A Debt Owed
"Just give it up, Alice," Rosalie said, rolling her eyes and turning away. She strode over to the coffee table, snatching up her purse and unzipping it. She pulled out her headset phone, tucking it into her ear and turning back to her sister. "He hasn't quit sulking at home in all this time, why would he stop now?"
"But he hasn't hunted in a month!" Alice exclaimed. She threw her hands up in frustration.
"Edward is a big boy, he'll eat when he's hungry," Rose answered with a shrug. "I want to go out tonight, so either come on, or I'll go without you." Pulling a compact out of her purse, she flipped it open and studied her reflection for a moment, reaching up to put a stray lock of hair back into place.
The shorter woman sighed. "Maybe Emmett and Jasper can convince him…"
"I'm sitting right here, you know," Edward broke in. Both women spun to him, eyebrows raised in surprise. Ignoring them both, he reached for the remote control that sat on the mahogany coffee table in front of him, turning the TV on. The widescreen television took up most of the wall of the living room, with a stand beneath it that was covered with wireless controls and keyboards for various gaming consoles and computers collected over the years.
Edward's four siblings had bought a house on the outskirts of Hanover when they'd decided to attend Dartmouth this fall, a brick-covered bungalow with two floors and a full basement that Esme had been delighted to finish for them. The agreement was that Jasper and Alice shared the basement, Rosalie and Emmett the upper level, and the main floor was shared space between them. It was smaller than the houses they usually lived in, but with only the four of them in it, there was more than enough room for them all. In their mother's usual taste, the living room was classically designed, with a full set – couch, love seat, and chair – in a rich chocolate color and a beige-and-brown checkerboard rug on the hardwood floors. With the television taking up one wall and a portrait window beside the door, Esme had decided to simply add scroll work along the top of the cream colored walls, giving the room an aged feeling.
"Then tell Alice to lay off so we can get going," Rosalie snapped, stepping between Edward and the TV. She set her hands on her hips. "We all know you aren't going with us."
Edward set the remote down, staring up at her. He could care less if she blocked his view of – he glanced around her for a moment – the History Channel, but the attitude was beginning to wear on him. "What if I am?" he challenged, and her lips curled into a smirk.
"Then come on," she said, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder and going to the door. She opened it, holding it for him. "After you."
"Yay!" Alice exclaimed a moment before Edward rose to his feet. He grabbed his coat off the couch and pulled it on.
They took Rosalie's brand new Mustang, a cherry red convertible, out of town, parking it at one of the many rest stops that allowed parking and access to the trails outside the Hanover area itself. The lights on the Mustang flashed, and the three of them sped off at full speed. Edward took a deep breath, taking in the smells around him. He quickly dismissed the familiar scents of his sisters, but there was something deeper, richer than them in the air, and he angled toward it automatically. Alice and Rosalie branched away, Alice giving him a satisfied smile and thinking, I'm glad you're opening up to us.
He wasn't, really. As he took down the moose, draining it quickly, he wondered if Alice would ever understand where he was coming from. He hunted because he needed to if he was going to continue to exist. He came over to their house once a week, playing video games and chess and watching TV, because it made them happy. There was a debt owed to each of them; they had put their new lives on hold to come to Dartmouth with him, to support him in his attempt to make something out of the ashes of his existence, something he was doing only because he knew it made Renesmee happy.
If he had his way, he would spend all his time in his memories of Bella. Nothing more.
Dropping the moose, he began to dig a grave for it, using his bare hands to carve out a space of earth to hide the remains. Many people took nature walks, even at this time of year, and it forced his family to hide any signs of their hunting. Twilight was approaching, and Edward stood back to regard his handiwork, deciding that no one would see any sign of it, even in the full light of day. He was not fully satisfied, but the large animal had been enough to get him by, and he slowly made his way back to Rosalie's car. Briefly, he listened in to the thoughts of the others, and he could tell they would be a little while longer; he settled himself onto the ground by her car, leaning back on one of the wheels.
For a change, he did not lose himself in thoughts of his lost wife. Instead, he recalled the years between, marveling at the achievements of them all. Bella, rest her soul, had been a catalyst for them all. They had stayed together for the first decade, moving up to a secluded part of Alaska not too far from Denali while his daughter matured far faster than they could hide from any nearby humans. Her lack of a mother never seemed to phase her; why would it? With her father, two aunts, two uncles, and a pair of doting grandparents – not to mention the 'big brother' she had in Jacob, who remained with them steadfast in his devotion for his imprint – there was never want for time, energy, or love. Rosalie had stepped into the most motherly role of them all, and while she would never say it aloud, she was incredibly thankful Edward had allowed her to do so.
Once Renesmee had reached her full maturity, looking 17 though acting much older, the family had moved to London and begun the next era of their existence. The loss of Bella had seemed to remind the couples how important they were to each other, and they agreed on a rotating schedule that would allow the majority of the family to be near Renesmee while still having individual vacations. Alice and Jasper first, then Rosalie and Emmet had gone off on 5 year trips, returning to visit often but living entirely separate from the family.
Alice had begun a career for herself as a fashion designer, submitting sketches to a popular magazine's contest. When she won, which she knew she would, she was offered a contract to work in New York. The couple had moved there, and Jasper quickly situation himself as a history teacher, continuing to build his control by surrounding himself with students daily. Jasper had found a teaching job at a small private school when they had returned to the family, and Alice worked remotely for a few years, flying back to the states from time to time to see her work on display.
Rosalie and Emmett had not gone so far during their 5 year break, Rose hesitant to be so far from Renesmee. Only a day's drive away, at their speeds, the couple had opened their own garage and surrounded themselves with expensive cars to tinker, repair, and improve. It was, perhaps, the happiest Edward had ever seen her standoffish sister, especially when she lay side by side with Renesmee under a car, teaching the young woman her way around an engine.
Edward sighed, staring at the clouds overhead. They had all given up so much to return to school with him. Like everything in his life, it had been an entirely selfish move, forcing them all to drop everything for his own ridiculous whim. Perhaps he should drop out, allow them all their own-
Alice appeared over him, staring down with a dissatisfied expression. "Jasper is hoping he can use this experience to start teaching at a college level, and there are a lot of opportunities here for all of us. Don't you dare run off on us."
Rosalie snorted behind her, striding past. The car's lights flashed and Edward heard the locks open with a dull thud. "What a coward," she commented. "Runs away the minute anything gets difficult. Whatdid Carlisle see in you?"
"Rose…" Alice said in a warning tone. Edward heard her door open, and she slipped into the car without comment. Offering Edward a hand, Alice pulled him to his feet and shook her head at him.
Bear with us a while longer, Edward, please, she begged silently, her rich golden eyes full of emotions Edward would rather not catalogue. He caught a flash of an image in her mind, him seated behind a piano, before deflecting her mind toward their hunt. Pulling open his door, he blocked out her thoughts again, not caring about the deer she had just taken down. He had known for a while she was hiding something from him, but there was nothing she could throw his way that would matter, not really.
"So, come out with us tonight?" Alice asked him as she settled into the car. "I have the best outfit you could wear, Edward - one of my own designs!"
"I don't think so," he told her, staring out the window as the car began to move.
Alice pouted. "You could at least pretend to consider it," she admonished. "I know Em and Jazz would love it if you came."
Edward sighed, turning to look at his sister with one eyebrow raised. When she merely stared back, her expression bland, he said, "I am not really the karaoke type, Alice, but thank you. I am sure my brothers will understand."
"They always try to understand you. Perhaps you should give it a try the other way sometime," Rosalie said. Edward turned to her, knowing fully that he deserved every bit of disdain she handed him. While she had been forgiving at first, she had grown tired of the depression he fell into after Bella's death. He would be upset with her if he did not know that it came from her hopes that antagonism might finally spur him into action. "If you let yourself have a little fun sometimes, maybe you would be a little easier to be around."
She had never lost Emmett, never even come close, he counseled himself as his anger flared briefly. He wanted to snap at her, to illuminate her to exactly how much he wished it were that easy. If she had any idea what it was like to lose a mate, she might understand. Only he knew this pain he carried.
"If you let yourself be less of a bitch sometimes, maybe you would be a little easier to be around," he told her, turning to stare back out the window. Rosalie's reflection in the window smirked back at him.
"There's the brother I like to see."