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Lessons Learned

Summary: Emmett just can't let go of what he never really had. Song-Fic to Ray LaMontagne's "Lessons Learned" SLASH PAIRING: Edward/Emmett


1. Lessons Learned

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2314   Review this Chapter

“It’s all about carving your name into people. “

That’s what Edward always tells Emmett, like it’s supposed to put a bandage on the wound. Emmett’s good about it, he nods and whispers: “I know, Edward, I know.”

And he does know.

He feels branded with Edward’s name, like it’s tattooed on his tongue, and it doesn’t matter on whose body his lips are wandering, all he can taste is Edward.

He doesn’t remember who drew the line and who crossed it, he feels like it was probably him, but it’s been years since that anyway. Now Edward keeps an apartment in Seattle that Esme doesn’t ask about when she pays the bills.

They encase themselves in that concrete, soundproofed box that has nothing but a bed. The absence of furniture makes the place look vulgar, like a brothel. That bed has to get replaced at least twice a month because it gets real rough. In the crush of their bodies, bones get broken and lips get split and those drops of blood make them all the more voracious.

Edward’s got an edge to him no one would believe if they didn’t know him. He’s steak knife serrated and so mean it would keep Emmett up for weeks if he could ever get to sleep. But it’s not always like that. He’s not always pinning Emmett to the wall and making him beg, forcing his legs open with one of his knees while he holds Emmett’s throat. Sometimes he meets him at the apartment and his eyes are soft and golden. He comes in and drops his keys on the floor and motions for Emmett to come closer. He cups the side of his face and makes him look him in the eye.

“You love me?” he’ll whisper.

And Emmett nods.

“Say it. I want to hear it.”

And Emmett will say it.

Then they make their way to that vulgar bed, kicking shoes off and tugging shirts over their heads, always so unwilling to break the kiss. On those nights, Edward's hands are silk and Emmett is thankful that he’s branded.

“Well the truth it fell so heavy

Like a hammer through the room

That I could choose another over her

You always said I was an actor baby

Guess in truth you thought me just amateur…”

Then there’s Bella. Adorable Bella with her big, brown eyes and her clumsy hands. She consumes Edward so that Emmett always seems to be asking where he is.

“Have you seen Edward?”

“Where’s Edward?”

“Did he come home this morning?”

Everyone looks the other way when he asks these questions. They’re embarrassed for him because he just can’t find it in his heart to be. His heart is too busy anyway.

“Emmett, don’t be mad,” is what Edward says. “What we have is different. You know that.”

But Emmett doesn’t know that and he can’t seem to form the words to explain when Edward comes to meet him at the top of the stairs in Carlisle’s house. And he still can’t explain when Edward roughly tugs off his T-shirt and kisses a line up his stomach, plunging that all-too-skilled tongue between the dips in his abs. No one is home but it’s so fucking risky because Rosalie could walk in that door any minute.

It’s not like she doesn’t know, that she doesn’t look the other way like everyone else does, but the last thing she needs is to see it. To actually watch the way Emmett just lets himself be crushed under Edward’s eyes.

Like the way Edward gets crushed under Bella’s.

“…that you never saw the signs

That you never lost your grip

Oh come on now

That’s such a childish claim…”

When Edward writes in his journal, Emmett likes to watch. He likes the way Edward frowns or the way his lips hang slack when he’s so deep into his memories he forgets the present.

Carlisle once offered to teach Emmett how to block Edward’s mind reading abilities. It’s not about being rude; it’s about teaching him boundaries, that’s what Carlisle said. Emmett didn’t want to hear it. He wants Edward to always have access to him. He wants to be split even down the middle and examined by those calculating eyes until he feels dragged across the coals.

“You should be careful with him, Emmett,” Carlisle warns him in a voice that knows too much. “Edward has a tendency to abuse his…knowledge of people.”

“Piss off.” Emmett says. “What do you know?”

Carlisle looks away. “Plenty.”

And Emmett knows that his tongue is branded too.

“…now I wear the brand of traitor

Don’t it seem a bit absurd When it’s clear

I was so obviously framed…”

Edward stands at the window of their apartment and looks out over Seattle’s trembling lights.

Their apartment.

Emmett sighs and goes to stand behind him, wraps his arms around Edward’s taut waist and kisses the back of his neck.

“Hi,” he breathes.

Edward leans back into him and it’s one of the few times that Emmett acknowledges that he’s slightly taller than him.

“What are you thinking about?” Emmett murmurs.

Edward extracts something from the pocket of his jeans and holds it out so it glitters in the moonlight.

“Do you think she’ll like it?” he asks.

And it’s a ring: Edward’s grandmother’s ring, to be exact. Emmett knows that Edward reads his mind, sees the flashes of hatred and betrayal, and can almost hear him hiss: you fucking traitor.

“Oh come on, Emmett,” is all he has to say for Emmett to break apart.

“What?” Emmett whispers, shoving Edward into the windowpane. It shudders under the force. “I didn’t say anything.”

Edward turns to look at him and his eyes are soaked in pity. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were so caught up in this.”

Emmett clutches his head in his hands. “How can you stand there and lie to me like that?”

Edward’s eyes are calm, his face impassive and placid.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“…when it’s clear I was so obviously framed…”

Emmett grabs him then, buckles his arm behind his back and forces him face first into the rug. He tears the delicate shirt Edward is wearing straight up the back and forces a knee so hard into Edward’s forearm that he hears a grinding crack. Edward shudders beneath him at the pain, but doesn’t make a sound. He reaches around Edward’s waist and snaps the belt buckle, pulls down the zipper. He starts to pull off his own pants and then stops, his energy suddenly spent. He looks down at Edward’s smooth, white neck and his clean, symmetrical profile. He runs his finger over Edward’s nose and across his lips.

Leaning down, he presses his face into Edward’s hair and breathes deep, trying to suck as much of that sweet smell into his lungs and never exhale again.

“You don’t know what I’m talking about?” Emmett murmurs. “You can read my thoughts.”

Edward closes his eyes.

“I loved you,” Emmett says and his voice breaks. “I love you.”

Edward gently pushes him off and sets his arm. He tugs off the broken belt and the torn shirt and drops them at Emmett’s feet.

He zips up his pants and buttons his coat over his bare chest.

He’s gone when Emmett looks up.

“…now you act so surprised

To hear what you already know

And all you really had to do was ask

I’d have told you right away

All those lies were truth

And all that was false was fact…”

Emmett drives mindlessly for hours and then for days, his big Jeep sucking up gas and money and chugging along. His cell phone goes berserk for ages and then he crushes it and silence dominates. He plays CDs Edward made for him. CDs filled with acoustic songs sung with pained, aching voices.

He skips the songs Edward sings when he wanders around the house.

He plays only the music that mocks him or breaks him.

Somewhere, two states over, he stops and kills something quick and innocent but not human. He thinks of just going, like he heard Edward did all those years ago when Carlisle married Esme. Edward won’t talk about those times and Emmett envies those secrets he keeps.

Edward and Carlisle are the only ones with secrets.

He finds a cliff in Northern California, in a quiet place with no one around, and he jumps. He jumps like Bella did last year but he means it.

His body rushes through the air and for the first time in decades, he feels like his heart is pumping again. He swears he can feel his lungs gasping for air and the blood throbbing in his ears, and then he hits the rocks.

His body shatters more than he expects.

But he is still very alive.

The pain snakes up his veins and pulls at the back of his eyes. It creeps into every hair follicle and tugs at the edge of every bone.

He moans but it’s very low. His voice box is crushed.

He shuts off his mind, disconnects from his body like Carlisle once showed him how to do when the urge for blood got too much.

He wants Edward to find him and cry and mourn him. He wants Edward to be this shattered.

He wants him to never heal.

He drifts away.

“…Now you hold me close and hard

But I was like a statue at most

Refusing to acknowledge you'd been hurt

Now you're clawing at my throat

And you're crying all is lost

But your tears they felt so hot upon my shirt…”

Carlisle is the one to find him, tracking the GPS on his Jeep.

Rosalie kicked and screamed to go with him.

“He’s my husband, Carlisle! I need to know where he is!”

But Carlisle shakes his head and has Jasper and Edward restrain her. “No, you can see him when we come back.”

“Why can’t I go with you?” Rosalie voice is in mourning.

Carlisle glances at Alice, who looks at Edward, who looks at no one.

Rosalie turns sharply to Edward, forces his hands away from her and hits him with so much force that he falls to the ground. She could have split stone with that slap.

“You pathetic, lying shit,” she hisses. “You user!”

And Esme takes her upstairs as she screams at Edward.

“You bastard!”

Everyone makes a point to look away.

“I’m going to see Bella,” he says.

“But your tears they felt so hot upon my shirt…”


Carlisle’s voice is a shape coming through the fog.

“Emmett, wake up. It’s okay, you’re alright.”

At this, Emmett laughs.

Carlisle helps him up, dusts the debris from his body and hands him clean clothes.

He sighs. “You will be. We’ve all recovered from him at one point or another.”

When they get back to Forks, Rosalie clutches him and everyone makes a point to say nothing. Edward avoids his eyes and brings Bella around, a lot, flashing that ring and calling her his fiancée.

Emmett finds places to disappear to. He goes hunting alone and won’t talk to Rose. When they make love now, it’s a silent joining of two broken hearts and previously broken bodies. Their injuries lie bare just beneath the surface of their skin.

“…well the truth it fell so heavy

Like a hammer through the room

That I could choose another over her

You always said I was an actor baby

Guess in truth you thought me just amateur…”

Two weeks to the wedding, Edward follows him into the woods.

“I am sorry about what happened,” he says. His words measured on his tongue.

“Which part would that be?” Emmett mocks. “The part where you use me for four years or the part where you marry a human or the part where I try to kill myself and you won’t even talk to me?”

Edward sighs. He seems annoyed and uncomfortable. “All of it?”

Emmett looks away.

Edward’s arms around him feel like going home. He turns and the kiss is easy, familiar, it makes his skin itch to be closer. Edward nuzzles him, rubbing their noses together in and Eskimo kiss.

“I care about you so much. More than I ever cared about the others. Don’t let them make you think otherwise. Especially Carlisle. Tell him to fuck himself.”

Emmett nods. He wishes he could cry.

“Be my best man?” Edward murmurs against his lips.

“…was it you who told me once

Now looking back it seems surreal

That all our mistakes are merely grist for the mill

So why is it now after I’ve had my fill

Would you steal from me the sorrow that I’ve earned?”

Emmett can only nod because he’s crying. He makes no noise and there are no tears, but he’s crying and Edward knows.

“Shall we call this a lesson learned?”

He goes home to Rosalie’s arms and lies against the stillness of her body. He drowns in her beauty and resurfaces, again and again, trying to wash away the feel of Edward’s promises. He rubs his tongue raw against her, trying to grate away the name that’s carved there, but it does no good.

He lies on his back and listens as Edward steals into the house as the sun is rising.

He goes to the door of Edward’s room and watches him change for school.

Edward turns to him once and seems shocked to see the anger etched across Emmett’s face.

“Emmett?” he says.

And Emmett is even more shocked to see the sorrow etched on Edward’s.

"Shall we call this a lesson learned?"