And thank you now for all of your support thus far--we are glad that already, after only half of a chapter, you guys already like the story. :) We hope we keep it up, even though the first two chapters are mostly establishment. Keep counting the fishslaps, because they keep coming. :D
Oh, for God’s sake, not again!
And not in the library!
Edward didn’t even bother trying to wait it out—the very idea of Esme seducing Carlisle atop the desk where Edward liked to read was simply too much for him to handle.
So he flew out the door, out of the house and down the street as fast as he could go without arousing suspicion that he wasn’t what he appeared to be.
For of the love of… he snarled inwardly as he strode furiously down the street, his own thoughts angry enough to be heard over the din of those around him. That woman is insatiable! And Carlisle—when in Heaven’s name did he suddenly decide that it was acceptable to behave in such a fashion? The gravel of the street crunched beneath his shoes as he swung around the corner and, after a moment’s hesitation, stormed towards the town proper. Why can’t they act their ages?! They aren’t a pair of addlepated teenagers! Do they have no consideration for anyone else in the house? I live there too, for pity’s sake!
With no real destination in mind, Edward made random lefts and rights; his pace was still angrily rapid, but he was walking with no set path, only generally pointing towards the center of town. He hoped there could lose his thoughts and himself in the bustle and clatter of the town, where he could just sit and not think, and let those around him do the thinking for him.
Of the houses that lined the streets, many were still brightly lit, and the shadows of the occupants flitted across the great blocks of light they threw out onto the sidewalk. Strains of music could be heard from dozens of radios and Victrolas—modern jazz, mostly, which Edward personally didn’t care for, finding it rather obnoxious and low-brow. The thoughts of the warm and sated occupants within were largely indolent and relaxed, looking forward to a spot of fun this evening and a well-earned rest over the weekend. The minds around him blurred together into a low background hum of the simple mundanities of life as he walked, like school and work and family and dinner and rest—little things that Edward really hadn’t thought much about in nearly ten years—if he’d ever had a chance to think about them at all.
The houses gradually began to give way to the commercial district of Bangor. It was Friday night; the town was still up and about. It wasn’t the bustling metropolis of his own hometown—Chicago could stay awake until the break of dawn—but it was 1927, and the party showed no signs of stopping, not even up here in the forests of Maine. The department stores and banks and such were dark, but most restaurants and the few clubs (formerly bars) were still open, and it was generally common knowledge that in the back you could acquire a drop of illegal spirits, should you be so inclined—as many people were.
A door flew open in front of him, pouring light and smoke and sound out into the chilly air, and out into the street stumbled an obviously drunken Frank Sanders—Police Chief Frank Sanders. And the also intoxicated woman that he was fondling out there in front of God and everyone was not his wife. Edward’s lip curled as they staggered around him, laughing, barely noticing he was there. But he noticed, oh, yes, their bodies leaving a wave of heat in their wake, and even as the smell of them filled his nose, his head was suddenly filled with drunken laughter, the ground tilting dangerously, his hands cold but the skin beneath them hot, and oh yes, he’d be getting all he wanted soon enough—
The pair jumped at the inhuman snarl that sounded from the retreating figure that made off down the street, but they didn’t dwell on in long, merely making a very crooked beeline for the car that was parked (illegally) outside. Edward saw it all through their eyes, and he scrunched his own shut in an effort not to think of it.
He turned the corner down the side alley, and ran across another pair of drunken revelers, islands of warmth in the cold night. These two were weaving out the back door of The Silver Swan. It was ostensibly one of the nicer restaurants downtown, but much like the other establishments in the area, the real fun to be had was in the back. As he passed by the thoroughly soused pair—these two both male, and thankfully so far gone that carnal pleasures were simply out of the question—his world tilted again as it became theirs, colors softening, lines blurring, and sounds muting, and for a moment he stood there, reveling in the vicarious dulling of his senses.
But they kept on their way, going by quickly, too drunk to really even register his presence, much less react to it, and all too soon the world snapped back into focus with the same painful vampiric clarity that had characterized every moment of his life since his change nearly ten years ago. Edward sighed reflexively, staring at the ground for a moment, and then looked up.
The Swan’s back door had slammed shut, but it might as well be open to him, his extraordinary hearing and sense of smell picking up all the details of what was going on—and that was not including the near first-hand view he was getting of everything going on in there inside his own head.
Edward tended to avoid crowds. The phrase “couldn’t hear himself think” had taken on a whole new meaning for him since he was changed, and when he was knee-deep in a mass of people, their thoughts tended to drown out his own. And when the crowd was so riotous and obviously uninhibited as this one, their thoughts were all the more strong and unguarded, and it became frighteningly easy to lose himself entirely.
And that sounded simply wonderful—to go inside, to bury himself in that desperate, blazing push of humanity, and if only for a moment, to feel it, to be part of it. To feel drunk and happy and relaxed and ready to go home, to go to sleep, and to forget the cares that weighed him down more and more as the years went by.
He walked quickly to the back door and rapped on it smartly. A little window slid open, and out peered a beefy, squinting face belonging to one of the night employees, who Edward knew had the unfortunate name of Francis Eggleston.
He took one look at Edward, who could hear the mixed discomfort and derision his strangely young and beautiful face brought on, and he said, “Beat it, kid.”
“I’d like to come in, please,” Edward said, his voice pleasant.
Eggleston snorted. “Get off it, kid—we don’t serve anyone below drinking age.”
“You’re breaking Constitutional law by serving alcohol on these premises, and you’re worried that I’m underage?” Edward demanded.
“Keep your trap shut, you little prick—you want a cop to hear you?” Eggleston hissed.
Edward snorted derisively. “Don’t be ridiculous—they all know this is here. Half of them frequent this place and you know it. Now,” he said, plucking the information out of the man’s head, “the password is swordfish, I am older than I look, and my money spends as well as anyone else’s—I want to come in.”
Edward had leaned forward on his last words and stared at the man, fixing him with that even, unblinking stare that tended to freeze humans in their tracks like rabbits. Eggleston was no exception, and Edward could see and feel him swallow, his mouth gone dry, before he rallied and his face hardened. “Nothin’ doin’—the cops let us get by with the booze because they get their share—we start serving to kids, and we’ll get shut down hard. So get lost, kid—your mamma’s callin’,” he sneered, and then slammed the peephole shut.
Edward just stood there, quivering, frozen outside the door, wanting nothing more than to wrench it open and drag that insolent thug out and make his feelings on this matter clear. But instead he took a deep breath and turned and walked away, leaving the alleyway, his footfalls heavy but silent on the damp pavement.
It was rare that he was caught off guard by anyone anymore—he generally knew they were coming before they did—but his thoughts were wandering and disordered and he was still shaking off the lingering aftereffects of his run-in with the various partygoers and his own anger with Eggleston that he nearly slammed right into the fellow coming the opposite direction, the sudden warmth against his front and the scent in his nose thoroughly shaking him from his angry preoccupation.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!”
It was another policeman—a sober one, this time, and one ostensibly on duty. But he’d certainly made no move towards apprehending his superior down the way—in fact, he was just on his way into the Swan himself.
“My apologies, sir,” Edward ground out, and he felt the critical if unsettled eye of Officer Gillespie on him even as he saw himself—hollow-eyed and distracted and pale—through the man’s own eyes.
“What are you doing out around here this late?” he demanded, which was rich—That’s right, officer, Edward sneered. Question the schoolboy taking a walk while your boss is clearly drunk, and you planning on following his stellar example.
“Just taking a walk, sir,” Edward answered, his voice carefully low and respectful. “I wanted a little fresh air.”
Gillespie eyed him, and then grunted. “Well, you’ve had your air, sonny-jim,” he said, poking Edward roughly with his nightstick, “and now you best to be getting along home, kid, before—”
Any words he might have had ready, anything he wanted to say was lost, as a black tide of helpless fury suddenly seized Edward, his pent up frustrations near exploding at this foul little man who dared to condescend to him! He wrenched away the offending nightstick, flinging it down the side alley with a clatter and a snap. “Don’t,” he snarled, his voice thick with anger, “call me kid!”
Gillespie cowered where he stood as Edward drew himself up and stared him down, his muscles tight and trembling, and oh, how easy it would be to just pick him up and shake him, show him who was a kid, show him just who was really in charge here, to throttle him into submission and then just break him in half, and that thick sweetness would well up and he would drink—
With a sound that was half-hiss, half-sob, Edward wrenched himself away and was gone in an eyeblink, leaving Gillespie shrunken and quivering on the pavement. Edward himself didn’t stop until he was a good four blocks away and ducked down into another alley, this one empty and silent, and flopping against the wall.
He ran his hands through his hair, gripping tightly, before letting go and slamming his head not at all gently into the bricks behind him, stopping only when he felt them begin to crack and crunch beneath him. He had to get a hold on himself—had to clamp down on that cold and horrible thing in his belly that had been creeping closer to the surface as the night wore on, that part of him that wanted nothing more than to glut itself on hot, human blood.
He tried to calm down, but the frustrated tension in his body simply wouldn’t leave. He’d been winding steadily tighter all night, since first hearing Carlisle and Esme, and then Chief Sanders—and if he wasn’t careful, he was going to do something he would regret. Like he’d wanted to do to Eggleston. Like he almost had to Gillespie.
Edward sucked in a deep lungful of cold night air—which did little to clear his head, as it was laden with the stink of bathtub gin and tobacco smoke and cloying cologne, and beneath it all a delicious red throb of pulsing life—
He shoved his hands in his pockets and resumed walking, heading away from downtown, from the buzz of life from which he was forever barred. His twists and turns were random again, this time largely dictated by the thoughts he heard as he went, changing his direction as he encountered thoughts—people—that he wanted to avoid.
The town got darker as he left the main hub of activity. But he didn’t go back towards the residential areas, either—he didn’t want to listen in on scenes of unattainable domestic harmony any more than he wanted to hear the riot of the inaccessible diversion of the nightlife. And so it was that he eventually found himself skulking around on the docks and the mills on the Penobscot. There was life here, but of a different sort from the staid families or the gay partygoers. No, people were working here. It was slower, being the middle of the night, but the mills never truly slept, the town being built on the logging industry and the Maine pine forests. Barges stood at the ready to transport their cargoes down river, towards Portland and on to the sea, out in the wide open, far away from the din and clatter of humanity, out where it was peaceful and quiet.
It was quieter here, he’d not deny it, and the overpowering smell of sawdust and pine tar did a great deal to blot out the maddening smells of the humans around him. But it didn’t block it entirely; he felt himself tense every time he passed another person, and he had to hold his breath and bite his lip until they passed, and their scent passing with them. He tugged at his hair, a bit desperately. They usually went out hunting on the weekend, but Carlisle had an appointment scheduled for tomorrow, so they would be a day late. The smell of passing humans, barely tolerable at best, was driving him mad tonight.
Don’t play coy, he sneered at himself. You know perfectly well that’s not what it is.
No, it wasn’t. He wasn’t any hungrier than he usually was. It was just that he always got like this after...after experiencing some sort of arousal, whether his own or someone else’s. His thoughts were pervaded by his own helpless desires, for either flesh or blood. When he got too caught up in it, his body would render the question moot and sort things out on its own—and ultimately ending in further laundry duties for Edward. But now, cut short before he lost himself but still in a tight grip of frustrated tension, he was just…on edge. He wanted…something.
And at the sound of approaching footsteps, the scent of cheap perfume and stale sweat atop that lovely rush in her veins, it suddenly occurred to him that he could get it.
She was dressed the part; a mostly fashionable dress of bright red, strappy T-buckles that were thoroughly inappropriate for wandering the docks, her hair bobbed, and her eyes thickly lined with makeup. He supposed a mill worker looking for a quick bit of skirt would find her quite attractive. But even in the darkness he could see the rips and tatters on the hem on her skirt, the scuffs on the heels of her shoes, the sallow complexion beneath the thick and badly applied paint.
He felt a twinge of pity, maybe of revulsion, but it was quenched by the dull heat of embarrassed excitement that was bubbling up deep in his middle. She’d seen him looking at her, and she smiled, her red lips spreading wide, and her slump straightened, and she put a little wiggle in her walk as she approached him
It was so patently affected that he might have laughed, except that he couldn’t help but notice the swish of her calves and the curve of her hip as she neared. “Well, hi there, cutie!” she trilled, her voice tinkling and false. (And he is cute, my my!) he heard, and for the first time in a long time, he felt a pleased sort of smugness about her obvious appreciation for his looks.
“Miss,” he said, a bit stiffly, suddenly finding himself nervous—which was ridiculous. He was a grown man, even if his appearance belied the fact—she was probably younger than he was.
She giggled rather vacantly. “And just what are you doing wandering around here at this time of night?” she asked. “Looking for some company?” Her eyelashes fluttered, and so did his stomach.
“Well—I—I hadn’t been, really,” he said, and was appalled to hear himself stuttering, and he took a deep breath, “but if I found some, I wouldn’t object.”
Another giggle. “I’d say you found some—any objections?” She posed a little, and he let himself look, studiously ignoring the whispering of impatience he could hear from her.
A rather shy, stupid smile crept across his face. “No, miss—none at all.”
Her grin widened, and he felt vaguely elated at the burst of pleasure his response gave her. (Success! A good night, with this one) “Well, come on then, fella—over here, away from prying eyes.”
Edward coughed a little—not that he needed to, but it was a nervous reflex that he still hadn’t rid himself of, and when she took his arm, her fingers burningly warm through the fabric of his sweater, he allowed himself to be led away.
They didn’t go far; she pulled him towards a dark recess between two of the sawmills, her steps steady, as one who has traveled this route before—and likely with the same outcome in mind. Edward’s eyes darted from side to side, half-afraid, and yet half-hoping someone might see him.
The girl—Julie—swung him around to face her, her back to the bricks of the mill. Edward stood frozen, panic suddenly welling up inside him—what was he supposed to do?
(Oh, boy—another kid who stole his dad’s wallet and is out to prove he’s a man) “Well, hotshot?” she said, her smile coy but her eyes hard. “You ain’t gettin’ cold feet on me, are you?”
“Of course not!” he snapped, affronted, and his anger covered his nerves. But then he didn’t know what to say after that.
He could feel her exasperation mounting to the point that her voice began to betray her. “All right, then—what are you after?”
He blinked, and then in the face of her expectant expression, gaped. She wanted him to—to spell out—
She rolled her eyes. “It’s pro-rated, son—priced by where you want to stick it.” (Come on, kid, I ain’t got all night)
He glared at her. “If I was out looking to pick up a girl, where do you think I—want to stick it?” he demanded.
(Where you’ve never even seen before) “Fine, then—ten bucks and it’s yours.”
Edward hesitated only a moment before going for his wallet—he refused to acknowledge his trembling hands. He shuffled through it, and he found a ten. This was ridiculous, to be spending his money on this—Carlisle earned it—but Carlisle made him, dammit, and it was his nightly romps that had put Edward in this state in the first place, like he did almost every night these days, and if Edward wanted this, wanted some relief, then he was going to get it!
He shoved the money at her. (About time) The bill was gone in a heartbeat, and if he had been human, he wouldn’t have seen her tuck it in the bag she had sewn inside her coat…which she had just laid open so she could shrug down the straps of her dress. “Come on, then,” she said, her irritation gone, now just replaced with boredom as she leaned back against the wall behind her.
He stood, frozen, staring helplessly at the bared breasts before him, his trousers suddenly unbearably tight.
(God, uptight virgins are the worst) The warm fingers on the back of his neck startled him, and then he was being drawn forward, and his hands came up of their own accord and…oh.
The girl—Julie, he told himself—was nuzzling at him, and he could feel her own mild arousal, both in expectation of what was to come and from the thick cloud of sexual attractants that surrounded him, and she nipped lightly at his neck—and that simple action was nearly his undoing, as the thought of doing the same caused his fangs to slide out from their sheaths. He clamped his mouth shut, refusing to entertain the notion, forcing himself not to inhale her scent, thinking only of the feel of her, her soft flesh beneath his hands, the motions of her hips against his, the flutter of her pulse in her wrist—and before he could turn his thoughts away from that, she hiked her leg up around his hip, filling his nostrils with an altogether different musk that for an instant overwhelmed the aroma of her blood, and then he grunted when he could suddenly feel the near unbearable heat radiating from her—she was so warm and alive and real and human. A soft moan escaped him, his eyes falling closed as his lips parted and he rocked against her, and he pulled her closer, tighter against him, and then he was fumbling for his fly, desperate to be inside that pulsing wet heat.
(Always the same—no finesse, two pumps and a squirt—if they didn’t piss me off so bad, I’d stick with kids all the time—get more done in a night)
(Jesus, kid, will you get on with it?)
He concentrated on the feel of her skin, the slide of her muscles, heat of her body, the rush of her bl—no, no, not that, and he clenched his teeth hard, trying everything he could not to see and hear and smell the thick rivers of life than throbbed in her neck even as he fought with his trousers, which were defying all efforts to get them open, and he couldn’t just rip them, but he had to have her, all of her, so warm, so hot, so wet, so red—
(Okay, so that’s fifty bucks, good—I can get down there to the pig, Johnny’s there, he’s gotta be there, and he’ll give me some for that, he’s gotta—I’ll pay him all that and let him have me in my ass, he loves that, he’s gotta give me a hit off the smack for that—if he’s still there—what time is it? He has to be there, he can’t have left already, dammit, I gotta hurry—for Christ’s sake, kid, will you just get your rocks off and get out of here!)
Edward flew backwards, off of her, away from her, the buttons on his pants half open.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Her voice was shrill and grating, and Edward’s fists clenched as he leaned down, feeling the phantom urge to retch even as the beat of her heart and the flow of her blood made him cramp with hunger.
“Nothing.” His words were slushy around the long and dripping canines that protruded from his lips. “Nothing, I just—”
(Can’t keep it up—of course not, pussy, your kind never can, not in a place like this, now why don’t you get out of here and back up to your mommy and daddy’s nice big house up on Ashley Street and come back when you grow up) “Look, kid—either do your business or get lost—but I ain’t givin’ you a refund if you can’t keep it up—that’s not my problem,” she sneered.
He looked up at her, and she flinched when she met his eyes—her contempt was wiped clean by her sudden fear when she finally saw him for what he was, and he saw it too through her eyes, saw himself crouched on the ground like an animal, his teeth gleaming in the moonlight, his eyes wild and mad in his chalky face.
(Oh my holy God, what is wrong with him?!)
But before she could say anything, he ran. He ran out of the alley and past the docks and up the river and away, far away from her and from everything. He vaulted up the side of one of the mills, finding handholds in windows and fire escapes, clambering up like an orangutan until he was atop the roof, high above the town, where he huddled in a ball, shaking.
I can’t—I can’t do this. God, he hated this. He was trapped here—trapped in this body—trapped in his own mind. Was this what eternity was going to be? Locked here forever, just between being a boy and being a man, and never being either? Surrounded by voices that weren’t his own, and always alone because of it?
Was this all there was?
He didn’t know how long he lay there on the rough tar of the mill roof, hearing without listening to the distant whispers of the people below, his cheeks dry because he couldn’t cry, his brain full of voices because he couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t until he heard the sound of the clock tower on City Hall striking three that he roused himself from his stupor. It was with a shudder of disgust that he saw his trousers were still partway open, and he righted them, stricken with the sudden urge to bathe.
He made his way home, sticking to the rooftops so he wouldn’t have to see anyone—even if he could hear them—and was nearly back to his house when he heard it.
(Ohyes ohyes ohyesyesyes Esme)
He wheeled around and flew into the surrounding woods, ran like he had never run before, dodging trees, cutting through the air like a knife through butter, and he didn’t stop until the clamor of voices was far behind him, and all he could hear were the sounds of the woods and the beautiful, glorious silence between his ears.
I can’t do this.
That was it. He was done. He had tried—and he had failed.
And now it was time to leave.
“Edward—are you sure about this?” Esme asked. Her eyebrows were drawn tight, and Edward knew that, even though Carlisle had largely spared her the details of his discomfort with regards to their intimacy, she knew that they were somehow to blame.
He mustered up a smile. “Yes—I’m sure. I just—I need to get away for a while.”
“Let him be, Esme.” Carlisle’s voice was soft and kind, but his eyes were sad, and Edward didn’t want to look at him, didn’t want to hear the gentle understanding that radiated from him as it always did. “The fledgling must always leave the nest—and if this is what Edward wishes, then so be it.” His gaze turned on Edward, bright and fathomless, and he felt like a wayward child beneath it—but then he straightened and met Carlisle’s gaze head on.
“Yes—I do,” he said firmly, but then a lance of guilt stabbed him at the look on their faces, and he added, “but I will miss you. I just—I want to go out into the world. I’m sorry I—I can’t—I’m sorry,” he said, his words sounding foolish even to his own ears. “I wish that I could live with you, like this—but I can’t. It’s too noisy, too crowded—I just need to leave.”
“Yes—you must do what you feel is necessary, Edward—but know that we will miss you as well, and you will always have a place with us should you return,” said Carlisle.
And then Esme swept forward and pulled him into a fierce hug, and he returned it. “You take care of yourself, Edward—I mean it,” she added, and Edward didn’t doubt that she did. Then she pulled away, her face set and brave despite the helpless guilt he saw there, and she smiled at him, and Edward felt like a villain.
And then Carlisle stepped forward and enfolded him in an embrace of his own, and murmured, “I hope that you find what you are seeking, my son, and may God be with you.”
Edward squeezed his eyes shut and gave in to the urge to cling to him like a child. His resolve almost broke at the sound of Carlisle’s deep regret, of his sorrow that he was responsible for Edward’s plight in all ways, but then he forced himself to pull away. Not knowing what to say, Edward just smiled, and then hefted his knapsack onto his shoulder. “Well—I suppose this is it, then. I’ll write when I can,” he assured them, and they nodded and followed as he walked towards the door and out onto the street.
He turned back once; Carlisle and Esme were standing there in the doorway, framed by the light and warmth of the house, and Edward raised a hand in farewell. “Well—goodbye,” he called, and then he turned away.
He set off down the road, out and away, walking towards the world on the twilit western horizon.
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