“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.”
The words roll off of his tongue easily, effortlessly. Lying is the easy part. Getting her to believe the lie is the hard part. Edward's feelings and experiences during and directly after "New Moon." Companion fic to "Shattered."
This was written for the "sharp notes" prompt over at twilightathon on LJ. Thank you to Katie for commanding ne to take this prompt and for her help throughout the fic.
Some dialogue lifted directly from New Moon, and I do not claim it as mine - it belongs to the ever-brillaint Stephenie Meyer.
1. Chapter 1
Rating 5/5 Word Count 4098 Review this Chapter
“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.”
The words roll off of his tongue easily, effortlessly. Lying is the easy part. Getting her to believe the lie is the hard part.
He watches her stand there, dizzily swaying back and forth with the force of his words, allowing their full meaning to sink in. He almost falters when their intent finally becomes clear, and the shock registers on her face.
“No.” He is barely able to get the word past the lump in his throat. The lies are still easy, but getting them to sound convincing, forcing her to believe him, seeing the look of complete desperation come across her face even as she tries to calmly and rationally talk him through leaving her almost makes the cold, hard mask he’s held in place for the past few weeks fall, almost makes him run into her arms and beg for her forgiveness.
He tells her that he’s tired of playing human, that he doesn’t want this, doesn’t want her, and when she begs him not to do this, not to throw her away, his self control almost crumbles.
He watches as the understanding finally sets into her eyes, as she begins to see what she hadn’t wanted to before. He hears the tempo of her heartbeat like the beat of a well-known song picking up speed, hears her breath begin to shake as he asks her for a favor. Of course, she agrees to anything. Anything to possibly keep him there, he is sure, to possibly make him change his mind.
But he can’t change his mind.
“Don’t do anything reckless or stupid,” he says, the ice in his eyes melting. He knows the effect that his eyes have on her, can tell by the way her breath hitches, the way she goes perfectly still. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” He wants to grab her by the arms and shake her, to make sure that the message is heard.
Better yet, he wants to press his lips to her jaw, her lips, her neck, give her a smile that will make her heart beat faster, and tell her that everything will be alright because he’s staying here.
But that isn’t possible.
He can still see there is a little bit of hope in her eyes, hope that maybe, just maybe, if he cares enough about her to want her to stay safe, then maybe he doesn’t really want to leave. Maybe he really does love her.
He knows he has to dash even this small hope. He tells her he’s thinking only of Charlie, and to take care of herself. She agrees.
If his heart were still beating, it would be breaking.
Then, he twists the knife he has already plunged into her heart. “And I’ll make you a promise in return. I promise that this will be the last time you’ll see me. I won’t come back. I won’t put you through anything like this again. You can go on with your life without any more interference from me. It will be as if I’d never existed.”
That is when he sees it. The look in her eye has changed, gone completely desolate, desperate, and full of despair. He knows that she believes every word that is coming out of his mouth, even as she tries to retort that his memories won’t fade at all and she knows that. Her voice is like a melody, soft and familiar, and he allows the beautiful simplicity of the sound to wash over him. This melody is perfect, but the look on her face is like sharp notes creeping into his perfect symphony at the wrong time and he wants nothing more than to be able to smooth the discord back into harmony.
Instead, he tells her that he will be easily distracted.
Her intake of breath is harsh and painful. There is no harmony anymore. He knows that she believes that him.
The fact that she could believe he doesn’t want her so easily cuts him deeper than he ever thought possible.
He knows he breaks her down even further when he tells her that Alice has already gone, that she thought it best that she make a clean break, when this couldn’t be further from the truth. He hears her breath begin to come heavier, her heartbeat reaching what must have been a dizzying pace.
He wants to go to her when she calls to him. He wants to tell her that everything is going to be alright. He wants to stay.
Instead, he holds her arms in his hands, reveling in her warmth one final time. He kisses her on the forehead, trying to ignore the way she is trembling, when he wants to be kissing her lips.
Instead of telling her he loves her, he tells her goodbye.
His cell phone is ringing again. It is probably Alice. He pays it no mind.
It has been weeks since he left Bella, and the pain of being away from her is a constant ache in his entire body. This ache is worse than the raw, burning thirst for human blood. He’d almost go as far as to say that the pain is as bad as the fire of becoming a vampire.
But thinking of the change makes him think of Alice’s vision of Bella with golden eyes and a vampire’s pale skin, Bella’s willingness to become one of them so she could be with him forever, her muffled words, “I’m betting on Alice,” and the broken look on her face when he told her he didn’t love her.
And he doesn’t think about the change anymore.
It is moments like these when he wishes he could sleep, close his eyes to reality and let his subconscious whisk him away. He’d told her once that if he could dream, he’d dream of her. He is sure that his dreams would be as full of her beauty as his waking mind is.
Instead, he throws himself into tracking Victoria, into keeping her safe, even though she’ll never know the lengths to which he is going to keep her alive, even though he has convinced her that he doesn’t care about her anymore. Bella was wrong about one thing – he isn’t good at everything, and his less than mediocre tracking skills would prove this fact, if he ever got the chance to tell her.
As much as it pains him, he tries to imagine what that would be like. They might be sitting in his Volvo, or maybe her truck. Either way, he would be the one driving. He would give her a half smile, and her heart would flutter erratically. She might even blush, as she was wont to do at the drop of a hat.
He’d tell her she was wrong, and she would frown, eyebrows knitting together, a look of frustration on her face. She might even pout, her glorious lips jutting out. He wouldn’t be able to resist kissing her then, and her heartbeat would flutter even faster, then stop, before he’d pull away. She would take a shaky breath.
“Wrong about what?” she would ask, distracted but not deterred – she’d still be as stubborn as she always was.
He’d run his fingers up and down her arms, leaving goosebumps in his wake. She might tell him to stop distracting her, she might not – it would depend on her mood at the time. Either way, he’d grin impishly, but somewhat embarrassed, and tell her how he’d tracked Victoria as far south as Mexico, and even being able to read her erratic thoughts hadn’t made it any easier for him to keep track of her – he’d still lost her for a few hours on more than one occasion.
“So you’re wrong,” he’d say, tapping her on the tip of her nose with his finger. “I’m not good at everything.”
She’d stare at him blinking for a few moments before bursting into laughter, the sound as sweet as an unchained melody, music to his ears, each sound in perfect tune with the rest. She would throw herself into his arms and say, “I love – “
He groans, putting his hands to his head and physically shaking himself from his imagination, but the sound of her laughter is still ringing in his ears, and he can’t concentrate on the task at hand anymore. He throws himself to the ground with a painful sound, forgetting all about tracking Victoria. Bella’s voice is melodious and flawless in his mind, and the outside world he’s living in now is full of sounds that are too sharp, too flat, and a constant reminder of what he has lost. What he has given up. A part of him wishes he could forget her.
But another part of him knows he deserves every ounce of this torture, and wants to remember her for the rest of his days.
“He’s at the funeral.”
The words echo in his mind like the notes of a song off the walls of an empty theater, and for just a few moments, he allows his anguish to envelop him.
He squeezes the phone so tightly in his fist that it shatters, and the sound of crunching metal and plastic is like the sound of his unbeating heart shattering to pieces. If he could cry, he would be a sobbing, blubbering mess on the floor. He wishes he could give into his grief, but as it is, he can only shake and shudder, dry sobs wracking his body.
This is his punishment, he realizes. This is The Fates way of punishing him for tainting such an innocent as Bella Swan. She was young, she was pure, and oh God, she was dead. She’d killed herself because of him. Because he loved her. Because he left her.
‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Tennyson was a fool, for it was better for Bella to have never loved him, never met him, to truly have never known he existed than to have loved him and given him everything… and in the end, lost her life. He would never again see the blush on her cheeks, feel the warmth of her skin or her breath, hear the stuttering beats of her heart or the laughing timbre of her voice…and he would never again smell the sweet, intoxicating scent of her blood, of her, of his Bella, his only love.
It is this thought that makes him unclench his hands and finally go still, a cold, hard mask devoid of any emotion sliding effortlessly across his face. He’d had to use this mask only once before – the night he left Bella.
He can’t think about that now, or the mask will splinter as quickly as his heart. He can’t afford to fall to pieces.
He stares at the ruin he’s made of his phone and sighs. He’ll have to buy a new one, or at the very least find a phone from which he can make flight arrangements. He’ll have to be quick. He knows if he thinks too much about his actions, Alice will see what he is planning and try to follow him, to stop him, if she hasn’t seen him already. That is not an option. He is going to go through with this, and no one, not even his own family, can get in his way.
Stepping out into the open air for the first time in weeks makes him pause for a few moments. The sky is dark, the clouds foretelling rain. The thoughts of the people around him hit him like a clap of thunder, at first – it has been a long while since he has actually been around so many people – and he takes a breath until he can tune the sound down to its usual buzzing. Taking a breath is a mistake – it has also been weeks since he’s hunted, and the smell of so many humans in one small area makes his throat burn with a thirst he has not had the will power to acknowledge before now.
There is still no time to hunt. There is no time for anything, nothing but this. He holds his breath for a few moments - he needs to find a phone. He needs to be on the next flight to Italy, and decides that he will beg if it comes down to that.
He told Bella once that if she died, he’d find a way to follow after. A “contingency plan,” he’d called it.
The time for that plan has come. And he isn’t going to waste another second before putting it into action.
The Volturi are being unreasonable, he decides swiftly as he walks out into the main square of the plaza.
He’d begged with Aro, pleaded with him to take his life, make it swift, drawn out, painful, whatever was in his heart’s desire, just let it be done. Aro had looked into his memories, seen every precious moment he’d shared with Bella, and been intrigued by the human who had stolen his heart. “La tua cantate,” he’d called her, for her blood sang for him like the dulcet voices of a chorus.
Aro had been impressed by Edward’s power, his ability to read the thoughts of those around him, but more than that, he had been utterly flabbergasted by the level of self-control he maintained, not just to keep from feeding on humans – for Aro knew and respected Carlisle, and had argued with him over humans versus animals for too long before they agreed to disagree – but to keep from killing Bella. The effort it took to be near her alone was staggering. Aro didn’t want to “waste” such strong will – he wanted to keep it. He wanted him to join them instead.
His response to Aro had been colorful indeed, but Aro had simply laughed, satisfied that Edward would come around.
As soon as Edward leaves the underground tunnels of the Volturi’s lair, the smell of human blood hits him hard, yanking him from his thoughts, and the thirst burns in his throat. His eyes scan the area, where a group of tourists are standing staring up at the fountain in the center of the square. He can feel his eyes darken as the instinct to hunt overtakes all other feelings and emotions.
Aro has refused his request, and Edward is left with only one choice.
If the Volturi won’t kill him willingly, then he will provoke them.
There are five of them, teenagers, probably on vacation. It would be easy to lure one away – one of the females – kill her, and then kill the others. Maybe he would even kill them right there in the square. The Volturi would have his head on a platter for sure. He readies himself to spring.
Then, one of the girls looks straight across the square at him. She looks startled to see him staring at them, and he can hear her heartbeat quicken in fear at what she must see in his eyes.
But her eyes… her eyes are the same shade as Bella’s, the same warm, chocolate brown. The same ability to pierce him right down to his soul, if he still has one.
Suddenly, he is able to push the monster to the back of his mind and think clearly again, and he abruptly turns away from the group and walks in the opposite direction, abandoning that plan quickly for another.
He will have to be creative, of that he is certain. He is also certain that whatever he decides will have to be in front of an audience, so as to attract the most attention. But how can he anger the Volturi without killing anyone but himself?
Suddenly, his eyes fall on the clock tower in the center of the square, on the open space surrounding it, and he remembers the date – the nineteenth. He thinks of the number of people who will be there for the Saint Marcus festival, out enjoying the sun.
People who would like to believe, but should have no idea that he really exists.
Suddenly, his path becomes ridiculously clear. It is almost too easy.
He smiles darkly as he steps into the shadows of the tower. The sun will rise soon, but he will wait until noon, when the sun will be high in the sky, and the number of people will be at its peak.
The square is as silent as his mind. Without Bella, the entire world is silent. And the sound is deafening.
He watches as she climbs into her truck and drives down the road.
The look in her eyes is thoughtful, but blank, almost as if she is running on autopilot. He doesn’t understand what she is doing – she knows he is coming to see her soon. Why would she be leaving?
He follows on foot, allowing his mind to go blissfully blank, his feet barely touching the ground as he runs along the side of the road, following her.
Things between them are different now. He constantly tells her he loves her, constantly reminds her that he isn’t going to leave again. The fact that he has to deal with these constant reminders of the time he spent away from her, of the fact that he broke her just as completely as he broke himself frustrates him almost as much as her outward willingness to become a vampire.
He tries not to be too cold towards her at the times she brings up this particular topic of conversation – she always stiffens in his arms at the look on his face, and she gets a desperate look in her eyes, the one that says she fears that he is going to leave her again – but the fact remains that he refuses to change her. He refuses to take away her humanity, her soul, her life. That is not a price he is willing to pay, not even for forever.
He appears to recognize the winding roads and dark forests of La Push before she does. This is werewolf territory, and he shouldn’t be here, but neither should she, not alone. It isn’t safe, and he can’t just leave her. So, he continues to follow her, hoping that the wolves won’t realize they are in the area before he has a chance to take her back home. He becomes more and more frustrated with the blank look on her face as it becomes clearer that she doesn’t know where her destination lies. He is about to call out to her to stop this nonsense when she stops. His breath catches in his throat.
She has come to a stop at the edge of a cliff.
This is a cliff he has seen before. Their last night in Italy, Alice couldn’t stop the flood of images from flowing through her mind even if she’d tried, so she’d let the memories of her vision wash over her. He’d gotten a very good glimpse of Bella’s cliff diving experience through Alice’s thoughts, and remembered it with perfect clarity. He stands perfectly still, watching as she stares down at the water, then up at the sky, as if searching for an answer to some question she has forgotten to ask. When she looks down at the water again, inching forward just a centimeter, he can no longer stay silent.
“Bella – don’t.” His voice carries across to where she is standing, and although she does not acknowledge the words, he is sure that she has heard him. She simply continues to watch the ocean depths below, lost in her thoughts. He wishes she would respond, wishes he could hear the soothing tone of her voice – the melody that had convinced him so completely in Volterra that he was dead because it was so stark and raw and beautiful that there was no way he could still be alive, this magnificent girl with the voice of an angel in his arms. Not for the first time, he wishes with all of his might that he could read her endlessly complex mind.
He doesn’t move to join her, afraid that if he moves at all, she might take the plunge into the murky waters below. He stands silently, watching her for a long time when suddenly, she smiles. He does not understand why, but the unexpected change in her expression makes him inexplicably nervous.
In a flash, he is beside her, hesitantly sliding his hand out to reach hers. He revels in the warmth of her skin against his own. He feels her tremble slightly, hears her heartbeat pick up, and he revels in that too, like the notes to a song he hadn’t realized he’d forgotten. That one thought is what decides his next words for him.
“You’re not going to jump,” he says firmly, sure yet nervous. Only she could make him feel so anxious, so… human. He hears her breath hitch, and hopes that she isn’t upset that he’s stopping her from whatever she had planned. The image of her flinging herself from the cliff with a scream is still stark and clear in his mind as he says, “Not unless I’m jumping with you.”
He stares at her, his eyes piercing, as she finally looks up from the water and back at him. He watches the play of emotions on her face – shock, confusion, and then she goes completely still before the desolation sets in and she slowly backs away from him. Her response perplexes him.
She begins to shiver, and he runs to wrap his arms around her. Her skin is colder than normal, and he realizes with a jolt that she is going into shock. What has he said to evoke such a reaction from her?
He can’t figure it out, so he asks, as gently as he can, “What happened, Bella? Why did you come here? What’s wrong?” He tenderly brushes a finger down her cheek, but she doesn’t even seem to notice.
“We shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe, and you’re not allowed.” Of all the things he expects her to say, her answer is one he never could have guessed. He can’t help as his arms involuntarily stiffen around her at the implication behind her words, because of course, she is right. But her voice is dead, carefully stripped of emotion, the melody thrown back into discord like sharp notes in a symphony, and he is breathless with the reminder of how similar her voice had sounded on the day he’d left her. She is also avoiding the truth, which scares him more than he would care to admit.
He gently lifts her into his arms, running as fast as he can towards her truck. She curls against his chest, closing her eyes to the world. The thought that she is closing herself to him too hurts more than the thought of leaving her, but when he hears her breathe him in, he can’t help the half smile that comes across his face.
He presses his lips to her hair before setting her in the passenger seat. He is around the car and driving back to Forks moments later.
He doesn’t give her a moment to think. He needs to know the truth before he loses her to her thoughts. “Bella,” he says quietly. He knows his voice is tense, but he tries to say her name softly, gently. “Be honest with me.”
Honesty between them usually results in tension, anger and regret these days. The look of absolute misery on her face as she nods her head and says, “Okay,” alerts him to the fact that she is aware of this as well.
He struggles with his words, but knows there is no way to ask but directly. His hands clench around the steering wheel, knowing what her answer will be. “Were you going to jump?”
He glances at her out of the corner of his eye, and she isn’t looking at him. Instead, she shuts her eyes, shake her head, and sighs. The smell of her sweet breath hangs in the air, and he breathes her in, preparing himself for what is about to come. “No, Edward. I didn’t have to.”
He turns to stare at her, once again completely shocked and wishing he could see into that infernally walled off mind of hers. He doesn’t understand. He watches as she fidgets in her seat, and lowers her eyes. What she says next makes comprehension come crashing down on him like a wave.
“I made the jump a long time ago,” she says under her breath.
He knows perfectly well she isn’t talking about the cliff.