Hiya hookers. Welcome to Reckoner, Part II.
For those who don't know it, Reckoner is the Edward Point of View of Osa Bella. It starts about a year before the Cullens return to Forks. If you haven't read Osa Bella, Reckoner will still make sense to you. But if you haven't read the first part of Reckoner, please go read that here before reading this.
For those of you who can't deal with lemons that put Edward with someone besides Bella, well, this isn't the story for you. As you can guess, there *is* a lemon ahead, so if you're under 18 and not supposed to be here in the first place, now's the time to turn back. But do return once your parents can't sue me.
Reckoner is brought to you by the very generous members of the Twilight fandom who supported Alex's Lemonade Stand during the last round of Fandom Gives Back. The first part of this story appeared in the FGB authors compilation. The rest will appear here and the full story will be sent out to all the FGB donors as an ebook and as a pdf. If you'd like that, just email me the receipt for your ALS donation at mygdala @ gmail and I'll put you on the list.
Thanks again to Snarkier Than You and Hollelujah (author of the amazing Substance Clad in Shadows) for beta help. And as always, thank you so much for reading. Your comments always make my day. I missed this and I really missed you. It's good to be back.
Reckoner, Part II
Two weeks later I was alone in Mercy’s loft, the entire floor of a renovated brick building, five floors up from a set of retail units. Her place was an eclectic mixture of gothic artwork, heavy tapestries in lush blue, black, and purple velvets and modern furniture but somehow it all worked and it all spoke of her unique collection of tastes and mannerisms.
Mercy Brown was a dark and beautiful and peculiar vampire who had insight into people’s bodies, just like I had it into their minds. She was descended from the late 19th century and loved high heels, long skirts and young women as much as she loved anything. I’d first seen her in a bar singing in the early 1970’s and I was immediately drawn in by her velvet voice and the sincerity of her songs. She still performed locally on the weekends and I rarely missed a performance when I was in town.
Mercy was known not just as the sultry singer-songwriter, but as the Last American Vampire by any humans who followed these things. Poor Mercy had had her heart publicly torn out of her body by her father and burned while she was undergoing transformation. The entire town was implicated in her desecration. It was after this horrific and widely told event that most Americans began to give up their beliefs in vampires and witches and the like, and all the better for those of us who had to live with that reality.
Because she had no physical heart, Mercy had the stubborn belief that she was incapable of falling in love. So at the beginning of the last century, she struck a deal with the Boston witch to be cured of this affliction, but it hadn’t worked as far as anyone knew. I never really believed she couldn’t fall in love if she’d just make a little effort, not that I’d wanted her to make that effort on my behalf—I had enough problems dealing with my own love curse. Our mutual inability to choose a mate had somehow led to a convenient and regular bed sharing arrangement, and despite the lack of any true romantic connection—or maybe because of it—I’d come to consider her my closest friend.
This night, she’d decided to head out without me for the evening to listen to some experimental jazz ensemble with a coronet and a Korg synth. I told her I wanted to stay in to read, but the real reason I stayed behind was because I was still nursing a bitter hangover from the first human blood binge I’d had in fifty years. I wasn’t ready to explain that, and might not ever be, though she of all people would have understood my run-in with the Boston witch.
“Witches are untrustworthy,” she’d warned me many years ago. “Don’t deal with them if you can avoid it.”
But you couldn’t take a piss in New England without hitting a damned witch. Like shape shifters in the Pacific Northwest or ghosts in the south, witches were everywhere in the Northeast. And they were brutal.
I put my book down and picked up Mercy’s Martin and started to pick out the notes on a B minor 7th. Gently I strummed, the steel strings thrumming a simple, soothing tune that echoed in the empty loft. I’ll have to remember this one, I thought. Maybe Mercy will use it in something. I scribbled a few notes down so I’d remember what I’d written and then felt a jarring regret as I recalled the conversation we’d had just before she went out that night.
“You’re brooding too much ever since Boston,” she’d accused. “Even more than usual for you. Are you stuck on finding that destiny girl again?”
“No,” I said.
“You’ve got to get over her.”
“Never speak of her to me again,” I said. “I’m serious.”
Mercy looked me over with concern and then came and dropped herself next to me on her bed. “There are people out there who can cure you of certain kinds of thoughts, you know.”
“I don’t need to be cured of anything,” I said.
“So what, you’re just going to spend eternity looking for some imaginary woman that you think you’re in love with? Alice’s visions don’t always come true, you know. After fifty two years, I’d think…”
“I’m not looking anymore,” I said.
“You’re not?” she asked. “Really?”
“Really,” I said.
But I still couldn’t bring myself to tell her why.
I was so distracted I didn’t hear Mercy come home until she was just outside the apartment—and she wasn’t alone. I looked up and saw it was already 2 am.
I have a surprise for you, she thought to me, almost giddy from the other side of the door. A very, very adorable one. If this won’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.
And then I heard the other voice—the voice of a very young college girl thinking, Oh my God! Am I really going to get to sleep with Mercy Brown? That’s so hot!
But there was no way.
Mercy burst through the door, all smiles and said, “There he is! He’s an absolute dream, right?”
“Hi!” A young woman with long white-blonde hair and a very short skirt, high black boots and a wool sweater beamed at me from the doorway. “You’re Edward, right? Mercy told me all about you.”
“I’m Jules,” she said, smiling as she shrugged out of her long hooded parka.
“No you’re not,” I said shaking my head. I looked her over and asked, “How old are you?”
“Come now, Edward,” Mercy gave me a playful but admonishing glance. “Be nice.”
“Well, that’s my name tonight,” the girl said as she sauntered over to me and dropped herself on the bed. “Do you all have any whiskey?”
“She’s too young,” I said.
What kind of a wretch do you think I am? Mercy’s smile betrayed the humor she felt. She’s been eyeing me all night, and she’s of legal age. I checked.
“Barely,” I scowled as I felt the toe of the girl’s boot brush intentionally along my ankle. I’d refrained from breathing at all since she came into the apartment, but when she did that I accidentally inhaled and caught the scent of her, and that just wasn’t going to do.
“I’m 25,” the girl lied. Oh my God he’s hot. Mercy wasn’t kidding.
She smiled broadly, her lips tight together and her eyes crinkled as she suppressed a giggle and took my hand. I pulled her to her feet and she put her arms around my neck.
“Do you want to dance?” she asked.
“She’s a doll, right?” Mercy said. It’s been way too long since we had company and I know you need to blow off some steam. Let’s just have some fun.
“No,” I said, shaking my head.
“Thanks a lot,” the girl pouted.
“That’s not what I meant.” I frowned at Mercy who was smiling wickedly at me as I took the girl’s hands and disengaged them.
Mercy walked up behind the girl and put her arms around her waist, her long black hair falling in waves down her back, wisps of it falling into her face. The girl sucked in her breath as she felt Mercy’s cold lips press to the flushed skin of her neck. Mercy dragged her hands up under the hemline of the girl’s sweater and winked at me as she saw the lust begin to pool inside of me.
Do you want to just watch, then? Mercy asked me. “Why don’t you go pour Jules a drink?”
“Is your car here, sweetheart?” I asked, moving quickly to the window and looking down to the street where I saw a blue Prius.
“Why?” She looked disappointed as I came back and untangled her from Mercy and picked her coat up off the floor. “Is it something I did?”
“No, no,” I said, feeling a little guilty and a lot pissed off at Mercy for bringing this doe home. “It’s something she did,” I said, and tipped my head to Mercy, who was giving me the eye. “You’re very lovely and it was a pleasure making your acquaintance.”
You have no right to spoil my fun, Mercy countered in my head. Why don’t you just leave so I can at least play? But then she looked me up and down again and plainly saw the reason I wasn’t leaving. Then she smirked.
“Well, look, wait a minute,” the girl protested. “I’m just a big fan and I…”
“So we’ll see you at her show Saturday, yes?” I opened the door for her, smiled and said, “Drive safely, now.”
What a dick, the girl thought as she walked out into the hall. Too bad the hot ones always turn out to be such assholes.
I turned away from the door, closed and bolted it shut and leaned my back against it. I crossed my arms and gave Mercy the most menacing glare I could muster. The laughter in her eyes only pissed me off more.
“You used to be so much fun,” she said wistfully. “I miss the old you.”
“Shut up and take your dress off.”
“Not until you tell me why you were so afraid of Bambi,” she said, crossing her arms defiantly.
“Because if I were to fuck her the way I’m about to fuck you, I’d break her in half,” I said.
Oh, my… Mercy’s amused smile relaxed me some. You are in a foul mood.
“You’ve lost your human touch, then have you?” she said, undoing the zipper on the side of her shift and then pulled the green garment up over her head, almost business-like. She was wearing a black satin bra and a black lace tanga and I studied the curve of her ass in it. Her fine fishnets came halfway up her thighs, poking out of her boots. “What happened, did you break a sorority girl at BU?” she teased as she started to unzip one of her boots.
“Leave the boots on,” I said.
“I missed you, you know,” she said standing back up and putting her hands on her hips. She took off her bra and dropped it to the floor and took a step back. “I’ve been so bored.”
“I know,” I said. “Now turn around.”
“Come on,” she said. “Let me look at you. Please?”
She smiled again and took one last look at the painful hard-on I was about to relieve myself of before she turned away. I bent her over at the waist and her hands hit the floor as she steadied herself and then laughed as she heard me whip my belt off.
Oh, am I getting spanked tonight? she asked playfully.
“I think you’d enjoy it too much.”
She laughed again but then stopped and let out a small moan as I ripped her panties off.
“So, Mercy, how many girls did you bring home while I was out of town?” I asked, driving my fingers into her, but she was panting so hard she could hardly speak.
“A few,” she gasped.
“And how many college boys?”
What do you care? The sound of her thought was teasing, coy and she was breathing too heavily to physically answer me now.
“I need to know how many times to whip you.”
“More than I can count,” she drawled out just before moaning loudly and coming all over my hand.
I pulled her back up and backed her against the heavy steel door and compelled myself to feel, to think something other than, why her? Why why why her? But it wasn’t Mercy I was thinking of.
I was angry. Sick and angry. Then I turned that anger on Mercy for being so beautiful, talented, smart, fun and sexy as hell and not finding someone else, someone worthy to spend eternity with. She knew better than to waste her time with me. But then it didn’t matter. Mercy was there, and I was either going to fuck or kill something and I’d had enough killing lately.
She cried out as I entered her, her thighs gripping my waist as I held her up against the door, certain we’d break it, but I didn’t care. After she came again and I still felt nothing, I dropped her to her hands and knees and took her from behind. She came again and for me, still nothing. Nothing at all. No release, no pleasure. I felt like I was washing a car instead of fucking a beautiful woman.
What is wrong with you? She thought at me. You’re not even close.
“Please, please shut the fuck up.” Maybe I really should spank her, I thought. That might help. Maybe I should get her to blow me. Maybe she’ll give me her ass tonight. I rolled her onto her back and drove into her again, but she put her arms out and grabbed my hips, stopping me mid-thrust.
“What happened to you down there?” she asked, her face full of concern. “Boston. Spill it.”
The day was still and the 1500 pound bull moose was peaceful as it stood on the deserted shore of the lake. Too peaceful.
“Are you taking that one?” Emmett asked quietly over my right shoulder.
“Yeah,” I said. “Why, did you want it?”
“No, I’m good,” he said. “You go ahead.”
I hesitated. Found myself wondering how old it was, how many calves it had sired, how many cows it had mounted. I wondered what maple shoots tasted like. It lowered it’s muzzle to the water and began to drink. I was within striking distance when it finally noticed me, locking eyes with mine briefly and then I saw a flicker of knowledge behind them.
So the end is here, it seemed to say. How softly it sneaks up on us, eh?
I wanted it to fight me. At least a little bit. I wanted it to kick and struggle and threaten me, but it didn’t even try to run. I pulled its antlers to the ground and held it still. The massive, muscular frame of the beast went rigid and then limp with resignation as its hot, thick blood fevered down my ungrateful throat.
When it was dead, I rose from the shore and looked across the lake to where I heard the quiet rustling and cracking of twigs being stepped on. In among the thick of trees I thought I saw something moving quickly away, but it disappeared so fast I couldn’t make out what it was.
“That was weird,” Jasper said when I went back to the thicket where he and Emmett waited. “Do you think it was sick or something?”
“Did you see what it was?”
“What what was?” Jasper said, and then he and Emmett exchanged troubled looks.
“There was something across the lake,” I said. “Watching me make the kill.”
“We didn’t pick up anything,” Emmett said. “We would have seen something like that. Or smelled it.”
“I was talking about the moose,” Jasper said. “It didn’t even try to run from you. You don’t think it wasn’t a shape-shifter, was it?”
“A moose shape shifter?” I said. “I think I would have picked that up.”
“Maybe it just knew there was no point in running,” Emmett said. “Ever since you’ve come home you do have a pretty evil vibe.”
“Emmett, don’t be an ass,” Jasper said, smacking him on the arm.
“I meant evil in a badass kind of way,” he said. “It was supposed to be a compliment. Sorry.”
“That’s all right.” I surveyed the shore again for any glimpse of the phantom as we started the hike back towards Emmett’s Land Rover, but saw no trace of it. “I will admit that kill was damned disappointing.”
“I never did like the taste of moose,” Jasper said. “And any big game is going to taste flat after…”
“Jesus, don’t even say it,” I said. “I don’t need any more temptation.”
Yeah, neither do I, Jasper thought.
The Cullen House was an old retired Inn on 350 acres on the western edge of Gray, Maine. Carlisle bought the old Victorian in 1972 because Esme fell in love with the gothic feel of it, the many stately gardens and the rich history of the place, once a regular destination for the lesser politicians of New England. She swore one day she would meet the ghosts who’d lived there, but I’m pretty sure they all cleared out when the vampires moved in.
“Alice is still pretty upset,” Jasper warned me when we pulled into the driveway.
“Do you think I should go back to Mercy’s place?” I said.
“No, no,” Jasper said. “She’s been dying to see you, she’s just… well, you know how she can get.”
I knew better than anybody, probably even Jasper. It wasn’t easy being clairvoyant, and she hadn’t asked to be anymore than I had asked to be a mind reader. Alice’s excitability was one of the main reasons I hadn’t come home to see the family yet. I needed time to feel some approximation of normal again before facing them all. My hunt with Emmett and Jasper that afternoon was the first I’d seen of anyone other than Carlisle and Mercy since Boston.
I braced myself and opened the door and Alice was right behind it, of course, expecting me. Carlisle, Esme and Rosalie stood right behind her.
Now vampires, as a rule, do not cry. Are not actually able to cry. We are stoic creatures by nature, and while our emotions run hot, our bodies are made for strength and durability and are not inclined to show vulnerability of any kind. So when Alice broke down into heaving, dry sobs at the sight of me, I honestly didn’t know what to do.
“I… I don’t know how this could have happened… ” She threw her arms around me and wailed into my shirt collar. She didn’t even give me a chance to take my coat off. “Oh Edward, I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.”
“No, Alice… “ I said, unable to speak clearly because I felt like I’d swallowed a burning coal. “It isn’t your fault at all. Come on, now.”
“Why couldn’t I see her?” she asked, her tragic eyes straining up at me. “How could she be… murdered?” I stiffened and she wailed again, burrowing her face into my chest. “There’s no point to having the sight if you can’t use it to protect the ones you love!”
What could I even say? That I agreed? I stood there, wordless, helpless all over again. I gave Jasper a look that said Do something here, please? And he said back I’m trying. She’d be much worse, trust me.
“Edward, she was your mate,” Alice cried.
“She was never my mate,” I said, feeling more hollow than I possibly ever had as I heard myself say the words. “It was… it just didn’t work out.”
“How can you be so calm?” she asked.
Calm? She thought I was calm? All I wanted was to go out in the world and set buildings on fire, sledgehammer expensive cars, deface priceless works of art. All that and worse, but I wasn’t allowing myself to entertain any more fantasies of breaking the coven charter.
“He’s not calm,” Jasper said quietly. “He’s numb.”
That was it. And for the time being, I was really okay with that because the alternative was a choice between either murderous rage or self-annihilating despair.
You need time, son, Carlisle thought. This is a lot to deal with. It’ll take awhile.
I had a sudden desperate urge to run, but I was surrounded. The compassionate, sympathetic looks on all their faces felt so wrong to me. Could they be looking at me this way? They pitied me? Did they not understand what I had done? What I was capable of doing?
“I killed him, you all know that, right?” I said, looking at Carlisle, confused. “You told them that part, didn’t you?”
“I did,” Carlisle said, but he couldn’t have told them everything, because none of them gave me that typical disappointed, “Edward, you’re better than that” attitude I normally got about decree killing. Even Rosalie reserved criticism and she never did that.
“I tortured him,” I said. “It was…”
“Understandable,” Carlisle said and nodded reassuringly.
“Any one of us would have done the same,” Emmett said.
Esme pulled me into a full embrace, cradling my head as I rested it against her shoulder. It reminded me of the way my mother had held me when I was a boy and how we had cried together after the sudden death of my father, but this time I didn’t cry, I just stared at the Persian rug and noticed how it puckered a tiny bit near the foot of the grand piano.
We love you, Edward, she said. And we are here.