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Never Hurt Me

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Summary: "What do you see when you look at me?" Prequel to Sticks and Stones.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Twilight > Buffy - Centered(Past Moderator)FaithUnbreakableFR1314,01311193,8982 May 092 May 09Yes
Disclaimer: Nothing's changes since the last time. Buffy and Twilight belong to Joss Whedon adn Stephenie Meyer. I make no money off this.

A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed Sticks and Stones. This is a sort of How It Came To Be for Buffy's fang problem. Unbetaed and my usual weird fare, I hope you still enjoy. Concrit as always. Except if it's only to tell me you hate Twilight. I don't particularly like it either, but the bunnies pay no mind to such trivialities.

Cookies for anyone who knows their nursery rhymes well enough to figure out the connection between this and the last ficlet and how it relates to the story.

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Never Hurt Me

+

“What do you see when you look at me?” she asks, her green eyes turned on him like glass.

He tugs gently on one of her off-blonde curls and sits next to her, not looking, not meeting her gaze. When he looks at her, he thinks, he sees a girl with a thousand years in her eyes. He sees a broken lover with a death wish. He sees a warrior that scares even him in her ferocity sometimes. He sees Buffy Anne Summers, vampire slayer, daughter, friend, lover, fighter. He sees a woman that never gives up and never gives in and never hesitates.

He sees a girl that will die before her time, brutally, painfully. He sees someone he trusts more than he should, a mortal that he already considers family, somehow. He sees a sister, sees her skin pale and white like Alice’s visions show it. He sees green eyes that will either turn dull with death or golden with hunger and he sees himself leaning over her, her blood on his tongue, his stain on her soul.

He sees things as they must be.

But not yet.

“I see something fragile,” he tells her.

+

The first time they meet he saves her from a horde of mindless demons that dare call themselves vampires. Leeches, all of them and too many for one to fight off. Even one such as her.

He saves her life.

She demands to know who he is. No, what he is, those are her words.

He smiles at her, showing dainty fangs and says, “A simple thank you would have sufficed.”

She glares at him, her arms crossed and her gaze brittle steel and says, “Thank you for what?”

“Saving your life,” he suggests, arrogant and cocky, all swagger and supernatural grace. Hoping to dazzle her or, failing that, scare her stiff.

She looks away, hands falling to her side, whispering into the wind, “Maybe I didn’t want saving.”

+

She follows him around. Finds him every night with an accuracy that borders on miraculous. How does she do it?

Rosalie yells at him for getting attached and Alice and Jasper look amused and knowing. The rest of the family watch silently.

She – calling herself Anne with her mouth and Buffy with her thoughts, neither of them quite true – keeps asking the same question. What are you. Why did you help me. Why do you care.

After five nights he has enough, pushing her into a wall with such ease it makes his teeth ache. She is so, so small. Like a bird, so delicate. But she doesn’t stay down. She never stays down. Her life runs through her head like a movie, falling, falling, always falling, under fists and words and expectations, and always, always getting back up.

He turns from her, refusing to look at her, to listen to her life in her head. He snarls, “Go home, Buffy Anne. Go home and be safe.”

She laughs then, laughs like Rose did after killing the men that raped her, laughs like Emmett did the first time he faced a bear, like Alice when someone calls her crazy. She laughs and tells him, “I can go home. But I’ll never be safe.”

And in her thoughts, a man with graying hair murmurs, “Slayers don’t live very long.” He says he’s sorry.

She’ll never be safe.

In many ways, she’s already dead.

+

She doesn’t want love from him. She doesn’t cling to some teenage notion of romantic love with a vampire. She had that already, had it and lost everything. She killed her lover and lost her life in the process.

She never says it, but he knows.

So it’s not love she wants.

Acceptance maybe, but the way she snaps and growls speaks a different language. In the end, he guesses, it all comes down to her being seventeen and lost and not knowing what she wants anymore. Once upon a time, she tells him once, in the dead of night, like a fairy tale, she wanted to be normal. To have a husband and kids and a dog and to live.

And then life happened and now she’s not sure about anything anymore. That’s Edward’s interpretation anyway.

She has been around for almost two months on the day she quietly asks what he sees when he looks at her and after he gives his answer she is silent for a long time. It’s unusual for her, who fills the air with chattering even when there’s nothing left inside of her but shambles and spaces.

She’s silent and still like him, almost, a predator in slow motion, a bug in amber.

Then she whispers, “I don’t want to be fragile.”

What she means is: I don’t want to break.

Too late, he thinks, too late.

+

He knows he is in trouble when he comes home to the sound of giggles coming from Alice’s room and Rose’s angrydefensiverefusingtogivein thoughts.

Four girls, three cold, one not, sit in the middle of the orgy sized bed, surrounded by fashion magazines, chattering happily. Esme is carding a hand through the human’s blonde hair, Alice is babbling away like a brook in spring and Rosalie sits leaning against the headboard, trying to hold on to her dislike for the mortal girl disrupting their routine, and failing.

Failing because Rosalie was beaten and bloodied once and it made her hard, made her cold in more ways than one. And here a girl is who looks nothing like her and is nothing like her but bleeds the same and has glass and brittle steel in her eyes. The twisted remains of Rosalie’s maternal instincts rear their head and then it’s done.

The Cullens, bitch queen included, are hopelessly in love with a fading, fragile, stubborn human who wants to die a bit and live even more, who never gives up and never gives in and should burn them with the bright heat of her humanity.

Buffy looks up at him and rolls her eyes and he smiles back and basks in the temporary calm of her thoughts, letting them carry him away to better memories of a childhood spent without monsters.

She closes her eyes and remembers for him.

+

She refuses to stop slaying the leeches that haunt the streets, refuses to stay home and be safe and so he’s forced to spend half his nights trailing her through dank alleyways, always scared, always afraid that the next set of claws, the next pair of fangs will be too much and she will succumb, will break and bleed and not get up again.

And every night, at the end of her rounds he watches in awe as she wipes blood from a split lip, a small cut, and grimaces but keeps moving. She is mortal and thus fragile but also more and that makes her strong.

The dichotomy of her, the contradiction of vulnerable teenage girl and seasoned warrior makes his head spin, twist his thoughts into knots and makes him wonder at many things.

His instincts yell at him to fight her or run from her, his heart tells him to shelter and protect her and his head is only aware that she is turning his entire existence upside down and inside out.

She’s ruining him.

Ruining everything he is because he wants to kill her and hold her and make her his sister and never lose her but never touch her.

He can’t decide what to do with her.

+

Alice starts looking at him strangely as his split second changes of mind blind her sight and she catches only fragments of all possible futures. But she never asks him what’s going on and he never comments on the fact that every single one of her visions ends with a dead girl.

The only difference is that in some, she doesn’t stay that way.

+

Friday night is happy couple time in the Cullen household and usually the time when he hides himself in his room, playing Debussy and pretending he doesn’t feel a stab of loneliness and resentment toward all his family.

At least until Buffy shows up one night, armed with Chinese take out for herself and a bottle of tomato sauce for him. It’s a joke that has Emmett rolling on the floor, roaring.

Edward lets himself be steered into the living room and planted on the sofa and they spend all night watching horribly inaccurate vampire movies that leave him shaking his head and wondering just who comes up with this stuff.

His arm is wrapped around her shoulders and her face buried against his neck and she’s as hot to him as he is cold to her but it doesn’t matter. She’s not scared and he’s not tempted and they just sit there and he’s not alone.

+

He doesn’t love her.

Not in the way Esme hopes he does. Not in the way Rosalie sometimes suspects. He is no more capable of that than Buffy herself is.

But he cares for her in ways he doesn’t understand. It worries him when she gets hurt and it angers him when he is the reason for her pain. He tucks her in at night and when she doesn’t look, he tries to lighten her burden by threatening her boss with physical harm should he ever try to touch her again.

And he craves her.

He craves what he found in her head the first time they met. Not wonder, not fear, but quiet, flat acceptance. She doesn’t ask, doesn’t wonder and he’s aware that that’s a consequence of the depression she is suffering but it’s amazing, so very amazing, to be accepted, completely and without conditions.

The word for him in her head is not freak, not telepath, not vampire or monster or immortal or creature. Not son or friend or brother, because those come with expectations, too.

In her head, he’s simply Edward.

+

That first night she said she doesn’t want to be saved and as time goes on he thinks he understands what she means, but not really.

On an intellectual level maybe, yes, but not in reality. He is marble and eternity, unbreakable, untouchable, invulnerable. And while he keeps pointing out her fragility, while he watches her like a hawk for signs of weakness and pain, he fails to understand just what she means when she says she doesn’t want saving.

Until the night he sees.

She’s fighting again and he’s lurking again on the nearest rooftop, watching her like some demented guardian angel. Emmett and Jasper tease him for it, but they never try to make him stop and Carlisle’s eyes are full of something he doesn’t want to interpret every time he sneaks off to watch over his human sister.

She’s fighting and there’s a knife coming for her stomach. It’s not very fast, not coming at a bad angle. Just a knife. A simple knife. She could avoid it, block it, disarm her opponent. Easily. So easily. She’s a good fighter, better than Jasper even.

This knife is no danger to her.

But she just stands there, watching as it describes an arch in the dull light, watches it glitter and shine, watches it descend and bury itself deep in her gut. Watches it kill her. She moves, yes, but too late, too slow, too half heartedly and Edward understands, as his dead heart stops and dies, that she does not want to be saved.

+

But he’s selfish and greedy and lonely and he can’t watch her die. He can’t. Dull green eyes flash through his head, the memory of a vision of doom and death and he thought it would be better to die a mortal death than to become like him but that’s not true.

It’s not true.

So he jumps and lands and kills everything that moves and then he snatches her up like she weighs nothing more than a feather and carries her home to Carlisle, who will fix her.

“Stupid, stupid, mortal, human girl,” he whispers in her ear, fondly and full of fear.

She smiles weakly, wrapping an arm around his neck.

He goes on, “You don’t get to let anybody kill you, understand? I forbid it.”

She chuckles, winces, holds her stomach, jars the knife, hisses in pain. He shakes her a bit, unable to be gentle when he needs to get his point across.

“Understand?” he snarls and it’s needy and greedy and bitter and full of something dark and horrible. Possessiveness. Rage. Fear. Hunger. For her. For her to live.

She rolls her eyes in a show of defiance and mutters, “Sheesh, yes. On one condition.”

And then she speaks again, twists the knife in her gut deeply into his flesh and fills the wound with a claim as greedy and desperate as his own, “If no-one else gets to kill me, you’ll have to do it.”

She’s not asking him to change her. She is not asking him to save her, no, she would never do that. She is asking him to kill her. If she has to live then he has to be the one that ends it.

She accepts that he sometimes wants to kill someone, wants to rend flesh and break bone, that human life means little to him and that sometimes the bitterness turns to spite and ugly words. And he in turn accepts that she’s a bit crazy and a bit suicidal, that she hates most of his kind and thrives on violence.

There is an edge to what they mean to each other, a brittle, hard side, something that tastes like stale blood and rotting flowers. Something they hide from the rest of the world but not from each other because he can see inside her head and somehow she sees inside his still chest.

He knows she wants to die and she knows he can’t stand to be without her. In a way, he guesses, they deserve each other.

He looks away, head turned to the side, and nods. She relaxes.

Right then, he hates her.

+

Carlisle sits at her bedside and holds her hand after stitching her back together and Jasper looms in the shadows, sending calm and peace in her direction. Neither of the men acknowledges the third, standing in the doorway, lingering, half in half out, glaring at the sleeping girl in the too big bed.

Tonight, she lives.

Tomorrow she’ll be healed. And on another tomorrow she will come and bare her throat to him, expecting him to kill her and he knows that he will do it. He promised. Just like she did.

Carlisle turns half in his seat, thinking, Are you alright, son?

Edward has never been so glad that he is the only one that can read thoughts. He nods, refusing to meet his father’s eyes. Refusing to lie verbally. Then Jasper moves, steps out of his corner and wraps arms like chains around his brother, holding him close.

Alice had a vision. It made her sad.

He does not hug the blond back, batting away the peace that is offered him.

She says you both need to stop being so stubborn, then it will all turn out alright.

Stubborn. Yes, they are that. Girl who wants to die and boy who wants to live, each having what the other wants, each abhorring their gift and yearning for the other’s. Lady Fate sure loves her irony.

“She will die,” he says and buries his head in Jasper’s shoulder.

“Not today, son,” Carlisle offers as a small consolation.

“I promised I’d be the one to do it.”

“Change her?” There is a certain anticipation in the voice. Happiness. The lonely son, finally happy. A mate for him at last. A new child, a new friend. How he wishes things were that simple.

“Kill her.”

Then he walks away from their words and thoughts and comforts, walks away from a small girl in a big bed and wonders why he cares.

Hours later Rose finds him on the roof and sits next to him, pulling his head into her lap, stroking his hair. Out of all is family, she is perhaps the only one that truly comprehends what it is they lose.

She hums the lullaby she invented for the son she will never have and he closes his eyes until the sun comes up.

+

“No fair!” she screeches as Emmett lifts her up with both hands, balancing her above his head like a missile he plans to launch. She is still screaming for him to stop, screaming with laughter, when he throws her at Jasper who catches her and sets her on her feet after spinning her around for a bit.

She smacks him on the arm and flees, hiding behind the girls, still out of breath from trying to race a group of vampires, but glowing.

Glowing, glowing brightly.

Esme immediately takes the poor mortal under her protective wing, glaring at her sons in mock indignation while the rest of the family watch and enjoy the carefree afternoon in the woods.

Rosalie wanted to get out for the weekend and Alice said Canada should do. They didn’t give Buffy a choice, simply dragging her along. She didn’t protest too much and in the car, she snuggled between Emmett and Edward, sleeping quietly.

Now, after the boys apologize and Esme is appeased, she frees herself of the protective arm and, like the moon to his earth, gravitates back to where she started from, Edward’s side.

His arm rises automatically to admit her slim frame and she nuzzles briefly into his shoulder before cuddling up to him. She looks at home there, next to him.

He presses a kiss to her temple and startles as she thinks, Thank you.

He’s not sure what she is thanking him for but she repeats the sentiment and he knows that it is somehow important. He nods and then slips his free arm under her knees, lifting her up and calling for Emmett to catch.

+

When it’s time for her to return to her mortal life – just for a while, he tells himself, just for a while and he still has his promise to keep just like she hers. He will be there to see her die at least – everyone is sad.

The girls’ faces are scrunched up, crying tears that can never fall and Emmett and Jasper look solemn, like their favorite toy is being taken from them. Carlisle looks on with the sad serenity of one who has seen it all too many times and Edward somehow can’t let go of her.

He tries, but his arms refuse to cooperate and he just keeps holding her. She has to go back, they all know that. The fate of the world rests on her small shoulders. She has to. But that doesn’t stop a kidnapping plan from forming in Jasper’s mind, doesn’t stop Emmett and Rose asking why they can’t just go with her, doesn’t make things alright.

The only thing holding them all back at this point is Alice with her wise woman’s eyes, telling them to be patient. And then Edward releases his little human sister for the second to last time – she will die in his arms, after all – and watches her board the plane.

If his soul was not hell bound before it is now for wishing she will die soon, just so he can have her back.

+

In the end she lives for almost another year.

A year of nothing but phone calls and the occasional post card. A year of not having her around and the house seems silent without her, a bit empty. Edward curses her sometimes, for being so important. She’s only one girl, damn her, she should not matter so much.

But she does.

She calls him at the end of that year, he voice weak, fading in and out. Aspect of the Demon, she says. She can read minds. “Like you,” she says, “I never gave you enough credit for staying sane with everyone inside your head.”

She chuckles but the sound is weak. The voices, she says, are killing her. Her brain is imploding, or some such thing. They tried some sort of weird potion cure and it worked, for a while. Then the voices came back. There’s nothing left now but to wait and please, can he come.

“You promised.”

He did.

+

Emmett has her leech lover pinned against the wall like a butterfly and Jasper looms in the corner, keeping an eye on her watcher and mother. Carlisle sits at her bedside, holding her hand, whispering to her.

Edward stands at the foot end of her bed and understands just what it is he promised to do. Alice’s visions rush through his head, so many, so different and all the same. A dead girl. Unavoidable, inescapable. Some things are absolute in this universe.

He never felt so brittle, never understood just why Rose sometimes rages against what they are, never knew until he sees her lie in this bed, so much like the other she lay in a year before with a hole in her gut and his promise still churning freshly in his stomach.

Her eyes are glass again, but this time he can do something. This time he can make the pain stop.

He can save her.

She never asked him to change her. Never told him that she would like to be like him. She never asked the others either. She has always been hollow eyes and wide smiles, refusing to be saved and waiting to die.

The end of pain.

But there was a will to live, too, wasn’t there? A wish for better things?

There was a hunger that always chilled him because it was dark and aching and sweet.

He can save her.

He can make the pain stop.

+

She is weak, her mind unable to comprehend all that she hears. But she picks his voice out of the mess like it is the only light in a dark world.

He agonized over whether to turn her or let her die, over which way to kill her, for so long. He never realized that it is not his choice in the first place.

Do you want to live? he asks.

She drops Carlisle’s hands and looks at her mother, at her watcher and her lover. Then her eyes meet his, fever bright and clear, clearer than he has ever seen them.

She nods.

+

He makes the pain stop.

+

“What do you see when you look at me?” she demands, voice like a bell, dirty orange eyes on his across the smooth surface of the piano she is lying on. Her looks down at his fingers dancing over the keys and then back up at her.

A girl with a thousand years in her eyes , a friend, a confidante, a warrior, a killer, a savior, a lost soul, marble and ice, cold and fire, indestructible and pale. A woman who never gives up and never gives in and never hesitates, a child not yet sure of herself and her place in the world, learning a new kind of pain now and a new kind of healing.

He sees a girl that died before her time, brutally, painfully. He sees the one he trusts most in the world. He sees family. He sees a sister, sees her skin pale and white like Alice’s visions showed it. He sees eyes that are slowly turning from red to gold with hunger and he sees himself leaning over her in that old bed, that girlish room, her blood on his tongue, his stain on her soul.

He sees things as they must be, for better or for worse.

“I see forever,” he says and resumes playing.

+

The End

The End

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