the world.”
“Yes, I suppose so.” Esme ponders, hands on hips, head tipped. “But why not now? Why don't you go with me?”
“I think...” He rebuffs gently “...I think you should go with a seraph who hasn't entirely lost his wings yet.”
“Oh, Edward.” Is her only response, aside from a hasty approach and furious kiss to the lips.
As shocked as he is by the unexpected contact, her suddenly unblocked thoughts show her to be even more so, for an entirely different reason. Esme steps back yet again, fingers rising to her lips and tongue and coming back streaked with Lester's blood.
“No.” He breathes, all too aware of the effect that first taste can have. It's an addiction he has often prayed she would never discover.
“Don't think about it.” He orders. “Don't breathe. You don't need it, you still have days before you have to feed, we'll get you back to the woods before then. Esme...” Her eyes are glazed, expression the most peculiar mix of agony and ecstasy. Remembering her newborn stage (even up to weeks before he had left), her quaking dry sobs at having to be held back and pinned down every single time a human came within miles (an occurrence not infrequent enough regardless of how far in the country they abided), his dead heart breaks. “Esme, look at me. What can I do to help?”
Her response is attack. Before he can even contemplate defense or restraint, sweet Esme has him pinned against a wall, her fingers digging at his blood-soaked sleeves, teeth torn between the rough woven material and his mouth. She is a wild thing, and Edward groans, willing to accept the torment if it means distracting her from becoming his brand of monster.
Somewhere a floor below, the high shrieked laughter of a child rings out, and Esme whips upright again, hissing with want. With a low swear, he hurtles himself into her path, landing against the heavy wooden door a scant hare of a second first, hands catching her fists mid-pummel.
“What was your son's name, Esme?” He asks evenly, looking for any human connection to be made.
She screams, a tortured wail of such grief he flinches back before thinking to cover her mouth and muffle it.
“Sorry, sorry.” He murmurs, sliding upward against the door and steadying his feet before tightening his now one-handed grip and pushing her back. Fortunately, her rage gone as quickly as it had risen (the foyer door to the ground floor just closed, emptying the place of human scent), Esme collapses onto his pile of mattress and blankets, face buried deep within a down pillow. Her shoulders shake with animalistic sobs and he is there in an instant, helpless in the face of her pain as always. “I'm so very sorry, Esme, this is my fault.”
After long moments, she unwinds herself from the ball of misery, sitting and staring back with hollow eyes. “It wasn't you, Edward, it was the monster. I'll never control it.”
“You're here, aren't you?” He questions with more buoyancy than felt, taking a hand in his own to trace soothing circles. “You came by train, I suppose. All of those humans, and your eyes still a lovely gold.”
She laughs, shakily. “I'm not lovely.”
“No.” He agrees. “You're exquisite.”
Esme bites her lower lip, the resulting indentation obvious but earning no blood. With another soft moan of pain, she looks back downward, to their entwined hands. For the first time, he recognizes a certain absence....that of the wedding band so painstakingly picked out by Carlisle. She smiles half-heartedly. “Neither of us is good enough for him.”
“You're wrong.” He mutters. “You silly fool.”
The smile falters. “Will you let me kiss you again, Edward?”
Sucking in an unnecessary breath, he stares, torn between indignation and amusement. Does she never learn? No, and she doesn't wait either. Before he can form a denial, Esme's fingers are on his face, drawing him near, and he's lost in her scent again (definitely more sweet than rancid). At least this time the blood seems to to a lesser issue, while her kiss possesses distinct hunger, it also has equal restraint.
“I wish you would open your mind to me.” He complains, earning a decidedly less than gentle shove downward. Tearing the remnants of his shirt away, nose only barely twitching with temptation, Esme straddles him.
She only shakes her head, expression one of utter concentration as she reaches up, the buttons of her dress falling open one by one. With a hiss of his own, he finds himself reaching as well, pulling pins out and allowing shaking fingers to tangle in dark waves of hair before they inch downward. The dress moves with little protest, sliding over perfectly shaped, perfectly pale shoulders. Esme's hands catch his own in a death grip when the rustling material threatens to go further, her eyes pleading. “Not there.”
“No.” She insists, more forcefully than he remembers hearing ever before. “Just not there.”
“All right.” Shifting slightly, Edward reverses their positions, tucking his charge back into blankets with more care than necessary, just long enough to slide out of his own garments. Esme stares as he crawls back down, still stained palms rubbing circles up her bared legs and inching the dress hem up. Her gaze is unnerving at best. “I've never...”
She kicks, sending two perfectly polished shoes flying into an opposite wall before legs tangle around his in welcoming, her cold toes dig into his ankles. “It's just another instinct, Edward.”
So it is.
Vampires can't seem to sleep.
Instead, he and Esme lie wrapped in one another and blankets for the better part of two days, sharing venom (vampires don't sweat either). It's a state of limbo Edward hesitates to interrupt (if he didn't know it to be an impossibility, given the tight seal of eyelids and even exhalations, he would swear she does sleep), but thirst gnaws at the back of his throat again, and her own must be rising...
“Esme.” He coaxes, using every ounce of willpower to pull away and dress in clean attire. The task finished, he turns back...only to meet stormy, pitch black eyes.
Attempting to mask his concern, he searches his mind for options. Wild dogs really aren't an issue, unless you need to use them for an alibi. The zoo? No, too busy.
Esme answers his question before he can ask, standing quickly, dress falling down in disarray. “I'll go with you.”
“Then I'll stay here. Some human is bound to come by while you aren't here to stop me.”
He snarls. “What are you trying to do to yourself?”
“I can't die.” She notes depressingly. “I suppose I'll drink instead.”
He can only mutter. “You stay here. I'll find something and bring it back.”
“No, Edward!” This time there is no blocking, she's out the door and back down the three flights of stairs before he even blinks in surprise at the refusal. Mutter descending into a tirade of foul, mostly self-directed insults, he follows.
Luckily, she still retains enough control to breeze past the gaggle of gap-toothed children in the foyer with barely a second look. Even more luckily, she seems to remember their former path, cutting a brisk swath down mostly empty streets toward more narrow, shady alleyways.
He wants to stay near, tries to stay near, until the breeze wafts the most delicious scent his direction. The origin is a girl, all gangly limbed and with wide blue eyes, resting against cool brick lazily. Twisting, he struggles to pull together enough focus to delve into her mind and pry for sins awaiting punishment. There really aren't any, of course, she can't be more than fourteen.
The unthinkable has happened. Edward is utterly torn. Taking the blood of such an innocent is wrong even by his weakest standards, but Esme's scene drifts further and further away, and he has no idea if he can track it for much long with his own thirst roaring. Then there's the simple issue of wasted time. Tracking another food source could cost precious moments, moments in which Esme could come across innumerable innocents of her own, with no way to judge...
Decision made even before the complicated inner argument, he crooks his lips in a rueful smile, then a finger as well, pulling the girl out of public view and into shadow by sheer force of personality alone.
He tries to make it quick and mostly painless, but Esme is foremost on his mind.
Mother's milk and dirt returning to his nostrils, he drops the girl's body and runs.
Esme is two blocks away, working on her second. With relief, he recognizes her victims...both men, one prone to violent robberies, the other violent courtships. Esme has even followed his lead in cover-up, marking the men as skillfully as any wild animal might.
He isn't certain which knots his stomach more when she chances a look up, the pride on her features or the brilliant red of her eyes. “This isn't you, Esme.” He says softly, hoping she can remember and reflect upon the words later, if not at the moment. “It will eat at you, more and more each time. Mistakes happen, necessity happens, but if you make it a choice...”
Her palm impacts his cheek with decided noise. “Don't speak down to me, Edward Cullen.”
He can only close his eyes.
“Edward.” She whispers, fingers tracing upward to rest against the cold flesh above his empty, unbeating heart. “It was wrong.”
“Yes.” He agrees, not bothering to seek validation on just what. It's all been wrong, everything.
She releases a longing strangled noise, giving the impression that waterworks might follow were she still human. “How can Carlisle ever forgive me?”
“Esme.” Edward whispers, tipping her chin up and meeting the blood head on. “He already has. He loves you. Always.”
She smiles, so prettily that his dead heart pangs again. “He loves you as well.”
"Yes, yes." He says, eyes skirting around, worry for their surroundings cutting into what might otherwise be a sickeningly melodramatic moment. "I'm afraid of that."
Esme catches the discomfort and concern, wrangling out a forced smile. “We need to leave.”
“Yes.” He repeats, wondering when conversation became so hard.
She sighs, stepping forward and grasping his hand firmly. As though he is a small child she leads him away from the scene of her fall from grace, head high and back rigid. “Edward, I want you to come home to us. Right now.”
He obeys, of course.