Is there someplace, deep inside of Edward Cullen that is tempted by Aro's constant offerings?
What is the one thing that Aro could possibly offer him that would be better than what he already has?
Mateless, incomplete and the only lone person in a family of matched couples, Edward ponders what he could learn by leaving his home comforts.
What will Edward choose, and what will this one choice mean for him, as well as the Cullen family, and to the future of the vampire world?
1. You Only Disappear
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"Edward, you are forever welcome with us. My dear friend, join our family."
"No thank you, Aro."
One minute the stone face of the Volturi elder swam before my eyes. His milky, crimson eyes glimmered with hope while I pondered his offer. The next, I was back in the present staring across my bedroom from the black leather couch to the wall of albums, still seeing a faint imitation of Aro's disappointed face from ten years ago.
There was never a time where I regretted my decision to decline his offer. No matter how many times he had offered, or pleaded, I had always been happy in my own life. I was always happy within my family and content within my own world.
I have not needed anything within this world that I have not received, and I know that this is something to be excessively grateful for. Well, except for one thing, yet I knew that it was something that was outside of the parameters and ability of my parents, siblings or indeed money. I have lived upon this world for just over eighty years in this form; walking on the earth for nearly one hundred. However, not once have I actually come across something that had given me the boost, or a lick of hope, that there is an individual out there for someone like me.
I had Tanya - to a certain degree - yet however hard she may neglect the fact, I am, nor have ever been attracted to the strawberry blonde Russian from Denali, Alaska. While her sisters forever remained my cousins I longed for someone I could love and cherish just as she did me, not someone whose ‘gift' it was to lust after any male.
During my human life it had not been something I had strived for. I did not wish to have a wife, or children at that one specific time. I had been too engrossed by working alongside my peers, determined to go into The Great War, driven to fight for myself and my country. When Carlisle had changed me 1918, everything I did not know I wanted, deep down, came forth, as the means and power to get them disintegrated.
In 1918, I lost my birth father and my birth mother to the same fatal disease, but I had gained something in return that was far more than what I deserved. I gained Carlisle, and while it took me a short while to accept him in the role he had unwittingly fallen into, I had achieved someone who loved me more than my father before him had done. Carlisle was, and forever remains, one of a kind. He endeavors to be good, even though everything he had wanted had been taken from him when he changed. So, when I was transformed I changed him, without thinking. From that day, I have been spoilt, loved and cared for, more than I ever had been and more than I should have been allowed.
Then times changed. I knew, probably more so than himself, that Carlisle wanted, if not needed a mate to make him thoroughly complete. I had fulfilled him to some degree - one part of his heart - while the other half had, until 1921, remained empty. The day my surrogate mother appeared in Carlisle's life, as well as my own, changed the pair of us for eternity. At first it could be only seen as a blessing. The small family of three was full, and as individuals our lives and souls for the first time were complete and on their way to mending. However, thinking back it appeared to have become the starting point of what happened in my family's past and what was happening all around me now.
Just over a decade after Esme became a Cullen, my almighty sister appeared. In Rosalie Hale, my parents found someone which they believed would perfect me. To come home from a hunt in Rochester, New York one night with Esme to uncover a girl, barely in adulthood, that I knew only by name laying upon my bed with my father by her side. Coupled with my parent's thoughts - Carlisle repeating words that his wife had said to him weeks prior, and Esme the words that made me want to throw an object in anger for thinking such farcical drivel. She could be someone for Edward.
Then her eyelids flickered open, and her feral crimson eyes flashed to me; Am I pretty enough for you now, Edward Cullen? She had thought, recognizing us, as did all the other residents of the small town as the pretty, perfect members of Doctor Carlisle Cullen's strange family. Over the next couple of ruthless years I was lucky enough to get over the pigheadedness and tenacity that came with my new sister. I got to know the person she portrayed, not the one she hid under the sheaths of flaxen hair.
Two years later, the even numbers of our family increased once again, my father promising me that it would become the last. Emmett McCarty - the burly, Tennessee-born man that I now call my brother. Bringing him into the family meant that even though I had never loved Rosalie as a lover, I became the lone member once again. Then after a subsequent two decades the latter two members of the coven joined us - already paired up.
Initially, I believed that I had to remain patient before someone appeared in my life. Carlisle had waited over two centuries, whereas Rosalie waited only two years.
Yet, how had the members of my family encountered their soul mates? Was it destiny, luck, God or some semblance of the trio?
I could see that if it was indeed this benevolent God that Carlisle saw, how my father and first sister were granted their respective mates. Hell, if I were God, I would provide Carlisle with most things upon the earth. I suppose that in giving him Esme and a new and better life, Carlisle was given the one prize for the life he had lead, and continues to lead - never killing, never harming and continually striving to do the best for us and the community. Rosalie, also, had never once let her true vampiric side out. She had killed, but in comparison to me, how could she not have been rewarded?
When I look at my eighty years, it is plain to see why I have not yet been granted that which I yearn for the most. I have committed some of the seven sins - the capital vices which cloud judgments and actions.
Saint Thomas Aquinas designated seven types of Gluttony, and ‘Nimis' I have acted upon. Feeding too often upon unsuspecting criminals to cage the carnal, untamed beast in my mind in the nineteen twenties was my form of gluttony.
Greed. Greed is something that is the easiest to see, but the hardest to overcome. Some would call my family greedy - both in our supernatural world and the human world. We never truly take into account how much we do indeed own - material and emotional possessions combined - we never thank Alice, or suspect that it is in fact cheating when we increase of financial earnings. Wrath I have shown, I know, on at least two occasions - the wrath I exuded in my rebellious years, or that which I placed upon Rosalie. I have been jealous; I have stewed in envy, with my family. I have never been envious about the people in my family, or the pairing, but the feelings that they exude daily and how they have all that they have ever wanted.
Finally sloth, it is seen as the failure to utilize one's talents and gifts, a failure to see yourself clearly or to see yourself how others see you. Esme always informs me that I never see myself clearly, but was is there to me except a seventeen year old vampire, with no future and no present who can play the piano as well as the next man?
Could I be seen as committing the last sin, the sin that I struggle to understand, by remaining within the confines of these four walls, and refraining from exploring the world? Putting my ‘talent' to the test where it could be best suited, instead of within the limitations of my family's day-to-day lives. If this is the case, and I am committing a wrong-doing as I think, would going to the Volturi be the answer? I alone know the answer to this, but I alone cannot seem to find it.
It would seem that I constantly pity myself. Alice will see these decisions, but she will never see outcomes and as I further curl into myself I do not have any ideas about methods that will aid me. I also understand what I put Jasper through on a daily basis - the anger I feel with myself, the disappointment, it is really no surprise that my second brother is hardly in my presence anymore. Rosalie is much too absorbed in her own self to know that there is anything going on within anyone, and with her husband, Emmett is much more perceptive than we ever give him credit for.
Esme worries the most about me - she picks up quickest what is happening, and ever since she found Carlisle it is a constant worry for her son to find a girl that I belong to entirely, just as mothers always do. Carlisle does know that something is wrong as he has been my father, mentor and friend for the eighty years I've been a member of the preternatural world. His eyes will constantly follow me, or my movements, around the house and his thoughts always travel to my room where I pathetically seem to live.
It would seem that I have always had a kind of pull, which attracts me towards this place and keeps my bound within the family's arrangement, yet now I feel a stronger one enticing me away from this place. Is it because I know a change of scenery will better suit me, or could I indeed find my mate?
Also, even though I feel wretched to admit so, I feel both physically and mentally weak. I find it difficult to listen to my peer's dense, boring adolescent thoughts and sense their blood every minute where I no longer see the point in trying to abstain. This feeling is in no way as debauched as it was in the twenties, but the bite of pain in my parched throat still rears its unfortunate head during inopportune moments.
The only, remaining thing that is still holding me in my place as the first child of the Cullen coven is my actual family. However, I believe and know with my whole heart that they will always be there for me, no matter what path I take and how I act. That is what makes the possibility of my departure all the more disheartening - the absolution that each would exude when I leave, or return.
Edward, I do know what you are planning, please don't.
Alice's clear internal voice floats up the stairs from her perch amongst the sea of cream cotton that lies on her bed, surprising me by how resolute my thoughts are. If I were asked to put my thoughts into words, or actions, I could not. I would not say out loud what I was thinking and go back to being the odd one out within a family of three perfectly matched couples, probably the most matched couple in the case of my parents. Yet, like I know Alice more than anyone else in the house, maybe on the same level as her husband, she also knows me better than anyone. We have understood each other, complemented each other, loved and guided each other throughout the past fifty years on a higher level than anything I have felt.
Turning the music up louder provides me with no actual peace from her pleas, Emmett's constant cussing or the stream of Latin from the book Carlisle reads, yet it allows my mind to wander somewhat unperturbed.
A melodic tinkling, the smoothest of all the women's voices appears from the doorway. Looking up to the sound, I find the familiar, kind, topaz eyes of mother staring back at me through the crack in the door. I managed to rearrange my face into something that I hope to seem inviting.
"Emmett, Alice, Carlisle and I are going for a hunt, do you want to come?" Esme continued, leaning against the doorjamb.
"No, I am okay, Esme. Thank you though," I answered and her eyebrows rose the tiniest amount before she pushed my ajar door aside, letting herself into my own haven. Sitting down beside me upon my couch, she placed her dainty hand upon my upper arm.
"Edward, you should hunt. Your eyes are black." Through her thoughts I saw that her words were indeed the truth. Where my eyes sometimes held the tales of a thousand jokes, where sometimes laughter painted my yellow irises, or optimism appeared in the golden, liquid depths, they seemed now like nothing more than flat, hopeless, black holes sunken into my hard face.
"I'm okay, Esme. I promise I will hunt soon," I returned, patting the hand still perched upon my arm hoping she would believe my lie.
Looking at me for a further moment she worried her lip between her sharp teeth, the usual action highlighting she wanted to say something.
Nodding she stood, almost indecisively, and ruffled her small hand through my disarrayed hair. Poor boy, she crooned, more so to herself than to me. Placing a kiss to my brow, she gracefully turned on her heel and walked from the room - her thoughts in a muddle. The only things that I did manage to catch were my father's face and the one line that made an indulgent bark of laughter appear from my dry mouth; maybe he needs a trip to Denali.
Abruptly turning, humor filled her tawny eyes when she noticed me rocking with some degree of laughter. I felt how happy it made her to see me a little happier for a change, "You know, Esme that is the last thing I want."
Yes, perhaps. Her thoughts filled with Tanya's face, before concluding, with a wry smile; No, that may not be the best idea. She turned once again following a long, thoughtful glance. That was why I loved my mother, and yet why I hated the prospect of leaving.