A Very Different Gift

Warning: this fic contains gay themes and a sexual encounter.

~||+||~

Something we were withholding made us weak.
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

—Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright”

~||+||~

Edward didn’t fit in.

At least, that was what Marcus kept saying. It had been ten years since the child, as Alec thought of him, stumbled into Demetri in the middle of Philadelphia. He had been feeding on some human scum at the time, which had confused Demetri—the scrawny thing was a vampire with a conscience, apparently. Which really should have surprised no one, since, as it turned out, he had been sired by the infamous Carlisle. Given that relationship, the fact that he was feeding on humans at all was a bit of a shock, but Aro had informed them later that Edward had managed to have some sort of falling out with his sire.

Of course from everything Alec had ever heard, Carlisle was on the crazy side, so he couldn’t blame Edward for leaving him in the first place.

Demetri had realized at once that the vampire had a unique talent when he had anticipated every one of the thug’s moves. He’d brought the child back to Aro at once, and after some sort of bartering that involved an equal number of promises of grandeur as threats on Edward’s life, the young vampire had stayed with them.

Today was perfectly sunny, and so the entire guard was trapped in the castle. The outer guard had freedom to move about, and they flitted in and out of the main chambers. From somewhere in the compound a scratchy radio played a soap opera, and he suspected some of the lesser guard members were clustered around it as though they actually had need of being close to it. His sister was engaged in a game of chess against Chelsea, which was always a bad idea.—Jane would threaten to burn you if she lost, but Chelsea would suggest she could make good on having Aro decide you were worthless.

Edward was not listening to the radio or engaged in any games. Instead, he sat huddled in the corner, his knees pulled to his chest and his chin resting on them. His dark robe spilled around him like a pool of shimmering ink. The image was striking and odd—metallic red hair over the near-black robe.

Aro had made him one of the innermost guard as soon as he’d discovered his gift, and although it annoyed most of the others, Alec could see why. Edward was like having a permanent radio aerial—he utterly eliminated the need for Aro to get anywhere near someone. Aro would simply stand so that he was somehow touching Edward, and he could listen to whatever he wanted to. It had been a disconcerting development. Even though they were all aware that all their secrets would be spilled the next time they were asked to touch Aro’s hand, knowing that Edward could hear in real-time was frustrating, to say the least. What little modicum of privacy they had all managed had been obliterated by the arrival of this moody young telepath.

But, if Alec admitted it, it was Edward who had gotten the rawest deal. Aro’s constant contact with him in order to keep an eye on the rest of them meant that Edward’s thoughts were never unknown to their leader. If most of the guard had next to no privacy, Edward had absolutely none.

It was little wonder the child sat in the corner looking depleted.

A moment later, Alec realized he wasn’t the only one watching the young redhead. In a swirl of black robes, Aro pulled himself upright, causing a stir in the chamber as others around him shot to their feet as well. Their leader waved a hand dismissively and moved toward Edward with caution. Alec’s eyes narrowed. Everyone moved around Edward as though he would break at any second. The child was volatile—he had once hissed at Aro over something the older vampire had been thinking that Edward found unpleasant. Demetri and Felix had jumped on Edward at once, holding his head in preparation of ripping it from his torso until Aro had asked them to back down. Aro favored the temperamental redhead, which hadn’t won Edward any friends.

The young vampire didn’t stir as Aro glided toward him, instead keeping his face buried in his knees. A single pale hand snaked its way out from underneath the ancient’s black robe, coming to rest on the boy’s neck beneath his hair. Edward shuddered, and, watching him, the others winced. The sensation of Aro reading one’s thoughts wasn’t painful per se, but it was disorienting and unpleasant. To be forced to submit to it multiple times a day was not enviable.

Aro stood for a moment as he read the child’s thoughts. A thoughtful expression crossed his face, and then he leaned down and whispered something. The volume wasn’t enough that anyone in the room could hear, but Alec could catch just enough to know it was Italian. Aro’s lips moved so quickly next to Edward’s ear that he appeared to kiss it repeatedly.  The younger vampire nodded solemnly at whatever their master had said to him. Aro’s thumb brushed delicately across the nape of Edward’s neck as he removed his hand, and Alec felt an odd pang shoot through him at the tenderness of the gesture. Their leader wasn’t exactly known for being gentle, and the way he treated the youngest one of their guard—it was almost as though he sympathized with the difficulty he caused Edward.

The inky robe swirled into the air as Edward stood, turned on his heel, and disappeared. Footsteps fell lightly on the stair and the sound of Edward’s chamber door closing echoed across the hallways.

The chess game stopped, and Caius and Marcus looked up from whatever conversation they were having. Many pairs of burgundy eyes alighted on Aro, curious. But their leader simply pursed his lips in the signal that they all knew was intended to stave off commentary—not that he ever answered any, were it to be given.

But then he moved toward Alec.

The ancient one had to bend to speak to him, which Alec found annoying. He had been tall for his age before he and his sister had been captured, but now he was forever trapped in a body that was still more boy than man—feminine, skinny, the angular features that would have defined his maturity having never set into place. Most of all, he still barely came to the grown immortals’ shoulders—even Edward, who was so new to this life he barely knew how to behave, stood a head and then some over him.

There wasn’t much time to worry about his height, however, as Aro’s lips began moving just as quickly near his own ear. The mess of Italian came out rushed. It was still the old dialect, not the one Alec had learned, and it sounded odd. But its meaning was clear. I request you to help the young one. We overwhelm him. I must have him rested.

When Alec’s brow furrowed, the ancient one made his intent more clear. “Your gift will tame his,” he murmured, and Alec understood the instruction at once.

In the thought of an instant, he stood outside the door to Edward’s chamber. This youngest one had one of the smallest rooms, but like all the inner guard, he had space of his own. Despite his infuriating ability to rob others of all their privacy, Aro insisted that they all still be granted it—at least, when they weren’t in physical contact with him.

But there were also no locks, and so Alec slid into the room without knocking.

Edward’s chambers were closer inside the castle, and little light seeped through the slit windows. What light did exist stretched across the room at odd angles, throwing Edward into stark relief where he huddled against the wall.

He looked as he had in the main room, except he had shed his cloak—it lay puddled on the other side of the room, appearing to have been thrown there in some fit of rage. The chain and pendant they all wore as symbols of their joint servitude had been discarded as well, the bright gold glinting where it lay tangled in the dark cloth. Edward’s torso was bare, and the sight of the expanse of his skin, the same smooth alabaster as all of theirs, caused a twinge of discomfort in Alec’s own body, a flutter of strange excitement in his stomach that he couldn’t place.

The redhead’s shoulders were trembling, his head buried in his knees. Alec wondered whether he should even approach, and his thought was answered at once.

“Please, go away,” the voice rose, muffled ever so slightly by Edward’s slacks.

Alec halted at once. Did he proceed further? Aro had commanded him to come—to leave Edward would be to defy their master. But Edward was so pitiful…

“Don’t pity me, either.” This one was barked in English.

He approached anyway. “Master Aro thinks…” he swallowed. His mind raced ahead of him, of course, and he saw the room filling with the mist that was his gift, the choking substance that rendered even the most powerful of their kind senseless.

Edward snorted. “Aro thinks many things.” For a second his eyes flickered up to meet Alec’s. “Most of his thoughts are useless.”

This was a fascinating insight. Aro seemed so wise—two thousand years of vigilance and leadership and power tended to do that, or so Alec had thought. Their leader’s thoughts as mostly useless—Alec had never considered it.

He stepped closer to the younger one. It was odd, really. Alec was so much older, tamer, than Edward in years, yet the planes of Edward’s body were so much more that of a man. His jaw was more angular, the muscles of his chest more defined. He was harder where Alec was softer, larger where Alec was smaller. Huddled and helpless though he sat, somehow the younger vampire caused something to stir in Alec.

Beautiful.

The bronze hair caught the light as Edward’s head snapped up. Alec gulped. He hadn’t meant to think that word. In the dim light Edward’s eyes shone, their dark crimson glowing like embers in the shadows. He swallowed twice as he gazed at Alec, and Alec, finding his stare uncomfortable, turned away.

“A longer human life simply means more that I’ve lost.” He stood, turning away from Alec for a moment, and his eyes drifted toward the small window and the tiny bit of daylight that streamed through it. He stepped into the shaft of light and the light shattered into fiery rainbows where the narrow band crossed his skin. “Be careful whom you envy.”

Alec looked away, trying to think of anything besides the vampire who stood before him, lest another embarrassing thought leak from his mind. He was so lost trying to stumble through lists of vampires who’d served Aro, the number of hairs on his sister’s head, that he nearly missed the low voice command, “Do it, then.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Do it,” Edward repeated. “We’ll try it.” An instant later Alec felt Edward’s body against his back, the smooth muscles discernable even through his shirt and his own cloak. Firm hands rested on Alec’s slender hips. An image of Edward’s skin against his own escaped his mind before he could try to distract himself once more.

“Do it,” came the breathy voice again.

It was one of the only things about him that was slow. Two full seconds had passed—Alec could hear the grinding of the gears in the clock in the square—before Edward fell, his body slumping to the stone with a sickening crack. He rolled from side to side, moaning with confusion. Then one of his hands found Alec’s leg, pulling him downward, and instead of keeping his balance, Alec let himself tumble into the flailing arms, which somehow stilled at once, as though they could feel the body between them.

Edward’s hands groped blindly over Alec’s body, and unbidden, shivers rose through whatever it was Alec had in place of nerves. He pressed himself into Edward and the larger vampire stilled again. Edward could feel nothing, but Alec felt it all—the strange warmth of wet breath against his neck, the smooth muscle of the chest, the hardened…

That was impossible.

Edward could not feel. He could not smell. The only possible explanation for this was that he had been in this condition before he had fallen—and what did that mean, exactly? The uncomfortable flutter in Alec’s body intensified, and he, too, became hard. Not something Edward was likely to feel even if he weren’t under the influence of Alec’s gift, he thought bitterly. Like all of him, that part was not fully mature.

Aro should have just let him burn.

The hands continued to search blindly, sometimes hitting air, sometimes his neck, his chest, his groin. Edward had long fingers—he had played the piano as a human, he’d once told them. Edward would feel nothing where he touched Alec, but his every touch seemed to sear Alec’s skin. In answer, Alec’s hands roamed hungrily over Edward’s torso as the mist swirled around them both. Up the breastbone, out the shoulder, across a nipple that was impossibly soft to the touch. Down the stomach, through the wiry hair beneath the navel, toward the waistband of his slacks.

He won’t know.

The thought hit him as though it had not come from him. The other would not feel if Alec’s hands searched further. For a split-second he hesitated, but then Edward’s slacks were gone, the button skittering across the floor until it came to rest against the wall. His gift gave him dominion over nearly all of their kind, but never had Alec felt quite so powerful as when he let his hands come to rest below Edward’s waist.

He’d felt his own, of course, but it was smaller. Edward filled his hand and then some, and Alec grazed it with the backs of his fingernails hesitantly. It was like touching silk. Edward was far smoother than he—Alec had heard that now in the hospitals, even gentile boys often had their foreskins removed. He ran his thumb tentatively up to its tip, to the tiny indentation there, circling it.

Edward jerked his body from under Alec’s hands, and he swore, scrambling after him across the cold floor. The pants had been kicked off in his thrashing, and the other vampire lay naked as Alec sprang onto his body once more. His fist finding that softness again, Alec threw a leg over the peak of Edward’s hip, and their groins met. Edward’s hips bucked upward sharply between Alec’s legs, and he found his young body couldn’t hold. His entire midsection went taut, and he groaned in pleasure, collapsing forward onto his companion’s smooth chest, a thin trail of venom seeping its way down the inside of his pant leg.

The slender hips bucked again. And again. Instinctively Alec tightened his grip, twisting downward, and the larger body surged up toward his as Edward cried out.

Too late, Alec saw the mist thinning. His own pleasure had broken his concentration for two critical seconds, and that was long enough. Edward’s eyes were wide, his mouth slightly ajar. Alec yanked his hand away at once, only to be met with a low moan.

“No, please…Alec.”

The name burned. Alec’s eyes pulled back to his companion, and Edward stared up at him. Plaintive, needy—the same look others always gave him when they wound up on the wrong side of his gift.

Except that Edward was pleading for something else entirely.

His hesitant hand moved back onto Edward, and he was rewarded with another thrust of the hips, another breathy groan.

“Yes,” Edward hissed. “Harder.”

Alec’s fist closed instinctively, and he twisted it once, jerking it backwards and down against the silken skin. Edward let out a sound that was part growl, part scream, and a thick rope of viscous venom landed on his stomach. The second ran down the back of Alec’s hand. He lifted the hand and ran it across Edward’s chest, the fluid sticking between them, and Edward bucked twice more, arching into Alec’s slender body before he went still.

They stayed like that for what seemed like an hour, the smaller body collapsed across the longer, broader chest, although in truth it was only long enough for six words to seep up from the radio soap opera. Then the long-fingered hands landed on either side of Alec’s face, pulling him upward so that two sets of lips met in a searing kiss.

When they parted, smooth muscles expanded and fell beneath him as Edward breathed. A hand worked its way into Alec’s hair.

“They help me,” came the quiet voice at last.

Alec felt dazed. “What?”

“The voices. The thoughts. They help me. It’s a lot to handle, sometimes, but it keeps me from thinking about him.”

Perhaps their coupling had somehow given him new insight, but Alec found he understood Edward at once. “Your sire,” he answered, and Edward nodded.

“I adored him,” he said quietly. “He was beautiful and kind and…” His sighed breath tickled Alec’s earlobe. “He found a mate. And God help me, I tried. I tried for six years to live with them, but I just…couldn’t. Not when I longed for him to do the things to me that he did to her.”

Fingers worked their way behind Alec’s ear and a wide thumb stroked across his cheek a moment. “You remind me of him,” Edward said absently. “You’re darker, of course. In coloring and in demeanor. But there’s something…” he shook his head and trailed off.

Alec’s hands wandered over Edward’s chest, the pads of his index fingers tracing a path through the smattering of dark hair nestled between the nipples. If he admitted it to himself, the thought of someone else doing these things to Edward made him protective. Jealous.

A low laugh escaped Edward, and the fingers found their way back to Alec’s scalp. “I don’t think I’ll ever see Carlisle again,” Edward murmured finally. “He would only be disappointed in me, anyway.” At once, Alec found himself on his feet, having been lifted by the larger vampire in one fluid motion. Edward was already tugging on his pants, and he chuckled when he found they no longer fastened. A single cocked eyebrow caused Alec to point to the little brass button that lay in the crevice between the wall and the floor.

“Next time, just ask. I’ll take them off.”

Next time. If Alec’s cheeks could have been inflamed, they would have been. Was that truly an invitation to do this again?

Edward nodded, and a surge of that same odd feeling flushed through Alec. That was, until Edward cocked his head toward the door and said, “Master approaches.”

Cursing, Alec scrambled back into his robe. Not that Aro wouldn’t know in an instant—or maybe, he had already known—but he would feel more comfortable in his own clothing. Edward, for his part, simply pulled the gold chain over his head. The door opened just as he was swinging his own dark robe back over his shoulders.

“Master Aro,” Edward said, as he unhurriedly arranged the robe’s hood.

“Edward. You’re feeling better?”

“Much.” He nodded toward Alec. “Alec is a great comfort to me. Thank you. I will meet you downstairs?”

The ancient one nodded, a smile playing on his lips. As he turned back to face Alec, a flash of insight alighted, and Alec realized at once how it had been that Edward had found him, how the hands had roamed his body, why Edward’s body had responded to him.

“My gift,” he mumbled as Edward disappeared down the stairs. “It doesn’t work the same on him, Master. He still hears my thoughts. And everyone else’s, I assume.”

A hand waved dismissively, and Aro laughed as he gestured toward the place where Edward had just disappeared.

“My dear Alec,” he said, “I was referring to a very different gift. And that one”—he glanced back at Alec’s robe, which sat ever so slightly askew on his shoulders—“seems to have worked just fine.”

And with a swirl of another black cloak, Alec found himself alone.

~Fin~

Dedicated to mothlights, for Christmas 2010

§ 8 Responses to A Very Different Gift"

  • annsteph says:

    No matter what you write, it is simply amazing. The depiction of Edward in this vulnerable state could lead to this encounter. I believe you have given him release to what he feels for leaving Carlisle and his emotions and/or feelings for Carlisle could get a little bit mixed up. It could actually happen for both of them. Since he was changed and lived with Carlisle before Esme arrived on he scene, Edward could have experienced alot of jealousy which could manifest itself into these type of feelings toward him. It’s a wonderful gem and thanks for sharing.

    • giselle says:

      Thank you so much, AS. :) I loved getting to play with Edward in this way–I didn’t pick the pairing, so it was fun to think about how it might have come about. I think even in canon, if we assume Edward was never romantically attracted to Carlisle (and I think it’s clear he wasn’t), his feelings toward Carlisle are hopelessly complicated, and it’s fun to tip them in a new direction.

  • Adair says:

    Beautiful writing!

    I really like how you stayed out of Edward’s head, and yet a more complete picture of his state couldn’t be given if it had been in his head.

    I also enjoyed the way you ran Alec’s inner monologue and the pain and frustration he feels at never having been able to mature into a man.

    Very well written and really engaging to read :)

    • giselle says:

      Thank you, Adair! I’m tickled you decided to read this one. For a number of reasons it had to come from Alec’s POV (not the least of which being his physical immaturity–it’s a touchy enough issue with him running the show; it would be touchier with Edward making the comments), but in a way it was interesting to draw Edward from the perspective of an outsider like Alec. Sometimes it’s almost difficult to get a good picture of Edward from inside his head, because he is so cocksure about himself. Others see him as broken as he is, and it’s fun to play with.

  • sisterglitch says:

    Interesting you think of Edward’s presentation of himself from inside his head as “cocksure.” The Edward I imagine and most often write is confident and unruffled on the outside, but hopelessly broken and unsure on the inside. Absolutely fun to play with.

    I’m trying to imagine what Aro’s whispered words were to Edward. Something to the effect of, “I need you to snap out of this mood… Go to your room. I’m sending Alec to assist you… I expect you to take advantage of his availability… this is not an option, this is a directive…” What did you have in mind?

    I loved not only your description of Alec, but the details my imagination added. I imagine Jane and Alec to be yin and yang — both exquisite beauty and comsummate evil. Aren’t Jane and Alec twins? I have twin children and the dynamic between them (and seperately — knowing the other exists) is of constant fascination to me. They do tend to trade off a set of personality traits.

    When Alec reacts to the gesture of tenderness from Aro – sweeping his thumb across the back of Edward’s neck, my immediate thought was that Alec must have once been the recipient of this kind of attention from Aro.

    The bravado Edward shows in that he dares to hiss at Aro! Delightful. And like a beautiful, exotic, tempramental pet, Aro shows him a rare affection. Edward knows how Aro felt about Carlisle previously, and now he has slipped into a similar position in Aro’s interest and affection. Two salient differences though — Carlisle never drank human blood or ceded his chastity. Edward is so young (no more than 26 or 27 here), obviously he is viewed as no threat by Aro and almost with an indulgent amusement. The other Volturi hate him and pity him in equal portions, but in no way is he viewed with the apprehension Carlisle was.

    Your writing is so immersing, so atmospheric. The angles at which the sunlight comes into Edward’s room drew for me a stark prison cell.

    Though he was initially coerced with promises and threats into staying in Volterra, I can’t help thinking it would be so Edward to stay just to torture himself in pennance for some imagined karmic wrong.

    What a treat. Thank you!

    • giselle says:

      I actually had to page search to find the word “cocksure,” because I think of Edward as being much as you described your way of writing. But I remember what I meant by that comment. I find Edward tricky to write from his own head because he has sort of s three-way division–the black/white, “I’m right, you’re wrong” facade that he tries to put on for people to hide the mess he is inside, the scared little orphaned kid who is never certain he’s done the right thing, and then sort of this third layer of his self-talk, which is his own attempt to cover up all that brokenness and create the facade that he puts out to others. I find its this last bit that causes him to make such hasty decisions and to hold his ground even when its silly; the part that contributes to his shame and keeps him from coming home. I agree completely that he’s held in Volterra by his own self-flagellation. It’s very Edward.

      I love your comments as a mom of twins about Jane and Alec. They’re a relationship I’d love to explore so much more.

      Lastly, I’m always delighted when the word “pet” is used to describe Edward and Carlisle with Aro. I think to Aro, that’s exactly what they are, and why the others are so reluctant to step in. What you’ve envisioned for what Aro says to Edward is pretty much exactly what I had in mind. He desires order above all else–it’s never tenderness for its own sake.

      Thanks so much for reading.

  • RobinVanDam says:

    I just can’t stop referencing back to the original “Twilight Saga”. Especially since this is so early on when Edward was such a young vampire. When Edward was “changed” he had only known (remembered) his mother’s love. He could not remember ever having any sexual interests, romantic or lust and was only consumed with the “soldier’s glory”. He could not even remember his love for his father or vice-versa. So when he was “changed” and was the recipient of Carlisle’s truely first “unconditional love” he was “changed” in a different way, even though he may not have realized what it was. This is where the “teenage” maturity (of his mind) was incomplete in the developement (frozen) and could possibly cause him confusion. I can see how his jealousy and possesiveness could rage errupting inside him and needing release. Having only experienced the power of love emitting from Carlisle to him and no one else, not even Esme, she had to “grow to love him” and suddenly having to share that love with Esme, hearing them, seeing them together in his mind, unwillingly…I might add, would have driven him to doubt the depth of Carlisle’s love for him in comparison to Carlisle’s love for Esme. Carlisle’s consumption of Esme would be overwhelming to him, never have felt that kind of love himself. Of course Edward would be confused, felt abandoned and unloved, because it wasn’t the same kind of love.

    Given that, I could see Aro taking full advantage of the situation, having seen all of Edwards memories and thoughts and feel what Edward felt. Unrequited love for Carlisle and betrayal, abandonment to a point. More orphaned than ever. Aro would definately see that since Edward never had any romantic or lustful feelings for a girl, the maturity of such emotions didn’t exist; yet for Carlisle his emotions were the first sexual emotions he had ever felt. Aro would attempt to “tame” Edward by choosing Alec, since he had been “changed” at a much younger age than Edward. Pairing them, as it was, to give Edward that release to make him reluctant to attempt to leave the Volturi and to do his bidding.

    Aro’s gift to Edward was not necessarily the unveiling and surrender of Edward’s “gay” tendencies. It was a release of the violence, loss of love, abandonment and pain he felt for Carlisle, confused and misunderstood as it may be. Because Edward only experienced the release of lust in his mind, not the love he so desparately needs…confusion again causing him to be willing to experience the encounter again.

    To look upon this as “gay” themed I believe is actually a misunderstood and misdiagnosed delima.

  • RobinVanDam says:

    Oh, one last note:

    Jealousy is a monster that can not be tamed. When it rears it’s ugly head, the deeds and consequences can be devistating and it lives within us all. So watch out for the “Boogy-man” he’s just around the corner, waiting.

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