Title: Watched Your Eyes As They Poured: Chapter One
Word Count: 2506
Warnings: Violence, Slash, AU
Summary: Set in the early 1930s when Edward rebelled and left Carlisle and Esme, the story takes place in New York City during the construction of the Empire State Building. Though at least a hundred deaths were rumored to have occurred during construction, five people were actually killed. Jacob and Edward, both young vampires, explore the story behind these five deaths while exploring their own tangled relationship.
Author's Note: Many, many thanks to kaiwynn for beta'ing this fic. I could not have done it without her much appreciated help, and all remaining errors are my own.
I've been photographed and painted up, and I've been in love only once.
And I've feared the best and loved the worst, and insisted that I go first.
And watched your eyes as they poured, and I never really loved you more.
And I never thought I'd see you as I did today.
The Angels Hung Around - Rilo Kiley
Edward Cullen slipped his eyes closed as he played the last note. The sound of the piano resonated around the living room, and Edward smiled. He opened his eyes slowly and turned his face towards the large window to his left. The curtains, half-opened, showed him an early morning view of New York City through the window.
"Finally," Edward said to himself, grinning widely. "It's a suitable time to be up and moving about in the City, I think." He stood up from the piano bench and exited the room, heading down a long hallway. He stopped at an open doorway and entered, knocking on the doorframe just once as he walked in.
"Morning," Edward said. He stood just inside the doorway to Jacob's bedroom, leaning against the wall. He wore an old flannel shirt and pants, the only pieces of clothing he owned that weren't fancy and just for show. They were for comfort during the long nights he didn't spend sleeping. "Boring night. I'm ready to go out and do something."
"Well, I'm not ready to go out yet," Jake mumbled, still focused on the pen and paper in his lap; he was writing as he lay in bed, the lower half of his body under the covers, the upper half naked and exposed. Edward watched Jake write for a few minutes more. Jake bit his lip as he searched his mind for the word he wanted.
"Premeditated," Edward supplied. Jacob smiled.
"Oh, perfect. That's exactly what word I was looking for." He scribbled it down, then set his paper aside, finished. Edward appreciatively noticed the muscles in Jake's abdomen flex as he sat up straighter, leaning against the pillows.
"Why are you always staring at me, Edward?" Jacob asked, half a smile on his face.
Flustered and indignant, Edward stood up straight, taking his back off the wall. "I'm not!"
"Yeah, you are. Right now, for example. Can't take your eyes off of me." He raised his eyebrows suggestively.
"Well--that's just--you're crazy--I'm not--"
Jake laughed. "Come on, Edward. I'm just joking, don't mean anything by it."
"Mmhm," Edward said, scowling. "I've seen you looking at me too."
"Well, of course! You've got the body of--"
"Edward, I'm just kidding. Again. Three years living together and you still can't tell when I'm joking." He rolled his eyes exaggeratedly.
"Fine, Jake. I only came in here to tear you away from the novel. Even creative geniuses need a few hours' break. We're supposed to go see the construction site this morning, and you're sitting in here, almost in the dark, putting pen to paper for endless hours. How much longer do you figure it will take you to get this latest piece of terrible writing out of your system?" he said, teasing his friend lightly. He turned more serious a second later. "Nights are lonely without my best friend."
"Why, Edward, I never knew you were so sensitive. Forgive me," Jake said, mock-solemn but joking, though his eyes asked Edward a serious question: you missed me?
"You can make it up to me by getting dressed right now so we can leave," Edward replied. He refused to acknowledge Jacob's question, though he knew what was being asked.
Jacob pulled a pillow out from behind his head and threw it at Edward, who ducked out of the way, into the hall. "Thirty minutes. Then we're leaving. Don’t forget to bundle up; it’s cold outside and the humans will be wearing coats," he said, before disappearing.
Jake grumbled, but he did eventually push the covers off his legs and swing them down to the floor. He stretched his arms above his head as he stood up, then shook his head.
"Wish someday I could admit it wasn't a joke," he muttered to himself.
Edward Cullen and Jacob Black stepped out of the elevator, looking as well-dressed and respectable as they always did. Both wore expensive-looking, dark-colored suits with ties--though Jake's tie hung a little looser around his neck than Edward's, which was done up impeccably. Over their suit jackets, Edward and Jacob wore open coats to ostensibly keep them warm against the winter wind. Edward sported a striped scarf as well, and they each carried a hat in one hand, intending to put them on when they exited the building.
"Tell me again why we have to do this," Jake said, throwing Edward a patronizing look as he pushed open the door to their apartment building, letting some of the cold air inside. He shivered slightly as he and Edward stepped outside. The New York City sidewalks had already been shoveled and the streets were swept clean, but the trees lining the walk were dusted with shining, white snow.
"Because it's interesting. They say this'll be the tallest building in the world. Don't you want to say you were there for that kind of history?" Edward replied, taking in the sight of the winter wonderland around him. People brushed past the two of them as they started walking. “Pretty outside, isn’t it?”
“No, Edward. It’s cold. And listen, we're going to be around for a hell of a lot of history. I'm sure 200 years from now, when we're still alive and this Empire State Building is demolished, there will be hundreds of buildings taller than this one could even hope to be."
"Don't care. This is the very first. It's special. And Jacob, you’re cold; you’re a vampire. Felt your skin lately?"
“Have you felt my skin lately?” Jacob said, grinning. Edward looked horrified. “Joking!” Jake said, laughing.
“You’ve got to stop that,” Edward groaned, grinning slightly in embarrassment.
Jacob refrained from saying anything, but threw Edward a mocking look. Edward laughed out loud, the sound of his laughter making Jake smile too. He punched Edward lightly on the arm and rolled his eyes.
“Let’s go see this building,” he said.
When they arrived at the construction site, Edward and Jacob could immediately see that something was wrong. Police lined the block, directing interested viewers away from the scene. Edward and Jake approached, walking quickly, and stepped up to the back of the crowd, which was jeering unhappily. People standing at the front of the group surged against the line of police officers, trying to get closer, while people from the back yelled obscenities and rude comments.
"Another hundred people died today, eh?" shouted an angry voice from the crowd.
"There's some kind of curse on this damn building!" someone else yelled.
"Yeah! They shouldn't be trying to reach the sky! Not when we can’t keep a job, can’t feed our families!"
Several cops were watching activity closer to the building that Edward and Jake were too far away to see. One of them, frustrated, spun around to face the accusing crowd, a murderous look on his face. "Listen, you're all just creating trouble, and we don’t need it today. This is the first real death; none of the other rumors have been true! It's getting blown up for no reason! Go back to your homes and shut the hell up about it!" The crowd booed him and most of his speech was drowned out, but Edward could hear every word in his mind.
"Apparently," he whispered to Jake, leaning close to his ear, "this is the first death on the construction site, and all those stories we've been hearing about workers dying by the hundreds are false."
"Well, that much was obvious. Whoever actually believed hundreds of people were dying is completely crazy. See if you can find out more information. Was it murder?"
Edward shook his head. He whispered, "The police don't suspect murder, just an accident on the job. The man was run over by a truck delivering materials in the back of construction site. It was early this morning, and there aren't any witnesses. The driver of the truck didn't see a damn thing coming, or so he says."
"Sounds suspicious to me," Jake commented. "What was he doing delivering materials that early in the morning, anyway?"
"Not sure..." Edward said, distracted. He was still listening to other peoples' thoughts. Jacob waited impatiently, watching Edward's face with careful concentration. Jake was so used to Edward's facial expressions, he could almost read Edward's mind just by watching his face. Suddenly, Edward started speaking again. "The police chief--smart man, by the way--thinks that murder is still a possibility. He's not sure how or why, but he's keeping an open mind." Edward paused a second, then said, in answer to Jacob's mental question, "No, he's mainly suspecting the truck driver."
"I don't think it was the truck driver. Just a feeling. Call it a vibe."
"I don't think so either."
Jake subtly pushed Edward away from the crowd, catching his arm loosely and directing him to the left. They walked a few paces down the street to a quieter area so they could talk without being overheard. The pair of them stood close together, whispering. "So we should check this out? Catch the bad guy? Drink his blood?" Jacob said, wiggling his eyebrows up and down suggestively. “It’s been awhile. I’m thirsty.”
"Yeah," Edward said, biting his lip. Jake frowned. Lately, he had noticed Edward becoming less and less enthusiastic about consuming human blood. He and Edward only preyed on evil people: murderers, rapists, thieves. They caught criminals and disposed of them, while sating their appetites for human blood. They were doing a good thing, ridding the world of bad guys. But whenever it was time to eat, Edward got depressed--and Jacob wasn't sure what to do about it. Vampires naturally ate humans, and at least Edward and Jacob weren't preying on innocents.
"I know what you're thinking, Jake. And I know it's a good thing... I know compared to others like us, what we do is positively angelic. But some vampires are even better. I've known some... they're so pure. They don't taste human blood, not even bad human blood. They drink the blood of animals, Jake, and they live among humans as equals."
"Vampires. Drink. Human. Blood."
"I know, Jake. Traditionally, we do. But I can't help thinking about the fact that some of us have found a way to live… an alternative lifestyle. A nicer lifestyle. They don't murder people."
Jacob closed his eyes in exasperation. He knew who Edward was talking about; he knew Edward was, after all these years, starting to doubt his decision to forego a life as a so-called vegetarian vampire. "Edward..." he said, "Carlise and Esme, they're depriving themselves."
"And that's bad?"
"No, but it's hundreds of years of deprivation--that's torture. That's hell, Edward."
"It's goodness. It's not being a monster. It's not being a nightmare. It's not being what humans are scared of, what they worry about when they’re alone in the dark. It's not taking lives to satisfy your own murderous thirst."
"It's our nature," Jacob said quietly. "I didn't choose to become a vampire—"
"I didn't either, Jake! But I can choose what to do with myself now that I’m forced to be one! I can choose not to kill. And that's all I can choose."
"I don't know what to say to you anymore," Jacob said, shaking his head. "I can't make you see sense. You are a monster, and that's something you're going to have to accept. Meanwhile, there's a potential construction-worker killer loose on New York City. Are we going to do something about it?"
At Jacob's question, Edward needed a moment of pause to think. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes briefly, trying to regain some sort of peace within himself. He opened his eyes and looked at Jacob, seeing the sincerity in his mind. Edward understood that, despite Jacob's outwardly resolute stance on eating humans, he had an inner turmoil over the issue: Jacob questioned the morality of murder, too. But Jacob was more stubborn; he hated what he was, hated being a vampire, but he wouldn't admit it. He would hold steadfastly to his nature if it killed him--which it wouldn't, since he was already dead.
Edward, on the other hand, was perfectly willing to admit the fact that he hated his identity. He wanted to be human. He longed for his vulnerability, his mortality, his life. All he could hope was that a few decades would make him more at home in his own skin, but for now... Vampirism was not something he could accept, and that made him hate himself. He had imagined that killing bad humans would make him feel better about himself--he was using his evil nature to help the world. That's why he had left them. His parents, for all intents and purposes: Carlisle and Esme, who fed on animals and lived among humans in peace.
Edward had discovered how wrong he had been. Killing humans--even bad humans, to be sure--didn't make him feel any better. Soon it would be time to return to Carlisle and Esme and admit his mistake. He would wholeheartedly accept their way of life. But would Jacob come with him? Did it matter? They were best friends, nothing more. Edward refused to listen to any of Jacob's thoughts regarding him (that would be an invasion of privacy, and Edward could only go so far down that road), but he wondered... Was there any chance Jacob loved him?
Maintaining eye contact with Jacob, Edward considered his friend's question. Could he track another bad human? Did he want to kill for justice just one more time before going back home? He nodded his head.
"Let's catch this killer."
Jacob grinned widely, his smile a little lopsided. "Thought I lost you there for a second."
"I'm still here." For now.