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Afterlife

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Death came easily to Beaufort Swan. It was living without those that he loved that proved to be all the more difficult. He checked on Charlie often, from a distance without the slightest strain on his eyesight and asked Archie for updates on his mother and Phil. It was odd, not getting calls and emails from Renée, not making dinner for Charlie and eating in silence.

“What’re you thinking about?” Edythe asks softly, hand resting over the top of his own. It held a sort of human warmth now, not the icy chill it had once been when Beau was mortal.

“My mom and Charlie,” Beau admits, not meeting her gaze. His pupils had melted to that beautiful gold, much preferred over the frightening crimson yet Beau couldn’t catch his reflection for long without there being a heavy ache in his chest. His supernatural beauty only reminded him of all that he had lost.

Edythe hums gently under her breath, squeezing his palm soothingly with one hand and grazing the sharpness of his jawline with the other. “I’m sorry,” She murmurs and Beau turns toward her, features serious now.

“I’m not,” He says confidently. “This was always who I was meant to be and I don’t regret it for a second,” Beau promises. “I just wish I didn’t have to abandon them,”

Edythe’s eyes hold a sort of sadness that causes a similar ache in Beau’s chest. “I wish there was something more I could do,” She whispers and Beau offers a small, sad smile.

“You’re doing just fine,” He murmurs, turning to kiss her. Her lips were soft and searching and Beau shifts to rest a hand on her hip, the other cupping her face. He didn’t have to look to know how the sun shone off her skin in prismatic diamonds, much like his own. It was soft under his touch and Edythe doesn’t pull away, doesn’t warn him to be careful. There was no need to be careful, now.

“We should get going,” Edythe says at last, taking in Beau’s slight pout with a smirk. “The others will be wondering where we are,”

“They can wait,” Beau murmurs, kissing the underside of her jaw, the vibration of his words causing a slight laugh to bubble up in her throat.

“Come on,” Edythe objects, standing in one fluid movement, hand outstretched for him to take and so he does, somewhat hesitantly. “We’ll continue where we left off,” She promises. “Later,”

Beau nods, not thoroughly convinced but follows after her once she heads off to the house. The speed and strength he possessed still shocked Beau despite being changed for months now. The flickering of moss and pine whipped past him as he sprinted; it had once made him sick as a human but caused a wave of adrenaline to pulse through his veins as a vampire, elated and euphoric.

It takes no time at all to make it back to the Cullen’s residence and once they do, the two slow to a steady jog, hand in hand. The house still blew Beau away, even after knowing it for so long. The beauty of it never faded and he could never tire of it.

Staying cooped up inside while the Cullens went off to school and work was taxing on him. Edythe, Archie, Jessamine, Eleanor and Royal finished up their last year of high school in Forks to keep from any suspicion leading up to Beau’s death and although Earnest often kept him company, Beau found himself cooped up in his room that he now shared with Edythe. He read more books and listened to more music now than he ever had in his human life, listening to the CDs Edythe had lining the walls and helping himself to Carine’s study, grabbing whichever books he pleased.

Despite the perks of being a vampire, something he missed most, and hadn’t quite been able to let go of was no longer being able to sleep. What does someone do for a full day without having to unplug and have a few hours of blank unconsciousness? He missed coming home from a long day, body fatigued and being able to collapse down on his bed and knock out for the night. Now, his body was never under any strain, his muscles never sore and eyes never pained with tired. For some odd reason, it was something he missed.

“Damn it,” Eleanor hisses, sending Archie a glare from above the chessboard, stationed handsomely on their living room coffee table. “I need to stop playing with you. Edythe should take my place. Then it’s fair game. Edy? You up for it?”

Beau looks over at Edythe who stood beside him, completely at ease and watches her nod with a small smile. Archie had the advantage of seeing the moves Edythe would make, but she was able to listen to his thought process and work out his next move. It was an even match.

“Reset the pieces and I’m in,” She grins, wide enough to show her pearly white canines. Their hands move at a blur to the human eye but Beau is able to catch the way their fingers flew across the board, collecting the pieces. Edythe soon takes Eleanor’s place, sitting cross legged on the floor and smiles at Beau, softer now, when he goes to sit beside her.

“You’ve got this,” Beau says and Edythe rolls her eyes fondly.

“I know,” She shrugs.

Beau grins, amused by her confidence yet knows she had a reason to be. Edythe was unconventionally smart. She could win.

“Quit eye fucking each other. There’s plenty of time for the real thing after the game. Let’s get started,” Archie says with faux annoyance and if Beau could blush, he knew those ugly splotches of red would paint his face and neck.

He watches the game for a while but it goes on for so long, eventually he grows tired of it. Beau kisses Edythe’s forehead before standing and tells her how he’d be up in their room. He had a book to finish, he insists and Edythe doesn’t argue. “If you win, I’ll have a reward ready and waiting for you,” He murmurs in her ear, watching her shudder, surprised and undoubtedly aroused at his bluntness. This was another perk of being a vampire; nearly all of the insecurities Beau had as a human were nonexistent.

Eleanor snorts, amused but rolls her eyes and nudges Beau with the heel of her foot from her spot on the floor. “Move along, lover boy,” She laughs.

Beau does as he’s told, grinning wide and makes his way upstairs to their room. He pauses just before the door, hand hovering at the handle when that familiar burn rises up in his throat, the undeniable hunger, the thirst he hated quenching. He clears his throat but the ache still remains and Beau shudders before walking over to the bathroom, shutting the door and running cool water over his face. He hadn’t been around humans for a long time so he could stretch the time between feeding and when Beau looks up at his reflection in the mirror, he finds his eyes to be nearly black, much darker than they had been three days before.

He swears under his breath and runs a hand through his hair before turning to leave the bathroom, only to nearly run into Jessamine who stood just outside the doorway. “Oh uh, sorry Jess. Did you need something?” Beau asks, cringing at the roughness in his throat.

“You can’t keep doing this,” She murmurs softly, the slightest frown lining her thin lips.

“What—“

“Going nearly a week without feeding. You’ve been doing it for weeks now. I know it’s not something you... enjoy—none of is particularly do—but it’s necessary to keep you and everyone around you safe,”

Anxiety spikes through Beau’s system and he fights a grimace at her words before a flood of calm washes over him. It was Jessamine’s doing and given the circumstances, he couldn’t help but be grateful. “I know,” He whispers eventually.

“Would you like to go with me?”

Beau freezes, surprised by the request and shakes his head quickly. “I— I don’t know. Edythe is still playing with Archie and I wouldn’t want to—“

“She’s not always going to be there when you need to feed, Beau,” Jessamine says and Beau frowns before offering a sharp nod, defeated.

“I know,” He says at last before balling his hands into fists and following her down the hall.

“Where are you going?” Edythe asks once she sees them, looking up from the chessboard with interest as they head toward the front door.

“Out to hunt,” Beau says, almost miserably.

“Do you want me to—“ Edythe begins instantly, stopping as soon as Jessamine puts a hand up to stop her.

“I’ve got it,” She insists and Edythe’s eyes flicker to Beau’s, hoping to confirm this. When he nods, though somewhat still unsure, Edythe relaxes just slightly. She stands from the floor, however and in a flash is inches from him, kissing him gently with that same sort of fondness she had when he was human, making him melt into her touch.

“You’ll be fine,” She promises and Beau nods, pressing their foreheads together, craving her touch, the closeness.

“I know,” Beau replies with a small smile. “We’ll be back soon,” He squeezes her hand to reassure the both of them and moments later the two of them were off.

They travel for miles, to the border between Washington and Canada and Jessamine stops him soon enough. It couldn’t have taken them more than twenty minutes to travel such a long distance but neither of them were the slightest bit winded. They were still hidden in thick couplings of trees, and now that the sun had set, all that guided them was the silvery shimmer of the rising full moon above them. “Ready?” Jessamine asks and Beau swallows thickly before nodding.

“As I can be,” He murmurs, looking almost pained. Beau shuts his eyes tight, simply taking in the smells and sounds of the forest around them and his eyes snap open at the sound of twigs snapping a few yards away. He’s quick to spot the deer, standing unaware of its death; then Beau is there, standing before it and feeds quickly, not allowing himself to think much about it.

When he looks up, he finds Jessamine was gone, probably off hunting on her own, willing to give Beau his privacy. She would still be in close range, just in case they ran into problems, a human on the trail or run ins with other immortals. He can’t deny that he felt monumentally better after hunting; the burning in his throat had faded and he regained the strength that had begun to fade.

“Beau? Are you alright?” A voice calls and when he looks up, he finds Jessamine standing not far off from him.

“I’m fine,” He breathes though she’s not entirely convinced. “Let’s just go,”

The whole trek home, Beau’s mind wanders. When they make it back to the house, though he’s not physically exhausted, mentally he feels drained. “How was it?” Edythe asks, just as they begin cleaning up the chess pieces. Any other time, Beau would’ve stopped to kiss her and ask how the game went but instead he shrugs.

“It was okay,” He says simply. “I’m gonna go change my shirt,” Beau continues, knowing he had managed to stain yet another while hunting. He wasn’t as graceful as the rest of the Cullens and knew he would continue to be just as sloppy if he kept putting off feeding but he wouldn’t allow himself that sort of practice.

He makes it up to their room in one fluid movement and grabs the first cotton tee shirt he sees in the closet, pulling off his old shirt and exchanging it for a clean one. Beau holds the stained fabric in trembling hands, gritting his teeth with disgust and begins ripping it apart, frustrated. It tears easily in his grasp, something he would’ve struggled with as a human but manages effortlessly now which only angers him further. Beau knew if he could cry, he would’ve by now, sobbing until his throat was raw.

“Beau,” He turns at the sound of Edythe’s voice, the shredded material limp in this hands. “You’re okay. Everything’s fine,” She promises and is suddenly there, resting her hand on his cheek to soothe him.

“I’ll never— I can’t—“ He chokes, shutting his eyes tight with a trembling lip.

“Shh,” Edythe murmurs, pressing her entire body against his, hoping her touch would lessen Beau’s panic. “I’m right here. You’re okay. Everything’s okay. You did nothing wrong,” Her voice is muffled in Beau’s shirt but he picks it up without struggle, whimpering as she holds him tighter.

“I’m sorry,” He gasps, dropping the material to the floor and hugging her even tighter.

“No need to apologize, my love,” Edythe promises, kissing him gently. “Let’s just relax, okay? We can head down to the piano room and I’ll show you what I’ve been working on,”

Beau nods, words seemingly stuck in his throat and holds her hand tight as she takes him down the stairs, steps sure and confident and he can’t help but feel the slightest bit more at ease.