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A Litany at Dusk

Summary:
Thanks to hellacullen for the awesome banner! Edward’s rebellious period wasn't just a few years; it lasted seventy. Having spent his years hunting on the edges of society, he rejoins his family in Forks ready to abstain when he runs acorss a young woman praying. Can a choice be made between one's desires, one's heart and one's soul? Will Edward be willing to fight for her instead of fighting against her? A/U a bit OOC, rated for lemons and adult content, some violence


Notes:
Thanks to PTB for their assistance and to hellacullen, who is the wind beneath my wings! Her consistent and intelligent commentary, suggestions and cheerleading were incredible and I wish everyone a beta like hellacullen. I own nothing of Twilight. Let's see who could be the owner? Possibly SM?


5. Chapter 5 No Rest For The Wicked

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3324   Review this Chapter

I knew what it was even as I was doing it: a fight-or-flight response. Also known as acute stress response. First stage of the general adaptation syndrome as defined by Walter Cannon. The biological response of animals to acute stress.

It seemed there was no rest for the wicked. I was back on the road, the miles flying by beneath the wheels of the hog. I passed through the darkness like a bad thought, letting distance be the answer to Isabella Swan. The roar of the engine seemed destined to be the soundtrack of my existence; the broken white lines of the road flying by would be my biography.

The more distance that passed though, the more I realized it wasn’t so much the petite brunette woman I was running from as it was the reactions she had created in me. To have that kind of sexual response to a human woman was as baffling as it was frightening. The bloodlust was the lust I knew. Sexual desire was a territory I had passed through, but briefly.

Over seventy years ago, Carlisle had created Rosalie in a well-meaning attempt to help me find a mate. As it was, Rosalie and I were too much alike for us to be anything but siblings in the family Carlisle was creating. We both recognized this early, and Rosalie moved on and eventually found Emmett. I, however, spent the nights trying to compose music, studying biology, medicine and philosophy in an attempt to ignore the lovers’ trysts that the rest of my family found so satisfying.

Though they tried to hide it, I could hear Carlisle’s and Esme’s concerns for me grow as time passed. When it finally became too much, I fled to Tanya. Tanya was more than happy to initiate me into the pleasures of sex. And then, when she tired of me, she was just as happy to see me on my way. It had been as I was leaving Tanya, disheartened and disillusioned, that I ran across the sadist who would be my first human victim. And with that, I felt the paths of romantic love and sexual desire close and the exhilarating rush of bloodlust take their place.

The ensuing years had only solidified my conviction that I was destined to be solitary. Having seen what lust and sex had done to humans, and how it was used as a source of power and a tool for gamesmanship, I was convinced that I should stay above anything so remotely animalistic as sexual love. I was glad for my family that they had found mates, but as they would not walk the path I was on, so I could not walk theirs.

Instead, in my head at least, I became the celibate avenging angel, meting out justice. Carlisle and Esme, Rosalie and Emmett, and eventually Alice and Jasper, all had each other. I had blood, justice and the road. For a long time, I had thought it was enough.

I watched the breaking of the day from the deck of the Port Townsend ferry. The seagulls wheeled above in the lavender and mauve sky, crying mournfully as they followed the fishing boats heading out to sea. The salty air was tangy with the deep smells of low tide, and the waves slapped rhythmically against the hull of the ferry. “Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh,” I quoted to myself as I leaned over the brass rails, watching the dark water slide by the ship. I felt like I had been wounded in some way, but I couldn’t point to the source of the pain. Just that something had been ripped from me. I suspected the stolen item was any chance of peace of mind.

I turned and rested my elbows on the railing, watching the land recede behind the stern—the land where Isabella Swan lived. At least she was still alive, and I granted myself the small congratulations that, this time as least, she had dodged the bullet that was me. I was ignoring the sense of connection I felt to her and how it stretched tighter and tighter with each step further away from her.

I pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one, cupping my hands against the breeze. Cigarettes were a useful prop. It was an activity that humans could relate to and gave me an excuse to be hanging out here on the open deck versus the closed-in passenger area. My equilibrium was severely challenged; I didn’t need to be in concentrations of humanity and the scent of their alluring blood.

The deck door opened on the lee side of the ship and a young woman, clutching her sweater around her, stepped out. I heard the woman, her thoughts pointed at me like a beacon. She slowly approached the rails, her thoughts speculating on who I was and what business I might be on that necessitated such an early morning ferry.

She pulled up against the railing a few feet from me, her hair blowing around her face, trying to study me surreptitiously. Of course, it was the vampire glamour she found attractive without even realizing it. “Would you happen to have an extra cigarette?” she asked as an opening. She tried to tuck her long windblown hair behind her ear.

I pulled out the pack and offered her one. She looked with interest at the pack. “Black Devil, huh? That’s a brand I haven’t seen before,” she said as she pulled one out with her blood-red fingernails. “Is that some kind of commentary on their owner?” she asked, looking at me with hooded eyes, hoping it was seductive.

I probed myself and was gratified when I realized I had no desire for the woman. Apparently, only one woman created that in me. The bloodlust pounded below the surface, as always. That at least had not changed.

I reached for my lighter and offered the flame inside my cupped hands. She touched my hand to steady herself and was stunned by the cold hardness of my skin. She puffed once on the cigarette and raised her eyes to my face, her hand still resting on mine. I stared back at her. Her eyes were the wrong shade of brown, I realized, and her hair was streaked with blond. Not like Isabella’s. “What do you think?” I asked her.

She stared at me for a moment, her thoughts blaring at me. Black eyes. Black eyes.Cold hard hand.Get away. Get away. Not human? No, human, good looking but odd, scary odd. “Well, thanks,” she said weakly, waving the cigarette and moving away. She crossed the deck, glancing once over her shoulder, reassured when I hadn’t moved.

It was the same reaction I had seen over and over again. Humans were always drawn in by the physical attributes, like waving catnip in front of housecats. But then, the unconscious survival instinct kicked in, and they backed off. There had been exceptions; the tortured souls who were looking for death, in any form. From junkies to the well-heeled desperate socialites, fascinated by the scent of death and danger that surrounded me, they sought release from the pain they had made of their lives and courted me like groupies to a rock star. But I had no interest in helping them find the end of their existence. I kept my feeding to those whose minds were black, caustic and corrosive. They were the ones unlucky enough to see the avenging monster within me.

Or I had kept my feeding to those, I reminded myself. My strategy would remain unchanged. I would try to keep ‘vegetarian’ as my family called it and hope that this crisis would pass and I could rejoin them in good faith, with a clear conscience. My heart sank at the prospect of spending even another year among the psychos and sociopaths, listening to their twisted thoughts and scenarios. I’d find some way to end it if that was my only choice. There had to be some way, some path to a life with more meaning than culling humans.

I reflected on last night. I had run back from Isabella’s even faster than I had flown there. Alice had been waiting for me in the garage. I hit the button and watched the electric door slowly rise.

She swung her legs from the top of the counter where she was sitting. “It would be better for you both, you know, if you just gave in and started talking to her.”

I said nothing as I strapped the travel bag to the back of the motorcycle. I had nothing to pack. Talking to Isabella would be the first step in either making her a vampire or draining her, neither of which I wanted to consider as a viable option.

“Edward,” Alice said, shaking her head. “I am just trying to tell you it would be easier this way.”

My anger, which had been simmering all night, blew up then and Alice was the unlucky recipient. I whirled on her. “Stop it, okay, just stop it. You sit up here, dispensing advice like some kind of Delphic priestess, intoning your wisdom and prophesizing disaster to anyone who doesn’t follow your instructions.” I turned and checked the dipstick on the oil. “It’s not that easy, Alice. Down here in the trenches, the choices seem much less clear cut.”

I could feel how I’d cut her and without turning around, I winced. Jasper, drawn by her hurt feelings, wandered in.

Alice sighed in frustration. Edward, I am trying to tell you this is what you have been waiting for.

“Oh, yeah? What’s that?”

“Meaning. Purpose.” She tried to keep it away from me, but I heard it anyway. Love.

I stopped and let my head fall back. If only that were true, if only it were that easy. Still, her words created uneasy feelings in me. I’d closed that door a long time ago, and nailed it shut. It was going to hurt to try to open it.

Jasper sidled up to Alice. “You okay, babe?”

“I’m fine,” she answered and put an arm around him. I could feel the connection between them like it was a tangible thing. It reminded me of all the times I had spent trying not to listen to their lovers’ exchanges, knowing the intimacy and tenderness was something I would never have.

I straddled the bike and set the key. “I’ll be back…” I had no idea when, but I finished with “when I can.” I hit the starter and the engine roared to life.

Behind me, I heard Alice as I rumbled down the driveway. Please Edward, come home soon. You just got here, and now you’re leaving again. My feelings, exactly.

I got off the ferry in Keystone and started for the highway. I’d been riding for several hours before I realized I was headed for Alaska. Why I was headed to Tanya’s, I couldn’t say. Perhaps it was only the resurrection of my libido that reminded me of her. Perhaps some small part of me hoped that I could bury myself in her enough to forget Isabella Swan.

It was late afternoon when I pulled off the highway for gas. I pulled the bike in and stopped on the near side of the pump island. On the other side was a white cargo van, its owner, a wiry, hard-looking man. Dressed completely in worn denim and a baseball cap, he glanced around suspiciously as he finished filling its tank. Under the outdoor roof above the pumps, I thankfully pulled off my helmet and gloves. Doing so, I caught the tenor of the man’s thoughts.

Dump the bodies. Lots of uninhabited areas. Find a dirt road. Price of gas so damn expensive. He’s getting too old. Complaining, whining. He was good once though. Keep the littler one. For a while.

He caught me looking at him and nodded his head in greeting. Hot stuff. Motorcycle, leather.Bet he was beautiful as an eight-year-old.

I felt something faintly reminiscent of nausea. Sure enough, there were two small weak threads of consciousness inside the van. There is a certain vacancy of thought that the severely abused get, almost like they are afraid to think, afraid to hope for the future.

The venom started flowing. I could feel the satiny moistness in my mouth. This was just the kind of meal I would have found most satisfying in the past. My hands itched with the desire to wrestle his hard, lean body into position, to bring his neck to my mouth. I wanted to watch as his eyes lit up with fear, glaze over with pain and then darken as his death poured into my mouth. I wanted to drain his body, pulling the blood from his veins as the rich, deep liquid filled me, hearing the slowing beat of his heart, until I could throw his empty body to the ground and relish in the rush.

Animal blood would never compare to the rush that human blood could give. It traveled one’s nerves like fire, racing along the neural pathways, interacting with the venom to create a euphoric, inebriating sense of aliveness that exploded outward from the center to the extremities. Those first few seconds were filled with an ecstasy that was so intense, so paralyzing, that it was at this moment of satiation that vampires were rendered most vulnerable. Those few moments, when as a blood drinker we wallowed in the sublime pleasure of a full human meal, were when we were least able to defend ourselves. The euphoria was quickly followed by frenzy, which was when we were most dangerous.

I watched the child predator as he finished pumping his gas. When he passed by me, I couldn’t suppress the low growl building in my chest. He shot me a fearful glance and hurried into the store, his plan being to get soda and snacks for his intended victims to keep them quiet for a while longer.

I finished my own refill and, glancing at the convenience store, saw him perusing the aisles. I walked around to the far side of the van where I couldn’t be seen, and yanked the locked door of the passenger side open. Taking a moment to crush the locking mechanism of the door, I stepped quickly into the hot and dark interior of the van. Seated on the floor in the back of the van were two boys, disheveled and frightened, looking at me with eyes glazed by hopelessness. The older one I guessed to be near twelve or thirteen years, with sandy hair wearing a Mariner’s tee shirt. He sported a bruised cheek and was holding his arm as if it pained him. The younger one couldn’t have been older than five and sat huddled against the older boy.

“What are your names?” I asked.

They huddled together tighter, the older one’s distrust evident on his face. I checked out the window and then tried again. I composed my face as best I could into a less threatening scowl and crouched down in front of them.

“What are your names?” I repeated, softer. “It’s okay, you can tell me.”

“Timmy and Billy Sanderson,” the older one said, spouting the names he’d been told to give if asked.

“No, your real names,” I insisted.

He was too frightened to say them aloud, but I picked them from his mind. Jackson Helberger and Adam Mostevic.

“Jackson Helberger, that’s your name, isn’t it?” I said. “The police will be here soon. They’ll want to help you, but you must tell them your real name.”

His hazel eyes got round as he recognized his own name.

“Can you do that?” I asked. “Can you tell them what really happened?”

His eyes started to regain some light of intelligence, and I felt a seed of hope in his heart. Not taking his eyes from my face, he nodded slowly.

“Good man,” I said as I patted his leg encouragingly.

I stepped out again and, coming around the back of the van, poked my finger through the sidewall of the rear tire. I heard the whoosh of air as the pressure left it and the van settled onto its rim. For good measure, I yanked at the tire rim until it was twisted and the tie arm damaged irreparably.

I headed into the store, passing the child predator, who gave me a wide berth as I entered the door and he left. I nearly snarled at him and I swallowed the venom coating my mouth. I concentrated instead on the image of what his outraged face would look like as he was being taken into custody. It felt good. I was saving children instead of killing them; this was how it should be.

The bloodlust didn’t care, however. It rattled within me like a beast in a cage, roaring to be let out. It wanted blood, and my throat burned with thirst. I focused on moving slowly like a human, even as my muscles wanted to tense for the hunt and the kill.

At the clerk’s counter, I grabbed a pen out of a holder by the register and one of the newspapers. The clerk looked at me in consternation as I wrote down the names of the children on the margin of the newspaper, the pen tearing the page with the force I was trying not exert on it.

I indicated the predator walking across the pump lanes with a nod of my head. “That man is a kidnapper. The children he has in the back of that van are missing children. These are their names. Call the police.”

The clerk looked at me in disbelief. I gave him my most menacing stare. “Do it,” I hissed.

He started back a step and reached for the phone.

I left the store and walked back to the bike. He was circling the van trying to figure out how it had become damaged so quickly. He looked suspiciously at me, but I stared back at him, daring him to accuse me. He looked away and started working on his story for the mechanics he would have to deal with, unaware the police would soon be here.

Fifteen minutes later, I had pulled off the side of the highway. I sat beside my bike and let the tremors caused by suppressed rage and bloodlust fade. I wanted to go back and kill him badly, very badly. I wanted to see the terror and fear on his face as he realized his death had arrived at my hands.

I wanted… I wanted… brown hair and a fair heart-shaped face, whispering my name with desire. I wanted to pull at the tie of a narrow satin ribbon and see a chemise slowly fall open to the shadowed curves beneath. I wanted to see Isabella’s head thrown back with abandon and pleasure.

I rubbed my face, trying to clear my head. This was getting me nowhere. The sky was darkening, and the trees were making long shadows across the road. I pulled a little farther back into the tree line and composed myself under the sheltering branches of a huge maple. At least I didn’t have a new name to add to it tonight.

Benjamin Jolly

Christian Mcyntyire

Aaron Ebert

Christopher Siedow

Hector Selenas

Stuart Katz

Lawrence Kelly

Ivan Pryzgocki

Raymond Burns

Glen Coco

Kevin Tokas

Simon Ryan

Eric Northman

Anthony Lorinelli

And the litany went on.