Here it is, squirrels and bunnies. “The Darkest Hour”, by Mrs. Hyde. I await her panic attack.
Here’s your updating schedule. Each chapter had to be broken up into two pieces, because Hyde has lots of good ideas for each chapter and makes them very long (read: she’s long-winded). So, you will get the first part and the second part two days apiece—meaning the first part of the first chapter today, the second tomorrow. Then, a day’s wait. So, there you are—back to back days for each part, and a day in between each chapter. Not that hard.
Hyde has a little song-and-dance routine to do before the story, so take it away, Hyde.
I know this is nothing new. It’s been said many times and I’m sure with many equally bad works: Is it possible to take a really lousy story and rework in into something readable? In the hands of a better author, could this have been a good story?
Now, I have no delusions that I am anything special in the writing arena, but with the wild surge of popularity of the Harry Potter books, we have seen an influx in young reader-directed novels intended to market to the same demographic, but are of a considerably lower caliber than HP itself.
Aw, hell—there’s no need to be coy. We all know I’m talking about Eragon and Twilight. They’ve both been hailed as the “next Harry Potter”, they both have been pushed on the young adult demographic, they’ve both been made into movies, and ultimately, they both suck. They are both badly written Mary Sue fics that appeal to the superficial reader who just wants to insert him/herself into a dream world and vicariously live out their fantasies.
And they’re both really bad.
But in the many, many discussions of their badness, it has come up again and again that, well, the authors in question occasionally stumble across a few decent points, have a few crude ideas that could have been refined and expanded, dream up one or two clever and original takes on things that could make a decent story—but were then bogged down in bad prose, terrible dialogue, and a complete dearth of characterization. And so it’s been said many times that, well, if someone GOOD had these ideas, I bet they could have done something with them.
And I thought that myself. Way back when I first heard about Eragon, looked into it, and began to realize just what a steaming pile of boiled tripe it was, I thought that myself—and wondered if maybe I could do it. Like I said, I’ve never had my own idea before, and I’m obviously not published anywhere, so I know that I’m no great shakes as a writer—but I was reasonably sure that I could do better than that. Paolini is terrible, even now that he’s not a kid anymore. I even got as far as picking up a copy of the first book that was at someone’s house and looking through it…and I got no further. I mean, it is bad. It was so bad that I couldn’t get anywhere with it, couldn’t read it, couldn’t find anything even remotely redeeming about it. And so there went my ideas for a rewrite.
And I forgot about it. I told anyone who asked that Eragon sucked and explained why, and that was the extent of my involvement.
And then a few years later, Twilight came out.
I didn’t even really hear anything about it until the lead-up to and subsequent wank over Breaking Dawn. But because Mervin has a deeply ingrained love of ridiculous fanwank, and because I have trainwreck syndrome, I found myself along for the ride, and eventually, from what I guess is some misplaced sense of pride, I slogged my way through all four (and a half) books.
And yes, they were really, really bad.
But, I grant you, I don’t think they were quite as bad as Eragon. I mean, the underlying themes and messages were certainly just as terrible, if not worse, but the writing wasn’t quite as horrible. Maybe that was why I was able to get through it, and why, slowly but surely, the story—or rather, what the story could have been—spark(l)ed my imagination.
And over the course of a few months of thinking, plotting, and brainstorming, it began to take shape. Again, I’m no pro—but I just knew that I could do better than Meyer. And so I decided to try. I set out to re-write the story. Not to change it—I still wanted it to be recognizably Twilight, with all the names and places and people and faces that we all know and hate to still be there—but I wanted to see if I could make it real, make it into people we could relate to and a story that is engaging.
I won’t lie—it is, so far, very, very hard. Because, you know, Twilight really sucks, and I have to keep myself constrained by its suckage. I’m doing my best, but I only have so much to work with. I’d just settle for knowing that what I write sucks less than Meyer, because that was ultimately what I am out to see. This is simply a writing exercise to see if I can take something really awful and turn it into something better—not necessarily good, but better than it was.
So, that was how I got started rewriting Twilight. But I’ll tell you now, it is an ongoing uphill battle all the way—which brings me to this. Right off the bat I was having serious issues, because there simply is nothing to these books—no plot, no real story, and, most damning to my way of thinking, no real characters. So I sat down and brainstormed with Mervin, and we tried to twist the minimal plot of Twilight into something real. And between the two of us, we were slowly but surely managing.
But unfortunately, as Mervin told you, we discovered a more serious problem: Wardo. I had absolutely no idea what to do with him. He’s like a block of stone sprayed with body glitter, with a monotonous voice that does nothing but issue pompous orders to Bella in between bouts of violent sociopathy. If there was nothing there, how could I get to know him enough to write him?
And it was then during one of our brainstorming sessions that both of these things came together. What if the plot of Twilight somehow tied into Edward’s past—the past we never saw, where he struck out on his own for a while? And could I use that past to turn him from an emotionless murdering creep into a character that someone could sympathize with? I had to do something to get a feel for him as a character, at any rate, so as per Mervin’s innocent suggestion, I put the Twilight revamp on hold and sat down to write a little one-shot of sorts exploring Edward’s past.
It rapidly got away from me, expanding first into a novella, and then edging into full-fledged novel territory. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This is all Mervin’s fault.
But whoever is at fault, I finally finished it, and here it is. “The Darkest Hour”, a prequel and companion piece to the revamped Twilight piece I’m writing (and will hopefully complete). I very much hope that it’s decent, as it’s almost entirely original on my part. Here is my attempt at writing Edward, at trying to make him a real, sympathetic, and likeable character with a past and a history that will allow him to develop as a character come the events in Twilight. As this was ultimately a writing exercise, I would very much appreciate any feedback and concrit that you all have to offer.
I would like to extend my deepest thanks to das_mervin, who was a huge help in plotting and pacing this story, and dreamed up some really great ideas that made their ways into this story, as well as to the ever-patient kermit_thefrog, my splendid beta who truly works at the speed of sound. And, of course, to all of Mervin’s flist, who put up with me creeping in here and vicariously blogging on her journal, for reading what I’ve managed to come up with.
So pull up a chair and let’s get on with it. Please keep in mind that, as you read this, serious though this may be, this is essentially what we're doing to Meyer.
And we enjoyed every minute of it. We hope you do too. Read on, gentle viewers!
Title: The Darkest Hour
Author: Mrs. Hyde (with a tiny bit of input from Mervin)
Fandom: Twilight Hate (see icon. MEYER.)
Word Count: ~67,000
Rating: Strong R for sexual imagery, language, and strong violence (<-- Ha, ha! You see that?! Ha! *fishslap*)
Summary: “All things truly wicked start from an innocence.” A young Edward Cullen gets his first taste of the real world. Quote from A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway.
Author’s Note: See above.
Disclaimer: Any names, places, events, or specific back story that you may recognize from the Twilight book or movie series belongs to Stephenie Meyer or Summit Entertainment, respectively, and no profit is being made from this work and no copyright infringement is intended.
Oh, no. Not again.
Edward’s shoulders tensed as he resolutely fixed his gaze on the book in his hands. He would not listen this time. He would not hear it. He would not feel it. He refused.
(ohyes touch me please touch me)
He ground his teeth together against his fangs as he felt them try to extend, forcing his eyes to focus on the words before him.
Fitzgerald, yes, that was what he was thinking about, that—the man had a way with words, without a doubt, and he could see the dissolution festering beneath the wild flamboyance of this mad decade, and Edward was reading, yes, and he was beyond anything else that was going on in this house.
(yesyesyes like that so hot so ready for you and I want)
Gatsby’s cover creaked in protest as his fingers tightened involuntarily on the cover. No, dammitall! But he was helpless against the sudden, desperate arousal that had seized him, that seized him every time, no matter how many times he told himself not to, how wrong it all was, how often he swore that he wasn’t going to hear it, that he was stronger than this, that he could get through it.
(ah so slick and wet yes you want I want touch me touch you)
He could hear them, too—not just hear them in his head, no, now that he was thoroughly entrenched in this horrible vicarious experience, his sensitive ears could pick out every sound of their lovemaking, every moan and encouragement, and even the whispers of skin against skin. And his 17-year-old body reacted just as eagerly to that as to the very welter of thought and sensation that filled his 26-year-old mind with revulsion.
(ohGod Esme so warm so tight clenching sliding squeezing)
The book fell to the ground and his hands fisted in his hair, his fangs hard and ready against his lips; the sounds, the sights, the sensations—he could hear them all, feel them all, they were his, and he was them—both of them—
(yesyesyes ohyes Carlisle want it stretch me fill me up so deep inside of me)
He ran. He threw himself out the window and flew over the rooftops as fast as his straddle-legged gait could take him (which, all things considered, was very fast). He didn’t stop until he was four miles away.
He stood atop the roof of the high school, which was blessedly empty this time of night, and the jangle of voices in his head seemed muted up here—doubly so after the thundering din from the room above him back at the house. He filled his lungs with the cool night air, breathing in the sharp, sticky scent of the surrounding pines, the bitterness of road dust, the acrid tang of woodsmoke, the cool blue of the Penobscot…and beneath it all, the maddening sweetness of the thousands of hearts pumping their thick red blood in the city below him.
Even that temptation was better than the hot, heavy musk of sex that seemed to cling to everything back home. But in the end, the smell of blood didn’t help, because that very scent just fueled his unreasoning, hungry lust.
Edward dropped to his knees in the corner, concentrating on anything and everything else to dampen that horrible, insistent arousal that sank its teeth into his groin every time he had the misfortune to be too near to an amorous couple—and just like every time before, it was no use. His body was surging with the wild hormones of adolescence, and had been for nearly the past ten years. It didn’t care who or what brought on this frenzy—it simply demanded release. And so it was with a sick heart that he wrenched open his constricting fly and took himself in hand; even he didn’t know if the groan that fell from his lips was one of relief or misery.
It didn’t take long—he was, after all, seventeen, and worked into quite a froth. A dozen or so quick strokes later and he was slumped limp and quivering.
And to think, once upon a time he’d been quite sure that the novelty of that little trick would never wear off.
He sourly righted his trousers and then wiped away the venom on his chin with the back of his hand. Oh, the novelty had worn off, no doubt about it—in his mind, at any rate. His body, on the other hand, still quite cheerfully looked forward to regular repeats of its little floor routine. And if he didn’t turn his mind to less pleasant things in a hurry, it would be eager and ready once again in just a short while; what would have been a point of pride to any red-blooded, 26-year-old male was nothing but a source of frustration and anger for him—because it reminded him that he wasn’t twenty-six.
He was seventeen.
And he would always be seventeen.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and stared out over the warmly-lighted expanse of town beneath him. The utter silence betwixt his ears that was part and parcel of the obliterating flash of climax was gone, and without the distraction of his previous preoccupation, the night was no longer quiet for him.
Mr. King, the milkman, was up and on his rounds and was taking the liberty of publicly passing gas as he drove his cart, since there was no one around to hear it. Ida Frasier had been awakened earlier than she would have liked by very painful cramps and was now ostensibly looking over her homework for the day, but was really just doodling Fred Marsh’s name on the margin of her paper and thinking of kissing him and wondering what else went on past kissing and if she would like it. Little Newton Lambert had been sent to bed early last night without any dessert because he’d hidden his peas in his napkin at dinner and now he was wide awake and half-plotting, half-fantasizing about running away from home. Mrs. O’Leary was up making bread and was furiously certain that her no-good husband was stepping out on her, and Edward knew for a fact that she was right.
Edward knew everything about everyone around him. Even when he didn’t know these people, he knew them.
He scuffed the sole of his shoe on the tar of the roof beneath him. It had gotten easier over the years, tuning out the thundering tumult of thoughts and feelings and sensations that weren’t his own. He was almost used to it. Almost. He hoped it would keep getting better, that one day he might actually be able to ignore it; he’d already come a very long way in the mere ten years since he’d awakened to find himself dead and his head ringing with a clamor of voices that he didn’t recognize.
He thought he’d gone mad. Then he thought maybe he would go mad, when he realized that he would never again have his own mind all to himself.
Carlisle had failed to mention that condition of his survival when he’d offered him his perilous choice back in the hospital in Chicago.
Edward immediately regretted the uncharitable thought; it wasn’t as if Carlisle could have known. He’d certainly never met anyone with an ability like Edward’s, and even if he had, there had been no way of knowing that Edward was going to have it upon being turned. However, Carlisle had informed him that he’d known he was going to be exceptional even among vampires; all of their kind had an odd, sixth sense about that sort of thing, a twisted type of reproductive urge. What humans found attractive was rooted in their bodies homing in on those who would make good parents to their offspring; their kind were drawn to the humans who would become the most powerful offspring.
Powerful indeed. Was it power to be a slave to the demands of his body—or to the secondhand demands of others’? Edward’s lip curled. There were still days when he could barely prevent himself from seizing the children he sat next to in school and draining them dry. And he still couldn’t distance himself from Carlisle and Esme’s conjugal activities.
Ida’s thoughts had rather wandered from Marsh; they were more nebulous as she tried to imagine what went on between men and women. Her now faceless partner’s features melted from one boy to another; when his own face cycled through, he turned away and zipped to the opposite corner of the building, far enough away so that her thoughts were lost in the noise of those closer to him, both the clear thoughts of those who were awake and the empty white noise of those who were still asleep.
He couldn’t deny that it had initially been a heady shot to his ego upon his reintegration into society to find that he was suddenly an object of desire—compounded by the fact that he knew it. He could hear every yearning, rapturous, and lustful thought directed toward him. He’d ridden the crest of that emotional tidal wave for literally years. He, Edward Mason, the skinny bookworm with the perpetually messy hair who’d never had a sweetheart, now a regular Douglas Fairbanks. Honestly, what boy wouldn’t be tickled pink by the very idea?
After Carlisle had dragged Esme’s mangled body from the wreckage of the train on which they were commuting home from their work at the hospital in Toledo, he’d offered her the same choice he’d given Edward: a natural death or an unnatural life. And she’d chosen as Edward had, and then, as a newborn vampire, she’d needed to be swept out of the populated area where she lived and back into a remote, secluded place where she could come to grips with what she was and learn to control her new body, with both its inhuman strength and violent instinct to feed.
Edward had done the same upon his change in 1918; Carlisle had smuggled the dying boy out of the hospital and changed him. He then quickly resigned his position, left a surrogate body with a false death certificate in Edward’s place, and then bundled his new charge off to the far reaches of the northern peninsula of Michigan, where he’d spent his first year or two as a vampire. They’d been gradually migrating southward since then, easing Edward back in amongst the general population; they had both pronounced him fit and ready when he’d made it into Madison without either trying to attack anyone or losing his mind to the roar of voices in his head.
Since then they’d been living in more populous areas—not as large as Chicago, of course, and always nearer the outskirts, but in places where Carlisle could resume his work as a doctor, work that Edward himself was hoping to join one day.
But then Carlisle had been involved in the train wreck, and after being confronted with the nurse who was moments from being the only casualty, the two of them suddenly found their odd little family circle expanded with another newborn on their hands.
This time they’d gone further east, traveling quickly over the St. Lawrence Seaway to New England and into the thick forests of Central Maine. Frankly, Edward had been a bit relieved. He’d forgotten the bliss of the relative silence between his ears that came from living in such a far-flung place. And so they spent a few years in among the pines of Maine, and this time Edward was the old and wise one, who helped Nurse Evanson (who he came to know as Esme) learn to be what she was.
In retrospect, he supposed it wasn’t too surprising when their newest member had fallen head-over-heels for her rescuer. Carlisle was simply one of the strongest, most compassionate, and, well, for lack of a better word, most noble men that Edward had ever met. That on top of the obviously heroic nature of Esme’s rescue—the poor woman really hadn’t stood a chance.
What was a surprise, however, was that before long Carlisle was equally besotted.
Edward supposed that he’d grown used to thinking of Carlisle as married to his work—not to mention the fact that the man had been living alone for nearly three hundred years—and so it never crossed his mind that he might fall in love himself. And surely such an understandably old-fashioned fellow as Carlisle wouldn’t have been taken with such a thoroughly modern woman as the divorced suffragette Nurse Esme Evanson. But despite all that, he had, and that was that. Any discomfort Edward had felt at being inadvertently privy to their private thoughts and conversations during their courtship was largely overwhelmed by his honest happiness for Carlisle—and for Esme as well. She was a lovely woman, and she and Carlisle made each other so happy.
By the time they’d eased Esme back into civilization, Carlisle had asked her to marry him, and they moved down to Bangor, where Carlisle could take a position at the local hospital.
It had seemed a perfect arrangement. Medicine was his vocation, and had been since his awakening as a vampire with a subtle but significant ability to heal. Being Carlisle, he had devoted this power to caring for others, rather than keeping it only for himself. And Esme was quite the formidable mover and shaker. She could take charge of any situation and command obedience, a skill that was made only more powerful upon her change to a vampire, which she now planned to use in her capacity as a nurse—a perfect match for her new husband.
And Edward was going to pose as Carlisle’s younger brother under his care. It had been Edward’s own idea to enroll in the local secondary school. He’d died before he could complete his education at Lake Forest Academy, and as such had never received his diploma, something that chafed dreadfully to a studious young man such as himself. This way he could catch up with the new advances of the times, complete his secondary education, and maybe one day go to college—Yale, like his father and his father before him. And he could study medicine, like he’d always wanted to as a boy, and join Carlisle and Esme in their work.
Only things hadn’t been quite as idyllic as all that—not for Edward, anyway. After the stillness of the Northern forests, immersion back in the bustle of even the relatively small city had been quite jarring. But that was nothing compared to the shock of going back to school with his fellow teenagers. Because…they weren’t his fellows. Not anymore.
The girls mooned over him as before, and he could hear it—along with all their petty jealousies, obsessions, and cattishness. And how could he even try to talk to a girl when his head was full of their longing (and thoroughly disconcerting) fantasies all centered around him? It hadn’t taken long for him to steer away from all the flighty girls, but even with the sensible ones—those who thought beyond simply getting boys to notice them—the minute the opened his mouth, their minds all but went blank, filled with the helpless fascination that his face held for them. Only now, the charm was gone, and all that was left was the knowledge that they didn’t really find him attractive as a person—they simply couldn’t help it. He was a predator, and they were his prey, and he was equipped with all he needed to lure them in.
He gave up trying to talk to girls—even being suddenly fascinating and handsome and always knowing what to say hadn’t seemed to have given him an edge in the that venue. And what made that all the more unpleasant was that he realized he didn’t want to talk to them—how could he get to know a girl he found attractive if by simply standing a few feet away he already knew all about her that was unattractive? How could he enjoy a girl’s attention with the knowledge that his bewitching nature drew her to him artificially, and that beneath the attraction, his alieness repulsed her?
He supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised that his efforts to open up with the boys among his classmates had been an equal failure. He’d never had close friends as a child. His parents were relatively old when he’d been born, and the sons and daughters of their friends and contemporaries had all been much older than he. He’d had his books and that had been enough, even when he’d been sent off to school. So he wasn’t expecting to make any truly bosom friends, or really even many casual friends at all—but he wasn’t expecting the hostility his presence caused among the male population. The school wasn’t terribly large, and so it hadn’t taken long for the grapevine to spread word amongst the girls of the simply lovely boy who’d come to town. And while all the female attention had been merely a nuisance to him, it had been a threat in the minds of the other boys, and they hadn’t reacted well at all. And that was added to the fact that while he did draw them in, he didn’t have the same carnal attraction for the boys as he did the girls, and that let the instinctual fear they felt for him as a predator come to the fore and ripen into resentment and aggression.
In short, within a month Edward had found himself a complete pariah, the center of a petty social morass that he wanted no part of. It was all so…childish.
Of course it was. Because they were children.
But he wasn’t.
It had hit him like a punch in the stomach, the day he had been sitting in algebra class, trying not to listen to the alternately embarrassing and insulting thoughts that were occasionally directed towards him, and he had come to that stunning realization. Ageing was such a gradual thing—he didn’t feel any different than he had when he was seventeen, and Heaven knew that he didn’t look any different, so he hadn’t really thought of himself as getting any older. Carlisle had told him that he wouldn’t age, and that had sounded quite grand to him—to be forever in the first, full flush of youth? But living as they had, away from everyone, he hadn’t observed people up close since he’d died—had no basis for comparison with himself but Carlisle. And when your only companion was hundreds of years older than you, you couldn’t help but feel like a baby.
But then, when he’d tried to fit right back into his old place among people his age, he’d realized that he had changed, that he was different. He looked seventeen, but he wasn’t. Ageing wasn’t a tangible thing, didn’t just mean the body—it meant the mind as well, and Edward hadn’t been seventeen for ten years. He didn’t fit in with people his “age” at all.
It didn’t take him long to realize that he really didn’t fit in anywhere else, either. Women, even as they fluttered rather embarrassedly in the face of his unnatural beauty, called him “dear” and mused to themselves what a fine man he would make someday. Men were stiff and called him “son” and asked him what he planned to do with himself when he was finally old enough to go out in the world. Even Esme—who knew better—still seemed to treat him as a boy, even though in reality she was only three years older than he was. Because he looked seventeen.
And he would always look seventeen.
The clock in the nearby church struck five; he realized that he’d been standing out here staring at nothing for a good thirty minutes. Carlisle and Esme would probably be done by now, and it would be safe to go home. He clambered down the fire escape and began the walk back to their house, dragging his feet and in no hurry to get there.
That bit of unpleasantness had been perhaps the nastiest shock of their new life here in Maine. Edward had happened across couples so blissfully engaged before. It had been a terrible jolt the first time, when he’d stumbled too near to such a pair, unwittingly and unintentionally violating the privacy of their house, and the intensity of the sensations had been such that he was completely overwhelmed by a wild arousal that wasn’t his own.
Carlisle had snapped him out of it, and to Edward’s mortification had deduced what had happened from what he could hear through the nearby window (and the fact that Edward’s body hadn’t made the distinction between its own excitement and someone else’s and had reacted accordingly).
Since then, he’d always kept half a mental ear out for that sort of thing, so that he could pointedly tune it out—or better yet, avoid it.
But how can I avoid it when it’s going on every night right above my very head? Edward scowled at the ground and kicked a loose stone; it skittered wildly out of sight as he walked. Since that very first time, he’d been thorough and careful enough so that he hadn’t had that experience again (at least, not in front of Carlisle), so he supposed that Carlisle had simply forgotten about Edward’s unfortunate ability to hear things he didn’t want to—particularly when he was so attuned through familiarity to the minds in question.
Edward was sure that he wouldn’t have forgotten such a critical detail.
He shoved his fists in his pockets as he walked. The moon was sinking low on the horizon, the sky not yet lightening with the dawn. Carlisle and Esme had gone on a short honeymoon to Niagara Falls after their little wedding, and so Edward hadn’t been subjected to any of that sort of thing until after they’d settled down in Bangor. But on their first night in the new house, he’d been quietly reading, and the only warning he’d gotten was an overheard remark from Carlisle upstairs about christening the new house; Edward was able to tune out such voiced surface thoughts at that point, so the meaning behind the words hadn’t registered until it was too late.
He’d been utterly frozen, horrified when he realized what he was hearing—what he was experiencing—but so totally overwhelmed by the force and passion of the sensation that he’d been unable to move, unable to hold a single thought of his own, could only helplessly bear out the act to completion.
He’d collapsed when it was through, his knees refusing to hold him, and he’d been appalled to discover that he’d soiled his trousers like he hadn’t done since he was thirteen, his body having been dragged along for the voyeuristic mental ride. He’d had to get out of there, and just ran right out of the house, not even bothering to change his underpants, just anything to get away from there.
Edward felt the cooled blood in his veins migrating towards his cheeks just thinking about it. He didn’t know which had been worse—when he’d first realized what was going on over his head, or when he’d had to face the two of them afterwards. He’d slunk back home in the wee hours of the morning; Carlisle and Esme hadn’t realized that anything was amiss and were simply concernedly curious as to where he had been. Edward had been stuttering and completely unable to look either of them in the face—because not only did he know precisely the sounds Esme made when she found her release and what it felt like to be inside of her when she did, but he also knew exactly what it felt like to be kissed, caressed, and soundly rogered by the man that he’d come to regard as a second father.
Carlisle had given him two days of strained silence before he’d cornered him and had wanted to know what was the matter. Edward had resolved not to discuss it, but experience came with age and so Carlisle was entirely too canny for his own good. And when he finally understood what had happened, Edward couldn’t even enjoy the look of discomfited embarrassment on his face—the first time he’d seen the unflappable doctor look that way—because his own expression was undoubtedly ten times worse.
Edward ran a hand through his hair in an attempt to distract himself from the remembered mortification, still fresh in his mind (it didn’t work). In typical Carlisle fashion, he’d apologized for his thoughtlessness, and while Edward had been brooding over the perceived slight, Carlisle’s honest remorse had shamed him into letting it go and apologizing in return for eavesdropping—even though he couldn’t help it. They’d awkwardly let the subject drop when Edward had uncomfortably told him that he could manage. And it hadn’t been bravado on his part—he really had been sure that he could get over his sensitivity; he’d managed to overcome his initial lack of control with regards to his unusual ability before, and he knew it was simply a matter of time and practice before he could manage this. He was sure that he could read, or play music, or maybe try his hand at painting, or anything that took concentration that would help him drown it out—just as he had when he was first learning control ten years ago.
Only he hadn’t yet. He tried to tell himself to be patient, but how could he be when all it took was a single wayward thought to drive him into a frenzy of frustrated lust? Tonight had been just one more in a long line of his failures to control himself. As he turned onto their street, he sardonically mused that he was lucky his skin was so much tougher now—in these past weeks, he’d have chafed himself raw if he were still human.
Edward paused at the end of their street and listened tentatively—and sighed with relief when he heard no sounds of ardor coming from their house. Everyone on the street was asleep, and he could hear no one else nearby, so he cheated a little and ran down the street at his true speed, rather than maintaining the frustratingly slow façade of humanity, arriving on their front stoop in mere seconds.
The house was dark and still; Edward could hear from upstairs the murmured talk that always followed afterwards, and while it made him uncomfortable, it was at least something he could ignore.
He let himself in quietly. He knew if they were listening, they could hear the sound of the key in the lock and the creak of the hinges, but as they were quite wrapped up in each other, he doubted they’d notice. He glanced up at the clock. It was past five, six soon, and Carlisle would be leaving for work shortly; he always had to arrive before the sun rose to avoid detection. And that meant it was probably time for Edward to get ready for his day as well; he too arrived at the adjacent library in the darkness before sunrise, and then would stay late and sneak out the back into the nearby woods to get home.
He trudged up the stairs and into his room. Time to get ready for another day—at school.
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