Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer, Buffy to Joss Whedon. I make no money off this.
A/N: I lay the blame for this solely at the feet of the Twilight soundtrack. Let Me Sign
in particular. Also, first time doin' Twilight. Have fun and Happy Easter.
+Sticks and Stones
If she spreads her arms wide and holds still, very still, she can almost imagine being blown away. Blown away on the wind and the sea spray, swept away by the rain beating against skin that is too white, too hard.
Her hair whips around her face, dark and harsh, forbidding. She has almost gotten used to the color, her natural one, hidden for years and years. The dress she wears matched her dark hair once upon a time. Deep forest green, picked to make her look older than her eternal seventeen. Now it’s wet, sticking to her skin in places, dark and discolored by sea water.
She can’t remember where she left her shoes. Not that it matters. Her feet are like marble, hard and cold. Invulnerable. She climbed the cliff barefoot, remembering all the time what pain felt like. Paper cuts. Split lips from fighting, broken bones. Pain, she used to say, is proof that you’re still alive.
She doesn’t get hurt anymore.
But then she’s not alive anymore either, is she?
So she stands at the edge of the highest cliff she could find, mourning the fact that she’s not allowed on the reservation. There are higher ones there. She’s standing with her eyes closed and her arms spread, her ruined dress and hair crawling around her like living things, water beating at her skin, wind tearing at her. The elements are trying to eat her alive, to rip her apart. She barely notices. Oh, she feels them, how she feels them every single drop of water, but they can’t harm her.
Nothing can harm her anymore.
Dead men know no pain.
And dead girls no know injury.
She never thought she’d miss getting beaten up.
Or getting cold. How long has she been standing here, unmoving, unmoved? A statue for how long? Hours or days or seconds? There is no telling. Her muscles don’t cramp, her skin doesn’t grow cold, her arms don’t tire.
So she throws back her head, opens her mouth and screams. She screams a scream that has animals scattering, sends humans into their homes, sets predators on edge. Over in La Push the wolves are stirring and she can feel their unrest. And louder still. Louder, louder, louder. Maybe, if she screams long enough and loud enough, her voice will give out. Maybe there is some imperfection to be had after all in this perfect prison made of a perfect, eternal body.
But the air in her lungs runs out before her voice does and she slumps, defeated. Of course. Of course, of course, of course. Air. Lungs. Breathing. She forgets. Forgets so much. She used to breathe all the time and now, suddenly, it doesn’t happen anymore unless she wants it to. Angel said once that it’s a reflex that stays with you even after death. Angel was wrong.
But then Angel also wasn’t made of marble, wasn’t hard as rock. He could read no thoughts and crush no trees. A baby, a lamb compared to her. Nothing. He used to treat her like a fragile, precious thing. She wonders what he would think now.
And then she takes a step, tips her weight forward and falls without preamble, arms still spread, eyes still closed, falls like she expects to fly and she half does.
She hits the water with her unbreakable feet first, shoots through it like no man made missile ever could, touches ground. She has no air to pull her upwards and so stays where she is, at the bottom of the ocean. She lowers her arms, looks around her into this strange, graceful world. A world never meant to be seen by human eyes.
And again, not human. Not mortal. Not fragile. Not limited.
And hour might pass, or an age, before she gets bored of the blackish blue of this world and makes for the surface. A second to reach it, half a minute to get to shore. She walks out of the water like Venus did, untouched by the foam and waves. She imagines, with some satisfaction, that she must look like the walking dead, all tangled and dripping, ruined clothes and hair, barefoot, freezing corpse.
Edward waits for her at the shore, standing in shirt and jeans that are not nearly enough for the storm they are standing in. His hands are buried in his pockets as he watches her approach and he grimaces as her sees the state she’s in.
“Went for a swim?” he asks. Lightly.
She draws up the memory of a silent world that moved around her, uncaring of how different she is, how strange and cold. Down there, everything is cold. He cocks his head to one side, watching her memory with her, trying to understand it. He doesn’t.
Before he died, Edward was human. He lived a normal life, slow and simple. He knew no broken bones, no glorious split lips and fiery rages. He didn’t understand pain. He lost nothing in dying.
She didn’t think she would either.
He catches that thought, too, returns it with one of equal value. Her, lying in bed, covered in sweat, dying of the Aspect of the Demon that refused to let her go, that ate her brain, set her synapses on fire. He didn’t want to kill her. But he couldn’t stand to let her die. Not her.
He loves her.
Loved her human and loves her vampire.
He shared his hated curse with her because she always wanted to see Paris and he refused to let her die before she did. Because he loves her. They all do.
Love her enough to make her one of them but not enough to make watching her change unbearable. Just enough. Enough to make them want to keep her forever.
She loves them too, she does. Most days. But sometimes she goes a bit crazy and there’s no-one to rend to pieces, no-one to hit and break and kill and then she goes and tries to hit and break herself instead.
They don’t like it but they let her. What choice do they have? Young as she is, she could take them all. And unlike them, she has training. A killer long before she was killed herself.
Edward flinches at her thought and she apologizes wordlessly, sending him her love. He nods. He doesn’t understand but he nods.Want to go home?Home?
she asks, vaguely.
His gaze turns worried as he finally steps forward and wraps a cold, wet arm around her shoulder, pulling her into his stone chest, so still, so empty. She goes, burying her face in his shirt, unbreathing. There is nothing human at all about them anymore.
Looking at them, you couldn’t tell there ever was. And she knows then, in these moments in between getting lost and being found again, why he thinks himself a monster. What else could they be, so inhuman, so far beyond comprehension?
But he changed her and that changed something in him. His definition of monsters is slipping, sliding sideways. She did this. She messed up his world because she was mortal and he was monster but he loved her and saved her and now she’s not mortal anymore.
Less. More. Monster, savior, horrornightmarefairytale. It all blurs.
“You need a hot shower.” Out loud now. To remind himself and her that they have words, too, have voices.
“No, I don’t.” What good will a shower do? There is nothing that can warm her now.
“Yes, you do,” he corrects in his best authoritative voice. It doesn’t work. He may be her maker but he is not her father. Carlisle fills that role and he can be her overbearing older brother. Actually, she remembers, Esme mentioned setting them up as twins here, in Forks.
She has a twin. A hot shower and a movie and a good…
she can hear him grimace inside his head, cuddle.
Weakly she smiles and smacks him in the chest. He likes cuddling. More than any of the others, except maybe Alice. He just doesn’t like to admit it. Give it up, Cullen,
she thinks, The others may believe the tough guy act, but I can read your mind.I know.
Resignation and amusement and… happiness. Another freak among freaks. The seer, the empath and the telepathic twins. Oh, they should join a circus.
He snorts and she takes a step back, looking at the waves and the beach and the iron sky overhead. “Sorry for chasing you out here.”
She shakes her head, sheepishly. “No, it’s not. I’m being childish again. Sorry.”
He growls, rolls his eyes and decisively tucks her back under his arm. His chin resting on her head he says, “We all lost it for a while. Emmett still does, if you’ve noticed. Every time he sees a bear.”
“Well, he was killed by one.”And you were killed by me.
“No,” she snarls, stepping back again, meeting his golden gaze this time, glaring. “No.” You didn’t kill me. You saved me. I was living on borrowed time and my brain was turning into slush and you
“But you hate what you are.” Back to calling himself a monster, is he?
She shakes her head wildly, smacking them both with wet bangs. “No, I don’t. I’m just…” I don’t hate it, okay? I don’t hate you and I don’t hate myself.
“It’s just hard sometimes.”
Because she’s so used to touching and feeling and bleeding and acting and now she’s timeless, ageless, homeless, walking the world but not part of it, strangely apart and that takes some getting used to. She’s fairly sure she’ll be alright, is mostly alright already. If they can just be patient a little longer she’ll sort out her head and find her place in this new world and stop jumping off cliffs just to see if she will fall.
Edward listens to her, listens to her stream of consciousness, her conclusions and resolutions and he nods, satisfied. She won’t go crazy today.
“Hungry?” he asks, knowing full well that she only went out with Emmett and Rose the night before.
Still she nods. She can hunt deer, can rip and tear it. She can break it instead of herself. It lacks the thrill of danger, of fighting, but hunting something helpless has its own appeal to this new her.
He picks her agreement out of her head and takes her hand already moving for his as their eyes close and he pushes his power at her as she pushes outward, crossing miles and miles and sending a thought directly into Alice’s mind. A new trick, one they have been working on for months. They have never tried to cross such a distance but feel Alice jump and cheer as she feels them, thinks a question mark at them.Going hunting
, Edward sends and then they pull back into their own bodies, their own heads, grinning widely at each other.
He tugs at her hand still in his, turns toward the tree line and asks, “Ready?”
She nods and before the motion is finished he’s pulling her forward, into the woods, over rocks and fallen trees, through foliage too high for humans to reach, to ever touch. There! A scent to the West and they both turn in silent unison, running faster.Race you!
Edward demands as he drops her hand and shoots forward. She lets him get a head start before pushing and easily over taking him.
The wind turns and their prey suddenly takes off in mad jumps and leaps. She could give chase, but her would-be dinner is heading for Quileute land and she can’t go there. So she stops, hands on hips in mock indignation. Edward halts next to her, chuckling at her put upon expression.
“Don’t cry,” he tells her, never mind that they can’t and she glares at him, pouting.
“That was my dinner, you brat.”
He rolls his eyes and takes a step closer, looking down at her with golden eyes bright as the sun. He raises a hand to tuck a loose bang behind her ear and then pulls a face. Water and a race through the woods have left God knows what in her long hair. He makes a show of wiping his hand on his equally dirty jeans.
“You look like hell,” he supplies glibly and she launches herself at him with a growl and a giggle and then the fight is on.
They battle between the trees, breaking rocks and wood, leaving craters and kindling in their wake, wet and dirty and cold and happy. They pick each other’s intent up before the move is made, evade and attack, a perfect ballet of brutal precision.
“Edward,” she finally demands as she sits on top of him, legs straddling his chest, knees on his upper arms to hold him still.
He acknowledges her by stopping his struggle, just lying there, his eyes on hers.Does it ever stop?
He pauses for a moment, cocking his head to one side in contemplation. Then, before she can pick the action from his mind, he bucks and rolls to one side, shaking her off. She has no proper hold on him – sloppy – and loses the tussle, their positions suddenly reversed. He grins in triumph and smoothly stands, offering her a hand up.
“Alice is going to kill you for what you did to your dress,” he says and pulls her to her feet.
This story now has a prequel. Check it out.