We Need You
Edward sat at the wooden mini-upright piano, his eyes closed and his mind 20 years and a thousand miles away. The plain room around him had faded away, leaving only the wooden bench beneath him and the ivory keys his fingers danced over. Instead, he was in the back yard of his home in Forks, Bella in his arms as they danced effortlessly. He could almost feel the warmth of her, could almost get lost eternally in the depths of her brown eyes, could almost hear her voice singing to him as they danced. She wore her wedding dress, and he his tux, but the guests were nowhere to be found; instead, it was just the two of them and the sounds of the twilight around them as she settled her head on his shoulder, a tiny sigh escaping her lips.
He pressed a kiss onto the top of her head, burying himself in her hair, breathing a scent that was intoxicating to him even as the faint memory it had become. He allowed the song to shift as Bella's angelic singing ended, and he pulled her closer to him. Softly, he whispered all the things he longed to say to her, how much he loved her, how much he missed her, how much he never wanted to be without her… They floated around the yard together without a care in the world for anything but each other, Edward allowing himself to exist in the softness of her breathing and the quiet beating of her heart.
Amazing; she's almost as bad as Edward.
The stray thought tore him from his reverie, and though he tried to tighten his grasp around Bella, she evaporated like smoke on the wind. A growl ripped its way out of his throat as he pried his eyes open, his hands crashing down on the piano keys and letting out a dissonant chord. This was his room, his escape. He had promised his family that he would attend school, and he did, but he had found these rehearsal rooms open for all the first week here, and he made a point of visiting daily in the breaks between his classes. Here, unlike his apartment, he could play as long and as loud as he pleased, pressing out the din of the world around him for sweet moments in Bella's embrace.
An unnecessary knock sounded at the door, and Edward gave another soft growl.
"Please, Edward, tone it down a little," Jasper muttered from the other side of the door, trying the knob gently and finding it locked. A gentle wash of calm came over Edward as he rose to his feet, and he shook his head.
"Knock it off," he grumbled as he crossed the room slowly, flipping the lock and opening the door. Jasper gave him an abashed look, but his thoughts held no guilt.
Without saying anything, Jasper nodded down the hall. Edward picked up his bag and turned the lights off, falling into step beside his brother. They left the building, making a show of shivering as they stepped into the cold air outside and passing a group of students that passed them on the stairs.
Edward waited impatiently for Jasper to speak, sifting through the man's thoughts to try to glean any purpose he might have for interrupting him so rudely. Unfortunately, Jasper was meticulously going over the classes he'd attended that day, and Edward retreated back into his own mind quickly; he had little interest in the rudimentary teaching concepts and psychology Jasper was studying for his latest degree.
"Carlisle called," Jasper said finally as they paused at a corner. A car drove by, and they started to walk again. "He said he tried to call you, but you didn't answer?"
Edward shrugged. "Forgot it at home," he explained, slipping his hands into the pockets of his black slacks. Phones were distractions he could easily do without.
"Bullshit." Leading them into a parking garage, Jasper pulled an activator out of his pocket and tossed it into the air idly, catching it. He did this a few more times, and though he tried to keep Edward blocked, the mind-reader caught the frustrated tone and snippets of the conversation his brother wanted to have as Jasper searched for the best way to continue.
"Edward, when I agreed to come back to school, it was because I felt it was truly the best move for our family," he began, and Edward smirked at him.
"It was because Alice asked you to," he commented, and Jasper had the grace to nod, accepting the point.
"That too," he agreed. "But I was hoping I could finally fix our unit. Ali and I, we are finally starting lives we really enjoy. No more high school. College when we want to, not because we need to. If we are going to continue on that path, we need everyone to be in top form to avoid any suspicion."
Edward nodded, glancing up at the lights to Jasper's Porsche flashed. He stepped around to the passenger side, taking the front seat after seeing in Jasper's mind that Alice wouldn't be joining them. Once they had settled into the seats, Jasper turned to him rather than starting the car.
"You know as well as I that one misstep in a career can end it permanently. This isn't school where we just pick up and move and start over again; people will recognize Alice's style even if she changes her name. She would have to give it up. I don't want that to happen."
Edward stared silently back at him, allowing him to say his piece. Jasper sighed. "We need you. You know we do. Ali can only watch the future so much, so well. I appreciate your need to…be elsewhere, Edward. It's obvious how much it anchors you. But please, fill your role too. I can help ease your pain; that's why I enrolled. Just – pay attention to the world around you. We need a good scout to warn us when danger is over the hill."
He brought the car to life then, and the engine began to purr softly. Edward struggled with a flare of irritation, turning away to hide his reaction even though he knew Jasper would feel it in him. The beast in him wanted to roar back, to curse him for his selfishness; of course it would be about him, with no regard for Edward's perpetual damnation. He realized, however, that Jasper had every right to look out for his own welfare and that of his mate.
There was also the little detail of Jasper being right. Before Bella, Edward had always been their first line of defense to tell when people were beginning to wonder about their family more than was safe. Alice could only see the outcome of choices; Edward could alert them before any choices were made.
Jasper pulled the car smoothly out of the parking garage and onto the street before allowing the auto-nav to take control. Taking a moment to compose himself, Edward leaned forward, putting his head in his hands.
"You're right," Edward said finally, embracing the wave of calm that Jasper offered him. "This was a bad idea."
"No," his brother told him firmly. "I don't need my wife's sight to know you need this. Carlisle is out of his skin with pride that you want to follow in his footsteps, and everyone is just thrilled you are speaking again outside of Nessie's presence. If you go back to being a total emo, so help me Edward, I will drop you in the middle of the Atlantic."
Edward couldn't help the quirk of his lips or the slight chuckle at the image Jasper brought to his mind. "A total emo? You have been spending too much time with Emmett."
"Well, if a certain other brother of mine would be more willing to socialize, I might not have to," he countered with a grin. It was a conversation they'd had countless times over the past decade, never with much success, and neither of them expected anything to come of it. Still, Edward resolved to try, just as he always did.
It was just so hard. Everything about this life without Bella was next to impossible. Carlisle had told him, once, that he only knew of one other vampire who had gone on to survive the loss of their mate, and Marcus was hardly a role model he aspired to. He could see how easy it would be, however, to sink into ambivalence. If it wasn't for Renesmee…
Jasper cleared his throat and pressed another wave of calm onto his brother. "Sorry," Edward muttered, picking his head up and watching out the window.
"I'm used to it."
The pair settled into an almost-comfortable silence as the car carried them toward Edward's apartment. If Edward was honest, he preferred Jasper's company to nearly everyone's because of the instant calm he offered, a balm that made the pain almost bearable. It was second, of course, only to his daughter; where Jasper was able to patch the gaping hole in his chest, Renesmee filled it – not completely, not by half, but she shed some light in the darkness and gave him a warmth, a sense of life, that was otherwise devoid. He was also well aware that his presence was painful for Jasper, and after his selfishness had cost himself and Bella so much, he had vowed never to be such a pariah again.
Jasper touched a button, regaining control of the car and pulling it to the curb in front of the small apartment building Edward spent much of his time in. It wasn't much to look at, with white-washed walls and bare vine trellises, but it served its purpose. Popping open his door, Edward stepped out onto the sidewalk.
"Come over sometime," Jasper said quietly. "Ali would be thrilled if you did, and I wouldn't be too unhappy myself."
With a non-committal grunt, Edward closed the door and walked away. He tapped the code into the door panel and let himself in, retreating quickly to the solitude of his apartment. His bag found its typical spot, but instead of going straight to his chair, Edward hesitated.
While he hated to admit it, he hadn't spoken to Carlisle, his maker and, to all purposes, father, since the beginning of the semester. He gleaned information on him and Esme from the minds of others, memories of their calls and vid-chats; the two had made their way from London to Brazil, spending a couple months visiting friends in the Amazon before taking a boat out to Isle Esme. He knew they had bigger plans for their vacation away from the family, but after being parents for so long to their flock of vampire-teenagers, the time alone was doing them both a lot of good. So he had heard.
After lingering a moment, he shoved away the memories of that particular island, as well as any speculation to what his parents were doing to fill their time. He could imagine far too well what they were up to in their solitude. Crossing his tiny living room, he plucked his headset off the charging mat and tucked it into his ear.
"Call Carlisle," he said quietly, listening as a tone confirmed his command and the line began to ring. As the fourth ring ticked off, Edward reached up to disconnect the call, but his father's voice stopped him.
"Carlisle here," he said smoothly, and Edward heard the distinct sound of Esme giggling in the background. He refused to even think about what he might have interrupted.
"Carlisle, it's Edward."
"Edward!" Carlisle greeted him warmly. "It is unbelievably good to hear your voice, son. I hope this is a purely recreational call?"
"Yes, everything is fine," Edward assured him. "Jasper told me you called, and I just wanted to catch up. It reminded me that it has been quite a while since we spoke, and I also wanted to let you know Renesmee and Jacob got out fine…"